The Bristol Classic Car Show is one of the longest established of all such events in the UK. having been held annually for more than 40 years. Much has changed in that time, of course. The location, for one thing. When conceived and for more than half of its long run, the show was actually held in Bristol, at the Exhibition Centre down on the old docks, but when that was acquired for development, a new home was required, and the Show moved out to the more spacious location of the Bristol & West Showground at Shepton Mallet, which brought the twin advantages of far more display space, but also plentiful car parking. The timing changed, too. The Show used to take place in Feburary, but when a bout of winter weather forced a late postponement, the event moved around the schedule settling on an timing in mid June, which is great from a weather point of view, but does mean that it now clashes with many other events which take place at the same time. And of course, in 40 years the cars have changed. Many of those that you find on display now were not even built at the time of the first events, reflecting how the Classic Car movement has continue to evolve with new generations of cars now in scope. I used to attend the event with unfailing regularity, but especially after the date move, it has not had an automatic entry on my schedule, as my disappointment from previous years has always meant that if there is an alternative, I am likely to prioritise that instead. Indeed, I last attended in 2016, but when I reviewed my 2019 schedule I spotted a gap to go on a Saturday, to see if the latest iteration of the event would have more appeal than it had done in recent years.
One consequence of the extra space of this venue compared to the old indoor one is that there is room for a lot of cars to be displayed outside, and indeed the organisers actively encourage visitors to bring their classics and interesting cars. Huge numbers of people did just that and there was an amazing array of cars in the areas around the main buildings. As well as many classics that you see quite regularly there were quite a few rarities, several of which were simply cars that were once common on our roads but are now almost extinct.
Alphabetically first, this car is actually the very last car that I photographed during my visit. It was in the main public car park, and stood out for me among cars which are probably 30 years away from being rare enough to warrant a place in the event itself. It is of course a 595 “bicolore”.
There was just one Abarth in the main display of classics, a 124 Spider, and whilst still a modern car, there can be little doubt that this is a car with classic status all over it. There have only been around 1500 of them sold in the UK, though it is unlikely to become any more commonplace, as it was recently announced that the car was withdrawn from sale, at least for now (due to a WLTP issue, I believe). That means it has had a short on sale time in the UK, as the 124 Spider only went on sale in September 2016, at the same time as the Fiat version, which was developed in parallel. Critics immediately complained that the Abarth version does cost a lot more, and there are those who think you don’t get enough extra for your money, but those who have driven it will tell you otherwise. You certainly get more power. The 1.4 MultiAir turbo unit jumps up from 138bhp to 168bhp, while torque also increases by a modest 10Nm to 250Nm, which gives it a 0-62mph time of 6.8 seconds, which is half a second quicker than the 2.0-litre Mazda MX-5. The top speed is 143mph. It weighs just 1060kg meaning a power-to-weight ratio of 158bhp-per-tonne, and with the new Record Monza exhaust system it sounds great even at idle. The Abarth version gets a stiffer suspension setup than the regular Fiat 124 Spider, with Bilstein dampers and beefed-up anti-roll bars. Bigger Brembo brakes also feature, with aluminium calipers. It can be had with a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission with paddles, and the latter gets a Sport mode for quicker shifts. Many of the UK cars sport the ‘Heritage Look’ pack, which is a no-cost option. It brings a matt black bonnet and bootlid, plus red exterior trim detailing and has proved popular. The £29,565 starting price gets you standard equipment such as cruise control, climate control, Bluetooth, a DAB radio and satnav, plus Alcantara black and red (or pure black) seat trim. The automatic gearbox is a £2,035 extra, while an optional visibility pack brings LED DRLs, auto lights and wipers and rear parking sensors.
Genuine AC Cobra from the 60s are rare as not that many of them were made, but almost ever since the end of official production, thee have been an endless stream of replica, recreation and even continuation series so something with the iconic and still very attractive shape is quite a common sight where enthusiasts gather together. There was one such here.
Alfa replaced the Giulia-based Spider model with an all-new design which finally made its debut in 1966 together with the Giulia Sprint GT Veloce at an event organised in Gardone Riviera. With its boat tailed styling, it quickly found favour, even before taking a starring role in the film “The Graduate”. The original 1600cc engine was replaced by a more powerful 1750cc unit at the same time as the change was made to the rest of the range, and the car continued like this until 1970, when the first significant change to the exterior styling was introduced on the 1750 Spider Veloce, with the original’s distinctive elongated round tail changed to a more conventional cut-off tail, called the “Kamm tail”, as well as improving the luggage space. Numerous other small changes took place both inside and out, such as a slightly different grille, new doorhandles, a more raked windscreen, top-hinged pedals and improved interior trim. 1971 saw the Spider Veloce get a new, larger powerplant—a 1962 cc, 132 hp unit—and consequently the name was changed from 1750 Spider Veloce to 2000 Spider Veloce. The 1600 Spider restarted production a year later as the Spider 1600 Junior, and was visually identical to the 1300. 1974 saw the introduction of the rare, factory request, Spider-Targa. Based upon the Spider, it featured a Porsche style solid rear window and lift out roof panels, all made out of black GRP type material. Less than 2,000 models of such type were ever made and was the only part solid roof Spider until the introduction of the factory crafted hard top. The 1300 and 2000 cars were modified in 1974 and 1975 respectively to include two small seats behind the front seats, becoming a “two plus two” four seater. The 1300 model was discontinued in 1977. Also, between 1974 and 1976, the early-style stainless-steel bumpers were discontinued and replaced with black, rubber-clad units to meet increasingly stringent North American crash requirements. 4,557 examples of the 1300 Junior were made and 4,848 of the 1600 Junior as well as 16,320 2000 Spider Veloces and 22,059 of 2000 Spider Veloce US version. There were also 4,027 1750 Spider Veloces produced. Seen here were a couple of examples of the Series 2 cars.
There was a much longer wait for a Coupe version of the AlfaSud than there had been for the larger Alfetta, the Alfasud Sprint being presented to the press in September 1976 in Baia Domizia and shown at the Turin Motor Show in November some five years after the launch of the saloon. Designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro like the AlfaSud, whose mechanicals it was based on, it had a lower, more angular design, featuring a hatchback, although there were no folding rear seats. The AlfaSud Sprint was assembled together with the AlfaSud in the Pomigliano d’Arco plant, located in southern Italy—hence the original “Sud” moniker. Under the Alfasud Sprint’s bonnet there was a new version of the AlfaSud’s 1186 cc four-cylinder boxer engine, stroked to displace 1,286 cc, fed by a twin-choke carburettor and developing 75 hp at 6,000 rpm. Mated to the flat-four was a five-speed, all-synchromesh gearbox. The interior was upholstered in dark brown Texalfa leatherette and tartan cloth. Options were limited to alloy wheels, a quartz clock and metallic paint. In May 1978 the AlfaSud Sprint underwent its first updates, both cosmetic and technical. Engine choice was enlarged to two boxers, shared with the renewed AlfaSud ti, a 78 hp 1.3 (1,350 cc) and a 84 hp 1.5 (1,490 cc); the earlier 1286 cc unit was not offered anymore, remaining exclusive to the AlfaSud. Outside many exterior details were changed from chrome to matte black stainless steel or plastic, such as the wing mirrors, window surrounds and C-pillar ornaments; the B-pillar also received a black finish, the side repeaters changed position and became square, and the front turn signals switched from white to amber lenses. In the cabin the seats had more pronounced bolsters and were upholstered in a new camel-coloured fabric. Just one year later, in June 1979, another engine update arrived and the AlfaSud Sprint became the AlfaSud Sprint Veloce. Thanks to double twin-choke carburettors (each choke feeding a single cylinder) and a higher compression ratio engine output increased to 85 hp and 94 hp, respectively for the 1.3 and 1.5. In February 1983 Alfa Romeo updated all of its sports cars; the Sprint received a major facelift. Thereafter the AlfaSud prefix and Veloce suffix were abandoned, and the car was known as Alfa Romeo Sprint; this also in view of the release of the Alfa Romeo 33, which a few months later replaced the AlfaSud family hatchback. The Sprint also received a platform upgrade, which was now the same as that of the Alfa Romeo 33; this entailed modified front suspension, brakes mounted in the wheels instead of inboard like on the AlfaSud, and drum brakes at the rear end. Three models made up the Sprint range: 1.3 and 1.5, with engines and performance unchanged from the AlfaSud Sprint Veloce, and the new 1.5 Quadrifoglio Verde—1.5 Cloverleaf in the UK. A multitude of changes were involved in the stylistic refresh; there were a new grille, headlamps, wing mirrors, window surrounds and C-pillar ornaments. Bumpers went from chrome to plastic, and large plastic protective strips were added to the body sides; both sported coloured piping, which was grey for 1.3 cars, red for the 1.5 and green for the 1.5 Quadrifoglio. At the rear new trapezoidal tail light assemblies were pieced together with the license plate holder by a black plastic fascia, topped by an Alfa Romeo badge—never present on the AlfaSud Sprint. In the cabin there were new seats with cloth seating surfaces and Texalfa backs, a new steering wheel and changes to elements of the dashboard and door panels. Sprint 1.3 and 1.5 came with steel wheels with black hubcaps from the AlfaSud ti. The newly introduced 1.5 Quadrifoglio Verde sport variant was shown at the March 1983 Geneva Motor Show. Its engine was the 1,490 cc boxer, revised to put out 104 hp at 6,000 rpm; front brake discs were vented and the gearing shorter. In addition to the green bumper piping, also specific to the Quadrifoglio were a green instead of chrome scudetto in the front grille, a rear spoiler and 8-hole grey painted alloy wheels with metric Michelin TRX 190/55 tyres. Inside a three-spoke leather-covered steering wheel, green carpets and sport seats in black cloth with green embroidery. In November 1987 the Sprint was updated for the last time; the 1.3 variant was carried over, while the 1.5 engine was phased out and the 1.5 QV was superseded by the 116 hp Sprint 1.7 Quadrifoglio Verde. The 1,286 cc engine was directly derived from the 33 1.7 Quadrifoglio Verde, and could propel the Sprint from 0 to 100 km/h in 9.3 seconds; to cope with the increased engine power, the 1.7 QV adopted vented brake discs upfront. the coloured piping and side plastic strips were deleted, and the Quadrifoglio had alloy wheels of a new design. A fuel injected and 3-way Catalytic converter-equipped 1.7 variant, with an engine again derived from a 33, was added later for sale in specific markets. There were a total of 116,552 Sprints produced during its lifespan, which lasted from 1976 to 1989. 15 of these formed the basis of the Australian-built Giocattolo sports car, which used a mid-mounted Holden 5.0 group A V8 engine. The Sprint had no direct predecessor or successor. The car seen here is a late model car from the last year of production.
Final Alfa I spotted was an SZ, sometimes called “Il Mostro”. It was more than 10 years since the Montreal had ceased production before Alfa offered another high-end and costly Coupe model, and the result, seen for the first time in 1989, could hardly have been more different than its forebear. That car had been praised for its looks, whereas this one, the SZ, and cruelly nicknamed “Il Mostro”, was almost wilfully, well, “different”. First seen at the 1989 Geneva Show, the car was also first shown simply as a concept, called the ES-30, for Experimental Sports car 3 litre. It was produced by Zagato. Robert Opron of the Fiat design studio was responsible for the initial sketches while Antonio Castellana was largely responsible for the final styling details and interior. Only the ‘Z’ logo of Zagato was kept. The car possessed unusual headlights positioned in a trio on each side – a styling used more subtly on later Alfa Romeos in the 2000s. Mechanically and engine-wise, the car was based on the Alfa 75, production being carried out by Zagato at Terrazzano di Rho near the Alfa factory in Arese. The thermoplastic injection moulded composite body panels were produced by Italian company Carplast and French company Stratime Cappelo Systems. The suspension was taken from the Alfa 75 Group A/IMSA car, and modified by Giorgio Pianta, engineer and team manager of the Lancia and Fiat rally works team. A hydraulic damper system was made by Koni. The SZ was originally equipped with Pirelli P Zero tyres (front 205/55 ZR 16, rear 225/50 ZR 16) and is able to sustain over 1.1 G in cornering, some drivers have measured a cornering force of 1.4 G, which remains an excellent performance figure. Low volume production got underway late in 1989, and over the next three years, 1036 were built, slightly more than planned. With the exception of a black car made for Zagato, all of them were red. Subsequently a convertible version, the RZ (for Roadster Zagato), was produced from 1992 until December 1994. Although almost identical to look at the two cars had completely different body panels save for the front wings and boot. The RZ had a revised bumper and door sills to give better ground clearance and the bonnet no longer featured the aggressive ridges. Three colours were available as standard: black, yellow and red, with black and yellow being the more popular choices. Yellow and red cars got a black leather interior and black cars burgundy. Although the interior layout was almost unchanged from the SZ, the RZ had a painted central console that swept up between the seats to conceal the convertible roof storage area. 350 units were planned but production was halted after 252 units when the Zagato factory producing the cars for Alfa Romeo went in to receivership, a further 32 cars were then completed under the control of the receivers before production finished at 284 units. Of those final cars, three were painted silver with burgundy interior and another pearlescent white.
The DB2 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.
Technically the DB4 was a development of the DB Mark III it replaced but with a completely new body. The DB4’s design formed the basis for later Aston Martin classics, such as the DB4 GT Zagato, the Lagonda Rapide 4-door saloon. It was eventually replaced by the Aston Martin DB5. The lightweight superleggera (tube-frame) body was designed by Carrozzeria Touring in Milan, and its Continental looks caused a sensation on its unveiling at the 1958 London Motor Show. Although the design and construction techniques were Italian, the DB4 was the first Aston to be built at the company’s Newport Pagnell works. The 3670 cc engine, designed by Tadek Marek, was a double overhead cam straight-6, with cylinder head and block of cast R.R.50 aluminium alloy, a further development of the earlier engine. The engine was prone to overheating initially, but the 240 hp produced by the twin-SU carburettor version made buyers forgive this unfortunate trait. Servo-assisted disc brakes were fitted all round: early 11.5 in Dunlops were replaced by Girlings. The independent front suspension used ball-jointed wishbones, coil springs and rack-and-pinion steering. The live rear axle also used coil springs and was located by a Watt’s linkage. The normal final-drive ratio for British and European use was 3.54:1: in the United States the ratio was usually 3.77. Customers wanting a car with an especially high top speed could choose a 3.31:1 ratio. A car with the British standard 3.54 final drive ratio tested by The Motor magazine in 1960 had a top speed of 139.3 mph and could accelerate from 0-60 mph in 9.3 seconds. A fuel consumption of 17.7 mpg. The test car cost £3967 including taxes. There were five “series” of DB4. The most visible changes were the addition of window frames in Series II and the adoption of a barred (rather than eggcrate) grille in Series IV. The Series III cars differed from the earlier ones in having taillights consisting of three small lamps mounted on a chrome backing plate. Earlier cars have single-piece units and the last Series V cars of September 1962 have similar taillights but recessed. The Series V also has a taller and longer body to provide more interior space, though the diameter of the wheels was reduced to keep the overall height the same. The front of the Series V usually was of the more aerodynamic style as already used on the Vantage and GT models, a style that was later carried over to the DB5 cars. A convertible was introduced in October 1961. It featured in-house styling similar to the Touring saloon, and an extremely rare factory hardtop was also available. In total, 70 DB4 convertibles were made from a total DB4 production run of 1,110 cars. 30 of these were Series IV, with the remaining 40 belonging to the Series V. 32 of the total convertibles built (11 and 21 of the different series respectively) were equipped with the more powerful Vantage engine. Top speed for the regular version is about 136 mph.
Also here were a couple of the rather lovely DB6, a model 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.
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. All told, Aston produced 18 different versions of the model in a production run which continued until 2018, with a number limited edition cars swelling the ranks.
There were a couple of now rare Audi 80 models here. This is the second generation model which had been launched in September 1978, as a four door saloon, like its predecessor, and available with a small number of different engines and trims. Deliveries of the fuel injected GLE and two door bodied cars began early in 1979. The body of the B2 Audi 80 was designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro. No Estate or Avant variant was available, as the Volkswagen Passat filled that role, as the B2 was intended to move the 80 upmarket from the mid-sized family segment to a compact executive model pitched to rival the BMW 3-Series. The corresponding B2 version of the Passat appeared two years later, and although the two cars shared the same platform and running gear as before, the Passat had a much stronger visual identity distinct from its Audi 80 sister in comparison with the B1. The 80 first became available with four-wheel drive in 1983. The model was essentially an Ur-Quattro without the turbocharger and with saloon bodywork. The four-wheel drive 80, however, weighed more than a front-wheel drive Audi 100 CD with the same 2144 cc 136 PS engine, and with its worse aerodynamics it was slower than the larger, better equipped, and lower-priced 100. The 80 quattro received twin headlamps, a front spoiler with integrated foglights, and a body-coloured rubber spoiler on the rear. There was also a “quattro” script on the bootlid and a twin exhaust. The luggage compartment was marginally smaller. The 80 quattro was a bargain compared to the Ur-Quattro, but less so in comparison with the two-wheel drive 80 GTE or the 100 CD, although they did not offer the impressive road holding that the quattros do. In 1983, the 80 Sport was introduced in the UK, based on the GTE. It came with quattro-style Ronal alloys, rubber rear spoiler, deep chin spoiler, striped charcoal Recaro interior, and optional body graphics including full-length “Audi Sport” stripes. In mid-1984, Audi gave the B2 a subtle facelift with tail lights resembling the ones of the Typ 44 Audi 100, and different front and rear bumpers and headlights and an updated interior, and introduced the 90 nameplate for the 5 cylinder cars, pushing them still further up-market. The 1.6- and 1.8-litre 4 cylinder engines were replaced by newer iterations of the same, enabling the fitment of catalytic converters. The saloons were offered until late 1986 in Europe, and the B2-based Audi Coupé lasted through to 1988 before being changed. Seen here was an 80 Sport, a rare sighting in the UK these days.
Also here was a B3 generation model. In September 1986, Audi released a new Typ 89 Audi 80 for the 1987 model year on the European market and introduced it elsewhere within a year. It was based on a new platform which broke the relationship between the 80 and the Volkswagen Passat, the corresponding third generation of which used the transverse-engined Volkswagen B3 platform, whilst Audi stuck with the longitudinal front wheel drive layout for the B3-series 80. Production codes were Typ 89 from 1987 to 1989, and Typ 8A from 1990 onwards (in line with a restructuring of many VW platform designations). It introduced a new aerodynamic look and a fully zinc coated galvanised bodyshell. Unlike its predecessor, the B3 was marketed worldwide only as the Audi 80 or Audi 90. Initially, Audi transferred existing powertrain concepts to the new model although fuel injection was now available for some engines. A range of new petrol and diesel inline four-cylinder engines became available to European customers along with the procon-ten safety system which became standard fitment from 1991. Procon-ten was a notable safety feature comprising a series of hidden steel cables routed behind the gearbox, attached to the steering wheel and front seatbelt inertia reels. In the event of a front impact, the engine and gearbox are forced rearwards, pulling on these cables. This action simultaneously pulls the steering wheel into the dashboard to prevent the driver colliding with it while tightening the front seatbelts. This innovation was a precursor to the airbag, which became popular on mass produced cars during the 1990s after being patented by Mercedes-Benz in 1982. In 1987, the Audi 90 was reintroduced as an upmarket, more luxurious variant of the 80. To begin with it would again feature a choice of 10-valve inline five-cylinder petrol engines, and could be specified with or without quattro. The 90 differs visually to the 80 by a full width tail-light panel; headlights which featured additional high-beam lights and a slightly different front grille. Indicator lamps were moved from beside the headlights to the bumpers next to the fog lights, which were standard fitment on the 90. Brightwork surrounds for the windows, tops of the bumpers and side rubbing strips were also standard. Interiors were upgraded over the 80 featuring velour seat coverings and a slightly more generous level of equipment. The then range-topping 2.2E offered a boot spoiler, alloy wheels, leather steering wheel and sports front seats. Switchable ABS was standard on quattro versions. From 1989 to 1991 the Audi 90 offered the first 20-valve engine from Audi since the turbocharged engine used in the Audi Sport Quattro. This new 2.3L engine produced 170 PS and featured in the front wheel drive 20V, 20V Sport and four-wheel drive 20V quattro derivatives. The non-quattro 20V models were 120 kg lighter. Externally, Sport versions of the 90 were visually distinguished by the deletion of brightwork in favour of satin black window surrounds, bumper cappings and thinner side mouldings. A raised aluminium boot spoiler, lowered suspension and uprated brakes were fitted as standard, Speedline wheels were also standard fitment in the UK. In October 1988 a Coupé version based on the 80/90 appeared, called simply the Audi Coupé (typ 8B). This had completely different three-door liftback bodywork and replaced the earlier, B2-based Coupé which had been manufactured into early 1988. This version remained in production until 1996, in parallel with the succeeding B4 generation Audi 80. A convertible was planned from the beginning but did not appear until May 1991 as the Audi Cabriolet. This model remained in production until 2000 and was optically aligned with the B4 Audi 80 from its introduction.
Oldest and smallest of the various Austin models here was the baby 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.
There was an example of the larger Austin Six model here, too. The brand’s large cars were branded Six, as they had six cylinders, which must have been confusing when the car that was branded Seven was so named because of its HP rating. The Austin Twelve was introduced in 1921. It was the second of Herbert Austin’s post World War I models and was in many ways a scaled-down version of his Austin Twenty, introduced in 1919. The slower than expected sales of the Twenty brought about this divergence from his intended one-model policy. The Twelve was announced at the beginning of November 1921 after Austin’s company had been in receivership for six months. Twelve refers to its fiscal horse power (12.8) rather than its bhp which was 20 and later 27. The long-stroke engines encouraged by the tax regime, 72 x 102 later 72 x 114.5, had much greater low-speed torque than the bhp rating suggests. Initially available as a tourer, by 1922 three body styles were offered: the four-seat tourer, the two/four-seater (both at £550) and the coupé at £675. The car enjoyed success throughout the vintage era with annual sales peaking at 14,000 in 1927. While the mechanical specification changed little (the engine increased from 1661 cc to 1861 cc in 1926), many body styles were offered with saloons becoming more popular as the twenties drew to a close. The car continued in the Austin catalogue and as a taxi option until 1939. The last cars were produced for the War Department in 1940. After the early thirties the car was referred to by the public as the Heavy Twelve to distinguish it from the other, newer, 12HP cars in the Austin catalogue Light Twelve-Four, Light Twelve-Six etc. and received some updating. The artillery style wheels were replaced by wire wheels in 1933 and coil ignition replaced the magneto in 1935. The gearbox was provided with synchromesh between its top two ratios in 1934. The factory catalogued body range was steadily updated with the last of the no longer fashionable Weymann style fabric-covered cars in 1931 and no open tourers after 1934.
Sitting below that it in the range was the Ten, a model which Austin had launched in 1932, to plug the gap between the diminutive Seven and the larger Twelve models in their range which had been updated in early 1931. The Ten became the marque’s best seller and was produced, in a number of different versions through to 1947. A number of improvements were made to the car in the months following launch, but it was for 1937 when the first really big change came about with the launch of the almost streamlined Cambridge saloon and Conway cabriolet. Compared with the preceding cars, the passengers and engine were positioned much further forward, the back seat now being rather forward of the back axle. There were six side windows like the Sherborne and the quarter lights were fixed. Again like the Sherborne the forward doors opened rearwards. At the back there was now a compartment large enough to take a trunk as well as more luggage on the open compartment door when it was let down. A new smoother single plate spring-drive clutch was now fitted, the two friction rings carried by the centre plate were held apart by leaf springs. Other changes included Girling brakes with wedge and roller shoe expansion and balance lever compensation using operating rods in tension with automatic compensation between front and rear brakes all four of which might be applied by hand or foot. Drums were now 9 inches diameter. 16-inch steel disc wheels replaced the 18-inch wires Top speed from the 1141cc engine rose to 60 mph.
This one is a Sixteen and dates from 1948. The Sixteen, a 2.2-litre car, was built from 1945 until 1949. It was the first ‘new’ car to be produced by Austin following the end of the Second World War. Apart from the name, it shared nothing with the pre war Austin 16. Whilst it used a brand new 4-cylinder 2199 cc, overhead-valve engine—the first to be used in an Austin car, it in fact used the chassis and body of the pre-war Austin 12, which continued to be produced, alongside the other pre-war saloons the 8 hp and the 10 hp. The number Sixteen was not an indication of the actual power output of the engine but rather the result of a calculation used to determine the excise duty (road tax) payable for the vehicle. The engine in fact produced 67 bhp at 3800 rpm. The car shared a number of features with the famed London Taxi, one of which was the built-in hydraulic jacking system operated from a pump located under the bonnet. The Sixteen had a healthy turn of speed for its day with a maximum quoted speed of 75 mph. In the bitterly cold winter of 1947 Alan Hess and a team of drivers with 3 Austin Sixteen vehicles undertook a publicity run on behalf of the Austin Motor Company to visit seven Northern European Capitals in seven days. Despite extraordinary travel difficulties caused by heavy snow, the vehicles completed the adventure successfully, and the story is related in Alan Hess’s book, Gullible’s Travels. Steering was by a cam and lever system which provided a dual ratio to ease parking. Suspension was all elliptic (overslung in front, underslung at the rear) with rigid beam axles all controlled by Luvax-Girling double acting hydraulic shock absorbers—a transverse torsion bar linking both pairs. Brakes by Girling were mechanical using a wedge and roller system in 11 inch drums with twin leading shoes in the front drums.
The Austin FX3 is a taxicab that was sold in the United Kingdom by Austin from 1948 to 1958. It was designed to comply with the Metropolitan Police Conditions of Fitness for London taxicabs, but was used in other towns and cities in the UK. It was commissioned from Austin by taxi dealers Mann & Overton and built by Carbodies of Coventry on a chassis supplied by Austin. The first prototype, the FX had a 1.8-litre sidevalve engine that proved inadequate for the job. The second prototype, the FX2 had a 1.8-litre petrol engine, but this was replaced by the third version, the FX3, which had a 2.2-litre ohv petrol engine. Fitted with an all-steel body from Carbodies the FX3 was registered as JXN 842, and it and the FX2 (registered as JXN 841) went on test in the summer of 1948. It was announced at the Commercial Motor Exhibition in the following November and went into full production in 1949. Following on from previous designs of London taxi, the FX3 had a traditional 3-door body, with an open luggage platform rather than a front passenger seat beside the driver. The FX3 was fitted with mechanical brakes, with rod operation, beam axles on leaf springs and a built-in Jackall hydraulic jacking system. Like all London taxis, it has a tight turning circle of 25 ft (7.6m) diameter, as required by the Conditions of Fitness. The petrol engine proved too expensive to run and a conversion to a Standard diesel engine was offered by taxi and bus proprietors Birch Brothers of Kentish Town. A 3-litre Perkins engine was also offered and these, as well as pressure for Mann & Overton prompted the Austin Motor Company to develop their own diesel engine. This appeared in 1956 and quickly became the most popular choice in the FX3. The FX3’s manual transmission has four forward speeds plus reverse, with synchromesh on all but first gear. In 1957-1958 a series of automatic transmission test vehicles were manufactured, of which only two are known to survive. Outside London, cab operators in major UK cities like Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow and Liverpool ran FX3s, either bought new or when they were retired from service in the capital. Examples of four-door FX3s were known to run in Manchester, where, in common with every other UK local authority outside London different taxi licensing regulations were enforced. Several FX3s were exported to Madrid, Spain and proved successful. Attempts to sell them to the United States were a failure. A Hire Car version, the FL1 was also made, which had four full doors, a bench front seat, column gear-change and an umbrella-type handbrake handle. The two occasional seats faced forward. A ‘driveaway’ chassis-cab was also supplied to outside coachbuilders. Several shooting brake (‘woodie’ ) bodies were made, as well as newspaper vans for the three London evening papers, the Star, News and Standard. A number of hearse bodies were also mounted on FL1 chassis by such coachbuilders as Simpson and Slater, Alpe and Saunders, Arthur Mulliner and Woodall Nicholson. Undoubtedly the most remarkable body built on an FX3 chassis belonged to Armenian oil magnate Nubar Gulbenkian. Built by London coachbuilders FLM Panelcraft, it was an open-drive town car, with carriage lamps and wickerwork decoration on the body sides. It was powered by a Ford six cylinder engine. The FX3 was a popular model. Out of a combined production total of 12,435 FX3 and FL1 models, 7,267 were licensed in London between 1948 and the end of production in 1958. The FX3 was replaced in 1958 by the Austin FX4, but continued in use in London until 1968. Many other examples ran for longer outside London.
Also styled by Pininfarina were the large BMC cars, sold with fewer of the Group’s badges on them. As well as a top spec Vanden Plas model, there was only a Wolseley, the 6/99 and later 6/110 and the Austin Westminster. First seen in 1959, the Westminster was also known as the A99 and it had the 2912 cc C-Series straight-6 engine with twin SU carburettors from the Austin-Healey 3000 under the bonnet. This engine produced 103 hp in Westminster tune. A three-speed all-synchromesh manual gearbox with a Borg-Warner overdrive unit was fitted as standard, or a Borg-Warner automatic transmission as an option. Power-assisted Lockheed brakes with 10.75 in discs on the front wheels were also new. It was updated in 1961, resulting in the A110 Westminster. This version had an extended (by 2 in) wheelbase, which allowed more space in the rear compartment as well as improving the roadholding, a floor-mounted gear lever. 13 in wheels were substituted in 1964’s Mark II models. Wolseley produced a 6/110 version, and there was a Vanden Plas Princess Mark II with the C-Series engine, uprated to 120 hp. The same basic body was also used for a Rolls Royce-engined Vanden Plas Princess 4 Litre R, and the body even formed part of a prototype Bentley. The Westminster range was finally replaced by the Austin 3-Litre in 1968. 26,105 A110s were built. There was an A110 Westminster Mark II here.
There were numerous examples of the “Big Healey” here, one of Britain’s most popular classics. Donald Healey had been producing a range of expensive sports cars from the 1940s, cars such as the Silverstone, the Abbott and the Farnham. For the 1952 London Motor Show, he produced a new design, which was called the Healey Hundred, based on Austin A90 mechanicals, which he intended to produce in-house at his small car company in Warwick. It was one of the stars of the 1952 Show, and it so impressed Leonard Lord, the Managing Director of Austin, who was looking for a replacement to the unsuccessful A90. that Lord struck a deal with Healey on the spot, to build it in quantity. Bodies made by Jensen Motors would be given Austin mechanical components at Austin’s Longbridge factory. The car was renamed the Austin-Healey 100, in reference to the fact that the car had a top speed of 100 mph. Production got under way in 1953, with Austin-Healey 100s being finished at Austin’s Longbridge plant alongside the A90 and based on fully trimmed and painted body/chassis units produced by Jensen in West Bromwich—in an arrangement the two companies previously had explored with the Austin A40 Sports. By early 1956, production was running at 200 cars a month, 150 of which were being sold in California. Between 1953 and 1956, 14,634 Austin-Healey 100s were produced, the vast majority of them, as was the case for most cars in this post war era, going for export. The car was replaced by an updated model in 1956, called the 100-6. It had a longer wheelbase, redesigned bodywork with an oval shaped grille, a fixed windscreen and two occasional seats added (which in 1958 became an option with the introduction of the two-seat BN6 produced in parallel with the 2+2 BN4), and the engine was replaced by one based on the six-cylinder BMC C-Series engine. In 1959, the engine capacity was increased from 2.6 to 2.9 litres and the car renamed the Austin-Healey 3000. Both 2-seat and 2+2 variants were offered. It continued in this form until production ceased in late 1967. The Big Healey, as the car became known after the 1958 launch of the much smaller Austin-Healey Sprite, is a popular classic now. You come across the 3000 models more frequently than the 100s, as they accounted for more than 60% of all Big Healey production.
There were also a number of the smaller stablemate, the “Frog Eye”. Known officially as the Sprite, it was announced to the press in Monte Carlo by the British Motor Corporation on 20 May 1958, just before that year’s Monaco Grand Prix. It was intended to be a low-cost model that “a chap could keep in his bike shed”, yet be the successor to the sporting versions of the pre-war Austin Seven. The Sprite was designed by the Donald Healey Motor Company, with production being undertaken at the MG factory at Abingdon. It first went on sale at a price of £669, using a tuned version of the Austin A-Series engine and as many other components from existing cars as possible to keep costs down. It was produced for a little over 3 years before being replaced by a Mark 2 version, which was then joined by a badge-engineered MG version, the Midget, reviving a model name used by MG from the late 1920s through to the mid 1950s. Enthusiasts often refer to Sprites and the later Midgets collectively as “Spridgets.” The first Sprite quickly became affectionately known as the “frogeye” in the UK and the “bugeye” in the US, because its headlights were prominently mounted on top of the bonnet, inboard of the front wings. The car’s designers had intended that the headlights could be retracted, with the lenses facing skyward when not in use; a similar arrangement was used many years later on the Porsche 928. But cost cutting by BMC led to the flip-up mechanism being deleted, therefore the headlights were simply fixed in a permanently upright position, giving the car its most distinctive feature. The body was styled by Gerry Coker, with subsequent alterations by Les Ireland following Coker’s emigration to the US in 1957. The car’s distinctive frontal styling bore a strong resemblance to the defunct American 1951 Crosley Super Sport. The problem of providing a rigid structure to an open-topped sports car was resolved by Barry Bilbie, Healey’s chassis designer, who adapted the idea provided by the Jaguar D-type, with rear suspension forces routed through the bodyshell’s floor pan. The Sprite’s chassis design was the world’s first volume-production sports car to use unitary construction, where the sheet metal body panels (apart from the bonnet) take many of the structural stresses. The original metal gauge (thickness of steel) of the rear structure specified by Bilbie was reduced by the Austin Design Office during prototype build, however during testing at MIRA (Motor Industry Research Association) distortion and deformation of the rear structure occurred and the original specification was reinstated. The two front chassis legs projecting forward from the passenger compartment mean the shell is not a full monocoque. The front sheet-metal assembly, including the bonnet (hood) and wings, was a one-piece unit, hinged from the back, that swung up to allow access to the engine compartment. The 43 bhp, 948 cc OHV engine (coded 9CC) was derived from the Austin A35 and Morris Minor 1000 models, also BMC products, but upgraded with twin 11⁄8 inch SU carburettors which gave it 43 hp at 5200 rpm and 52 lb/ft at 3300 rpm. When tested by “The Motor” magazine in 1958. It had a top speed of 82.9 mph and could accelerate from 0-60 mph in 20.5 seconds. Fuel consumption of 43 mpg was recorded. The rack and pinion steering was derived from the Morris Minor 1000 and the front suspension from the Austin A35. The front suspension was a coil spring and wishbone arrangement, with the arm of the Armstrong lever shock absorber serving as the top suspension link. The rear axle was both located and sprung by quarter-elliptic leaf springs, again with lever-arm shock absorbers and top links. There were no exterior door handles; the driver and passenger were required to reach inside to open the door. There was also no boot lid, owing to the need to retain as much structural integrity as possible, and access to the spare wheel and luggage compartment was achieved by tilting the seat-backs forward and reaching under the rear deck, a process likened to potholing by many owners, but which resulted in a large space available to store soft baggage. The BMC Competition Department entered Austin Healey Sprites in major international races and rallies, their first major success coming when John Sprinzel and Willy Cave won their class on the 1958 Alpine Rally. Private competitors also competed with much success in Sprites. Because of its affordability and practicality, the Austin Healey Sprite was developed into a formidable competition car, assuming many variants by John Sprinzel, Speedwell and WSM. The Sebring Sprite became the most iconic of the racing breed of Austin Healey Sprites. Many owners use their Austin Healey Sprites in competition today, sixty years after its introduction. 48,987 “frogeye” Sprites were made and the car remains popular to this day.
The Bedford OB was a bus chassis manufactured by Bedford from 1939, designed as a successor to the Bedford WTB. It had a wheelbase of 14 feet 6 inches (4.42 m), and was a semi-forward control model, designed to carry 26 to 29-passenger bodywork. It was fitted with a 27.34 bhp petrol engine, and had a four-speed manual gearbox and fully floating rear axle. The brakes were of the vacuum servo-assisted hydraulic type. Although only 73 were built prior to the cessation of production due to World War II, it reappeared in a largely unchanged form at the end of the war, continuing in production until 1951. A total of 12,766 were produced, making it one of the most popular buses of its type ever. Bedford co-developed with Duple the “Vista” coachwork for the OB, fronted by a classic bullnose. The ash framework was reinforced with steel, and the floor made from hardwood with softwood tongued and grooved boarding, with the exception of the cab area which was finished with alloy chequerplate. Seating capacity was normally 29 with overhead luggage racks provided for passengers, whilst the rear luggage boot was also used to store the spare wheel. The price of a complete coach, including finishing in a two-colour livery, was £1,314.10s for a 27-seater, and £1,325.10s for a twenty nine seater. Geared to reach speeds of at least 40 mph (64 km/h), which was fast for its day, the OB is remembered by many for its characteristic gearbox whine. The Bedford “O” type lorry chassis was introduced in August 1939, with a coach-chassis version named the “OB”. Duple Coachbuilders modified their ‘Hendonian’ body to fit the chassis, which at 14 ft 6 in (4.42 m) was longer than the previous WTB model. The six cylinder overhead valve power unit with a capacity of 3519 cc, introduced in 1938, developed 72 bhp at 3000 rpm. Only 73 OB buses were built in the two months before production ceased at the outbreak of World War II. All of Vauxhall and Bedford’s production was turned over to the war effort, specifically producing the Churchill tank. The Bedford OWB chassis was produced during the war to the same basic design as the OB, but replacing valuable metals, like aluminium, with cast iron, and fitted with austere bodywork and interior featuring 32 seats with no upholstery, just wooden slats like a park bench. Bodies were designed and built by Duple Coachbuilders and bodies to Duple drawings were also built by Charles H. Roe in Leeds, Mulliners in Birmingham and Scottish Motor Traction in Edinburgh. Total OWB production was 3,398, finishing in late 1945, the majority of the utility bodies were by Duple, a trend that would continue post-war. Bedford restarted the production of the OB again in October 1945, this time at the Bedford Dunstable plant. There were only minor changes to the pre-war design. From the end of the war until 1951, a total of 12,693 OB’s were built. The Vista remained Duple’s standard OB body, until production ceased in 1951. It was succeeded by the Bedford SB. Some wartime OWBs were rebuilt to post-war OB standard. The OB was sold in other Commonwealth countries, with Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation bodying many in Australia. The OB is one of the most popular coaches in preservation. There are known to be 180 still in existence, nearly 70 in roadworthy condition, and 30 are licensed for private hire work.
This CA-based Dormobile is an example of a once popular vehicle. The CA was a distinctive pug-nosed light commercial vehicle produced between 1952 and 1969, manufactured in short-wheelbase and long-wheelbase forms, each form available in either a 10–12 cwt or a 15 cwt version. Generally it was supplied as a light delivery van with sliding doors, but it was also available as a chassis with cowl upon which specialist bodywork could be added. The Bedford Dormobile was a Campervan conversion based on the Bedford CA van. In its day, the vehicle was ubiquitous; the Ford Transit of its time. These vehicles were built from very thin sheet steel and rusted badly, meaning that they are now rare.
These two-door coupés were built for BMW by Karmann from 1968 to 1975 and were developed from the New Class-based BMW 2000 CS coupé. The first of the E9 coupés, the 2800 CS, replaced the 2000 C and 2000 CS in 1968. The wheelbase and length were increased to allow the engine bay to be long enough to accommodate the new straight-six engine code-named M30, and the front of the car was restyled to resemble the E3 saloon. The rear axle, however, remained the same as that used in the lesser “Neue Klasse” models and the rear brakes were initially drums – meaning that the 2800 saloon was a better performing car, as it was also lighter. The CS’ advantages were thus strictly optical to begin with The 2800 CS used the 2,788 cc version of the engine used in the E3 2800 saloon. The engine produced 170 hp.The 2800CS was replaced by the 3.0 CS and 3.0 CSi in 1971. The engine had been bored out to give a displacement of 2,986 cc, and was offered with a 9.0:1 compression ratio, twin carburettors, and 180 hp in the 3.0 CS or a 9.5:1 compression ratio, Bosch D-Jetronic fuel injection, and 200 hp in the 3.0 CSi. There was a 4 speed manual and an automatic transmission variant. Introduced in May 1972, the 3.0 CSL was a homologation special built to make the car eligible for racing in the European Touring Car Championship. 1,265 were built. The “L” in the designation meant leicht (light), unlike in other BMW designations, where it meant lang (long). The lightness was achieved by using thinner steel to build the unit body, deleting the trim and soundproofing, using aluminium alloy doors, bonnet, and boot lid, and using Perspex side windows. The five hundred 3.0 CSLs exported to the United Kingdom were not quite as light as the others, as the importer had insisted on retaining the soundproofing, electric windows, and stock E9 bumpers on these cars. Initially using the same engine as the 3.0 CS, the 3.0 CSL was given a very small increase in displacement to 3,003 cc by increasing the engine bore by one quarter of a millimetre. This was done in August 1972 to allow the CSL to be raced in the “over three litre” racing category, allowing for some increase in displacement in the racing cars. In 1973, the engine in the 3.0 CSL was given another, more substantial increase in displacement to 3,153 cc by increasing the stroke to 84 mm. This final version of the 3.0 CSL was homologated in July 1973 along with an aerodynamic package including a large air dam, short fins running along the front fenders, a spoiler above and behind the trailing edge of the roof, and a tall rear wing. The rear wings were not installed at the factory, but were left in the boot for installation after purchase. This was done because the wings were illegal for use on German roads. The full aero package earned the racing CSLs the nickname “Batmobile”. In 1973, Toine Hezemans won the European Touring Car Championship in a 3.0 CSL and co-drove a 3.0 CSL with Dieter Quester to a class victory at Le Mans. Hezemans and Quester had driven to second place at the 1973 German Touring Car Grand Prix at Nürburgring, being beaten only by Chris Amon and Hans-Joachim Stuck in another 3.0 CSL 3.0 CSLs would win the European Touring Car Championship again in every year from 1975 to 1979. The 3.0 CSL was raced in the IMSA GT Championship in 1975, with Sam Posey, Brian Redman, and Ronnie Peterson winning races during the season. The first two BMW Art Cars were 3.0 CSLs; the first was painted by Alexander Calder and the second by Frank Stella.
The BMW E30 is the second generation of BMW 3 Series, which was produced from 1982 to 1994 and replaced the E21 3 Series, and was the car which really saw the popularity of the 3 Series increase dramatically. . Development of the E30 3 Series began in July 1976, with styling being developed under chief designer Claus Luthe with exterior styling led by Boyke Boyer. In 1978, the final design was approved, with design freeze (cubing process) being completed in 1979. BMW’s launch film for the E30 shows the design process including Computer-aided design (CAD), crash testing and wind-tunnel testing. The car was released at the end of November 1982. Externally, the E30’s appearance is very similar to twin headlight versions of its E21 predecessor, however there are various detail changes in styling to the E30. Major differences to the E21 include the interior and a revised suspension, the latter to reduce the oversteer for which the E21 was criticised. At launch, the car had a 2 door style like its predecessor and just four engines, all of them petrol: the 316 and 318 four cylinder units and the 320 and 323i 6 cylinders. This last was soon upgraded to a 2.5 litre unit. Diesel models were added during the 80s and there was an all-wheel drive 325iX option for continental European markets. In addition to the 2 door saloon and Baur convertible body styles of its E21 predecessors, the E30 became available by early 1984 as a four-door sedan and later a five-door station wagon (marketed as “Touring”). The Touring body style began life as a prototype built by BMW engineer Max Reisböck in his friend’s garage in 1984 and began production in 1987. The factory convertible version began production in 1985, with the Baur convertible conversions remaining available alongside it. Following the launch of the E36 3 Series in 1990, the E30 began to be phased out. Seen here was a 325i Cabriolet
Sole example of BMW’s M cars here was this E30 generation M3. Produced initially purely as a homologation special, the car achieved far greater levels of interest than ever imagined, and the rest, as they say, is history. Based on the 1986 model year E30 3 Series, the car was initially available with the 2 door body and was later offered as a convertible bodies. The E30 M3 used the BMW S14 engine. The first iteration of the road car engine produced 195 PS with a catalytic converter and 200 PS without a catalytic converter in September 1989 power was increased to 215 PS with a catalytic converter. The “Evolution” model (also called “EVO2”) produced 220 PS. Other Evolution model changes included larger wheels (16 X 7.5 inches), thinner rear and side window glass, a lighter bootlid, a deeper front splitter and additional rear spoiler. Later the “Sport Evolution” model production run of 600 (sometimes referred as “EVO3”) increased engine displacement to 2.5 litres and produced 238 PS. Sport Evolution models have enlarged front bumper openings and an adjustable multi-position front splitter and rear wing. Brake cooling ducts were installed in place of front foglights. An additional 786 convertibles were also produced. The E30 M3 differed from the rest of the E30 line-up in many other ways. Although using the same basic unit-body shell as the standard E30, the M3 was equipped with 12 different and unique body panels for the purposes of improving aerodynamics, as well as “box flared” wheel-arches in the front and rear to accommodate a wider track with wider and taller wheels and tyres. The only exterior body panels the standard model 3 Series and the M3 shared were the bonnet, roof panel, sunroof, and door panels. The E30 M3 differed from the standard E30 by having a 5×120 wheel bolt pattern. The E30 M3 had increased caster angle through major front suspension changes. The M3 had specific solid rubber offset control arm bushings. It used aluminium control arms and the front strut tubes were changed to a design similar (bolt on kingpins and swaybar mounted to strut tube) to the E28 5 Series. This included carrying over the 5 series front wheel bearings and brake caliper bolt spacing. The rear suspension was a carry over from the E30. The E30 M3 had special front and rear brake calipers and rotors. It also has a special brake master cylinder. The E30 M3 had one of two Getrag 265 5-speed gearboxes. US models received an overdrive transmission while European models were outfitted with a dogleg version, with first gear being down and to the left, and fifth gear being a direct 1:1 ratio. Rear differentials installed included a 4.10:1 final-drive ratio for US models. European versions were equipped with a 3.15:1 final drive ratio. All versions were clutch-type limited-slip differentials with 25% lockup. To keep the car competitive in racing following year-to-year homologation rules changes, homologation specials were produced. These include the Evo 1, Evo 2, and Sport Evolution, some of which featured less weight, improved aerodynamics, taller front wheel arches (Sport Evolution; to further facilitate 18-inch wheels in DTM), brake ducting, and more power. Other limited-production models (based on evolution models but featuring special paintwork and/or unique interior schemes commemorating championship wins) include the Europa, Ravaglia, Cecotto, and Europameister. Production of the original E30 M3 ended in early 1992.
This is a 525e, an economy-oriented version of the E28 range of cars. The E28 was the second generation of the 5 Series and was produced from 1981 to 1988. It replaced the E12 and was initially produced with petrol 4-cylinder and 6-cylinder engines. The E28 was the first 5 Series with the centre console angled towards the driver and the option of anti-lock brakes (ABS). At launch, four models were offered: The 518, 520i, 525i and 528i. Over the course of the E28 model, the following models were added: the 524d and 524td using diesel engines, the 518i with manifold injection, the 525e/528e as fuel-economy models, and the upper-specification 533i, 535i, M535i and M5 models. The 525e used a 2.7-litre 6-cylinder M20 petrol engine tuned to provide torque at low engine speed, rather than the traditional high revving characteristics of BMW straight-6 engines. According to BMW, the 525e was more fuel efficient than the 520i, which had the same rated power. The concept was not repeated in the model’s successor, the E34 of 1988.
The first car to bear the 6 Series nomenclature was the E24, which was launched in 1976, as a replacement for the E9 model 3.0 CS and CSL coupés first produced in 1965. The 3.0 CS was almost changed by adding a few cm in height to make it easier for customers to get into the car. However, Bob Lutz rebelled against the decision and rough drafted an alternative version that soon became the 6 series. Production started in March 1976 with two models: the 630 CS and 633 CSi. Originally the bodies were manufactured by Karmann, but production was later taken in-house to BMW. In July 1978 a more powerful variant, the 635 CSi, was introduced that featured as standard a special close-ratio 5-speed gearbox and a single piece black rear spoiler. The bigger bore and shorter stroke facilitated max 218 hp at 5200rpm and a better torque curve. For the first year, the 635 CSi was offered in three colours (Polaris, Henna Red, Graphite), and could also be spotted by the front air dam that did not have attached fog lights. These simple cosmetic changes reportedly worked to reduce uplift on the car at high speeds by almost 15% over the non-spoiler body shape. This early model shared suspension components with the inaugural BMW 5-series, the E12. In 1979 the carburettor 630 CS was replaced with the 628 CSi with its fuel injected 2.8 litre engine taken from the BMW 528i. In 1980 the 635 CSi gained the central locking system that is also controlled from the boot. Also, the E24 body style converted from L-jetronic injection to a Bosch Motronic DME. In 1982 (Europe) and 1983 (US), the E24 changed slightly in appearance, with an improved interior and slightly modified exterior. At the same time, the 635 CSi received a new engine, a slightly smaller-bored and longer-stroked 3430 cc six to replace the former 3453 cc engine and became available with a wide-ratio 5-speed manual or an automatic. This slight change was in fact a major change as pre-1982 cars were based on the E12 5-series chassis; after mid-1982, E24s shared the improved E28 5-series chassis. The only parts that remained the same were some of the exterior body panels. E24s produced after June 1987 came with new, ellipsoid headlamps which projects beam more directly onto road surface (newly introduced E32 7-series also sporting them). The sleeker European bumpers were also discontinued. Previous cars had either a European-standard bumper or a larger, reinforced bumper to meet the US standard requiring bumpers to withstand impact at 5 mph without damage to safety-related components. 1989 was the last year for the E24 with production stopping in April. The E24 was supplanted by the considerably heavier, more complex, and more exclusive 8 Series. BMW Motorsport introduced the M 635 CSi in Europe at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1983. It is essentially an E24 powered by the powerplant of the BMW M1 – the M88 with 286 PS). Most of the cars were equipped with special metric 415 mm diameter wheels requiring Michelin TRX tyres. A catalysed, lower compression ratio version of the car with the S38 engine (260 PS ) was introduced in the U.S. in 1987. All M6 cars came standard with a 25% rear limited slip differential. U.S. models included additional comforts that were usually optional on models sold in Europe such as Nappa leather power seats and a dedicated rear A/C unit with a centre beverage chiller. 4,088 M635CSi cars were built between 1983 and 1988 with 1,767 U.S. M6 built. Seen here was a rather nice M635 CSi.
Looking rather like an elongated version of the 6 Series, which is indeed what it was, the first 7 series, the E23, debuted in 1977 to replace the E3 2500/2800/3.0Si series of sports/luxury saloons and was initially offered with a choice of two carb fed engines, the 728, 730 and the injected 733i. A series of updates to the engines gradually saw fuel injection standardised, the replacement of the 3 speed automatic gearbox with a 4 speed unit and then a switchable one, with two modes, one of the first cars to offer this, and a mild facelift made the front end more aerodynamic, before the car was replaced by the new E32 model in 1986. There are few survivors in the UK.
This 73 Fleetwood Sedan was from the last generation before the cars got a bit smaller. This body style was produced from 1971 through to 1976. With 64.3 inches front shoulder room (62.1 inches on Cadillac) and 63.4 inches rear shoulder room (64.0 inches on Cadillac) the new for 1971 full-sized GM cars set a record for interior width that would not be matched by any car until the full-size GM rear-wheel-drive models of the early to mid-1990s. The styling of the new Cadillacs bore a strong resemblance to the models they replaced, but there were differences. Pairs of individually housed squarish headlamps were set wider apart. The V-shaped grille had an eggcrate style insert and was protected by massive vertical guards framing a rectangular license plate indentation. A wide bonnet with full-length windsplints, a prominent centre crease and hidden windshield wipers was seen. A Cadillac crest decorated the nose and new indicator lamps appeared atop each front fender. A horizontal beltline moulding ran from behind the front wheel housing, almost to the rear stopping where an elliptical bulge in the body came to a point and where thin rectangular side markers were placed above and below the chrome strip. The rear wheel openings were again housed in fender skirts. Tail lamps were of the same type as before but were no longer divided by a chrome bar. Long horizontal back-up lamps were set in the bumper, on either side of a deeply recessed license plate housing. De Villes were set apart visually by thin bright metal rocker panel steps and signature script on the front fenders bearing the series name. The bottoms of the rear fenders were decorated with a bright metal beauty panel that was wider than the rocker panel strips and blended into the moulding running along the bottom of the fender skirt. The standard engine remained the 472, still rated at 375 SAE gross hp and 365 lb/ft of torque. Detailed styling changes were made every year throughout the 5 year production run, with energy absorbing bumpers appearing in 1973, a year in which sales set a new record at 216,243. 1974 saw the introduction of the optional “Air Cushion Restraint System”. Known today as airbags, this option provided protection for front seat occupants in the case of a frontal collision. One bag was located in the steering wheel, the other in the dashboard in front of the front seat passenger. The glove box was replaced with a lockable storage compartment under the dashboard. The option was unpopular and was discontinued after the 1976 model year.
The second generation Corvette sometimes referred to as the C2, was launched in 1963. This model introduced us to the name Sting Ray. It continued with fibreglass body panels, and overall, was smaller than the first generation. The car was designed by Larry Shinoda with major inspiration from a previous concept design called the “Q Corvette,” which was created by Peter Brock and Chuck Pohlmann under the styling direction of Bill Mitchell. Earlier, Mitchell had sponsored a car known as the “Mitchell Sting Ray” in 1959 because Chevrolet no longer participated in factory racing. This vehicle had the largest impact on the styling of this generation, although it had no top and did not give away what the final version of the C2 would look like. The third inspiration was a Mako Shark Mitchell had caught while deep-sea fishing. Production started for the 1963 model year and ended in 1967. The 1963 model was the first year for a Corvette coupé and it featured a distinctive tapering rear deck (a feature that later reappeared on the 1971 “Boattail” Buick Riviera) with, for 1963 only, a split rear window. The Sting Ray featured hidden headlamps, non-functional bonnet vents, and an independent rear suspension. Corvette chief engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov never liked the split rear window because it blocked rear vision, but Mitchell thought it to be a key part of the entire design. Maximum power for 1963 was 360 bhp, raised to 375 bhp in 1964. Options included electronic ignition, the breakerless magnetic pulse-triggered Delcotronic first offered on some 1963 Pontiac models. On 1964 models the decorative bonnet vents were eliminated and Duntov, the Corvette’s chief engineer, got his way with the split rear window changed to a full width window. Four-wheel disc brakes were introduced in 1965, as was a “big block” engine option: the 396 cu in (6.49 litre) V8. Side exhaust pipes were also optionally available in 1965, and continued to be offered through 1967. The introduction of the 425 bhp 396 cu in big block in 1965 spelled the beginning of the end for the Rochester fuel injection system. The 396 cu in option cost $292.70 while the fuel injected 327 cu in (5.36 litre) engine cost $538.00. Few people could justify spending $245.00 more for 50 bhp less, even though FI could deliver over 20 mpg on the highway and would keep delivering fuel despite high G-loading in corners taken at racing speeds. Another rare ’63 and ’64 option was the Z06 competition package, which offered stiffer suspension, bigger, multi-segment lined brakes with finned drums and more, only a couple hundred coupes and ONE convertible were factory-equipped this way in 1963. With only 771 fuel-injected cars built in 1965, Chevrolet discontinued the option at the end of the ’65 production, having introduced a less-expensive big block 396 engine rated at 425 hp in the middle of the production year and selling over 2,000 in just a few months. For 1966, Chevrolet introduced an even larger 427 cu in 7 litre Big Block version. Other options available on the C2 included the Wonderbar auto-tuning AM radio, AM-FM radio (mid-1963), air conditioning (late-1963), a telescopic steering wheel (1965), and headrests (1966). The Sting Ray’s independent rear suspension was successfully adapted for the new-for-1965 Chevrolet Corvair, which solved the quirky handling problems of that unique rear-engine compact. 1967 was the final year for the C2 generation. The 1967 model featured restyled bumper vents, less ornamentation, and back-up lamps which were on the inboard in 1966 were now rectangular and centrally located. The first use of all four taillights in red started in 1961 and was continued thru the C-2 line-up except for the 1966. The 1967 and subsequent models continuing on all Corvettes since. 1967 had the first L88 engine option which was rated at 430 bhp, but unofficial estimates place the actual output at 560 bhp or more. Only twenty such engines were installed at the factory. From 1967 (to 1969), the Holley triple two-barrel carburettor, or Tri-Power, was available on the 427 L89 (a $368 option, on top of the cost for the high-performance 427). Despite these changes, sales slipped over 15%, to 22,940 – 8,504 coupes and 14,436 convertibles.
This El Camino dates from 1969. Chevrolet introduced a longer El Camino in 1968, based on the Chevelle station wagon/four-door sedan wheelbase (116 in (2,946 mm), overall length: 208 in (5,283 mm)); it also shared Chevelle Malibu exterior and interior trims. The interior was revamped including cloth and vinyl or all-vinyl bench seats and deep twist carpeting. All-vinyl Strato bucket seats and centre console were an $111 option. Power front disc brakes and Positraction were optional. A new, high-performance Super Sport SS396 version was launched. The Turbo-Jet 396 was offered in 325 bhp or 350 bhp versions. Returning to the official options list for the first time since late 1966 was the 375 bhp (280 kW) L78. It had solid lifters, big-port heads, and an 800 cfm Holley four-barrel on a low-rise aluminium manifold. A three-speed manual was standard with all engines, and a four-speed or automatic was optional. In 1968, the SS was a separate model (the “SS-396”). The 1969 models showed only minor changes, led by more-rounded front-end styling. A single chrome bar connected quad headlights, and a slotted bumper held the parking lights. New round instrument pods replaced the former linear layout. For the first time, the Chevrolet 350 V8 was used in an El Camino. The Super Sport group included a 265 or 325 bhp 396-cubic-inch V8 beneath a double-domed hood, along with a black-out grille displaying an SS emblem. More potent editions of the 396 engine, developing 350 or 375 bhp also made the options list. Options included power windows and locks. Curiously, back-up lights moved from the rear bumper to the tailgate, where they were ineffective when the gate was down. The 1970 models received sheet metal revisions that gave the bodies a more squared-up stance, and interiors were also redesigned. The new SS396, which actually displaced 402 cu in (6.6 L) (although all emblems read 396) was available. Chevrolet’s largest and most-powerful engine of the time was also put into a select few El Caminos. The LS6 454 CID engine, rated at 450 bhp and 500 lb⋅ft (678 N⋅m) of torque, gave the El Camino 1/4-mile times in the upper 13-second range at around 106 mph (171 km/h). The 1971 El Camino got fresh front-end styling (again shared with the Chevelle) that included large Power-Beam single-unit headlights, a reworked grille and bumper, and integral park/signal/marker lights. For 1971, mandated lower-octane unleaded fuel necessitated a reduction in engine compression, and GM’s A.I.R. system, a “smog pump”, was added to control tailpipe emissions. Power and performance were reduced. Engine offerings for 1971 included the 250-6, small-block V8s of 307 and 350 cubic inches; and big block V8s of 402 and 454-cubic-inch displacements. Horsepower ratings of those engines for 1971 ranged from 145 for the six to 365 for the RPO LS5 454 – all in gross figures. The LS6 454 V8 was gone forever. A rebadged El Camino, the GMC Sprint debuted in 1971. It shared the same engine and transmission offerings as its Chevrolet counterpart. The 1972 El Caminos wore single-unit parking and side marker lights on their front fenders, outside of a revised twin-bar grille, but little changed. For 1972, horsepower measurements were switched to the “net” figures as installed in a vehicle with all accessories and emission controls hooked up. Engine offerings included the 110 bhp 250-6, a 307 V8, a 175 bhp 350-cubic-inch V8, and big block V8s of 402 and 454 cubic-inch displacements. The 402-cubic-inch (still known as a 396) produced 240 hp; the 454 managed to put out 270 bhp under the net rating system. Super Sport equipment could now be ordered with any V8 engine, including the base 307-cubic-inch version. All 1972 El Caminos with the 454 ci engine have a “W” as the fifth digit in the VIN, and the 454 was only available with Super Sport trim. A fourth generation model arrived for 1973.
Most recognisable of the various historic Citroen cars parked up here were this duo of a 2CV and the associated Van version.
Much rarer these days is the Visa, especially in the pre-facelift form as seen here. Indeed, I had to scratch my head to figure out when I had last seen any Citroen Visa, even in its native France, as despite the fact that Citroen built 1,254,390 examples of the model between 1978 and 1988, the model is all but extinct everywhere. There was a very long gestation to this car, which goes all the way back to 1965, when Robert Opron worked on the Citroën G-mini prototype and projet EN101, a replacement for the 2CV, using the flat twin engine from the 2CV. It was supposed to launch in 1970. The advanced space efficient designs with very compact exterior dimensions and an aerodynamic drag co-efficient Cd of 0.32, were axed because of adverse feedback from potential clients. With Citroen’s small car range all getting somewhat elderly, the decision was taken to try again, with the Citroën Prototype Y which was planned to replace the 2CV based Citroën Ami that dated back to 1960 in the early seventies. This was originally developed in co-operation with Fiat, built on the lessons from the Citroën G-mini and EN101 projects. It used the then new and advanced Fiat 127 platform, that used a transverse front wheel drive engine, with an end on gearbox layout that Fiat had pioneered in the 1960s. When co-operation with Fiat ended, a new Citroën designed platform was planned. After the takeover of Citroën by Peugeot in the wake of the 1974 oil crisis, the renamed “Projet VD (Voiture Diminuée)” became the Citroën Visa, incorporating the floor pan and advanced 104 engine, with its transmission (under the engine) and chassis. It was the first new model under the platform-sharing policy of PSA Peugeot Citroën that continues today. The earlier Citroën LN had just been a facelift of the Peugeot 104Z “Shortcut” with a re-engine and transmission from the Citroën Dyane. Eventually, in 1984, the original Citroën platform design from “Project Y” emerged as the Oltcit Club in Romania, using a Citroën Visa flat-twin engine and Citroën GS based gearbox, and Citroën GS flat-four engine and gearbox, and was also sold in Western Europe as the flat-four only Citroën Axel to recoup money that Citroën had invested in Romania, which the communist government could not repay. This project was problematic for Citroën due to build quality issues, only 60,184 cars were made, even though the base models were priced below the 2CV in Western Europe. The Axel was never sold in the UK. The five-door Citroën Visa and the three-door Axel look very similar, but there is no part interchangeable between these two Citroën models. The Visa entered a crowded market, with supermini competitors including the Chrysler Sunbeam, Mk1 Renault 5, Mk1 Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall Chevette, Mk1 VW Polo and Fiat 127. Though it was launched as a supermini, it was about the same length (3725mm) and height (1430mm), but slightly narrower at 1526mm than a Volkswagen Golf Mk1, which was in the next class up. It was part of a ‘between sizes’ policy that Citroën also followed with the BX. From its launch in September 1978, the front-wheel drive Visa was available in “Spécial” and “Club” models with a mapped electronic ignition 652 cc, 2-cylinder and a “Super” (later “Super E”) model (called the 11RE after 1984), with the advanced Peugeot 1,124 cc Douvrin engine / PSA X engine, a four-cylinder “Suitcase engine” — all aluminium alloy, chain driven overhead cam, with gearbox in the sump, sharing engine oil, mounted almost on its side. The 1124 cc was as economical as the Citroën 2CV-derived twin, but with much better performance. Later on it had 1,219 cc (Super X) and then 954 cc (10E after 1984) and 1,360 cc (1983 Visa GT and 14TRS after 1985) versions of the same engine. The ergonomic design of the Visa controls used a Citroën “PRN Satellite” (P=Pluie – Rain, R=Route – Road, N=Nuit – Night) which gave access on one cylindrical unit to wipers, washers, horn, indicators, headlamps and flashers, all mounted a finger’s reach away from the steering wheel. The heat and ventilation control sliders that moved in arcs, were on the other side of the steering wheel, also within closer reach than usual. In 1982 the Visa underwent a major external restyling, designed by Heuliez, to look more mainstream. It kept the original interior and “PRN Satellite” controls until 1985 when, along with the Citroën BX, it was updated with a new bulkier dashboard, instruments and switchgear that made the car feel smaller inside. Stalk switchgear like contemporary Peugeots added self-cancelling indicators, but it kept the original monospoke steering wheel. It had very soft, but well damped, long travel, fully independent suspension with coil-sprung MacPherson struts at the front and coil sprung trailing arms at the rear, that caused it to have a soft ride like the Citroën 2CV, but without such extreme roll angles. CAR magazine made the Visa diesel one of its top ten models on the market for two years running in the mid-1980s (January 1986 and 1987), for its versatility (higher models in the range had split rear seats which could be lifted-out to give an almost van-like luggage capacity); ride comfort (“like a limousine”); its ability to maintain high average speeds due to high levels of grip; and value for money. It was also particularly aerodynamically stable at high speeds for a relatively light, narrow and tall car. It would remain unperturbed by cross-winds and truck bow waves at motorway speeds. It also had at the middle ‘R’ trim level and above, (currently unfashionable), but practical, grey plastic side rubbing strips, to protect against car park damage. The very curved sides of the windscreen, enabled the use of a very large single wiper on the long narrow windscreen, without fouling the windscreen seal. The front of the revised car, was designed to aerodynamically reduce the deposition of dirt on the headlights, and to reduce the risk of stone chips to the headlights, bonnet and windscreen. The heating and ventilation system, (even though it used only a water control valve for temperature control and not air mixing), could provide cold air from fascia side vents, to the face while warming the car. The central directable fascia vents could be heated and angled, so that they could be pointed directly at the windscreen in front of the driver, to keep it clear in extreme misting conditions. There was also an additional mid level vent, to blow air between the front seats to the back of the car. The rear parcel shelf was in two hinged sections, one in the car, the other on the tailgate, to allow objects that were slightly too tall to still fit without removing the shelf. When carrying larger loads, the part of the shelf attached to the tailgate could be folded up, and fixed with the elasticated support strings, to protect the rear window and heated rear screen elements. Long time CAR magazine columnist George Bishop, actually bought one with his own money. Before the advent of the diesel model, the electronic ignition (mechanical and vacuum controlled), 1124cc high compression engined Super E, (later renamed 11RE) with high gearing, was the best seller in the range. It was better equipped than the base 1.0 litre Austin Metro and Ford Fiesta it was priced against, having height adjustable halogen headlights, intermittent rear wash-wipe and multi-speed / intermittent front wipers, heated rear window, removable split folding rear seats, as well as five doors when its main competitors in the UK only had three, (the five-door Metro was launched in 1985, the five-door mark three Fiesta launched in 1989). A five speed gearbox was optional, when the base model competitors could only be had with a four speed. Most 1980s base model hatchback economy cars did without halogen headlights and rear wash-wipes, even heated rear windows could be optional. The 1984 launched 954cc 10E model was a direct competitor on specification to the Metro and Fiesta, but significantly undercut them on price. A four-door convertible version, with the doors and window frames remaining intact, of the 11RE was also produced in the Heuliez factory from 1984. This was heavier and slower than the hatchback that it was based on. In spring 1984 the very successful diesel version was added. The Visa 17D and 17RD used the famously rugged and refined, class-leading 1,769 cc XUD diesel and transmission from the Peugeot 205. It also capably powered the Peugeot 405, which was two classes larger, and made light work of powering the lightweight Visa. It had too wide a track for the original engine compartment and wings, so the front wings were extended with large black plastic wheel arch panels. The spare wheel that in smaller petrol engine versions, was mounted on top of the flat or near horizontal engine, was bolted to the otherwise flat boot floor — compromising luggage space. In continental Europe, a basic diesel van the ‘Visa Enterprise’ was sold that used the normal Visa bodyshell with the rear doors welded shut. It mounted a spacesaver spare wheel under the bonnet, over the diesel engine. Some diesel hatchbacks there, also used this arrangement. At the Paris Salon 1984, for model year 1985, the 1.4 litre TRS was presented. This version was produced for two years (1985–1987), shared its engine with the Citroën BX14. Even though it received a favourable review by CAR magazine who felt it was a better performance/economy compromise than the 11RE, it wasn’t very successful, due to being squeezed by the Visa Diesel and the extremely competitively priced BX 14. Between 1985 and 1987 the 1.1 litre petrol and 1.7 litre diesel “Leader” special editions were marketed. In the latter half of the eighties a 55 PS catalysed version of the 1,360 cc engine was added for markets with stricter emissions standards. No automatic gearbox version was produced. The first sporting versions of the Visa included the “Visa GT” (1.4 litre with double-barrel carburettor and 80 hp, the “Visa Chrono” (93 hp) from the 1.4 litre engine, this time with two double-barrel carbs). The Visa “Mille Pistes” (112 hp) and four-wheel drive) was the rare production version of Citroen’s successful (if unlikely looking) Visa rally car, the Visa Chrono and Chrono II. At the Paris Salon 1984, for model year 1985, the high-performance 1.6 GTi was presented. The GTi used the 1.6 litre fuel injected XU5J engine and transmission combination (105 or 115 hp) versions) from the successful Pininfarina styled Peugeot 205 GTI. Citroën gave the GTi plastic wheel arch extensions and quad round headlights, to differentiate the model and try to make it look more sporty. It received good reviews about its ride, performance and roadholding, but due to its older, failed facelift looks and its five-doors, even with a much lower price than the chic 205 it was not a big seller. The Visa hatchback ceased production in 1988, after a production run of 1,254,390 cars. It was only partially replaced in the Citroën range by the smaller and less commodious 1987 five-door Citroën AX. The upper end of the range would eventually be replaced by the small engined models of the 1991 Citroën ZX, there being a 1.1 litre version of that car in some countries, but a 1.4 litre was the smallest engine in the UK. The 1985 Citroën C15 diesel box van version of the Visa continued to be produced until 2005, (although the petrols were phased out in the early 1990s), due to its practicality (able to load a standard pallet) and low running costs, even though the 1996 Citroën Berlingo was supposed to replace it. The C15 was also the basis of the Romahome camper van. In the UK, there were nearly 20,000 examples still registered in 1994, but by 2002 that figure had fallen below 1,000 and as of 2011 there were a mere 136 still registered, 95 of them as SORN. A rare sighting indeed.
Despite the fact that 2,315,739 BXs were built during its 12-year production run, and the car sold well in the UK, these are getting increasingly scarce, so it was nice to see a couple here, a BX 19TRS and the limited edition Flight model which was based on the 14TE. This rather angular hatchback was designed by Marcello Gandini of Bertone, based on his unused design for the British 1977 Reliant FW11 concept and his 1979 Volvo Tundra concept car. It was the second car to benefit from the merger of Peugeot and Citroën in 1976, the first being the Citroën Visa launched in 1978. The BX shared its platform with the more conventional 405 that appeared in 1987, except the rear suspension which is from a Peugeot 305 Break. Among the features that set the car apart from the competition was the traditional Citroën hydropneumatic self-levelling suspension, extensive use of plastic body panels (bonnet, tailgate, bumpers), and front and rear disc brakes. The BX dispensed with the air cooled, flat four engine which powered the GS, and replaced it with the new PSA group XY, TU and XU series of petrol engines in 1360 cc, 1580 cc and, from 1984, 1905 cc displacements. In some countries, a weaker, 80 PS version of the 1580cc engine was badged as the BX15E instead of BX16. A 1124 cc engine, in the 11TE, very unusual in a car of this size, was also available in countries where car tax was a direct function of engine capacity, such as Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Greece. The 11TE model was seen by foreign motoring press as slow and uncomfortable. It was fitted to the cars made from 1988 to 1993 and produced 55 hp. The 1.1 and 1.4 models used the PSA X engine (known widely as the “Douvrin” or “Suitcase Engine”), the product of an earlier Peugeot/Renault joint venture, and already fitted in the Peugeot 104 and Renault 14. The 1.6 version was the first car to use the all-new short-stroke XU-series engine. It was produced in a new engine plant at Trémery built specifically for this purpose, and was later introduced in a larger 1.9-litre version and saw long service in a variety of Peugeots and Citroëns. The XUD diesel engine version was launched in November 1983. The diesel and turbo diesel models were to become the most successful variants, they were especially popular as estates and became the best selling diesel car in Britain in the late 1980s. Despite being launched on the continent in the autumn of 1982, it wasn’t launched onto the British market until August 1983, initially only with 1.4 and 1.6 petrol engines, although further engine options and the estate model would arrive later, and it would go onto become one of the most popular foreign-built cars here during the second half of the 1980s. A year after the launch of the hatchback model, an estate version was made available. In 1984 power steering became optional, welcome particularly in the diesel models. In the late 1980s, a four-wheel drive system and turbodiesel engines were introduced. In 1986 the MK2 BX was launched. The interior and dashboard was redesigned to be more conventional-looking than the original, which used Citroën’s idiosyncratic “satellite” switchgear, and “bathroom scale” speedometer. These were replaced with more conventional stalks for light and wipers and analogue instruments. The earlier GT (and Sport) models already had a “normal” speedometer and tachometer. The exterior was also slightly updated, with new more rounded bumpers, flared wheelarches to accept wider tyres, new and improved mirrors and the front indicators replaced with larger clear ones which fitted flush with the headlights. The elderly Douvrin engine was replaced by the newer TU-series engine on the 1.4 litre models, although it continued to be installed in the tiny BX11 until 1992. 1988 saw the launch of the BX Turbo Diesel, which was praised by the motoring press. The BX diesel was already a strong seller, but the Turbo model brought new levels of refinement and performance to the diesel market, which brought an end to the common notion that diesel cars were slow and noisy. Diesel Car magazine said of the BX “We can think of no other car currently on sale in the UK that comes anywhere near approaching the BX Turbo’s combination of performance, accommodation and economy”.In 1989, the BX range had further minor revisions and specification improvements made to it, including smoked rear lamp units, new wheeltrims and interior fabrics. Winning many Towcar of the Year awards, the BX was renowned as a tow car (as was its larger sister, the CX), especially the diesel models, due to their power and economy combined with the self levelling suspension. The biggest problem of the BX was its variable build quality, compared to its competition. In 1983, one quarter of the production needed “touchups” before they could be shipped, though later models were more solid. The last BX was sold around 1994, by which time its successors had already been launched. It had been partially replaced by the smaller ZX in early 1991, but its key replacement was the slightly larger Xantia that went on sale at the beginning of 1993. The BX was launched onto the right-hand drive UK market in August 1983, initially only with 1.4 and 1.6 petrol engines, although by 1986 it had been joined by more engine options as well as a five-door estate model. The BX enjoyed a four-year run as the UK’s best selling diesel engine car from 1987, and was consistently among the most popular imported cars.
Launched on 23 May 1989, the XM was the modern iteration of the Big Citroën, a flagship saloon replacement for the Citroën CX. It went on sale in its native France immediately afterwards, and was available in right-hand drive on the UK market from October 1989. The XM estate was launched in the spring of 1991, until which time the estate version of the CX remained in production. The XM inherited a loyal global customer base of executive class customers and a clear brand image, but did not enjoy the commercial success and iconic status of its predecessors, the CX and the DS, which both raised the bar of automotive performance for other manufacturers. With total sales over its lifetime of just 330,000 units in 11 years, and the fact that its replacement Citroën C6 was not launched until the end of 2005 (despite being scheduled for launch in 2001), the XM might be considered a failure. By the second half of the 1990s, sales were in sharp decline, but Citroën did not end production of the car until 2000. There were many advances, most apparently designed to counteract the main criticisms of its predecessor. The CX leaned in corners, so the XM had active electronic management of the suspension; the CX rusted, so the XM had a partially galvanised body shell (many surviving XMs have very little corrosion); the CX was underpowered, so the XM offered the option of a 3.0 L V6 engine – the first V6 in a Citroën since the Maserati-engined SM ceased production in the mid 1970s. When the estate model joined the line-up, Citroën had a competitor at almost every level with most other similar-sized European cars. Ventilation was markedly more effective in the XM. Rear accommodation in the XM was improved over the CX in both width, legroom and height. In particular the rear passengers were seated higher than those in the front in order to afford a good view out, important for a vehicle which would operate in French government service. The XM shared a floorpan with the Peugeot 605, and the two models fared similarly in both teething problems and market acceptance. Unlike the 605 sedan design, the XM was a liftback design – a feature thought to be desirable in certain European markets – perhaps uniquely, it featured an additional glass panel that could lift with the tailgate but when shut, isolated the passenger compartment, to mimic the feel of a salon car. In mid-1994, the XM was revised in order to improve competitiveness. This did not materially impact sales. All models were fitted with driver’s airbag (signalling the end of the single-spoke steering wheel), belt-pretensioners, a redesigned dashboard and upper door casings. The suspension was redesigned to reduce roll, pitch and dive. Most noticeable was the adoption of a passive rear-steering system similar to that on the Citroën Xantia. This sharpened the “steering without inducing a nervous twitch.” Power output on the turbocharged motor was increased to 150 bhp from 145 bhp at 4400 rpm. This allowed the car to develop more torque at much lower revs. The important 50–70 acceleration time was 8 seconds compared to the Ford Scorpio 2.0 16V Ghia’s 17 seconds. The view of CAR magazine was that this engine “provides unusually swift access to effortless power … it delivers progressively with commendably little fuss; that this 2.0 turbo is as refined as it is muscular makes the XM’s performance all the more creditable”. XM was intended to compete against prestige vehicles like the Audi 100 and BMW’s 5 Series in a sector that accounted for 14.2% of the European market. It also competed with cars from mainstream brands including the Ford Scorpio and Opel Omega. Citroën was quoted as saying that the car was supposed to “take what Citroën means and make it acceptable”. The car’s initial reception was positive. Some six months after its launch, The XM won the prestigious European Car of the Year award for 1990 (gaining almost twice as many votes as the second, the Mercedes-Benz SL) and went on to win a further 14 major awards within a year of its launch. The anticipated annual sales of 450 cars a day in the first full year of production, or 160,000 units a year, never materialized. Sales never reached this ambitious level (higher than even its popular predecessor) for a variety of reasons. Like the CX, the XM did not have the worldwide distribution of competitors from BMW, Audi, and Mercedes-Benz. Also, it was launched only a year before a major global recession began, impacting negatively on car sales across the world; a notable example being the UK, where more than 2.3 million new cars were registered in 1989, but that figure fell to less than 1.6 million in 1991 (a drop of more than 30% in just two years). In Japan the XM was sold through Mazda’s Eunos dealership chain, part of an effort to minimize the appearance of Japan’s automobile market being closed to imports. It was also offered by Citroën’s traditional importer Seibu Motor, who kept selling the XM by themselves after the Eunos brand was discontinued in 1996. The market for executive cars made by volume manufacturers (Ford, Opel, etc.) was on the verge of decline as customers opted for offerings from more prestigious marques, a trend which saw Ford pull out of this market sector in 1998 and Opel in 2003.Customers were placing a higher priority on speed and handling rather than ride comfort which was Citroën’s specialty. The XM was underdeveloped at launch which resulted in reliability problems; the vehicle as designed was inconsistent in its abilities. The XM’s styling was also controversial and alienated those who desired a more conventional three box sedan. Peugeot introduced an XM competitor, the very similar Peugeot 605 that also sold weakly. Most subjective of all was the matter of the XM not living up to the expectations created by its forerunner the Citroën DS, despite that car having been launched in an era of national markets, of different demands and standards, an era when there was more scope for large advances in engineering and design than were possible in 1989. Export markets experienced lower sales from the outset, partly due to the XM’s pricing. The least expensive XM was nearly 50% more expensive at the time of launch than the corresponding CX. Whilst strong at first home market sales also declined, after the mechanical issues of the first few model years became known. By early 1993, the XM was viewed as an “underachiever”. Initial sales in the UK were at 3,500 units a year, making it Citroën’s weakest seller. The 2.0-litre petrol engined variants were viewed as being the least competitive. As a result, Citroën restructured the range such that all but the base model petrols were fitted with low-inertia Garret turbochargers to add an extra 15 bhp. This made the cars more powerful than more expensive competitors such as the Rover 820, Vauxhall Carlton and Ford Granada 2.0 GLX. After a run of 11 years, production finally ended in June 2000, with 337,000 made. By 1998, Citroën had confirmed that it would soon be discontinuing the XM and replacing it with an all-new model. At the Geneva Motor Show in March 1999, it unveiled the C6 Lignage concept car, which was scheduled for launch in 2001. In the event, the XM’s successor – the C6 – did not go on sale until late 2005 and was even less successful.
The Xantia replaced the earlier Citroën BX (which straddled both small and large family car segments), and maintained the high level of popularity of that model, but brought the car more into the mainstream to compete harder with its rivals, such as the Ford Mondeo, Nissan Primera, Rover 600, Toyota Carina E and Opel Vectra/Vauxhall Cavalier. Sales commenced in March 1993. The car was built from November 1992 to October 2002 in France, totalling almost ten years, including the facelift in December 1997. It signalled that Citroën had learned from the reception given to the staid Citroën ZX, introduced two years earlier, and criticised by contemporary journalists for its lack of traditional Citroën flair, in engineering and design. Citroën addressed these concerns in the Xantia. The Xantia also used the traditional Citroën hydropneumatic suspension system, which was pioneered by the older DS. It was initially only available as a hatchback (notchback) (Berline), but an estate (station wagon) (Break) version, built by Heuliez, appeared in September 1995. Inline with PSA Group policy, the Peugeot 406, launched two years later, used the same floorpan, core structure and engines as the Xantia. The Hydractive suspension system was not carried over, and the 406 utilised a more traditional spring suspension. Sales in the United Kingdom were strong, and even though it was never able to match the volume of British favourites, such as the Ford Mondeo or Vauxhall Vectra, the car did help Citroën establish a strong foothold in the business car market in the United Kingdom. The car seen here is a V6 Activa, believed to be the only one in the UK and one of just 32 survivors worldwide.
There were a number of classic Daimler models on show here. Dating from 1935 is this LQ 3-20 with an Arthur Mulliner body.
Second of these imposing Daimler cars was this 1938 E20 Big Six. The Daimler E20 was manufactured between 1935 and 1939. It offered the choice of coachbuilt Saloon, Sports Saloon, Fixed Head Coupe and Drop Head Coupe bodies on a notably stiff box section chassis that featured integral lubrication and jacking systems. The model was powered by an OHV straight-six engine of 2,565 cc with output of 19.3 HP – sufficient for a top speed of almost 70 mph. This was mated to a four-speed pre-selector gearbox via Daimler’s patented fluid flywheel. Suspension was by semi-elliptic springs and beam axles all round and braking by Girling servo-assisted drums. The total production of E20s was some 873, of which around 35 are known to have survived, making it a rare car today.
This is a 1947 DB18. The Daimler DB18 is an automobile which was produced by Daimler from 1939 to 1953. It is a 2½-litre version of the preceding 2.2-litre New Fifteen introduced in 1937. From 1949, the DB18 was revised to become the Daimler Consort. Using the engine developed for the Daimler Scout Car, it was offered to customers from 1939 as a six-cylinder chassis on which Daimler and various British coach builders offered a range of bodies including drop-head coupes. The model was introduced immediately before the Second World War, during which the company concentrated on the manufacture of military vehicles. To contemporaries the model was generally known as the Daimler 2½-litre until Daimler adopted the North American habit of giving their cars names (although not on any badgework), and an all-steel export version of the car was introduced in October 1948 at the London Motor Show, “principally for export” and branded as the Daimler Consort. The updates included the integration of the firewall into the body rather than it being part of the chassis, a move from rod operated mechanical brakes to a Girling-Bendix hydraulic front and rod operated rear system, incorporating the head lights into the front guards, and providing a badge plate behind the front bumper with a curved radiator grille replacing the flat one. The car used a 2,522 cc in-line six-cylinder, pushrod ohv engine fed by a single SU carburettor. Throughout its life, 70 bhp was claimed, though a change in the gearing in 1950 was marked by an increase in maximum speed from 76 mph (122 km/h) to 82 mph for the saloon, while the acceleration time from 0 – 50 mph (80 km/h) improved from 17.9 to 16.9 seconds. By the standards of the time the car was brisker than it looked. The car was supplied with the Daimler Fluid Flywheel coupled to a 4-speed Wilson Pre-selector gearbox. The independent front suspension used coil springs, while the back axle was suspended using a traditional semi-elliptical set-up. The chassis was “underslung” at the rear with the main chassis members passing below the rear axle. In mid-1950 the restricted ground clearance was improved by the adoption of a conventional hypoid bevel drive to the rear axle replacing the traditional Daimler underslung worm drive which had hampered sales outside Britain. Although offered originally as a chassis only model, post-war the most common version was a four-door saloon which Daimler themselves produced. The interior was fitted out with traditional “good taste” using mat leather and polished wood fillets. By the early 1950s, this coachwork was beginning to look unfashionably upright and “severe yet dignified”. In 1939, Winston Churchill commissioned Carlton Carriage Co to build a drophead coupe on a DB18 chassis, chassis No.49531. He used it during election campaigns in the later 1940s. Approximately 1,000 DB18s and 25 DB18 Special Sports were produced to 1940. In addition 3,355 DB18s, 608 DB18 Sports Specials and 4,250 DB18 Consorts were built in the post-war years. The Consort became a popular car among the wealthy in India. All together, over 100 cars were ordered, mainly by the Maharajas in India and a further dozen were ordered by Royalty in Ceylon and Burma.
Launched late in 1962, the Daimler V8 Saloon was essentially a rebadged Jaguar Mark 2 fitted with Daimler’s 2.5-litre 142 bhp V8 engine and drive-train, a Daimler fluted grille and rear number plate surround, distinctive wheel trims, badges, and interior details including a split-bench front seat from the Jaguar Mark 1 and a black enamel steering wheel. Special interior and exterior colours were specified. Most cars were fitted with power-assisted steering but it was optional. Automatic transmission was standard; manual, with or without overdrive, became an option in 1967. The 2.5 V8 was the first Jaguar designed car to have the Daimler badge. A casual observer, though not its driver, might mistake it for a Jaguar Mark 2. The Daimler’s stance on the road was noticeably different from a Mark 2. In April 1964 the Borg-Warner Type 35 automatic transmission was replaced by a D1/D2 type, also by Borg-Warner. A manual transmission, with or without an overdrive unit usable with the top gear, became available on British 2.5 V8 saloon in February 1967 and on export versions the following month. Cars optioned with the overdrive had the original 4.55:1 final drive ratio. In October 1967, there was a minor face-lift and re-labelling of the car to V8-250. It differed only in relatively small details: “slimline” bumpers and over-riders (shared with the Jaguar 240/340 relabelled at the same time), negative-earth electrical system, an alternator instead of a dynamo and twin air cleaners, one for each carburettor. Other new features included padding over the instrument panel, padded door cappings and ventilated leather upholstery, reclinable split-bench front seats and a heated rear window. Power steering and overdrive were optional extras. Jaguar replaced its range of saloons—the 240, the 340, the 420, and the 420G—with the XJ6 at the end of 1968. The company launched the XJ6-based Daimler Sovereign the following year to replace the Daimler saloons—the 240-based V8-250 and the 420-based Sovereign. Henceforth all new Daimlers would be re-badged Jaguars with no engineering links to the pre-1960 Daimlers.
Smallest Fiat here was a lovely example of the Nuova 500. Known as project 110, the brief for the Nuova 500 was to create a micro-car that would not only carry on the tradition of the earlier Topolino, but which would also take sales away from the ever popular Lambretta and Vespa scooters of the day. It clearly needed to be smaller than the 600 which had been released with a conventional 4 cylinder engine. Not an easy task, but development started in 1953 and by August 1954, two designs were ready to be shown to Fiat management. They selected one, and serious development began. At first the car was referred to as the 400, as it was going to have a 400cc engine, but it was soon realised that this was just too small, so a larger 500cc air-cooled engine was developed. It was signed off in January 1956, with production starting in March 1957 in advance of a June launch. Fiat’s marketing department got busy, with hundreds of the new car taking to the streets of Turin, each with a pretty girl standing through the open sunroof that was a feature of all the early cars. The press loved it. 50 units were shipped to Britain, where the car made its debut at Brands Hatch, and again the reception was enthusiastic. But the orders just did not come in. Fiat went for a hasty rethink, relaunching the car at the Turin Show later that year. power was increased from 13 to 15 bhp, and the poverty spec was lessened a little, with headlight bezels, brightwork on the side and chrrome hubcaps, a Nuova500 badge on the engine cover, winding side windows (the launch cars just had opening quarterlights) and the option of a heater fan. It was enough to get sales moving. The original car was still offered, at a lower price, called the Economy. In the first year of production, 28,452 Fiat 500s were made. Over the next 19 years, the car changed little in overall appearance, but there were a number of updates with more power and equipment added. A 500 Sport was launched in August 1958, with a more powerful version of the 499cc engine. It lost the soft top, having a ridged steel roof, to increase strength of the body. It was only available in grey with a red side flash. The first major changes came in 1960 with the 500D. This looks very similar to the Nuova, but with two key differences. One is the engine size: the D features an uprated 499 cc engine producing 17 bhp as standard, an engine which would be used right through until the end of the L in 1973; and the other is the roof: the standard D roof does not fold back as far as the roof on the Nuova, though it was also available as the “Transformable” with the same roof as the Nuova. The D still featured “suicide doors”. There were larger rear light clusters, more space in the front boot thanks to a redesign of the fuel tank and new indicators under the headlights. A year later, Fiat added a light on the rear-view mirrors and a windscreen washer, but the car still lacked a fuel gauge. Sales increased from 20,900 in 1960 to 87.000 in 1961, 132,000 in 1962 and by 1964, the last year of production, they hit 194,000 units. The D was replaced in 1965 by the 500F, which finally moved the door hinges from back to the front, owing to changes in Italian safety laws. There was a deeper windscreen and thinner door pillars, which increased the height of the car by 10mm, improving visibility for the driver. The 500F ran through to 1975, from 1968 alongside the more luxurious 500L which was added to the range in 1968. The L is easy to tell apart, with its bumper overriders. The final updates created the 500R, which incorporated many changes from the 126 under the skin of the classic shape, and in this form production continued alongside the newer 126 until 1976.
The X1/9 followed a 1969 show concept car called the Autobianchi Runabout, with styling by Bertone under chief designer Marcello Gandini. The Runabout was powered by the same engine as the Autobianchi A112. Designed around the all-new 128 SOHC engine and with the gearbox (transmission) from the front wheel drive Fiat 128, the X1/9 relocated the transverse drive train and suspension assembly from the front of the 128 to the rear of the passenger cabin, directly in front of the rear axle, giving a mid-engined layout. The layout also located the fuel tank and spare wheel side by side ahead of the engine, directly behind the seats — optimising the proportion of the car’s weight falling within its wheelbase for more effective handling and also enabling cargo areas front and rear. Unlike Fiat’s marketing nomenclature at the time which used a numerical system (e.g., 127, 128, 124, 131) denoting relative position in the model range, the X1/9 retained its prototype code as its marketing name. Fiat’s prototype coding used X0 for engines, X1 for passenger vehicles and X2 for commercial vehicles. The X1/9 was thus the ninth passenger car developed using the nomenclature. The prototype car featured a distinctive wedge shape and took many styling cues from contemporary power-boat design. Though the more extreme features of the Runabout such as the C pillar mounted headlights and the small wind-deflector windscreen were lost for the production car, many aesthetic features of the Autobianchi Runabout are readily identifiable on the X1/9. The long flat bonnet with central indentation, the large front overhang, the wedge shape with prominent C pillar roll-over hoop and the car-length indented plimsoll-line all made the successful transition to the X1/9, giving it a highly distinctive appearance. Once developed for production, the two-seater featured sharp-edged styling with a wedge shape, pop-up headlights and a removable hard top roof panel (targa top). The removable hardtop stores in the front luggage compartment, below the front hood, only slightly reducing the space available for cargo. An aftermarket company offered a top made of lightweight clear-smoked polycarbonate. The car was developed for release for European sales in 1972 to replace the 850 spider by Bertone. It was not intended as a replacement for the 124 Sport spider and production of the 124 spider and X1/9 continued in parallel for much of the X1/9’s life. The car’s monocoque body was produced at the Bertone factory in Torino and then transported to the Fiat’s Lingotto factory for final assembly. In 1982, shortly after the introduction of the 1500 model, complete production was assumed by Bertone with models subsequently badged as the “Bertone” X1/9. Bertone models featured revised footwells redesigned to enhance legroom and sitting comfort for persons taller than the original design’s target. The first models featured a 75 bhp 1290 cc single overhead cam engine with an aluminium head. In 1978 the more powerful 85bhp 1500cc unit found its way into the engine bay which necessitated a raised engine cover to provide the clearance. Larger bumpers were fitted at this time. Fiat made few other changes for many years, as if they lost interest in the car. The last production models were named the Gran Finale and sold over the 1989/1990 period. They were a dealer modification of the special edition (commonly abbreviated to SE) of 1988/1989, with the addition of a rear spoiler and “gran finale” badges. Seen here was an X1/9 Lido, a limited edition sold in 1978.
Ford replaced the Pilot with the Mark I Consul and Zephyr models, which were first displayed at the Earls Court Motor Show in 1950, the first British cars to use in mass production the MacPherson Strut independent front suspension which is widely used today. Production began with the Consul on 1 January 1951. The first of the Zephyr range was a lengthened version of the four-cylinder 1,508 cc Consul, with a 2,262 cc six-cylinder engine producing 68 bhp Like the Consul, the Zephyr came with a three-speed gear box, controlled by a column-mounted lever. The front suspension design, based on that first seen in the Ford Vedette, employed what would later come to be known as MacPherson struts while a more conventional configuration for the rear suspension used a live axle with half-elliptic springs. The car could reach just over 80 mph and 23 mpg. The Ford Zephyr Six was available with 4-door saloon, estate and two-door convertible bodies. The convertible version was made by Carbodies and had a power-operated hood; the estate car was by Abbotts of Farnham and was sold as the Farnham.
Ford replaced their large cars in 1956, with new models using the same names as their predecessors, Consul, Zephyr and Zodiac. The styling was all new and with a decidedly American theme to it. As before, the Consul had a 4 cylinder engine, now of 1700cc capacity and the Zephyr and Zodiac had in-line 6 cylinder units These were enlarged to 2,553 cc with power output correspondingly raised to 86 bhp The wheelbase was increased by 3 inches to 107 inches and the width increased to 69 inches. The weight distribution and turning circle were also improved. Top speed increased to 88 mph and the fuel consumption was also improved at 28 mpg. Following a styling revision in 1959, the models are now referred to as “Highline” or “Lowline”, depending on the year of manufacture — the difference being 1.75 in being cut from the height of the roof panel. The “Highline” variant, the earlier car, featured a hemispherical instrument cluster, whereas the “Lowline” had a more rectangular panel. A two-door convertible version was offered with power-operated hood. Because of the structural weaknesses inherent in the construction of convertibles, few convertibles are known to survive, and these are particularly highly prized these days. Seen here were a Zodiac convertible and a rather nice Zephyr “Farnham” Estate.
Ford had a habit of keeping a model in production alongside its replacement, so when the 105E Anglia was launched in the autumn of 1959, once again the previous bodyshape stayed in the range, in 4 door guise as the 107E Prefect and in stripped out bottom of the range entry level new car motoring, the 100E Popular, as seen here. In 1960, the manufacturer’s recommended retail price of £494 was equivalent to 26 weeks’ worth of the average UK wage. The £100 charged in 1935 for the Model Y and the £1,299 charged for the Ford Escort Popular in 1975 both also amounted to 26 weeks’ worth of average wage for the years in question. In the 1950s, however, the country had been undergoing a period of above average austerity: in 1953 the car’s £390 sticker price represented 40 weeks’ worth of the average UK wage. The Popular 100E was powered by a strengthened 1172 cc sidevalve engine producing 36 bhp which gave it a top speed of 69.9 mph, acceleration from 0–50 mph in 19.6 seconds and a fuel consumption of 33.2 mpg. The brakes were now hydraulic with 8 in drums all round. The new Popular offered 1,000 mile service intervals, like its predecessor, but it only had 13 grease points as against its predecessor’s 23, and 28 for the pre-war cars. The basic model stripped out many fittings from the Anglia but there was a large list of extras available and also a De Luxe version which supplied many as standard. 126,115 Popular 100Es were built. In later years, these cars became popular as hot rods since the late 1950s when people started drag racing them due to their lightweight construction. This practice started in the United States but became the definitive British hot rod, which it still is today.
Also here was a one-off version I have seen a number of times before, which has had an estate-style rear-end grafted onto a regular Prefect 4 door saloon. As the alloy wheels suggest this car had a few upgrades during it restoration which include replacing the 36 bhp 997 cc 4 cylinder side valve motor with a more modern 2 litre Ford Pinto 4 cylinder and replacing the three speed gearbox with a 5 speed.
One of the shortest lived of all Ford models is the Consul Classic and Capri ranges. The Ford Consul Classic is a mid-sized car that was launched in May 1961 and built by Ford UK from 1961 to 1963. It was available in two or four door saloon form, in Standard or De Luxe versions, and with floor or column gearshift. The name Ford Consul 315 was used for export markets. The Ford Consul Capri was a 2-door coupé version of the Classic, and was available from 1961 until 1964. The 1,340 cc four-cylinder engine was replaced in August 1962 by an over-square 1,498 cc engine with a new five-bearing crankshaft and a new gearbox with syncromesh on all four forward ratios. Steering and suspension also received “greased for life” joints. The Classic (and related Consul Capri) had the right-hand-drive and home market Ford code of 109E (but 110E if L.H.D.) for 1961–1962 models with 1340cc engines, or 116E (but 117E for L.H.D.) for 1962–63 manufacture with 1500cc engines. Those codes also distinguish the gearboxes and steering components which are not greasable on later cars, so cutting first-user servicing costs. Despite all these codes the cars all looked the same throughout production 1961–1963, the visual distinctions being the number of doors, the trim & equipment level between Standard and De Luxe and the choice of colours. The Classic was made by Ford to be “suitable for the golf club car park”, and was originally intended for introduction earlier and deletion later than actually occurred. The styling exercises were mainly undertaken in 1956 under Colin Neale. The main styling cues came straight from Dearborn, as they so often did, defining the car as a scaled-down Galaxie 500, from the waist down, topped with a Lincoln Continental roofline. Other aspects of R&D followed, and it is likely that a recognisably similar car could have been introduced in 1959 subject to different senior management decisions. In practice the run-away early success of the Anglia (1959 on) used up most of the car manufacturing capacity at Dagenham, vindicating the decision to compete against the BMC Mini (the Halewood plant did not open until 1963). Ford therefore entered the 1960s with the small Anglia, Popular and Prefect, the big “three graces” launched back in 1956, and not the mid-size market Classic. The Ford Classic was similar in appearance to the more popular Ford Anglia, featuring the same distinctive reverse-rake rear window. This feature was imported from the 1958 Lincoln Continental where it was necessitated by the design requirement for an opening (“breezeway”) rear window. With quad headlamps and different frontal treatment it was longer, wider and so heavier than the Anglia. In fact, from the windows down the body design was a scaled-down version of Ford’s large, US Ford Galaxie. Inside, the separate front seats and rear bench had a standard covering of PVC but leather was available as an option. There was a choice of floor-mounted or column-mounted gear change. Single or two-tone paint schemes were offered. Several of the car’s features, unusual at the time, have subsequently become mainstream such as the headlight flasher (“found on many Continental cars”) and the variable speed windscreen wipers. The boot or trunk capacity was exceptionally large, with a side-stowed spare-wheel well, and more important, the huge high-lift sprung lid allowed a great variety of loads to be both contemplated and packed. At 21 cubic feet, this was 15% larger than the Zodiac MK2 and had obvious advantages for business use. The Consul Classic was also mechanically similar to the Anglia, and used slightly larger 1340 cc and, from 1962, 1498 cc, variants of the Ford Kent Engine. The car had front 9.5 in (241 mm) disc brakes and was fitted with a four-speed gearbox: early cars provided synchromesh on the top three ratios, while the arrival of the 1498 cc version coincided with the provision of synchromesh on all forward gears. Suspension was independent at the front using MacPherson struts, and at the rear the live axle used semi elliptic leaf springs. A contemporary road tester was impressed, noting that “probably the most impressive thing about the Classic is its road holding”. The Consul Classic was complex and expensive to produce and was replaced in 1963 by the Ford Corsair which was largely based on Ford Cortina components. Only 111,225 Classics and 18,716 Capris were produced (Including 2002 ‘GT’ Versions). These are small numbers by Ford standards, and probably indicative of the public not taking to the controversial styling along with the availability of the cheaper, similar-sized Cortina.
The Consul Capri was a two-door coupé version of the Classic saloon. The Capri Project was code named “Sunbird” and took design elements from the Ford Thunderbird and the Ford Galaxie Sunliner. It was instigated by Sir Horace Denne, Ford’s Sales Export Director. He wanted a “co-respondent’s” car to add glamour to the product line. It was designed by Charles Thompson who worked under Colin Neale and had sweeping lines, a large boot space and a pillarless coupé roof. On its September 1961 announcement, the Consul Capri was available for export only, but went on sale to the domestic British market in January 1962. The bodies were sub-assembled by Pressed Steel Company, with only final assembly of the drivetrain taking place at Dagenham and from February 1963 at Halewood. It was intended as part of the Ford Classic range of cars but the body was complex and expensive to produce. With new production methods, time demands from Dearborn and a need to match opposition manufacturers in price, the Ford Classic and Consul Capri were almost doomed from the start. The Consul Capri was fitted with a variety of Ford Classic De-Luxe features, including four headlights, variable speed wipers, 9.5 in (241 mm) front disc brakes, dimming dashboard lights and a cigar lighter. The four-speed transmission was available with either a column or floor change. It was proclaimed as “The First Personal car from Ford of Great Britain”. Initially fitted with a 1340 cc three-main-bearing engine (model 109E), the early cars were considered underpowered and suffered from premature crankshaft failure. Engine capacity was increased in August 1962 to 1498 cc (model 116E) and this engine with its new five-bearing crankshaft was an improvement. The first 200 Capris were left-hand-drive cars for export including Europe and North America. In Germany, at the 1961 Frankfurt Auto show, Ford sold 88 Capris. In February 1963 a GT version (also 116E) was announced. The new GT engine, developed by Cosworth, featured a raised compression ratio to 9:1, a modified head with larger exhaust valves, an aluminium inlet manifold, a four branch exhaust manifold and, most noticeably, a twin-choke Weber carburettor – this being the first use of this make on a British production car. The same engine was announced for use in the Ford Cortina in April 1963. The Consul Capri was the first Ford to use “GT” as a model derivative worldwide. Overall the car was very expensive to produce and in the latter part of its production was running alongside the very popular Ford Cortina. Sales were disappointing and the Consul Capri was removed from sale after two and a half years with 19,421 sold, of which 2002 were GT models. 1007 cars were sold in 1964, the last year of production, 412 of them being GTs. The Consul Capri was discontinued in July 1964. The Consul Capri (335) is one of the rarest cars from Ford of Great Britain.
In early 1962 Ford replaced the existing Consul/Zephyr/ Zodiac range with a dramatically restyled model although the new cars did share some of the mechanical components, as well as the basic chassis design, with the Mark II models. At the bottom of the range, the Consul name disappeared, to be replaced by Zephyr 4. Once again, the range was topped by the Zodiac, which was an upmarket version of the Zephyr 6, but differed considerably from that model with its limousine-type rear doors, sharper roofline with a much narrower C-pillar, a revised rear end, a unique grille with four headlights instead of two, exclusive bumper bars, plusher seating, and up-market upholstery, dashboard and interior fittings. A choice of individual or bench front seat was available trimmed in leather or cloth. The front doors and bonnet panels were shared with the Zephyr 6. The Executive version had extra luxury fittings again. The 2553 cc single-carburettor six-cylinder engine was improved internally to increase the power output to 109 bhp and a new four-speed all synchromesh transmission with column change was fitted. The brakes, servo assisted, use discs at the front and drum at the rear. On test with The Motor magazine in 1962, the Zodiac Mark 3 had a top speed of 100.7 mph and could accelerate from 0-60 mph in 13.4 seconds and it delivered a touring fuel consumption of 22.6 mpg. The test car cost £1070 including taxes on the UK market. Mark 3 models were produced for 4 years before being replaced by the Mark IV in January 1966. Seen here was one of the rare Abbotts of Farnham converted Estate cars as well as a top of the range Zodiac.
There were no examples of the regular Mark 1 Cortina here that I spotted, but there was a Lotus version. The history of this model began in 1961, before the launch of Ford’s family saloon. Colin Chapman had been wishing to build his own engines for Lotus, mainly because the Coventry Climax unit was so expensive and his chance came when he commissioned Harry Mundy (a close friend and designer of the Coventry Climax engine and technical editor for Autocar) to design a twin-cam version of the Ford Kent engine. Most of the development of the engine was done on the 997cc and 1,340cc bottom end, but in 1962 Ford released the 116E five bearing 1,499 cc engine and work centred on this. Keith Duckworth, from Cosworth, played an important part in tuning of the engine. The engine’s first appearance was in 1962 at the Nürburgring in a Lotus 23 driven by Jim Clark. Almost as soon as the engine appeared in production cars (Lotus Elan), it was replaced with a larger capacity unit (82.55 mm bore to give 1,557 cc). This was in order to get the car closer to the 1.6 litre capacity class in motorsport. Whilst the engine was being developed, Walter Hayes (Ford) asked Colin Chapman if he would fit the engine to 1,000 Ford saloons for Group 2 homologation. Chapman quickly accepted, although it must have been very busy in the Cheshunt plant, with the Elan about to be launched. The Type 28 or Lotus Cortina or Cortina Lotus (as Ford liked to call it) was duly launched. Ford supplied the 2-door Cortina bodyshells and took care of all the marketing and selling of the cars, whilst Lotus did all the mechanical and cosmetic changes. The major changes involved installing the 1,557 cc 105 bhp engine, together with the same close-ratio gearbox as the Elan. The rear suspension was drastically altered and lightweight alloy panels were used for doors, bonnet and boot. Lightweight casings were fitted to gearbox and differential. All the Lotus factory cars were painted white with a green stripe (although Ford built some for racing in red, and one customer had a dark blue stripe due to being superstitious about green). The cars also received front quarter bumpers and round Lotus badges were fitted to rear wings and to the right side of the radiator grille. Interior modifications were limited to a centre console designed to accommodate the new gear lever position, different seats and the later style dashboard, featuring tachometer, speedometer, oil pressure, water temperature and fuel level gauges. A wood-rimmed steering wheel was fitted. The suspension changes to the car were quite extensive; the car received shorter struts up front, forged track control arms and 5.5J by 13 steel wheel rims. The rear was even more radical with vertical coil spring/dampers replacing the leaf springs and two trailing arms with a A- bracket (which connected to the differential housing and brackets near the trailing arm pivots) sorting out axle location. To support this set-up, further braces were put behind the rear seat and from the rear wheelarch down to chassis in the boot. The stiffening braces meant that the spare wheel had to be moved from the standard Cortina’s wheel well and was bolted to the left side of the boot floor. The battery was also relocated to the boot, behind the right wheelarch. Both of these changes made big improvements to overall weight distribution. Another improvement the Cortina Lotus gained was the new braking system (9.5 in front discs) which were built by brake specialist Girling. This system also was fitted to Cortina GTs but without a servo, which was fitted in the Cortina Lotus engine bay. Initially, the engines were built by J. A Prestwich of Tottenham and then Villiers of Wolverhampton. In 1966, Lotus moved to Hethel in Norwich where they had their own engine building facilities. The Cortina Lotus used a 8.0 in diaphragm-spring clutch, whereas Ford fitted coil-spring clutches to the rest of the range. The remainder of the gearbox was identical to the Lotus Elan. This led to a few problems because although the ultra-close gear ratios were perfect for the race track or open road, the clutch was given a hard time in traffic. The ratios were later changed. The early cars were very popular and earned some rave reviews; one magazine described the car as a tin-top version of a Lotus 7. It was ‘THE car’ for many enthusiasts who before had to settle for a Cortina GT or a Mini-Cooper and it also amazed a lot of the public who were used to overweight ‘sports cars’ like the Austin-Healey 3000. The launch was not perfect however, the car was too specialist for some Ford dealerships who did not understand the car; there are a few stories of incorrect parts being fitted at services. There were a few teething problems reported by the first batch of owners, (most of these problems show how quickly the car was developed) some of the engines were down on power, the gear ratios were too close and the worst problem was the differential housing coming away from the casing. This problem was mainly caused by the high loads put on the axle because of the A bracket it was an integral part of the rear suspension. This was made even worse by the fact any oil lost from the axle worked its way on to the bushes of the A bracket. There were 4 main updates made to the Mk1 Lotus during its production to solve some of these problems. The first change was a swap to a two-piece prop shaft and the lighter alloy transmission casing were changed for standard Ford items; this also included swapping the ultra close ratio gears for Cortina GT gear ratios, the main difference was 1st, 2nd and reverse were much higher ratios. from 1964, standard panels were used rather than the light alloy ones. Alloy items and ultra-close ratios could be specified when buying new cars. The 2nd main change came in late 1964 when the entire Cortina range had a facelift which included a full width front grille and aeroflow outlets in the rear quarters because the Cortina Lotus also gained Ford’s new ventilation system which also included an update to the interior. The third and probably most important change came in mid-1965, when the Lotus rear suspension was changed for the leaf springs and radius arms of the Cortina GT. This replaced all the stiffening tubing as well. The last update also came in 1965 when the rear drums were swapped for self-adjusting items and also the famous 2000E gearbox ratios were used. These lowered 1st and reverse about halfway between the Cortina GT ratios and the ultra close-ratio box. All these changes made the cars less specialised but far more reliable and all the special parts were still available for competition as well as to members of the public. The Cortina Lotus had by this time earned an impressive competition reputation. It was also being made in left hand drive when production finished around late 1966 and the Mk2 took over. 3306 examples were made. It is sometimes suggested that the survival rate is well in excess of that, with many cars being created out of non-Lotus models. There certainly are plenty of those around, so it really is a case of “buyer beware” if in the market to acquire one of these cars.
When it came to the Mark 2 model, Ford really found something special with the Cortina 1600E, a car which illustrates just how shrewd Ford’s marketing department were in the 1960s. Although Ford was known for producing mass-market cars, with the 1600E, they were able to take a mass-produced car and make it into a statement of individuality. These days we take it for granted that every middle-of-the-road family car will have a sporty and a luxurious but affordable sibling, but back in the mid 60s, this was not the case. If you wanted something special, you had to go to a different model, or even a different marque. And that was costly. Too costly for most people, So BMW 1600s, Alfa Romeo Giulias and Lancia Fulvias were out of reach and remained a rare sight on our roads. But Ford’s marketing department figured that there was a gap here in the market that they could fill, and in the autumn of 1967, they launched their offering. Noting that there were plenty of people who were trying to make their cars that bit special by adding extra dials to the dashboard, and bolting on an after-market exhaust, Ford decided to do the job properly, They took the best-selling, most mass-produced car in the world and made it a statement of individuality. The really clever bit, of course, was that the ‘executive’ Cortina wasn’t just a Halford’s special. No, the new 1600E was the best handling Cortina going, thanks to a trick suspension and warmed over engine. It was the missing link between the inappropriately badged De Luxe and the awe-inspiring, marriage-destroying Mk II Lotus Cortina. It was, in short, genius. No-one saw the 1600E coming when the Mk II Cortina was unveiled in October 1966 – not even Ford. For once, the boys at Dagenham had taken their eye off the ball and were losing crucial company car sales. They were being lost to Rover and Triumph’s ‘executive’ 2000 models, launched in the autumn of 1963, so now well established in the market, and seen as highly desirable products which were a cut above a Cortina. Ford first reaction had been with the 2.6-litre Zodiac Executive and they followed through with the Corsair 2000E. The idea was simple: take one established model and give it a vinyl roof, a wooden dash and plusher seats, and decorate with the letter ‘E’ on the end of its badge – plus a few hundred quid extra on the sticker price. But someone somewhere got a bit carried away and modified the sluggish gearbox – with its horribly low second gear – by fitting sportier, closer ratios. It was nothing that modifiers hadn’t been doing already, but it finally meant that Ford had built the Corsair everyone wanted. Its success was instant and is the sole reason for the 1600E Cortina. The very first prototype 3036E (as it was known to the design department), was developed in spring 1967 and used Cortina GT mechanicals, Lotus Cortina suspension and wheels – but the switch to those distinctive Rostyles was the moment it came to life. Best of all, Ford could move quickly on its new E model – all of the parts were in common use and were proven performers. The Ford Cortina 1600E has been called many things, mainly a four-door GT with Lotus Cortina suspension in a party frock – but that’s a bit wide of the mark. Based on a Cortina GT, it benefited from the re-designed Kent engine that now boasted a crossflow cylinder head, increased capacity and a longer stroke. The hike from 78bhp to 88bhp meant that the new 1600E was a near-100mph car. Underneath the four-door saloon bodyshell was a mix of Cortina GT and Lotus Cortina. The back axle and engine were pure 1600GT (literally in the case of the rocker cover, which still carried the 1600GT legend) coupled to the uprated ’box from the 2000E. The new model sat on the shorter front struts, lowered rear leaf spring suspension and stiffer spring and damper settings from the Mk II Lotus Cortina. The official Ford parts book listed several different sets of springs and dampers in the time that the 1600E was in production – some of which were Lotus Cortina, and some of which were not. Most examples these days seem to use the Lotus settings for maximum squat and better handling. The cars were easy to identify out on the road, with the black, Lotus Cortina-type grille, extra Wipac driving lamps and automatic reversing lamps. Inside, the instrument layout changed little from the GT – but the matching speedo and rev counter dials were now tucked away behind the new steering wheel (complete with light alloy spokes, circular holes to reduce weight and a padded faux-leather rim). All of this wouldn’t have been worth a penny if Ford had got the price wrong. But, seriously, when does Ford ever make that mistake? Sure enough, the 1600E was right on the money at £982 – more expensive than the £890 1600GT and cheaper than the £1098 Lotus Cortina. On the road, it was a lot livelier than other Mk II Cortinas, with the 1.6-litre crossflow happily pulling right through the rev range thanks to its longer stroke. And, thanks to the sportier gearbox, you can really make the most of it. But it was the cornering that really delighted with this car – confidence-inspiring, with the quick steering offering you plenty of feedback. Several road tests complained about the 1600E’s harsh ride, but few owners seemed to care. Unlike so many fancy models that start brightly and fade away, the 1600E was a match winner, with production figures growing steadily year on year. In fact, the two highest months of production were June and July 1970 – shortly before the entire Mk II range was replaced by the coke-bottle styled Mk III of Life on Mars fame. All in all, 58,582 1600Es were made from a total Mk II Cortina run of 1,159,389. Ford, believing the E phenomenon had passed, never replaced it, leaving enthusiasts to make do with a new 2.0-litre Pinto engined car available in sporty(ish) GT and luxury GXL trim. Eventually, there was a poor-handling 2000E, but by then the moment really had gone… and the 1600E’s place in Ford folklore was assured.
The Mark I Ford Escort was introduced in the UK at the end of 1967, making its show debut at Brussels Motor Show in January 1968, replacing the successful, long-running Anglia. The car was presented in continental Europe as a product of Ford’s European operation. Escort production commenced at the Halewood plant in England during the closing months of 1967, and for left hand drive markets during September 1968 at the Ford plant in Genk.Initially the continental Escorts differed slightly from the UK built ones under the skin. The front suspension and steering gear were differently configured and the brakes were fitted with dual hydraulic circuits; also the wheels fitted on the Genk-built Escorts had wider rims. At the beginning of 1970, continental European production transferred to a new plant on the edge of Saarlouis, West Germany. The Escort was a commercial success in several parts of western Europe, but nowhere more than in the UK, where the national best seller of the 1960s, BMC’s Austin/Morris 1100 was beginning to show its age while Ford’s own Cortina had grown, both in dimensions and in price, beyond the market niche at which it had originally been pitched. In June 1974, six years into the car’s UK introduction, Ford announced the completion of the two millionth Ford Escort, a milestone hitherto unmatched by any Ford model outside the US. It was also stated that 60% of the two million Escorts had been built in Britain. In West Germany cars were built at a slower rate of around 150,000 cars per year, slumping to 78,604 in 1974 which was the last year for the Escort Mark I. Many of the German built Escorts were exported, notably to Benelux and Italy; from the West German domestic market perspective the car was cramped and uncomfortable when compared with the well-established and comparably priced Opel Kadett, and it was technically primitive when set against the successful imported Fiat 128 and Renault 12. Subsequent generations of the Escort made up some of the ground foregone by the original model, but in Europe’s largest auto-market the Escort sales volumes always came in well behind those of the General Motors Kadett and its Astra successor. The Escort had conventional rear-wheel drive and a four-speed manual gearbox, or three-speed automatic transmission. The suspension consisted of MacPherson strut front suspension and a simple live axle mounted on leaf springs. The Escort was the first small Ford to use rack-and-pinion steering. The Mark I featured contemporary styling cues in tune with its time: a subtle Detroit-inspired “Coke bottle” waistline and the “dogbone” shaped front grille – arguably the car’s main stylistic feature. Similar Coke bottle styling featured in the larger Cortina Mark III (also built in West Germany as the Taunus) launched in 1970. Initially, the Escort was sold as a two-door saloon (with circular front headlights and rubber flooring on the “De Luxe” model). The “Super” model featured rectangular headlights, carpets, a cigar lighter and a water temperature gauge. A two-door estate was introduced at the end of March 1968 which, with the back seat folded down, provided a 40% increase in maximum load space over the old Anglia 105E estate, according to the manufacturer. The estate featured the same engine options as the saloon, but it also included a larger, 7 1⁄2-inch-diameter clutch, stiffer rear springs and in most configurations slightly larger brake drums or discs than the saloon. A panel van appeared in April 1968 and the 4-door saloon (a bodystyle the Anglia was never available in for UK market) in 1969. Underneath the bonnet was the Kent Crossflow engine in 1.1 and 1.3 litre versions. A 940 cc engine was also available in some export markets such as Italy and France. This tiny engine remained popular in Italy, where it was carried over for the Escort Mark II, but in France it was discontinued during 1972. There was a 1300GT performance version, with a tuned 1.3 L Crossflow (OHV) engine with a Weber carburettor and uprated suspension. This version featured additional instrumentation with a tachometer, battery charge indicator, and oil pressure gauge. The same tuned 1.3 L engine was also used in a variation sold as the Escort Sport, that used the flared front wings from the AVO range of cars, but featured trim from the more basic models. Later, an “executive” version of the Escort was produced known as the “1300E”. This featured the same 13″ road wheels and flared wings of the Sport, but was trimmed in an upmarket, for that time, fashion with wood trim on the dashboard and door cappings. A higher performance version for rallies and racing was available, the Escort Twin Cam, built for Group 2 international rallying. It had an engine with a Lotus-made eight-valve twin camshaft head fitted to the 1.5 L non-crossflow block, which had a bigger bore than usual to give a capacity of 1,557 cc. This engine had originally been developed for the Lotus Elan. Production of the Twin Cam, which was originally produced at Halewood, was phased out as the Cosworth-engined RS1600 (RS denoting Rallye Sport) production began. The most famous edition of the Twin Cam was raced on behalf of Ford by Alan Mann Racing in the British Saloon Car Championship in 1968 and 1969, sporting a full Formula 2 Ford FVC 16-valve engine producing over 200 hp. The Escort, driven by Australian driver Frank Gardner went on to comfortably win the 1968 championship. The Mark I Escorts became successful as a rally car, and they eventually went on to become one of the most successful rally cars of all time. The Ford works team was practically unbeatable in the late 1960s / early 1970s, and arguably the Escort’s greatest victory was in the 1970 London to Mexico World Cup Rally, co-driven by Finnish legend Hannu Mikkola and Swedish co-driver Gunnar Palm. This gave rise to the Escort Mexico (1598cc “crossflow”-engined) special edition road versions in honour of the rally car. Introduced in November 1970, 10,352 Mexico Mark I’s were built. In addition to the Mexico, the RS1600 was developed with 1,601 cc Cosworth BDA which used a Crossflow block with a 16-valve Cosworth cylinder head, named for “Belt Drive A Series”. Both the Mexico and RS1600 were built at Ford’s Advanced Vehicle Operations (AVO) facility located at the Aveley Plant in South Essex. As well as higher performance engines and sports suspension, these models featured strengthened bodyshells utilising seam welding in places of spot welding, making them more suitable for competition. After updating the factory team cars with a larger 1701 cc Cosworth BDB engine in 1972 and then with fuel injected BDC, Ford also produced an RS2000 model as an alternative to the somewhat temperamental RS1600, featuring a 2.0 litre Pinto (OHC) engine. This also clocked up some rally and racing victories; and pre-empted the hot hatch market as a desirable but affordable performance road car. Like the Mexico and RS1600, this car was produced at the Aveley plant.
Ford launched the all new Capri in January 1969, aimed at the young market, it was clearly a downsized Ford Mustang, Ford hoped to equal the runaway success that the pony car had enjoined in America, with the Capri in Europe. It was launched with a massive TV and press campaign on the theme that it was, “ the car you always promised yourself’ But by October 16th 1969 Motor Magazine announced Crayford had produced, in time for the Motor Show, the Capri convertible, the car you really, really promised yourself. It was to be, exact in Crayford terms, not a convertible but a Cabriolet, using a luxury hood that had a full internal wool headlining. It was priced from £1,849 for the 1300cc up to £2,421 for a 3000E V6 convertible, at a time when an E type was just over £2000. But it sold well through its Bristol Street Motors franchise, BSM even produced a flower power hippy style brochure for its “Freedom Capri” For once Crayford had some direct competition as three Capri convertibles where now being produced, all different and with their own plus and minus points. The Crayford Capri was easily the most successful with 37 documented sales. All the cars where built under licence by Crayford’s partner in Germany, Deutsch of Cologne. Cars went out, 2 each Friday, as saloons and back each Monday as Crayford’s. Crayford did an extensive redesign to the rear deck to make it completely flat, but left the door window frames in place on cost grounds, for many it was the best looking of the three conversions. Abbotts of Farnham, well known for its Ford Corsair & Consul/Zephyr/Zodiac estates, also built a Capri convertible. Not so pretty as the Crayford, it had no redesign to the rear deck, you could still see the rear buttresses, but it did have wind up rear quarter-light glass making a lighter car with the hood up, Abbotts also took out the front window frame. Orders for 50 cars had been received but unfortunately Abbotts were in financial trouble, they only made and sold 7 cars before the company collapsed and ceased trading. A third Capri design was commissioned directly by Ford chairman (1968-72) Sir Leonard Crossland, he wanted one for himself and had Carbodies of Coventry build a white car with a white power hood, operated electrically. It was road tested by Jackie Stewart and within a week Sir Leonard was on the phone from Ford asking for a second car to be built as the first car had been written off (rumoured to be his wife while out shopping). A second car was built and delivered, but Ford accountants declined to go forward with the project as it was deemed too costly to make any profits. Unfortunately, car No. 2 may have been ordered crushed for tax reasons.
The squarer-styled Mark II Escort appeared in January 1975. The first production models had rolled off the production lines on 2 December 1974. Unlike the first Escort (which was developed by Ford of Britain), the second generation was developed jointly between the UK and Ford of Germany. Codenamed “Brenda” during its development, it used the same mechanical components as the Mark I. The 940 cc engine was still offered in Italy where the smaller engine attracted tax advantages, but in the other larger European markets in Europe it was unavailable. The estate and van versions used the same panelwork as the Mark I, but with the Mark II front end and interior. The car used a revised underbody, which had been introduced as a running change during the last six months production of the Mark I. Rear suspension still sat on leaf springs though some contemporaries such as the Hillman Avenger had moved on to coil springs. The car came in for criticism for its lack of oddments space, with a glove compartment only available on higher end models, and its stalk-mounted horn. The “L” and “GL” models (2-door, 4-door, estate) were in the mainstream private sector, the “Sport”, “RS Mexico”, and “RS2000” in the performance market, the “Ghia” (2-door, 4-door) for a hitherto untapped small car luxury market, and “base / Popular” models for the bottom end. Panel-van versions catered to the commercial sector. The 1598 cc engine in the 1975 1.6 Ghia produced 84 hp with 92 ft·lbft torque and weighed 955 kg (2105 lb). A cosmetic update was given in 1978 with L models gaining the square headlights (previously exclusive to the GL and Ghia variants) and there was an upgrade in interior and exterior specification for some models. Underneath a wider front track was given. In 1979 and 1980 three special edition Escorts were launched: the Linnet, Harrier and Goldcrest. Production ended in Britain in August 1980, other countries following soon after. Spotted here was a 1600 Sport model.
There were a couple of examples of the Mark III Capri here, as well. Referred to internally as “Project Carla”, and although little more than a substantial update of the Capri II, it was often referred to as the Mk III. The first cars were available in March 1978, but failed to halt a terminal decline in sales. The concept of a heavily facelifted Capri II was shown at the 1976 Geneva show: a Capri II with a front very similar to the Escort RS2000 (with four headlamps and black slatted grille), and with a rear spoiler, essentially previewed the model some time before launch. The new styling cues, most notably the black “Aeroflow” grille (first used on the Mk I Fiesta) and the “sawtooth” rear lamp lenses echoed the new design language being introduced at that time by Ford of Europe’s chief stylist Uwe Bahnsen across the entire range. Similar styling elements were subsequently introduced in the 1979 Cortina 80, 1980 Escort Mk III and the 1981 Granada Mk IIb. In addition, the Mk III featured improved aerodynamics, leading to improved performance and economy over the Mk II and the trademark quad headlamps were introduced. At launch the existing engine and transmission combinations of the Capri II were carried over, with the 3.0 S model regarded as the most desirable model although the softer, more luxurious Ghia derivative with automatic, rather than manual transmission, was the bigger seller of the two V6-engined models. Ford began to focus their attention on the UK Capri market as sales declined, realising the car had something of a cult following there. Unlike sales of the contemporary 4-door Cortina, Capri sales in Britain were to private buyers who would demand less discounts than fleet buyers allowing higher margins with the coupé. Ford tried to maintain interest in 1977 with Ford Rallye Sport, Series X, “X Pack” options from the performance oriented RS parts range. Although expensive and slow selling these proved that the press would enthusiastically cover more developed Capris with higher performance. In early 1982, the Essex 3.0 V6 which had been the range topper since September 1969 was dropped, while a new sporty version debuted at the Geneva Motor Show, called the 2.8 Injection. The new model was the first regular model since the RS2600 to use fuel injection. Power rose to a claimed 160 PS, even though tests showed the real figure was closer to 150 PS, giving a top speed of 210 km/h (130 mph), but the car still had a standard four-speed gearbox. The Capri 2.8 Injection breathed new life into the range and kept the car in production 2–3 years longer than Ford had planned. The four-speed gearbox was replaced with a five-speed unit early on – at the same time Ford swapped the dated looking chequered seats for more luxurious looking velour trim. A more substantial upgrade was introduced in 1984 with the Capri Injection Special. This development used half leather seating and included a limited slip differential. Externally the car could be easily distinguished by seven spoke RS wheels (without the customary “RS” logo since this was not an RS vehicle) and colour-coded grille and headlamp surrounds. At the same time the 2.0 Capri was rationalised to one model, the 2.0 S, which simultaneously adopted a mildly modified suspension from the Capri Injection. The 1.6 model was also reduced to a single model, the 1.6 LS. The car was finally deleted at the end of 1986, 1.9 million cars having been made over 18 years, and having been sold only in the UK for the final months of production.
To complete with the successful VW Golf Cabriolet, an open-topped version of the front wheel drive Escort was developed. It was built by coachbuilder Karmann and appeared in the same year as the five-door estate (1983). It was the first drop-top car produced by Ford Europe since the Corsair of the 1960s. The Escort Cabriolet was initially available in both XR3i and Ghia specification, but the Ghia variant was later dropped. It stayed in the range with its evolution mirroring that of the Escort hatch model for 15 years.
The Sierra was the bold replacement for the Cortina, arriving in the autumn of 1982. People were unconvinced at first, with ultra-conservative fleet managers being unsure even though it retained rear wheel drive unlike its arch nemesis, the Cavalier. A range of engine options and trims, in the best of Ford traditions grew even more over the years, and gradually sales picked up, though it never achieved the success of its predecessor and even now it has far fewer fans than any generation of the Cortina. Accordingly survivors of the regular versions are now quite rare, so it was good to see this one here.
Ford introduced a new second generation Granada in 1977 and it was produced until April 1985 following a mild facelift which paid attention to drivetrain noise, vibration, and harshness in 1982. It was a development of the previous car, the main differences being the use of the “Cologne” V6 engine in 2.0, 2.3, and 2.8 ltire forms replacing the older “Essex” unit (which had never been offered in the Cologne-built Granadas), and the introduction of features such as air conditioning and, for the top-priced 2.8-litre versions, fuel-injection. In mainland Europe, a 1.7 litre V4 was originally available. By the time of its introduction, UK Granada production had been quietly abandoned “for some time”; UK market Granada IIs were imported from Germany. A relatively small number of vehicles were also produced with an Indenor four-cylinder diesel engine in 1.9-, 2.1- and 2.5-litre capacities. Most of these went to taxi operators, and few survive. The smallest 1.9 was quite underpowered and was soon replaced by the somewhat more powerful 2.1, which was presented as the “Granada GLD” in March 1979 at Geneva. By 1982, this was replaced by the more capable 2.5. Fuel-injected 2.8 models were originally offered with an ‘S’ pack or GL trim. In 1979, both versions were replaced by the 2.8i GLS. Today early injection models are particularly rare. The UK only received four door saloons and a commodious estate, but there was a two door saloon as well, offered to those markets who still wanted such a configuration. Although most surviving Granada Mark IIs feature the body-coloured post-facelift (1981) grille, the earlier cars came with a simple black grille regardless of body colour.
In April 1985, the third-generation car arrived, which was essentially a rebadged Ford Scorpio, the Granada name being used in both Ireland and the United Kingdom only, with the Scorpio badge (which covered the whole range in Continental Europe) being used instead as a trim designation for the top of the range models. The Mark III Granada was the first European volume production model to have antilock brakes fitted as standard across the range. It was voted European Car of the Year. Engine options included the familiar SOHC Pinto engine, in either tax-barrier undercutting 1.8 litre form, or a more powerful 2-litre version with fuel injection available. The Cologne V6 engines were carried over from the previous range in short-lived (and not much more powerful than the 2 litre Pinto) 2.4, and 2.8 (later 2.9) litre capacities. In 1991, a new range-topping vehicle was introduced, the Scorpio 24-valve. It featured a 2.9 litre Cologne engine that had been extensively reworked by Cosworth Engineering and featured quad camshafts and 24 valves, enough for 200 bhp). According to Ford, this gave a 0-60 mph time of 8.1 seconds and top speed of 140 mph (230 km/h). This version of the Granada continued the “Ford family” styling concept from the previous versions; this time, the car superficially resembled a larger version of the Cortina’s successor, the Ford Sierra. It had followed the precedent set by both the Sierra and the Escort Mk III in changing from the angular saloon styling of their predecessors to an advanced aerodynamic hatchback body style, though a three-box saloon and an estate were later added to the range, as well. The Ford Granada Mk III was the last car to bear the iconic Granada badge in the UK and Ireland, being replaced in 1994 with the Pan-European Scorpio. The Scorpio shared its platform doors and roof with the Mk III Granada and these elements of the cars design were unremarkable. The styling of the nose and tail sections suffered from the application of the Ford Ovoid design school being used across the Ford range in the 1990s. On the Scorpio, this appeared as a large gaping mouth, ‘bug’-eyed headlights, and a bulbous boot. A 1998 redesign did nothing to save it from being axed the same year with total European sales only 95,587 units.
This is an Orion 1600E. In the autumn of 1988, the 1600E name harking back to the Mark II Ford Cortina 1600E from twenty years earlier was dusted off. Ford were hoping to recreate the magic that Cortina had done, which successfully combined a high level of equipment with decent performance at a price that could be afforded by the working man. The Orion 1600E was available in black, white and metallic grey and had RS alloys, wood cappings on the dashboard and doors, and grey leather seats. Only 1,600 were made, of which 1,000 had leather trim.
This is a Sierra Sapphire GLX, not a car you see very often these days. Ford replaced the huge selling Cortina with the radical looking Sierra, which was offered only in hatchback or estate formats, as Ford believed that this was the direction the market was taking. Whilst they might have been right about the bodystyle, other aspects of the Sierra struggled to find favour, causing Ford to rethink what they needed to do, to try to regain their market dominance. The company launched the Ford Orion in 1983 to fill the gap in the saloon range between the late Cortina and the new Sierra. Ford found that customers were more attached to the idea of a saloon than they had expected, and this was further addressed in 1987 by the production of a saloon version of the Sierra. In the UK, this model was called the Ford Sierra Sapphire. This differed from the other Sierra models in having a traditional black grille, which only appeared in right hand drive markets. It was available with the same engines (many of which were seriously uncompetitive against Vauxhall’s Cavalier, and were part of the problem for the vital fleet buyers) and trim as the hatch and estate models which continued. These days you tend only to see the saloon body in the much-loved Sapphire Cosworth, so it was good to see one of the everyday cars here.
The P100 is a car-based pickup truck, introduced in South Africa in 1971, based on the Ford Cortina Mk3. Initially marketed as the Ford Cortina Pickup, its overall bodywork closely followed that of the Cortina. The bodywork was changed for 1977, to correspond with that of the Ford Cortina MkIV. From 1982 the P100 name was adopted, and the model was exported from South Africa to Europe.In late-1987, for the 1988 model year, the P100 was re-bodied with a new Ford Sierra-based cab. Engine choices were originally the Sierra’s 2.0 litre “Pinto” carburetted petrol engine, with a 1.8 L turbo-diesel following soon thereafter. The range was now built in Portugal for the European market, to a design set out by Ford UK. It proved a strong seller, particularly on the UK market. The later P100’s petrol engine, while a 2.0 L Pinto engine, differed from the units in the passenger Sierra and Granada models in that it was a low compression version of the 205 block Pinto, the Cosworth engine is based on this block. Single choke carburettors were used along with the lower compression to raise torque whilst lowering maximum power, which was now at 73 bhp. Production of the P100 ceased when the parent Ford Sierra was replaced by the front wheel drive Mondeo range in 1993.
Much the oldest Ford here was an American model, this late version of the legendary Model T.
Also from Ford’s USA back catalogue was this first generation Mustang from the late 60s.
The Invader was the last car made by the company. 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 Audax body for the Minx was designed by the Rootes Group, but helped by the Raymond Loewy design organisation, who were involved in the design of Studebaker coupés in 1953. Announced in May 1956, the car went through a succession of annual face lifts each given a series number, replacing the mark number used on the previous Minxes. The Series I, introduced in 1956, was followed by the Series II in 1957, the Series III in 1958, the Series IIIA in 1959, the Series IIIB in 1960, the Series IIIC in 1961, the Series V in 1963 and the Series VI in 1965. There was no Series IV. Over the years the engine was increased in capacity from 1390 cc (in the Series I and II) to 1725 cc in the Series VI. A variety of manual transmissions, with column or floor change, and automatic transmissions were offered. For the automatic version, the Series I and II used a Lockheed Manumatic two pedal system (really only a semi-automatic), the Series III a Smiths Easidrive and the V/VI a Borg Warner. The most notable changes came with the Series V, which had a revised body, with new roof line and front and rear ends. There were Singer Gazelle and Sunbeam Rapier variants of all these Hillman Minx models, and the names were again used on derivatives in the later Rootes Arrow range. Some models were re-badged in certain markets, with the Sunbeam and Humber marques used for some exports. The model was replaced in 1967 by the new “Arrow” model Minx.
The Super Minx was announced in October 1961 and was intended to give Rootes, and particularly its Hillman marque, an expanded presence in the upper reaches of the family car market. It has been suggested that the Super Minx design was originally intended to replace, and not merely to supplement, the standard Minx, but was found to be too big for that purpose. An estate car joined the range in May 1962, and a two-door convertible in June 1962. The convertible never sold in significant numbers: the last one was made in June 1964. At launch, the car was powered by the Rootes 62 bhp 1,592 cc unit, which had first appeared late in 1953 with a 1,390 cc capacity. The original Super Minx had the cast-iron cylinder head version of the engine, though on later cars the cylinder head was replaced with an aluminium one. Suspension was independent at the front using coil springs with anti-roll bar and at the rear had leaf springs and a live axle. Un-assisted 9 in Lockheed drum brakes were fitted. The steering used a recirculating ball system and was as usual at the time not power assisted. Standard seating, trimmed in Vynide, used a bench type at the front with individual seats as an option. A heater was fitted but a radio remained optional. The car could be ordered in single colour or two tone paint. The four-speed manual transmission featured synchromesh on the top three ratios from the start and had a floor lever: “Smiths Easidrive” automatic transmission was option. A year after the car was launched a Mark II version was presented, in October 1962, with greasing points eliminated, larger front disc brakes and a revised axle ratio. For buyers of the automatic transmission cars, 1962 was the year that the Smiths Easidrive option was replaced by the Borg-Warner 35 transmission. In 1964, with the launch of the Super Minx Mark III, the wrap-around rear window gave way to a new “six-light” design with extra side windows aft of the rear side doors. Engine capacity was increased to 1,725 cc for the Super Minx Mark IV launched at the London Motor Show in October 1965.The car was replaced by the Arrow range (Hunter) in late 1966. Seen here were examples of the Super Minx Saloon, Estate and the Convertible.
Hillman replaced both the Minx and the Super Minx with a single range of cars, codenamed, Arrow. Launched as the Hillman Hunter in October 1966, Arrow quickly developed into a range of cars that Rootes Group produced under several of their marques from 1966 to 1979. Some were given different model names to justify trim differences (Hillman GT, Hillman Estate Car) and to make things more complicated, from time to time all models were sold in some European markets under the Sunbeam marque (Sunbeam Sceptre for instance), and at other times used UK marque/model names. To add complication, Singer Gazelle/Vogue models were also sold in the UK for one season badged as Sunbeams after the Singer brand was withdrawn. The Arrow range was conceived in 1962. Following the Hillman Imp, consideration was given to developing a larger rear-engined car, but this concept was dismissed, and the engineering settled on for the new car was more conventional and closer to the layout of the existing Audax series (which included the previous Hillman Minx). With cash-strapped Rootes struggling amid continuing engine cooling problems with the Imp, which often resulted in warped cylinder heads, the cautious Arrow broke little new engineering ground. New parts were largely based on tried and tested Rootes components, using a new but strong 5-bearing version of the well-proven 1725 cc overhead valve petrol engine as a starting point which varied in output from 66 bhp to 88 bhp. The engine was inclined by a modest 15 degrees, to allow for a lower bonnet line and to enable packaging of the carburettors. This engine was further uprated by specialists Holbay, employing two Weber 40DCOE carburettors to produce 107 bhp for the Sunbeam Rapier H120 and Hillman Hunter GLS. A smaller 1500 cc engine was the standard for manual versions of the Hillman Minx and the Singer Gazelle, and the Hillman Hunter DeLuxe model which succeeded the Minx. Automatic models were all powered by the 1725 cc engine. Particular attention was paid to weight and cost to bring the vehicle in line with its natural competitors, including the Mark 2 Ford Cortina. For the first time in a Rootes car MacPherson strut suspension featured at the front, with a conventional live axle mounted on leaf springs at the rear. Other firsts for Rootes in the new car were curved side glass and flow-through ventilation. Manual transmissions were available in four-speed form with an optional Laycock de Normanville overdrive, or Borg-Warner automatic transmission, again as an option. Initially, the Borg Warner Type 35 3-speed automatic was offered, then the Type 45 four-speed automatic became available in 1973. The handbrake was situated between the driver’s seat and door (i.e. on the driver’s right-hand side for a right-hand drive car) rather than between the front seats. This followed the practice in the ‘Audax’ cars. The first Arrow model to be launched, the Hillman Hunter, was presented as a replacement for the Hillman Super Minx. The Hunter was lighter than its predecessor and the wheel-base of the new car was actually 2½ inches shorter than that of the old, but the length of the passenger cabin was nonetheless increased by moving the engine and the toe-board forwards. For the first two years there were few changes. However, in May 1968 power assisted brakes were made available as a factory fitted option. Hitherto this possibility had been offered only as a kit for retro-fitting: it was stated that the factory fitted servo-assistance, at a domestic market price slightly below £13, would be cheaper for customers. A mild facelift in 1970 gave new grilles to the various Hunter trim levels, and some derivatives gained a (then) more fashionable dashboard, exchanging wood for plastic, but the car remained fundamentally the same throughout its life. A more detailed facelift for 1972 brought a new all-plastic dashboard with deeply hooded round dials (earlier versions had either a strip speedometer or round dials in a flat dashboard for more expensive models like the Vogue), new steering wheel, plastic instead of metal air cleaner, reshaped squarer headlamps in a new grille and some engine tuning changes. For 1975, bumpers were enlarged and the tail lights were enclosed in a full-width anodised aluminium trim piece. Following the 1967 acquisition of Rootes by Chrysler, the Arrow derivatives were rationalised until only the Hillman Hunter version was left by 1976. From September 1977 it was re-badged as a Chrysler, which it was to be for the remaining 2 years of its life. Hunter production was switched in 1969 to Rootes’ troubled Imp plant in Linwood, from its original home of Ryton. Sales were lower after 1975 following the launch of the Chrysler Alpine, a similar sized car but with front-wheel drive and a hatchback bodystyle, at a time when rear-wheel drive saloons still dominated in this sector. Following the Hillman Avenger’s move to Linwood in 1976, the very last European Hunters were assembled in the Santry plant, Shanowen Road, Ireland from “complete knock down” (CKD) kits until production ended in 1979 – but no evidence exists to suggest that the Talbot badge was applied to any production Hunter following Chrysler Europe’s 1978 takeover by Peugeot, and the application of that badge to other Chrysler models sold on or after 1 August 1979. The final Chrysler Hunter was built in September 1979 in Porirua, New Zealand, and was donated to the Southward Museum. In 2000 the Museum sold the car to a private collector. Seen here were a couple of Minx models, the entry level version of the family.
Sitting below the Hunter in the Hillman range of the 1970s was the Avenger, a conventionally engineered small saloon that competed with the Ford Escort and Vauxhall Viva. 1250 and 1500cc models from launch were upgraded to 1300 and 1600cc in the autumn of 1973 and these garnered the majority of sales, but they are not the cars that have survived in the greatest numbers. The ones that you most often see now are the Tiger models. Named to evoke memories of the Sunbeam Tiger, the Avenger Tiger concept began as a publicity exercise. Avenger Super (four-door) cars were modified by the Chrysler Competitions Centre under Des O’ Dell and the Tiger model was launched in March 1972. Modifications included the 1500 GT engine with an improved cylinder head with enlarged valves, twin Weber carburettors and a compression ratio of 9.4:1. The engine now developed 92.5 bhp at 6,100 rpm. The suspension was also uprated, whilst brakes, rear axle, and gearbox are directly from the GT. The cars were all painted in a distinctive yellow called Sundance and they featured a bonnet bulge, whilst a rear spoiler and side stripes were standard, set off with “Avenger Tiger” lettering on the rear quarters. They are also distinguished by the fact that have rectangular headlights. Road test figures demonstrated a 0–60 mph time of 8.9 seconds and a top speed of 108 mph, which beat the rival Ford Escort Mexico, but fuel consumption was heavy. All Avenger Tigers were assembled by the Chrysler Competitions Centre and production figures are vague but around 200 of the initial Mark 1 seems likely. In October 1972, Chrysler unveiled the more “productionised” Mark 2 Tiger. The Avenger GL bodyshell with four round headlights was used. Mechanically identical to the earlier cars, the bonnet bulge was lost although the bonnet turned matt black, and there were changes to wheels and seats. These cars went on sale at £1,350. Production was around 400. These were available in a bright red colour called Wardance as well as the earlier Sundance, both with black detailing.
A real rarity now is this Accord Aerodeck. This was from the third generation of the Accord, introduced in Japan on 4 June 1985, and in Europe and North America later that year. It had a very striking exterior design styled by Toshi Oshika in 1983, that resonated well with buyers internationally. One notable feature was the hidden headlamps. Because this generation was also sold as the Honda Vigor, the Accord received the hidden headlamps. Honda’s Japanese dealership channel called Honda Verno all had styling elements that helped identify products only available at Honda Verno. As a result, Japanese market Accords had a Honda Verno styling feature, but were sold at newly established Japanese dealerships Honda Clio with the all-new, luxury Honda Legend sedan, and international Accords were now visually aligned with the Prelude, the CR-X, and the new Integra. The retractable headlamps of the third generation Accord sedan were in Japan, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, KY region (Arabian countries) and on cars in Taiwan that were imported from the United States. In other countries, the Accord sedan had conventional headlamps, including in Japan from July 1987, on “Accord CA”, with CA standing for “Continental Accord”. Accords in all other bodies (hatchback, AeroDeck, coupe) had only retractable headlamps worldwide. At its introduction in 1985, it won the Car of the Year Japan Award. The third-generation Accord became the first Honda to employ double wishbones at both the front and rear ends. While more expensive than competitors’ MacPherson strut systems, this setup provided better stability and sharper handling for the vehicle. All had front sway bars and upper models had rear sway bars as well. Brakes were either small all-wheel discs with twin-piston calipers (only available on the Japanese-market 2.0-Si model), larger all-wheel discs with single piston calipers, or a front disc/rear drum system. ABS was available as an option on the 4-wheel disc brake models, though not in North America. Base model Accords rode on 13-inch steel wheels with hubcaps with more expensive models having the option of 14-inch alloy wheels. The Accord’s available engines varied depending on its market. In the UK there was the choice of a 2 litre carburettor and fuel injected engines. The Accord’s trim levels ranged from spartan to luxurious. In the Japanese home market, the Accord was available with a full power package, heated mirrors (optional), a digital instrument cluster (optional), sunroof (optional), cruise control, and climate control (which was also optional). Some North European export models also had heated front seats and head light washers. North American and Australian Accords were not available with most of these options, presumably (and in the U.S. in particular) because Honda was seen as a builder of economy cars, and not to cannibalise sales from the recently introduced Acura line. Throughout the different markets, in addition to the sedan model the Accord was available with different bodystyles which included a three-door hatchback, a three-door shooting-brake called Accord AeroDeck, and a two-door coupe which was added in 1987 for the 1988 model year. The coupe, which was built exclusively in Honda’s Marysville, Ohio factory, was “reverse exported” back to Japan where it was known as the US-coupe CA6. The range was updated with a new generation model in 1989.
There was also a nice example here of the S2000, the much missed sports car that Honda produced to mark their 50th anniversary. The S2000 was first alluded to at the 1995 Tokyo Motor Show, with the Honda Sport Study Model (SSM) concept car, a rear-wheel-drive roadster powered by a 2.0 litre inline 4-cylinder engine and featuring a rigid ‘high X-bone frame’ which Honda claimed improved the vehicle’s rigidity and collision safety. The concept car was constructed with aluminium body panels and featured a 50:50 weight distribution. The SSM appeared at many automotive shows for several years afterwards, hinting at the possibility of a production version, which Honda finally announced in 1999. It featured a front mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout with power being delivered by a 1,997 cc inline 4-cylinder DOHC-VTEC engine. The engine produced outputs of 237–247 hp, and 153–161 lb/ft depending on the target market., and it was mated to a six-speed manual transmission and Torsen limited slip differential. The S2000 achieved what Honda claimed as “the world’s top level, high performance 4-cylinder naturally aspirated engine”. Features included independent double wishbone suspension, electrically assisted steering and integrated roll hoops. The compact and lightweight engine, mounted entirely behind the front axle, allowed the S2000 to achieve a 50:50 front/rear weight distribution and lower rotational inertia. An electrically powered vinyl top with internal cloth lining was standard, with an aluminium hardtop available as an optional extra. Although the S2000 changed little visually during its production run, there were some alterations, especially in 2004, at which point production of the S2000 moved to Suzuka. The facelifted car introduced 17 in wheels and Bridgestone RE-050 tyres along with a retuned suspension to reduce oversteer. The spring rates and shock absorber damping were altered and the suspension geometry modified to improve stability by reducing toe-in changes under cornering loads. The subframe has also received a revision in design to achieve a high rigidity. In the gearbox the brass synchronisers were replaced with carbon fibre. In addition, cosmetic changes were made to the exterior with new front and rear bumpers, revised headlight assemblies, new LED tail-lights, and oval-tipped exhausts. Although all the cosmetic, suspension and most drivetrain upgrades were included on the Japanese and European S2000s, they retained the 2.0l F20C engine and remained designated as an AP1. A number of special editions were made, such as the more track-oriented Club Racer version offered in the US in 2007/8 and the Type S for Japan in 2008/9. The UK received a GT for 2009, which featured a removable hard-top and an outside temperature gauge. The S2000 Ultimate Edition (continental Europe) and GT Edition 100 (UK) were limited versions of the S2000 released to commemorate the end of production. Both included Grand Prix White body colour, removable hard top, graphite-coloured alloy wheels, red leather interior with red colouring for stitching on the gear lever gaiter. The Ultimate Edition was unveiled at the 2009 Geneva Motor Show and went on sale in March 2009. The GT Edition 100 was a limited run of 100 units released for the UK market. In addition to the Ultimate Edition’s specification, it featured a black S2000 badge and a numbered plaque on the kick-plate indicating which vehicle in the series it was. The car was never replaced, as Honda decided to head off in the same direction as Toyota, producing a series of very dull appliance-like cars that focused on low emissions and dependability but of no appeal to the sort of enthusiast who bought (and probably kept!) an S2000.
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 colours 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. There were a number of the open two seater version seen here.
Replacement for the XK models came in 1961 with the E Type, and it stunned the world at its premier at the 1961 Geneva Show. Considered by many to be Sir William Lyons’ greatest achievement, not only did the car have stop-you-in-your-tracks gorgeous styling, but it had explosive performance (even if the 150 mph that was achieved in The Autocar’s Road Test is now known to have been with a little “help”), but it was the price that amazed people more than anything else. Whilst out of reach for most people, who could barely afford any new car, it was massively cheaper than contemporary Aston Martins and Ferraris, its market rivals. It was not perfect, though, and over the coming years, Jaguar made constant improvements. A 2+2 model joined the initial range of Roadster and Coupe, and more powerful and larger engines came when the 3.8 litre was enlarged to 4.2 litres, before more significant styling changes came with the 1967 Series 2 and the 1971 Series 3, where new front end treatments and lights were a consequence of legislative demands of the E Type’s most important market, America. There were examples of the Second and Third Series here.
One of the most loved Jaguars of all time, both when it was new, and still now, is the Mark 2 saloon. Many will tell you that it is not the 3 Series BMW that “invented” the “compact sports saloon” car class, but this model, which dates back to 1959. A thorough revision of the small Jaguar saloon that had joined the range in 1955, the Mark 2 was notable in that it was the first car to use the Arabic numeral in its name, as opposed to the Roman numerals of the larger Jaguar models. At launch, the earlier model which had hitherto been known by its engine size was christened the Mark 1. Although clearly based on that car, the updated car looked significantly different, with an increase of 18% in cabin glass area greatly improving visibility. The car was re-engineered above the waistline. Slender front pillars allowed a wider windscreen and the rear window almost wrapped around to the enlarged side windows now with the familiar Jaguar D-shape above the back door and fully chromed frames for all the side windows. The radiator grille was amended and larger side, tail and fog lamps repositioned. Inside a new heating system was fitted and ducted to the rear compartment (although still notoriously ineffective). There was an improved instrument layout that became standard for all Jaguar cars until the XJ Series II of 1973. As well as the familiar 2.4 and 3.4 litre engines, what made this car particularly special was that it was also offered with the potent 220 bhp 3.8 litre unit that was fitted to the XK150 and which would later see service in the E Type. This gave the car a 0 – 60 time of around 8.5 seconds and a top speed of 125 mph. No wonder that the Mark 2 became popular as a get-away car for the criminal fraternity, and to keep up with and catch them, many police forces bought the car as well. With revised suspension and standard four wheel disc brakes, the car was effective on the track, taking plenty of class wins when new, and it is still popular in historic racing circles today. The quickest and most successful private entries came from John Coombs, a man with significant race experience who operated a large Jaguar dealership in Guildford. Coombs would undertake modifications to meet the demands of his customers, so not all the cars that he worked on are the same. Jaguar replaced the Mark 2 with simplified and slightly more cheaply finished 240 and 340 models, as an interim measure until an all-new model was ready to take over from them. The 3.8 litre disappeared from the range at this time, but in the 7 years it had been in production, it had been the best seller of the range, with around 30,000 cars produced, as compared to 28,666 of the 3.4 litre and 25,741 of the 2.4 litre model.
There was also a Jaguar 420 on show. Along with its Daimler Sovereign equivalent, this was introduced at the October 1966 London Motor Show and produced for two years as the ultimate expression of a series of “compact sporting saloons” offered by Jaguar throughout that decade, all of which shared the same wheelbase. Developed from the Jaguar S-Type, the 420 cost around £200 more than that model and effectively ended buyer interest in it, although the S-Type continued to be sold alongside the 420/Sovereign until both were supplanted by the Jaguar XJ6 late in 1968.The S Type itself was based on the Jaguar Mark 2, and this remained in the range as well, meaning that Jaguar had three models that were all built off the same original concept, and which were not that different in design or in size. The 420 was conceived as sales of the larger Mark X had been disappointing, thought partially to be because it was too big and cumbersome, so the idea here was to offer a physically smaller car with a similar specification. The added size and weight meant that the 4.2 litre engine – which was the only unit offered in this car – was needed, to deliver the level of performance buyers would expect. In styling terms, the 420/Sovereign was essentially an S-Type with that car’s curvaceous nose made much more linear, the better to match its rear styling (which was not altered). Contouring around its four lamps was relatively subtle, with small peaks over each, and its flat frontage sloped forward slightly. The square grille with central divider matched that of the 420G, (which was the new name given to the Mark X at the time of the 420/Sovereign’s release). The low-set fog lamps of the Mark 2 and S-Type were replaced by a pair of inner headlamps at the same level as the main headlamps. The inner lamps were lit on main beam only. Dummy horn grilles were added below each inner headlamp to break up what would otherwise have been a large expanse of flat metal on either side of the radiator grille. The tops of the front wheel arches were flattened to match the squarer lines of the nose. The slimline bumpers dispensed with the centre dip which had characterised the bumpers of the Mark 2 and S-Type. All this was done to improve the car’s aesthetic balance compared with the S-Type and to create a family resemblance to the Mark X/420G, changes which Sir William could not afford (in either time or money) when the S-Type was designed. No attempt was made to give the 420/Sovereign the same front-hinged bonnet as the Mark X/420G and it retained a rear-hinged bonnet of similar dimensions to those of the S-Type and Mark 2. Changes to the S-Type’s interior to create the 420/Sovereign were driven mainly by safety considerations, with the wood cappings on the doors and dashboard replaced with padded Rexine and a wooden garnish rail on the tops of the door linings. The clock was relocated from the tachometer to the centre of the dashboard top rail, where it was powered by its own battery. The S-Type’s pull out map tray below the central instrument panel was not carried over although the 420 retained the same central console and under-dash parcel tray. The seats of the 420 were of slightly different proportions from the S-Type, although they appeared very similar. The 4.2-litre XK engine of the 420/Sovereign was fitted with the straight port cylinder head and 3/8-inch lift cams. Compression ratios of 7:1, 8:1 and 9:1 could be specified according to local fuel quality, the difference being obtained by varying the crown design of the pistons. The engine was fed by just two carburettors and developed a claimed 245 bhp at 5,500 rpm, which was 20 bhp less than the triple-carburettor version in the 420G and E-Type. The maximum torque of the engine at 283 lb/ft was virtually the same as that of the triple-carburettor version yet was achieved at 3,750 rpm rather than 4,000 rpm. 10,236 were sold over a two year period, which was roughly twice the volume of Daimler Sovereign models which also found buyers.
When the time came to replace the Mark IX, Jaguar adopted a completely new look, with the resulting car, unsurprisingly called the Mark X, being notably larger. Indeed its bulk, especially the width, came to characterise the car, and constituted one of the obstacles to sales in Europe, though this was less of a handicap for the American market, for whom it had been designed. The first three years production used the familiar 3.8 litre XK engine, and this was enlarged to 4.2 litre in 1964 in line with the E Type. The Mark X was the first Jaguar to feature fully independent rear suspension and the last to feature an interior with abundant standard woodwork, including the dashboard, escutcheons, window trim, a pair of large bookmatched fold out rear picnic tables, and a front seat pull-out picnic table stowed beneath the instrument cluster. Later, air conditioning and a sound-proof glass division between the front and rear seats were added as options. For the London Motor Show in October 1966 the Mark X was renamed the Jaguar 420G (not to be confused with the smaller Jaguar 420, which was an update of the smaller S Type). The 420G differed visually from the Mark X only with the addition of a vertical central bar splitting the grille in two, side indicator repeaters on the front wings, and a chrome strip along the wing and door panels (two tone paint schemes were also available with the chrome strip omitted). Interior changes included perforations in the central sections of the leather seats, padded dashboard sections for safety, moving the clock to a central position, and the introduction of air conditioning as an option. A “limousine” version was available, on the standard wheelbase, with a dividing glass screen partition and front bench seat replacing the separate seats of standard cars. The wheelbase was extended by 21″ with the mechanical underpinnings of the car being subtly re-bodied for the 1968 Daimler DS420. Despite running for the same length of time as the Mark X (5 years) the 420G sold in less than a third of the numbers: this lack of popularity and the increasing production of the XJ6 resulted in the 420G being run out of production in 1970. Whilst over 18,500 of the Mark X were made, just 5,763 of the 420G were made
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.
Throughout the 1970s Jaguar had been developing “Project XJ40”, which was an all-new model intended to replace the original XJ6. Scale models were being built as early as 1972. Due to the 1973 oil crisis and problems at parent company British Leyland, the car was continually delayed. Proposals from both Jaguar’s in-house designers and Pininfarina were received. Eventually, it was decided an internal design would be carried through to production and, in February 1981, the British Leyland board approved £80 million to produce the new car. Launch was originally scheduled for 1984, but following Jaguar’s de-merger from BL and privatisation that same year, the company’s CEO Sir John Egan took advantage of the resurgence in sales of the existing Series III XJ6 (particularly in the lucrative North American market) to delay the XJ40’s launch a further two years to allow for more development time. The XJ40 was at the time, the most extensively tested vehicle the company had ever developed. Designs for the XJ40 pioneered significant improvements to how Jaguar cars were designed, built, and assembled. Among these improvements was a 25% reduction in the number of bodywork panels required per car (e.g. three pressings needed for a Series 3 door compared with one for a XJ40 door), resulting in not only a more efficient assembly process, but also a weight saving and a stiffer structure. Initially, only two engines were offered across the XJ40 models: a 2.9 L and a 3.6 L version of the AJ6 inline-six. In 1990 the 3.6 L was replaced by a 4.0 L model and in 1991 the 2.9 L was replaced by a 3.2 L model. During the development of the XJ40, British Leyland had considered providing the Rover V8 engine for the car, which would have eliminated the need for future Jaguar engine production. The XJ40 bodyshell was allegedly engineered to prevent fitting V-configuration engines – in particular the Rover V8 – which British Leyland management had desired; this delayed the introduction of the V12-powered XJ12 until 1993 as the front structure of the XJ40 had to be extensively redesigned. As a consequence, the preceeding Series III XJ was kept in production in V12 form to cater for this market need until 1992. The automatic gearbox used in the 2.9 L, 3.2 L and 3.6 L six-cylinder cars was the four-speed ZF 4HP22. On the 4.0 L, the four-speed ZF 4HP24 was used. A stronger automatic gearbox was required for the V12-equipped cars, and the four-speed GM 4L80-E was selected. The manual gearbox fitted to early cars was the five-speed Getrag 265, while later cars received the Getrag 290. The automatic transmission selector was redesigned to allow the manual selection of forward gears without accidentally selecting neutral or reverse. This new feature was dubbed the “J-Gate” and remained a staple of all Jaguar models up until the 2008 Jaguar XF, when shift by wire technology rendered it redundant – all subsequent Jaguar models now use a rotary knob for transmission mode selection. The base XJ6 of the model range was modestly equipped; extra-cost options included alloy wheels, anti-lock brakes, air conditioning, leather upholstery, and an automatic transmission. The exterior featured two pairs of circular headlamps and black powder-coated window frames. The Sovereign model came equipped with significantly more features than the base XJ6. Included was air conditioning, headlamp washers, a six-speaker sound system, rear self-levelling suspension (SLS), anti-lock braking system, and inlaid burl walnut wood trim (pre-MY1991). The headlamps fitted were the rectangular single units. The window frames were made from stainless steel. Further variants would follow, before the car’s replacement in 1994.
Follow on in the XJ’s evolution were the X300 cars, the first XJ produced entirely under Ford ownership, and can be considered an evolution of the outgoing XJ40 generation. Like all previous XJ generations, it featured the Jaguar independent rear suspension arrangement. The design of the X300 placed emphasis on improved build quality, improved reliability, and a return to traditional Jaguar styling elements. At the car’s launch in October 1994 at the Paris Motor Show, Jaguar marketing material made use of the phrase “New Series XJ” to describe the X300 models. The X300 series represented the result of a £200 million facilities renewal program by Ford. which included the introduction of state-of-the-art automated body welding robots manufactured by Nissan. Aesthetically, the X300 received several updates in the design refresh led by Geoff Lawson in 1991. The mostly flat bonnet of the XJ40 was replaced with a fluted, curvaceous design that accentuated the four separate round headlamps. Rear wings were reshaped to accommodate the new wrap-around rear light clusters. Also, the separate black-rubber bumper bar of the XJ40 were replaced with a fully integrated body-coloured bumper. The interior of the X300 was similar to that found in the XJ40, with some revisions. The seats were updated to have a more rounded profile, wood trim was updated with bevelled edges, and the steering wheel was redesigned. Jaguar’s V12 engine and AJ6 inline-six (AJ16) engine were both available in various X300 models, although they received significant updates. Both engines were fitted with distributorless electronic engine management systems. The car underwent a comprehensive update in 1997, creating the X308 generation.
With the demise of the Austin-Healey 3000, Donald Healey opened discussions with Jensen Motors, who had built the bodies for Healey’s Austin-Healey cars. The largest Austin Healey Car Dealer in the US, Kjell Qvale was also keen to find a replacement to the Austin-Healey 3000 then became a major shareholder of Jensen, making Donald Healey the chairman. The Jensen-Healey was designed in a joint venture by Donald Healey, his son Geoffrey, and Jensen Motors. Hugo Poole did the styling of the body, the front and back of which were later modified by William Towns to take advantage of the low profile engine and to allow cars for the U.S. market to be fitted with bumpers to meet increasing US regulations. The unitary body understructure was designed by Barry Bilbie, who had been responsible for the Austin-Healey 100, 100-6 and 3000 as well as the Sprite. It was designed to be cheap to repair, with bolt-on panels, to reduce insurance premiums. Launched in 1972 as a fast luxurious and competent convertible sports car, it was positioned in the market between the Triumph TR6 and the Jaguar E-Type. The 50/50 weight balance due to the all alloy Lotus engine led to universal praise as having excellent handling. It all looked very promising, but it was the engine which was the car’s undoing. Various engines had been tried out in the prototype stage including Vauxhall, Ford and BMW units. The Vauxhall 2.3 litre engine met United States emission requirements but did not meet the power target of 130 hp. A German Ford V6 was considered but industrial action crippled supply. BMW could not supply an engine in the volumes needed. Colin Chapman of Lotus offered, and Jensen accepted his company’s new 1973 cc Lotus 907 engine, a two-litre, dual overhead cam, 16 valve all-alloy powerplant. This multi-valve engine is the first to be mass-produced on an assembly line. This setup put out approximately 144 bhp, topping out at 119 mph and accelerating from zero to 60 mph in 8.1 seconds. The problem was that it was a brand new engine, and Lotus were effectively using Jensen-Healey to complete the development. There were numerous issues early on, which meant that warranty claims rocketed and then sales stalled, so whilst this soon became the best selling Jensen of all time, it also helped seal the fate of the company. In total 10,503 (10 prototypes, 3,347 Mk.1 and 7,146 Mk.2) were produced by Jensen Motors Ltd. A related fastback, the Jensen GT, was introduced in 1975. Values are surprisingly low these days, which is a shame, as the problems are long since ironed out, and the resulting car looks good and goes well.
The Flavia was here, in Berlina guise. Named after the Via Flavia, the Roman road leading from Trieste (Tergeste) to Dalmatia, and launched at the 1960 Turin Motor Show, the Flavia was initially available only as a four-door saloon, featuring a 1.5 litre aluminium boxer engine, Dunlop disc brakes on all four wheels, front-wheel drive and front suspension by unequal-length wishbones. This model was soon joined by a two-door coupé, designed by Pininfarina on a shortened platform. Vignale built 1,601 two-door convertibles, while Zagato designed an outlandish-looking light weight two-door sport version. The sport version has twin carburettors for extra power (just over 100 hp); however, this version of the engine was notoriously difficult to keep in tune. Even the single-carburettor engine suffered from the problem of timing chain stretch. Sprockets with vernier adjusters were fitted to allow for chain wear, and the cam timing was supposed to be checked every 6000 miles. Early cars also suffered from corrosion of the cylinder heads caused by using copper gaskets on aluminium heads; nevertheless, the car was quite lively for its day, considering the cubic capacity. Later development of the engine included an enlargement to 1.8 litres, a mechanical injection version using the Kugelfischer system, and a five-speed manual gearbox. Towards the end of the 1960s, when Fiat took control of the company, the Vignale and Zagato versions were discontinued. The coupé and saloon versions received new bodywork, first presented in March 1969 at the Geneva Motor Show. The engine increased to 2.0 litres, available with carburettor or injection, and four- or five-speed gearbox. The 2.0 litre models were only made with revised Pininfarina Coupe and revised Berlina bodies. The model was updated further in 1971, with squared off styling, becoming the 2000 in which guise it was produced for a further 4 years.
Lancia replaced the long-running Appia with a new model in 1963, the Fulvia. Like the larger Flavia which had been shown 3 years earlier, it came with front wheel drive, and a host of exquisite engineering which ensure that even though it was expensive, it was actually not profitable for its maker, and was a direct contribution to the marque’s bankruptcy and take over by Fiat in 1969. It was not long before the initial Berlina saloon model was joined by a Coupe. First seen in 1965. the Coupe proved to be the longest lived of all Fulvia variants, surviving until 1976 when it was effectively replaced by the 1300cc version of the Beta Coupe. Before that, it had undergone a steady program of updates, with more powerful engines, including a capacity increase from the initial 1200cc of the narrow angle V4 to 1300 and then later 1600cc, and the car was developed into a successful rally machine for the late 60s. The Sport Zagato version was designed by Ercole Spada at Zagato and was intended to be the more sporting model of the range. It was also considerably more expensive. Early cars had an unusual side hinged bonnet, but this was changed on the Series 2 models which were launched in 1970, and which also switched to all-steel bodies. Seen here was a Fulvia Zagato.
This is a nice example of the original Range Rover. The Rover Company had been experimenting with a larger model than the Land Rover Series as far back as 1951, when the Rover P4-based two-wheel-drive “Road Rover” project was developed by Gordon Bashford. This was shelved in 1958, and the idea lay dormant until 1966, when engineers Spen King and Bashford set to work on a new model. In 1967, the first Range Rover prototype was built (number plate SYE 157F), with the classic Range Rover shape clearly discernible, but with a different front grille and headlight configuration. The design of the Range Rover was finalised in 1969. Twenty-six Velar engineering development vehicles were built between 1969 and 1970 and were road registered with the number plates YVB151H through to YVB177H. Though being chassis no. 3, the vehicle YVB 153H is believed to have been the first off the production line as a vehicle in that colour was urgently required for marketing. The Velar name was derived from the Italian “velare” meaning to veil or to cover. Range Rover development engineer Geoff Miller used the name as a decoy for registering pre-production Range Rovers. The Velar company was registered in London and produced 40 pre-production vehicles that were built between 1967 and 1970. Most of these Velar pre-production vehicles are accounted for and have survived into preservation, and one of them was presented here. These models fetch very strong money when sold, between £60 -80,000 for the handful that have appeared for sale in the last couple of years. The production Range Rover was launched in 1970, and it was produced until 1994, undergoing quite a transition into a luxury product en route. Early models are currently the most prized ones, and there were a number of those here, as well as some of the later ones with the longer wheelbase, and luxury trim.
The silver Italdesign concept that eventually became the Esprit was unveiled at the Turin Motor Show in 1972 as a concept car, and was a development of a stretched Lotus Europa chassis. It was among the first of designer Giorgetto Giugiaro’s polygonal “folded paper” designs. Originally, the name Kiwi was proposed, but in keeping with the Lotus tradition of having all car model names start with the letter “E”, the name became Esprit. The production Esprit was launched in October 1975 at the Paris Auto Show, and went into production in June 1976, replacing the Europa in the Lotus model lineup. These first cars eventually became known as S1 Esprits. With a steel backbone chassis and a fibreglass body, the Esprit was powered by the Lotus 907 4-cylinder engine, as previously used in the Jensen Healey. This engine displaced 2.0 litre, produced 160 bhp in European trim 140 bhp in US/Federal trim, and was mounted longitudinally behind the passengers, as in its predecessor. The transaxle gearbox was a 5-speed manual unit, previously used in the Citroën SM and Maserati Merak; it featured inboard rear brakes, as was racing practice at the time. The Series 1 embodied Lotus’ performance through light weight mantra, weighing less than 1,000 kg (2,205 lb). The original Esprit was lauded for its handling and is said to have the best steering of any Esprit. However, it was generally regarded as lacking power, especially in markets such as the United States where the engine was down-rated for emissions purposes. Lotus’ claim of 0-60 mph in 6.8 seconds and a top speed of 138 mph may be thought of as optimistic – actual road test times indicated 0-60 mph in 8 seconds and a top speed of around 133 mph. The S1 Esprit can be distinguished from later Esprits by a shovel-style front air dam, Fiat X1/9 tail lights, lack of body-side ducting, and Wolfrace alloy wheels. Inside the car, the most obvious indication of an S1 Esprit is a one-piece instrument cluster with green-faced Veglia gauges. The car gained fame through its appearance in the James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) where a fictionally-modified version was featured in a long action sequence. Bond’s Esprit car is first chased on road, by a motorcycle, then by another car, and then a helicopter, then converts into a submarine for an undersea battle. A series of improvements made to the Esprit during its initial run culminated in the S2 Esprit, which was introduced in 1978. The most obvious of these changes are intake and cooling duct “ears” located behind the rear quarter window, tail lights from the Rover SD1, and an integrated front spoiler. S2 Esprits also used 14-inch Speedline alloy wheels designed specifically for Lotus. Other changes included relocating the battery from above the right side fuel tank (under the rear quarter window) to the rear of the car, adding an access door to the engine cover, as well as replacing the instrument cluster made by Veglia with individual gauges made by Smiths and using different style of switches on the dashboard. During this era, a special edition car was released to commemorate Lotus’s racing victories and their victory in the 1978 F1 World Championship. Sharing the black and gold colour scheme of Lotus’ then F1 sponsor, John Player & Sons, these cars are commonly known as the John Player Special (JPS) Esprits. The “JPS” Esprit has the same mechanicals as the regular two-litre S2. According to Lotus themselves a limited series of 300 was built, but most likely the total was considerably lower. Lotus’ records of production figures are notoriously vague, but best estimates suggest that 149 JPS Esprits were produced. The S2.2 was produced as a stop-gap model from May 1980, almost identical to the S2 but with an enlarged (2.2 litre) type 912 engine used. This kept horsepower the same, but bumped up torque from 140 lb·ft to 160 lb·ft. Importantly, the S2.2 also introduced the use of a galvanised chassis, although it did not benefit from the succeeding S3’s chassis improvements. These cars are extremely rare even among Esprits: according to Lotus themselves, only 88 were produced in its thirteen-month production span. In 1980 the first factory turbocharged Esprit was launched. Initially, this was another special edition model commemorating F1 ties and reflecting current sponsorship, this time in the blue, red and chrome livery of Essex Petroleum, and is therefore known as the Essex Esprit. The new turbocharged dry-sump type 910 engine produced 210 hp and 200 lb·ft of torque. 0-60 mph could be achieved in 6.1 seconds, with a top speed of 150 mph. These performance improvements were coupled to a redesign and strengthening of the chassis and rear suspension, where an upper link was added to alleviate strain on the driveshafts, along with brake improvements. The Essex cars introduced a Giugiaro-designed aerodynamic body kit with a rear lip spoiler, prominent louvered rear hatch, more substantial bumpers, a deeper front airdam, and air ducts in the sills just ahead of the rear wheels, which were 15″ Compomotive three piece items. Internally, scarlet leather, combined with a roof-mounted Panasonic stereo, made for a dramatic environment. 45 Essex Esprits were built, interspersed and followed by a number of non Essex-liveried but otherwise identical specification dry-sump turbo cars. Two Essex-spec Turbo Esprits – one in white and the other in copper – were featured in the James Bond film For Your Eyes Only (1981), although these were scripted as the same vehicle – the white one was destroyed by an anti-burglar explosion system in Spain, while the copper red one was a “rebuild” of the original (actually a joke between Bond and Q in the latter’s laboratory), and was fully functional (the copper exterior paint colour for the replacement car was chosen to make the car stand out more in filming against the snowy background of Cortina, Italy, the only locale in which it appears). By the close of 1980, Lotus was effectively building three different models of Esprit, with distinct chassis designs and body moulds – the Domestic S2.2, the Export S2.2, and the dry-sump Turbo Esprit. Introduced in April 1981, the Turbo Esprit and S3 Esprits marked a necessary consolidation: both new models had a common chassis, inheriting much of the configuration of the Essex cars, whilst body production was based on a single common set of moulds. The S3 continued to use the 2.2 litre type 912 engine of the S2.2, whilst the Turbo Esprit reverted to a less complex wet-sump lubrication system, retaining the power and torque outputs of its dry-sump predecessor. The interior for both cars was revised and featured new trim; combined with changes to the body moulds this resulted in more headroom and an enlarged footwell. Externally, the Turbo Esprit retained the full aerodynamic body kit of the Essex cars, and featured prominent ‘turbo esprit’ decals on the nose and sides; the S3 gained the more substantial bumpers, yet retained the simpler sill line and glazed rear hatch of the S2.2 body style. Both models were supplied with 15″ BBS alloy wheels. For the 1985 model year, the S3 and Turbo underwent some slight alterations to the bodywork and to the front suspension. In April 1986, the final incarnations of the Giugiaro-styled Esprit were announced, with raised engine compression giving rise to the ‘HC’ moniker. This increased the output of the naturally aspirated engine to 172 hp and 160 lb·ft for the Esprit HC, and to 215 hp and 220 lb·ft for the Turbo Esprit HC, with the increased torque available at a lower rpm. For markets with stringent emissions requirements (mainly the United States), Lotus introduced the HCi variant, teaming the higher compression engine with Bosch KE-Jetronic fuel injection and a catalytic converter- the first fuel-injected Esprits. This engine had the same peak power as the carburettor version, but at a somewhat higher engine speed, and torque dropped to 202 lb·ft.
There was also an example of the Excel here. Known internally as the Type 89, the Excel, built from 1982 to 1992, was a development of the earlier Lotus Eclat, which itself was based on the Type 75 Elite. Although a promising design, the Elite and Eclat had suffered from numerous quality control issues which were difficult for owners to accept given the price of the cars. The Excel was a concerted effort to address these, and it stood every chance of so doing, as it took advantage of the relationship with Toyota. This had started when Toyota engaged Lotus to assist with engineering work on the Supra. During this period, Toyota then became a major shareholder in Lotus. Part of the deal between the two included the use of many Toyota mechanical components in Lotus’ cars. The original Excel (aka the Eclat Excel) used the W58 manual transmission, driveshafts, rear differential, 14×7 in alloy wheels, and door handles from the Supra Mk II, which was made from 1982 to 1986. The engine was the familiar all-aluminium, DOHC 2.2 litre Lotus 912 Slant Four which was also used in the Lotus Esprit S3. During its lifetime, the Excel received two major upgrades. With the introduction of the Excel SE which had a 180 bhp engine vs the standard 160 bhp car in October 1985, the bumpers, wing and interior was changed, including a new dashboard. In October 1986 the Excel SA with automatic gearbox was introduced. Further facelifts in 1989 saw Citroën-derived mirrors, as featured on the Esprit, and 15 inch OZ alloy wheels to a similar pattern as the Esprit’s. According to Lotus records, only 1 Excel was manufactured to USA specification. The lack of release in the USA was due to the high emission regulations (which would hinder the car’s performance), and poor sales of the car in Europe.
This is one of a series of Marcos models produced in the company’s renaissance period of the late 1980s and 1990s. The original Marcos company was one of many which suffered in the mid 1970s, and ceased building cars, but unlike some of the others of this ilk, that was not the end of the story, as marque founder Jem Marsh resurrected the Marcos brand in 1981, offering the previous GT cars as kits. Engine options included Ford’s 3.0 Essex V6, 2.8 Cologne V6, 1600 Crossflow, 2.0 Pinto and 2.0 V4, plus Triumph’s 2.0 and 2.5 straight six. About 130 kits were sold up to 1989. In 1983 the Marcos Mantula was introduced, externally very similar to the old GT, but now powered by a 3.5-litre Rover V8 with a 5-speed gearbox. This alloy engine weighed less than the previous six-cylinder cast-iron units, reducing overall weight to about 900 kg and making the car competitive against other Rover-powered sports cars such as TVR and Morgan. The engine evolved into the Rover Vitesse EFi engine, and later Mantulas were fitted with the 3.9 EFi. In 1986 the model was made available as a convertible, the Marcos Spyder, which would outsell the coupés in later production. 1989 saw the introduction of independent rear suspension, together with the Ford Sierra’s 7″ differential and rear disc brakes. The independent suspension allowed a full-width boot and the relocation of the battery and heater/air conditioning. 170 coupés and 119 Spyders were produced. Launched in 1991, the Marcos Martina was externally very similar to the Mantula, but with flared front wheel arches. It used the Ford Cortina’s 2-litre four-cylinder engine, steering and suspension, and approximately 80 were produced. Originally available as kits or factory-built, the cars were all factory-built from 1992. Production of the Mantula and Martina ceased in 1993. In 1992 Marcos left the kit car business, all cars from this point onwards being factory built, and launched the Marcos Mantara which was sold through dealers in limited numbers. The main difference between the Mantara and the Mantula was the adoption of MacPherson strut front suspension in place of the Triumph suspension and associated trunnions. This change resulted in a wider front track, different bonnet, and flared front arches. The rear wheel arches and rear lights were also changed to give the car a more modern appearance. Power steering was also available for the first time. The Mantara was powered as standard by a 3.9 litre fuel injected Rover V8 or a 4.6 litre Rover V8 as an optional alternative. The Marcos GTS was a version of the Mantara powered by the 2-litre Rover Tomcat engine. The top version was the 200 bhp turbo version. The GTS version of the Mantara had a slightly different bonnet incorporating much smoother lines, flared-in headlamps, and a deeper spoiler, which was used on the later Mantaray model. A handful of late Mantara V8’s were produced with the same bonnet as the 2.0 litre GTS. For a return to GT racing, a range of modified Mantaras was also produced in the LM (Le Mans) versions. In order to qualify as a production vehicle, a limited number of road going cars were also made. Several versions of the LM were made such as the LM400 (with a Rover 3.9-litre V8 engine), LM500 (Rover 5-litre V8) and LM600 (with 6-litre Chevrolet small-block V8). Only 30 road-going LM cars were ever built, and of these only one was a road-going LM600. In 1997 the Mantis name was re-used on a 2-seater coupé or convertible road car based on the LM series powered by the 4.6 litre all-aluminium quad-cam Ford ‘Modular’ engine producing 327 bhp and capable of 170 mph (270 km/h). To accommodate the engine the bonnet of the Mantis was significantly remodelled from the previous LM range (that used the Rover V8), and the upper chassis rails in the engine bay were widened. Price for the Mantis was £46883. In 1998 it was decided to supercharge the engine to produce the first British production sports car with over 500 bhp, this being named the Mantis GT. Using a Vortech supercharger, and intercooler the Mantis GT engine produced 506 bhp which could accelerate the car from 0-60 mph in 3.7 seconds. Price for the Mantis GT was £64331. Production of the Mantis was 51 cars, with 16 being the supercharged GT version (not including the Mantis Challenge race cars). In 1997 the Mantara evolved into the Marcos Mantaray, with the re-styled bonnet from the Mantara GTS and with a new shape rear-end. Mechanically the car was identical to the Mantara. It was offered with 4.0 and 4.6 litre Rover V8 as well as the 2-litre, and 2-litre turbo Rover Tomcat engines. Only 11 were made with the 4.0-litre, and seven with the 4.6-litre engine. Total factory production was 26, plus one car in chassis/body component form. Bankruptcy caused a break in production, but with new finance in place. an all new design, the TS250 was launched in 2004, but this proved to be short-lived before the company finally ceased trading.
By 1955, Mercedes-Benz Technical Director Prof. Fritz Nallinger and his team held no illusions regarding the 190 SL’s lack of performance, while the high price tag of the legendary 300 SL supercar kept it elusive for all but the most affluent buyers. Thus Mercedes-Benz started evolving the 190 SL on a new platform, model code W127, with a fuel-injected 2.2 litre M127 inline-six engine, internally denoted as 220SL. Encouraged by positive test results, Nallinger proposed that the 220SL be placed in the Mercedes-Benz program, with production commencing in July 1957. However, while technical difficulties kept postponing the production start of the W127, the emerging new S-Class W112 platform introduced novel body manufacturing technology altogether. So in 1960, Nallinger eventually proposed to develop a completely new 220SL design, based on the “fintail” W 111 sedan platform with its chassis shortened by 11.8 in, and technology from the W112. This led to the W113 platform, with an improved fuel-injected 2.3 litre M127 inline-six engine and the distinctive “pagoda” hardtop roof, designated as 230 SL. The 230 SL made its debut at the prestigious Geneva Motor Show in March 1963, where Nallinger introduced it as follows: “It was our aim to create a very safe and fast sports car with high performance, which despite its sports characteristics, provides a very high degree of travelling comfort”. The W113 was the first sports car with a “safety body,” based on Bela Barényi’s extensive work on vehicle safety: It had a rigid passenger cell and designated crumple zones with impact-absorbing front and rear sections built into the vehicle structure. The interior was “rounded,” with all hard corners and edges removed, as in the W111 sedan. Production of the 230 SL commenced in June 1963 and ended on 5 January 1967. Its chassis was based on the W 111 sedan platform, with a reduced wheelbase by 11.8 in, recirculating ball steering (with optional power steering), double wishbone front suspension and an independent single-joint, low-pivot swing rear-axle with transverse compensator spring. The dual-circuit brake system had front disc brakes and power-assisted rear drum brakes. The 230 SL was offered with a 4-speed manual transmission, or an optional, very responsive fluid coupled (no torque converter) 4-speed automatic transmission, which was popular for US models. From May 1966, the ZF S5-20 5-speed manual transmission was available as an additional option, which was particularly popular in Italy. The 2,308 cc M127.II inline-six engine with 150 hp and 145 lb/ft torque was based on Mercedes-Benz’ venerable M180 inline-six with four main bearings and mechanical Bosch multi-port fuel injection. Mercedes-Benz made a number of modifications to boost its power, including increasing displacement from 2,197 cc, and using a completely new cylinder head with a higher compression ratio (9.3 vs. 8.7), enlarged valves and a modified camshaft. A fuel injection pump with six plungers instead of two was fitted, which allowed placing the nozzles in the cylinder head and “shooting” the fuel through the intake manifold and open valves directly into the combustion chambers. An optional oil-water heat exchanger was also available. Of the 19,831 230 SLs produced, less than a quarter were sold in the US. Looking identical, the 250 SL was introduced at the 1967 Geneva Motor Show. Production had already commenced in December 1966 and ended in January 1968. The short one-year production run makes the 250 SL the rarest of the W113 series cars. The 250 SL retained the stiffer suspension and sportier feel of the early SLs, but provided improved agility with a new engine and rear disc brakes. Range also improved with increased fuel tank capacity from 65 litres to 82. Like its predecessor, the 250 SL was offered with a 4-speed automatic transmission, and 4-speed or ZF 5-speed manual transmissions. For the first time, an optional limited slip differential was also available. The main change was the use of the 2,496 cc M129.II engine with a larger stroke, increased valve ports, and seven main bearings instead of four. The nominal maximum power remained unchanged at 150 hp, but torque improved from 145 lb/ft to 159 lb/ft. Resiliency also improved with a new cooling water tank (“round top”) with increased capacity and a standard oil-water heat exchanger. The 250 SL also marked the introduction of a 2+2 body style, the so-called “California Coupé”, which had only the removable hardtop and no soft-top: a small fold-down rear bench seat replaced the soft-top well between passenger compartment and boot. It is estimated that only 10% of the 250SLs that were brought into America were California Coupes. Of the 5,196 250 SLs produced, more than a third were sold in the US.The 280 SL was introduced in December 1967 and continued in production through 23 February 1971, when the W 113 was replaced by its successor, the entirely new and substantially heavier R107 350 SL. The main change was an upgrade to the 2,778 cc M130 engine with 170 hp and 180 lb/ft, which finally gave the W 113 adequate power. The performance improvement was achieved by increasing bore by 4.5 mm (0.2 in), which stretched the limits of the M180 block, and required pairwise cylinder casts without cooling water passages. This mandated an oil-cooler, which was fitted vertically next to the radiator. Each engine was now bench-tested for two hours prior to being fitted, so their power specification was guaranteed at last. The M130 marked the final evolution of Mercedes-Benz’ venerable SOHC M180 inline-six, before it was superseded by the entirely new DOHC M110 inline-six introduced with R107 1974 European 280 SL models. For some time, it was also used in the W 109 300 S-Class, where it retired the expensive 3 liter M189 alloy inline-six. Over the years, the W 113 evolved from a sports car into a comfortable grand tourer, and US models were by then usually equipped with the 4-speed automatic transmission and air conditioning. Manual transmission models came with the standard 4-speed or the optional ZF 5-speed, which was ordered only 882 times and thus is a highly sought-after original option today. In Europe, manual transmissions without air conditioning were still the predominant choice. Of the 23,885 280 SLs produced, more than half were sold in the US.
Another classic Mercedes of note was a nice example of the W123 generation, a model which Mercedes-Benz introduced in four-door form on 29 January 1976. While there were some technical similarities to their predecessors, the new models were larger in wheelbase and exterior dimensions. The styling was also updated, although stylistic links with the W114 / W115 were maintained. Initially, all models except 280/280E featured quad unequal-size round headlights and the latter large rectangular units. When facelifted, these units became standard across the range. All W115 engines were carried over, with the 3-litre 5-cylinder diesel model being renamed from “240D 3.0” to “300D” (as it had already been called before in North American markets). The only new engine was the 250’s 2,525 cc inline-six (Type M123, a short-stroke version of the 2.8-litre six Type M110) that replaced the old 2,496 cc Type M114 “six”. In the spring of 1976, a Coupé version was introduced on a shorter wheelbase than the saloon (106.7 in versus 110.0 in). This W123C/CE was available as a 230C (later 230CE) and as a 280C/CE in most markets; in North America there were additional 300CD versions with naturally aspirated, later turbocharged 3-litre diesel engines. In North America, buyers favoured diesel engines for upmarket cars, while CAFE legislation meant that Mercedes-Benz North America had to lower their corporate average fuel economy. This led to the introduction of a few diesel models only sold in the United States. It is a tribute to the car’s instant popularity – and possibly to the caution built into the production schedules – that nine months after its introduction, a black market had developed in Germany for Mercedes-Benz W123s available for immediate delivery. Customers willing to order new cars from their local authorised dealer for the recommended list price faced waiting times in excess of twelve months. Meanwhile, models that were barely used and were available almost immediately commanded a premium over the new price of around DM 5,000. From August 1976, long-wheelbase versions (134.8 in) were produced. These were available as 7/8 seater saloons with works bodies or as a chassis with complete front body clip, the latter serving as the base for ambulance and hearse bodies by external suppliers like Binz or Miesen. These “Lang” versions could be ordered as 240D, 300D and 250 models. At the Frankfurt Auto Show in September, 1977 the W123T estate was introduced; the T in the model designation stood for “Touring and Transport”. All engines derivative except “200TD” were available in the range. T production began in March, 1978 in Mercedes’ Bremen factory. It was the first factory-built Mercedes-Benz estate, previous estates had been custom-built by external coachbuilders, such as Binz. In early 1979, the diesel models’ power output was increased; power rose from 54 hp to 59 hp in the 200D, from 64 hp to 71 hp in the 240D and from 79 hp to 87 hp in the 300D; at the same time, the 220D went out of production. The first Mercedes turbo diesel production W123 appeared in September, 1981. This was the 300 TD Turbodiesel, available with automatic transmission only. In most markets, the turbocharged 5-cylinder 3-litre diesel engine (Type OM617.95) was offered only in the T body style, while in North America it was also available in saloon and coupé guises. June 1980 saw the introduction of new four-cylinder petrol engines (Type M102). A new 2-litre four with shorter stroke replaced the old M115, a fuel-injected 2.3-litre version of this engine (in 230E/TE/CE) the old carburettor 230. Both engines were more powerful than their predecessors. In 1980/81, the carburettor 280 versions went out of production; the fuel-injected 280E continued to be offered. In September 1982, all models received a mild facelift. The rectangular headlights, previously fitted only to the 280/280E, were standardised across the board, as was power steering. Since February 1982, an optional five-speed manual transmission was available in all models (except the automatic-only 300 turbodiesel). W123 production ended in January, 1986 with 63 final T-models rolling out. Most popular single models were the 240D (455,000 built), the 230E (442,000 built), and the 200D (378,000 built). The W123 introduced innovations including ABS (optional from August, 1980), a retractable steering column and an airbag for the driver (optional from 1982). Power (vacuum servo) assisted disc brakes were standard on all W123s. Available options included MB-Tex (Mercedes-Benz Texturized Punctured Vinyl) upholstery or velour or leather upholstery, interior wood trim, passenger side exterior mirror (standard on T models), 5-speed manual transmission (European market only), 4-speed automatic transmission (standard in turbodiesel models), power windows with rear-seat switch cut-outs, vacuum powered central locking, rear-facing extra seats (estate only), Standheizung (prestart timer-controlled engine heating), self-locking differential, sun roof, air conditioning, climate control, “Alpine” horn (selectable quieter horn), headlamp wipers (European market only), Tempomat (cruise control), power steering (standard after 1982/08), seat heating, catalytic converter (available from 1984 for California only, from autumn 1984 also in Germany for the 230E of which one thousand were built). These days, the cars are very popular “youngtimer” classics, with all models highly rated.
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.
With the post-war TC having proved particularly popular with Americans who took the majority of production, it was natural that the car would evolve, which it did in 1950 with the release of 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.
For those who needed more than 2 seats, MG had the answer with their sports saloon of the day, called the Magnette. Successor to the Y Series was the Magnette ZA, announced on 15 October 1953 and debuted at the 1953 London Motor Show. Deliveries started in March 1954. Production continued until 1956, when 18,076 had been built. It was the first monocoque car to bear the MG badge. The Magnette was designed by Gerald Palmer, designer of the Jowett Javelin. It was the first appearance of the new four cylinder 1489 cc B-Series engine with twin 1¼ inch SU carburettors delivering 60 bhp driving the rear wheels through BMC’s new four speed manual gearbox with synchromesh on the top three ratios. Suspension was independent at the front using coil springs and had a live axle with half elliptic leaf springs at the rear. The steering was by rack and pinion. Hydraulically operated Lockheed 10 in (254 mm) drum brakes were fitted to front and rear wheels. When leaving the factory the Magnette ZA originally fitted the recently developed belted textile-braced, radial-ply Pirelli Cinturato 165HR14 tyres (CA67). The car had leather trimmed individual front seats and rear bench seat. The dashboard and door cappings were in polished wood. Although the heater was standard, the radio was still an optional extra. Standard body colours were black, maroon, green, and grey. The ZA was replaced by the Magnette ZB that was on announced 12 October 1956. Power was increased to 64 hp by fitting 1½ inch carburettors, increasing the compression ratio from 7.5 to 8.3, and modifying the manifold. The extra power increased the top speed to 86 mph and reduced the 0-60 mph time to 18.5 seconds. A semi-automatic transmission, marketed as Manumatic was fitted as an option on 496 1957 Magnettes. A Varitone model featured larger rear window and optional two tone paintwork, using a standard Pressed Steel body shell, the rear window opening enlarged in the Morris Motors body shop, Cowley, before painting 18,524 ZBs were built. The car seen here is one of the later ZB models.
The MGA replaced the long running T Series sports cars and presented a complete styling break from MG’s earlier sports cars. Announced on 26 September 1955, the car was officially launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show. A total of 101,081 units were sold through the end of production in July 1962, the vast majority of the 58.750 cars made were exported. Only 5869 cars were sold on the home market, the lowest percentage of any British car. It was replaced by the MGB. The MGA design dates back to 1951, when MG designer Syd Enever created a streamlined body for George Philips’ TD Le Mans car. The problem with this car was the high seating position of the driver because of the limitations of using the TD chassis. A new chassis was designed with the side members further apart and the floor attached to the bottom rather than the top of the frame sections. A prototype was built and shown to the BMC chairman Leonard Lord. He turned down the idea of producing the new car as he had just signed a deal with Donald Healey to produce Austin-Healey cars two weeks before. Falling sales of the traditional MG models caused a change of heart, and the car, initially to be called the UA-series, was brought back. As it was so different from the older MG models it was called the MGA, the “first of a new line” to quote the contemporary advertising. There was also a new engine available, therefore the car did not have the originally intended XPAG unit but was fitted with the BMC corporate B-Series type allowing a lower bonnet line. The MGA convertible had no exterior door handles, however the coupe did. It was a body-on-frame design and used the straight-4 1489cc “B series” engine from the MG Magnette saloon driving the rear wheels through a 4-speed gearbox. Suspension was independent with coil springs and wishbones at the front and a rigid axle with semi-elliptic springs at the rear. Steering was by rack and pinion. The car was available with either wire-spoked or steel-disc road wheels. The 1489 cc engine fitted with twin H4 type SU Carburettors produced 68 hp at first, but was soon uprated to 72 hp. Lockheed hydraulic drum brakes were used on all wheels. A high-performance Twin-Cam model was added for 1958. It used a high-compression (9.9:1 later 8.3:1) DOHC aluminium cylinder head version of the B-Series engine producing 108 hp. Due to detonation problems, a 100 bhp low-compression version was introduced later. Four-wheel disc brakes by Dunlop were fitted, along with Dunlop peg drive knock-off steel wheels similar to wheels used on racing Jaguars, unique to the Twin-Cam and “DeLuxe” MGA 1600 and 1600 MkII roadsters. These wheels and chassis upgrades were used on a small number of the “DeLuxe” models built after Twin-Cam production came to a halt. Aside from the wheels, the only outside identifier was a “Twin-Cam” logo near the vent aside the bonnet. A careful look at the rear wheel vents would also reveal another feature unique to Twin-Cam and DeLuxe: those 4 wheel Dunlop disc brakes . The temperamental engine was notorious for warranty problems during the course of production, and sales dropped quickly. The engine suffered from detonation and burnt oil. Most of the problems with the Twin-Cam engine were rectified with the low-compression version, but by then the damage had been done. Many restored Twin-Cams are running more reliably today than they ever did during production. The Twin-Cam was dropped in 1960 after 2,111 had been produced. Production ended in April 1960, but had slowed to a trickle long before. In May 1959 the standard cars also received an updated engine, now at 1588 cc producing 79.5 bhp . At the front disc brakes were fitted, but drums remained in the rear. Externally the car was very similar to the 1500 with differences including: amber or white (depending on market) front turn indicators shared with white parking lamps, separate stop/tail and turn lamps in the rear, and 1600 badging on the boot and the cowl. 31,501 of these were produced in less than three years. A number of 1600 De Luxe versions were produced with leftover special wheels and four-wheel disc brakes of the departed Twin-Cam, or using complete modified Twincam chassis left redundant by the discontinuance of that model. Seventy roadsters and 12 coupés were built. The engine size was increased again to 1622 cc by increasing the bore from 75.4 mm to 76.2 mm for the 1961 Mark II MGA. The cylinder head was also revised with larger valves and re-engineered combustion chambers. Horsepower increased to 90 bhp. It also had a higher ratio 4:1 rear axle, which made for more relaxed high-speed driving. An inset grille and Morris Mini tail lamps appearing horizontally below the deck lid were the most obvious visual changes. 8,198 Mark II roadsters and 521 coupés were built. As with the 1600 De Luxe, there were also some Mark II De Luxe versions; 290 roadsters and 23 coupés were produced.
As one of Britain’s most popular classic cars, it was no surprise to find several examples of the MGB here, with cars from throughout the model’s long life, both in Roadster and MGB GT guise, as well as one of the short-lived V8 engined cars. Launched in October 1962, this car was produced for the next 18 years and it went on to become Britain’s best selling sports car. When first announced, the MGB was an innovative, modern design, with a monocoque structure instead of the traditional body-on-frame construction used on both the MGA and MG T-types and the MGB’s rival, the Triumph TR series, though components such as the brakes and suspension were developments of the earlier 1955 MGA and the B-Series engine had its origins back in 1947. The lightweight design reduced manufacturing costs while adding to overall vehicle strength, and with a 95hp 3-bearing 1798cc engine under the bonnet, performance was quite respectable with a 0–60 mph time of just over 11 seconds. The car was rather more civilised than its predecessor, with wind-up windows now fitted as standard, and a comfortable driver’s compartment offered plenty of legroom. The roadster was the first of the MGB range to be produced. The body was a pure two-seater but a small rear seat was a rare option at one point. By making better use of space the MGB was able to offer more passenger and luggage accommodation than the earlier MGA while being 3 inches shorter overall. The suspension was also softer, giving a smoother ride, and the larger engine gave a slightly higher top speed. The four-speed gearbox was an uprated version of the one used in the MGA with an optional (electrically activated) overdrive transmission. A five-bearing engine was introduced in 1964 and a number of other modifications crept into the specification. In late 1967, sufficient changes were introduced for the factory to define a Mark II model. Alterations included synchromesh on all 4 gears with revised ratios, an optional Borg-Warner automatic gearbox, a new rear axle, and an alternator in place of the dynamo with a change to a negative earth system. To accommodate the new gearboxes there were significant changes to the sheet metal in the floorpan, and a new flat-topped transmission tunnel. US market cars got a new safety padded dashboard, but the steel item continued for the rest of the world. Rostyle wheels were introduced to replace the previous pressed steel versions in 1969 and reclining seats were standardised. 1970 also saw a new front grille, recessed, in black aluminium. The more traditional-looking polished grille returned in 1973 with a black “honeycomb” insert. Further changes in 1972 were to the interior with a new fascia. To meet impact regulations, in late 1974, the chrome bumpers were replaced with new, steel-reinforced black rubber bumpers, the one at the front incorporating the grille area as well, giving a major restyling to the B’s nose, and a matching rear bumper completed the change. New US headlight height regulations also meant that the headlamps were now too low. Rather than redesign the front of the car, British Leyland raised the car’s suspension by 1-inch. This, in combination with the new, far heavier bumpers resulted in significantly poorer handling. For the 1975 model year only, the front anti-roll bar was deleted as a cost-saving measure (though still available as an option). The damage done by the British Leyland response to US legislation was partially alleviated by revisions to the suspension geometry in 1977, when a rear anti-roll bar was made standard equipment on all models. US emissions regulations also reduced horsepower. In March 1979 British Leyland started the production of black painted limited edition MGB roadsters for the US market, meant for a total of 500 examples. Due to a high demand of the limited edition model, production ended with 6682 examples. The United Kingdom received bronze painted roadsters and a silver GT model limited editions. The production run of home market limited edition MGBs was split between 421 roadsters and 579 GTs. Meanwhile, the fixed-roof MGB GT had been introduced in October 1965, and production continued until 1980, although export to the US ceased in 1974. The MGB GT sported a ground-breaking greenhouse designed by Pininfarina and launched the sporty “hatchback” style. By combining the sloping rear window with the rear deck lid, the B GT offered the utility of a station wagon while retaining the style and shape of a coupe. This new configuration was a 2+2 design with a right-angled rear bench seat and far more luggage space than in the roadster. Relatively few components differed, although the MGB GT did receive different suspension springs and anti-roll bars and a different windscreen which was more easily and inexpensively serviceable. Although acceleration of the GT was slightly slower than that of the roadster, owing to its increased weight, top speed improved by 5 mph to 105 mph because of better aerodynamics. 523,826 examples of the MGB of all model types were built, and although many of these were initially sold new in North America, a lot have been repatriated here. There were several Roadsters and MGB GT models here.
The MGC was produced as a sort of replacement for the Big Healey, though apart from sharing that car’s 3 litre straight six C Series engine, the reality is that the car was quite different and generally appealed to a different sort of customer. Or, if you look at the sales figures, you could say that it did not really appeal to anyone much, as the car struggled to find favour and buyers when new. More of a lazy grand tourer than an out and out sports car, the handling characteristics were less pleasing than in the B as the heavy engine up front did the car no favours. The market now, finally, takes a different view, though and if you want an MGC, in Roadster or the MGC GT form the latter of which was to be seen here, you will have to dig surprisingly deeply into your pocket.
Sitting alongside the MGB in the MG range was the smaller Midget, and there were a number of these cars here, a Series 3 model and one of the last of the line, which came in black. The 1961 Midget resurrected the name that was used by MG for their smallest car, the M Type, in the late 20s, was the Midget announced in 1961, and was essentially a slightly more expensive badge-engineered version of the MkII Austin-Healey Sprite. The original ‘Frogeye’ Sprite had been introduced specifically to fill the gap in the market left by the end of production of the MG T-type Midget as its replacement, the MGA had been a significantly larger and more expensive car with greater performance. Many existing MG enthusiast and buyers turned to the Sprite to provide a modern low-cost sports car and so a badge-engineered MG version reusing the Midget name made sense. The new Midget differed from the Sprite only in its grille design, badging, colour options and having both leather seats and more external chrome trim as standard to justify its higher purchase price. Mechanically the car was identical to its Austin-Healey counterpart, retaining the rear suspension using quarter-elliptic leaf springs and trailing arms from the ‘Frogeye’. The engine was initially a 948 cc A-Series with twin SU carburettors producing 46 hp at 5500 rpm and 53 lb/ft at 3000 rpm. Brakes were 7″ drums all round. A hard top, heater, radio and luggage rack were available as factory-fitted extras. In October 1962 the engine was increased to 1098 cc, raising the output to 56 hp at 5500 rpm and 62 lb/ft at 3250 rpm, and disc brakes replaced the drums at the front. Wire spoked wheels became available. The doors had no external handles or locks and the windows were sliding Perspex side-screens. A heater was still an optional extra. The car sold well, with 16,080 of the small-engined version and 9601 of the 1098 being made before the arrival in 1964 of the Mark II. Externally the main changes were to the doors, which gained wind-up windows, swivelling quarter lights, external handles and separate locks. The windscreen also gained a slight curvature and was retained in a more substantial frame. The hood, though modified, continued to have a removable frame that had to be erected before the cover was put on. The rear springs were replaced by more conventional semi-elliptic types which gave a better ride. The engine block was strengthened and larger main bearings were fitted, increasing the power to 59 hp at 5750 rpm and torque to 65 lbf·ft at 3500 rpm. A total of 26,601 were made. 1967 saw the arrival of the Mark III. The engine now grew to 1275 cc using the development seen on the Mini-Cooper ‘S’. Enthusiasts were disappointed that this was a detuned version of the 76-bhp Cooper ‘S’ engine, giving only 65 hp at 6000 rpm and 72 lbf·ft at 3000 rpm. A reduced compression ratio of 8.8:1 was used instead of the 9.75:1 employed on the Cooper S engine. The Midget used the 12G940 cylinder head casting that was common to other BMC 1300 cars, whereas the Cooper ‘S’ had a special head with not only larger inlet, but also larger exhaust valves; however, these exhaust valves caused many ‘S’ heads to fail through cracking between the valve seats. The detuned engine was used for reasons of model range placement – with the Cooper ‘S’ spec engine, the Midget would have been faster than the more expensive MGB. The hydraulic system gained a separate master cylinder for the clutch. The hood was now permanently attached to the car, with an improved mechanism making it much easier to use. Minor facelift changes were made to the body trim in late 1969 with the sills painted black, a revised recessed black grille, and squared off taillights as on the MGB. The 13″ “Rostyle” wheels were standardised, but wire-spoked ones remained an option. The square-shaped rear wheel arches became rounded in January 1972 and later that year a Triumph steering rack was fitted, giving a gearing that was somewhat lower than earlier Midgets. A second exhaust silencer was also added in 1972. Alternators were fitted instead of dynamos from 1973 onwards. Many consider the round-arch Midgets with chrome bumpers produced for model years 1972 and 1974 to be the most desirable. These round-arch cars started leaving the Abingdon factory in late 1971. Between 1966 and the 1969 face lift, 22,415 were made, and a further 77,831 up to 1974.
The MG Metro was launched in May 1982, to more than a few howls of protest from MG purists who decried the fact that it was not a proper sports car. It was, however, a well-considered upgrade on the more prosaic Austin models, and it proved popular from the outset. Styling touches included MG badging, liberal use of red inside – even the seat belts – and different wheel trims. Mechanically there were alterations, too. The changes between the MG engine (taken directly from the Mini Cooper) and the standard 1275 included a modified cylinder head, with larger valves and improved porting, altered cam profile and larger carburettor leading to a 20% increase in BHP to 72 bhp. At the October 1982 Birmingham Motor Show the MG Metro Turbo variant was first shown. With a quoted bhp of 93, 0–60 mph in 8.9 seconds, and top speed of 115 mph (185 km/h) this car had few direct competitors at the time, although the growing demand for “hot hatches” meant that it soon had a host of competitors including the Ford Fiesta XR2, Peugeot 205 GTI and Renault 5 GT Turbo. This model had a few addition modifications bolted on over the normally aspirated MG model to give an additional 21 bhp. Aside from the turbocharger and exhaust system itself, and what was (at the time) a relatively sophisticated boost delivery and control system, the MG Turbo variant incorporated stiffer suspension (purportedly with engineering input from Lotus), and an uprated crankshaft of nitrided steel and sodium-cooled exhaust valves. Both MG variants were given a “sporty” interior with red seat belts, red carpets and a sports-style steering wheel. The Turbo also benefitted from an LCD boost pressure gauge. The Turbo also received alloy wheels, black wheel arch extensions, blacked out trim, a rear spoiler surrounding the windshield, and prominent “TURBO” decals. While it retained rear drums, the front disc brakes were changed to ventilated units. The later MG variants were emblazoned with the MG logo both inside and out, which only served to fuel claims of badge engineering from some of the more steadfast MG enthusiasts. Others believed that this sentiment was unfounded, particularly in the case of the turbo variant, due to the undeniably increased performance and handling when compared to the non-MG models. From 1983, the MG badge also found its way onto higher performance versions of the Maestro, and shortly afterwards it was adopted for higher performance versions of the Montego. Sadly, there are relatively few survivors.
Without doubt, the rarest version of the classic Issigonis-designed Mini is the Pickup, as seen here. Introduced in 1961, at the same time as the Van, whose longer platform this version shared, there was an open-top rear cargo area and a drop down tailgate. The factory specified the weight of the Pick-up as less than 1,500 lb (680 kg) with a full 6 gallon tank of fuel. As with the Van, the Pick-up had stamped metal slots for airflow into the engine compartment. The Pickup was basic, although the factory brochure described a “fully equipped Mini Pick-up is also available which includes a recirculatory heater.” Passenger-side sun visor, seat belts, laminated windscreen, tilt tubes and cover were also available at extra cost. Equipment levels improved gradually over time. Like the van, the Pick-up was renamed as the Mini 95 in 1978. Production ceased in 1983 by which time 58,179 Mini Pick-up models had been built, barely 10% of the number of Vans made.
This elegant looking Mini was built in 1989 to mark the 30th anniversary of the model. Based on the Mini Mayfair, it had the standard 998 cc and was mechanically identical to the normal production cars. It could be distinguished by its chrome bumpers and grille, coachlines and 1959-1989 crests, whilst inside there was half leather/lightning cloth upholstery with red piping. Additional equipment included Minilite-style wheels, a security coded stereo and a leather-bound copy of Rob Golding’s book (“Mini”). Of the 3,000 produced for the UK, 2,000 were in Cherry Red and 1,000 were Black; 2,800 were manual and 200 had an automatic gearbox. 600 were made with an optional sun roof.
There were plenty of Morgan models here, with the oldest being a Three Wheeler from the 30s, and this was joined by plenty of more recent cars, among them Plus 4 and Plus 8 models
Oldest Morris model here was an Oxford from the late 20s. The Bullnose radiator was replaced by a more conventional flat radiator announced 11 September 1926 on new cars now with doors either side and a longer list of accessories supplied as standard. All steel bodies were coming available. The engines remained the same, but the Cowley unlike the Oxford, retained braking on the rear wheels only as standard, although a front brake system was available at extra cost (featured car has this fitted). The chassis was new and the suspension was updated with semi elliptic leaf springs all round plus Smiths friction type scissor shock absorbers. The brakes are rod and spring operated with cams inside the drums to actuate. Interesting to note that the rear brake drums include two sets of shoes, one of which is connected directly to the handbrake. The chassis was further modified in 1931 to bring it in line with the Morris Major. Wire wheels became an option instead of the solid spoked artillery ones previously fitted. A new model arrived for 1932.
Next oldest of the Morris cars seen here were a number of examples of the Eight, which was produced from 1935 to 1948, inspired by the sales popularity of the similarly shaped Ford Model Y. The success of the car enabled Morris to regain its position as Britain’s largest motor manufacturer. The Eight was powered by a Morris UB series 918 cc four-cylinder side-valve engine with three bearing crankshaft and single SU carburettor with maximum power of 23.5 bhp. The gearbox was a three-speed unit with synchromesh on the top two speeds and Lockheed hydraulic brakes were fitted. Coil ignition was used in a Lucas electrical system powered by a 6 volt battery and third brush dynamo. The body which was either a saloon or open tourer was mounted on a separate channel section chassis with a 7 feet 6 inches wheelbase. The tourer could reach 58 mph and return 45 mpg; the saloons were a little slower. The chrome-plated radiator shell and honeycomb grille were dummies disguising the real one hidden behind. In September 1934 the bare chassis was offered for £95. For buyers of complete cars prices ranged from £118 for the basic two-seater to £142 for the four door saloon with “sunshine” roof and leather seats. Bumpers and indicators were £2 10 shillings (£2.50) extra. Compared with the similarly priced, but much lighter and longer established Austin 7, the 1934/35 Morris Eight was well equipped. The driver was provided with a full set of instruments including a speedometer with a built in odometer, oil pressure and fuel level gauges and an ammeter. The more modern design of the Morris was reflected in the superior performance of its hydraulically operated 8 inch drum brakes. The Morris also scored over its Ford rival by incorporating an electric windscreen wiper rather than the more old-fashioned vacuum powered equivalent, while its relatively wide 45 inch track aided directional stability on corners. The series I designation was used from June 1935 in line with other Morris models, cars made before this are known as pre-series although the official Morris Motors designation was by the model year even though they were introduced in October 1934. Of the 164,102 cars produced approximately 24,000 were tourers. Seen here were a Tourer and a Series E Saloon.
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 and to be seen here were saloons, the Traveller and a Tourer.
The extensively redesigned Oxford Series II was announced in May 1954. It was given a new shape directly foreshadowing the BMC ADO17 and, following the formation of BMC, notably getting the Austin-designed B-Series OHV straight-4. Styling was entirely new though the rounded body maintained a family resemblance to the Morris Minor. Sales remained strong when the Series III arrived in 1956, with around 87,000 sold. A 2.6-litre six-cylinder 7-inches longer Morris Isis version was announced 12 July 1955 with a saloon or Traveller estate body.
Although not many of the Datsun 240Z were sold in the UK, or indeed Europe, this car proved phenomenally popular in the US, and was really the beginning of the end for the British sports cars which American buyers had been buying in large quantities throughout the 1960s. Known internally as the Nissan S30, and sold in Japan as the Nissan Fairlady Z, the car we call the the Datsun 240Z, and the later 260Z and 280Z was the first generation of Z GT two-seat coupe, produced by Nissan from 1969 to 1978. It was designed by a team led by Yoshihiko Matsuo, the head of Nissan’s Sports Car Styling Studio. With strong performance from the 2.4 litre engine, and excellent ride and handling from the four-wheel independent suspension, the car was good to drive, In the United States, Datsun priced the 240Z within $200 of the MGB-GT, and dealers soon had long waiting lists for the “Z”. Its modern design, relatively low price, and growing dealer network compared to other imported sports cars of the time (Jaguar, BMW, Porsche, etc.), made it a major success for the Nissan Motor Corporation, which at the time sold cars in North America under the name Datsun. As a “halo” car, the 240Z broadened the image of Japanese car-makers beyond their econobox success. The car was updated to the 260Z in 1975, when a larger 2.6 litre engine was used.
By the time of the launch of the 240SX in 1984, the Europeans had largely given up with the medium-sized coupe sector, with the Capri and Manta both elderly designs, leaving the way clear for the Japanese. No question, the Nissan was a good looking entrant when it reached these shores and it found considerable popularity, though few of the cars have surivved. The very first generation of the 240SX can be divided into two distinct versions, both having the sporting advantage of rear wheel drive standard. Each of these variants came in two distinct body styles: hatchback, which was offered in both base and SE trim, LE trim, and coupe, which was offered in base, XE, LE and SE. Both styles shared the same front bodywork as the Japanese-market Nissan 180SX, featuring the sloping front with pop-up headlights. This bodywork distinguishes the coupe model from its Japanese-market counterpart, the Silvia, which featured fixed headlights. Both styles in all markets share the same chassis, and with few exceptions, most components and features are identical. The 240SX is a popular car in the sport of drifting due to its short wheelbase, low cost, ample power, light weight, well balanced chassis and abundant aftermarket support. 1989 and 1990 models are powered by a naturally aspirated 140 hp 152 lb/ft (206 Nm) 2,389 cc SOHC KA24E engine with 3 valves per cylinder (instead of the turbo-charged and intercooled 1.8-litre DOHC CA18DET offered in Japan and Europe in the 180SX and Silvia). Four-wheel disc brakes were standard, with antilock brakes available as an option on the SE. Both models were offered with either a 4-speed automatic or 5-speed manual transmission. “Coupes” offered a Heads-up display (HUD) with a digital speedometer as part of the optional Power Convenience Group. The 240SX received some updates in 1991. The matte silver, teardrop wheels were replaced by polished aluminium 7-spoke wheels that had better brake cooling properties but more drag. The nose was smoothed out by getting rid of the non-functional slots and gave back the aerodynamic efficiencies lost by the wheels. This gave the car an overhaul that included a minor update of the exterior and a new cylinder head. A new “LE” hatchback trim package was added that included leather interior. The SOHC KA24E was replaced by the DOHC KA24DE, now with 4 valves per cylinder, rated at 155 bhp at 5,600 rpm and 160 lb/ft (217 Nm) at 4,400 rpm of torque. An optional sports package including ABS, a limited slip differential, and Nissan’s HICAS four wheel steering was now available on hatchback models. The S13 was known for sharp steering and handling (thanks to front MacPherson struts and a rear multilink suspension) and relatively light weight (2700 lb) but was regarded in the automotive press as being underpowered. The engine, while durable and relatively torquey, was a heavy iron-block truck unit that produced meager power for its relatively large size. It was only modestly improved by the change to the DOHC version in 1991. Furthermore, despite the modest power output, relatively low vehicle weight, and good aerodynamics, gas mileage was mediocre. These engines are the primary difference between the North American 240SX and the world-market Silvia/180SX/200SX. The KA24DE did not come turbocharged while the SR20DET did. The U.S. version was regarded as a highly capable sports car that only needed a better engine. Other differences include a standard limited slip differential on overseas and Canadian models, available digital climate control in Japan, and manual seat belts standard in Japan and Canada vs. automatic restraint seatbelts in America. In 1992, a convertible was added to the lineup and was exclusive to the North American market. These vehicles began life in Japan as coupes and were later modified in the California facilities of American Specialty Cars (ASC). For the 1994 model year, the only available 240SX was a Special Edition convertible equipped with an automatic transmission. The US 240SX convertible differed from the Japanese market version, in that the Japanese market model had a power top cover boot, whereas the US market model had manually installed boot cover once the top is down. It was also produced in Japan, rather than by ASC.
After the ever softer evolution of the Z car, Nissan reversed the trend with the Z31 model, known as the 300ZX, introduced in late 1983. Designed by Kazumasu Takagi and his team of developers, the 300ZX had improved aerodynamics and increased power when compared to its predecessor, with a drag coefficient of 0.30. It was powered by Japan’s first mass-produced V6 engine instead of an inline 6. According to Nissan, the V6 engine was supposed to re-create the spirit of the original Fairlady 240Z. The Z31 generation featured five engine options, including a pair of 2 litre V6 units which were never available in Europe. Cars sold in the UK all had the 3.0 litre V6 unit. which made 240 hp in turbo form due to a better camshaft profile, also known outside of Europe as the Nismo camshafts. All European turbocharged models received a different front lower spoiler as well, with 84-86 models being unique and 87-89 production having the same spoiler as the USDM 1988 “SS” model. The Z31 body was slightly restyled in 1986 with the addition of side skirts, flared fenders, and sixteen inch wheels (turbo models only). Many black plastic trim pieces were also painted to match the body colour, and the bonnet scoop was removed. The car was given a final makeover in 1987 that included more aerodynamic bumpers, fog lamps within the front air dam, and 9004 bulb-based headlamps that replaced the outdated sealed beam headlights. The 300ZX-titled reflector in the rear was updated to a narrow set of tail lights running the entire width of the car and an LED third brake light on top of the rear hatch. The Z31 continued selling until 1989, more than any other Z-Car at the time. Over 70,000 units were sold in 1985. Cars produced from 1984-1985 are referred to as “Zenki” models, while cars produced from 1987-1989 are known as “Kouki” models. The 1986 models are a special due to sharing some major features from both. They are sometimes referred to as “Chuki” models, but are usually grouped with the Zenki models because of the head and tail lights.
The Nissan range of the 80s was extensive and complex and each major global market took different models from what the company was building and badged it according to their own preferences. In the UK, this Sunny ZX Coupe was positioned as the top model in the Sunny range that was launched in 1986 to take over from both the Sunny and the Cherry. However, is some ways it should be seen as a stand-alone model. It was introduced in February 1986 as the Sunny RZ-1 coupé, with RZ representing “Runabout Zenith-1”, as Nissan was already using the “Z” for its sports car, the Fairlady Z. The Sunny RZ-1 replaced the Sunny Turbo Leprix coupé. The RZ-1 was sold in Mexico as the Nissan Hikari, which is Japanese for “bright” or “sunny”. It was marketed as a completely different model from the Tsuru (Sunny sedan) and it was Nissan’s sports flagship car as it was even offered with a low-boost Turbo. As with previous B series Sunny generations, the chassis was common with the wagon and sedan, with specific appearance to the RZ-1, while maintaining the traditional fastback associated with the Sunny Coupé. The Sunny hatchback and sedan were introduced with a square appearance, while the RZ-1 was more angular, with a more sharp appearance. The interior could only accommodate four people, with a black mask between the front headlights, retaining the strong slant angle, adding blistered front and rear over the wheels, and a wrapped around window treatment for the rear hatch, that had hit a different personality hatchback and sedan. The angular approach was also used on the Nissan EXA, which appeared internationally at the same time, and earlier on the Nissan Leopard. Initially, the engines offered to Japanese customers were the E15S type (1500 cc straight-four SOHC), and the E15ET type (a turbocharged, fuel injected version of the same), but in August 1986 the CA16DE type (1600 cc straight-four DOHC) was added. Nissan introduced something called the “TWINCAM series” and the “TWINCAM NISMO”, this included special suspension and aero parts that offered Japanese customers a customized specification, offering special interior appearances, including power windows that were not available on lower trim packages. In export markets it was mostly sold as the “Sunny Coupé”, but export markets generally did not receive the higher trim packages available in Japan. In Europe, the Sunny Coupé was also available with the larger, 125 PS 1.8-litre 16V twin cam CA18DE engine. In an unusual move, this was more powerful than any option available in Japan, where such a model was seen as a possible threat to sales of the Silvia series. A limited number were also manufactured in South Africa with this engine. It is speculated that production of this model were 720 units with 131 hp at 6400 rpm and 159 Nm (117 lb/ft) at 5200 rpm, although this number has never been confirmed to this day. Although moderately successful in the UK, survivors are few.
The Maxima started out as a six cylinder version of the Bluebird, but gradually evolved to become a standalone model in its own right. By the time of the launch of this third generation model, on October 24, 1988, as the J30 series (not to be confused with the unrelated Infiniti J30) model, it was a completely different car from the Bluebird. Larger dimensions made it the second Japanese sedan sold in North America to qualify as a “mid-size” (after the Mazda 929). Nissan marketed this generation Maxima in North America a four-door sports car and even gave it a “4DSC” window decal showing this. This generation was briefly sold in Japan, replacing the Nissan Leopard sedan at Nissan Bluebird Store locations. A refresh occurred in August 1991 for the 1992 model year (from July 1991 production), adding a driver’s side SRS airbag. The facelifted version was no longer offered in Japan. It now featured the 160 hp 3.0-litre VG30E V6, with the 190 bhp, VE30DE unit standard on the SE model starting in 1991. In the United States, the VG30E engine, which featured a variable intake manifold on automatic and manual transmission models, was used on all 1989 to 1994 GXE models and 1989 to 1991 SE models. This generation Maxima was fitted with an independent rear suspension, and continued to offer the road scanning, electronic Super Sonic Suspension (sonar). An interesting feature was the digital touch entry system on the GXE (in conjunction with the new Luxury Package), which allowed the windows to be lowered and the moon roof opened from outside the vehicle on a keypad integrated on the front door handle without the key in the ignition. The VE30DE engine was exclusively offered on the 1992–1994 Maxima SE. It was a 3.0-litre, 24 valve, DOHC motor. Its iron block was topped with aluminium cylinder heads and featured a dual length intake manifold (5-speed model only), variable intake valve timing, coil on plug ignition, plus a limited-slip differential. The VE30DE was rated at 190 hp at 5600 rpm and 190 lb⋅ft (258 Nm) at 4000 rpm, and had a 6500 rpm redline. The SE models can be further distinguished from the GXE by their white-faced gauges, twisted-spoke turbine wheels (.5 inch wider than GXE wheels and similar in design to wheels offered on the Z31 300ZX), body-coloured grille, twin-tip mufflers, factory-tinted tail lights, black trim replacing chrome, firmer sport suspension, and optional 5-speed manual transmission. The automatic transmission on all GXEs (RE4F02A) was an innovative compact unit from Jatco, which featured “sport” and “comfort” modes that shifted at different points. The 1992 to 1994 SE received an optional automatic transmission (RE4F04V) that had stronger internals, but kept the “sport” and “comfort” modes. The SE also had a rear spoiler and black side mirrors, whereas the GXE has body-colour side mirrors. During this year, the Maxima was first introduced to the European market, replacing the Laurel. For European markets, the model range was: 3.0, 3.0 S, and 3.0 SE. Nissan Australia began importing the J30 series for a May 1990 release to replace the locally assembled Nissan Skyline (R31) sedan and station wagon. Powertrain comprised the 3.0-litre VG30E V6 rated at 164 bhp and a four-speed automatic. Nissan made the Maxima available in two equipment grades, the M and Ti. The M featured air conditioning, alloy wheels, central locking, cruise control, power steering, and power windows. The Ti added a rear spoiler, climate control air conditioning, anti-lock brakes, electric seats and a PIN touch-pad locking system. The M-based LE of late 1991 featured a CD player and sunroof. There was also a leather/sunroof pack optional on Ti. Nissan Australia released a facelift in January 1993 that included a new grille insert, revised tail lamps, wheels and cabin trim. A driver airbag was now fitted to the Ti, and made optional on the new Executive trim that replaced the M. The J30 in Australia was replaced in February 1995 by a new Maxima based on the Nissan Cefiro (A32). The three variants assembled locally in New Zealand had automatic transmissions and the VG30E Engine only. Versions sold in Japan and Europe had a manual transmission option as an alternative to the automatic transmission that was standard in North America and Australia/New Zealand. The Maxima SE was on Car and Driver magazine’s Ten Best list for 1990. Another Bluebird Maxima continued on as a Nissan Bluebird (U12) and solely as a station wagon with the VG20ET engine during this period until the introduction of the U13 Bluebird, and the Avenir replaced the Bluebird wagon altogether. Although quite well thought of by the UK press, sales were predictably slow, so this was not a common sighting even when new. It is very rare now.
The 300C was the export version of the Nissan Cedric Y30 series, a luxury car at the top of the Nissan range. It was produced between 1984 and 1987 and available as a saloon and an estate. Arriving in the European market at the same time as the larger estate model, the saloon was meant to target the German luxury executive cars that dominated the class in the 80s (Mercedes S-Class, BMW 7 Series). Trimmed in moquette cloth, the car featured adjustable front seats, adjustable steering wheel, power steering, air conditioning, tinted windows, a LW/MW/FM stereo/cassette player, and a 3.0L V6. The saloon featured the same independent front suspension as the estate, but had a five-link suspension system for ride quality. An automatic with overdrive gearbox and a 3.0L V6 engine gave the saloon a max speed of 120 mph (193 km/h), with 0-60 mph being achieved in about 8.4 seconds. There was an Estate version, too, whose primary differences were a five speed manual gearbox, and no air conditioning, steel wheels and rear drum brakes instead of the saloon’s discs, and had one less exhaust silencer. It was altogether a less luxurious but more rugged car, but with the flip-up rear-facing seat in the cargo area, it was one of few seven seaters on offer at the time, which helped it achieve a few sales. Neither model sold in anything more than handfuls across Europe.
It is quite surprising to realise that the Figaro is now more than 25 years old. This well-known retro-styled fixed-profile convertible was manufactured for just one year, 1991, and originally marketed solely in Japan at their Nissan Cherry Stores. The Figaro was introduced at the 1989 Tokyo Motor Show under the slogan “Back to the Future”. The name references the title character in the play The Marriage of Figaro by Pierre Beaumarchais. Based on the Nissan Micra, the Figaro was built at Aichi Machine Industry, a special projects group which Nissan would later call “Pike Factory,” which also produced three other niche automobiles: the Be-1, Pao and S-Cargo. As a fixed-profile convertible, the upper side elements of the Figaro’s bodywork remain fixed, while its fabric soft top retracts to provide a less fully open experience than a typical convertible. The fixed-profile concept is seen on other convertibles, including the Citroën 2CV and the 1957 Fiat 500. The Figaro was marketed in four colours representing the four seasons: Topaz Mist (Autumn), Emerald Green (Spring), Pale Aqua (Summer) and Lapis Grey (Winter). Few, reportedly 2,000, were marketed in Topaz Mist. The Figaro was equipped with leather seats, air conditioning, CD player and a fixed-profile slide-back open roof. 8000 were originally available with an additional 12,000 added to production numbers to meet demand. Prospective purchasers entered a lottery to purchase a Figaro. Limited edition cars came with passenger side baskets and cup holders. A surprising number of them have been imported to the UK in recent years.
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.
Peugeot launched their new “supermini”, the 205 in January 1983, just one day after Fiat had presented the Uno, one of the car’s principal rivals. It was an immediate hit, with smart styling and a range of engines which combined with sharp handling made it good to drive. Mindful of the success of the Golf GTi, in the class above, and how a small car with good handling could take more power, as the Mini Cooper had proved, Peugeot came up with the GTi in early 1984. The first models had a 1.6 litre XU5J engine, producing 105 PS, which was uprated in 1987 with a cylinder head with larger valves thus becoming XU5JA, which took the power output up to 115 bhp. Visually the car retained the good looks of the 3 door version of the regular models, but it featured plastic wheel arch extensions and trim, beefier front and rear bumper valances and judicious use of red badging and trim. The shell also underwent some minor changes, including larger wheel arches (to suit the larger wheels , and the suspension was redesigned and sat lower on the GTI with stiffer springs, different wishbones and a drop-linked anti-roll bar. Red was a dominant colour inside. The car was an instant hit. At the end of 1986, Peugeot followed up with a more potent model, the 1.9 GTi, whose XU9JA engine produced 128 PS. Internally the engine of this car and the 1.6 model are very similar, the main differences on 1.9 litre versions being the longer stroke, oil cooler, and some parts of the fuel injection system. The shorter stroke 1.6 litre engine is famed for being revvy and eager, while the 1.9 litre feels lazier and torquier. Outside the engine bay the main differences between the 1.6 GTi and the 1.9 GTi are half-leather seats on the 1.9 GTi vs. cloth seats and disc brakes all-round (1.9 GTi) vs. discs at the front and drum brakes at the back; as well as the 14-inch Speedline SL201 wheels on the 1.6 GTi vs. 15 inch Speedline SL299 alloys on the 1.9 GTi. The 205 is still often treated as a benchmark in group car tests of the newest GTI models or equivalent. Peugeot itself has never truly recreated this success in future GTI models, although they came very close with the highly regarded GTI-6 variant of the Peugeot 306. A cabriolet version of the 205, known as the CJ (or CT in France), was designed and partially assembled by Pininfarina of Italy. A CTi version, with the same plastic arches and wheels as the 1.6 GTI was also available. Only minor changes were made to the car in the next few years, with the most obvious visual change being the switch to grey bumpers and trim from black ones in 1990, along with revised lights. A new dashboard had been incorporated across the entire 205 range a couple of years before this. Sales of the GTI in the UK in the early 1990s were badly hit by soaring insurance premiums, brought about by high theft and ‘joyriding’ of cars of this sort. Increasingly stringent emissions regulations meant the 1.6 GTi went out of production in 1992, while the 1.9 litre was sold for a couple more years thanks to re-engineering of the engine to enable it to work properly with a catalytic converter, which dropped power to 122 bhp. Many of them had a hard life, but there are some nice original cars out there and people are starting to spend serious money in restoring them. It is the GTi models you see most often, and indeed that is what was here.
The first V8 engined Porsche, the 928 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.
More of a luxury model than the SE5, the SE6 series Scimitar GT, launched in October 1975, was aimed more at the executive market. These models were two-door sports estates, again with the Ford V6 3.0 litre engine as used in the 5a with 135 bhp,: the wheelbase was increased by 4 inches and the track by 3 inches making the cars correspondingly longer and wider than their predecessors. The extra length was used to improve rear-seat legroom and access which enhanced the car’s credentials as a ‘genuine’ four-seater. The SE6 was replaced by the SE6A in late 1976. 543 SE6 models were produced. The SE6A displayed a number of changes, including Lockheed brakes and suspension revisions. An easy way to spot a 6A from a 6 is the change to orange from red reflectors on the rear extractor vents, and the 3 vertical grooves in the front bumper (in front of the wheelarches) were removed. 3877 SE6As were made – making it the most popular version of all the SE6 shape. Ford stopped making the “Essex” engine for the Capri by 1981, and production stopped completely in 1988 so one of the major differences with the SE6B was the engine. The German-built Ford “Cologne” 2.8 litre V6 was used instead (thus the chassis on the 6B differs from the 6/6A at the front) and provided similar power but rather less torque at low revs. The final drive ratio was lowered from 3.31:1 to 3.54:1 to compensate. All SE6Bs (and the SE8) were equipped with the quite troublesome Pierburg/Solex carburettored engines (many owners have changed to the Weber 38DGAS from the Essex engine) and although the battery was moved from the 6/6A position to allow for injection equipment to be fitted, none ever left the factory so fitted. Some late versions (around 1983 on) came with the galvanised chassis as standard but the exact numbers and chassis details are vague. Introduced at the 1980 Geneva Motor Show, only 437 SE6Bs were manufactured. Production ceased by 1986. But that was not the end of the story. After production at Reliant ceased, Middlebridge Scimitar Ltd. acquired the manufacturing rights to the Scimitar GTE and GTC in June 1987. This company, based in Beeston, Nottingham, produced a 2.9 litre version of the GTE with many modifications and modernisations (over 450) including electronic fuel injection and a five-speed Ford T9 gearbox.(with the Ford A4LD 4 speed auto as an option). The fifth Middlebridge Scimitar built was delivered to HRH The Princess Anne. Only 78 Scimitars (all but 3 cars in RHD) were ever produced by Middlebridge before the company went into receivership in 1990. One GTC was made, using a LHD body from Reliant which was converted by Middlebridge to RHD but the car was never completed and eventually the body and chassis were separated and sold off to new owners. The production rights were subsequently acquired by Graham Walker Ltd., which as of 2014 built Scimitars to order.
By the early 1960s, Renault was building a series of small cars, like the hatchback Renault R4 and the slightly larger rear engined Renault Dauphine. They had built a much larger model, the Frégate, between 1951–1960, but with a modest production total of 163,383 units, it had not been replaced. A number of design studies were produced, as with people gaining more money after the lean years of the 1950s, it was clear that there was a market for large family cars in France, which rivals Citroen, with their DS and Peugeot with the 404 were dominating. Renault conceived a car that would be a bit smaller, and quite a bit cheaper than the Citroen, aiming at a gap in that marque’s model range. Whether they knew it or not at the time is unclear but we no know that Citroen themselves were planning to fill the gap between the 2CV/Ami and the much larger ID and DS. It was called Projet F, but when they got word of what Renault were planning, Citroen cancelled their car. That left the field clear for Renault. Under the skin, the layout of the R16 actually owed quite a lot of the much older Citroën Traction Avant – front-wheel drive, engine mounted inline behind the transmission. torsion bar suspension, and column mounted gearlever. In addition the car had an aluminium engine and an electric cooling fan, both technical innovations. The big innovation, however, was the modern, practical bodystyle – introducing the hatchback to the mid size family segment. This allowed the interior to be immensely flexible, and could be configured in seven different ways. This body style was halfway between a saloon and an estate, and, before the term hatchback was coined, journalists struggled to describe it. A review in the English Motoring Illustrated in May 1965 stated: “The Renault Sixteen can thus be described as a large family car but one that is neither a four door saloon and nor is it quite an estate. But, importantly, it is a little different.” One peculiarity of the R16, and the later Renault R5, is that the two back wheel axles shafts are not in-line. The left wheelbase is 70 mm (2.76 in) longer than the right wheelbase, to accommodate the torsion bar suspension. This and the soft front seats gives the car a particularly smooth ride even over big bumps. The suspension had the longest travel on a car of this size; if the handbrake was applied and reverse gear engaged, the rear bumper would rise about one foot. The engine was mounted north-south in the front, behind the gearbox/transaxle. This contributed to the handling and balance of this car by keeping the weight closer to the centre of the car. Traditional front drive layouts are either east-west or in some cases north-south but with the engine in front of the transmission. Although this north-south/forward gearbox layout gave excellent handling, servicing access to the engine was so difficult that the Renault 16’s successor, the Renault 20, kept the north-south layout but put the engine ahead of the gearbox. Gear changing was performed by means of a column-mounted lever which allowed for a more spacious front cabin, Column changes were fairly rare by the 1960s, but the design was forced on Renault by the position of the transmission in front of the engine. Pre-launch publicity was extensive, with semi-authorised media leaks. The French magazine ” L’Auto-Journal” had reported details of the car, in an exclusive report, towards the end of 1963. During October 1964, timed to coincide with the Paris Motor Show, Renault distributed photographs of its innovative new family car, still at this stage described simply as the forthcoming “Renault 1500”, for publication as “scoop” pictures in various magazines. It was only two months later that the car, now officially named a “Renault 16”, was approved for sale by the French homologation authorities. The car was shown to the world’s press in a presentation on the Côte-d’Azur in the first few days of January 1965. Series production started in March 1965 at the company’s recently completed Sandouville plant, a few kilometres to the east of Le Havre. The car had its formal launch in March 1965 at the Geneva Motor Show, and was made available for sale to the public during June 1965. Equipment levels were high for the price. Initially, Renault sold the R16 with just a 1470cc petrol engine in Grand Luxe (GL) and Super specifications, for both of which 55 PS (54 hp) was claimed. The Renault R16 was voted European Car of the Year by a board of European motoring journalists in 1966. It was the third year of the accolade’s existence, and the Renault 16 was the first French winner of the award. Demand was strong right from the word go. Minor changes were made for 1967, when ventilation and heating were both improved, and the dashboard was redesigned. An automatically operated choke became available. These early cars are very rare now. They are most easily identified by the slightly ovoid shaped rear lights. At the Geneva Motor Show in March 1968, Renault presented a more powerful model, the 1565cc TS which could top 100 mph. It also featured an all-new instrument panel that included a tachometer and water temperature gauge, and many other new features including two-speed windscreen wipers, a heated rear window, passenger reading light, and optional powered windows. An automatic transmission version, designated the Renault 16 TA, was introduced a year later at the 1969 Geneva Motor Show. Other changes included giving the other R16 models the same wheels and brakes as the TS, and that model got standard reversing lights mounted beneath the tail-lights. The other models had them available as an optional extra. Renault started to assemble the car in Australia, to get around the punitive import restrictions in that country. By this time, the model had been launched in the US market as well. The 16 had no major competitors until the arrival of the Alec Issigonis designed Austin Maxi in 1969, but the BL car remained barely known outside the UK, whereas the Renault found favour across Europe. In 1970, racing driver Stirling Moss exclaimed: “There is no doubt that the Renault 16 is the most intelligently engineered automobile I have ever encountered and I think that each British motorcar manufacturer would do well to purchase one just to see how it is put together”. In 1971, the R16 underwent a mild revamp. Among the most obvious changes were new rectangular taillights. The Grand Luxe and Super were replaced by the L and TL specifications, both of which gained the same 1565cc engine as the TS (but with the cylinder head from the 1470cc). The TA was discontinued and an automatic transmission was made available as an option across the whole R16 range. The top-line model was the TX, launched at the Paris Motor Show in October 1973, featuring an enlarged 1647cc version of the TS engine, coupled with a 5-speed manual transmission, still operated by a column change. The specification included power windows for the front doors and central door locking, one of the first family cars in Europe to feature such equipment. The TX was distinguishable from other R16s by its four rectangular headlights. One more visual change was to come, in 1974 when the aluminium grille of all the other models was replaced by a black plastic one. By now, the car was over 10 years old and new rivals had appeared on the market, such as VW’s Passat (though it did not receive a hatchback until 1977) and the Chrysler Alpine. Renault came up with a cheaper version of the larger R30 model, the R20 in late 1975 as the planned replacement, but they kept the R16 in production right through until January 1980. It was not until 1989, when a hatchback version of the R21 joined the saloon model that Renault would have another hatch model of this size in their range. The R16 had been a great success, with 1,845,959 R16s produced during a production run of 15 years. The car sold well in most of Europe, winning praise for its spacious and comfortable interior. Retired Renault styling chief Patrick le Quément made no secret of his admiration for the R16 — and incorporated a subtle tribute to its “bird-beak” grille in the corporate look he devised for models such as the Laguna, Mégane and Scénic that the company launched in the 1990s. Sadly, the R16 suffered from rust problems like most other cars of the period, and so there are not many left.
Introduced in the end of 1983 for a March 1984 start of sales, the Renault 25 was a large step forward in nearly every aspect from the Renault 20 / Renault 30 range it was replacing. Its five door liftback body was penned by designers Gaston Juchet and Robert Opron of Citroën SM fame, and the unconventional style (the wraparound rear window was its most famous feature) was aimed at giving the car a notchback look in order to overcome customer preference outside France for formal sedans in the segment. The 25 was one of the first cars designed from the start for aerodynamic efficiency; its drag coefficient (Cd) was 0.31, a key factor in improving fuel economy. The TS model briefly held the unofficial title of “world’s most aerodynamic mass production car” with a Cd of 0.28, and at its launch the 25 was easily the best in its class for fuel economy. All Renault 25 models were front-wheel drive, with four cylinder (2 litre and 2.2 litre petrol injection or 2.1 litre diesel) and six cylinder (2,849 cc and 2,458 cc turbo injection) engines mounted longitudinally forward of the front axle. The 25’s performance was above average for its class, with the V6 Turbo specification a match for the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and BMW 5 Series. The 25 was praised for its ride comfort and spirited handling (despite slight understeer, and torque steer on V6 Turbo models). A newly designed manual transmission drew unanimous praise for its precision and smoothness (although the detent spring on fifth gear could cause mis-selection of 3rd gear), and though the futuristic interior designed by Italian designer Marcello Gandini (of Lamborghini fame) was controversial, the 25 was highly regarded for its quiet, spacious and well lit passenger compartment. Equipment levels were high and set new standards for French cars, the 25 including among other features, an express up and down feature on the driver’s power window, voice alerts (covering items such as improperly shut doors/bonnet/boot – oil pressure, engine temperature/charging circuit and blown bulbs), and one of the world’s first remote stereo controls, mounted to the right of the steering column (controlling volume +/–, station search, station select (jog wheel) in radio mode & Volume +/–, mute and track advance (if supported)). For the first time since World War II, Renault had a realistic chance of breaking into the full size market segment outside France. The Renault 25’s least durable part was the automatic transmission. As a result, most 25s remaining are the five speed manual and few automatics have survived. Three automatic transmissions were used on R25: MJ3, 4141, both three speed, and a new four speed AR4, later used on the Renault Safrane as AD4/AD8. Due to the poor quality and design of the ATF cooler, especially on the later AR4, these versions have gained a poor reputation for reliability. A leaking ATF cooler could lead to gearbox failure with little or no physical warning, except for ATF stains beneath the vehicle to which not all drivers paid attention or not quickly enough. The first transmissions started failing within a few years, while the model was still in production. Renault then prepared a package that was to replace the original poor quality cooler regardless of vehicle age and mileage. However, the cooler location in front of the right wheel could not be changed. As a result, Renault 25 Automatics with the AR4 transmission are rare today. The car underwent a facelift in June 1988, with a new front end, taillights, interior materials, and front suspension. Essentially, every panel was changed on the facelifted car, with the intent to smooth the styling. The new version also featured more powerful engines, the 2.2i engine being dropped and replaced by a 12v version of the 2.0i engine which produced 140 bhp. There were a small number of run out post facelift cars fitted with the 2.2i engine to use up stocks, these were rated at the normal 123 bhp for that engine. Production ended in February 1992, to make way for the Renault Safrane.
The Riley RM Series was the last model developed independently by Riley. RM vehicles were produced from 1945, after the Second World War, until the 1952 merger of Riley’s parent company, the Nuffield Organisation with Austin to form BMC. They were originally made in Coventry, but in 1949 production moved to the MG works at Abingdon. The RM models were marketed as the Riley 1½ Litre and the Riley 2½ Litre. There were three types of RM vehicles produced: the RMA was a large saloon, and was replaced by the updated RME, both of which had the 1.5 litre engine; the RMB was an even larger car, and was replaced by the RMF, and these cars had the 2.5 litre engine; the RMC and RMD were open topped cars produced in limited numbers, intended largely for the all important export markets, with about 500 of each being made. These were nicely produced quality cars and considered quite sporting in their day, with the sort of appeal that many years later would be inherent in a BMW. Ironically, of course, BMW now own the rights to the Riley brand. There were several of the Saloon models here as well as one of the RMC (Roadster) cars. One of two different open-topped RM Series cars, the RMC was an open 2-door, single bench seat, 2/3-seater version of the RMB, with a large rear deck area and fold-flat windscreen. Instead of side windows it was supplied with flexible celluloid-glazed side curtains with a hole for hand signals and, when deployed, flimsy synthetic roofing over a light metal frame. It shared that car’s 2.5 litre 100 hp engine, and could reach 100 mph. The car was primarily designed for the North American export market, and just over 500 were built from 1948 until 1951. The gear change lever was moved to the steering column on left-hand-drive models.
The Elf was one of a pair of Mini based models which BMC launched in 1961, the other being the Wolseley Hornet. Both had longer, slightly finned rear wings and larger boots that gave the cars a more traditional three-box design. Wheelbase of the Elf and Hornet remained at 2.036 m (6.68 ft), whereas the overall length was increased to 3.27 m (10.7 ft). This resulted in a dry weight of 638 kg for the Elf and 618 kg for the Hornet. Front-end treatment, which incorporated each marque’s traditional upright grille design (the Hornet’s grille with a lit “Wolseley” badge), also contributed to a less utilitarian appearance. The cars had larger-diameter chrome hubcaps than the Austin and Morris Minis, and additional chrome accents, bumper overriders and wood-veneer dashboards. The Riley was the more expensive of the two cars. The name “Wolseley Hornet” was first used on 1930s saloon, coupé, sports and racing cars, while the name “Elf” recalled the Riley Sprite and Imp sports cars, also of the 1930s (Riley’s first choice of name “Imp” could not be used as Hillman had registered it). The full-width dashboard was a differentiator between the Elf and Hornet. This dashboard was the idea of Christopher Milner the Sales Manager for Riley. Both the Riley Elf’s and Wolseley Hornet’s bodies were built at Fisher & Ludlow under their “Fisholow” brandname. Plates in the engine compartment on the right side fitch plate bear evidence of this speciality. Very early Mark I versions of both cars had no overriders on the bumpers and a single piece front wing (A-panel and wing in one piece, no outside seam below scuttle panel) that was soon given up again, allegedly due to cost. The Elf’s and Hornet’s special bumper overriders first appeared in 1962. Early production Mark I’s also had a combination of leather and cloth seats whereas all later models had full leather seats. Mark I models were equipped with single leading shoe brakes on the front. Both the Elf and the Hornet went through three engine versions. Initially, they used the 848 cc 34 bhp engine with a single HS2 carburettor, changing to a single HS2 carburettor 38 bhp version of the Cooper’s 998 cc power unit in the Mark II in 1963. This increased the car’s top speed from 71 to 77 mph . Therefore, Mark II cars also came with increased braking power in the form of front drum brakes with twin leading shoes to cope with the increased power output. Both Mark I and Mark II featured four-speed gearboxes (three synchromesh gears) with rod gear change, a.k.a. “magic wand” type. Automatic gearboxes became available on the Mark II in 1965 as an option. The Mark III facelift of 1966 brought wind-up windows and fresh-air fascia vents. Concealed door hinges were introduced two years before these were seen on the mainstream Mini. The gear selecting mechanism was updated to the rod type, as seen on all later Mini type cars. Automatic gearboxes were available to the Mark III in 1967 again. Full-four synchromesh gearing was eventually introduced during 1968. 30,912 Riley Elfs and 28,455 Wolseley Hornets were built. Production of both models ceased in late 1969.
This is a Rochdale Olympic, The Rochdale company was founded in 1948 by Frank Butterworth and Harry Smith in an old mill building in Hudson Street, Rochdale. They performed general motor repairs and made themselves some alloy bodies, usually single-seaters, for racing Austin 7s and other cars. They went on to sell the bodies as the Mk II. A number of new models followed in the next few years, but the breakthrough came in 1959 with the monocoque Olympic designed by Richard Parker and only the third glass fibre monocoque bodied car to enter production (after the Berkeley and Lotus Elite). This featured a closed coupé style bodyshell with the provision for 2+2 seating but the rear seats were very cramped and many builders left them out. Unlike many sports and low production cars of the time, wind down windows were installed. Production started in 1960 using a Riley, twin-carburettor version, of the 1.5 litre BMC B Series engine, independent front suspension by torsion bar modified from that of the Morris Minor and live rear axle suspended by coil springs. Other engines could be fitted including the Morris Minor, MG MGA, and Ford 109E. The engine and front suspension was mounted on a tubular steel subframe bonded to the body shell and roll over protection was provided by a steel tube over the windscreen. The car appeared at the Copenhagen Racing Car Show and the Geneva Motor Show. A very complete kit, including an engine and all other mechanical parts, cost £670. About 250 were made when the fire caused production to be suspended. The car was available in both left and right hand drive and cars were exported to several countries including Australia and the United States. On test by The Motor magazine in 1961 a 1.5 litre Riley engined model achieved a top speed of 102 mph (164 km/h) and a 0-60 mph time of 11.9 seconds. The Phase II Olympic was introduced in 1963 at the London Racing Car Show and was now standardised on a 78 bhp Ford 116E 1500 cc engine. Front suspension now used Triumph wishbone units whilst the rear used a BMC axle with coil springs. Front disc brakes were fitted. The car weighed under 12 cwt and could reach 114 mph (183 km/h) with a 0-60 mph time of under 11 seconds. The rear window was made to open to give better access to the interior. The car was available as a complete kit for around £735 or fully built for £930 and about 150 were made. Production declined rapidly after 1967 but the last body was made in 1973. The body moulds are now owned by the Rochdale Owners Club.
Still a current product, this is the rolls Royce Ghost, the slightly smaller of the two saloon models offered by the firm.
This rather large bodied Rover has a 1200cc engine, which means it is a 12. There had been 12 hp models in the range for a long time. This updated version, known as the P2 generation, appeared in 1937 with mainly styling changes but the chassis was stiffened and Girling rod brakes replaced the hydraulic ones that had been fitted to earlier cars. Bodies were a 6-light saloon and a 4-light sports saloon. There were no more tourers pre war but 200 were made in 1947 and 1948 with the first four bodies by Rover and the remaining 196 by AP Coachbuilders of Coventry. The 1938 models had fixed bonnet sides and for 1939 synchromesh was added to the top two ratios on the gearbox. Disc wheels became an option to wire wheels in 1939 and standard on post war models. 11,786 were made pre war and 4840 after. The Rover P2 range also contained the 10, 14, 16 and 20 variants. The final cars were made in 1948 and there was no real replacements as subsequent models featured larger engines.
In February 1948, Rover announced two new models, the Sixty and the Seventy-Five. Known as the P3 series, these were respectively 1.6 and 2.0-litre executive cars which would be produced until late 1949 when they were superceded by the completely different P4 models. They included a new engine that had been in preparation since the late 1930s with overhead inlet and side exhaust valves. It was made in two versions for the car, the Rover 60 had a four-cylinder unit of 1595 cc and the Rover 75 had a six-cylinder version of 2103 cc. The gearbox and traditional Rover freewheel were kept unchanged from the previous model. To go with the engine a new car was prepared. Although the body was similar in styling to the pre war P2 Rover 12 and 16, many of the body panels were in fact new but the wings and bonnet from the 12 were carried over. The car was 0.5 inch wider outside than the 16 but by making better use of space this translated to 2.5 inches inside. It was 4.5 inches shorter in the wheelbase. Also new, and a first for a Rover, was independent front suspension but the brakes remained a hydraulic/mechanical hybrid system. Rather than having a complete chassis, the new frame, which was a box section, was stopped short of the rear axle and the rear semi-elliptic springs were attached to the body. This allowed the rear axle travel to be increased and an improved ride resulted. Two body styles were available, a 6-light saloon and 4-light sports saloon. The 6-light saloon had a rear quarter window (sometimes referred to a 6-window saloon) while the 4-light sports saloon had the lack of the rear quarter window (sometimes referred to a 4-window saloon). The cars were expensive at £1080 for the Rover 60 and £1106 for the Rover 75, and with early post-war production problems and material shortages it was never intended that the cars would be produced in large numbers. Eventually, 1274 of the 60 and 7837 of the 75 models were made before the car was replaced by the all-new Rover P4 model 75. The car seen here is a 75.
Also dating from 1948 is this 14 Tourer.
The first new car that Rover announced after the war was the P4 model, known as the 75. It was launched at the Earls Court Motor Show in September 1949, to replace all previous models and then continued in production until 1964, though the car underwent lots of change under the skin in those 15 years. Designed by Gordon Bashford, the car went into production in 1949 as the 6-cylinder 2.1-litre Rover 75. It featured unusual modern styling in stark contrast with the outdated Rover P3 model 75 which it replaced. Gone were the traditional radiator, separate headlamps and external running boards. In their place were a chromium grille, recessed headlamps and a streamlined body the whole width of the chassis. The car’s styling was derived from the then controversial 1947 Studebakers. The Rover executives purchased two such vehicles and fitted the body from one of them to a prototype P4 chassis to create a development mule. In James Taylor’s highly regarded book ‘Rover P4 – The Complete Story’ he advised that this vehicle was affectionately known as the ‘Roverbaker’ hybrid. Another, at the time minor, distinctive feature but this one did not catch-on was the centrally mounted light in the grille where most other manufacturers of good quality cars provided a pair, one fog and one driving light often separately mounted behind the bumper. Known, unkindly, as the “Cyclops eye” it was discontinued in the new grille announced 23 October 1952. The earliest cars used a more powerful version of the Rover engine from the 1948 Rover P3 75, a 2103 cc straight-6 engine now with chromium plated cylinder bores, an aluminium cylinder head with built-in induction manifold and a pair of horizontal instead of downdraught carburetters. A four-speed manual transmission was used with a column-mounted gear lever which was replaced by a floor-mounted mechanism in September 1953. At first the gearbox only had synchromesh on third and top but it was added to second gear as well in 1953. A freewheel clutch, a traditional Rover feature, was fitted to cars without overdrive until mid-1959, when it was removed from the specifications, shortly before the London Motor Show in October that year. The cars had a separate chassis with independent suspension by coil springs at the front and a live axle with half-elliptical leaf springs at the rear. The brakes on early cars were operated by a hybrid hydro-mechanical system but became fully hydraulic in 1950. Girling disc brakes replaced drums at the front from October 1959. The complete body shells were made by the Pressed Steel company and featured aluminium/magnesium alloy (Birmabright) doors, boot lid and bonnets until the final 95/110 models, which were all steel to reduce costs. The P4 series was one of the last UK cars to incorporate rear-hinged “suicide” doors. After four years of the one model policy Rover returned to a range of the one car but three different sized engines when in September 1953 they announced a four-cylinder Rover 60 and a 2.6-litre Rover 90. A year later, an enlarged 2230cc engine was installed in the 75, and an updated body was shown with a larger boot and a bigger rear window and the end of the flapping trafficators, with redesigned light clusters. Further detailed changes would follow. Announced 16 October 1956, the 105R and 105S used a high-output, 8.5:1 compression version of the 2.6 litres engine used in the 90. The higher compression was to take advantage of the higher octane fuel that had become widely available. This twin-SU carburettor engine produced 108 hp. Both 105 models also featured the exterior changes of the rest of the range announced a month earlier. The 105S featured separate front seats, a cigar lighter, chromed wheel trim rings and twin Lucas SFT 576 spotlamps. To minimise the cost of the 105R, these additional items were not standard, however they were provided on the (higher priced) 105R De Luxe. The 105R featured a “Roverdrive” automatic transmission. This unit was designed and built by Rover and at the time was the only British-built automatic transmission. Others had bought in units from American manufacturers such as Borg-Warner. This unit was actually a two-speed automatic (Emergency Low which can be selected manually and Drive) with an overdrive unit for a total of three forward gears. The 105S made do with a manual transmission and Laycock de Normanville overdrive incorporating a kick-down control. The 105S could reach a top speed of 101 mph. Production of the 105 line ended in 1958 for the 105R and 1959 for the manual transmission 105S, 10,781 had been produced, two-thirds with the manual transmission option. For 1959 the manual model was described simply as a 105 and the trim and accessory level was reduced to match the other models. In 1959, the engines were upgraded again, with the 80 replacing the 60 and the 100 replacing the 90 and the 105. The four cylinder cars were not particularly popular, though and in September they were replaced by the six cylinder 95. Final model was the 110, which took its place at the top of the range until production ceased, a few months after the very different P6 model 2000 had come along. These cars are popular classics these days.
There were a couple of the larger P5, beloved of Government Ministers, who kept the car in service long after production had ceased in 1973, thanks to an amount of stock-piling. Now a much loved classic, the P5 is a quintessentially British motor car. Launched in late 1958, it was a partial replacement for the then 10 year old P4 model, but also an extension of the Rover range further upmarket. Early cars were known as the 3 litre, as they had It was powered by a 2,995 cc straight-6 engine which used an overhead intake valve and side exhaust valve, an unusual arrangement inherited from the Rover P4. In this form, output of 115 bhp was claimed. An automatic transmission, overdrive on the manual, and Burman power steering were optional with overdrive becoming standard from May 1960. Stopping power came originally from a Girling brake system that employed 11″drums all round, but this was a heavy car and by the time of the London Motor Show in October 1959 Girling front-wheel power discs brakes had appeared on the front wheels. The suspension was independent at the front using wishbones and torsion bars and at the rear had a live axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs. A Mark I-A line, introduced in September 1961, featured a minor restyle with added front quarter windows, intended to “assist the dashboard ventilation”. Under the skin, the 1A featured modifications to the engine mountings and the automatic transmission and hydrosteer variable ratio power steering as an option. By 1962, when production of the original Mark I series ended, 20,963 had been produced. The Mark II version was introduced in 1962. It featured more power, 129 hp, from the same 3 litre engine and an improved suspension, while dropping the glass wind deflectors from the top of the window openings which also, on the front doors, now featured “quarterlight” windows. The most notable addition to the range was the option of the Coupé body style launched in autumn 1962. Unlike most coupés, which tend to be two-door versions of four-door saloons, this retained the four doors and was of the same width and length as the saloon, but featured a roofline lowered by two and a half inches along with thinner b-pillars, giving it the look of a hardtop. Hydrosteer was standard on the Coupe and optional on the Saloon. Production of the Mark II ended in 1965, by which time 5,482 coupés and 15,676 saloons had been produced. The Mark III was presented at the London Motor Show in October 1965, described at the time as “even more luxuriously trimmed and furnished”. It was again available in two 4-door body styles, coupé and saloon. The Mark III used the same engine as its predecessor, but it now produced 134 hp. Externally it could be distinguished by the full-length trim strip along the body and Mark III badging; internally it replaced the rear bench seat with two individually moulded rear seats, making it more comfortable to ride in for four occupants but less so for five. A total of 3,919 saloons and 2,501 coupés had been sold by the time production ended in 1967. The final iteration of the P5 appeared in September 1967. Now powered by the 3,528 cc Rover V8 engine also used in the P6 model 3500, the car was badged as the “3.5 Litre”, and commonly known as the 3½ Litre. The final letter in the “P5B” model name came from Buick, the engine’s originator. Rover did not have the budget or time to develop such engines, hence they chose to redevelop the lightweight aluminium concept Buick could not make successful. They made it considerably stronger, which added some weight but still maintained the engine’s light and compact features. The Borg Warner Type-35 automatic transmission, hydrosteer variable ratio power steering and front Lucas fog lights were now standard. Output of 160 bhp was claimed along with improved torque. When compared to its predecessor, the aluminium engine enabled the car to offer improved performance and fuel economy resulting both from the greater power and the lesser weight of the power unit. The exterior was mostly unchanged, apart from bold ‘3.5 Litre’ badging, a pair of fog lights which were added below the head lights, creating a striking 4 light array, and the fitting of chrome Rostyle wheels with black painted inserts. The P5B existed as both the 4-door coupe and saloon body style until end of production, and there was one of each here. Production ended in 1973, by when 9099 coupés and 11,501 saloons had been built.
Whilst the 3 litre P5 model may have been thought of as a replacement for the top end of the long running P4 Rovers, it was really this car, the P6 model, first seen in October 1963 which was its true successor. Very different from the long-running 60/75/80/90/95/100/105/110 models, this car took some of its inspiration, it is claimed, from the Citroen DS as well as lessons learned from Rover’s Jet Turbine program of the 1950s and early 60s. It was a “clean sheet” design, carrying nothing over, and was advanced for the time with a de Dion tube suspension at the rear, four-wheel disc brakes (inboard on the rear), and a fully synchromesh transmission. The unibody design featured non-stressed panels bolted to a unit frame. The de Dion set-up was unique in that the “tube” was in two parts that could telescope, thereby avoiding the need for sliding splines in the drive shafts, with consequent stiction under drive or braking torque, while still keeping the wheels vertical and parallel in relation to the body. The Rover 2000 won industry awards for safety when it was introduced and included a carefully designed “safety” interior. One innovative feature was the prism of glass on the top of the front side lights. This allowed the driver to see the front corner of the car in low light conditions, and also confirmed that they were operative. One unique feature of the Rover 2000 was the design of the front suspension system, in which a bell crank (an L-shaped rotating bracket trailing the upper hub carrier joint) conveyed the vertical motion of the wheel to a fore-and-aft-horizontally mounted spring fastened to the rear wall of the engine compartment. A single hydraulically damped arm was mounted on the firewall for the steering. The front suspension was designed to allow as much width for the engine compartment as possible so that Rover’s Gas Turbine engine could be fitted. In the event, the engine was never used for the production vehicle, but the engine compartment width helped the accommodation of the V8 engine adopted years after the car’s initial launch for the 2000. The luggage compartment was limited in terms of usable space, because of the “base unit” construction, complex rear suspension and, in series II vehicles, the battery location. Lack of luggage space (and hence the need to re-locate the spare tyre) led to innovative options for spare tyre provision including boot lid mountings and optional Dunlop Denovo run-flat technology. The car’s primary competitor on the domestic UK market was the Triumph 2000, also released in October 1963, just one week after the Rover, and in continental Europe, it contended in the same sector as the Citroen DS which, like the initial Rover offering, was offered only with a four-cylinder engine – a deficiency which in the Rover was resolved, four years after its launch, when Rover’s compact V8 was engineered to fit into the engine bay. The Rover 2000 interior was not as spacious as those of its Triumph and Citroen rivals, especially in the back, where its sculpted two-person rear seat implied that Rover customers wishing to accommodate three in the back of a Rover should opt for the larger and older Rover 3 Litre. The first P6 used a 1,978 cc engine designed specifically for the car, which put out around 104 bhp. That was not enough to live up to the sports saloon ambitions, so Rover later developed a twin SU carburettor version with a re-designed top end and marketed the revised specification vehicles as the 2000 TC. The 2000 TC was launched in March 1966 for export markets in North America and continental Europe, relenting and making it available to UK buyers later that year. This engine generated around 124 bhp. The standard specification engines continued in production in vehicles designated as 2000 SC models. These featured the original single SU. More performance was to come. Rover saw Buick’s compact 3528 cc V8 unit that they had been looking at developing as the means of differentiating the P6 from its chief rival, the Triumph 2000. They purchased the rights to the innovative aluminium engine, and, once improved for production by Rover’s own engineers, it became an instant hit. The Rover V8 engine, as it became known, outlived its original host, the P5B, by more than thirty years. The 3500 was introduced in April 1968, one year after the Rover company was purchased by Triumph’s owner, Leyland and continued to be offered until 1977. The light metal V8 engine weighed the same as the four-cylinder unit of the Rover 2000, and the more powerful car’s maximum speed of 114 mph as well as its 10.5-second acceleration time from 0–60 mph were considered impressive, and usefully faster than most of the cars with which, on the UK market, the car competed on price and specifications. It was necessary to modify the under-bonnet space to squeeze the V8 engine into the P6 engine bay: the front suspension cross-member had to be relocated forward, while a more visible change was an extra air intake beneath the front bumper to accommodate the larger radiator. There was no longer space under the bonnet for the car’s battery, which in the 3500 retreated to a position on the right side of the boot. Nevertheless, the overall length and width of the body were unchanged when compared with the smaller-engined original P6. Having invested heavily in the car’s engine and running gear, the manufacturer left most other aspects of the car unchanged. However, the new Rover 3500 could be readily distinguished from the 2000 thanks to various prominent V8 badges on the outside and beneath the radio. The 3500 was also delivered with a black vinyl covering on the C-pillar, although this decoration later appeared also on four-cylinder cars. A 3-speed Borg Warner 35 automatic was the only transmission until the 1971 addition of a four-speed manual 3500S model, fitted with a modified version of the gearbox used in the 2000/2200. The letter “S” did not denote “Sport”, it was chosen because it stood for something specific on those cars: “Synchromesh”. However it is important to note that the 3500S was noticeably quicker than the automatic version of this car with a 0-60mph time of 9 seconds, compared with 10.1 for the standard car. Moreover, due to the fuel-guzzling nature of automatic gearboxes of this era, the manual car’s official cycle was 24mpg compared to the automatic’s 22mpg. The Series II, or Mark II as it was actually named by Rover, was launched in 1970. All variants carried the battery in the boot and had new exterior fixtures such as a plastic front air intake (to replace the alloy version), new bonnet pressings (with V8 blips even for the 4-cylinder-engined cars) and new rear lights. The interior of the 3500 and 2000TC versions was updated with new instrumentation with circular gauges and rotary switches. The old-style instrumentation with a linear speedometer and toggle switches continued on the 2000SC versions. The final changes to the P6 came in the autumn of 1973 when the 2200 SC and 2200 TC replaced the 2000 SC and TC. These cars used an enlarged 2,205 cc version of the 2000 engine, which increased power outputs to 98 and 115 bhp respectively as well as offering improved torque. The P6 was replaced by the SD1 Rover, a completely different sort of car indeed, after 322,302 cars had been built.
It is hard to imagine now just how excited people were when this dramatically different looking Rover burst onto the scene in July 1976. These days it takes a very extreme supercar for most car enthusiasts to get truly animated, but back then, a 3.5 litre V8 engined 5 seater British hatchback was all it took, and it was no surprise that the model collected the “Car of the Year” award later in 1976, fending off the second placed Ford Fiesta and the new Audi 100. Replacing both the Rover P6 and the big Triumphs which had been launched at the 1963 Motor Show and updated only in detail since then, this new David Bache styled car, with more than a hint of Ferrari Daytona in its profile really was something very different indeed to look at, even if underneath it was more of a clever update of proven mechanicals, with the 3.5 litre V8 engine carried over from its predecessor. Early press reports suggested that the car was as good to drive as it was to behold, and quickly there were long waiting lists as Rover struggled to produce the car fast enough in an all-new manufacturing facility in Solihull. Sadly, it did not take too long before it became apparent that although the car had been a long time in gestation, there were a number of design and manufacturing quality issues, quite apart form the extra ones that were inflicted by a still very truculent and strike-prone workforce. These frustrations did little to quell demand, though, which increased when the promised 6 cylinder models arrived in the autumn of 1977. 2300 and 2600 models sported a new 6 cylinder engine and were the more obvious replacement for the big Triumph and the Rover 2200 than the V8 car had been. BL’s next move was to take the car up market with the launch of the V8S in 1979 which was available in a rather bright Triton Green metalllic paint and a choice of gold or silver alloy wheels, as well having a far higher standard level of equipment. It was replaced by the even more luxurious Vanden Plas model in late 1980. More significant was a facelift which came in early 1982. A revised rear window line was aimed at improving the rather limited rear visibility and finally a rear wiper was fitted, this having been excluded from the earlier cars as it had been deemed unnecessary by a BL management who still thought that they knew better than the customers who clamoured for one) and the bumpers and lights were altered, along with significant interior trim and equipment changes. A few weeks later, a cheaper 4 cylinder 2000 model appeared, with the O Series engine under the bonnet, aimed at the all important fleet market and later that year it was joined by a diesel version, using the VM Motor engine, creating the 90 bhp 2400SD. The real joy though was the car revealed at the 1982 British Motor Show, the Vitesse, which boasted fuel injection and 190 bhp to give the car better performance, and with a new front and rear spoiler, the looks to suggest that this was an Autobahn-stormer to rival BMW and Mercedes. Of course, the other reason for the Vitesse was so as to homologate some of the changes for what turned out to be a less than successful career on the race track. It was this which led to the final handful of Vitesse models having a further power upgrade with the TwinPlenum versions, and these are the most highly prized cars of the lot these days. That said, values of SD1 remain very low, with the result that the majority of the cars have been scrapped as they are economic to restore. You see more Vitesse models than anything else, with the Vanden Plas versions being the next most numerous, but seen here was something far more unusual. This was a US spec car. These were only sold for the 1980 model year, though it is thought that some lingered into 1981 in Canada. It had an injected engine with a catalyst, to meet US emission regulations, which gave it similar power to the carb-fed cars that Europe got at the time. Somewhere between 800 and 1200 were sold. The owner told me he understood that there are 3 of them in the UK at present.
Once quite a common sight on our roads, there were a couple of examples of the now rare 96 here. SAAB produced the 96 from 1960 until 1980, though UK sales ended a bit before that. The car was an evolution of the earlier 93, which could trace its roots back all the way to the very first SAAB model of 1948. The model continued to evolve, with frequent changes made to the styling details and trim. Mechanically the most significant alteration came in 1967 when the traditional two stroke in-house engine was replaced by Ford’s V4 unit that was also used in German Ford Taunus cars, a four-stroke 1498 cc V4 unit, originally developed for the 1962 Ford Taunus 15M. Saab’s project to source a four-stroke engine was dubbed ‘Operation Kajsa’. The two-stroke option was offered until 1968. Four-stroke engines had been tested before, between 1962 and 1964 Kjell Knutsson and Ingvar Andersson under Rolf Mellde tested three different engines: a 45 hp Lloyd Arabella 897cc; a 33 hp BMC A-Series 848cc engine and a Lancia Appia engine of 1089cc and 48 hp. However Rolf Mellde’s view that Saab needed to switch to a four-stroke engine was stopped higher up by CEO Tryggve Holm. Mellde then went behind the back of Holm and made contact with Marc Wallenberg, son of Marcus Wallenberg, Saab’s major stockholder. The coup succeeded and testing could begin. The tested engines were Volvo B18, Ford V4, Triumph 1300, Lancia V4 engine, Opel, Volkswagen and Hillman Imp. Whilst the Volvo unit proved the most reliable, the Ford V4 was not far behind and was significantly easier to fit into the engine bay of the 96. The testing was done in secrecy. Rolf Mellde took a leave of absence and said he was going to run his father’s paint shop. In reality he went to Desenzano in northern Italy with a 96V4 prototype for testing. With five months to go before production only seven people knew about the new engine. To maintain secrecy they rented a house west of Kristinehamn. To keep purchases of V4 specific parts secret they started the company Maskinverktyg AB. The ordinary purchase department at Saab was oblivious to what was going on, something that caused an incident when Rune Ahlberg cancelled the orders for cables for the two-stroke engine and the purchase department called the supplier and sharply told them to keep their deliveries. In the last week of July, just before the summer holidays, information about the new engine was released to further people and they were informed that full-scale production would start in four weeks. To keep secrecy, 40 of the ordinary staff were told to report to work to fix a problem with the disc brakes. Just prior to the official introduction, a journalist noticed a lorry loaded with 96s with V4 stickers on the front bumpers. The ordinary V4 engines produced between 1967 and 1976 had 65 hp. For the 1976 model, known as the 96L, power was reduced to 62 hp due to new Swedish emission regulations. However, the 1977-1980 models had 68 hp due to a two-stage Solex 32TDID carburettor. The V4 96 managed 0–100 km/h in 16 seconds. The car was tough, and although by the 1970s it was old fashioned in many respects, but it had plenty of fans, who only started to desert the model as the decade ran its course.
The 99 was first shown on November 22, 1967. The first production cars came in autumn 1968, although only 4190 cars were built this year. Production increased considerably in 1969 and again in 1970 when the four-door model arrived. In 1970 the interior was also given a facelift and became more luxurious, with a new steering wheel. The exhaust system was now made of aluminium, engine mounts and drive joints were changed. In March, the 99E (also available with a three-speed automatic transmission) was introduced. It had a 1.75 L engine with electronically controlled fuel injection, giving 86 bhp. In 1971 the 99 was given a larger and stronger engine, a 1.85 L engine giving 85 bhp on the carburettor model and 94 bhp for the fuel-injected model. The 1.75 L engine was now only available with a carburettor. Saab also introduced headlight wipers, as well as larger rear-view mirrors and an additional air inlet beneath the existing grille. The dashboard was given a redesign along with new instruments. In 1972 the 1.75 L engine was no longer available. The power of the engine was increased to 87 bhp for carburettor models and 96 bhp for fuel-injected models. The 2.0 L engine became available. The major change this year were new plastic bumpers that could take impacts up to 8 km/h (5 mph) and still retain their shape. The suspension was stiffened and received stronger dampers. An electrically heated driver’s seat was also introduced. In January 1972 the 99 EMS (Electronic-Manual-Special) was introduced. It was a sportier model that was originally only available in a two-door version; but became available in the wagonback body beginning in 1974 (Europe). It had stiffer suspension and also silver or copper (‘bronze’)-coloured metallic paint as option. The engine had 1985 cc displacement and Bosch D-Jetronic electronic fuel injection giving 108 bhp and a top speed of 170 km/h (106 mph). In 1973 a low-cost model called the 99L was introduced. It was a two-door with a 1.85 L engine giving 87 bhp. All other models had the Swedish-built 2.0 L engine, which produces 95 PS in carburettor form. The LE model had electronic fuel injection giving 108 bhp. The LE model was mainly made for export. The inner ceiling was changed, as were protective bars in the doors, and a new black grille. In Northern Europe, a de-contented model called the 99 X7 was also marketed. In January 1974 the three-door hatchback Combi-coupé (marketed as a “Wagon Back” in the USA) was introduced. It was 11 cm (4.3 in) longer than the sedan. Front seats and steering wheel were new for 1974, while the EMS received an all-new, model-specific interior. Inertial reel belts were also fitted. In 1975 the brakes were improved and the hand brake now worked directly on the primary brake pads instead of on separate pads acting as drum brakes inside the brake rotor. The 99 was now available in two versions, one with a carburettor with 99 bhp and a fuel-injected version using Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection system giving 116 bhp. In February a model using Zenith-Stromberg 150CDS(E) dual carburetors was introduced. It was only available for the Combi-coupé and has 107 bhp. The Combi-coupé had been fitted with a unique grille in 1974; this was now applied across the range. In 1976 nothing major was changed, but a self-adjusting clutch was introduced. The engines were adapted for tougher emissions requirements and several models with an electrically heated rear window were introduced. A luxurious 4-door sedan model was available, the 99 GLE. it came with power steering, an automatic transmission, a fuel-injected engine, luxurious upholstery on the seats and an armrest in the rear seat. The five-door Combi-coupé model was also introduced. In 1977, the front light clusters and the sedan’s tail lights were enlarged. The rubber strips on the bumpers were changed. The “One Hundred series” of test-fleet Turbo cars were distributed around the world. The cars were mainly made from three- and two-door EMS models, but a few four-door and even five-door cars were also made. The four- and five-door models were tested by mostly police in Sweden, Finland and Switzerland. In 1978 a turbocharged version of the car, the 99 Turbo, was introduced. It was only available as a Combi-coupé until the next year. The turbocharged two-litre engine produced 143 bhp giving the car a top speed of 200 km/h (124 mph). The turbochargers were designed and built by Garrett AiResearch. In terms of appearance, it received distinctive alloy wheels and front and rear spoilers. The 99 Turbo repositioned Saab in the car market and it came to be regarded as an iconic and technologically significant model of its era. By early 1979, over 10,000 turbo-engined Saabs had already been built, as Saab successfully entered a new market segment. Other news for 1978 included the availability of a sunroof, and the EMS became a three-door Combi-coupé in some markets. In 1979 the Combi-coupé option was discontinued for the 99, as the new Saab 900 was only available in this bodystyle. The 99 Turbo changed over to the two-door saloon bodywork although only a small number were built. The rear axle was altered, the fuel tank changed to a plastic one, new wheels were fitted, and four-door models received new bumpers similar to those of the 900. These bumpers were also installed on two-doors beginning with the 1980 model year. In 1980 the 99 was also given the new and safer seats from the Saab 900, as well as low-mounted protective strips along the sides. The spare wheel was changed to an emergency unit. The carpeting, which had been changed to rubber a few years earlier, went back to textile. In the Swedish market the twin-carb version made a return for a single year, sold as the 99 Super and only available with four doors and an automatic transmission. In 1981 the twin-carb Super was discontinued, although the 99 did gain a new engine option in its stead: the 99 GL with 100 PS (74 kW; 99 hp) was joined by the 99 GLi with 116 bhp, both with four-speed manual transmissions. The GLi was a bit more luxurious and had power side mirrors. It was only sold in Northern Europe and only around 1600 were built. All 99s received a new rear seat, velour upholstery, new rear mirrors, a new steering wheel, and the 900’s front axle. In 1982 came the H engine, built by Scania at Södertälje, making it possible for all cars to run on 93 octane petrol. The two- and four-door 99 GLs were now available with a five-speed manual transmission. The window surround trim was blacked out and the wheels were new. In 1983 a number of smaller technical and cosmetic changes were made, including a new grille similar to that of the 900 and blacked out B-pillars on two-door models. Brake pads were now asbestos-free. Five-speed-equipped 99s received low-resistance tyres, which sit on wider 5½-inch rims, requiring moving the rear axle. Some further minor changes took place for 1984, including electronic ignition, lowered seats, and a more upright steering wheel. Five-speed cars also received interval wipers. This was to be the final year for the 99. It was replaced by the Saab 90 and the Saab 900. A total of 588,643 were made; this total rises to 614,003 if Saab 90 production is included.
Viewed by many as the last true Saabs, the 900 was a long running model, produced from 1978 until replacement by the GM-based model of the same name in 1993. Saab was a small company in comparison to most, and had limited funds to develop new models, but they continued to evolve the 900 throughout its life, with a four door saloon being added to the range in 1980, and enhancements to the engine made on an almost continuous basis. In the mid-1980s, the president of Saab-Scania of America, Robert J. Sinclair, suggested a convertible version to increase sales. The first prototype was built by ASC, American Sunroof Company, and Lynx Motors International Ltd also produced two “convertible” models. Meanwhile, Saab themselves were working on something. The Trollhättan design department, headed by Björn Envall, based its version on the 3-door hatchback while the Finnish plant used the sturdier 2-door version, which also looked better and was therefore selected for production. The new car was shown for the first time at the Frankfurt Motor Show in the autumn of 1983. The first prototype aroused enormous interest and in April 1984, Saab decided to put the car in production at Valmet Automotive in Finland. The production of the first 900 convertible started during the spring of 1986. The initial production was not planned to be large but the orders kept coming in and a classic was born, with the Cabrio becoming an important part of the 900 and later 9.3 range right through to the end of Saab production. Most of the Cabrio models featured a 16-valve turbocharged engine, and this engine was also popular in the other body styles, too.
Something rather different is this SEAT 1500 hearse, an import from Spain. The 1500 was based on the large Fiat models of the era, usually seen with 1800 or 2100 and then 2300cc engines, but a 1500 version was offered even in Italy, for tax reasons. The Spain of the 1960s was a very poor place in comparison to northern European countries, so SEAT only offered what was their largest car with the 1500cc engine. Brought into the UK in January 2018, this is believed to be one of a batch of 50 odd Seats that were built as vans. It was then converted in Spain by Mirsan coachbuilders. It is a standard wheelbase and height as the estate car but has the rear doors welded shut and a different roof and tailgate. Needless to say, it is believed to be the only one in the UK.
This is a Marbella, a badge was first used for the 1983 model year, on a luxurious version of the SEAT Panda. After a second, more thorough restyling in December 1986, it received the SEAT Marbella nameplate (codenamed 28 for SEAT Marbella and 028A for SEAT Marbella box) and was produced by SEAT until 1998 in the company’s Zona Franca plant in Spain. The end of Marbella production in 1998 also meant the end of vehicle production in that factory. The SEAT model did not receive the mechanical and cosmetic tweaks (such as the loss of front window quarter-lights) applied to Fiat Pandas “Mark II”s from 1986 but was instead subjected to those from SEAT. Initially the car was badged as the SEAT Panda. The obvious differences between a Panda and a Marbella are at the front and back of the car where head and tail lights and boot panels are different, the Marbella gaining a pronounced slope to the front panel. Mechanically, the Panda borrowed heavily from the Fiat “parts bin”, using engines and transmissions from the Fiat 127. The engine is an inline four-cylinder with 40 PS and 903 cc. This proved adequate for this light car which weighed in at about 680 kg. A 60 PS kit to make a more powerful SEAT Panda Abarth version was also on offer, sold in Spain by a company called Apicsa. Shortly after introduction, a smaller-hearted version corresponding to the Italian two-cylinder model was added. Called the “Panda 35”, it had a smaller 843 cc version of the engine, a development of the engine originally fitted to the SEAT 850 beginning in the mid-sixties. To set it further apart from the “45”, a lower compression rate was chosen. Nonetheless, the smaller engine had to work that much harder to keep up, and in practice the fuel economy savings were negligible. When the Marbella was introduced in December 1986, the smaller 843 cc version continued to be available. This low-priced version produced only 34 PS at 5,600 rpm and was not available with the five-speed transmission. Top speed for the bigger engine was 131 km/h (81 mph), while the 850 could only reach 125 km/h (78 mph). 903 cc version of the engine later got electronic injection and reduced its size to 899 cc. Several differently labeled models were produced during the lifetime of the car, with few corresponding significant changes in specifications. Common models include the L, Special, XL, GL, and GLX, but there were many “special editions”, especially later in the life of the Marbella. In September 1989 the “Black”, “Red”, and “Yellow” specials were added, “Blue”, “Green”, “CLX”, and “Jeans” joined in September 1990. Various export markets also received market specific editions, such as the “Le Jouet” series marketed in France in the early nineties.
The Flying Nine was a small family car produced by the British Standard Motor Company between 1937 and 1940. It was the smallest of several relatively streamlined cars with which the company, in common with several UK mass market competitors, widened and updated its range in the later 1930s. Behind the stylish rearward sloping radiator grill was a 1131 cc side-valve engine, with a relatively long 100 mm stroke. This maximised the engine capacity available in the 9 hp tax class which, in the UK at that time, categorised cars and set annual car tax according to the bore of the engine’s cylinders. Power was delivered to the rear wheels via a three speed gearbox. A minor facelift in time for the 1938 London motor-show involved a change to the radiator grill which, while still rearward leaning, now became more curvaceous. Production came to an end in 1940, in response to the requirement to switch the UK car factories over to producing war supplies. By this time the car had been joined in the company’s line-up by the similarly bodied but smaller engined Standard Eight, and after the war, with Britain much impoverished, only the Standard Eight was revived.
The Vanguard was joined by a smaller model, the Eight, launched in 1953, as a replacement for the Triumph Mayflower. Deliberately designed to be cheaper in every way, the first cars were extremely basic, though they were the cheapest four door car on sale at the time, listing for £481 at launch. They were too basic, as it turned out, and gradually, some of the features which the market considered important, such as an external boot lid and a passenger sun visor were added, and a more powerful engine appeared making the Ten, which arrived in 1954. A posher model, called the Pennant was added to the range in 1957, sporting traces of the then fashionable tail fins in an attempt to modernise the styling appeal, along with two tone paintwork. A very practical Estate model was also offered, called the Companion. In the 1950s, estate cars were regarded as largely being the preserve of the commercial traveller for whom luxury certainly did not seem to matter. Standard adapted their small car to produce the Companion, which was unusual among its competitors for having four passenger doors. There are very few survivors indeed but there was a Ten model here.
The Sunbeam-Talbot 90 was a compact executive car produced and built by Sunbeam-Talbot from 1948 to 1954 and continued as the Sunbeam Mk III from 1954 to 1957. The car was launched in 1948 along with the smaller-engined Sunbeam-Talbot 80 but many features dated back to the pre war Sunbeam-Talbot 2 Litre. The body was completely new and available as a 4-door saloon or 2-door drophead coupe. The saloon featured a “pillarless” join between the glass on the rear door and the rear quarter window. The car went through three versions before the name was changed to Sunbeam Mk III (without “Talbot”) in 1954. The original version had a 64 bhp 1,944 cc side-valve four-cylinder engine derived from a pre-war Humber unit carried over from the Sunbeam-Talbot 2-Litre. The chassis was derived from the Ten model but with wider track and had beam axles front and rear and leaf springs. The brakes were updated to have hydraulic operation. Saloon and Drophead coupé bodies were fitted to the chassis and the rear wheel openings were covered by metal “spats”. 4000 were made. The Mk II got a new chassis with independent front suspension using coil springs. The engine was enlarged to 2267 cc. The increased engine block capacity was shared with the company’s 1950 Humber Hawk, but in the cylinder head the Humber retained (until 1954) the old side-valve arrangement. The Sunbeam’s cylinder head was changed to incorporate overhead valves, giving rise to a claimed power output of 70 bhp compared with only 58 bhp for the Humber. The favourable power-to-weight ratio meant that the Talbot could be “geared quite high” and still provide impressive acceleration where needed for “quick overtaking”.The front of the Talbot 90 body was modified; the headlights were higher and there were air inlet grilles on either side of the radiator. 5493 were made. Clming in 1952, the Mk IIA had a higher compression engine raising output to 77 bhp.To cater for the higher speeds the car was now capable of, the brakes were enlarged and to improve brake cooling the wheels were pierced. The Talbot MkIIA coupe/convertible is regarded as the rarest of the Sunbeam Talbots. The rear wheel spats were no longer fitted. 10,888 were made. From 1954 to 1957 the car continued, but without the Talbot name and was marketed as the Sunbeam MkIII and badged on the radiator shell as Sunbeam Supreme. The drophead coupé was not made after 1955. There were some minor styling changes to the front with enlarged air intakes on each side of the radiator shell and three small portholes just below each side of the bonnet near to the windscreen. Duo-tone paint schemes were also available. Engine power was increased to 80 bhp and overdrive became an option. Approximately 2250 were made.
Replacing the Sunbeam-Talbot 90s were the first cars to bear the Rapier name and the first of the “Audax” range of light cars produced by the Rootes Group. Announced at the London Motor Show in October 1955, it preceded its Hillman Minx and Singer Gazelle counterparts which were not introduced until 1956. The Rapier was a four-seat, two door hardtop coupé, and although designed “in house” by the Rootes Group, it was inspired, via the Raymond Loewy design organisation, by the new-generation Studebaker coupés of 1953. The styling of the Series I Rapier was undertaken by the design firm of Raymond Loewy Associates and showed a great deal of influence of Raymond Loewy’s 1953 Studebaker Hawk (itself an acclaimed design). Available in a range of two-tone colour schemes typical of the period, it had a steering column gear change, leather trim and an overdrive as standard fittings. Vinyl trim was an option in the UK and standard in certain export territories. Rapier bodies were built by Pressed Steel, shipped to Thrupp & Maberly in north London where they were painted and trimmed, then shipped again to the Rootes assembly plant at Ryton-on-Dunsmore near Coventry where the engines, transmission and running gear were fitted. This complex situation persisted until late 1963 when the Series IV was introduced. The Rapier’s 1,390 cc engine was essentially the same as that fitted to the Hillman Minx but with a raised compression ratio (8:1 instead of 7:1), a Zenith DIF 36 carburettor and revised inlet and exhaust manifolds. In this form it developed 62.5 bhp at 5000 rpm. A column change, four speed transmission with overdrive on third and top was included in the price as a standard feature. From October 1956, directly as a result of experience gained in international rallying by Rootes’ competition department, the Rapier was fitted with the updated R67 engine on which the Stromberg carburettor was replaced by twin Zenith 36 WIP carburettors on a new inlet manifold. This engine produced 67.5 bhp at 5000 rpm, the effect of which was to reduce the Rapier’s 0-60 mph time by almost 1 second and increase its top speed by 3 mph. In competition, a Rapier driven by Peter Harper finished in fifth place in the 1958 Monte Carlo Rally. In total, 7,477 units were produced of this initial version of the Sunbeam Rapier. It was discontinued in 1958 on the introduction of the Series II, which was announced on 6 February 1958, available in hardtop and convertible forms. Rootes arranged for nine of the new cars to be in Monte Carlo for the press to try at the end of the 1958 Monte Carlo Rally. The traditional Sunbeam radiator grille was reintroduced, albeit shortened and widened and the spaces at its sides were filled with horizontal side grilles. The two-tone lower body colour scheme of the Series I was discontinued in favour of a broad full length flash in the same colour as the roof, but the most obvious change was the appearance on the rear wings of pronounced fins. The interior of the Series II was little changed from that of the Series I, except that a floor gear change replaced the column change, a modification, developed on the works Series I rally cars. To keep costs down, the leather upholstery, standard on the Series I, was discontinued in favour of vinyl and overdrive became an extra cost option. An improvement in the Series II though, was its more powerful engine. Referred to as the Rallymaster, it had an increased capacity of 1,494 cc. The capacity increase combined with a higher compression ratio of 8.5:1 and larger inlet and exhaust valves to raise the power output to 73 bhp at 5,200 rpm. Autocar quoted the top speed as 91 mph with a 0-60 mph time of 20.2 seconds. Also as a direct result of competition experience, the Series II was fitted with larger front brakes and a recirculating ball steering box instead of the worm and nut box of the Series I. The Series II was discontinued in favour of the Series III in 1959 after 15,151 units (hardtop and convertible) had been built. The Series III was introduced in September 1959. Rootes made subtle changes to the car’s body which individually were insignificant but when combined, considerably altered its appearance. For example, the number of horizontal bars in each of the side grilles was increased from three to four and the boot lid acquired an oblong number plate recess and surround in place of the square one of the earlier cars. The most striking change was the redesigned side flash, now narrower and lower down the side of the car with the Rapier script on its rear end. The most subtle change, however, was a reduction in thickness of the windscreen pillars and a lowering of the scuttle line to give a 20% increase in windscreen area. Inside the Series III the changes were more evident. Rootes stylists completely redesigned the seats and interior panels and specified that they be trimmed in single colour vinyl with contrasting piping. For the first time, deep pile carpets were fitted as standard in the foot-wells (previous versions had rubber mats). The steering wheel, control knobs and switches were in black plastic instead of beige. The dashboard, instead of being, as in the earlier cars, padded metal and plastic, was covered in burr walnut veneer surmounted by a padded crash roll fitted with black-faced British Jaeger instruments. Mechanically, the Series III benefited from the design of the Sunbeam Alpine sports car with which it shared its engine. Although the engine’s displacement was still 1,494 cc, it was fitted with a new eight-port aluminium cylinder head with an increased compression ratio and redesigned valves, and used a new, sportier camshaft. The twin Zenith carburettors from the Series II remained but were mounted on a new water heated inlet manifold. The result of these changes was a power increase of 5 bhp to 78 bhp at 5400 rpm. Gearbox changes included higher second, third and top gear ratios, and a reduced angle of gear lever movement to make for shorter lever travel and snappier changes. New front disc brakes significantly improved the Rapier’s braking capability and widened its front track to give greater stability and improved road-holding. The Series III, of which 15,368 units were built (hardtop and convertible) gave way to the Series IIIA in April 1961, which was was announced with the Series II Sunbeam Alpine 1,592 cc engine. Externally and internally the Series IIIA was identical to the Series III. The improvements were directed solely at improving the durability of the car. To this end, engine capacity was increased and a stiffer crankshaft fitted. To increase reliability, the crankshaft incorporated larger diameter connecting rod bearings which called for modifications to the connecting rods and gudgeon pins. Modified oil and water pumps completed the engine changes. As a result, power output increased from 78 bhp to 80.25 bhp at 5,100 rpm and torque increased from 84 lb·ft at 3500 rpm to 88.2 ft·lbf at 3,900 rpm.In addition, the Series IIIA included many detail changes such as an increased diameter front anti-roll bar which greatly improved roadholding, a redesigned clutch bell housing, a revised clutch assembly with nine pressure springs instead of six and a redesigned air cleaner assembly. Inside the car a fresh-air heater, hitherto available only at extra cost, became a standard fitting. All of these changes combined to make the Series IIIA subtly different from its predecessor and to give the Sunbeam Rapier a new lease of life in the showroom. Maximum speed for the Series IIIA was lower than the Series III at 90 mph. It also took longer than the Series III to get to 60 mph (19.3 seconds) but its engine was far more durable. In mid 1963, the Series IIIA convertible was discontinued but the hardtop soldiered on until October 1963 when it was replaced by the Series IV. When production of the Series IIIA ceased, 17,354 units had been built. Late in 1963, Rootes were set to drop the Rapier. It was no longer the mainstay of the competitions department because Rootes had directed its competitive effort towards the Hillman Imp and the Sunbeam Tiger. In fact a totally new Series IV Rapier had been designed, prototypes built and testing completed, and then the Rootes Group changed its mind! The new Series IV Rapier became the Mark I Humber Sceptre and the old Series IIIA Rapier was redesigned, hopefully to give it a new lease of life as a touring saloon rather than a sports coupé. The most obvious difference was the change to 13-inch road wheels in common with the rest of Rootes’ light car range. This meant that the stainless steel wheel trims of earlier Rapiers were replaced by Rootes corporate hub caps and rim finishers. At the front, the car was redesigned to make it look more up-to-date. A new bonnet made the front look lower and flatter and the front wings were modified to accept extensions housing alloy side grilles and sidelights with amber turn indicators. The traditional Sunbeam grille, already stylised for the Series II, was further modified to give a lower, more square shape with a pronounced convex profile. New headlamp rims were fitted, in fact Sunbeam Alpine items but chromed for the Rapier, and a new front bumper using the same shape and profile as the rest of the Light Car range. At the back, a new full width number plate plinth appeared with a new Light Car range bumper. To give a more open look from the side, the frames were removed from the side windows. Finally, small badges fitted at the bottom of each front wing and on the boot lid proclaimed each car to be a “Series IV”. Inside, a new dash, still in walnut veneer, but with the glove box raised into the dash itself allowed the inclusion of a proper storage shelf on each side of the car. Instrumentation and controls were much as before except that the heater switches and ashtray were now housed in a console in front of the gear lever. To aid driver comfort, an adjustable steering column was fitted along with new front seats which allowed more fore and aft adjustment and for the first time, included backrest adjustment. In common with the rest of the light car range, the Rapier’s front suspension was re-engineered to replace the half king pin on each side of the car with a sealed for life ball joint. All other suspension joints became either sealed for life or were rubber bushed thereby eliminating every grease point on the car. Gearing was adjusted overall to compensate for the smaller wheels and the front brake discs were reduced in size so that they would fit inside the wheels. A brake servo became standard and the spring and damper settings were adjusted to give a softer ride. A new diaphragm clutch and new clutch master cylinder brought lighter and more progressive clutch operation. The 1,592 cc engine from the Series IIIA was unchanged but the twin Zenith carburettors finally gave way to a single twin-choke Solex 32PAIA in the interests of serviceability. The effect of the new carburettor was to increase power to 84 bhp and torque to 91 lb/ft at 3,500 rpm. In October 1964, along with the rest of the light car range, the Series IV received the new Rootes all synchromesh gearbox, a change which coincided with the introduction of a new computerised chassis numbering system. When production of the Series IV ceased in 1965, 9700 units had been built. Pending completion of the new Fastback Rapier, Rootes decided to have one more go at updating the Sunbeam Rapier. In September 1965 they introduced the Series V version which looked exactly like the Series IV inside and out except for badges on wings and boot which now said “1725”, revealing a re-developed engine, although the actual capacity was 1,724 cc. Rootes redesigned the Rapier’s four cylinder engine to increase the capacity, with a new five main bearing crankshaft, making the unit stronger and smoother. This engine would be developed for many subsequent models. In the Series V Rapier the engine developed 91 hp at 5,500 rpm. To further update the car, they changed its polarity from positive to negative earth and fitted an alternator in place of the dynamo. They also devised a new twin pipe exhaust system so that the new engine could breathe more easily. The effect of these changes was to increase the Rapier’s maximum speed to 95 mph and reduce its time from rest to 60 mph to 14.1 seconds. However, for all its improvements, the Series V just did not sell. By the time it was discontinued in June 1967, only 3,759 units had been built, making it the rarest of all the “Series” Sunbeam Rapiers.
The first Sunbeam to bear the Alpine name was an open-topped version of the Sunbeam-Talbot 90 sports saloon, named after the model’s success in rallying, especially the Monte Carlo rally, launched in 1953. Kenneth Howes and Jeff Crompton were tasked with doing a complete redesign in 1956, with the goal of producing a dedicated sports car aimed principally at the US market to compete with the MGs and Triumphs that were very popular. Ken Howes contributed some 80 per cent of the overall design work, which bears more than incidental resemblance to the early Ford Thunderbird, hardly a surprise, as Howe had worked at Ford before joining Rootes. The Alpine was produced in four subsequent revisions until 1968. Total production numbered around 70,000. Production stopped shortly after the Chrysler takeover of the Rootes Group. Styled by the Loewy Studios for the Rootes Group, the “Series” Alpine started production in late 1959. One of the original prototypes still survives and was raced by British Touring car champion Bernard Unett. The car made extensive use of components from other Rootes Group vehicles and was built on a modified floorpan from the Hillman Husky estate car. The Series I used a 1,494 cc engine with dual downdraft carburettors, a soft top that could be hidden by special integral covers and the first available wind-up side windows offered in a British sports car of that time. The running gear came mainly from the Sunbeam Rapier, but with front disc brakes replacing the saloon car’s drums. An overdrive unit and wire wheels were optional. The suspension was independent at the front using coil springs and at the rear had a live axle and semi-elliptic springing. The Girling-manufactured brakes used 9.5 in discs at the front and 9 in drums at the rear. An open car with overdrive was tested by The Motor in 1959. It had a top speed of 99.5 mph and could accelerate from 0–60 mph in 13.6 seconds. A fuel consumption of 31.4 mpg was recorded. The test car cost £1031 including taxes. 11,904 examples of the series I were produced. The Series II of 1962 featured an enlarged 1,592 cc engine producing 80 bhp and revised rear suspension, but there were few other changes. When it was replaced in 1963, 19,956 had been made. The Series III was produced in open and removable hardtop versions. On the hardtop version the top could be removed and the soft-top was stored behind the small rear seat; also the 1592 cc engine was less powerful. To provide more room in the boot, twin fuel tanks in the rear wings were fitted. Quarter light were fitted to the windows. Between 1963 and 1964, 5863 were made. For the Series IV, made in 1964 and 1965, there was no longer a lower-output engine option; the convertible and hardtop versions shared the same 82 bhp engine with single Solex carburettor. A new rear styling was introduced with the fins largely removed. Automatic transmission with floor-mounted control became an option, but was unpopular. From autumn 1964 a new manual gearbox with synchromesh on first gear was adopted in line with its use in other Rootes cars. A total of 12,406 were made. The final version was the Series V, produced between 1965–68 which had the new five-bearing 1,725 cc engine with twin Zenith-Stromberg semi-downdraught carburettors producing 93 bhp. There was no longer an automatic transmission option. 19,122 were made. The car also formed the basis for the V8 engined Tiger, and you tend to see those more often than the regular Alpines that were seen here, both of them late model cars.
Final Sunbeam here was an Arrow-based Rapier here, a range which started with the Hillman Hunter that was launched at the 1966 Earls Court Motor Show, and to which in the following months, more models were added. The Rapier – a stylish fastback coupe was launched in October 1967, a four-seat coupé based on the chassis of the Hillman Hunter Estate. Although the Rapier used the tail lamps and rear valance from the Hunter Estate, the rest of its superstructure was unique. The Rapier used the Rootes four-cylinder, five-bearing 1,725 cc engine, which was tilted slightly to the right to enable a lower bonnet line, in common with the other Arrow models. With its twin Stromberg 150CD carburettors the engine produced 88 hp at 5200 rpm. Overdrive was standard with the manual gearbox, and Borg-Warner automatic transmission was an optional extra. The Rapier continued almost unchanged until 1976, when it was discontinued without a replacement. During its lifetime it formed the basis for the more powerful Sunbeam Rapier H120, introduced in October 1968 and identifiable by its boot-lid spoiler and polished sill covers: it shared its Holbay Engineering-tuned 110 hp engine (with twin Weber carburettors) with the Hillman Hunter GLS. The Rapier was also the basis for the slightly cheaper but similarly bodied, single-carburettor Sunbeam Alpine Fastback introduced in October 1969. Rapier running gear (though not the estate chassis) was also used in the Humber Sceptre MkIII, Hillman GT and Hillman Hunter GT models from the Arrow range. Between 1967 and 1969, the Rapier was built at Ryton-on-Dunsmore, but from 1969 until its demise in 1976, it was built at Rootes’ Hillman Imp factory at Linwood in Scotland. In all, 46,204 units were built (including Rapier, H120 and Alpine versions).
This 1980 Crown is an example of the last generation of the car to be sold in the UK, though sales have continued in Japan ever since, with the car now on its tenth generation. Launched in Japan in 1979, it reached the UK in 1980 and was sold for around 3 years. Although there were numerous different engines available in the domestic market, where you could also buy one with a 2 door Coupe or 5 door Estate body style, the UK only got a four door saloon with a 2.8 litre 6 cylinder engine. Sales were modest and as the Yen gained value against European currencies, the car became ever more expensive, and although luxuriously equipped as standard the fact that it was not very inspiring to drive meant that few chose in preference to a BMW, Mercedes, Volvo or Audi, let alone the Ford Granada Ghia and top spec Vauxhall Carlton and Opel Senator, which were just a few of its rivals., I can’t remember when I last saw one, so this was a nice find at this event.
Although UK and indeed European Crown sales ceased in the mid 1980s, the model remained in production, and sold in steady quantities in its native Japan. The odd example has found its way to the UK since then, and this 1996 is one such car.
In 1986, Toyota produced a completely different duo of sports coupes. The Celica changed to front-wheel drive, while the Supra kept its rear-wheel-drive platform. The engine was updated to a more powerful 3.0 200 hp in-line 6. Although only available in naturally aspirated trim in 1986, a turbocharged version of the engine was introduced in the 1987 model year. The Supra was now related mechanically to the Toyota Soarer for the Japanese market. The third-generation Supra introduced a great deal of new technology. In 1986, options available for the Supra included 3-channel ABS and TEMS which gave the driver 2 settings which affected the damper rates; a third was automatically activated at WOT, hard braking, and high speed manoeuvering. HKS also made a “TEMS Controller” to hack the system and activate it on the fly, though the controllers are now nearly impossible to find. ACIS (Acoustic Control Induction System), a method of controlling air compression pulses inside the intake piping to increase power, was also a part of the 7M-GE’s technological arsenal. All models were fitted with double wishbone suspension front and rear. A targa top was offered in all years along with a metal power sliding sunroof. The car sold well, and it is estimated that around 241,500 examples were produced.
Another once popular car that is now all but extinct on our roads, this is a Corolla Liftback from the E90 generation of this long-lived nameplate. The Corolla E90 was introduced in 1987 and was the sixth generation of cars sold by Toyota under the Corolla nameplate. It was the last generation of Corolla to be classified as a subcompact car and the first to be exclusively front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive; the performance option of rear-wheel drive was dropped. For general export, the trim levels were Base, XL, GL, SE, and SE Limited. The GT-i (known as the SX Seca and/or Hatch in Australia) was a high-performance model powered by the 4A-GE engine; it was offered with hatchback and also five-door liftback bodywork in some markets. The North American GT-S coupé shared the same engine. The all-wheel drive Sprinter Carib wagon used a beam axle rear suspension with coil springs, while the rest used struts all around. In South Africa, the E90 was manufactured and marketed by Toyota under the Carri, Conquest, and Tazz model names. In a pair of similar joint ventures with General Motors, E90 variants with minor cosmetic changes were locally manufactured and sold as the Geo Prizm and Holden Nova in the United States and Australia respectively. The majority of the Corolla range was replaced in June 1991 for the Japanese market, but production for export markets continued into 1992, and Australian Holden production extended until mid 1994. The all-wheel drive wagon was sold from 1988 to 1994 and had different bodywork to other Corollas; it replaced the Tercel 4WD Wagon/Sprinter Carib in Toyota’s lineup. It retained the Sprinter Carib name in Japan, but was marketed as the Corolla Touring in Europe and some other countries, and as the Corolla All-Trac in the United States.
Successor to the TR3a, and code named “Zest” during development, the TR4 was based on the chassis and drivetrain of the previous TR sports cars, but with a modern Michelotti styled body. The TR 4 engine was carried over from the earlier TR2/3 models, but the displacement was increased from 1991cc to 2138 cc by increasing the bore size. Gradual improvements in the manifolds and cylinder head allowed for some improvements culminating in the TR4A model. The 1991 cc engine became a no-cost option for those cars destined to race in the under-two-litre classes of the day. Some cars were fitted with vane-type superchargers, as the three main bearing engine was liable to crankshaft failure if revved beyond 6,500 rpm; superchargers allowed a TR4 to produce much more horse-power and torque at relatively modest revolutions. The standard engine produced 105 bhp but, supercharged and otherwise performance-tuned, a 2.2-litre I4 version could produce in excess of 200 bhp at the flywheel. The TR4, in common with its predecessors, was fitted with a wet-sleeve engine, so that for competition use the engine’s cubic capacity could be changed by swapping the cylinder liners and pistons, allowing a competitor to race under different capacity rules (i.e. below or above 2 litres for example). Other key improvements over the TR3 included a wider track front and rear, slightly larger standard engine displacement, full synchromesh on all forward gears, and rack and pinion steering. In addition, the optional Laycock de Normanville electrically operated overdrive Laycock Overdrive could now be selected for 2nd and 3rd gear as well as 4th, effectively providing the TR4 with a seven-speed manual close ratio gearbox. The TR4 was originally fitted with 15×4.5″ disc wheels. Optional 48-lace wire wheels could be ordered painted the same colour as the car’s bodywork (rare), stove-enamelled (matte silver with chrome spinners, most common) or in matte or polished chrome finishes (originally rare, but now more commonly fitted). The most typical tyre originally fitted was 590-15 bias ply or optional radial tires. In the US at one point, American Racing alloy (magnesium and aluminium) wheels were offered as an option, in 15×5.5″ or 15×6″ size. Tyres were a problem for original owners who opted for 60-spoke wire wheels, as the correct size radial-ply tyre for the factory rims was 155-15, an odd-sized tyre at the time only available from Michelin at considerable expense. Some original TR4 sales literature says the original radial size was 165-15. The much more common 185-15 radials were too wide to be fitted safely. As a result, many owners had new and wider rims fitted and their wheels re-laced. The new TR4 body style did away with the classical cutaway door design of the previous TRs to allow for wind-down windows (in place of less convenient side-curtains), and the angular rear allowed a boot with considerable capacity for a sports car. Advanced features included the use of adjustable fascia ventilation, and the option of a unique hard top that consisted of a fixed glass rear window (called a backlight) with an integral rollbar and a detachable, steel centre panel (aluminium for the first 500 units). This was the first such roof system on a production car and preceded by 5 years the Porsche 911/912 Targa, which has since become a generic name for this style of top. On the TR4 the rigid roof panel was replaceable with an easily folded and stowed vinyl insert and supporting frame called a Surrey Top. The entire hard top assembly is often mistakenly referred to as a Surrey Top. In original factory parts catalogues the rigid top and backlight assembly is listed as the Hard Top kit. The vinyl insert and frame are offered separately as a Surrey Top. Features such as wind-down windows were seen as a necessary step forward to meet competition and achieve good sales in the important US market, where the vast majority of TR4s were eventually sold. Dealers had concerns that buyers might not fully appreciate the new amenities, therefore a special short run of TR3As (commonly called TR3Bs) was produced in 1961 and ’62. The TR4 proved very successful and continued the rugged, “hairy-chested” image that the previous TRs had enjoyed. 40,253 cars were built during production years. Most were sold new to the US, but plenty have returned, and it is estimated that there are not far short of 900 examples of the model in the UK at present.
Next up was the TR6, the first Triumph for some time not to have been styled by Michelotti. By the mid 1960s, money was tight, so when it came to replacing the TR4 and TR5 models, Triumph were forced into trying to minimise the costs of the redesign, which meant that they kept the central section of the old car, but came up with new bodywork with the front and back ends were squared off, reportedly based on a consultancy contract involving Karmann. The resulting design, which did look modern when it was unveiled in January 1969 has what is referred to as a Kamm tail, which was very common during 1970s era of cars and a feature on most Triumphs of the era. All TR6 models featured inline six-cylinder engines. For the US market the engine was carburetted, as had been the case for the US-only TR250 engine. Like the TR5, the TR6 was fuel-injected for other world markets including the United Kingdom, hence the TR6PI (petrol-injection) designation. The Lucas mechanical fuel injection system helped the home-market TR6 produce 150 bhp at model introduction. Later, the non-US TR6 variant was detuned to 125 bhp for it to be easier to drive, while the US variant continued to be carburetted with a mere 104 hp. Sadly, the Lucas injection system proved somewhat troublesome, somewhat denting the appeal of the car. The TR6 featured a four-speed manual transmission. An optional overdrive unit was a desirable feature because it gave drivers close gearing for aggressive driving with an electrically switched overdrive which could operate on second, third, and fourth gears on early models and third and fourth on later models because of constant gearbox failures in second at high revs. Both provided “long legs” for open motorways. TR6 also featured semi-trailing arm independent rear suspension, rack and pinion steering, 15-inch wheels and tyres, pile carpet on floors and trunk/boot, bucket seats, and a full complement of instrumentation. Braking was accomplished by disc brakes at the front and drum brakes at the rear. A factory steel hardtop was optional, requiring two people to fit it. TR6 construction was fundamentally old-fashioned: the body was bolted onto a frame instead of the two being integrated into a unibody structure; the TR6 dashboard was wooden (plywood with veneer). Other factory options included a rear anti-roll bar and a limited-slip differential. Some say that the car is one of Leyland’s best achievements, but a number of issues were present and remain because of poor design. As well as the fuel injection problems, other issues include a low level radiator top-up bottle and a poor hand-brake. As is the case with other cars of the era, the TR6 can suffer from rust issues, although surviving examples tend to be well-cared for. The TR6 can be prone to overheating. Many owners fit an aftermarket electric radiator fan to supplement or replace the original engine-driven fan. Also the Leyland factory option of an oil cooler existed. Despite the reliability woes, the car proved popular, selling in greater quantity than any previous TR, with 94,619 of them produced before production ended in mid 1976. Of these, 86,249 were exported and only 8,370 were sold in the UK. A significant number have since been re-imported, as there are nearly 3000 of these much loved classics on the road and a further 1300 on SORN, helped by the fact that parts and services to support ownership of a TR6 are readily available and a number of classic car owners’ clubs cater for the model.
What turned out to be the final TR model was launched in January 1975, and this time it really was all new. A dramatic Harris Mann wedge shaped was shock enough for the purists, but the fact that at launch it only came as a Fixed Head Coupe was almost too much for some to bear. In the end, though. more TR7s were sold than any other TR model, so it really cannot have been all that bad even if the car had a somewhat bumpy existence, moving production plant from Speke, Liverpool where the early cars were made, to Canley, Coventry in 1978 and then finally to the Rover Solihull plant in 1980. An open topped model did join the range in 1980 and small numbers of factory built TR8s with the 135 bhp Rover V8 engine under the bonnet were made, but the proposed 2+2 Lynx model, and a version with the 16 valve Dolomite Sprint engine and the 2 litre O Series unit never made production. The car was launched in the United States in January 1975, with its UK home market debut in May 1976. The UK launch was delayed at least twice because of high demand for the vehicle in the US, with final sales of new TR7s continuing into 1982. The TR7 was characterised by its “wedge” shape, which was commonly advertised as: “The Shape of Things to Come”, and by a swage line sweeping down from the rear wing to just behind the front wheel. It had an overall length of 160 inches, width of 66 inches, wheelbase of 85 inches and height of 49.5 inches, and a kerbside weight of 2205 pounds, exactly 1000 kg. During development, the TR7 was referred to by the code name “Bullet”.The original full size model wore MG logos because it was styled at Longbridge, which was not a Triumph factory. Power was provided by a 105 bhp 1,998 cc eight-valve four-cylinder engine that shared the same basic design as the Triumph Dolomite Sprint engine, mounted in-line at the front of the car. Drive was to the rear wheels via a four-speed gearbox initially with optional five-speed manual gearbox, or three-speed automatic from 1976. The front independent suspension used coil spring and damper struts and lower single link at the front, and at the rear was a four-link system, again with coil springs. There were front and rear anti roll bars, with disc brakes at the front and drums at the rear. The interior trim was revised in March 1977, with the broadcord seat covers being replaced with red or green “tartan” check inserts with black leather effect vinyl edging, which looks so very period. now The tartan trim was also reflected in the door cards in padded matching red or green tartan cloth inserts in the black leather effect vinyl. A number of other detailed changes were made, partly to ensure commonality of parts in future models, such as the Convertible and the TR8, and also based on what else was available from the corporate parts bin. Badging changed a number of times, but there were no other significant alterations before the end of production in 1981. In total approximately 115,000 TR7 models were built which includes 28,864 soft top/convertibles, and approximately 2,800 TR8 models. Seen here were both Coupe and Convertible models.
Although the TR models were the most numerous Triumph cars here, they weren’t the only ones on show. Among them were the larger Stag. Envisioned as a luxury sports car, this car was designed to compete directly with the Mercedes-Benz SL. It started as a styling experiment, cut and shaped from a 1963–4 Triumph 2000 pre-production saloon, which had also been styled by Michelotti, and loaned to him by Harry Webster, Director of Engineering at Triumph. Their agreement was that if Webster liked the design, Triumph could use the prototype as the basis of a new Triumph model. Harry Webster, who was a long time friend of Giovanni Michelotti, whom he called “Micho”, loved the design and took the prototype back to England. The end result, a two-door drop head (convertible), had little in common with the styling of its progenitor 2000, but retained the suspension and drive line. Triumph liked the Michelotti design so much that they propagated the styling lines of the Stag into the new Mark 2 2000/2500 saloon and estate. The initial Stag design was based around the saloon’s 2.5-litre six cylinder engine, but Harry Webster intended the Stag, large saloons and estate cars to use a new Triumph-designed overhead cam 2.5-litre fuel injected V8. Under the direction of Harry Webster’s successor, Spen King in 1968, the new Triumph OHC 2.5 PI V8 was enlarged to 2997 cc to increase torque. To meet emission standards in the USA, a key target market, the troublesome mechanical fuel injection was dropped in favour of dual Zenith-Stromberg 175 CDSE carburettors. A key aim of Triumph’s engineering strategy at the time was to create a family of engines of different size around a common crankshaft. This would enable the production of power plants of capacity between 1.5 and 4 litres, sharing many parts, and hence offering economies of manufacturing scale and of mechanic training. A number of iterations of this design went into production, notably a slant four-cylinder engine used in the later Triumph Dolomite and Triumph TR7, and a variant manufactured by StanPart that was initially used in the Saab 99. The Stag’s V8 was the first of these engines into production. Sometimes described as two four-cylinder engines Siamesed together, it is more correct to say that the later four-cylinder versions were half a Stag engine. It has sometimes been alleged that Triumph were instructed to use the proven all-aluminium Rover V8, originally designed by Buick, but claimed that it would not fit. Although there was a factory attempt by Triumph to fit a Rover engine, which was pronounced unsuccessful, the decision to go with the Triumph V8 was probably driven more by the wider engineering strategy and by the fact that the Buick’s different weight and torque characteristics would have entailed substantial re-engineering of the Stag when it was almost ready to go on sale. Furthermore Rover, also owned by British Leyland, could not necessarily have supplied the numbers of V8 engines to match the anticipated production of the Stag anyway. As in the Triumph 2000 model line, unitary construction was employed, as was fully independent suspension – MacPherson struts in front, semi-trailing arms at the rear. Braking was by front disc and rear drum brakes, while steering was power-assisted rack and pinion. Although other bodystyles were envisaged, these never made production, so all Stags were four-seater convertible coupés. For structural rigidity – and to meet new American rollover standards of the time – the Stag required a B-pillar “roll bar” hoop connected to the windscreen frame by a T-bar. A removable hardtop was a popular factory option for the early Stags, and was later supplied as a standard fitment. The car was launched one year late in 1970, to a warm welcome at the various international auto shows. Sadly, it rapidly acquired a reputation for mechanical unreliability, usually in the form of overheating. These problems arose from a variety of causes, all of which are now well understood, and for which solutions have been identified, but at the time, they really hurt the reputation and hence sales of the car. They ranged from late changes to the engine which gave rise to design features that were questionable from an engineering perspective, the choice of materials which necessitated the use of antifreeze all year round, the engine’s use of long, simplex roller link chains, which would first stretch and then often fail inside fewer than 25,000 miles; the arrangement of the cylinder head fixing studs, half of which were vertical and the other half at an angle causing sideways forces which caused premature failure of the cylinder head gaskets. and poor quality production from a plant troubled with industrial unrest and poor quality control. At the time, British Leyland never provided a budget sufficient to correct the few design shortcomings of the Triumph 3.0 litre OHC V8, and the dealers did not help matters. The Stag was always a relatively rare car. British Leyland had around 2,500 UK dealers when the Stag was on sale and a total of around 19,000 were sold in the UK. Thus the average dealer sold only seven or eight Stags during the car’s whole production run, or roughly one car per year. This meant that few dealers saw defective Stags often enough to recognise and diagnose the cause of the various problems. Many owners simply replaced the engine altogether, often with the Rover V8, Ford Essex V6, or even the Triumph 6-cylinder engine around which the car was originally designed. Perhaps thanks to such a reputation for its unreliable engine, only 25,877 cars were produced between 1970 and 1977. Of this number, 6780 were export models, of which 2871 went to the United States. The majority of cars were fitted with a Borg-Warner 3-speed automatic transmission. The other choice was a derivative of the ancient Triumph TR2 gearbox which had been modified and improved over the years for use in the TR series of sports cars. Other than the choice of transmissions there were very few factory-installed options. On early cars buyers could choose to have the car fitted with just the soft-top, just the hard-top (with the hood storage compartment empty) or with both. Later cars were supplied with both roofs. Three wheel styles were offered. The standard fitments were steel wheels with Rostyle “tin-plate” trims. Five-spoke alloy wheels were an option, as were a set of traditional steel spoke wheels with “knock-off”‘ hubcaps. The latter were more commonly found on Stags sold in North America on Federal Specification vehicles. Electric windows, power steering and power-assisted brakes were standard. Options included air conditioning, a luggage rack, uprated Koni shock absorbers, floor mats and Lucas Square Eight fog lamps, and a range of after-market products, most of which were dealer installed as optional accessories could also be fitted. Rather unusually for a 4-seat touring car, the accessory list included a sump protector plate that was never produced. This was probably included as a slightly “gimmicky” tribute to Triumph’s rallying successes. Nowadays, the Stag is seen in a very different light, with lots of very enthusiastic and knowledgeable owners who enjoy the good points of this attractive looking car and who revel in the fact that the market has not yet boosted prices into the unaffordable category, as one day will surely happen.
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.
There were several saloon-based models here, too. Among them was an example of the Triumph Herald, in 13/60 Saloon format. Towards the end of the 1950s Standard-Triumph offered a range of two-seater Triumph sports cars alongside its Standard saloons, the Standard 8 and 10, powered by a small (803 cc or 948 cc) 4-cylinder engine, which by the late 1950s were due for an update. Standard-Triumph therefore started work on the Herald. The choice of the Herald name suggests that the car was originally intended to be marketed as a Standard, as it fits the model-naming scheme of the time (Ensign, Pennant and Standard itself). But by 1959 it was felt that the Triumph name had more brand equity, and the Standard name was phased out in Britain after 1963. Giovanni Michelotti was commissioned to style the car by the Standard-Triumph board, encouraged by chief engineer Harry Webster, and quickly produced designs for a two-door saloon with a large glass area that gave 93 per cent all-round visibility in the saloon variant and the “razor-edge” looks to which many makers were turning. As Fisher & Ludlow, Standard-Triumph’s body suppliers became part of an uncooperative BMC, it was decided that the car should have a separate chassis rather than adopting the newer monocoque construction. The main body tub was bolted to the chassis and the whole front end hinged forward to allow access to the engine. Every panel – including the sills and roof – could be unbolted from the car so that different body styles could be easily built on the same chassis. As an addition to the original coupé and saloon models, a convertible was introduced in 1960. The Standard Pennant’s 4-cylinder 948 cc OHV engine and 4 speed manual gearbox was used with synchromesh on the top three gears and remote gear shift and driving the rear wheels. Most of the engine parts were previously used in the Standard 8/10. The rack and pinion steering afforded the Herald a tight 25-foot turning circle. Coil and double-wishbone front suspension was fitted, while the rear suspension, a new departure for Triumph, offered “limited” independent springing via a single transverse leaf-spring bolted to the top of the final drive unit and swing axles. Instruments were confined to a single large speedometer with fuel gauge in the saloon (a temperature gauge was available as an option) on a dashboard of grey pressed fibreboard. The coupé dashboard was equipped with speedometer, fuel and temperature gauges, together with a lockable glovebox. The car had loop-pile carpeting and heater as standard. A number of extras were available including twin SU carburettors, leather seats, a wood-vaneered dashboard, Telaflo shock absorbers and paint options. In late 1958, prototype cars embarked on a test run from Cape Town to Tangiers. An account of the journey was embellished by PR at the time. However only minor changes were deemed necessary between the prototype and production cars. The new car was launched at the Royal Albert Hall in London on 22 April 1959 but was not an immediate sales success, partly owing to its relatively high cost, approaching £700 (including 45 per cent Purchase Tax). In standard single-carburettor form the 34.5 bhp car was no better than average in terms of performance. A saloon tested by The Motor magazine in 1959 was found to have a top speed of 70.9 mph and could accelerate from 0–60 mph in 31.1 seconds. A fuel consumption of 34.5 mpg was recorded. The rear suspension was criticised as yielding poor handling at the extremes of performance though the model was considered easy to drive with its good vision, light steering (smallest turning circle of any production car) and controls, and ease of repair. A Herald S variant was introduced in 1961 with a lower equipment level and less chromium than the Herald, offered in saloon form only. The 948cc Herald Coupe and Convertible models were discontinued in 1961, the 948cc Herald Saloon in 1962 and the Herald S in 1964. Standard-Triumph experienced financial difficulties at the beginning of the 1960s and was taken over by Leyland Motors Ltd in 1961. This released new resources to develop the Herald and the car was re-launched in April 1961 with an 1147 cc engine as the Herald 1200. The new model featured rubber-covered bumpers, a wooden laminate dashboard and improved seating. Quality control was also tightened up. Twin carburettors were no longer fitted to any of the range as standard although they remained an option, the standard being a single down-draught Solex carburettor. Claimed maximum power of the Herald 1200 was 39 bhp, as against the 34.5 bhp claimed for the 948 cc model. One month after the release of the Herald 1200, a 2-door estate was added to the range. Disc brakes became an option from 1962. Sales picked up despite growing competition from the BMC Mini and the Ford Anglia, with the car proving particularly popular to women drivers. The coupé was dropped from the range in late 1964 as it was by then in direct competition with the Triumph Spitfire. The Triumph Courier van, a Herald estate with side panels in place of rear side windows, was produced from 1962 until 1966, but was dropped following poor sales. Production in England ceased in mid-1964. CKD assembly by MCA in Malta continued till late 1965, at least. The Courier was powered by the 1147 cc engine. An upmarket version, the Herald 12/50, was offered from 1963 to 1967. It featured a tuned engine with a claimed output of 51 bhp in place of the previous 39, along with a sliding (Webasto) vinyl-fabric sunroof and front disc brakes as standard. The 12/50, which was offered only as a 2-door saloon, was fitted with a fine-barred aluminium grille. The power output of the 1200, which remained in production alongside the 12/50, was subsequently boosted to 48 bhp. In October 1967 the range was updated with the introduction at the London Motor Show of the Herald 13/60, which was offered in saloon, convertible and estate-bodied versions. The sun-roof remained available for the saloon as an optional extra rather than a standard feature. The front end was restyled using a bonnet similar to the Triumph Vitesse’s and the interior substantially revised though still featuring the wooden dashboard. Interior space was improved by recessing a rear armrest in each side panel. The engine was enlarged to 1296 cc, essentially the unit employed since 1965 in the Triumph 1300, fitted with a Stromberg CD150 carburettor, offering 61 bhp and much improved performance. In this form (though the 1200 saloon was sold alongside it until the end of 1970) the Herald Saloon lasted until December 1970 and the Convertible and Estate until May 1971, by which time, severely outdated in style if not performance, it had already outlived the introduction of the Triumph 1300 Saloon, the car designed to replace it and was still selling reasonably well but, because of its labour-intensive method of construction, selling at a loss.
Three years after the launch of the Herald, Triumph created a more sporting version by putting a 1600cc 6 cylinder engine under the bonnet, calling the result the Vitesse. Handling of the early cars, on their swing axle suspension was best described as “interesting”, but Triumph worked hard to revise (tame!) it so by the time that the 2 litre models were launched in 1965, the car was rather easier to drive briskly on bendy roads. A Mark 2 version was launched in 1968, with new front end styling and other trim differences, and the model lived on until 1971. To be seen here was a late model 2 litre Convertible.
Launched at the same time as the Rover 2000 was Triumph’s large saloon car, also called 2000. A replacement for the long running Standard Vanguard, this was the more sporting of the duo, with a subtly different appeal from the Rover. Between them, the cars defined a new market sector in the UK, promising levels of comfort and luxury hitherto associated with larger Rover and Jaguar models, but with usefully lower running costs and purchase prices, all in a modern package. Both added more powerful models to their range, with Rover going down the twin carburettor route, whilst in 1967, Triumph installed a larger 2.5 litre engine and the then relatively new fuel injection system, creating the 2.5PI, which is what was to be seen here. This Lucas system was not renowned for its reliability in the early days, but it did make the car rapid and refined. A facelift in 1969 brought new styling front and rear, which turned out to be a taster for a new grand tourer model which would emerge a few months later, and in this Mark 2 guise, the car was sold until 1977, in both saloon and estate guises. A mid range model, with twin carburettors but the larger engine, the 2500TC was introduced in 1974 and the 2500S arrived in 1975 with more power but also carb fed, to replace the troublesome and thirsty PI. These are the most sought after models now. Representing the model here was a rare Mark 1 2.5PI Saloon as well as a later Mark 2 model.
Final Triumph model here was a Dolomite, a car which you could say was the 3 Series of its day, a family sized saloon that offered a combination of luxury and sportiness that made it a cut above the average Cortina and Marina. Designed as the successor for the upmarket variants of Triumph’s front-wheel drive designs, and also to replace a sporting relative of the Herald, the 6-cylinder Triumph Vitesse, the Triumph Dolomite was unveiled at the London Motor Show in October 1971. However, due to a number of strikes and other industrial upsets, the car was not reported to be in full production until October 1972. The Dolomite used the longer bodyshell of the front wheel drive Triumph 1500, but with the majority of the running gear carried over from the rear-wheel drive Triumph Toledo. Initially, the only version available used the new slant-four 1854 cc engine, which mated an alloy OHC head to an iron block, providing 91 bhp which offered sprightly performance. This was a version of the engine that the company was already providing to Saab for use in their 99 model. The car was aimed at the then-new compact performance-luxury sector, vying for sales against cars such as the BMW 2002 and Ford Cortina GXL, and was offered with a high level of standard equipment, including twin headlamps, a clock, full instrumentation, luxury seats and carpets, a heated rear window, and a cigar lighter. Styling was similar to the Triumph 1500, with some updates such as a black painted rear panel, vinyl D-posts, and new wheel trims. The car was capable of 100 mph with 60 mph coming up in just over 11 seconds. An overdrive gearbox was soon made available as an option, offering relaxed motorway cruising and improved fuel economy, and there was also an optional automatic transmission. Although the Dolomite proved to be refined and rapid, competitors such as the BMW 2002 had a performance advantage which was costing Triumph dearly, both in terms of sales and prestige. To remedy this, Triumph unveiled the Dolomite Sprint in June 1973, although the launch had been delayed by a year; it had been due to go on sale in 1972. A team of engineers led by Spen King developed a 16-valve cylinder head with all of the valves being actuated using a single camshaft rather than the more conventional DOHC arrangement. The capacity was also increased to 1,998 cc and combined with bigger carburettors the output was upped to 127 bhp. This represented a significant power increase over the smaller 1850cc variant, however it fell short of the original target of 135 bhp Despite BL engineers being able to extract a reliable 150 bhp from test engines, the production line was unable to build the engines to the same level of quality, with production outputs being in the region of 125 bhp to 130 bhp. This led to the original model designation, the Dolomite 135, being replaced at short notice with the Sprint name. As a result of the use of this engine, the Dolomite Sprint has been claimed to be “the world’s first mass-produced multi-valve car”. While other multi-valve engines (notably the Lotus 907) were produced in volume, they were not used in mass production vehicles until after the introduction of the Dolomite Sprint. The design of the cylinder head won a British Design Council award in 1974. Performance was excellent, with 0–60 mph taking around 8.4 seconds, with a maximum speed of 119 mph. Trim was similar to the 1850, with the addition of standard alloy wheels (another first for a British production car), a vinyl roof, front spoiler, twin exhausts and lowered suspension. By now seats were cloth on the 1850, and these were also fitted to the Sprint. Due to the increase in power brought by the new engine, the rest of the driveline was upgraded to be able to withstand the extra torque. The gearbox and differential were replaced by a version of those fitted to the TR and 2000 series cars, albeit with a close ratio gearset in the gearbox. The brakes were upgraded with new pad materials at the front, and the fitment of larger drums and a load sensing valve at the rear. Other changes over the standard Dolomite included the option of a limited slip differential. The optional overdrive and automatic transmission from the 1850 model were also offered as options on the Sprint. Initial models were only offered in Mimosa Yellow, although further colours were available from 1974 on. At launch the Sprint was priced at £1740, which compared extremely well to similar cars from other manufacturers. Prospective buyers would have been hard pressed to justify the extra £1000 cost of the BMW 2002 Tii, which offered similar performance. The four-door practicality of the Sprint also made it a very attractive proposition for the young executive choosing his first company car. The press gave the Dolomite Sprint an enthusiastic reception. Motor summarised its road test (subtitled “Britain leads the way”) with glowing praise: ” …the Sprint must be the answer to many people’s prayer. It is well appointed, compact, yet deceptively roomy. Performance is there in plenty, yet economy is good and the model’s manners quite impeccable … Most important of all, it is a tremendously satisfying car to drive”. Sadly, it proved not quite so satisfying to own, as the legendary BL lack of reliability was a feature on some, but by no means all Sprints. In 1976, Triumph rationalised their range, calling all their small models, Dolomite, and using the same body shell, so the Toledo (which had maintained its stubby tail until this point) and 1500TC became the Dolomite 1300, 1500 and 1500HL respectively. With minor changes to trim and equipment, the cars continued in production until 1980.
The TVR M Series cars were built between 1972 and 1979, replacing the Vixen and Tuscan models. The styling showed a clear resemblance to the models that the M replaced, with the centre section of the car being carried forward and conceptually, the cars were little different, with a front mid-engine, rear-wheel drive layout and body-on-frame construction. The bodies themselves were built from glass-reinforced plastic (GRP). The engines were bought in, sourced from Triumph and Ford, which resulted in a number of different models being made. These included the 1600M, 2500M, 3000M, 3000S, and Taimar, as well as turbocharged versions of the 3000M, 3000S, and Taimar. The first model to start production was the 2500M in March 1972, after being built as a prototype in 1971, which had the 2500cc engine from the Triumph 2.5PI and TR6 under the bonnet. Ford engined 1600M and 3000M models followed later. The American market was financially very important to TVR, and Gerry Sagerman oversaw import and distribution of the cars within the United States from his facility on Long Island. Approximately thirty dealers sold TVRs in the eastern part of the country. John Wadman handled distribution of the cars in Canada through his business, JAG Auto Enterprises.. A small number of 5.0 litre Ford V8-powered cars were finished or converted by the TVR North America importer; these were sold as the 5000M. A total of 2,465 M Series cars were built over the nine years of production. Because of the hand-built and low-volume nature of TVR production, there are many small and often-undocumented variations between cars of the same model that arise due to component availability and minor changes in the build process. The M Series was regarded by contemporary reviewers as being loud and fast and having excellent roadholding. This came at the expense of unusual ergonomics, and heating and ventilation systems that were sometimes problematic. The first major alteration to the M Series body was the hatchback Taimar, introduced at the October 1976 British International Motor Show and using the same mechanicals as the 3000M. The name was inspired by the name of Martin’s friend’s girlfriend, Tayma. The opening hatchback alleviated the previous difficulty of manoeuvering luggage over the seats to stow it in the cargo area, and the hatch itself was opened electrically via a solenoid-actuated latch triggered by a button on the driver’s doorjamb. Over its three-year production, a total of 395 normally aspirated Taimars were built. The final body style for the M Series, an open roadster, arrived in 1978 as the TVR 3000S (marketed in some places as the “Convertible”, and referred to at least once as the “Taimar Roadster”.) Like the Taimar, the 3000S was mechanically identical to the 3000M; the body, however, had undergone significant changes. Only the nose of the car was the same as the previous coupes, as the windscreen, doors, and rear end had all been reworked. The redesign of the doors precluded the possibility of using wind-up windows, so sliding sidecurtains were instead fitted. These could be removed entirely and stowed in the boot, which, for the first time on a TVR, was a separate compartment with its own lid. The boot lid was operated electrically in a manner similar to the Taimar’s hatch. Its design was not finalised by the time the first cars entered production, so the first several cars (including the prototype) were built with no cutout for boot access. The final styling tweaks and the production of moulds for the fibreglass were done by Topolec Ltd. of Norfolk. The styling of the 3000S was revived in a somewhat modernised form later, with the 1987 introduction of the TVR S Series (although the S Series shared almost no components with the M Series cars.) The windscreen and convertible top had been adapted from those used on the Jensen-Healey roadster. Because Jensen Motors had ceased operation in 1976, the windscreen and sidecurtain designs were done by a company named Jensen Special Products, which was run by former Jensen employees. The design for the convertible top was finalised by Car Hood Company in Coventry. One of the minor undocumented variations found on M Series cars is the presence of a map light built into the upper windscreen surround of the 3000S. It appears to have been included only on a very small number of cars built near the end of the production run. When production of the 3000S ended (with 258 cars built), it cost £8,730. Reportedly, 67 of these cars were in a left-hand drive configuration, and 49 were exported to North America.
The Vanden Plas Princess 4-litre R, with its Rolls-Royce all-aluminium 175 bhp engine was announced in August 1964. With an unusually high power to weight ratio the car gave easy cruising at 90+ mph and was capable of 112 mph. While there were some significant exterior alterations compared to the predecessor 3 litre Princess, the big change was under the bonnet where there was a result of more than two years technical collaboration between BMC and Rolls-Royce. The aluminium Rolls-Royce FB60 engine was a short-stroke version of the Rolls-Royce Military B: 4, 6 and 8 cylinder units of which more than 30,000 had already been produced. The 6-cylinder engine weighed only 450 lb, and it generated 175 bhp from its 4 litres. Twin SU carburettors were fitted. Both block and head were aluminium, tappets were hydraulic self-adjusting operating on overhead inlet and side exhaust valves. The counterbalanced crankshaft ran in seven bearings. The 4-litre R was replete with polished walnut fascia padded top and bottom, hide upholstered seats with fully reclinable backs and polished picnic tables for the rear passengers. A new automatic transmission was provided, Borg-Warner model 8, its first use in a British car and Hydrosteer variable ratio power steering accompanied wider tyres. Externally the fog lamps were moved up by the grille, the hindquarters tidied extended and adjusted to look more substantial and the tailfins replaced by small corner-ridges. The car was priced on a par with the curvaceous Jaguar Mark X, and 50 per cent more than its apparent predecessor the 3-litre car. It was a major change of market positioning aimed at the growing prestige and executive market in Europe and the United States, but its close appearance to its predecessor, its pricing near to that of the Jaguar, which was both bigger, with a far more advanced chassis design, more prestigious though itself without a useful market in the United States, doomed it to failure. Joint production capacity of 12,000 cars a year was planned, but actual production was never more than a fraction of this. Final assembly and hand finishing was at the Vanden Plas works in Kingsbury London. The Princess 4-litre R remained in production until 1968, just ahead of BMC’s merge into British Leyland. About 6,555 were built.
Although we think of these cars as an Allegro, that badge was not used, and the car was officially called the Vanden Plas 1500, and later the Vanden Plas 1750. Introduced in September 1974, this car followed on from the popular Vanden Plas 1100 and 1300 models as a very upmarket version of a volume selling car. It featured a prominent grille at the front and an interior enhanced by a range of modifications designed to attract traditionally inclined customers, including: special seats upholstered in real leather, with reclining backrests; deep-pile carpets; extra sound insulation; a new instrument panel in walnut; walnut folding tables for the rear passengers; nylon headlining; and for the luggage, a fully trimmed boot. In 1974, a time when the UK starting price for the Austin Allegro was given as £1159, BLMC were quoting, at launch, a list price of £1951 for the Vanden Plas 1500. The larger 1750 cc engine was added to the range a few years later. The model changed little during its production run.
The Firenza is a model of car offered by Vauxhall from May 1971 until 1975. It was a development of the Viva, but had a distinctive coupé body style (fastback) and only two doors. In South Africa, it was sold as the Chevrolet Firenza until it was replaced by the Chevrolet 1300/1900 during 1975. Its name is derived from Firenze, the name of the Italian city known in English as Florence. The initial Firenza was available in a base model 1159 cc overhead valve and two models with overhead camshaft, in 1598 cc and 1975 cc variants. The latter was the same engine as used in the earlier Viva GT. Some six months after launch, in December 1971, performance was boosted when the engine capacities were enlarged to 1256 cc, 1798 cc and 2279 cc respectively. All models had a front-mounted four-cylinder engine driving the rear wheels. Suspension was double wishbone and coil springs at the front, and a live rear axle with trailing arms and coils at the rear. The SL model in each engine size carried the highest level of trim. The model changes in early 1972 included the introduction of a top-of-the-line 2300 Sport SL model (introduced at the Geneva Motor Show), using the 2279 cc engine. The 2300 Sport SL was the only version to feature the seven dial dash (speedometer, clock, rev counter, fuel, oil pressure, water temp, & battery charge). The engine was an inclined four-cylinder with single overhead camshaft and twin Stromberg carburettors, producing 122 bhp. The oversquare straight four engine was renowned for its big torque curve, making the car very flexible and easy to drive. The interior was equipped with bucket seats, front and back, to carry four persons. The centre console with heater controls and warning lights was quite distinctive and luxurious for the time. The 2300 Sport SL was raced by the Dealer Team Vauxhall, following their successes with the Viva GT. In Castrol colours, these cars enjoyed many successes. In 1973, the Firenza was renamed the Magnum, and a new and bold Firenza with the droop-snoot nose carried the name on.
The Cavalier was a critical model for Vauxhall, who had been trailing Ford and BL in the sales charts in the all important home market for some time. Much of the reason for that is because they lacked a car to compete directly against the market-leading Ford Cortina, their rival, the Vauxhall Victor having grown in size with every model update marking it more of a Granada competitor, a size up. The Cortina class was crucial, as the United Kingdom tax system meant that sales to company car fleets comprised a larger proportion of the overall market – especially for middle-weight saloons – than elsewhere in Europe. It was dominated by the Cortina, which regularly achieved over 10% of the total market and yet when Cortina Mk II had been replaced by the Ford Cortina Mk III in 1970, in the eyes of the all important company car fleet managers, the newer Cortina never quite matched the earlier car for reliability, notably in respect of problems with its cable clutch and with camshaft wear in the 1.6 and 2.0 litre ohc units. With alternatives in a market which only really wanted “British” cars, and traditionally engineered ones at that, limited to the Morris Marina, there was a clear need for some competition, which meant that the market should have been particularly receptive to Vauxhall’s new Cortina challenger. There was a slight problem that the new car was actually made in Belgium, but that objection was pushed to one side by many when they saw this smartly styled car. Launched with a choice of 1596 and 1,896 cc engines, the Cavalier was a restyled version of the second generation German Opel Ascona, offered as a two and four-door saloon, and with a two-door booted coupé body, withe coupe only available with the larger engine, The Ascona/Cavalier was built on what GM called the U-car platform. Whilst the Cavalier was originally intended to have its own bodywork, it ended up with the front of an Opel Manta B model and the rearend of an Opel Ascona B model, to keep costs down. A different nose, designed by Wayne Cherry, was the only obvious styling feature to set the Vauxhall apart. Although van, pick-up and estate versions were also on the drawing board, these never made production and nor did the prototype that was built using the 2.3 litre Vauxhall Slant-4 engine, planned for use in a high performance variant, which meant that the larger engined Cavaliers were exclusively powered by the Opel CIH engine. The Cavalier did not replace the larger Victor, which remained in production until 1978, as the VX1800/VX2000, With growing demand, and also a desire to answer the “but it is not British built” objection, Vauxhall started to produce the Cavalier in the UK, with the first Cavalier to be assembled at Vauxhall’s Luton plant being driven off the production line by Eric Fountain, Vauxhall’s manufacturing director, on 26 August 1977, after which the 1256 cc version, assembled at Luton and using engine and transmission already familiar to Viva 1300 owners, broadened the range. At that stage the 1584 cc Cavalier and the 1897 cc which had joined it were still being imported from Belgium, but in due course these, too, started to emerge from the Luton production plant. The range was revised in 1978, when the 1.9 litre engine was enlarged to 2 litres and a few weeks later, a three-door hatchback known as the Sports hatch (also seen on the Manta) was added to the range. Apart from minor updates, that was it until the model was replaced in the autumn of 1981 by the new front wheel drive J-car, but there was a new trim added to the range in 1980, the LS, and there was a rare survivor of that on show here. The original Cavalier was a relatively strong seller in Britain, even though it never quite matched the runaway sales success of the Ford Cortina, or even the sales figures attained by British Leyland’s Morris Marina (which sold well throughout the 1970s despite an adverse reputation) but it at least managed to help Vauxhall regain lost ground in a market sector where it had declined during the first half of the 1970s as Victor sales slumped. Nearly 250,000 were sold but there are few survivors of any type of the Mark 1, so it was nice to see this one here.
Getting rare now is the third generation Astra. Released in 1991, the Mark 3 model was essentially an evolution of the Mark 2, rather than a complete redesign. While Vauxhall had retained the Astra name, this generation was the first to be called Astra by Opel (succeeding the Kadett E), and the first to also be sold by Holden. It was offered as a three or five-door hatchback, a saloon, and an estate. A cabriolet was also offered, designed and built by Bertone. The Astra was sold as a Holden first in New Zealand in 1995, and then in Australia in 1996. The first models were imported from the UK, then later from Belgium. The Holden Astra nameplate had originally been placed on a rebadged Nissan Pulsar, first sold in Australia in 1984. The Astra F consisted of two main revisions and was revised in 1994, with the launch of Opel’s new Ecotec engine. For a short period, a submodel which consisted of parts from both revisions was produced. The submodel used all the new Ecotec running gear, but many parts from the previous revision were used in order to use up leftover parts. Other main changes included mildly-altered exterior styling – featuring Vauxhall’s new corporate ‘V’ front grille first seen on the 1994 Omega, a smoked grey trim panel available on all cars on the rear tailgate to smooth over the protruding rear lamp clusters, and availability of new specification models. The top Vauxhall Astra model was the 3-door only GSi, powered by either the same 2.0 engine found in the Mk2, or a new 1.8 16v petrol injected model with 124 bhp. It also featured sports bodykit and interior. The GSi ceased production in 1994 but was reintroduced in 1997, with the engine being replaced with a lower-powered but more modern ‘Ecotec’ version (2.0 16v with 134 bhp) the bodykit was slightly altered on these models – a longer rear spoiler with integrated brake light, fluted side skirts, a bonnet without vents, and removal of the GSi16v badging from the bumper and tailgate (replaced by the later chrome effect Vauxhall Astra 2.0 16v badging). The second phase GSi’s had air conditioning (and no sunroof) available as an option. In common with other car manufacturers, the early 1990s saw Vauxhall featuring safety as a selling point, and beginning to incorporate many new safety features into cheaper family cars that were previously only found on expensive luxury saloons. The Mark 3 Astra was one of the first such cars, being introduced ahead of the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Mondeo, two other cars with a similar new-found focus on safety. So, the Mark 3 saw the introduction of twin side impact bars, a toughened safety cage, a safely-designed steering wheel (with collapsible columns) and ‘body-lock’ mechanical front seat-belt pre-tensioners. After the first face-lift full-size drivers air bags became optional or standard (depending on the model). Crash tests by consumers association (as featured by BBC’s Watchdog show in 1992) and also by ADAC and Auto Express showed that the Mark 3 Astra protected better in crashes than most rivals of its time. In later Sport and GSi models (from 1995 onwards) Lotus Sprung Suspension was used to give better ride. The Sport models essentially replaced the GSi cars in 1994/1995 due a drop in sales due to sharply rising insurance prices. The Pacific special edition was a model that featured a complete Irmscher body styling package with 15″ Cesaro wheels from the Mark 3 Cavalier. The car was replaced by a fourth generation in late 1997.
As well as the iconic Beetle, there was also an example of the Type 2 bus. The first generation of the Volkswagen Type 2 with the split windshield, informally called the Microbus, Splitscreen, or Splittie among modern fans, was produced from 8 March 1950 through the end of the 1967 model year. From 1950 to 1956, the T1 (not called that at the time) was built in Wolfsburg; from 1956, it was built at the completely new Transporter factory in Hanover. Like the Beetle, the first Transporters used the 1100 Volkswagen air-cooled engine, an 1,131 cc 24 bhp, air-cooled flat-four-cylinder ‘boxer’ engine mounted in the rear. This was upgraded to the 1200 – an 1,192 cc 30 bhp in 1953. A higher compression ratio became standard in 1955; while an unusual early version of the 40 bhp engine debuted exclusively on the Type 2 in 1959. Any 1959 models that retain that early engine today are true survivors. Since the engine was totally discontinued at the outset, no parts were ever made available. The early versions of the T1 until 1955 were often called the “Barndoor” (retrospectively called T1a since the 1990s), owing to the enormous rear engine cover, while the later versions with a slightly modified body (the roofline above the windshield is extended), smaller engine bay, and 15″ roadwheels instead of the original 16″ ones are nowadays called the T1b (again, only called this since the 1990s, based on VW’s retrospective T1,2,3,4 etc. naming system.). From the 1964 model year, when the rear door was made wider (same as on the bay-window or T2), the vehicle could be referred to as the T1c. 1964 also saw the introduction of an optional sliding door for the passenger/cargo area instead of the outwardly hinged doors typical of cargo vans. In 1962, a heavy-duty Transporter was introduced as a factory option. It featured a cargo capacity of 1,000 kg (2,205 lb) instead of the previous 750 kg (1,653 lb), smaller but wider 14″ roadwheels, and a 1.5 litre 42 bhp DIN engine. This was so successful that only a year later, the 750 kg, 1.2 L Transporter was discontinued. The 1963 model year introduced the 1500 engine – 1,493 cc as standard equipment to the US market at 51 bhp DIN with an 83 mm bore, 69 mm stroke, and 7.8:1 compression ratio. When the Beetle received the 1.5 litre engine for the 1967 model year, its power was increased to 54 bhp DIN. German production stopped after the 1967 model year; however, the T1 still was made in Brazil until 1975, when it was modified with a 1968–79 T2-style front end, and big 1972-vintage taillights into the so-called “T1.5” and produced until 1996. The Brazilian T1s were not identical to the last German models (the T1.5 was locally produced in Brazil using the 1950s and 1960s-era stamping dies to cut down on retooling, alongside the Beetle/Fusca, where the pre-1965 body style was retained), though they sported some characteristic features of the T1a, such as the cargo doors and five-stud 205 mm (8.1 in) Pitch Circle Diameter rims. Wheel tracks varied between German and Brazilian production and with 14-inch, 15-inch and 16-inch wheel variants but commonly front track varied from 1290 mm to 1310 mm and rear track from 1370 mm to 1390 mm. Among American enthusiasts, it is common to refer to the different models by the number of their windows. The basic Kombi or Bus is the 11-window (a.k.a. three-window bus because of three side windows) with a split windshield, two front cabin door windows, six rear side windows, and one rear window. The DeLuxe model featured eight rear side windows and two rear corner windows, making it the 15-window (not available in Europe). Meanwhile, the sunroof DeLuxe with its additional eight small skylight windows is, accordingly, the 23-window. From the 1964 model year, with its wider rear door, the rear corner windows were discontinued, making the latter two the 13-window and 21-window respectively. The 23- and later 21-window variants each carry the nickname “Samba” or in Australia, officially “Alpine”. The Volkswagen Samba, in the United States also known as Sunroof Deluxe, was the most luxurious version of the T1. Volkswagen started producing Sambas in 1951. In the USA Volkswagen vans were informally classified according to the number of windows they had. This particular model had 23 and later 21 windows including eight panoramic windows in the roof (the 23 window version had additional curved windows in the rear corners). To distinguish it from the normal Volkswagen van the name Samba was coined. Instead of a sliding door at the side the Samba had two pivot doors. In addition the Samba had a fabric sunroof. At that time Volkswagen advertised with the idea of using the Samba to make tourist trips through the Alps. Sambas were painted standard in two colours. Usually, the upper part was coloured white. The two colored sections were separated by a decorative strip. Further the bus had a so-called “hat”: at the front of the van the roof was just a little longer than the car itself to block the sun for the driver. The windows had chrome tables and the van had a more comprehensive dashboard than the normal T1. When Volkswagen started producing the successor of the T1 (the T2) the company also stopped producing the Samba so there are no Sambas in later versions of the Transporter.
Also here was a Type 2 “Bus” from the second generation, 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 litre, DIN-rated at 66 bhp with the manual transmission and 62 bhp with the automatic. The Type 4 engine was enlarged to 1.8 litre and 67 bhp DIN for the 1974 model year and again to 2.0 litre 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 litre 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.
It was nice to see this 1600 TL Variant. This is one of the Type 3 cars, a range which was launched in 1961, and planned as a more costly model to appeal to those who could afford more money for a larger car than the Beetle (or Type 1). Initially called the 1500, the first models were 2 door saloons. An estate model, the Variant, arrived in 1963, and this car sold better than the Saloon. Later the engine was upgraded to 1600cc and a fastback model joined the range, at which point the original model was deleted from the UK range, though it continued on sale in Germany until well into the 1970s. 1600TL Fastback and Variant models were quite popular in the UK in the early 1970s and used to be a common sight, but like most cars of that era, the vast majority of them have been scrapped and most of the remaining ones have been snapped up by the “Dub” scene modifiers.
From the second generation of the Golf was this Country version. 7,735 of these were built, co-manufactured by Steyr-Daimler-Puch in Austria, designed for medium off-road driving. It had more suspension travel, Syncro four-wheel drive, improved ground clearance of 21 centimetres (8.3 in), bullbars at front and rear (generally over a single headlight grille), a skid plate for protecting the engine area, sub-frame to protect the rear Syncro differential and propshaft and a spare wheel mounted externally on a swing-away triangular frame on the back. In Europe, it was offered with the acclaimed 98 bhp 1.8 8v 1P petrol engine. There were also: 1500 “Country Allround” designed to appeal to a wider public, made without the electric luxuries like electric and heated mirrors, leather steering wheel and bullbar without headlight grills, in relation to a more affordable price range; 558 ” Country – Chrompaket” with Chrome bullbars, Sliding sun roof, Engine and interior pre-heater and beige leather interior; and 50 “Country GTI” 114 bhp 1.8 GTI petrol engine, made only for Golf Country project VW-staff. The Golf Country was particularly popular in Alpine regions in central Europe.
This is a 144, 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.
Popular in its day. but certainly rare now was this Volvo 343, a model introduced in 1976. DAF had already begun development of this car as a replacement for the Volvo (previously DAF) 66. It was fitted with a 1.4 litre Renault engine in the front and DAF’s radical Variomatic continuously variable transmission unusually mounted in the rear, helping weight distribution. To add to the appeal of the car and boost its sales, Volvo adapted the M45 manual transmission from the 200 series to fit in place of the CVT, and was sold alongside the CVT models from 1979. The CVT continued to be offered but sold in ever more marginal numbers; down to 200 per year in Sweden in the late 1980s. A five-door model, the 345, was added in August 1979. The extra doors added 30 kg (66 lb); other modifications included better brakes, a slightly larger track due to wider rims, and interval wipers. During 1980 larger wrap around bumpers were introduced. In 1981 another engine option was added to the range, the Volvo designed B19, only available with the manual transmission. A revised bonnet, grille and front lamp arrangement and slightly different wings signalled a facelift in summer 1981, which also gave the car a new dashboard and revised interior. From having been mostly a DAF design, the dashboard gradually became more aligned with the design of other Volvos over the years. The overall length crept up to 4,300 mm (169 in). The third digit designating the number of doors was dropped from model designations in 1983. The more powerful 360 arrived that year with two 2.0 litre engine choices, the 95 PS B19A and the 115 PS B19E, also from Volvo. These were four-cylinders and not sixes as implied by the name; it was used to “give the new model a stronger profile in the Volvo range.” This 2-litre 360 model was available in five-door and three-door hatchback form, with four-door saloon models added in 1984. Trim levels were GL, GLE, or GLT, depending on output and specifications. In 1985, the 300 Series received a major facelift. Amongst other small changes, (optionally body coloured) wrap-around bumpers with the indicator repeaters attached to them were fitted. The taillights were also redesigned. Instrumentation changed from Smiths units to VDO. The older Volvo redblock engines in the 360 were upgraded to the low friction B200 unit. Capacities and outputs remained much the same. The carburettor version was designated B200K and the Bosch LE-Jet fuel injected version is known as the B200E. From 1987 on, incremental improvements in features and emissions control were made. The newly designed power steering from the new Volvo 480 became available as an option for the 1988 model year, while rust protection was improved with increased use of galvanized steel. Production of the 360 came to an end in 1990, while the 340 was discontinued in 1991, despite the fact it had supposedly been replaced by the Volvo 440 in 1987. The last ever car of the Volvo 300 series (a white Volvo 340) rolled off the production line on 13 March 1991, three years after the launch of the 400-series. Sales began at a low level, not helped by the absence of a manual transmission option, but gradually increased as the lineup expanded. 300-series cumulative production broke the 100,000 barrier on 12 December 1983, with the total reaching 102,000 before the end of the year. The 100,000th car, finished in white, was donated to the Dutch Red Cross. 66,207 360 sedans were built in total, along with 79,964 340 sedans, for a total of 146,171 four-door sedans in the 300-series.
This is a 1947 Wolseley Ten, a light car produced by Wolseley Motors Limited in 1939 and from 1945 to 1948 .The ten horsepower class of cars was an important part of the market in 1930s Britain and Wolseley entered the sector with their 10/40 of 1936 based on the contemporary Morris Ten. Both Morris and Wolseley were part of the Nuffield Organisation. The 10/40 ceased production in 1937 and it was not until February 1939 that Wolseley introduced the Ten as a replacement. The new car was again based on the Morris Ten, this time the 1938 Series M but with an important difference. Whereas the Morris car had a semi unitary construction, the Wolseley had a substantial steel section chassis with cruciform bracing. Many of the steel body pressings were shared. To keep the weight down, the wheelbase at 90 in (2,300 mm) was 4 in (100 mm) shorter than the Morris. Suspension was not independent and used semi elliptic leaf springs all round. Lockheed hydraulic drum brakes were fitted. The 1140 cc engine designated XPJW was also slightly more powerful than the one in the Morris delivering 40 bhp as against 37 bhp. As the car was intended to compete in the up-market sector, it was well equipped with leather upholstery, pile carpets and walnut trim. The seats were early users of Dunlopillo foam rubber, rather than traditional metal coil springs, possibly the first mass-produced car to use this new material. The steering column was adjustable for both angle and reach. At launch the car was priced at £215, £40 more than the Morris with the option of a built-in Jackall system that could hydraulically lift a wheel off the ground for tyre changing an extra £5. In June 1939 the saloon was joined by a factory-built two-door drophead coupé priced at £270, but very few seem to have been made. London dealer Eustace Watkins also offered their own drophead version. With the outbreak of World War II in 1939, production of Wolseley cars, including the Ten, eventually stopped. 5261 of the model had been made before production ceased in early 1941. Production restarted in September 1945 but without the drophead version. The price had risen considerably to £474 (partly due to higher taxes) against the Morris’s £378. The Ten was discontinued in 1948 after 2715 more had been built when the first of the post war designs arrived. The new small Wolseley was the 4/50 but with a 1.5 litre engine was a larger car and not a real replacement. With Morris Motors (owners of Wolseley’s parent company the Nuffield Organisation) merging with the Austin Motor Company to form the British Motor Corporation in 1952, this sector of the market would be left to Austin and Morris.
The 6/99 was replaced by the Wolseley 6/110 in 1961. The wheelbase was increased by 2 inches and the seating slightly altered to give 3 inches more rear seat legroom compared to the 6/99. It used the same engine but now tuned to give 120 bhp. For manual transmission cars, the gear lever was moved from the steering column to the floor. Hydrosteer variable ratio power steering and air conditioning were options from July 1962. A Mark II model was released in 1964 with smaller 13-inch wheels and a 4-speed transmission with overdrive available as an option. Production of the Mark II ended in March 1968. Only the Austin was replaced directly, with the unsuccessful Austin 3-litre, which remained in production until 1971. Luxurious Wolseley and Vanden Plas versions of the 3-litre both reached prototype stage, but went no further.
And so to the indoor displays. These are spread around the 4 inter-connected buildings. The majority of one of them is given over to an Autojumble, but the rest of the space is allocated to a number of Car Clubs and trade stands. Over the years of attending this event, I have noticed that it does tend to be the same Clubs that attend every year. Not a problem in a larger event, but when there are relatively few of them, it does tend to give the event something of a “same-y” feel. Some Clubs go almost overboard on the decor and theme, but the results of most of their efforts, I’m afraid, look not just a bit amateur but also very contrived. Furthermore they tend to make it harder to get a really good view of the cars which for me are the true stars.
There were a number of different stands with Austin models on them. One of them was for Austin Ten models of the 1930s, and this had an interesting array of this family sized car on it. Sitting above the diminutive Seven in the range, the Ten was launched in 1932, to plug the gap to the larger Twelve models, cars which had been updated in early 1931. The Ten became the marque’s best seller and was produced, in a number of different versions through to 1947. A number of improvements were made to the car in the months following launch, but it was for 1937 when the first really big change came about with the launch of the almost streamlined Cambridge saloon and Conway cabriolet. Compared with the preceding cars, the passengers and engine were positioned much further forward, the back seat now being rather forward of the back axle. There were six side windows like the Sherborne and the quarter lights were fixed. Again like the Sherborne the forward doors opened rearwards. At the back there was now a compartment large enough to take a trunk as well as more luggage on the open compartment door when it was let down. A new smoother single plate spring-drive clutch was now fitted, the two friction rings carried by the centre plate were held apart by leaf springs. Other changes included Girling brakes with wedge and roller shoe expansion and balance lever compensation using operating rods in tension with automatic compensation between front and rear brakes all four of which might be applied by hand or foot. Drums were now 9 inches diameter. 16-inch steel disc wheels replaced the 18-inch wires Top speed from the 1141cc engine rose to 60 mph.
The Morris Minor was already well established when rival Austin launched their competitor, the A30 Saloon of 1952. That was also the year that Austin and Morris merged to become the British Motor Corporation, so suddenly the two cars that had been conceived to compete against each other were stablemates. Except BMC did not work like that. Separate dealer chains remained in place, as they would do for a further 30 years, and whilst this may sound inefficient now, it has to be noted that brand loyalty was such that there were plenty of people would only consider an Austin say, and not a Morris, or vice versa. The A30 was smaller than the Minor and at £507, at launch, it was also £60 cheaper. The body structure was designed by T.K. Garrett, who had been an aeronautical engineer before joining Austin. It was of fully stressed monocoque chassis-less construction, which made it lighter and stiffer than most contemporary vehicles, the first Austin to be made in this way. Inside there were individual seats at the front and a bench at the rear covered in PVC with an option of leather facings on the seats. Evidence of economy was seen in only having a single windscreen wiper, central combined stop/tail/numberplate lamp and a sun visor in front of the driver only. A passenger-side wiper and sun visor, and a heater were available as optional extras. Even so, it sold well, and 223,264 examples were built. The A30 was replaced by the Austin A35 in 1956 with the new name reflecting the larger and more powerful 34 hp A-Series engine, which gave the car a slightly higher top speed and better acceleration, though much of this came as a result of different gearbox ratios. The A30 had the first three ratios close together then a big gap to top, whereas in the A35, the ratios were better spaced and gave a higher speed in third gear. That top speed was 72 mph and 0 – 60 acceleration times are just over 30 seconds, so this remains a very slow car by modern standards. The A35 was very similar in appearance to the A30, and is best recognised by its larger rear window aperture and a painted front grille, with chrome horse-shoe surround, instead of the chrome grille featured on the A30. The semaphore trafficators were replaced with present-day front- and rear-mounted flashing light indicators. A slightly easier to operate remote-control gear-change was provided. Like the A30, the A35 was offered as a two- or four-door saloon, two-door “Countryman” estate and also as a van. The latter model continued in production through to 1968. A rare coupe utility (pickup) version was also produced in 1956, with just 477 sold. Drawings were made for a sports tourer, but no prototype was actually built. The A35 passenger cars were replaced by the new body shape A40 Farina models in 1959 but the estate car version continued until 1962 and van until 1968. These days they are popular as an affordable classic. Their simple mechanicals, good availability of some parts (not bodywork, though) and pert looks give them widespread appeal.
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 2 model.
Follow on to the A55 Cambridge of the mid 50s was another car called A55 Cambridge, but whereas the first had been unique to Austin in its design, the A55 Cambridge Series 2 was one of the range of cars produced by BMC which came to be known as the “Farina” saloons. The concept goes back to the the mid 1950s, by which time 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, launched early in 1958. Whilst that car was only ever sold with Austin badges, the next of Pininfarina’s designs to appear would go on to be sold with each of the 5 marque’s badges attached. These upper-medium sized family cars were released over a period of months, starting in late 1958 with the Wolseley 15/60. This was followed by the A55 Cambridge Mark II, the Morris Oxford Series V, the MG Magnette Series III and the Riley 4/68. The same basic body style was applied to all, with just trim differences, and in the case of the MG and Riley, more powerful engines thanks to a twin carburettor set up under the bonnet, introducing the world to the concept of “badge engineering”. Whilst the styling was something of an amalgam of Italian glamour and a touch of Americana, with prominent tail fins, under the skin the cars were very conventional. Whilst some may have been disappointed that BMC had not been more adventurous, this was an era when home car maintenance was an established part of the suburban landscape, so simplicity was not completely unwelcome. The familiar 1.5-litre B-Series engine, four-speed manual and straightforward rear-wheel drive gave it solid appeal to many middle-class buyers, especially those horrified by the black magic of the newly launched front-drive Mini. All 5 cars were four-door saloons, with estate versions of the Austin and Morris being added to the range a few months later. A facelift was applied to them all in late 1961, when the tail fins were toned down and an enlarged 1622cc B Series engine found its way under the bonnet, with more power, new names came in for the Wolseley which became the 16/60 and the Austin which adopted the A60 Cambridge name.
The Landcrab Enthusiasts are one of the Clubs that always seems to be at this event, and they usually go to town on a diaorama in which to present their cars. This year was no exception!
There were further examples of the “Big Healey” here.
This is what many think of as THE classic Bugatti, the Type 35, a car which 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.
One of a handful of American cars on show, this is a Skylark Convertible from the late 60s. Buick had been using the Skylark name for their entry level models for a few years before this one was made. The 1968 model year was one of significant change for the Buick Skylark. Although still using the same basic chassis, all of GM’s mid-sized cars adopted a policy of using two different length wheelbases. Two-door models used a shorter wheelbase of 112 in (2,845 mm), while four-door models used a longer wheelbase of 116 in (the Buick Sport Wagon and Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser used an even longer wheelbase of 121 in). All of GM’s mid-sized cars received all-new sheet metal. More Federally mandated safety features improved occupant protection and accident avoidance, including side marker lights, shoulder belts (on all models built after January 1, 1968), and parking lights that illuminated with headlights. The Buick Gran Sport, previously an option package available on the Skylark, became a separate series, starting with the 340 hp/440 lbs torque 400 c.i.d. V8 1968 GS 400, using the 2 door Skylark body and chassis. In a reshuffling of models in the lineup, the Special Deluxe replaced the previous Special. The Skylark nameplate was shuffled down a notch to replace the previous Special Deluxe. The previous Skylark was replaced by a new Skylark Custom. The basic Skylark was available as a two-door hardtop coupe or a four-door sedan. The Skylark Custom came as a two-door convertible coupe, two-door hardtop coupe, four-door hardtop sedan, or four-door sedan. The previous V6 was discontinued and the associated tooling was sold to Kaiser Industries, which used the V6 in its Jeep trucks and sport utility vehicles. The base engine in Buick Skylarks (and Buick Special sedans) became a 250-cubic-inch 250 cu in (4.1 L) Chevrolet I6, that produced 155 hp at 4200 rpm using a single-barrel Rochester carburettor. Optional on the Skylark and standard on the Skylark Custom was a new 350-cubic-inch V8 derived from the 340, using a two-barrel Rochester carburettor that produced 230 hp at 4400 rpm. The Buick Special name was dropped after the 1969 model year. A locking steering column with a new, rectangular ignition key became standard on all 1969 GM cars (except Corvair), one year ahead of the Federal requirement. For 1970, the mid-sized Buicks once again received new sheet metal and the Buick Skylark name was moved down another notch, replacing the previous entry-level Buick Special. It was available in two- and four-door sedans with the 250-cubic-inch inline-six as standard and the optional 350-cubic-inch V8 (260 horsepower at 4600 rpm). Two-door models shared their roofline with the 1970 Chevelle, distinct from that of the shared Pontiac LeMans and Oldsmobile Cutlass. The two-door sedan was unique to Buick, sharing its roofline as the hardtop but having a thick “B” pillar, with Buick’s traditional “Sweepspear” feature appearing as a crease running the length of the vehicle. Chevrolet did not offer a pillared coupe for the Chevelle from 1970 to 1972; all two-doors were hardtops. Replacing the previous Buick Skylark was the Buick Skylark 350, available as a two-door hardtop coupe or four-door sedan with the 350-cubic-inch V8 as standard equipment. This 350-cubic-inch engine was a different design than the Chevy’s 350 CID engine the Buick design had a longer stroke and smaller bore allowing for lower-end torque, deep-skirt block construction, higher nickel-content cast iron, 3.0 in (76 mm) crank main journals, and 6.5 in (165 mm) connecting rods, the distributor was located in front of the engine (typical of Buick), the oil pump was external and mounted in the front of the engine, the rocker arm assembly had all rocker arms mounted on a single rod and were not adjustable. The Skylark Custom continued to be available, also using the 350-cubic-inch V8 as standard equipment and still available as a two-door convertible coupe, two-door hardtop coupe, four-door hardtop sedan, and four-door sedan. Buick Gran Sport models continued to be available as a separate series. The Buick Sport Wagon name was now used on a conventional four-door station wagon that no longer featured a raised roof with glass panels over the cargo area, or a longer wheelbase, as in the past. It now used the same 116 in (2,946 mm) wheelbase as the Buick Skylark four-door sedan and the now-discontinued Buick Special four-door Station Wagon. It became, in effect, a Buick Skylark four-door station wagon in all respects but the name. For the 1971 model year, the base Skylark was available only with the inline-6, now only putting out 145 hp due to emission control devices, but in a two-door hardtop coupe body-style (in addition to the previous two- and four-door sedans). The Skylark 350 had a V8 engine that put out only 230 hp. It was now available as a two-door sedan in addition to the previous two-door hardtop coupe and four-door sedan. 1972 was the last model year for the mid-sized Buick Skylark. During this model year many pollution controls were added to the engines, Compression was lowered, engines had to accept leaded and unleaded gas, and spark timing was retarded (no vacuum advance in lower gears) while driving in lower gears to reduce emissions. For 1972, the base Buick Skylark used the 350-cubic-inch V8 with the 2-barrel Rochester carburetor (now putting out 145 horsepower) as standard equipment. A new federally mandated system to calculate power was put into effect that year, and the actual engine performance was probably comparable but slightly lower because of pollution controls in the 1972 model year to the 230 hp that was listed for the previous year. The Skylark 350 now used a version of the same V8 engine as the base Skylark, but with a 4-barrel Rochester carburetor that generated 180 hp. Skylark Customs were available with the same 350-cubic-inch V8 engines available in the basic Skylark and the Skylark 350. The Custom had an upgraded interior and dash with some extra chrome. Convertibles only came in the Skylark Customs and the Skylark 350s. For the 1973 model year, the Buick Gran Sports, Skylarks, and Sport Wagons would all be replaced by the new mid-sized Buick Century. Since Centurys were available with Gran Sport trim, the Gran Sport name was once again reduced to being an option package. An all-new design was introduced for the 1975 model year.
It was nice to examples of both the GSA Hatch and the Break, in “Cottage” version, not a name that was used for UK market cars. The GSA was the evolution of the GS, a car which was conceived to fill the gap in Citroën’s range, between the 2CV and Ami economy cars and the luxurious DS executive sedan. 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 was another example of the XM here, too.
Oldest of the Ford models that I came across indoors was another example of the Mark 2 range of cars from the late 1950s, this one a Zodiac.
Production of the Capri began on 14 December 1968 in Ford’s Dagenham plant in the UK and on 16 December 1968 at the Cologne plant in West Germany, before its unveiling in January 1969 at the Brussels Motor Show, and sales starting the following month. The intention was to reproduce in Europe the success Ford had had with the North American Ford Mustang; to produce a European pony car. It was mechanically based on the Cortina and built in Europe at the Dagenham and Halewood plants in the United Kingdom, the Genk plant in Belgium, and the Saarlouis and Cologne plants in Germany. The car was named Colt during its development stage, but Ford was unable to use the name, as it was trademarked by Mitsubishi. Although a fastback coupé, Ford wanted the Capri Mk I to be affordable for a broad spectrum of potential buyers. To help achieve that, it was available with a variety of engines. The British and German factories produced different line-ups. The continental model used the Ford Taunus V4 engine in 1.3, 1.5 and 1.7 litre displacements, while the British versions were powered by the Ford Kent straight-four in 1.3 and 1.6 litre forms. The Ford Essex V4 engine 2.0 litre (British built) and Cologne V6 2.0 litre (German built) served as initial range-toppers. At the end of the year, new sports versions were added: the 2300 GT in Germany, using a double-barrel carburettor with 125 PS, and in September 1969 the 3000 GT in the UK, with the Essex V6, capable of 138 hp. Under the new body, the running gear was very similar to the 1966 Cortina. The rear suspension employed a live axle supported on leaf springs with short radius rods. MacPherson struts were featured at the front in combination with rack and pinion steering which employed a steering column that would collapse in response to a collision. The initial reception of the car was broadly favourable.The range continued to be broadened, with another 3.0 variant, the Capri 3000E introduced from the British plant in March 1970, offering “more luxurious interior trim”. Sales in other global markets got underway with the Capri reaching Australia in May 1969 and in April 1970 it was released in the North American and South African markets. These versions all used the underpowered Kent 1.6 engine although a Pinto straight-four 2.0 litre replaced it in some markets in 1971. The Capri proved highly successful, with 400,000 cars sold in its first two years. Ford revised it in 1972. It received new and more comfortable suspension, enlarged tail-lights and new seats. Larger headlamps with separate indicators were also fitted, with quad headlamps now featured on the 3000GXL model. The Kent engines were replaced by the Ford Pinto engine and the previously UK-only 3000 GT joined the German line-up. In the UK the 2.0 litre V4 remained in use. In 1973, the Capri saw the highest sales total it would ever attain, at 233,000 vehicles: the 1,000,000th Capri, an RS 2600, was completed on 29 August. A replacement model, the Capri II was launched in February 1974.
The fourth-generation Cortina was a more conventional design than its predecessor, but this was largely appreciated by fleet buyers. Generally a rebody of the Mark III, as an integration of Ford’s model range, this car was really a rebadged Ford Taunus. However, although the updated Taunus was introduced to Continental Europe in January 1976, Ford were able to continue selling the Cortina Mark III in undiminished numbers in the UK until they were ready to launch its successor as the Dagenham built Cortina Mark IV, which went on sale on 29 September 1976. Many parts were carried over, most notably the running gear. The raised driving position and the new instrument panel had, along with some of the suspension upgrades, already been introduced to the Cortina Mark III in 1975, so that from the driving position the new car looked much more familiar to owners of recent existing Cortinas than from the outside. Cinema audiences received an early glimpse of the new Cortina (or Taunus) through its appearance in the James Bond The Spy Who Loved Me 1977 film. The most obvious change was the new body, which achieved the marketing department objective of larger windows giving a better view out and a brighter feel to the cabin, but at the expense of body weight which was increased, albeit only marginally, by approximately 30 lb. Ford claimed an overall increase in window area of some 15%, with “40% better visibility” through the wider deeper back window. Regardless of how these figures were computed, there must have been substantial weight-saving gains through reduced steel usage in the design, given the unavoidable extra weight of glass. This series spawned the first Ghia top-of-the-range model, which replaced the 2000E. The 2.3 litre Ford Cologne V6 engine was introduced in 1977 as an engine above the 2.0 litre Pinto engine, already a staple of the Capri and Granada ranges. However, 2.3 litre Cortinas never sold particularly well in the UK. The Cologne V6 was certainly a much smoother and more refined power unit than the Pinto, but the V6 models were more expensive to fuel and insure and were only slightly faster, being about 0.5 seconds faster from 0–60 and having a top speed of about 109 mph compared to the 104 mph of the 2.0 litre models. The 2.0 litre Ford Cologne V6 engine continued to be offered on Taunus badged cars in parallel with the Pinto unit, and offers here an interesting comparison with the similarly sized in-line four-cylinder Pinto engine. The V6 with a lower compression ratio offered less power and less performance, needing over an extra second to reach 50 mph.It did, however, consume 12½% less fuel and was considered by motor journalists to be a far quieter and smoother unit. The 2.3 litre was available to the GL, S and Ghia variants. A 1.6 litre Ghia option was also introduced at the same time as the 2.3 litre V6 models in response to private and fleet buyers who wanted Ghia refinements with the improved fuel economy of the smaller 1.6 litre Pinto engine. Few cars were sold with the 1.6 litre engine though, the 2.0 litre Pinto was always by far the most common engine option for Ghia models. Two-door and four-door saloons and a five-door estate were offered with all other engines being carried over. However, at launch only 1.3 litre engined cars could be ordered in the UK with the two-door body, and then only with “standard” or “L” equipment packages. In practice, relatively few two-door Mark IV Cortinas were sold. In some markets, the two-door saloon was marketed as a coupe, but this was not the case in Britain. Ford already competed in the coupe sector in Europe with the Capri, which was particularly successful on the British market. There was a choice of base, L, GL, S and Ghia trims, again not universal to all engines and body styles. Rostyle wheels were fitted as standard to all Mark IV GL, S and Ghia models, with alloy wheels available as an extra cost option. The dashboard was carried over intact from the last of the Mark III Cortinas while the estate used the rear body pressings of the previous 1970 release Taunus. Despite its status as Britain’s bestselling car throughout its production run the Mark IV is now the rarest Cortina, with poor rustproofing and the model’s popularity with banger racers cited as being the main reasons for its demise.
The Imp Owners Club is another of those event stalwarts, always putting on a good display, and usually with three or four cars on their stand. This year was no exception, though if you wanted some good photos of the cars unadorned by additional display content, you would perhaps have been disappointed! Known internally at Rootes as the “Apex” project, the Imp was to be the group’s first post-Second World War small car. Its main rival on the home market was the BMC Mini, which preceded the Imp by almost four years. Launched in May 1963, much was expected of this promising small car, which was all-new and which was built in a new factory in Linwood in Scotland, far away from the rest of the Rootes Group’s facilities in the Coventry area. Conceived as a direct competitor to the BMC’s Mini, it adopted a different approach to packaging, with a space-saving rear-engine and rear-wheel-drive layout to allow as much luggage and passenger capacity as possible in both the rear and the front of the car. It used a unique opening rear hatch to allow luggage to be put into the back seat rest. In addition to its 875 cc all-aluminium power unit, adapted by Rootes from a Coventry Climax FWMA fire pump engine it was the first mass-produced British car to have an engine in the back and the first car to use a diaphragm spring clutch. The baulk-ring synchromesh unit for the transaxle compensated for the speeds of gear and shaft before engagement, which the Mini had suffered from during its early production years. It incorporated many design features which were uncommon in cars until the late 1970s such as a folding rear bench seat, automatic choke and gauges for temperature, voltage and oil pressure. At launch it was considered advanced for the time, but reliability problems quickly harmed its reputation, which led to the Rootes Group being taken over by Chrysler Europe in 1967. Over the life of the car, Rootes (and later Chrysler UK) produced four body styles. The original saloon was introduced in May 1963 and ran through to the end of production in 1976. It has an opening rear window, making it effectively a hatchback. The opening rear window was intended to make it easier to load the small luggage area behind the fold-down rear seat. The fold-down nature of the rear seat was itself unusual in small car design at the time, being more often associated with larger upmarket estate cars. In 1965 a van badged as the “Commer Imp” was introduced. A coupe, the Imp Californian, was introduced in 1967 at the same time as the van’s pressings were used to create an estate car, badged “Hillman Husky”. Several estate car prototypes using the saloon body with extended rooflines were tried, but never offered to the public. Instead, buyers choosing the estate had to settle for a van-derived car with somewhat unusual styling. Both the van and estate ceased production in 1970. In an attempt to interest a wider public when sales figures fell well short of the intended 100,000 cars per annum, several badge-engineered derivatives, such as the luxury Singer Chamois (launched October 1964), and the Sunbeam Sport (launched October 1966), with a more powerful twin-carburettor engine, were offered with varying degrees of success. For marketing reasons the Singer variants were sold as Sunbeams in many export markets, even before May 1970 when the Singer marque was discontinued altogether by Chrysler UK. In some markets, such as France, the “Sunbeam” name was used on all British Rootes products, including the Imp and the Husky. The coupe bodyshell is similar to the standard body but features a more shallow-raked windscreen and rear window which, unlike that on the standard bodied cars, can not be opened. The attempt at a more sporty design did not translate into better acceleration or top speed figures and the aerodynamics of the standard saloon are actually slightly better. The new body style made its first appearance at the Paris Motor Show in October 1967, with the introduction of the sporting Sunbeam Stiletto. The coupe body had also appeared, with less powerful engines, in the Hillman Imp Californian announced in January 1967 and the more luxurious Singer Chamois coupe. Production continued to 1976, and around 440,00 units were sold, a far cry from the figures achieved by the Mini, which sold at about 10 times that rate.
A new Hawk was announced in May 1957, which had a completely new body with unitary construction which it would go on to share with the 1958 Humber Super Snipe. The new model was, like its predecessors, a large car. For the first time an estate variant was available from the factory – the Hawk estate had the largest unitary bodyshell of any British-built car up to that point, a status it retained until the Jaguar Mark X was launched in 1961. The 2267 cc engine was carried over, though with modifications to the distributor mounting, and other details; and an automatic transmission, the Borg Warner D.G. model, was now available. The body was styled in Rootes’ own studios and featured more glass than previous models, with wrap-around front windscreen, which gave it a considerable resemblance to a base model 1955 Chevrolet 4-door sedan. The missing rear quarter-lights were returned in Series IV. The estate version featured a horizontally split tailgate—the lower half opening downwards (to provide an extra length of luggage-platform if necessary) and the upper half upwards. The fuel-filler cap was concealed behind the offside rear reflector. There were several revisions during the car’s life, each resulting in a new Series number. When production ended in 1967, with no replacement, the market for large estate cars was effectively handed over to Volvo, who for many years had virtually no rivals (Citroen and Triumph may choose to disagree, of course!).
This is an X300 generation XJ6 in police car livery.
The Jensen S-V8 is the most recent car carrying the name Jensen. After a £10 million investment, including Liverpool City Council and the Department of Trade and Industry, the two-seater convertible was launched at the 1998 British International Motor Show, with an initial production run of 300 deposit paid vehicles planned at a selling price of £40,000 each, but by October 1999 it was confirmed that 110 orders had been placed. The S-V8 is powered by a Ford Mustang sourced 4·6-litre 32-valve, four-cam, V8 engine producing 325 bhp with a top speed of 160 mph and 0-60 mph in less than five seconds. The new Merseyside factory in Speke commenced production in August 2001 but troubles with manufacture meant production ceased with only 20 ever leaving the factory and another 18 cars left partially completed. The company went into administration in July 2002. The Jensen name and partially completed cars were later sold to SV Automotive of Carterton, Oxfordshire, in 2003 who decided to complete the build of 12 of the cars, retaining the others for spares, and finally selling them for £38,070.
This is a Javelin, an advanced family-sized car produced from 1947 to 1953 by Jowett Cars Ltd of Idle, near Bradford. The model went through five variants coded PA to PE, each having a standard and “de luxe” option. The car was designed by Gerald Palmer during World War II and was intended to be a major leap forward from the relatively staid designs of pre-war Jowetts. The new Javelin, not yet in full production, made its first public appearance on Saturday 27 July 1946 in a cavalcade to celebrate 60 years of the British Motor Industry organised by the SMMT. Started by the King in Regent’s Park the cavalcade passed through Marble Arch around London’s West End and Piccadilly Circus and back up to Regent’s Park. Series production was not fully underway until November 1947. In a 1949 road test report The Times’ correspondent welcomed the Javelin’s good performance and original design. The engine mounted ahead of the front axle briskly accelerates (to nearly 80 mph) a body which could carry six persons. The moderate size of the engine, the car’s light weight and good streamlining all contribute to its excellent performance. Controls were all light to operate and it was a restful car to drive. The flat four overhead valve engine of 1486 cc with a compression ratio of 7.2:1 was water-cooled and had an aluminium block and wet cylinder liners. It developed 50 bhp at 4100 rpm (52.5 bhp in the case of the PE) giving the car a maximum speed of 77 mph and a 0-50 mph time of 13.4 seconds. Two Zenith carburettors were fitted and PA and PB versions had hydraulic tappets. The radiator was behind the engine. A four-speed gearbox with column change was used. Early cars had gearboxes made by the Henry Meadows company. Later, Jowett made the gearboxes, but the decision to make the gearboxes in-house proved to be a costly mistake. Even though Jowett had some experience in transmission manufacturing, the project went disastrously wrong; powertrainless bodies stacked up in the assembly line because of problems in gearbox production. Design features included aerodynamic styling with the headlights faired into the wings and, for the time, a steeply sloped, curved windscreen. The body was of pressed steel, incorporating a box-section chassis, and was made for Jowett by Briggs Motor Bodies in their Doncaster factory. The suspension used torsion-bars on all wheels (independent at the front) and internal gear-and-pinion steering. PA and PB models had mixed Girling hydraulic brakes at the front and mechanical braking at the rear. Later versions were fully hydraulic. The car had a wheelbase of 102 inches and a track of 51 inches. Overall the car was 14 feet long, 5 feet wide and weighed about a ton depending on model and year. The car was expensive, costing £819 at launch, anmd there were a number reliability issues which manifest early in the model’s life. 23,307 were made.
As in previous years, there was an entire display for historic Land Rovers, with the Series 1 most in evidence.
Mercury’s full-size offerings were completely revamped for 1961. Bodies, interiors, and chassis were basically the same as the big Ford’s, although trim was different in order to distinguish the marques. The Montclair and Park Lane were discontinued and the Meteor was added at the bottom of the range, making Monterey once again the top of Mercury’s lineup. The 292 cu in (4.8 L) Ford Y-block was standard, with 352 cu in (5.8 L) and 390 cu in (6.4 L) versions of the FE V8 available. The Meteor nameplate was moved to a new intermediate line for 1962, so the Monterey 6 with a 135 hp 3.7 litre Mileage Maker straight-six was added to fill the gap, but only for this year. 1963 brought the return of the “Breezeway” window, a powered reverse slanted rear window that was borrowed from Ford’s station wagons, and was first used on the Mercury Turnpike Cruiser and the 1958–60 Lincoln Continental. It also brought a 406 cu in (6.7 L) FE engine. The six-cylinder, and 292 and 352 V8s were dropped and the 390 V8 became the standard engine with 250 horsepower and two-barrel carburetor with a 300-horsepower four-barrel version optional. At mid-year, the fastback Marauder was introduced. Mid-1963 saw the introduction of the “Marauder,” basically the 1963 1/2 Ford Sports Hardtop “fastback” roofline adapted to the Mercury body. A performance “S-55” package included a big-block 300-bhp 390 V8 and a sporty interior that was similar to the Ford Galaxie 500/XL. Monterey became the entry-level full-size Mercury again for 1964, with the return of the Montclair and Park Lane. Grilles and taillights were restyled and toned down a bit, making this model especially attractive, a big car but not bulky-looking. The 406 was replaced by the 427 cu in (7.0 L) version, producing 410 hp standard with an option for 425 hp. The Marauder fastback hardtop continued to be offered in all three Mercury series. A new version arrived for the 1965 model year.
Further MG models to complement the ones I had seen outside were the TD, MGA and MGC
Similarly there were a number of Morgans which paralleled those outside including one of the three wheeler cars from the 30s as well as more recent Plus 4 and 8 cars.
Further examples of the Morris Eight were to be found indoors.
The Cedric and Gloria Owners Club are inveterate supporters of this event, and the cars that they bring along are among the rarer of those on display in the event. On this occasion it was a 300C from the mid 80s that was on the stand, matching the one I had seen outside.
There were two distinct generations of Manta, the car that Opel conceived to compete against the Ford Capri. The second, the Manta B, in Opel speak lasted far longer than the first. It was launched in August 1975. This two-door “three-box” car was mechanically based directly on the then newly redesigned Opel Ascona, but the overall design was influenced by the 1975 Chevrolet Monza. The Manta had more “sporty” styling, including a droop-snoot nose not seen on the Ascona, which was similar to the UK equivalent, the Cavalier Mk1. Engines were available ranging from the small 1.2-litre OHV engine, the 1.6-litre CIH and the 1.9-litre CIH. Also in 1976 the GT/E engine from the Manta A series was adapted into the Manta B programme spawning the GT/E Manta B series. In 1979 the GT/E had the engine replaced with the new 2.0 litre CIH and with a new designed Bosch L injection system. Power output was now 108 hp. The 1.9-litre engine gave way to the 2.0 litre S engine which was aspirated by a Varajet II carburettor. This engine was the most used engine by Opel at the time, and was to be found in several Opel Rekord cars. In 1978, a three-door hatchback version appeared to complement the existing two-door booted car. This shape was also not unique, being available on the Vauxhall Cavalier Sports Hatch variant. Both Manta versions received a facelift in 1982, which included a plastic front spoiler, sideskirts for the GT/E and GSi models, a small wing at the rear and quadruple air intakes on the grille. Also the 1.2-, 1.6- and 1.9-litre engines were discontinued and replaced by the 1.3-litre OHC engine, the 1.8-litre OHC and the 2.0-litre S and E CIH engines (although the 75 PS 1.9N continued to be available in a few markets). The GT/E was renamed and was called the GSi from 1983 (except in the UK where the GT/E name continued). Production of the Manta continued well after the equivalent Ascona and Cavalier were replaced by a front-wheel-drive model “Ascona C”. The Vauxhall Cavalier Mk1 Sportshatch and Coupe did not continue past 1981, and there were no coupe versions the MK2 Cavalier range. In 1982 the 1.8-litre Opel Family II engine from the Ascona C was fitted in the Manta B (replacing the CIH unit) making a more economical Manta B to drive. It could run 14 km per litre and use unleaded fuel. The 1.8 was very popular and was in production for 5 years (1982–1987). The 2.0S models where discontinued in 1984 and only the GSi was available with the “large” engine (GT/E in the UK). In 1986 Opel released the last Manta B model the Exclusive (1987 in the UK), giving it all of the best in equipment. Recaro seats with red cloth, grey leather like interior and the full bodypack known from the i200 models. This consisted of twin round headlights in a plastic cover, front spoiler and rear lower spoiler from Irmscher, sideskirts and the known 3 split rear spoiler of the Manta 400 (producing 80 kg (176 lb) of weight on the rear at 200 km/h). In the UK, the Exclusive GT/E models were available in colours such as Dolphin Grey with matching dark grey cloth seats with red piping. These also had the quad headlights, front spoiler but a rear bumper which housed the number plate, coupled with a black plastic strip between the rear light clusters. The rear spoiler was similar to the standard GT/E. Opel finally ceased the production of the Manta B in 1988, only producing the GSi version after 1986 (it was sold as the GT/E in the UK). Its successor, the Calibra – sold as a Vauxhall in Britain, and as an Opel everywhere else – was launched in 1989.
The Mark 2 Ascona begat the first Cavalier, and these were the last new design from GM where the two cars looked different, from the front at least, with the Opel having a more upright nose whereas the Cavalier took the Manta style front end. In an era where Vauxhall was still perceived as British, even though the first couple of years production of the Cavalier was all done in Belgium, the Vauxhall sold far more strongly than the Opel model, so it was no surprise that when the next generation, front wheel drive, car came out in the autumn of 1981, whilst continental European markets got an Ascona, the UK only got Cavalier models. That means that this rather nicely presented Ascona is one of the last of the model to be sold in the UK.
Further examples of the P2 and P3 generation Rover cars were to be found in the indoor displays, and joining them were the P4 and P5 Rover, shown alongside a Land Rover of the period.
In the autumn of 1991, the 800 was re-skinned and re-engineered under the R17 codename. This saw the re-introduction of the traditional Rover grille (which would be applied to all other models in the range in the coming years) and more curvaceous bodywork. The scope of the design change was restricted by the need to retain the core XX structure, including the door structure design. The redesign was a partial answer to major press and market criticism of the “folded paper” school of design and the quest for better aerodynamics that had led to many cars appearing very similar, especially from the front. The redesign found much favour and as a result the car’s sales enjoyed a renaissance, the 800 series becoming Britain’s best selling executive car in the early to mid-1990s, overtaking the Ford Granada which had been Britain’s best-selling car in this sector almost continuously since its launch in 1972. Although the Granada’s successor, the Scorpio, failed to sell well, the 800 was faced with stiff competition from 1994 in the shape of the Vauxhall Omega. Mechanically, the car was similar to the later XX cars, though the T16 2 litre engine replaced the M16 found in pre 1992 cars and this was offered in normally aspirated and Turbo forms, the Turbo being fitted to the Vitesse and the later Vitesse Sport (1994–96), taking the place of the former 820 Turbo. V6 models were offered with the Honda 2.7 litre engine initially but this was substituted with Rover’s own acclaimed KV6 unit in the later years of production. Following concerted efforts to learn from the problems that had hit the early model years, especially under the more extreme United States market and climatic conditions, quality in general had improved dramatically by this stage, but the decision to leave the US market had already been taken. In a way that was a problem as the two-door three-box Coupé version which was launched in early 1992, having debuted at the 1991 Motor Show, had been conceived very much with the American market in mind. The Coupe was, however, sold to other export markets. Eighty percent of the interior and exterior of the 800 Coupé was finished by hand. From 1992 until 1996, the Rover 800 Coupe came exclusively with the 2.7 Honda V6 engine and 16″ Rover ‘Prestige’ alloys. A four-speed automatic transmission came a standard, and the car was capable of well over 130mph. Later versions had the Rover KV6 and 2 litre 4 cylinder engines.
Sole Triumph to be captured by my camera from the indoor displays was this Stag.
The Princess 1100 sat of the top of the ADO16 range, and although mechanically, it was no different from some of the other models, the extra purchase price brought a much higher quality interior with lashings of real wood, plush leather seats, thick carpets and rear picnic tables, as well as a distinctive front grille which was a styling nod to the larger Vanden Plas models. It was first seen at the end of 1964 and proved quite popular, having no real rivals at the time. It received the 1300cc engine when this was added to the other models in the range, and continued in production until 1974 when it was replaced by an Allegro-based car.
This is a Chevette 2300 HS, the limited production car that was made in the late 1970s. The concept goes back to 1976, when at the instigation of new chairman Bob Price, Vauxhall decided to increase their profile in international rallying. They developed a rally version of the Chevette in conjunction with Blydenstein Racing, who ran Dealer Team Vauxhall, the nearest equivalent to a ‘works’ competition team that GM policy would allow. In order to compete in international rallying, the car had to be homologated; for Group 4, the class the HS was to compete in, this meant building 400 production vehicles for public sale. Vauxhall created a far more powerful Chevette variant by fitting the 2.3 litre Slant Four engine, using a sixteen valve cylinder head which Vauxhall was developing. Fitted with two Stromberg carburettors the engine developed 135 bhp. Suspension and rear axle were from the Opel Kadett C GT/E and the gearbox was a Getrag 5-speed. Chevrolet Vega Alloy wheels (similar in appearance to the Avon wheels used on the droopsnoot Firenza) were used, as well as a newly developed glass-reinforced plastic air dam. The result was a very fast and well handling, if rather unrefined, road car. Like the Droopsnoot Firenza, the HS was available only in silver, with red highlighting and a bright red, black and tartan interior; though (partly to help sell unsold vehicles) some cars were repainted in other colours, such as the black Mamos Garage HS-X. The HS became a great success as a rally car, clocking up notable wins for drivers such as Pentti Airikkala and Tony Pond. It was a challenge to the most successful rally car of the time, the Ford Escort, winning the British Open Rally Championship for Drivers in 1979 and for manufacturers in 1981. It was also successful in other national rally championships, such as Belgium’s. To keep the rally car competitive into the 1980s an evolution version, the Chevette HSR, was developed which was successful for several more years. The modified cars featured glass reinforced plastic (fibreglass) front and rear wings, spoiler, bonnet and tailgate (giving the HSR the nickname ‘Plastic Fantastic’), revised suspension (particularly at the rear, where extra suspension links were fitted), and other minor changes. Group 4 evolution required a production run of 50 cars incorporating the new modifications; these were made by rebuilding unsold HSs and by modifying customers’ vehicles. However, the merger of the Vauxhall and Opel marketing departments resulted in Dealer Team Vauxhall and Dealer Opel Team (DOT) joining to form GM Dealer Sport (GMDS); with the Chevette soon to be obsolete, Opel were able to force the cancellation of the HSR rally programme in favour of the Manta 400.
Along with the earlier PV444, the PV544 was made by Volvo from 1947 to 1966. During World War II’s early stages, Volvo had decided that a new, smaller car that could deliver good fuel economy would assure the company’s future. A raw materials shortage during the war drove home the point that an automobile should be smaller, and also complicated Volvo’s ability to mass-produce the product. In 1944, when the car was finally introduced to a car-hungry public, response was very positive and orders poured in from the Swedish population. It was another three years though, until 1947, before series production began. The PV quickly earned a reputation for being strong and rugged, although the design was considered outdated from early on. The PV444 was Volvo’s first uni-body car. Its body structure was influenced by the 1939 Hanomag 1,3 litre, which was purchased and studied by Volvo engineers. It was also the first Volvo in almost 20 years to come with a 4-cylinder engine. The first PV444s were powered by a 40 PS 1.4 litre inline-four engine designated the B4B, with three main bearings, overhead valves, and a single downdraft carburettor. The power of this engine increased to 44 PS in October 1950, and to 51 PS in October 1955. US models, beginning to appear in the US in early 1956, received an uprated version called the B14A which was given twin side-draft 1½ in S.U. carburettors for a total of 70 hp. Most early US sales were limited to Texas and southern California. American customers also had the option of European delivery, in which case they could also get a cheaper model with the basic B4B engine. By the 1957 model year, engine displacement was increased to 1.6 litres and both single downdraft- B16A and twin side-draught carburetted B16B versions were offered. Fuel economy was quite above average for cars sold in the United States. Performance, particularly with the twin carburettor configuration, was brisk. The combination of performance and durability won over many two-seat sports car drivers, allowing them a pleasurable drive in the entire family’s company if desired and the car enjoyed considerable success in motorsport. In 1958, the PV544 was phased in. Subtle differences with the PV444 included the introduction of a curved one-piece windscreen to replace the two panes of flat glass, larger taillights, and a ribbon-type speedometer. The 444’s 3-speed manual transmission was also supplanted by a 4-speed unit in the 544. The next significant change occurred in 1962, when the B16 was replaced by Volvo’s new B18 engine, initially developed for the P1800 sports car introduced the previous year. This 1.8 litre engine had five main bearings. Again single and twin carburettor versions were offered, designated B18A and B18D, respectively. Also in 1962, Volvo changed from 6- to 12-volt electrical systems. In 1963 Volvo began producing the 544 at their new Canadian Dartmouth/Halifax plant, the first Volvo plant to be located outside of Sweden. The PV544 was also made as an estate (wagon) version, the Duett, initially designated the P445 and later the P210. The 544 received incremental mechanical revisions and trim changes until its final production year of 1965. Exactly 440,000 units were built during the 18-year run. The car had so endeared itself to its owners that Volvo ran self-deprecating advertisements in late 1965 and early 1966 imploring PV owners not to be angry with the company.
This is a Volvo 122. Although costly when new, thanks to the UK’s Import Duty which applied to foreign car imports at the time, the Volvo of this era was surprisingly popular with UK buyers. The cars were tough, as strong success in rallying evidenced, but not that many have survived. There’s a complex history to this model, with lots of different numbers applied to the car during a 13 year production run. When introduced, the car was named the Amason (with an ‘s’), deriving from the fierce female warriors of Greek mythology, the Amazons. German motorcycle manufacturer Kreidler had already registered the name, and the two companies finally agreed that Volvo could only use the name domestically (i.e., within Sweden), modifying the spelling to Amazon. Subsequently, Volvo began its tri-digit nomenclature and the line became known as the 120 Series. Under prototype designation 1200, following the PV444’s internal designation as the 1100, the Amazon was released in the press in February 1956, with production initially set to begin in July of the same year, and deliveries commenced in August 1956 — under the now modified internal designation 120 series. The Amazon sedan’s ponton genre, three-box styling was inspired by US cars of the early 1950s, strongly resembling the Chrysler New Yorker sedan and the Chrysler 300C hardtop Coupe. According to designer Jan Wilsgaard, the Amazon’s styling was inspired by a Kaiser he saw at the Gothenburg harbour. The Amazon featured strong articulation front to rear, pronounced “shoulders”, and slight but visible tailfins. These features became inspiration for Peter Horbury when reconceiving Volvo’s design direction with the V70 after decades of rectilinear, slab-sided, boxy designs. The Amazon’s bodywork was constructed of phosphate-treated steel (to improve paint adhesion) and with heavy use of undercoating and anti-corrosive oil treatment. The Amazon shared the wheelbase, tall posture and high H-point seating of its predecessor, the PV. In 1959 Volvo became the world’s first manufacturer to provide front seat belts as standard equipment — by providing them on all Amazon models, including the export models — and later becoming the first car featuring three-point seat belts as standard equipment. The Amazon’s handbrake location, outboard of the driver’s seat, was intended to accommodate subsequent bench seat models with column shift transmissions — which never materialised. Buyers began to receive the first cars in February 1957, and initial models were two-tone red and black with light grey roof, light grey with a black roof, followed by a dark blue with grey roof in 1958. Further iterations included the 121, the base model with a single carburettor 66 bhp engine, the 122S introduced in 1958 as a performance model equipped with a dual carburettor 85 bhp engine. The estate version was introduced at the 1962 Stockholm Auto Show, and Volvo manufactured 73,000 examples between 1962 and 1969. The Amazon estate featured a two-piece tailgate, with the lower section folding down to provide a load surface and the upper section that hinged overhead. The vehicle’s rear licence plate, attached to the lower tailgate, could fold “up” such that when the tailgate was lowered and the vehicle in use, the plate was still visible. This idea was used by the original 1959 Mini. In recent years a similar arrangement was used on the tailgate of the Subaru Baja. In 1966 the Volvo PV ended production, replaced by the Amazon Favorit, a less expensive version of the Amazon, without exterior chrome trim, a passenger-side sun visor or cigarette lighter, and with a three-speed rather than four-speed transmission — available in black with red interior and later white or black with red interior. The newer Volvo 140 was becoming the company’s mainstream model, and the last of the four-door 120 saloons were produced in 1967, the year which saw the launch of the 123GT, which was a Model 130 with high-compression four-cylinder B18B engine (from the Volvo P1800), M41 gearbox, fully reclining seats, front fog and driving lights (on some markets), alternator, fender mounted mirrors, special steering wheel, dash with a shelf and tachometer, and other cosmetic upgrades. In 1969 the displacement of the old B18 engine was increased and the engine was called the B20. The last Amazon was manufactured on 3 July 1970. By the end of production, 234,653 four-door models, 359,917 two-door models and 73,220 station wagons had been produced, of which 60% were exported; a total of 667,791 vehicles.
Also in the display was an example of the long-running 240 Saloon.
Completing the line-up on the Volvo Owners Club stand was this P1800S, a sports car that was manufactured by Volvo Cars between 1961 and 1973. The car was a one-time venture by the usually sober Swedish Volvo, who already had a reputation for building sensible sedans. The project was originally started in 1957 because Volvo wanted a sports car to compete in the US and European markets, despite the fact that their previous attempt, the P1900, had failed to take off with only 68 cars sold. The man behind the project was an engineering consultant to Volvo, Helmer Petterson, who in the 1940s was responsible for the Volvo PV444. The design work was done by Helmer’s son Pelle Petterson, who worked at Pietro Frua at that time. Volvo insisted it was an Italian design by Frua and only officially recognised that it was by Pelle Petterson many years later. The Italian Carrozzeria Pietro Frua design firm (then a recently acquired subsidiary of Ghia) built the first three prototypes between September 1957 and early 1958, later designated by Volvo in September 1958: P958-X1, P958-X2 and P958-X3. In December 1957 Helmer Petterson drove X1, the first hand-built P1800 prototype to Osnabrück, West Germany, headquarters of Karmann. Petterson hoped that Karmann would be able to take on the tooling and building of the P1800. Karmann’s engineers had already been preparing working drawings from the wooden styling buck at Frua. Petterson and Volvo chief engineer Thor Berthelius met there, tested the car and discussed the construction with Karmann. They were ready to build it and this meant that the first cars could hit the market as early as December 1958. But in February, Karmann’s most important customer, Volkswagen forbade Karmann to take on the job, as they feared that the P1800 would compete with the sales of their own cars, and threatened to cancel all their contracts with Karmann if they took on this car. This setback almost caused the project to be abandoned. Other German firms, NSU, Drautz and Hanomag, were contacted but none was chosen because Volvo did not believe they met Volvo’s manufacturing quality-control standards. It began to appear that Volvo might never produce the P1800. This motivated Helmer Petterson to obtain financial backing from two financial firms with the intention of buying the components directly from Volvo and marketing the car himself. At this point Volvo had made no mention of the P1800 and the factory would not comment. Then a press release surfaced with a photo of the car, putting Volvo in a position where they had to acknowledge its existence. These events influenced the company to renew its efforts: the car was presented to the public for the first time at the Brussels Motor Show in January 1960 and Volvo turned to Jensen Motors, whose production lines were under-utilised, and they agreed a contract for 10,000 cars. The Linwood, Scotland, body plant of manufacturer Pressed Steel was in turn sub-contracted by Jensen to create the unibody shells, which were then taken by rail to be assembled at Jensen in West Bromwich. In September 1960, the first production P1800 left Jensen for an eager public. The engine was the B18, an 1800cc petrol engine, with dual SU carburettors, producing 100 hp. This variant (named B18B) had a higher compression ratio than the slightly less powerful twin-carb B18D used in the contemporary Amazon 122S, as well as a different camshaft. The ‘new’ B18 was actually developed from the existing B36 V8 engine used in Volvo trucks at the time. This cut production costs, as well as furnishing the P1800 with a strong engine boasting five main crankshaft bearings. The B18 was matched with the new and more robust M40 manual gearbox through 1963. From 1963 to 1972 the M41 gearbox with electrically actuated overdrive was a popular option. Two overdrive types were used, the D-Type through 1969, and the J-type through 1973. The J-type had a slightly shorter ratio of 0.797:1 as opposed to 0.756:1 for the D-type. The overdrive effectively gave the 1800 series a fifth gear, for improved fuel efficiency and decreased drivetrain wear. Cars without overdrive had a numerically lower-ratio differential, which had the interesting effect of giving them a somewhat higher top speed of just under 120 mph, than the more popular overdrive models. This was because the non-overdrive cars could reach the engine’s redline in top gear, while the overdrive-equipped cars could not, giving them a top speed of roughly 110 mph. As time progressed, Jensen had problems with quality control, so the contract was ended early after 6,000 cars had been built. In 1963 production was moved to Volvo’s Lundby Plant in Gothenburg and the car’s name was changed to 1800S (S standing for Sverige, or in English : Sweden). The engine was improved with an additional 8 hp. In 1966 the four-cylinder engine was updated to 115 PS, which meant the top speed increased to 109 mph. In 1969 the B18 engine was replaced with the 2-litre B20B variant of the B20 giving 118 bhp, though it kept the designation 1800S. For 1970 numerous changes came with the fuel-injected 1800E, which had the B20E engine with Bosch D-Jetronic fuel injection and a revised camshaft, and produced 130 bhp without sacrificing fuel economy. Top speed was around 118 mph and acceleration from 0–62 took 9.5 seconds. In addition, the 1970 model was the first 1800 with four-wheel disc brakes; till then the 1800 series had front discs and rear drums. Volvo introduced its final P1800 variant, the 1800ES, in 1972 as a two-door station wagon with a frameless, all-glass tailgate. The final design was chosen after two prototypes had been built by Sergio Coggiola and Pietro Frua. Frua’s prototype, Raketen (“the Rocket”), is located in the Volvo Museum. Both Italian prototypes were considered too futuristic, and instead in-house designer Jan Wilsgaard’s proposal was accepted. The ES engine was downgraded to 125 bhp by reducing the compression ratio with a thicker head gasket (engine variant B20F); although maximum power was slightly down the engine was less “peaky” and the car’s on-the-road performance was actually improved. The ES’s rear backrest folded down to create a long flat loading area. As an alternative to the usual four-speed plus overdrive manual transmission, a Borg-Warner three-speed automatic was available in the 1800ES. With stricter American safety and emissions standards looming for 1974, Volvo did not see fit to spend the considerable amount that would be necessary to redesign the small-volume 1800 ES. Only 8,077 examples of the ES were built in its two model years.
The 12/48 straddled the war, with the model being launched in 1937 and production of which resumed in 1946. This is a post-war Series III car.
The first generation of the mid-sized unitary construction Farinas was introduced with the Wolseley 15/60. Within months, the similar Riley 4/68, Austin A55 Cambridge Mark II, MG Magnette Mark III, and Morris Oxford V appeared as well. With its leather seats and polished wooden dashboard the Wolseley was positioned as the up-market non-sporting version in the range. All five cars used the 1489 cc B-Series inline-four engine, though different tuning gave varying power output. The Wolseley, together with the Austin Cambridge and the Morris Oxford, was at the bottom and with its single SU carburettor gave just 52 hp. The front suspension was independent using coil springs with a live axle and semi elliptic leaf springs at the rear. The brakes were by Girling, hydraulically operated, with 9 in. drums. A cam and peg steering system was used. The upholstery was in leather and had individual front seats that were set closely together to allow a central passenger to be carried allowing the car to be advertised as seating six although there was a floor mounted gear lever. The handbrake was between the driver’s seat and the door. The rear seat had a folding central armrest. Wood veneer was used on the fascia and door cappings. A Smiths heater was fitted as standard. Either single or, as an option, two colour paint was used. The Wolseley version was particularly easy to identify on the roads after dark thanks to the small illuminated badge on its grille, a feature shared with other Wolseleys of the period. Later, the Farina design was licensed in Argentina and produced as the Di Tella 1500, Traveller, and Argenta. The 15/60 was replaced by the Wolseley 16/60 in September 1961. For some buyers, the most important change was the availability of Borg Warner 35 automatic transmission. Buyers choosing the four-speed manual transmission version may have been disappointed to find that the 1961 16/60 still came without synchromesh on first gear. By this time all-synchromesh gear-boxes were the norm for most competitor vehicles in the UK. Viewed from the outside, the Wolseley 16/60 was differentiated from the 15/60 by the overriders on the bumpers which protruded more than on the earlier car: the plastic mouldings on the rear lights were also modified along with the rear fins, now much reduced in their sharpness. The 1600 cc Farina models mostly remained in production through to 1968. However, with no rear wheel drive Wolseley-badged replacement produced, the Wolseley 16/60 model continued to be offered for sale until early 1971. The 16/60 models generally used the 1622 cc B-Series engine. Again, the Wolseley tailed the pack at 61 hp.
Released in 1961 as more luxurious versions of the Mini, both the Wolseley Hornet and the Riley Elf had longer, slightly finned rear wings and larger boots that gave the cars a more conventional three-box design. The wheelbase of the Elf and Hornet remained at 2.036 m (6.68 ft), whereas the overall length was increased to 3.27 m (10.7 ft). This resulted in a dry weight of 638 kg (1,407 lb)/642.3 kg (1,416 lb) (rubber/hydrolastic suspension) for the Elf and 618 kg (1,362 lb)/636.4 kg (1,403 lb) for the Hornet. Front-end treatment, which incorporated each marque’s traditional upright grille design (the Hornet’s grille with a lit “Wolseley” badge), also contributed to a less utilitarian appearance. The cars had larger-diameter chrome hubcaps than the Austin and Morris Minis, and additional chrome accents, bumper overriders and wood-veneer dashboards. The Riley was the more expensive of the two cars. The name “Wolseley Hornet” was first used on 1930s saloon, coupé, sports and racing cars, while the name “Elf” recalled the Riley Sprite and Imp sports cars, also of the 1930s (Riley’s first choice of name “Imp” could not be used as Hillman had registered it). The full-width dashboard was a differentiator between the Elf and Hornet. This dashboard was the idea of Christopher Milner the Sales Manager for Riley. Both the Riley Elf’s and Wolseley Hornet’s bodies were built at Fisher & Ludlow under their “Fisholow” brandname. Plates in the engine compartment on the right side fitch plate bear evidence of this speciality. Very early Mark I versions of both cars (e.g. press photo of 445MWL) had no overriders on the bumpers and a single piece front wing (A-panel and wing in one piece, no outside seam below scuttle panel) that was soon given up again, allegedly due to cost. The Elf’s and Hornet’s special bumper overriders first appeared in 1962. Early production Mark I’s also had a combination of leather and cloth seats (Elf R-A2S1-101 to FR2333, Hornet W-A2S1-101 to FW2105) whereas all later models had full leather seats. Mark I models were equipped with single leading shoe brakes on the front. In 1966 the Heinz food company commissioned, from Crayford Convertibles (Crayford Engineering), 57 convertible Hornets to be given as prizes in a UK competition. Many are still on the road as of 2020. Both the Elf and the Hornet went through three engine versions. Initially, they used the 848 cc 34 bhp engine (engine type 8WR) with a single HS2 carburettor, changing to a single HS2 carburettor 38 bhp version of the Cooper’s 998 cc power unit (engine type 9WR) in the Mark II in 1963. This increased the car’s top speed from 71 to 77 mph (114 to 124 km/h). Therefore, Mark II cars also came with increased braking power in the form of front drum brakes with twin leading shoes to cope with the increased power output. Both Mark I and Mark II featured four-speed gearboxes (three synchromesh gears) with rod gear change, a.k.a. “magic wand” type. Automatic gearboxes became available on the Mark II in 1965 as an option. The Mark III facelift of 1966 brought wind-up windows and fresh-air fascia vents. Concealed door hinges were introduced two years before these were seen on the mainstream Mini. The gear selecting mechanism was updated to the rod type, as seen on all later Mini type cars. Automatic gearboxes were available to the Mark III in 1967 again. Full-four synchromesh gearing was eventually introduced during 1968. 30,912 Riley Elfs and 28,455 Wolseley Hornets were built. Production of both models ceased in late 1969.
I did enjoy my time spend at this event. I have to say that this was largely a consequence of all those classics parked up outside. The indoor event was as disappointing as ever: not that much of it, a depressing samey-iness to the cars on the Club stands with some highly questionable display approaches, as well as the frustrating lighting. Were this the extent of the event, I would suggest it was not worth bothering with. Add in the outdoor displays though and there was plenty of interest, and would probably be even more were one to attend on a Sunday rather than a Saturday. So, yet again, this event does not get an automatic entry on my 2020 schedule, but it may find a place if the diary is clear and I want a reasonably local day out.