This is the 18th edition of the Race Retro event. Since inception it has grown in prominence such that it now calls itself Europe’s Number One Historic Motorsport Show. Whilst not everyone would necessarily agree with such a claim, there can be no doubting the fact that this event does attract a wide variety of exhibitors and visitors alike. Held over three days in late February at the Stoneleigh Exhibition Centre, in excess of 25,000 people came to this one, and the indoor halls on the day I attended, the Sunday, did get quite busy, but with at least as many attractions outside as in, then, provided you are well wrapped up to cope with a British February, you can find your own space. There’s a broad appeal to the event with a combination of special displays, trade stands from those who supply complete cars and accessories as well as a number of Clubs with strong motor-sport connections, a vast field of historic rally cars that can be seen in action, a live theatre interview stage, a Silverstone auction and even a Classic Car Experience. I attended the event every from 2007 until a spot of bad scheduling saw it conflict with the London Classic Car Show at the ExCel. As ticket prices of Race Retro had risen and the amount on display seemed if anything to have reduced, I did not prioritise Race Retro, meaning I missed a couple. I did attend in 2018 and concluded that whilst it was a decent event, it was not as compelling as it could or ought to be and so did not visit in 2019. With a clear diary, I made a late decision to give it another go for 2020. Here is what I saw:
ARRIVE and DRIVE
Something new for this year was the opportunity to drive a Classic Car, courtesy of the fleet held by HERO Events, who had what they called an “Arrive and Drive” feature on offer. Six cars were available for self-drive, for those who booked up early enough, and when I arrived, just as the entrance doors to the whole event were opening, I came across them all parked up outside the main entrance. The cars on offer all looked interesting: BMW 2002; Jaguar E type Roadster; a couple of Lancia, namely a Fulvia Zagato and the more recent Integrale; and two further legendary British sports cars of the 60s, an MGB Roadster and a Triumph TR4.
Welcoming visitors, with its star position just inside the main entrance to the exhibition halls was Kevin “KeKi” Kivolchen’s stunning championship-winning AC Cobra, which boasts quite some history and which recently notched up success in the 2019 HSCC Historic Road Sports Championship. The Ford Motor Company “Blue Demo” was delivered to Lew Spencer’s Hi-Performance Motors in Los Angeles on 29 January 1965. Intended as a demonstrator, customers would be treated to some very exciting test drives courtesy of Peter Brock, designer of the Daytona Cobra and the split-screen Corvette. The Cobra was dispatched for preparation for the 2019 season to RW Racing Services, a family run Northamptonshire company. Ready for round 2 of the 2019 Championship, at Snetterton, it set the tome for a dominant season. That double header race resulted in pole position, two wins and two fastest laps. Of the fourteen races contested, there were rounds at a number of UK circuits as well as Spa and Kevin would win all of them, claiming 12 pole positions and 14 fastest laps and for good measure he would set a new lap record at the Silverstone Finals held in October.
THE GREATEST GRID
First of three epic displays of iconic racing cars in Hall 3 was this one, which celebrated 70 years of Formula One and the World Championship.”The Greatest Grid” featured no less than 7 historic F1 cars and was supported by appearances by F1 driver Martin Donnolly, Technical Director and Chief Designer Tony Southgate who worked with BRM, Shadow and Arrows, ex BAR team principal Dave Richards and McLaren’s former number one mechanic, Marc “Elvis” Priestley.
Oldest of the cars on show was this 1960 BRM P48
Dating from 1962 was the Lotus 24
The 1973 Shadow DN1, designed by Tony Southgate was driven by Jackie Oliver
The Williams FW07B is the car that secured Williams its first Drivers and Constructors World Championship in 1980.
A second Williams was here, the slightly later FW08, as driven by Keke Rosberg
This Toleman TG183B is significant, as it was the first F1 car raced by the late Ayrton Senna
Still racing today is this 1994 Jordan 194.05 which when new was campaigned by Rubens Barrichello. With its livery changed to bright yellow, owner Tony Worswick and the Worswick Engineering Racing team used the car to compete in the European Boss Formula Championship, winning the title in 1999 and 2001.
This 2004 BAR006 was driven by Jensen Button
On loan from the Haynes International Motor Museum was this 1996 Ferrari F310 that was driven in the 1996 and 1997 season by Michael Schumacher and Eddie Irvine.
There are milestones and anniversaries to celebrate every year, of course, so this small display in Hall 3 could not hope to cover them all. Three cars featured.
The Audi Quattro needs little of an introduction to any fan of rallying, as this car completely transformed the sport within months of bursting on the scene. It did so 40 years ago, and there was one of these legends on the stand.
Wind the clock on just over 10 years and we get to Subaru and Colin McRae. This year marks 29 years since the two came together. Whilst you don’t usually celebrate 29 years, anything to remind us of the much-missed Colin McRae has to be a Good Thing.
The third car in the display was another legend of the rallying scene, the iconic Austin Mini Cooper. The star that was being remembered here is the late Barrie “Whizzo” Williams who came to prominence driving these little cars in the early 1960s.
PRIDE of the PADDOCK
Also in Hall 3 was a very eclectic collection of cars, grouped together in a display called “Pride of the Paddock”. What links them all is that they are all privately owned, and every one of them has competed in a motorsport event since their manufacture and was made, or emulates a model dated pre 2000. The public were invited to vote for their favourite, and choosing one was an almost impossible task. Here they are:
Malcolm Rimington’s Alfa Romeo Giulia 1600
There is quite a complex history to this car which, when I saw it. I assumed was “simply” an Aston Martin. It is, and it is not! It is the tale of a failed F1 project colliding with a little-known Northern Irish racing scene with some sporting aristocrats. Following the demise of the Dundrod TT in 1955, Northern Irish motor sport became an unusual and confusing scene. The TT had given the nation a round of the World Sports Car Championship, but the 1955 race was the first to take place after the le Mans tragedy. The deaths of three drivers in a rain-soaked event and a new safety-conscious spirit ended motor-racing on the tricky tight road circuit. The passion was still there, and local motor racing then switched to three old World War Two airbases, where a sports and specials racing scene thrived. Older sports cars from the likes of Frazer Nash and HWM, often off-loaded by English and Scottish teams made their way to Uster, to be re-engined, retuned, rebodied and then campaigned on bumpy old RAF asphalt. Meanwhile on the other side of the world, Aston Martin was investigating a new direction, where they built a Grand Prix car, to the new 2.5 litre Formula, “Development Project 155”. Based on a modified DB3S chassis, its down-sized 2493cc engine proved under-powered compared to Ferrari and Maserati opposition, but driver Reg Parnell saw potential and identified New Zealand’s domestic championship as the ideal place to test the car during F1’s off-season. Parnell got off to a bad start throwing a con-rod in practice at the opening race. Aston flew out a standard DB3S engine but the car still did not perform well and it ended up missing much of the season, with the result the car was flown back to the UK and sold it to specials builder Geoff Richardson, together with a DB2 engine. Geoff paid £900 for the car and was disgruntled with the performance so swapped the engine for a Jaguar XK unit. He raced it twice then discarded the single seater bodywork in favour of a full-width bodyshell before selling it on. That car, built on Project 155’s chassis has since been restored as a DB3S and resides in the US. The car’s new body came from another unique Aston, an aerodynamically smoothed out DB3S owned by serial Aston owner and specials builder Lord O’Neill of Shanes Castle, County Antrim. He was a pair of Irish Lords participating in those airfield races. It was at this point that this car seems to have come into existence, claiming to be an HWM-Jaguar. It combined a heavily modified HWM-style chassis with a Jaguar Xk engine and what appeared to be the body from the DP155 car. The car was acquired by Lord Dunleath for the 1958 season, his Belfast garage business swapping the Jaguar engine for an Aston one, and the car was then campaigned as an HWM-Aston. He only owned it for one season. It was then bought by the Ulster Racing Partnership who fitted another Jaguar XK engine and it raced all over Ireland until 1965. It made a few other appearances until 1972 before it disappeared from the race circuits. It was seen at the back of a garage in Belfast but was declared not for sale, but by the end of 1972 it had been sold on. The car then moved between Barbados and Singapore before ending up behind a snooker table in Devon owned by a reclusive Aston Martin Owners Club member. It is no in active hands and should be appearing at a number of events in 2020.
It is one of just 5 RS1700Ts car left. It dates from late in the cars development. It has no rallying history but did about 25,000 test track miles back in the day before Ford realised that the car was never going to be competitive with the Audi Quattro and abandoned the program. After winning the world championship in 1979 Ford sold all of the Mk2 works cars to David Sutton (who they probably didn’t suspect would go on to win the title with Ari Vatanen two years later) to begin work on the new Group B project. Front wheel drive was a no-brainer so the engine was mounted longitudinally and designer John Wheeler knew that getting a good front to rear balance would be key, so a transaxle system, similar to what Porsche had done with the 924 was devised. Coupled with fully independent rear suspension based on what Fiat was utilising with great success in the 131 it was fully 2 seconds a mile faster than the Mk2 when they tested on the same tracks used by the 1982 Portugal Rally. The team were confident that with a field of Fiat 131s, Opel Asconas, Lancia 037s and Renault 5 Turbos the rear wheel drive Mk3 looked a viable option. It certainly wasn’t all plain sailing though. When you look for any story of the RS1700T on the internet you’ll find the quote ‘plagued with problems’, but not much more information than that. The 200 road cars that needed to be build in order for the rally version to be homolgated was an arbitrary number intended to deter small constructors from building a competitive one-off protoype and therefore keep the highest class exclusively for major manufactures. But Boreham had a much smaller motorsports department than their rivals Audi, Peugeot and Lancia, so the project was only viable if they changed as little as possible from the standard Mk3 Escort. Making a front wheel drive road car into a rear wheel drive rally car with as little bespoke parts as possible wasn’t exactly an ideal situation and from the start the whole project was a compromise. Small things include lower control arms and anti-roll bars from the Sierra and the steering rack is based on Mustang, but they never made a right-hand drive Mustang so it’s a kind of hybrid device. But the transaxle, with the big torque tube running between the seat was a huge but necessary modification and for the ideal suspension geometry they made bespoke inner wings to fit the Group 4 Mk2 Escort turrets and struts. For better weight distribution the front cross member was moved forwards by three inches and eagle eyed Mk3 enthusiasts might notice the shorter distance between the end of the bumper and the beginning of the arch. The car then had a 52/48 front to rear weight ratio. The mid-engined RS200 has 51/49. Lancia and Opel would have had a serious rival… But the problem was that Audi wouldn’t. When the Quattro was launched onto the scene everyone with a rear wheel drive car looked on in dismay. The game was forever changed and Ford Motorsport knew that their car was dead in the water. The first reaction was to start rallying with the rear wheel drive car while simultaneously developing a 4×4 version, but top brass decided to ditch the Mk3 in favour of a new ground-up 4×4 car built to the limit of what the Group B regulations would allow. The RS1700T project wasn’t all in vain though. With so much development work put into it the technology swap to the new project meant that there was a running prototype of the RS200 in just three months. Two hundred BDA engines had already been made and bored out to 1803cc they were all used in the new car. The transaxle gearing system pioneered in the RS1700T was re-used in the front of the mid-engined car… but all the remaining Mk3 prototypes were to be destroyed… Project manager Mick Jones had a better idea though. He was emigrating to South Africa and as there were no tedious homolgation rules to worry about there he took all the available rally cars with him. A couple competed in the 1984 season but as unfinished projects understandably they had more retirements than good results. Before the 1985 championship though there was a lot of work done to one of the cars. Cutting out surplus metal in the floor and doors, making all the body panels out of light-weight Kevlar and the windows out of polycarbonate saved a huge 250kg. The rear chassis rails were modified to give the suspension more articulation and to cope with the much higher ambient temperatures the duel core radiator was replaced with a much bigger quad-core one and the intercooler was waved to the nose behind the grill. A pair of oil coolers were mounted at the back, one for the gearbox and one for the engine. They are completely exposed and you certainly wouldn’t want to touch one after the car has been running. There is no way a car could run these in Europe and it was only because of the loose regulations in South Africa that they could be made like this. The idea was copied from the Audi Quattro, but theirs were protected under the wing and mesh. At only 980kg and with 350bhp in its final trim it was a good handling car and at the 1985 Nissan rally took its one and only win. Later that year in the Fleet Lease, which is kind of the South African equivalent of Pikes Peak, it split a pair of Audis to get 2nd. But that, rather sadly, is the sum total of the RS1700T’s competitive achievements and after that the car fades from history as for close to three decades they languished in storage or were left standing outside to rot away. And what of all the others? There is perhaps one guy, and only one guy, who knows just about all there is to know about the project; Paul Moulston is possibly the car’s biggest fan and with a voice husky from days of telling the story over and over, he told it to me too. A grand total of 18 prototypes were made with varying configurations and set ups but just 4 are known to survive. A fifth may or may not be in a Boreham storage facility, depending on who you ask. One resides in a big private collection in America, someone in the UK is restoring one, Malcolm Wilson owns another which is kept in the M-Sport museum and is in need of some serious TLC to get it running, although it’s possible Malcolm wants to keep it in 100% original condition. And there’s this one, the only running example. Well, it will be once the engine has been rebuilt. But what about the ones that don’t exist? Paul knows all about them as well. P1 was just a Fiesta with a Mk2 Escort grafted onto the front. P2 and P3 were simply mock-ups to test installations and body kit measurements and the fourth was the first that could actually be driven. P5 was a show car and the rest were a mixture of road cars and a few fully prepped rally cars. Most had the 1780cc turbocharged BDA engines but turbos were a very new technology on rally cars in the early ’80s so they also tested a normally aspirated 2.3l engine made by Brian Hart. One of these was crashed by Vatanen in Portugal but even though the car had to be lifted out of a ravine by a crane it was repairable. It’s sister wasn’t so fortunate though. Project manager Mick Jones rolled it at an airfield at 128 miles an hour. He was fortunate to walk away with just a few bruised ribs but the car was written off. That was P9. The one Brian bought is P18, the last and also the most developed. Lightened and with the additional cooling it looks more like what we would have seen rallying in 1984. Once in the UK it was totally stripped and the bare shell acid dipped before as many parts as possible were re-installed. It’s about 80% original as every attempt to restore worn parts was made and only pieces that were totally beyond repair or had the potential of causing an accident were scrapped. They even left the rough welding on all the reinforced chassis rails. The engine had a bit of an issue with a smoking turbo though so it was taken to Julian Godfrey Engineering where they found a leaking seal. It was rebuilt and run on their dyno for nine hours to make sure it wouldn’t explode but when they fitted it back to the engine they noticed some more problems. Obviously as the engine management system is a Botch Motronic from 1982 and they weren’t expecting it to be perfect, but these guys have been working on engines since the Cortina was the current model so they know a sick one when they hear it. It was stripped down for a thorough investigation where enough little problems were found that it was decided a full rebuild was warranted and a new management system fitted. The car is never going to be rallied but with a one of a kind vehicle like this, if a job is worth doing then it’s worth doing properly.
Restored in mid 1990s, this Hillegass is one of 41 sprint models produced by Hiram Hillegass of Allentown, Pennsylvania. It has an early aerodynamic design, including flaring in the fuel pump on the cowling side, on the right side around the headers, and a slight layback on the grille. This is a hand-formed body, all aluminium sheet metal, stick welded. The engine is a Model B Ford 4 cylinder flathead, with the C head and a 6-1 compression ratio. Wheels are 16″. Cross spring suspension. Five leafs in rear spring, four in front. Lever shocks, early Franklin steering system. Setup for dirt – the front axle is mounted far forward to provide a better bite.
Julian Birch’s Hillman Imp Super
Paul Boscott’s Lotus Elan Plus 2
Drew Pritchard’s MGA 1600
Looking rather splendid is this Nissan 240 RS, a replica of Tony Pond’s rally car of the mid 80s, created following a four year program of work.
This is a Piper GTR Le Mans Replica, created by Tony Claydon. The car is based on the original 1969 car where it never got to race at Le Mans due to time constraints. Tony has had a long and varied career in product and car design and still dabbles with his creative pen.
This is the Sunbeam Harrington le Mans of Glenn Bradenride
And this is the Triumph TR3S of Paul Hogan
The final car was this heavily modified 1963 Turner Sport.
NORMAN DEWIS TRIBUTE
Anyone who ever met him must surely have been very sad to learn of the passing last June of Norman Dewis. Chief test driver and development engineer for Jaguar between 1952 and 1985, Dewis’ career with Jaguar saw him break the land speed record for production cars in a Jaguar X120 on the Jabekke Highway in Belgium, and through his long and often dangerous hours of test driving, significantly contribute to the Le Mans wins for Jaguar in the 1950s with the C and D Types. He raced alongside the greats including Moss, Hawthorn and Fangio behind the wheel of a works Jaguar D Type. Although he officially retired in 1985, he remained in role as a brand ambassador for Jaguar and more recently he could be found at events like this, holding any audience spell bound with his enormous of stories of his amazing experiences. In 2014 he was an OBE. He always said that he hoped to celebrate his 100th birthday by driving the Jaguar XK13 at 100 mph and until very recently, we all believed that he would do just that. Sadly, his health took a down turn towards the end of 2018 and he passed away in June 2019, shortly before his 98th birthday. It seemed an entirely appropriate that there should be a special tribute to Norman at this event. The three cars on show all reflect a very significant achievement in Norman’s long and illustrious career.
The C Type was one of the first cars on which Dewis worked, with his exhaustive testing leading to the successful adoption of the disk brake. The technology was fitted to Stirling Moss’ Jaguar C-type in the 1952 Mille Miglia, and Dewis accompanied him as a passenger.
This is the oldest open-topped E Type and is the very car which Norman Dewis drove overnight from the Midlands to be ready for the Geneva Show launch in March 1961. And then having had a somewhat, erm spirited drive, he spent most of the day when he arrived taking prospects out for demo rides.
There’s only one Jaguar XJ13 in the world and this is it. Built as a potential Le Mans contender, it never competed in any race. Its development inevitably had to take second place to that of the much more important new saloon car which became the XJ6, launched in 1968. By the time XJ13 was completed, its design had become obsolete against new cars from Ferrari and Ford, never mind the Porsche 917. Anyway, the Le Mans regulations were changing, and prototype cars were limited to engines of 3 litres. To run cars with larger engines, manufacturers had to build fifty examples as production cars (later reduced to twenty-five). This did not stop XJ13 from being one of the most beautiful racing cars of all time, thanks to the talent of aerodynamicist Malcolm Sayer who had also been responsible for the C-type and D-type shapes. Nor should anyone doubt the potential of its unique 502 bhp, 5 litre V12 engine. During early testing in 1967, it lapped the MIRA test track at over 161 mph (259 km/h), establishing a lap record in the hands of racing driver David Hobbs, despite the car still being in the development stages. Many of the lessons learned in the development of the racing engine were used in Jaguar’s production V12 engine which would be produced for twenty-five years from 1971 to 1996. There is, however, a twist in the tale of the XJ13. In 1971, having spent four years sitting under a cover in the factory, it was taken out of mothballs and returned to MIRA to be filmed for the E-type V12 launch. With Jaguar test driver Norman Dewis at the wheel, on the final lap after filming, a tyre punctured on the banking, sending the car into the retaining fence, from where it rebounded, to flip end over end twice, before rolling twice and coming to rest on its wheels. Dewis, who had the presence of mind to turn off the ignition, took refuge under the scuttle and escaped unhurt. The bodywork was badly damaged but the car was rebuilt and demonstrated at the British Grand Prix meeting at Silverstone in July 1973. XJ13 is still run today, albeit at less frantic speeds!.
RUSSELL BROOKS TRIBUTE
In the corner of Hall 1 was another special display, and a very striking one at that. This one was to celebrate the life and career of the recently departed Russell Brooks and featured an array of cars in the iconic Andrew Heat for Hire livery. Russell’s motor sport career had humble beginnings, winning his class in a Production Car Trial behind the wheel of his mother’s Renault Dauphine before gradually moving on to Road Rallies and then the lure of gravel rallying and the forests took hold. Russell’s potential was quickly spotted and after a phone call with British Leyland’s Special Tuning division, he received the loan of what was the last-ever works built Mini. Unfortunately, after stage wins interspersed with several crashes, the money ran out. 1974 saw the start of what was to become one of the most iconic sponsorship deals in rallying, when Andrews Heat for Hire agreed to a one year deal to sponsor an Escort RS2000 and Ford’s Stuart Turner agreed to provide a works car. Of course the sponsorship deal continued way beyond one year. In 1977, Russell won his first British Rally Championship, beating such drivers as Ari Vatanen, Roger Clark, Pentii Arikkala and Tony Pond at which point he became a full-time driver.
By 1980, the era of the Mark 2 Ford Escort had come to an end and Russell struck a deal with Talbot UK to provide a Sunbeam Lotus. 1982 saw another change of manufacturer and another work’s drive this time for GM Dealersport in the Vauxhall Chevette and a close association with the man who was to become his biggest rival, Jimmy McRae. Jimmy was driving the Opel Ascona 400 and the British Rally Championship was their battleground. It got more serious in 1984 when Brooks switched to the Manta 400, as did McRae. The battles that year and the next were legendary. McRae took his third title and then Brooks fought off the Audi Quattros of Michele Mouton, Malcolm Wilson and finally David Llewellyn to take the 1985 British Rally Championship. Group B cars were banned during the 1986 season, but the governing body allowed the Manta 400 to continue on rounds of the Championship which did not count towards European status. Russell continued with GM Dealersport and went on to win the Welsh International in a Manta until he returned to Ford for 1988.
By the start of the 1990s. Brooks had all but retired from rallying though he continued to support a number of local events. He continued to support the Race Retro event at Stoneleigh Park until very recently, always entertaining the crowds in one of his old cars. Sadly, ill health took over, and he died on 29 October 2019, aged 74.
Included in the display was this ex Jimmy McRae Opel Manta which was being seen complete for the first time in public since the demise of Group B. After the tumultuous 1985 British Rally Championship in which Brookes beat his Opel team-mate McRae to the title by just three points, the car was campaigned by a privateer in 1986. It was found five years ago, as a bodyshell and tea chests full of parts. Someone had taken it apart and sandblasted the shell with the intention of restoring it but then had abandoned the venture, leaving it with surface rust and accident damage that it picked up with McRae in 1985. When it was stripped back, under the AC Delco livery, a Rothmans one was found and the car had been converted from left to right hand drive with a modified pedal box and extended steering column wiring. It is believed that this started out as a Russelsheim works car, though it is not clear whether it was one of Henri Toivonen’s cars from the 1983 WRC season or not.
OTHER INDOOR DISPLAYS
Spread across four interconnected exhibition halls were a large number of stands allocated to dealers, traders and clubs. Those in Hall 4 were mostly of the autojumble sort, but there were plenty in the other three halls that had complete cars on show, and these were what caught my eye.
AC came back to the market after the Second World War with the staid 2-Litre range of cars in 1947, but it was with the Ace sports car of 1953 that the company really made its reputation in the post war years. Casting around for a replacement for the ageing 2-Litre, AC took up a design by John Tojeiro that used a light ladder type tubular frame, all independent transverse leaf spring suspension, and an open two seater alloy body made using English wheeling machines, possibly inspired by the Ferrari Barchetta of the day. Early cars used AC’s elderly 100 bhp two-litre overhead cam straight-six engine (first seen soon after the end of the First World War), which, according to a 1954 road test by Motor magazine, gave a top speed of 103 mph and 0–60 mph in 11.4 seconds and a fuel consumption of 25.2 mpg. It was hardly a sporting engine, however, and it was felt that something more modern and powerful was required to put the modern chassis to good use. Joining the Ace in 1954 was the Aceca hard top coupé, which had an early form of hatchback rear door but used the same basic timber framed alloy body. From 1956, there was the option of Bristol Cars’ two-litre 120 bhp straight-six with 3 downdraught carburettors and slick four-speed gearbox. Top speed leapt to 116 mph with 0–60 mph in the nine second bracket. Overdrive was available from 1956 and front disc brakes were an option from 1957, although they were later standardised. In 1961 a new 2.6-litre straight-six ‘Ruddspeed’ option was available, adapted by Ken Rudd from the unit used in the Ford Zephyr. It used three Weber or SU carburettors and either a ‘Mays’ or an iron cast head. This setup boosted the car’s performance further, with some versions tuned to 170 bhp, providing a top speed of 130 mph and 0–60 mph in 8.1 seconds. However, it was not long before Carroll Shelby drew AC’s attention to the Cobra, so only 37 of the 2.6 models were made. These Ford engined models had a smaller grille which was carried over to the Cobra. The car raced at Le Mans in 1957 and 1958. In 1959 at Le Mans, Ted Whiteaway and John Turner drove their AC-Bristol, registration 650BPK, to the finish, claiming top honours for the 2,000cc class and seventh overall behind six 3 litre cars. Few cars with this provenance have survived and are extremely valuable. They can range from $100,000 or more for an unrestored car, even one in pieces, to in excess of $400,000 for a restored AC Ace.
Genuine AC Cobra are rare beasts, as not that many were produced, but for the last as long as anyone can remember, there have all manner of replica and officially sanctioned continuation type cars produced, so there are pretty decent numbers of cars around that bear the legendary shape of this raw sports car. That is what was to be seen here.
Many of the surviving 105 Series cars have been adapted to compete in historic racing series and this “step front” Giulia Sprint GT is one such example.
Popular in classic racing these are this duo of Austin models, the A35 and later A40 Farina.
There were a couple of examples of the 3 Series here, the first generation E21 and its successor, the E30.
BUGATTI OWNERS CLUB
Bugatti Owners Club and its home, the Prescott Hill Clim had a stand here to promote themselves and their program of events planned for the coming year. Displayed on the stand was a car I have seen in action at a number of Prescott events in the past, a race-prepared Alfa Romeo 1750 Berlina.
This is a Roger Penske 1969 Camaro Z28 Penske Sunoco, in its distinctive Penske livery of royal blue and yellow. Penske built a number of Camaros for Mark Donohue and others to drive in the SCCA Trans Am Series. To make the first car more competitive, they reduced the weight of the body by acid dipping it, which apparently slipped under the scrutineer’s radar and reputedly made the car 250 lbs underweight. It was joined by the iconic 1977 Chevrolet Camaro black 7 International Race of Champions car raced by Unser and Fittipaldi dubbed ‘lucky number seven’ due to its very prestigious accomplishments on the racing circuit. It raced through to the 1980 IROC Series finale and this 500 bhp car looks like it apparently did when new. The final car was the 1976 Group 2 Faberge Brut Chevrolet Camaro, which Stuart Graham campaigned in Europe when it was new. It carried over the black and green livery from the earlier Camaros of the two previous seasons . This particular Camaro races extensively at Goodwood and is considered by many as the ultimate Group 2 saloon. Historic British Saloon Car Racing driver Stuart Graham came to Prescott with its owner Nigel Garrett to demonstrate the 7.4 litre Chevrolet big block, 600bhp Faberge-liveried beast. The rear axle is 5 linked, front suspension is parallel wishbones, brakes are discs all round with period AP calipers and in race trim runs large slicks under the wheel arch extensions. Throughout the‘70s, Stuart Graham’s big V8 Chevrolet Camaro was the car to beat in the British Championships. He won touring car races, titles and awards in the UK, Europe and overseas racing Camaros and was the first person since Freddie Dixon pre-war, to win both bike and car TTs.
This is a 75 Le Mans Tourer. Although the Chrysler Corporation was still in its relative infancy in 1928, the fledgling company had managed to leap up the sales charts from 32nd place to 3rd in a matter of only a few years, buoyed by its exceptional reputation for performance and quality. The main ingredient for Chrysler’s success came with the introduction of the L-head, seven-main-bearing inline-six initially developed for the B-70. These engines were somewhat unusual in the US market in that, at 248.9 cubic inches, they were smaller in displacement than the competition, yet could match or surpass their rivals regarding power output. The engine was particularly efficient, thanks in part to the lightweight pistons and optional high compression cylinder head. Thanks to that engine and the compact, lightweight body, these Chrysler roadsters quickly gained a reputation for being some of the fastest cars in their class. Chrysler took a unique marketing path by sending a number of its cars overseas to compete against the best Europe had to offer in motorsport. In 1928, Chrysler scored a tremendous achievement in the grueling Le Mans 24 Hour race, when two largely stock, six-cylinder Series 70-series cars secured 3rd and 4th positions in the overall classification. The mid-priced Chrysler was only beaten by much more exotic and expensive machinery. The Chryslers were just moderately prepared, and they stood up to the might of Bentley’s squadron of purpose-built racing cars. Bentley struggled to keep their thundering machines held together long enough to finish, barely limping the winner across the line. Fellow American manufacturer Stutz entered their exotic, four-valve Black Hawk to take on the mighty Bentley squad, but it was Chrysler that flew the flag – in a pair of mid-market roadsters that were essentially unmodified –managing a steady and reliable race to finish on the podium. Chrysler had achieved what few other American car makers could do. Proving Le Mans was no fluke, a 70-series earned a class win at the punishing Mille Miglia the same year. Today, the Chrysler 70-series roadster is appreciated by collectors and enthusiasts for many of the same qualities that made it famous when new.
This historic car witnessed Mike Hawthorn’s early days, and highlighted the talents of a driver who would go on to have an immensely successful career. But let’s not race ahead: in 1951, convinced of his son’s ability behind the wheel, Mike Hawthorn’s father, Leslie, decided to do what he could to further his progress in motor racing. However, the British driver’s size prevented him from taking part in Formula 500, the series that most English drivers cut their teeth on, so Leslie and Mike turned straight to F2. Following inconclusive testing in an HWM and then a Connaught, the two men became aware of the projects of Charles and John Cooper. The World Championship was restricted to 2-litre F2 cars in 1952 and 1953 and this gave small-scale constructors a chance to take part. Using the six-cylinder Bristol engine, derived from the brilliant pre-war BMW engine, developing 120 bhp in its competition version, the Coopers built three examples of their own front-engined single seater. A box construction with a tubular structure, the chassis rested on a basic and efficient suspension. It was Jimmy Richmond ‘s team which was running the three cars. Meanwhile, Bob Chase, the eccentric friend of Leslie Hawthorn, decided to buy one of the Cooper-Bristols for Mike to drive. The Coopers agreed to build a fourth example and the magazine Autosport reported on 21 March 1952 that: “Mike Hawthorn will compete this season in a Cooper-Bristol.” In preparation, Leslie Hawthorn assembled a team of mechanics with Hugh Sewell, Joe Bickell and Brit Pearce. The car was completed just before the Goodwood weekend that opened the 1952 season, without enough time for the team to even paint it. This didn’t prevent Mike Hawthorn from causing a stir by recording the second quickest time in practice behind a formidable Ferrari Thinwall Special. The three races that Hawthorn subsequently took part in resulted in two victories (finishing one in front of Fangio driving another Cooper-Bristol) and a second place behind Gonzales driving a Ferrari. The following weekend, Hawthorn repeated the performance, winning two races. At Silverstone in May, he finished the heat ahead of Jean Behra but retired during the final race with gearbox problems. At Boreham, he won again and finished second in the Ulster Trophy at Dunrod. Two weeks later, he made his first appearance on the continent and finished fourth in the Belgium Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps. He took part in a borrowed Cooper-Bristol in the French Grand-Prix at Reims, finishing seventh and, back in his own car at Silverstone, he finished third behind the super-quick Ferrari of Ascari and Taruffi. At Zandvoort for the Dutch Grand Prix, he found himself on the front-line alongside the Ferrari of Ascari and Farina, which made a big impression on the Italian team. And at the Monza Grand Prix, won by Ascari, Mike Hawthorn was invited to test with Ferrari. Shortly afterwards he received an offer to join the team from Nello Ugolini, director of Scuderia Ferrari. And so, this modest Cooper-Bristol single-seater was the car that propelled Mike Hawthorn into top-level motor-racing, opening the door for him to join the biggest teams, and from there to become World Champion in 1958. However, the adventures of the famous Cooper were far from over. Lent to Duncan Hamilton, it suffered a serious engine failure. As it was not competitive for the following season, the owner decided to transform it into a two-seater sports car. Using the original chassis, it was given a body designed by Bernie Rogers and built by Wakefield & Son, placed on additional chassis parts. It was fitted with a Bristol engine, type 100B2, n°4242, identical to the earlier one, and producing almost 140 bhp, which allowed the light, streamlined car to reach speeds of up to 220 km/h. And so, Mike Hawthorn’s former Cooper began a second career in the hands of Alan Brown, in the colours of his “Equipe Anglaise”. Registered HPN 665, this well-bred car had its first success in the 9-Hour race at Goodwood where it finished second. It distinguished itself again at Silverstone (class win), and in 1954, in the British Empire Trophy at Oulton Park (win) and at Zandvoort (class win). According to Alan Brown, the car then passed into the hands of Tony Everard and was fitted with a 2.6-litre Aston Martin engine, and it still bears signs of the engine mounting. It took part in numerous hill-climbs, sprints and circuit races before passing into the hands of Austin Nurse, then Mr Taylor and Betty Haig. At this time, the car had a Bristol engine once again and when Betty Haig showed this historic Cooper to Charles and John Cooper, they confirmed that it was the Mike Hawthorn chassis. It was subsequently sold to Ken Yates, then John R. Brown in 1964/5 before Alan Brown bought it back. Between 1987 and 1989, Jeremy Agace became the car’s tenth owner, followed by D.R. Jamieson who bought it in 1989. A third career began for this extraordinary Cooper-Bristol, taking part in historic meetings. In the hands of well-known enthusiasts such as Jean-François Bentz, Francis Trichet, D. Jamieson and Gregor Fisken, it has taken part in a large number of events, on the road and the track, including the Mille Miglia.
Designed by American Tom Tjaarda, and unlike the Mangusta, which employed a steel backbone chassis, the Pantera was a steel monocoque design, the first instance of De Tomaso using this construction technique. The Pantera logo included a version of Argentina’s flag turned on its side with a T-shaped symbol that was the brand used by De Tomaso’s Argentinian cattle ranching ancestors. The car made its public debut in Modena in March 1970 and was presented at the 1970 New York Motor Show a few weeks later. Approximately a year later the first production Panteras were sold, and production was increased to three per day. The curious slat-backed seats which had attracted comment at the New York Show were replaced by more conventional body-hugging sports-car seats in the production cars: leg-room was generous but the pedals were off-set and headroom was insufficient for drivers above approximately 6 ft. Reflecting its makers’ transatlantic ambitions, the Pantera came with an abundance of standard features which appeared exotic in Europe, such as electric windows, air conditioning and even “doors that buzz when … open”. By the time the Pantera reached production, the interior was in most respects well sorted, although resting an arm on the central console could lead to inadvertently activating the poorly located cigarette lighter. The first 1971 Panteras were powered by a Ford 351 cu in (5.8 litre) V8 engine that produced a severely underrated 330 hp. Stock dynos over the years proved that power was more along the lines of about 380 hp. The high torque provided by the Ford engine reduced the need for excessive gear changing at low speeds: this made the car much less demanding to drive in urban conditions than many of the locally built competitor products. The ZF transaxle used in the Mangusta was also used for the Pantera: a passenger in an early Pantera recorded that the mechanical noises emanating from the transaxle were more intrusive than the well restrained engine noise. Power-assisted four-wheel disc brakes and rack and pinion steering were all standard equipment on the Pantera. The 1971 Pantera could accelerate to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds. In the summer of 1971, a visitor to the De Tomaso plant at Modena identified two different types of Pantera awaiting shipment, being respectively the European and American versions. From outside, the principal differences were the larger tail lamps on the cars destined for America, along with addition of corner marker lamps. The visitor was impressed by the large number of cars awaiting shipment; but in reality, spending the best part of a year under dust covers in a series of large hangars probably did nothing for the cash-flow of the business or the condition of some of the cars by the time they crossed the Atlantic. Late in 1971, Ford began importing Panteras for the American market to be sold through its Lincoln Mercury dealers. The first 75 cars were simply European imports and are known for their “push-button” door handles and hand-built Carrozzeria Vignale bodies. A total of 1,007 Panteras reached the United States that first year. These cars were poorly built, and several Panteras broke down during testing on Ford’s test track. Early crash testing at UCLA showed that safety cage engineering was not very well understood in the 1970s. Rust-proofing was minimal on these early cars, and the quality of fit and finish was poor, with large amounts of body solder being used to cover body panel flaws. Notably, Elvis Presley once fired a gun at his Pantera after it would not start. An L model (“Lusso”) was added in 1972 and a GTS version in 1974, but it was not enough and Ford ended their importation to the US in 1975, having sold around 5,500 cars. De Tomaso continued to build the car in ever-escalating forms of performance and luxury for almost two decades for sale in the rest of the world. A small number of Panteras were imported to the US by grey market importers in the 1980s, notably Panteramerica and AmeriSport. After 1974, Ford US discontinued the Cleveland 351 engine, but production continued in Australia until 1982. De Tomaso started sourcing their V8s from Australia once the American supplies dried up. These engines were tuned in Switzerland and were available with a range of outputs up to 360 PS. The chassis was completely revised in 1980, beginning with chassis number 9000. From May 1980 the lineup included the GT5, which had bonded and riveted-on fibreglass wheelarch extensions and from November 1984 the GT5S model which had blended arches and a distinctive wide-body look. The GT5 also incorporated better brakes, a more luxurious interior, much larger wheels and tires and the fibreglass body kit also included an air dam and side skirts. Production of the wide body GT5 (and similarly equipped narrow body GTS models) continued until 1985, when the GT5-S replaced the GT5. Although the factory has not made its records available, an analysis based on Vehicle Identification Numbers by the Pantera Owners Club of America (POCA) late model (9000 series) registrar has shown that fewer than 252 GT5 Panteras were likely to have been built. The GT5-S featured single piece flared steel fenders instead of the GT5’s riveted-on fibreglass flares, and a smaller steel front air dam. The ‘S’ in the GT5-S name stood for “steel”. Otherwise the GT5-S was largely identical to the GT5. The POCA 9000 series registrar’s VIN analysis indicates that fewer than 183 GT5-S Panteras were built. Concurrent GTS production continued, on a custom order and very limited basis, until the late 1980s. The car continued to use a Ford V8 engine, although in 1988, when the supply of Ford 351 Cleveland engines from Australia ran out, De Tomaso began installing Ford 351 Windsor engines in the Pantera instead. For 1990 the 351 was changed to the Ford 302 cu in (4942 cc, commonly called a “5.0”). Incorporating a Marcello Gandini facelift, suspension redesign, partial chassis redesign and the new, smaller engine, the Pantera 90 Si model was introduced in 1990. Only 38 90 Si models were sold before the Pantera was finally phased out in 1993 to make way for the radical, carbon-fibre-bodied Guarà. Some say 41 were built (with the last one not finished until 1996), of which four were targa models. The targas were converted by Pavesi directly off the production lines. In all, about 7,200 Panteras were built.
This is an Elden Mark 8, one of 48 that were built. Elden Racing Cars was a British motor sport company, founded in 1967 by John Thompson and brothers Peter Hampsheir and Brian Hampsheir, involved in designing (under the brand of Design Formula), building and racing cars. Most frequently associated with Formula Ford in the 1970s, the marque also produced Formula Atlantic, Formula 3, Formula 4, Formula Ford 2000 and Formula Renault vehicles (among others). In total Elden produced more than 38 individual designs from birth to the present day.
Acclaimed as one of the stars of the event was this Mondeo SuperTourer, which has just emerged from restoration. It is liveried as Paul Radisich’s 1955 BTCC car, though according to its owner, this one had a more unusual life than most of its stablemates. It is not clear if was driven by Radisich, but it is known that it is one of Ford’s own prototypes built prior to the Mondeo’s debut season. It is chassis number two and was originally rear wheel drive, taking advantage of the Mondeo’s optional 4×4 drivetrain, which interpreting SuperTouring rules would have allowed the Mondeo touring car to continue to be developed along lines to the Sierra Cosworth. This car was tested at Pembrey in early 1993 and was 2.5 seconds off pace. Andy Rouse took it back to his workshop and converted it to front wheel drive in just 36 hours and it was then immediately among the front runners, so Ford decided to make their Mondeo Super Touring a front wheel drive car. The current owner found it on eBay 13 years ago and bought it for £6500, but only did two races in it before crashing it, needing unique suspension uprights to be made and a new gearbox. With funds not available, it was put aside for many years, but eventually restoration started at which point it became apparent that the car had earlier damage, potentially from BTCC action. For sure the car was updated to 1995 spec complete with the rear wing brought in to counter the Alfa Romeo set up after the rules changed. Interestingly, the car was mountings under the bonnet for a longitudinal V6 engine, but currently has a transverse mounted 2 litre Duratec.
Displayed alongside it was a Mustang.
Bearing one of the iconic liveries of the world’s first purpose-designed rally car, the Lancia Stratos, this is in fact a more recent recreation, built by Hawk. Hawk offer a choice of body styles – from the pretty original Road or Stradale body to the stunning GP.4 Alitalia style with its cavernous rear wheel arches – or even the really aggressive square wheel arch GP.4 version. In fact, all the body panels are so accurately made that they are regularly used as replacements for original cars. The HF range chassis, manufactured from folded steel and tube, is closely modelled on the original, down to the removable rear cage cross-member. It is extremely strong but substantially lighter than the original, and includes such details as mounting points for three or four point harnesses and alternative engine mounts. It is powder coated, with brackets and mountings for all mechanical components already fitted, and comes complete with full competition roll cage. The HF range body is an exact replica of the original, right down to the finest detail, such as the four individual aluminium louvre panels. There is a huge focus on quality with these GRP panles, such that Hawk regularly supplies panels to owners of the original car. The panels are made in a heavy lay-up, in an immaculate grey gel finish, while the dash and instrument binnacle come ready-finished in black leather-grain. The tub is already bonded to the chassis, and wheel arch panels and front bulkhead are also fitted, as are the alloy floor and cad-plated pedals. The kits include the superbly engineered chassis, with integral roll cage, body tub, floors and bulkheads all fitted. The various wishbones, steering arms, rear hub-carriers, radius arms, rose joints and Nylatron bushes etc. are also included to enable the rolling chassis to be completed. A supple ride is assured by the long travel suspension and carefully tuned damping and spring rates. Critical suspension components, such as upright extensions, are machined from 56 ton spec. steel, and are heat treated and surface ground. All suspension parts are either nickel plated or epoxy coated. The front suspension offers the exact geometry of the original. The rear suspension is visually identical but revised roll centres, together with the facility of front and rear adjustment, make the HF range ideal for road, as well as competition use. Due to the very restricted availability of the ‘coffin-spoke’ style wheels used on the original Lancia Stratos, Hawk Cars have arranged for remanufacture of new alloy wheels to this original and popular design. The new versions of these wheels are suitable for use on original cars, as well as on these HF2000 – HF3000 replicas. There is a choice of engines – from the willing and easily tuned Lancia 2-litre (with 8 and 16 valve, turbo or Volumex supercharged options as well!) through to the really fabulous power of the 164 3-litre V6 Alfa engine. Of course, you can fit an original Ferrari 246 V6 or Ferrari 308 V8, if funds permit. Mountings for other engines can be arranged, but for most people this is a large enough list to choose from.
As in previous years, a live Stage was set up in one of the halls, and throughout the entire event there was quite an extensive program of interviews of a wide variety of stars of two wheels and four. The person facing the questions when I stopped by was rally ace Didier Auriol, who had been enjoying himself (until he hit a guard rail in challenging conditions!) on the outdoor rally stage. Like everyone who appears here, the tales and anecdotes that emerge are well worth a listen.
Lotus 18 was the first mid-engined car built by Lotus and was a marked improvement over Chapman’s early and only moderately successful front-engined formula cars, the 12 and 16. It was introduced for the 1960 F1, F2 and FJ seasons, with about 27 examples of the F1 and F2 versions and 110 of the FJ versions . As a stop-gap before the introduction of the 18’s successor models, the Lotus 20 for F2/FJ and 21 for F1, some 18 chassis were rebodied with 21 skins to create the interim Lotus 18/21 hybrid derivative. The car was a classic Chapman design, being extremely light and simple; the body was made up of lightweight panels bolted to heavily-triangulated tube frame (almost spaceframe) chassis. Thus the car was rigid, strong and light, maintaining the 16’s forward weight distribution despite the engine moving behind the driver. It was powered initially by a 2,467 cc Coventry Climax FPF four cylinder DOHC engine inherited from the Grand Prix version of Lotus 16. In 1960, the FPF was enlarged slightly to 2497 cc, which produced 239 hp at 6,750 rpm from a weight of only 290 lbs (132 kg) and had a wide torque range. The 2.5 litre engine was replaced by a 1.5 Litre Climax FPF Mk.II with new Formula One engine rules in 1961. The Formula Junior variant used a 998 cc Cosworth Mk.III or a Downton BMC “A” Series with 948cc displacement. The Formula Junior version also used smaller gauge chassis tubing and Alfin drum brakes on all four corners. Further contributing to the weight advantage was the adoption of lightweight sequential manual transmission originally developed for Lotus 12 by Richard Ansdale and Harry Mundy incorporating the unique sequential-shifting gearbox and a ZF limited slip differential in a common Magnesium alloy housing to form a transaxle, which also provided the mounting points for inboard rear brakes. This gearbox had been improved in its reliability for Lotus 15 and 16 in 1957-58 by Keith Duckworth, who had just joined Lotus as a gearbox engineer. Although Porsche in Austria pioneered the sequentially shifting gearbox for racing cars in Model 360 Cisitalia, the idea was relatively new and the original transaxle in Lotus 12, which was essentially an enlarged motorcycle gearbox combined with ZF limited slip differential, had gained the nickname ‘Queer Box’, or “Gearbox-full of neutrals” for its poor reliability. With Duckworth having left to form Cosworth in 1958, Mike Costin, who, despite being the co-founder of Cosworth, remained with Lotus for a while longer, adopted the improved Queer Box in Lotus 16 into a configuration for directly mounting it behind the engine for Lotus 18 with dedicated oil scavenge and pressure feed pumps, further improving its reliability while retaining the small and light design. Formula Junior version utilized the Renault 4 speed transaxle, and both of the Lotus transaxle and this Renault box had the gear shifter lever on the left side of the driver. An optional gearbox was the VW gearbox with Hewland 4 speed gears. This last gearbox has the added advantage of being able to change gear ratios from behind the gearbox without removing the gearbox from the car. The front suspension was by double wishbone arms with outboard coil/damper unit. Unlike Chapman’s former designs where the ends of anti-roll bar acted as a leg of the upper wishbone, the 18 had a separate front anti-roll bar. The rear suspension was by upper and lower radius arms with reversed lower wishbone, where the fixed-length halfshaft acted as the upper link. The coil/damper unit was also mounted outboard in the rear, and the 18 sometimes ran with and without the rear anti-roll bar. In order to capitalize on the weight advantage, Chapman designed a light, sleek machine only 28 inches (71 cm) high (excluding windscreen) and weighing just 980 lbs (440 kg). To help facilitate this, the driver was placed in a semi-reclining position, pioneered about a decade before by Gustav Baumm of NSU. The Lotus 18 had remarkably good handling with a unique suspension system which drastically reduced weight transfer and body roll in cornering. Shortly, the Lotus 18 was proving to be faster than any car Grand Prix racing had ever seen, eclipsing even the legendary Auto Unions and being widely copied. It was also built as a two-seat sports-racer called the Lotus 19 or Monte Carlo. The car took Lotus’ first F1 victory, by Innes Ireland in the non-championship Glover Trophy, on 8 April 1960. Its first World Championship win happened six weeks later, on 29 May, albeit by privateer Rob Walker, who leased the car from Chapman. Driven by Stirling Moss the car took a dominant win at the 1960 Monaco Grand Prix. It was an early taste of things to come. Moss also won the United States Grand Prix at the end of the season helping Lotus finish second in the constructors’ championship. Moss repeated his win in a legendary race at Monaco the following year, beating off the more powerful and faster ‘sharknose’ Ferraris. He then won at the fearsome Nürburgring in changeable weather, while Innes Ireland took a third win in the USA to help Lotus finish second in the constructors’ championship in 1961. The Lotus 18 was also notable for giving Jim Clark his first Grand Prix start in 1960. The Belgian Grand Prix at Spa in 1960 was notable for Moss’s accident in the Rob Walker 18 in practice which kept him from the race and the death of Alan Stacey when he left the track in his 18 apparently following a bird strike in the face. The 18 was replaced by the Lotus 21 in Formula One and the Lotus 20 in Formula Junior in 1961.
Created for the short lived Group B rally category, the 4WD mid engined MG Metro 6R4 of 1984 (6-cylinder, rally car, four-wheel-drive) was a world away from the best selling city car to which it bore only a superficial cosmetic resemblance. The competition car effectively only shared the name of the production Metro as it featured a mid-mounted engine with four wheel drive transmission enclosed within a semi-monocoque seam-welded tubular chassis. The development of this vehicle had been entrusted to Williams Grand Prix Engineering. The resulting car was shown to the world in May 1985. It was powered by a David Wood designed bespoke 3-litre V6 powerplant which used some of the engine architecture of the Cosworth DFV. It featured twin overhead camshafts and four valves per cylinder. The engine was a break from the norm, as it wasn’t turbocharged as the majority of its competitors were. The engine was mounted back to front in the car, with the forward end of the engine facing the hatchback and the gearbox attached conventionally behind it and, therefore, in the middle of the vehicle. The four-wheel-drive was permanently engaged, and drove separate propshafts to the front and rear differentials. The rear differential was mounted on the side of the engine sump with one driveshaft running through the sump to the nearside rear wheel. Much of the outer bodywork was made of GRP, with the only exception being the roof panels (which were aluminium), the steel doors and the remaining panels from the original Metro shell. The doors were, however, concealed by plastic airboxes. Indeed, models now on show generally have stickers demonstrating where it is safe to push from when moving the vehicle, so as not to damage the bodywork. The 6R4 appeared in two guises. There was a so-called Clubman model which was the road going version which developed in the region of 250 bhp, of which around 200 were made and sold to the public for £40,000 (the homologation version). A further 20 were taken and built to International specifications which had a recorded output of over 410 bhp. At its launch in 1985, Rover announced that it would complete the necessary number of cars required for homologation by November of that year. This was undertaken at the group’s large manufacturing facility at Longbridge. The car was to participate in the Lombard RAC rally in November 1985, and an example, driven by works driver Tony Pond, finished a highly respectable third, behind two Lancia Delta S4s. This good start was unfortunately not repeated, and although a 6R4 was entered in rallies at Monte Carlo, Sweden, Portugal and Corsica during the 1986 season, none of the Metros managed to complete a course. The majority of these problems were related to the V6 powerplant which suffered teething issues. Halfway during the 1986 season, Group B was banned (following a series of fatal crashes in which both competitors and spectators lost their lives). From that point on, the 6R4 was always going to be limited in front line competition, although they were run with limited success for the remainder of the year. A number passed into private hands and have proved formidable rally and rallycross cars. Despite the expiry of the 6R4’s homologation the MSA still allow the cars to run in competition although engine sizes have been limited to 2800cc (single plenum engines) and 2500cc (multi-plenum engines). Austin Rover withdrew from the rallying scene at the end of the season, but in 1987 all the parts and engines were sold to Tom Walkinshaw Racing, whereupon the V6 engine reappeared in the Jaguar XJ220, this time with turbochargers added.
MIDLANDS AUTOMOBILE CLUB
The Midlands Automobile Club and the Shelsley Walsh Hill Climb were represented on this stand in the corner of Hall 2, with three of the sorts of cars that you can see in action competing for honours on the hill sitting in front of display panels with large photos of those most beguiling of venues.
This is an Elva Mark 7S, and is a common sight at hill climb events in the region. In the year 1955, Frank G. Nichols founded the Elva sports car manufacturing company. Based in Hastings, United Kingdom, the name Elva comes from the French phrase ‘ella va’ which means ‘she goes’. Unfortunately financial problems that were caused by the failure of the U.S. distributor the Elva Company was sold to Trojan in 1961. Production was relocated to Rye, Sussex, and again in 1966 to the main Trojan factory in Croydon. In 1965 Ken Sheppard from Customized Sports Cars of Shenley, Hertfordshire purchased Elva from Trojan, but unfortunately production ended in 1968. In 1954, Frank Nichols built his first sports racers. They was designed by Mick Chapman and created specifically for competition. Upon completion, they were taken to the track and competed with similar small displacement Lotus sports-races from Colin Chapman. With the car showing tremendous promise, Nicholes decided to emulate its design with the first few Elva live rear axle sports-racers. MK II featured a deDion rear axle. The MK IV had fully independent suspension and was the first Elva with a tubular space frame. The ultimate front-engined, drum-brake Elva sports racer was the small displacement sports-racer MK V. Only thirteen examples were produced. Power was from the Coventry-Climax FWB single overhead camshaft engine, and they were competitive (perhaps better), than Chapman’s Lotus 11 in England, Europe and the United States. Twenty-eight Elva MKVI models were produced with production beginning in December of 1961 and lasting until October of 1962. Most were powered by the Coventry Climax FWA 1100cc engine, although a few were given Ford push-rod power and other engines. Drum brakes were standard as their low weight and small displacement engines did not necessitate a need for discs. The MK VI were the first of the modern ultra low ‘lay down’ sports racers. They made their debut at the Brands Hatch Boxing day race in England on December of 1961. They were popular in the US as a club racer in the G-Modified class. They enjoyed much success through the 1962 season but were soon eclipsed by the Lotus 23 and its successor, the Elva MK VII. There were a total of around 69-72 examples of the MKVII produced between 1963 through 1965. Engine options varied, some were fitted with Lotus/Ford 1600cc, Ford Cosworth 1100cc, (Porsche, Climax, Lotus Twin Cam, and BMW) and various other units. The last Elva Sports Racers were the Mark VIII. They were based on the highly successful MK VII and VIIS, and fitted with the most state-of-the-art-technology of the era. They were sold without engines and never officially used as factory competition cars; they were raced with much success by privateers, such as Carl Haas. The MKVIII had rocker arm front suspension, a rigid chassis design, aerodynamic body, and a number of other innovations making them formidable competition against the Lotus 23s and other ‘2-liter and Under’ competitors.
The GN Spider is a well known car that can frequently be seen competing at hill climb events. You might say this was the grand-daddy of all vintage specials. First of a famous trio of GN-based, bug-nomenclatured one-offs (Wasp and Gnat being the others), Spider turned an assemblage of unassuming parts into a sprint car which, on its own turf, was unbeatable. Since then, unfeasibly fast specials have been at the core of VSCC racing; and Spider has mixed it with them, on and off, throughout that time. But, for the non-VSCC members among you, beware the two Spiders. Basil Davenport, the single-minded eccentric behind Spider, brought the car out after WWII, and was so encouraged by how the old machine performed against recent opposition that he built a new version with a thumping 2-litre V-twin. That one, usually known as Spider 2, is not the one we are looking at. Davenport himself called them merely Spider and Big Spider, so let’s stick with that. For convenience, Davenport stripped parts from the original to build Big Spider, and as owner David Leigh says, ‘The cannibalisation is the subject of great debate.” It seems that the body did service on the later car for a while. But as chassis, engine and axles were clearly different, the car Davenport later reassembled has to be substantially the same vehicle. Like any special, it has matured in phases from its 1923 inception, when Davenport bought the prototype V-twin 1086cc air-cooled Vitesse engine from Archie Frazer-Nash and slotted it into a light GN cyclecar chassis, converted to centre-steering. Though looking promising in sprints and hill-climbs through 1924, Spider only took off when Davenport bought the engine from Nash’s works racer `Mowgli’. This 1500cc powerhouse boasted four-valve cylinder heads and twin-spark ignition, and throughout 1925 brought Davenport a mixture of impressive results and engine seizures. The following year saw Spider take its first major scalp — a 48.8sec record up Shelsley Walsh, the first-ever to crack 50sec, beating Raymond Mays’ TT Vauxhall. Suddenly, this gawky interloper was a major player. In 1927, after redesigning the crankcase with staggered barrels, to allow straight conrods, and switching to alcohol fuel, Davenport intensified his duel with Mays, that lover of all things refined — which did not include a plebeian hill-climb special. First, his supercharged 2-litre Mercedes-Benz, and then his very powerful Vauxhall-Villiers found Spider heading them; and when the German aces came to Shelsley Walsh in 1930, Spider scaled the hill in 44.6, almost 2sec quicker than Rudi Caracciola’s SSK Mercedes, and again taking the record from Mays. Frustratingly, Hans Stuck’s Austro-Daimler then put up a record-shattering 42.8. But the point was clear: you didn’t need factory expertise to run at the top. Through the early ’30s, Davenport tweaked the car, but progress overtook it, and when business intervened, Spider retired to the workshop until that post-war revival. David Leigh has been chain-driven most of his life: his father has run Frazer Nashes since 1945, and David has campaigned them since he was 20. His passion for Spider goes back to 1979 when, on a trip to Shelsley Walsh, he met the car and its ageing creator. They struck up a friendship, and soon David, though still at school, was visiting Davenport and doing small jobs on the car. He became hooked on the spindly machine, and says that he remembers waking up one night thinking, ‘I have to own that car’. When Davenport died, he left the car to Ron Sant, who had worked on it for many years. But when the time came to part with it, the buyer was obvious. Leigh sold his own Frazer Nash trials car and, in 1994, became Spider’s new custodian, and probably only its third driver. Since then he has driven it frequently, and it’s getting quicker and quicker. Having been the first to break 50sec at Shelsley Walsh, Davenport’s life-long ambition was then to break 40sec. He never managed it; but in 1997, David did it for him. It was one of the great moments of his tenure. “It’s due to modem tyres and the new track surface,” he says modestly, though there has been mechanical progress along the years, too. With a tiny motorbike oil pump squirting the necessary to the main bearings through a drilled crank instead of the gravity-fed drips of old, David can stretch to 5000rpm, a grand up on what Davenport dared. He has dropped the smaller 17in wheels Davenport latterly used for more period-looking 19in rims, but says the Avon GP bike tyres they wear are ideal. Like any chain-drive GN or Nash, Spider has a solid rear axle which gives fierce traction. “The first SO yards are extraordinary ,” says Leigh. “I can keep my foot nailed to the floor up to the Esses — but it takes a bit of courage.” On the Worcester climb, where, as Leigh points out, “You only have to slow once,” Spider’s lack of front brakes is no handicap. The next trick is to fiddle the ratios: chain drive means any of the four sprockets on the rear axle can be changed simply, and Leigh plans to make third lower than second to give him the perfect punch out of the Esses as he works his way up the ‘box. Spider has had plenty of use since Leigh took over the stewardship — almost every vintage Shelsley Walsh meeting and several others a season. But there was an enforced lay-off in 1997 after the engine turned itself inside out halfway up the hill. David cheerily pulls out a box of twisted rods and shards of crankcase to illustrate the drama, which erupted just after he had put in Spider’s bestever time on the hill — 39.23sec. This metallic mayhem meant making new patterns to cast a new crankcase, though the broken one only dated from the ’70s, part of the car’s continuous development saga. On the other hand, Leigh says the heads, camboxes and magnetos are the same ones which Davenport bought from Archie Frazer-Nash in 1924. Leigh’s mechanical minder Phil Spencer reassembled the machine in time for the MAC’s Shelsley Walsh Centenary last year, letting David score his other major highlight — beating the ERAs. Alright, it was only on the wet Saturday, and come Sunday they were several seconds ahead again, but the fact remains that, in the drizzle, Spider’s slender Avons sliced through the spray 3sec faster than the racing cars from Bourne. After climbing aboard, the driver has only two pedals to play with, a dainty throttle and a clutch; a lever on the side stirs the brakes. And so does the lever on the other side — Davenport’s neat way of heeding the law’s requirement for two stopping systems. Squeezed into the hip-hugging F1-tight cockpit is an old leather seat (“It’s not as old as it looks — the leather’s from a settee”), while overhanging it is a hefty cord-bound steering wheel, which has been a lot higher than the top of Shelsley Walsh. “Basil only crashed the car once, but he turned it over and smashed the old wheel. He got this one from a Handley-Page bomber.” You need the leverage because it goes from lock to lock in about half a turn. “She’s so well balanced, you just nudge it,” says David, grabbing the wheel with both hands to demonstrate. It’s clearly far from featherweight Behind its four slim spokes, the cast-ally bulkhead carries a bare survival pack of instruments: big rev-counter, two mag switches and a gauge for the air-pressurised fuel system. Not much to distract you. That human torpedo body, which lifts off with the twist of six wing nuts, is heavier than you’d think, which is probably why it has lasted. Dents, scrapes and welded tears are its duelling scars, with a truncated tip to witness Davenport’s wheelbase-shortening exercise for the new engine — down to a corner-cutting 7ft 6in. But that bonnet is just a front Remove that rearing prow and there’s nothing underneath but a wooden bar to stiffen it. A neat exercise in image promotion which has made, and kept, Spider as one of those instantly recognisable characters on the vintage scene through eight decades. But it has worn a different outfit in the past, During the ’20s, you had to have a mechanic aboard to race on Southport’s sand. Having tried a perch for his mechanic on the tail, Davenport gave in and produced a two-seater body with a sliver of a seat behind him — the result looked like a child’s pedal car. In the carefree days after WWI, Davenport often drove Spider to meetings, though later he would tow it behind his road-going GN. David still has Spider’s logbook (and its entire paper history), which shows it as chassis No EX145: “I expect Basil just made that up.” Today it hitches a lift by trailer; but it is taxed and registered, and David has been known to drive it the five miles to Curborough Sprint with its detachable silencers attempting to quell the thumping rasp of the big V-twin, unfiltered Solex carbs noisily gulping methanol from the tiny tank in the tail.
Third car in the display was a legendary Mini.
As well as the Group B 205 T16 rally machines, Peugeot also produced less potent Group A spec models, such as this one.
Making a repeat appearance from my last visit in 2018 was this replica 550RS. Inspired by the Porsche 356, and some spyder prototypes built and raced by Walter Glöckler starting in 1951, the factory decided to build a car designed for use in auto racing. The model Porsche 550 Spyder was introduced at the 1953 Paris Auto Show. The 550 was very low to the ground, in order to be efficient for racing. In fact, former German Formula One racer Hans Herrmann drove it under closed railroad crossing gates during the 1954 Mille Miglia. The first three hand built prototypes came in a coupé with a removable hardtop. The first (550-03) raced as a roadster at the Nurburgring Eifel Race in May 1953 winning its first race. Over the next couple of years, the Werks Porsche team evolved and raced the 550 with outstanding success and was recognised wherever it appeared. The Werks cars were provided with differently painted tail fins to aid recognition from the pits. Hans Herrmann’s particularly famous ‘red-tail’ car No 41 went from victory to victory. Porsche was the first car manufacturer to get race sponsorship which was through Fletcher Aviation, who Porsche was working with to design a light aircraft engine and then later adding Telefunken and Castrol. For such a limited number of 90 prototype and customer builds, the 550 Spyder was always in a winning position, usually finishing in the top three results in its class. The beauty of the 550 was that it could be driven to the track, raced and then driven home, which showed the flexibility of being both a road and track car. Each Spyder was individually designed and customised to be raced and although from the pits it was difficult to identify the sometimes six 550s in the race, the aid of colouring tail spears along the rear wheel fenders, enabled the teams to see their cars. The racing Spyders were predominantly silver in colour, similar to the factory colour of the Mercedes, but there were other splashes of blue, red, yellow and green in the tail spears making up the Porsche palette on the circuit. Each Spyder was assigned a number for the race and had gumballs positioned on doors, front and rear, to be seen from any angle. On some 550s owned by privateers, a crude hand written number scrawled in house paint usually served the purpose. Cars with high numbers assigned such as 351, raced in the 1000 mile Mille Miglia, where the number represented the start time of 3.51am. On most occasions, numbers on each Spyder would change for each race entered, which today helps identify each 550 by chassis number and driver in period black and white photos. The later 1956 evolution version of the model, the 550A, which had a lighter and more rigid spaceframe chassis, gave Porsche its first overall win in a major sports car racing event, the 1956 Targa Florio. Its successor from 1957 onwards, the Porsche 718, commonly known as the RSK was even more successful. The Spyder variations continued through the early 1960s, the RS 60 and RS 61. A descendant of the Porsche 550 is generally considered to be the Porsche Boxster S 550 Spyder; the Spyder name was effectively resurrected with the RS Spyder Le Mans Prototype.
The 911 has had an illustrious career in motorsport as well as on the road.
One of may stand cars that were for sale was this rather nice looking Le Mans, this particular car being on the open market for the first time since 1956. For the last 20 years it has been in a private collection but it has led its entire life in the Chesterfield and Worksop area. It was sold new there and has never strayed far. It was off the road from the mid-Seventies, restored in the Eighties but not put back on the road til 2008. Every specialist who worked on the car has been local to it. The Le Mans was actually quite advanced for its era, released after Singer raced at the 24 hours race at Le Mans and hence the name. Based on the Singer Nine, it had a 1.0 litre engine with twin SU carburettors and used racing technology, to generate 31bhp, which was quite a lot for 1934.
The TR Enterprises stand had an interesting collection of cars showing the evolution of this much-loved British sports car. Oldest of the series of TR sports cars here was one of the first models, the TR2, a model produced between 1953 and 1955, during which time 8,636 cars were produced. Standard’s Triumph Roadster was out-dated and under-powered. Company boss Sir John Black tried to acquire the Morgan Motor Company but failed. He still wanted an affordable sports car, so a prototype two-seater was built on a shortened version of the Standard Eight’s chassis and powered by the Standard Vanguard’s 2-litre straight-4. The resulting Triumph 20TS prototype was revealed at the 1952 London Motor Show. Black asked BRM development engineer and test driver Ken Richardson to assess the 20TS. After he declared it to be a “death trap” a project was undertaken to improve on the design; a year later the TR2 was revealed. It had better looks; a simple ladder-type chassis; a longer body; and a bigger boot. It was loved by American buyers, and became the best earner for Triumph. In 1955 the TR3 came out with more power; a re-designed grille; and a GT package that included a factory hard-top. The car used a twin H4 type SU carburettor version of the 1991 cc four-cylinder Standard wet liner inline-four engine from the Vanguard, tuned to increase its output to 90 bhp. The body was mounted on a substantial separate chassis with coil-sprung independent suspension at the front and a leaf spring live axle at the rear. Either wire or disc wheels could be supplied. The standard transmission was a four-speed manual unit, with overdrive available on top gear as an option. Lockheed drum brakes were fitted all round. The car was replaced by the similar looking TR3 in 1955.
Launched in 1955, the TR3 was an evolution of the TR2 and not a brand new model. It was powered by a 1991 cc straight-4 OHV engine initially producing 95 bhp, an increase of 5 hp over the TR2 thanks to the larger SU-H6 carburettors fitted. This was later increased to 100 bhp at 5000 rpm by the addition of a “high port” cylinder head and enlarged manifold. The four-speed manual gearbox could be supplemented by an overdrive unit on the top three ratios, electrically operated and controlled by a switch on the dashboard. In 1956 the front brakes were changed from drums to discs, the TR3 thus becoming the first British series production car to be so fitted. The TR3 was updated in 1957, with various changes of which the full width radiator grille is the easiest recognition point and the facelifted model is commonly referred to as the Triumph “TR3A”, though unlike the later TR4 series, where the “A” suffix was adopted, the cars were not badged as such and the “TR3A” name was not used officially, Other updates included exterior door handles, a lockable boot handle and the car came with a full tool kit as standard (this was an option on the TR3). The total production run of the “TR3A” was 58,236. This makes it the third best-selling TR after the TR6 and TR7. The TR3A was so successful that the original panel moulds eventually wore out and had to be replaced. In 1959 a slightly modified version came out that had raised stampings under the bonnet and boot hinges and under the door handles, as well as a redesigned rear floor section. In addition, the windscreen was attached with bolts rather than the Dzus connectors used on the early “A” models. Partly because it was produced for less time, the original TR3 sold 13,377 examples, of which 1286 were sold within the UK; the rest being exported mainly to the USA.
Included among them was this, a Warwick GT. The Peerless was a British car made by Peerless Cars Ltd. of Slough, Berkshire, between 1957 and 1960, when the company failed. The company was resurrected by one of the original founders, Bernie Rodger, as Bernard Roger Developments BRD Ltd and marketed as the Warwick from a base in Colnbrook, Buckinghamshire, between 1960 and 1962. The prototype of this British-built sports saloon, which was alloy bodied and initially named the Warwick, was designed by Bernie Rodger for company founders John Gordon and James Byrnes. The car had been renamed the Peerless GT by the time series production started in 1957. It featured Triumph TR3 running gear in a tubular space frame with de Dion tube rear suspension clothed in attractive fibreglass 4-seater bodywork. While the car had good performance it was expensive to produce and the overall fit and finish was not as good as that of similarly priced models from mainstream manufacturers. The Phase II version had an improved body largely moulded in one piece. A works car was entered in the 1958 24 Hours of Le Mans, finishing 16th. Production ceased in 1960 after about 325 examples had been produced. Bernie Rodger restarted production of the car as the Warwick, a much-improved version of the original Peerless GT car with minor cosmetic changes such as a one-piece forward-hinged front end, a stiffer space-frame chassis and a revised dashboard. Although it was produced from 1960–1962, only about 40 cars are thought to have been built. A car was tested by The Motor in 1961 and was found to have a top speed of 105.3 mph and could accelerate from 0-60 mph in 12.6 seconds. A fuel consumption of 32 mpg. The test car cost £1666 including taxes. Two prototypes of a successor car, the 3.5 Litre or 305GT, were made in 1961 and featured the light alloy Buick V8 engine that was later taken up by Rover. John Gordon, together with Jim Keeble (who had previously inserted a Buick V-8 engine into a Peerless), subsequently used the Peerless space-frame as the basis for a Chevrolet-powered car with Giugiaro-designed, Bertone-built bodywork, initially shown in 1960 as the Gordon GT, and which eventually reached production in 1964 as the Gordon-Keeble.
Successor to the TR3a, and code named “Zest” during development, the TR4 was based on the chassis and drivetrain of the previous TR sports cars, but with a modern Michelotti styled body. The TR 4 engine was carried over from the earlier TR2/3 models, but the displacement was increased from 1991cc to 2138 cc by increasing the bore size. Gradual improvements in the manifolds and cylinder head allowed for some improvements culminating in the TR4A model. The 1991 cc engine became a no-cost option for those cars destined to race in the under-two-litre classes of the day. Some cars were fitted with vane-type superchargers, as the three main bearing engine was liable to crankshaft failure if revved beyond 6,500 rpm; superchargers allowed a TR4 to produce much more horse-power and torque at relatively modest revolutions. The standard engine produced 105 bhp but, supercharged and otherwise performance-tuned, a 2.2-litre I4 version could produce in excess of 200 bhp at the flywheel. The TR4, in common with its predecessors, was fitted with a wet-sleeve engine, so that for competition use the engine’s cubic capacity could be changed by swapping the cylinder liners and pistons, allowing a competitor to race under different capacity rules (i.e. below or above 2 litres for example). Other key improvements over the TR3 included a wider track front and rear, slightly larger standard engine displacement, full synchromesh on all forward gears, and rack and pinion steering. In addition, the optional Laycock de Normanville electrically operated overdrive Laycock Overdrive could now be selected for 2nd and 3rd gear as well as 4th, effectively providing the TR4 with a seven-speed manual close ratio gearbox. The TR4 was originally fitted with 15×4.5″ disc wheels. Optional 48-lace wire wheels could be ordered painted the same colour as the car’s bodywork (rare), stove-enamelled (matte silver with chrome spinners, most common) or in matte or polished chrome finishes (originally rare, but now more commonly fitted). The most typical tyre originally fitted was 590-15 bias ply or optional radial tires. In the US at one point, American Racing alloy (magnesium and aluminium) wheels were offered as an option, in 15×5.5″ or 15×6″ size. Tyres were a problem for original owners who opted for 60-spoke wire wheels, as the correct size radial-ply tyre for the factory rims was 155-15, an odd-sized tyre at the time only available from Michelin at considerable expense. Some original TR4 sales literature says the original radial size was 165-15. The much more common 185-15 radials were too wide to be fitted safely. As a result, many owners had new and wider rims fitted and their wheels re-laced. The new TR4 body style did away with the classical cutaway door design of the previous TRs to allow for wind-down windows (in place of less convenient side-curtains), and the angular rear allowed a boot with considerable capacity for a sports car. Advanced features included the use of adjustable fascia ventilation, and the option of a unique hard top that consisted of a fixed glass rear window (called a backlight) with an integral rollbar and a detachable, steel centre panel (aluminium for the first 500 units). This was the first such roof system on a production car and preceded by 5 years the Porsche 911/912 Targa, which has since become a generic name for this style of top. On the TR4 the rigid roof panel was replaceable with an easily folded and stowed vinyl insert and supporting frame called a Surrey Top. The entire hard top assembly is often mistakenly referred to as a Surrey Top. In original factory parts catalogues the rigid top and backlight assembly is listed as the Hard Top kit. The vinyl insert and frame are offered separately as a Surrey Top. Features such as wind-down windows were seen as a necessary step forward to meet competition and achieve good sales in the important US market, where the vast majority of TR4s were eventually sold. Dealers had concerns that buyers might not fully appreciate the new amenities, therefore a special short run of TR3As (commonly called TR3Bs) was produced in 1961 and ’62. The TR4 proved very successful and continued the rugged, “hairy-chested” image that the previous TRs had enjoyed. 40,253 cars were built during production years. Most were sold new to the US, but plenty have returned, and it is estimated that there are not far short of 900 examples of the model in the UK at present.
Replacement for the TR4 was – predictably – the Triumph TR5, which was built for a 13-month period between August 1967 and September 1968. Visually identical to the Michelotti styled TR4,the TR5 hid the main differences under the body. The most significant change from the TR4 was the 2.5-litre straight-6 fuel-injected engine, developing around 145 hp, and which was carried forward to the TR6. At the time, fuel injection (or PI petrol injection, as it was sometimes then called) was uncommon in road cars. Triumph claimed in their sales brochure that it was the “First British production sports car with petrol injection”. Sadly, it was also somewhat troublesome, with mechanical issues a common occurrence. A carburetted version of the TR5 named Triumph TR250 was manufactured during the same period, to be sold in place of the fuel injected car on the North American market. A few of these have now been brought over to the UK and indeed there were both TR250 and TR5 cars here. The Triumph TR250, built during the same period for the North American market, was nearly identical to the TR5. But, because of price pressures and emission regulations the TR250 was fitted with twin Zenith-Stromberg carburettors rather than the Lucas fuel injection system. The reasons for this difference came down to price pressures of the American market, and tighter emissions regulations. The TR250’s straight-six engine delivered 111 bhp , 39 bhp less than the TR5; 0–60 mph acceleration took 10.6 seconds. Standard equipment on both models included front disc brakes, independent rear suspension, rack and pinion steering and a four speed gearbox. Optional extras included overdrive and wire wheels. Both the TR5 and the TR250 were available with the “Surrey Top” hard top system: a weather protection system with rigid rear section including the rear window and removable fabric section over the driver and passenger’s heads.
A trio of historic America vehicles, all up for sale, were all presented on this stand. Oldest of these was a 1914 LaFrance. American Lafrance were one of the earliest producers of fire apparatus in the Unites states, they can be traced as far back as 1832. They first produced a mechanical fire engine in 1907 and from then on a legacy was born. They are world renowned for hand crafting beautiful fire engines that were in service throughout America for almost a century. By the mid twenties ALF had produced over 4000 fire trucks as well as other commercial vehicles. This particular model is a 1914 Type 10. The type 10 was introduced in 1911 and was an improved version of the earlier type 5. Bore and stroke remained the same as the previous model at 5 1/2 and 6 however the horse power was increased slightly to 72. This car has undergone some major restoration in recent years. The previous owner had the car re bodied to give it its current look, the rear of the car that would of originally been a flat back to carry either hoses or crew now has additional seating complete with a hood, making it better suited for driving to events or shows.
More recent, but still over 60 years ago were these Chevrolet models.
One of the most popular elements of the event is the Live Action Rally Stage. Every time I have attended this event there seem to be more and more cars entered for this and the total in 2020 was a capacity of 145 cars, from over 175 which applied to take part. The Stage moves around the site eery year as the organisers try to find somewhere that can not just accommodate a lot of cars (gone are the days when only one was on stage at a time) and with decent views for the spectators. In 2018 – when sunshine made watching a less nippy experience than it often is – all the spectators were at one end of a course which comprised several moderate length straights with a few hay bale chicanes added for more interest. The viewing could have been better, as the cars certainly merited it, but a similar layout was adopted for 2020. And the sun that had been a feature a couple of years ago was not exactly in evidence, making spectating a chilly and occasionally damp experience, and distinctly hazardous underfoot – all part of the genuine rally experience, you could argue. The unmistakable voice of rallying, Tony Mason provided a live commentary. As well as the more obvious rally stars of the last 50 years there were several more unusual entrants here, and it was good to see them in action having had the chance to see most of them parked up in the Parc Ferme which was the rear half of Hall 4.
The 155 was very successful in touring car racing, using the Supertouring-homologated GTA and the V6 TI for the DTM. The Alfa Romeo 155 V6 TI was a FIA Class 1 touring car which was powered by a high-revving 2.5 litre 60° V6 engine, coupled to a four wheel drive system, producing 400 PS at 11500 rpm. Alfa Corse entered two 155 V6 TIs for works drivers Alessandro Nannini and Nicola Larini; the 1993 season was dominated by Larini winning 11 of 22 races, In 1994 the rivals from Mercedes seemed to have the advantage but Alfa did manage to win a further 11 races. A more consistent performance from the Germans gave them the title. In the UK in 1993, Larini in an Alfa 155 was placed second in the FIA Touring Car Challenge behind Paul Radisich in a Ford Mondeo. Between 1992 and 1994, the 155 also managed to take the Italian Superturismo Championship, the Spanish Touring Car Championship (with Adrián Campos), and the British Touring Car Championship (with Gabriele Tarquini). For the 1995 season the team got new sponsorship livery from Martini Racing. The 1996 version had a 2.5 litre 90° V6 engine based loosely on the PRV engine delivering 490 PS at 11,900 rpm, had a top speed of around 300 km/h (190 mph) and weighed 1,060 kilograms. The 155 remained competitive until it was replaced with the 156, finishing third in the DTM (then known as the International Touring Car Championship, or ITC) in 1996 with Alessandro Nannini and winning the Spanish championship again in 1997 with Fabrizio Giovanardi. All told, the Alfa 155 V6 TI achieved a total off 38 wins (plus 3 other non-championship races). The victories were obtained by seven different drivers: 17 (+1) Nicola Larini, 13 (+1) Alessandro Nannini, 2 Stefano Modena, 2 (+1) Christian Danner, 2 Michael Bartels, 1 Kris Nissen and 1 Gabriele Tarquini. In the UK, the car is best remembered for its winning ways in the Touring Car Championship (my 1995 Alfa had a sticker in the rear window reminding everyone of the fact), The 156 was to continue the high standard set by the 155, winning the European Touring Car Championship multiple times. The car seen here is not actually one of the original race cars, but a recreation in homage to this successful career. I’ve seen this car numerous times in recent years. It belongs to brothers Antonio and Dominic Giovinazzo and whilst it does indeed look like a BTCC car, they have regularly been participating in clubsport events for twenty years. While ground clearance on some sections of the track is an issue, the well maintained car benefits from the Brothers experience in rally sports and their antics delighted the Race Retro crowds.
In 1970, the England football squad, led by Sir Alf Ramsey, were preparing to travel to Mexico City for the Word Cup. The Daily Mirror, in conjunction with the Royal Automobile Club, sent out a press release announcing a unique motor sport event; a rally which was to be waved off by Sir Alf Ramsey from Wembley Stadium on 19th April 1970 to finish in Mexico City on 27th May to coincide with the start of the world football tournament. The rally was named the ‘Daily Mirror World Cup Rally’ and the route passed through Munich, Budapest, Monza, Lisbon, Rio de Janeiro, Santiago La Paz and Panama. Four BLMC Austin Maxis were prepared for the event; two works supported cars and two private teams – one of which was entered by The Royal Hussars/17/21 Lancers with Capt. HRH Prince Michael of Kent and a further private entry, which is presented today, prepared by Marshalls of Cambridge which was driven by three ladies led by Tish Ozanne with Bronwyn Burrell and Tina Kerridge as co-drivers. The event was gruelling; with 4,500 miles in Europe and 11,500 miles in South America to be covered, the tight schedules demanded a high pace be maintained in order to make each timing point with the crews also requiring oxygen whilst travelling above 15,000ft in the Andes. Out of 106 starters, only 26 finished. Hannu Mikkola won the event; Rosemary Smith finished 10th in the Works Maxi taking the Ladies prize, while the other Works Maxi finished 22nd. Capt. HRH Prince Michael of Kent went off the road at Ltuporanga, 10 miles from the start at Rio, smashing his drive shafts in the process, and withdrew. The Marshalls car sadly lost time by getting stuck in mud after leaving Buenos Aires and also had to withdraw. Apparently, the ladies were understandably devastated by this turn of events. Of these four cars, only two are known to survive today. The HRH Prince Michael car resides within the Heritage Motor Centre, Gaydon and the Marshall car, seen here, which remains as if it had just been competing in that famous rally. BLMC were keen for all the Maxi’s to do well and shared details of the works car preparation with the private teams; therefore, MCE 7G, prepared by Peter Baldwin, apprentice Ray Brand and painter, Richard Watts of Marshalls of Cambridge, is very much as the works Maxi. The modifications are too numerous to mention here, but do include glass fibre bonnet and doors (with Les Leston pins), plexiglass rear and side windows, welded tailgate with modified boot opening, bull bar and mesh, fog and spot lamps easily detachable via the rare Lucas rubber plug, works sump guard, strengthened and guarded suspension, front and rear telescopic dampers plus hydrolastic suspension with hydraulic pipes routed inside the car. A 25 gallon, foam filled (recently re-foamed) flexible fuel tank (dated March 1970) with separate gauge, alloy fuel tank support box and Irvin straps reside in the boot along with shovel, boot dust cover, temporary windscreen, double Lucas fuel pump and Monza fuel filler. The Maxi rides upon its original magnesium wheels with a further two being secured on the roof, all shod with new competition Maxsport tyres. The engine was originally a 1500cc unit with a cable change gear box; however, Tish Ozanne later improved the car by fitting a 1750cc unit with a rod change box for events in Europe. Inside, a John Aley roll bar is fitted, standard modified seats with rear storage, under seat tool storage, Britax seat belts front and rear, braced Intertech steering wheel, rear parcel shelf mounted suspension pump with the reservoir inside the boot, Halda Twinmaster, Smiths eight day clock with pea lights, rev. counter, 240kph rebuilt Smiths odometer, oil pressure gauge and battery gauge. Due to the altitude in the Andes, a 40,000ft altimeter is fitted with oxygen supply pipes and regulator. A push button starter gets things going. The differences between this Maxi in its battle dress and a standard car are legion and go far beyond a few rally lights and alloy wheels. Benefitting from a recent re-commission works and a tune by the original builder, Peter Baldwin, MCE 7G is one of the first 500 Maxis built.
The Ferrari 308 GTB is not the sort of car you would immediately associate with rallying, but there were genuine Group 4 spec cars that did compete. Despite being a high profile undertaking, it wasn’t Ferrari themselves who developed the 308 GTB into a rally car, but Michelotto. In 1973 official Ferrari support withdrew from all other forms of motorsport to concentrate solely on F1, and so it was the Padova dealership that stepped up to fill the void. And although their name is synonymous with racing Ferraris today, the 308 rally was their first project. 11 Group 4 cars were prepared, with Andruet’s 2nd place in Corsica being the highlight. Later, four Group B versions were made, but the surge in development from Lancia, Audi, Peugeot, and Ford with space-framed specially-constructed race cars meant that anything with a road car base was obsolete and so Michelotto turned their attention to the 308 GT/M, 288 GTO, and the Ferrari F40 instead. This is one of the Group B cars, previously driven by nine-times Spanish Rally Champion Antonio Zanini. Following an extensive restoration the car has been driven at Goodwood and finished second in the Modena Centro Ore Classic.
This Cinquecento Sporting with genuine Abarth parts on it belongs to Mark Barnes, who also owns a more recent Abarth 500 rally car.
The rear wheel drive Escort enjoyed a very successful rally career from the late 60s until the early 80s and it is still popular in historic rallying. There were no fewer than 16 examples of the Mark 1 and Mark 2 car here, making it the best represented car of the event.
Also here was the later fourth generation Escort, in Cosworth spec.
It was good to see the Metro 6R4 in action as well as the example I had seen displayed indoors.
For those who want the ideal vehicle for racing through a rutted off-road course, then a purpose-built machine that’s compact but rugged, agile yet durable would seem to be what’s required. Milner Racing has a vehicle with all that, a blown V8, and killer looks. This is the LRM-1. Tucked away in Derbyshire, Milner has been involved with cross-country racing in the UK since 1987. Its LRM-1 pairs fully independent, double wishbone suspension with a space frame chassis. The kicker? Its body shell is a composite mould of the Range Rover Evoque, but it’s scaled to 4/5 of the size for ideal competition dimensions. All that eight-cylinder grunt is coming from Land Rover’s newest 5.0-litre supercharged mill, tweaked to 550 hp and 501 lb-ft of torque. A custom transfer box and bespoke Quaife-based differentials work with a six-speed sequential ‘box to hustle the LRM-1 along. Milner offers this bad boy as turnkey or a rolling chassis with several drivetrain options.
Making another appearance here was a Morris 1800, one of the 1968 London to Sydney cars. Two cars were entered and this is one of them. The Hillcrest Motors car hit a wooden bridge post in Turkey putting a hole in the gearbox that wasn’t noticed until the oil loss caused terminal crankshaft damage bringing the 1800 to a halt in India. The ex-Royal Navy car of Captain Hands Hamilton. Captain Tim Lees-Spalding and Commander Philip Stearns, another of the 6 examples of the Austin entered, as the only one to finish the event undamaged. It was in 31st place. The Navy had actually helped BMC develop some aspects of the competition cars, but when it came to supplying one for this event, there was not a spare one for the Royal Navy team to drive, at which point the British School of Motoring stepped in with sponsorship and a car, which is why this one was not finished in the red and white of the other cars. It’s also why it has survived. At the end of the rally, the Australian Government had waived import duty on the competing cars, so it was much cheaper for the teams to leave the cars there and fly home. BSM wanted this one for promotional work so it was shipped back and used for police high-speed pursuit training. Its current owner found it in the 80s as a cheap rally car, but when he found the history, as an ex Navy man himself, he knew he had to preserve it. The other car was owned by his flat mate from university days.
This is perhaps Datsun’s most recognisable car. Nicholas Gills 240Z is another homage to the Japanese’s ability to promote their cars via rally sports. Finished in the iconic Safari Rally livery, the 240Z like several other valuable cars used not the track, acquired some minor damage but adds to the authenticity of the cars rally scars. The 240Z was built for long endurance rallying which resulted in Datsun producing a very strong car with a lot of charisma, but remains to this day a difficult and heavy car to drive in rally sports.
In 1979 work began on a rally-spec Opel. Both the Ascona B and the Manta B were used for this. The Ascona 400 model was the more successful of the two, largely due to better weight distribution. Opel joined forces with German tuner Irmscher and Cosworth in Britain, to make the 400. Cosworth was given the task to develop a 16-valve 2-cam head for the CIH spec engine block, and Irmscher who earlier in 1977 and 78 had proven that they knew their way around an Opel building the i2800, was to design the exterior and interior of the cars. The results were not bad. Opel however had problems with the engine. The first idea of using a 2.0-litre engine and then using the 16-valve head from Cosworth simply did not give enough power. The problem was that the heads had already been built, so the heads were made to fit on the CIH type 4-cylinder engine block. So they built an unusual engine using a 2.0-litre engine block with an overbore and larger pistons, a crankshaft from the 2.3-litre diesel engine of same type (CIH) and ended with a 2.4-litre engine block. Mounting the 16-valve head on this gave a massive output, and the opportunity to make several tune-ups for the rally drivers. Opel delivered the first 23 specimens in 1981 which were recognizable by the 2 slot front grille (1982, 83, and 84 models had 4 slot grilles). The cars were delivered as both street cars and factory tuned rally cars. The streetcars known as Phase 1 cars, were luxury versions of the Manta B Coupé. Although all the changes to give the body more strength were still implemented, the cars were delivered with all kinds of exclusive packaging. Recaro seats with big Opel badges on the cloth, Irmscher leather steering wheel, and even front light washers were mounted. The cars were all delivered in Arctic White colour, with White Ronal lightweight 7×15″ alloys. The engine was fitted with a Bosch LE injection system and power output was 144 bhp. The Phase 2 however was quite different. It had large extended arches front and rear made of materials such as carbon and kevlar to keep the weight down, lightweight doors, bonnet, spoilers and windows. The wheels were still from Ronal but now measuring 8×15″ front and 10×15″ rear. The engine output was 230 bhp using a set of 1.9 in DCOE style carburettors, and the cars could be delivered with different gearboxes from ZF and with different rear axle options like LSD. Phase 3 which is also a term used when talking about the i400s was not a factory tune-up. Many racers of the time had their garages tune up the engine even further. Some made it across the 300 bhp mark and even today, engines can be tuned to deliver just over 340 bhp still naturally aspirated. The Manta 400 was produced in a total of 245 specimens following the homologation regulations by FISA (today FIA). But the i400 also spawned some other “i” models: The first was the i200 which basically was a GSi model Manta B with most of the Manta 400’s appearance. 700 were made and are still considered a collector’s item. The i200 used a tuned 2.0E engine delivering 125 PS. There was also the i240, which is rarer as only 300 were produced, it is fitted with the i400 engine block but using a normal eight-valve cast-iron head from the 2.0E engine. First presented at the 1985 Geneva Motor Show, it produces 134 bhp and has a claimed top speed of 200 km/h (124 mph).
There were several examples of the 205, in both fizzing Group B T16 spec (undepicted) as well as the lesser Group A models.
In response to Lancia’s rallying success with the mid-engined Stratos, Renault’s Jean Terramorsi, vice-president of production, asked Bertone’s Marc Deschamps to design a new sports version of the Renault 5 Alpine supermini. The distinctive new rear bodywork was styled by Marcello Gandini at Bertone. Although the standard Renault 5 has a front-mounted engine, the 5 Turbo featured a mid-mounted 1,397 cc Cléon-Fonte with fuel fed by Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection and a Garrett AiResearch T3 turbocharger OHV 2 valves per cylinder Inline-four engine placed behind the driver in mid-body in a modified Renault 5 chassis. In standard form, the engine developed 160 PS at 6000 rpm and maximum torque of 221 Nm (163 lb/ft) at 3250 rpm. Though it used a modified body from a standard Renault 5, and was badged a Renault 5, the mechanicals were radically different, the most obvious difference being rear-wheel drive and rear-mid-engined instead of the normal version’s front-wheel drive and front-mounted engine. At the time of its launch it was the most powerful production French car. The first 400 production 5 Turbos were made to comply with Group 4 homologation to allow the car to compete in international rallies, and were manufactured at the Alpine factory in Dieppe. Many parts later transferred to the Alpine A310, such as the suspension or alloy wheel set. The R5 Turbo was conceived with dual intent, promoting the sales of the common R5 and being homologated in the FIA group 3 and 4 categories of the rally championship (today WRC). All the motorsport derivatives were based on the Turbo 1. The factory pushed the engine output up to 180 PS for the Critérium des Cévennes, 210 PS for the Tour de Corse, and by 1984 as much as 350 PS in the R5 Maxi Turbo. Driven by Jean Ragnotti in 1981, the 5 Turbo won the Monte Carlo Rally on its first outing in the World Rally Championship. The 2WD R5 Turbo soon faced the competition of new Group B four-wheel drive cars that proved faster on dirt. There are several victories throughout the early 80’s in the national championships in France, Portugal, Switzerland, Hungary, and Spain, many victories in international rallies throughout Europe, with wins in iconic rallies such as Monte-Carlo. After the factory ceased support, it lived a second life being developed by many teams and enthusiasts to compete in regional championships and local races in which it was ubiquitous and reached many success for almost 20 years. At the time of retirement, the newly created historical categories allowed these cars to return to international events and competitions, living a third life. For these reasons it has accessed to a legendary status and has a huge fan base.
During the 1970s and 80s, Skoda enjoyed considerable success in rallying with their rear-engined cars. They never got the big headlines, as these cars competed in Group N, so were never likely to be outright winners of events, but in their class they often proved unbeatable. I was interested to see this 130L which was beautifully presented, and which the owner took great delight in showing me when I paused to take photos of it.
Even with the rear-engined cars consigned to history, Skoda carried on rallying and the Favorit was the next car in which they competed. There was one of these here, too.
And bringing things uptodate were examples of the latest Fabia-based rally weapons. Except they were not quite what you might imagine. Brand new, these have been designed and built by Teg Sport and they were entered as Skodaru Fabia’s. The concept involves a current Skoda R5 body shell and the running gear from a Subaru WRC and they are preparing to chase overall rally victories in the UK this year.
Following the launch of the Sunbeam hatch in the autumn of 1977, ways were sought to create more interest with the addition of sporting versions. The first of these was the Ti, which was launched in early 1979. Chrysler had also commissioned the sports car manufacturer and engineering company Lotus to develop a strict rally version of the Sunbeam. The resulting ‘”Sunbeam Lotus” was based on the Sunbeam 1.6 GLS, but fitted with stiffer suspension, a larger anti-roll bar and a larger transmission tunnel. The drivetrain comprised an enlarged 2172 cc version of the Lotus 1973 cc 907 engine, a 16V slant four engine (the Sunbeam version being type 911, similar to the “Lotus 912”), along with a ZF gearbox, both mounted in the car at Ludham Airfield, close to the Lotus facility in Hethel, Norfolk, where the almost-complete cars were shipped from Linwood. Final inspection, in turn, took place in Stoke, Coventry. In road trim, the type 911 engine produced 150 bhp at 5,750rpm and 150 lb·ft of torque at 4,500rpm. In rallying trim this was increased to 250 bhp. The Sunbeam Lotus was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in April 1979, but the road-going version of the rally car was not actually ready for deliveries to the public until after the rebranding, and thus became the “Talbot Sunbeam Lotus”. At first these were produced mostly in black and silver, although later models came in a moonstone blue and silver (or black) scheme. The car saw not only enthusiastic press reviews, but also much success in the World Rally Championship – in 1980, Henri Toivonen won the 29th Lombard RAC Rally in one, and, in 1981, the Sunbeam Lotus brought the entire manufacturer’s championship to Talbot. The car had a short career, as new owners, Talbot, decided to kill off the Sunbeam in 1981.
There were a couple of examples of the Dolomite Sprint here. Sprints did well in the British Touring Car Championship, the cars of Andy Rouse and Tony Dron winning the manufacturers’ title in 1974 and Rouse the driver’s title in 1975. Dron nearly won it in 1977, thwarted in the final race (having won seven out of the 12 in the series) by a tyre failure.
British Leyland ran a team of TR7s in rally competitions from 1976 to 1980. These cars initially used the 16-valve Dolomite Sprint engine and later switched to the Rover V8 engine (before the introduction of the TR8, so dubbed “TR7 V8”). They were reasonably successful on tarmac events but were less successful on gravel sections. The most successful driver of these cars was Tony Pond. The 16-valve engined TR7 rally car was homologated for group 4 in October 1975, well before any 16-valve TR7 Sprints are known to have been produced. This was possible at the time using the “100-off rule”, as John Davenport called it, in the FIA’s appendix J to the International Sporting Code 1975. This 100-off rule described a list of “Optional equipment which may be recognsed with a minimum production of 100 units per year to equip 100 cars” and requirements for their use. However, it did not require that any cars actually be so equipped, just that 100 of the “bolt-on option kits” be produced, listed, and made available for sale. As well as alternative cylinder heads with different numbers of cams and valves, this list of optional equipment also included many other engine, suspension, and transmission components, and so covered the use of the 4-speed, close-ratio gearbox and overdrive from the Triumph Dolomite Sprint (the heavy duty axle from the 5-speed TR7 was initially homologated for group 3 by another, less clear, route, though re-homologated later, presumably on production of 5-speed TR7s). Further modifications, including the larger front brakes and rear disk brakes, were covered as “Optional equipment which may be recognised without a minimum production”. In 1975, Appendix J listed yet more modifications allowed, with restrictions, to cars for group 4, including pistons, manifolds, carburettors, and suspension, etc., that could be fitted without the FIA needing to recognise or approve them. However, the BL rally team had to regain approval for the 16-valve head for the 1978 season, and several others such as Lancia, Toyota, Vauxhall, and Ford had similar problems at that time. This was because the FIA deleted the 100-off rule from 1976, though mechanical parts and cars already using it were allowed to be used until the end of 1977. The number of cars suitable for “normal sale” required to gain approval of such a modification under the 1976 rules does not appear to be recorded. However, several other similar modifications of the era, including the Vauxhall Chevette HSR, Porsche 924 Carrera GTS, and possibly Ford RS rally cars, involved production of batches of 50 cars. This may explain, at least in part, the production of the 60 or so 16-valve TR7 Sprints in 1977. Their use in this homologation process is shown by 6 photographs of a TR7 Sprint (later registered SJW 530S) described in the British Motor Museum Film and Picture Library archives as “TR7 Sprint Homologation”. The V8 version was homologated on 1 April 1978. This was homologated as a separate model, the TR8, directly into group 4, but because the TR8 had not yet been launched “as a compromise to keep the BL marketing people happy, it was called the TR7V8 instead.” At that time, appendix J required 400 cars suitable for “normal sale”. However, the number produced by April 1978 is believed to have been less than 150. Journalist and historian Graham Robson quotes John Davenport as saying “In those days there was no rigorous FIA inspection system. Provided that one provided a production sheet signed by an important manager, then nobody worried”. Robson goes on, “A lot of fast and persuasive talking then went on, to show that the makings of well over 500 [sic.] cars were either built, partly built, or stuck in the morass of the Speke strike—the result being that homologation was gained.” However, the FIA rules are specific that these should be “entirely finished cars, e.g., cars in running condition and ready for delivery to the purchasers.” Also, the Ford Escort Mk2 RS1800 was re-homologated into Group 4, as the 2 L Escort RS, with only about 50 produced in 1977 and only about 109 in total – though has been claimed the FIA had included Escorts modified to RS1800 specification by others, after sale, despite this clearly being outside the FIA’s rules. The TR7-V8 models continue to be successful in classic rallying events.
Geoff Maybank’s Toyota Corolla Levin was a first time attendee at Race Retro, the car was one of a pair of TE20’s sourced from New Zealand. The 2nd generation Corolla was thrust into the limelight by Hannu Mikkola’s win at the 1000 Lakes event in 1975, and Geoff’s car has been finished in tribute to that car.
This Vauxhall was actually a Chevrolet Firenza Can-Am, a South African version of the Vauxhall Firenza powered by a Can-Am V8 302ci (4.9 litre) engine. It was developed for racing, but the rules speculated that 100 CanAms had to be built to homologate them. They were said to be able to reach 0-60 in 5.4 seconds and run out of steam at 140mph! The noise that comes from that V8 engine takes everyone by surprise the first time they hear it. Loud is an understatement!
A car I’d not seen at this event, or indeed any other, was this FE Series VX4/90. Somewhat larger than most successful cars of the era, it was created as a tribute to the late Gerry Marshall who worked his magic with a couple of Vauxhalls in the 70s.
In 1976, 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, which 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 16-valve cylinder head which Vauxhall was developing – though the rally cars used the Lotus 16-valve head until a rule change by the FIA banned them in 1978. 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 five-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 the black Mamos Garage HS-X. The HS became a great success as a rally car, chalking 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.
The Amazon-based Volvos of the 60s were very effective rally cars and there was a reminder of that with this 123GT car.
IN THE CAR PARK
As always with events like this, there is likely to be plenty of interest in the public car park, so I made sure that I wandered back there in the middle of the day, which was easy to do as I had been outside watching those Rally Cars anyway. And sure enough, parked up in the various areas of the site which were being used to accommodate the cars of those visiting were a number of what you might call more interesting vehicles as well as the lines of cars which currently are commonplace. Here is what I found:
There were a couple of Abarths that I found parked up. Both were 595 models, and I did not recognise the plates of either of them.
Older of the pair of Alfa Romeo models to catch my eye was this 1750 GTV. There’s a complex history to this much-loved classic. The first car was called the Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GT, and was revealed at a press event held at the then newly opened Arese plant on 9 September 1963, and displayed later the same month at the Frankfurt Motor Show. In its original form the Bertone body is known as scalino (step) or “step front”, because of the leading edge of the engine compartment lid which sat 1/4 an inch above the nose of the car. The Giulia Sprint GT can be distinguished from the later models by a number of features including: Exterior badging: Alfa Romeo logo on the front grille, a chrome script reading “Giulia Sprint GT” on the boot lid, and rectangular “Disegno di Bertone” badges aft of the front wheel arches; flat, chrome grille in plain, wide rectangular mesh without additional chrome bars; single-piece chrome bumpers; no overriders. Inside the cabin the padded vinyl dashboard was characterised by a concave horizontal fascia, finished in grey anti-glare crackle-effect paint. Four round instruments were inset in the fascia in front of the driver. The steering wheel was non-dished, with three aluminium spokes, a thin bakelite rim and a centre horn button. Vinyl-covered seats with cloth centres and a fully carpeted floor were standard, while leather upholstery was an extra-cost option. After initially marketing it as a four-seater, Alfa Romeo soon changed its definition of the car to a more realistic 2+2. The Giulia Sprint GT was fitted with the 1,570 cc version of Alfa Romeo’s all-aluminium twin cam inline four (78 mm bore × 82 mm stroke), which had first debuted on the 1962 Giulia Berlina. Breathing through two twin-choke Weber 40 DCOE 4 carburettors, on the Sprint GT this engine produced 105 hp at 6,000 rpm. Like all subsequent models, the Sprint GT was equipped with an all-synchromesh 5-speed manual transmission. The braking system comprised four Dunlop disc brakes and a vacuum servo. The rear brakes featured an unusual arrangement with the slave cylinders mounted on the axle tubes, operating the calipers by a system of levers and cranks. According to Alfa Romeo the car could reach a top speed of “over 180 km/h (112 mph)”. In total 21,902 Giulia Sprint GT were produced from 1963 to 1965, when the model was superceded by the Giulia Sprint GT Veloce. Of these 2,274 were right hand drive: 1,354 cars fully finished in Arese, and 920 shipped in complete knock-down kit form for foreign assembly. For 1966, the Giulia Sprint GT was replaced by the Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GT Veloce, which was very similar but featuring a number of improvements: a revised engine—slightly more powerful and with more torque—better interior fittings and changes to the exterior trim. Alongside the brand new 1750 Spider Veloce which shared its updated engine the Sprint GT Veloce was introduced at the 36th Geneva Motor Show in March 1966, and then tested by the international specialist press in Gardone on the Garda Lake. Production had began in 1965 and ended in 1968. The Giulia Sprint GT Veloce can be most easily distinguished from other models by the following features: badging as per Giulia Sprint GT, with the addition of round enamel badges on the C-pillar—a green Quadrifoglio (four-leaf clover) on an ivory background—and a chrome “Veloce” script on the tail panel; black mesh grille with three horizontal chrome bars; the grille heart has 7 bars instead of 6; stainless steel bumpers, as opposed to the chromed mild steel bumpers on the Giulia Sprint GT. The bumpers are the same shape, but are made in two pieces (front) and three pieces (rear) with small covers hiding the joining rivets. Inside the main changes from the Giulia Sprint GT were imitation wood dashboard fascia instead of the previous anti-glare grey finish, front seats revised to a mild “bucket” design, and a dished three aluminium spoke steering wheel, with a black rim and horn buttons through the spokes. The Veloce’s type 00536 engine, identical to the Spider 1600 Duetto’s, featured modifications compared to the Giulia Sprint GT’s type 00502—such as larger diameter exhaust valves. As a result it produced 108 hp at 6,000 rpm, an increase of 3 hp over the previous model, and significantly more torque. The top speed now exceeded 185 km/h (115 mph). Early Giulia Sprint GT Veloces featured the same Dunlop disc brake system as the Giulia Sprint GT, while later cars substituted ATE disc brakes as pioneered on the GT 1300 Junior in 1966. The ATE brakes featured an handbrake system entirely separate from the pedal brakes, using drum brakes incorporated in the rear disc castings. Though the Sprint GT Veloce’s replacement—the 1750 GT Veloce—was introduced in 1967, production continued throughout the year and thirty final cars were completed in 1968. By then total Giulia Sprint GT Veloce production amounted to 14,240 examples. 1,407 of these were right hand drive cars, and 332 right hand drive complete knock-down kits. The Alfa Romeo 1750 GT Veloce (also known as 1750 GTV) appeared in 1967 along with the 1750 Berlina sedan and 1750 Spider. The same type of engine was used to power all three versions; this rationalisation was a first for Alfa Romeo. The 1750 GTV replaced the Giulia Sprint GT Veloce and introduced many updates and modifications. Most significantly, the engine capacity was increased to 1779 cc displacement. Peak power from the engine was increased to 120 hp at 5500 rpm. The stroke was lengthened from 82 to 88.5 mm over the 1600 engine, and a reduced rev limit from 7000 rpm to 6000 rpm. Maximum torque was increased to 137 lb·ft at 3000 rpm. A higher ratio final drive was fitted (10/41 instead of 9/41) but the same gearbox ratios were retained. The result was that, on paper, the car had only slightly improved performance compared to the Giulia Sprint GT Veloce, but on the road it was much more flexible to drive and it was easier to maintain higher average speeds for fast touring. For the United States market, the 1779 cc engine was fitted with a fuel injection system made by Alfa Romeo subsidiary SPICA, to meet emission control laws that were coming into effect at the time. Fuel injection was also featured on Canadian market cars after 1971. Carburettors were retained for other markets. The chassis was also significantly modified. Tyre size went to 165/14 from 155/15 and wheel size to 5 1/2J x 14 instead of 5J x 15, giving a wider section and slightly smaller rolling diameter. The suspension geometry was also revised, and an anti-roll bar was fitted to the rear suspension. ATE disc brakes were fitted from the outset, but with bigger front discs and calipers than the ones fitted to GT 1300 Juniors and late Giulia Sprint GT Veloces. The changes resulted in significant improvements to the handling and braking, which once again made it easier for the driver to maintain high average speeds for fast touring. The 1750 GTV also departed significantly from the earlier cars externally. New nose styling eliminated the “stepped” bonnet of the Giulia Sprint GT, GTC, GTA and early GT 1300 Juniors and incorporated four headlamps. For the 1971 model year, United States market 1750 GTV’s also featured larger rear light clusters (there were no 1970 model year Alfas on the US market). Besides the chrome “1750” badge on the bootlid, there was also a round Alfa Romeo badge. Similar Quadrofoglio badges to those on the Giulia Sprint GT Veloce were fitted on C pillars, but the Quadrofoglio was coloured gold instead of green. The car also adopted the higher rear wheelarches first seen on the GT 1300 Junior. The interior was also much modified over that of earlier cars. There was a new dashboard with large speedometer and tachometer instruments in twin binnacles closer to the driver’s line of sight. The instruments were mounted at a more conventional angle, avoiding the reflections caused by the upward angled flat dash of earlier cars. Conversely, auxiliary instruments were moved to angled bezels in the centre console, further from the driver’s line of sight than before. The new seats introduced adjustable headrests which merged with the top of the seat when fully down. The window winder levers, the door release levers and the quarterlight vent knobs were also restyled. The remote release for the boot lid, located on the inside of the door opening on the B-post just under the door lock striker, was moved from the right hand side of the car to the left hand side. The location of this item was always independent of whether the car was left hand drive or right hand drive. Early (Series 1) 1750 GTV’s featured the same bumpers as the Giulia Sprint GT Veloce, with the front bumper modified to mount the indicator / sidelight units on the top of its corners, or under the bumper on US market cars. The Series 2 1750 GTV of 1970 introduced other mechanical changes, including a dual circuit braking system (split front and rear, with separate servos). The brake and clutch pedals on left hand drive cars were also of an improved pendant design, instead of the earlier floor-hinged type. On right hand drive cars the floor-hinged pedals were retained, as there was no space for the pedal box behind the carburettors. Externally, the series 2 1750 GTV is identified by new, slimmer bumpers with front and rear overriders. The combined front indicator and sidelight units were now mounted to the front panel instead of the front bumper, except again on the 1971-72 US/Canadian market cars. The interior was slightly modified, with the seats retaining the same basic outline but following a simpler design. 44,269 1750 GTVs were made before their replacement came along. That car was the 2000GTV. Introduced in 1971, together with the 2000 Berlina sedan and 2000 Spider, the 2 litre cars were replacements for the 1750 range. The engine displacement was increased to 1962 cc. The North American market cars had fuel injection, but everyone else retained carburettors. Officially, both versions generated the same power, 130 hp at 5500 rpm. The interior trim was changed, with the most notable differences being the introduction of a separate instrument cluster, instead of the gauges installed in the dash panel in earlier cars. Externally the 2000 GTV is most easily distinguished by its grille with horizontal chrome bars, featuring protruding blocks forming the familiar Alfa heart in outline, smaller hubcaps with exposed wheel nuts, optional aluminium alloy wheels of the same size as the standard 5. 1/2J × 14 steel items, styled to the “turbina” design first seen on the alloy wheels of the Alfa Romeo Montreal, and the larger rear light clusters first fitted to United States market 1750 GTV’s were standard for all markets. From 1974 on, the 105 Series coupé models were rationalised and these external features became common to post-1974 GT 1300 Junior and GT 1600 Junior models, with only few distinguishing features marking the difference between models. 37,459 2000 GTVs were made before production ended and these days they are very sought after with prices having sky-rocketed in recent years.
Replacement for the much loved 156 was the 159. The Alfa Romeo 159 had a troubled development, being designed in the midst of the Fiat-General Motors joint venture which was terminated in 2005. Originally, the 159 was intended to use GM’s Epsilon platform; however, late during its development it was changed to the GM/Fiat Premium platform. The Premium platform was more refined and expensive, being intended for E-segment executive cars such as an Alfa Romeo 166 successor but that never materialised, so Alfa Romeo attempted to recoup some of the platform development costs with the 159. General Motors originally planned Cadillac, Buick and Saab models for this platform but ending up discarded them over cost concerns. Unfortunately, the 159’s late transition to what was fundamentally made as an E-segment platform resulted in the 159 having excessive weight, a problem shared by its sisters, the Alfa Romeo Brera coupe and Spider convertible. The 159 was designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro in collaboration with the Centro Stile Alfa Romeo. The nose featured a traditional Alfa Romeo V-shaped grille and bonnet, and cylindrical head light clusters. Similar to its coupé counterpart, front of the car was influenced by the Giugiaro designed 2002 Brera Concept. Several exterior design cues were intended to make the car appear larger, supposedly to appeal to potential buyers in the United States; however, the 159 was never exported to that region. The interior featured styling treatments familiar from earlier cars, including the 156, such as deeply recessed instruments which are angled towards the driver. Alfa Romeo intended for the 159 to compete more directly with BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi by using higher quality interior materials; however, it has been said that Alfa Romeo misjudged their brand’s positioning relative to the more well-known German luxury automakers. Several levels of trim were available, depending on market. Four trim levels: Progression, Distinctive, Exclusive and Turismo Internazionale (TI) featured across Europe. In the UK there were three levels of trim: Turismo, Lusso and Turismo Internazionale (TI). A Sportwagon variant was introduced at the Geneva Motor Show in 2006. The 159’s size made it considerably more comfortable than the 156 due to its larger, roomy interior. However, the considerable growth in dimensions deterred many 156 owners from considering the 159 as a direct replacement model, and something seemed to be lost in the character of the new car. Initially offered with a choice of 1.9 and 2,2 litre 4 cylinder and 3.2 litre V6 petrol engines and 1.9 and 2.4 litre diesel units, and an optional four wheel drive system. An automatic gearbox option for the 2.4 JTDM diesel model was also launched in late 2006, and later extended to other versions. In 2007 a four-wheel drive diesel model was released and the 2.4-litre diesel engines’ power output increased to 210 hp, with a newly reintroduced TI trim level also available as an option. For model year 2008 the mechanics and interiors of the 159 were further developed. The 3.2 litre V6 model was offered in front wheel drive configuration, achieving a top speed of 160 mph. All model variants came with Alfa’s electronic “Q2” limited slip differential. As a result of newly introduced aluminium components, a 45 kilograms (99 lb) weight reduction was achieved. For 2009, Alfa introduced a new turbocharged petrol engine badged as “TBi”. This 1742 cc unit had direct injection and variable valve timing in both inlet and exhaust cams. This new engine had 200 PS (197 hp) and would eventually replace the GM-derived 2.2 and 1.9 JTS units.In 2010, all petrol engines except for the 1750 TBi were retired, ending the use of General Motors-based engines in the 159. The only remaining diesel engines were the 136 PS and 170 PS 2.0 JTDm engines. In 2011, the 159 was powered only by diesel engines. In the UK, Alfa Romeo stopped taking orders for the 159 on 8 July 2011. Production for all markets ceased at the end of 2011, after 240,000 had been built.
The 1600-2, as the first “02 Series” BMW was designated, was an entry-level BMW, and was smaller, less expensive, and less well-appointed than the New Class Sedan on which it was based. BMW’s design director Wilhelm Hofmeister assigned the two-door project to staff designers Georg Bertram and Manfred Rennen. The 9.1 in shorter length and wheelbase and lighter weight of the two-door sedan made it more suitable than the original New Class sedan for sporting applications. As a result, the two door sedan became the basis of the sporting 02 Series. The 1600-2 (the “-2” meaning “2-door”) made its debut at the Geneva Show in March 1966 and was sold until 1975, with the designation being simplified to “1602” in 1971. The 1.6 litre M10 engine produced 84 hp at 5,700 rpm and 96 lb·ft. A high performance version, the 1600 TI, was introduced in September 1967. With a compression ratio of 9.5:1 and the dual Solex PHH side-draft carburettor system from the 1800 TI, the 1600 TI produced 110 hp at 6,000 rpm. Also introduced in September 1967 was a limited-production cabriolet, which would be produced by Baur from 1967 through 1971. A hatchback 1600 Touring model was introduced in 1971 but was discontinued in 1972. It was what came next which was more significant. Helmut Werner Bönsch, BMW’s director of product planning, and Alex von Falkenhausen, designer of the M10 engine, each had a two litre engine installed in a 1600-2 for their respective personal use. When they realised they had both made the same modification to their own cars, they prepared a joint proposal to BMW’s board to manufacture a two litre version of the 1600-2. At the same time, American importer Max Hoffman was asking BMW for a sporting version of the 02 series that could be sold in the United States. As per the larger coupe and 4-door saloon models, the 2.0 engine was sold in two states of tune: the base single-carburettor 2002 producing 101 hp and the dual-carburettor high compression 2002 ti producing 119 hp.In 1971, the Baur cabriolet was switched from the 1.6 litre engine to the 2.0 litre engine to become the 2002 cabriolet, the Touring hatchback version of the 02 Series became available with all engine sizes available in the 02 Series at the time and the 2002 tii was introduced as the replacement for the 2002 ti. The 2002 tii used the fuel-injected 130 hp engine from the 2000 tii, which resulted in a top speed of 185 km/h (115 mph). A 2002 tii Touring model was available throughout the run of the tii engine and the Touring body, both of which ended production in 1974. The 2002 Turbo was launched at the 1973 Frankfurt Motor Show. This was BMW’s first turbocharged production car and the first turbocharged car since General Motors’ brief offerings in the early 1960s. It produced 170 hp. The 2002 Turbo used the 2002 tii engine with a KKK turbocharger and a compression ratio of 6.9:1 in order to prevent engine knocking. Kugelfischer mechanical fuel injection was used, with a sliding throttle plate instead of the usual throttle butterfly. The 2002 Turbo was introduced just before the 1973 oil crisis, therefore only 1,672 were built. The 1802 was introduced in 1971 and was available with either the original 2-door sedan body or the 3-door Touring hatchback introduced that year. Production of the Touring model continued until 1974, with the 1802 sedan ending production the following year. The 1502, an economy model with an engine displacement of 1573 cc was introduced in 1975. This engine had a lower compression ratio of 8.0:1, therefore standard-octane petrol could be used. While the rest of the 02 Series was replaced in 1975 by the E21 3 Series, the 1502 was continued until 1977. It was a 2002 Turbo that I saw here.
This is a Conquest saloon and it belongs to Peter Baker, an automotive journalist who specialises in historic motorsport. The Conquest was produced from 1953 to 1958. Based on the Lanchester Fourteen, the Conquest replaced the Daimler Consort. Sales were affected by increasing prices and by the fuel shortage caused by the Suez Crisis, and production ended by January 1958, before a replacement model was in production. The standard 1953 Conquest used a straight-six engine developed from the inline-four engine used in Lanchester’s Fourteen and Leda models. The engine was made from cast iron and had a single Zenith carburettor and a compression ratio of 6.6:1. With a bore of 76.2 mm and a stroke of 88.9 mm, the engine displaced 2,433 cc and delivered 75 bhp. The 1954 Conquest Century model had an alloy head with larger valves, higher compression, high lift cams, and twin SU carburettors. These modifications raised the power to 100 bhp at 4400 rpm. The body was a slightly modified version of that used on the earlier Lanchester Fourteen. Apart from the grille and fog lamps, the Conquest was identical to the Lanchester Fourteen and Leda. While the Fourteen had been coachbuilt of steel on a timber frame, the Leda had an all-steel body, on which the Conquest’s was based. The whole car appeared to have been developed within four months of Bernard Docker, then managing director of BSA, taking on the additional responsibility of managing director of Daimler in January 1953. Presented as a new car, the 75 hp Conquest originated in the 1950 Fourteen or Leda, produced by Daimler’s subsidiary, Lanchester. The chassis was suitably modified to accommodate its new 2.4-litre 6-cylinder engine. The usual Daimler large cruciform chassis had a double wishbone front suspension, with laminated torsion bars, telescopic dampers, and an anti-roll bar, while the rear suspension used leaf springs with telescopic dampers. All cars featured automatic chassis lubrication to 21 points, using a pump controlled by exhaust heat at startup. Cam and peg steering was used, and Girling hydro-mechanical brakes: hydraulic front, mechanical rear. The cars had an 2,642 mm (104 in) wheelbase. The Century specification included a stronger four-pinion differential, replacing the Conquest’s two-pinion differential. The Century’s brakes were also upgraded with increased lining area. In January 1955, a number of upgrades were announced. There was four inches more leg-space for rear seat passengers. In addition, doors now opened wider and there were “further interior embellishments”. In October 1955, the Mark II models were announced for the Earls Court Motor Show, available as before in Conquest (75 bhp) and Conquest Century (100 bhp) form. However, the Daimler Conquest Century was now called the Daimler Century in marketing literature. The built-in fog lamps were now replaced by independent valance-mounted fog and driving lamps and their former location became ducts for the heater and air vent.
Introduced at the 1985 Frankfurt Show alongside the Mondial 3.2 series, the Ferrari 328 GTB and GTS (Type F106) were the successors to the Ferrari 308 GTB and GTS which had first been seen in October 1975. While mechanically still based on the 308 GTB and GTS respectively, small modifications were made to the body style and engine, most notably an increase in engine displacement to 3185 cc for increased power and torque output. As had been the case for a generation of the smaller Ferraris, the model name referred to the total cubic capacity of the engine, 3.2 litres, and 8 for the number of cylinders. Essentially the new model was a revised and updated version of the 308 GTS, which had survived for eight years without any radical change to the overall shape, albeit with various changes to the 3-litre engine. The 328 model presented a softening of the wedge profile of its predecessor, with a redesigned nose that had a more rounded shape, which was complemented by similar treatment to the tail valance panel. The revised nose and tail sections featured body colour bumpers integral with the valance panels, which reflected the work done concurrently to present the Mondial 3.2 models, with which they also shared a similar radiator grille and front light assembly layout. Thus all the eight-cylinder cars in the range shared fairly unified front and rear aspects, providing a homogeneous family image. The exhaust air louvres behind the retractable headlight pods on the 308 series disappeared, coupled with an increase in the size of the front lid radiator exhaust air louvre, which had been introduced on the 308 Quattrovalvole models, whilst a new style and position of exterior door catch was also provided. The interior trim also had a thorough overhaul, with new designs for the seat panel upholstery and stitching, revised door panels and pulls, together with more modern switchgear, which complemented the external updating details. Optional equipment available was air conditioning, metallic paint, Pirelli P7 tyres, a leather dashboard, leather headlining to the removable roof panel plus rear window surround, and a rear aerofoil (standard on Japanese market models). In the middle of 1988 ABS brakes were made available as an option, which necessitated a redesign of the suspension geometry to provide negative offset. This in turn meant that the road wheel design was changed to accommodate this feature. The original flat spoke “star” wheels became a convex design, in the style as fitted to the 3.2 Mondial models, whether ABS was fitted or not. The main European market 328 GTS models had a tubular chassis with a factory type reference F 106 MS 100. Disc brakes, with independent suspension via wishbones, coil springs, and hydraulic shock absorbers, were provided all round, with front and rear anti roll bars. There were various world market models, each having slight differences, with right and left hand drive available. The V8 engine was essentially of the same design as that used in the 308 Quattrovalvole model, with an increase in capacity to 3185 cc. The engine retained the Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection system of its predecessor, but was fitted with a Marelli MED 806 A electronic ignition system, to produce a claimed power output of 270 bhp at 7000 rpm. As with the preceding 308 models the engine was mounted in unit with the all synchromesh five-speed manual transmission assembly, which was below, and to the rear of the engine’s sump. The 328 GTS continued in production for four years, until replaced by the 348 ts model in the autumn of 1989, during which time 6068 examples were produced, GTS production outnumbering the GTB (1344 produced) version almost five to one.
An all new design, the 458 Italia was first officially unveiled at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show. Once more, Ferrari advised that the model incorporated technologies developed from the company’s experience in Formula 1. The body computer system was developed by Magneti Marelli Automotive Lighting. The 458 came with a 4,499 cc V8 engine of the “Ferrari/Maserati” F136 engine family, producing 570 PS ( 562 hp) at 9,000 rpm and 540 N·m (398 lb/ft) at 6,000 rpm with 80% torque available at 3,250 rpm. The engine featured direct fuel injection, a first for Ferrari mid-engine setups in its road cars. The only transmission available was a dual-clutch 7-speed Getrag gearbox, in a different state of tune shared with the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG. There was no traditional manual option, making this the fourth road-car after the Enzo, Challenge Stradale and 430 Scuderia not to be offered with Ferrari’s classic gated manual. The car’s suspension featured double wishbones at the front and a multi-link setup at the rear, coupled with E-Diff and F1-Trac traction control systems, designed to improve the car’s cornering and longitudinal acceleration by 32% when compared with its predecessors.The brakes included a prefill function whereby the pistons in the calipers move the pads into contact with the discs on lift off to minimise delay in the brakes being applied. This combined with the ABS and standard Carbon Ceramic brakes caused a reduction in stopping distance from 100–0 km/h to 32.5 metres. Ferrari’s official 0–100 km/h (62 mph) acceleration time was quoted as 2.9–3.0 seconds with a top speed of 340 km/h (210 mph). In keeping with Ferrari tradition the body was designed by Pininfarina under the leadership of Donato Coco, the Ferrari design director. The interior design of Ferrari 458 Italia was designed by Bertrand Rapatel, a French automobile designer. The car’s exterior styling and features were designed for aerodynamic efficiency, producing a downforce of 140 kg (309 lb) at 200 km/h. In particular, the front grille features deformable winglets that lower at high speeds, in order to offer reduced drag. The car’s interior was designed using input from former Ferrari Formula 1 driver Michael Schumacher; in a layout common to racing cars, the new steering wheel incorporates many controls normally located on the dashboard or on stalks, such as turning signals or high beams. At launch the car was widely praised as being pretty much near perfect in every regard. It did lack a fresh air version, though, but that was addressed with the launch of the 458 Spider at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show. This convertible variant of the 458 Italia featured an aluminium retractable hardtop which, according to Ferrari, weighs 25 kilograms (55 lb) less than a soft roof such as the one found on the Ferrari F430 Spider, and can be opened in 14 seconds The engine cover was redesigned to accommodate the retractable roof system. It had the same 0–100 km/h time as the hard-top but a lower top speed of 199 mph. It quickly became the better seller of the two versions.
Also here was its successor, the 488 GTB. Launched at the 2015 Geneva Show, the 488GTB followed the lead set by the California T in bringing turbocharging into a modern-day, mid-engined V8 Ferrari supercar for the first time. The engine is completely new when compared with its V8 stablemate, not only in components but also in feel and character. It is a twin-turbocharged 3902cc unit whilst that in the California T is 3855cc. In the 488 GTB, it produces 660bhp at 8000rpm and 560lb ft at 3000rpm. Both outputs are significant increases over the normally aspirated 4.5-litre V8 used in the 562 bhp 458 Italia and 597 bhp 458 Speciale, and also greater than the car’s biggest rival, the McLaren 650S. The torque figure of the 488 GTB is such that it also exceeds the 509lb ft at 6000rpm of the normally aspirated V12 used in the range-topping Ferrari F12 Berlinetta. The mighty new engine in the 488 GTB drives the rear wheels through a revised seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox derived from the 458. It features a new ‘Variable Torque Management’ system which, Ferrari says, “unleashes the engine’s massive torque smoothly and powerfully right across the rev range”. The gear ratios are also tuned to “deliver incredibly progressive acceleration when the driver floors the throttle”. The 488 GTB can crack 0-62mph in just 3.0sec, 0-124mph in 8.4sec and reach a top speed of 205mph. Its 0-62mph and 0-124mph times match the McLaren 650S’s, but the Woking car’s top speed is slightly higher at 207mph. The engine also accounts for the ‘488’ element of the car’s name, because each of the engine’s eight cylinders is 488cc in capacity when rounded up. The GTB suffix, standing for Gran Turismo Berlinetta, is a hallmark of previous mid-engined V8 Ferraris such as the 308 GTB. Not only is the new turbo engine more potent than the 4.5-litre V8 from the 458 Italia, but it is also more economical. Combined fuel economy is rated at 24.8mpg, compared with 21.2mpg in the 458 Italia, and CO2 emissions are 260g/km – a 47g/km improvement. Ferrari’s HELE engine stop-start system features on the 488 GTB. Developments on the dynamic side include a second generation of the Side Slip Angle Control system, called SSC2. This allows the driver to oversteer without intruding, unless it detects a loss of control. The SSC2 now controls the active dampers, in addition to the F1-Trac traction control system and E-Diff electronic differential. Ferrari says the result is “more precise and less invasive, providing greater longitudinal acceleration out of corners” and flatter, more stable behaviour during “complex manoeuvres”. Learnings from the Ferrari XX programme have also been incorporated into the 488 GTB, something that Ferrari says allows all drivers and not just professionals, to make the most of its electronic and vehicle control systems. It also claims the 488 GTB is “the most responsive production model there is”, with responses comparable to a track car. The 488 GTB has lapped Ferrari’s Fiorano test track in 1min 23sec – two seconds faster than the 458 Italia, and half a second quicker than the 458 Speciale. The dimensions of the 488 GTB – it is 4568mm in length, 1952mm in width and 1213mm in height – closely match the 458 Italia from which it has evolved. Its dry weight is 1370kg when equipped with lightweight options – 40kg more than the McLaren 650S. The new look, styled at the Ferrari Styling Centre, features several new aerodynamic features that improve downforce and reduce drag. Most notable is the addition of active aerodynamics at the rear through a ‘blown’ rear spoiler, where air is channelled from the base of the glass engine cover under the spoiler. This contributes to the 50% increase in downforce over the 458 Italia. Also new is a double front spoiler, an aerodynamic underbody, a large air intake at the front that references the 308 GTB, a diffuser with active flaps, new positioning for the exhaust flaps and new-look lights. The interior has been redesigned to be made more usable, including new switchgear, air vents and instrument panel. The multi-function steering wheel remains, while the infotainment system gets a new interface and graphics. The Spider followed the closed coupe model six months later, and it has proved to be the bigger seller of the pair, as was the case with the 458 models.
Ford updated the Fiesta in August 1983 with a revised front end and interior, and a bootlid mirroring the swage lines from the sides of the car. The 1.3 L OHV engine was dropped, being replaced in 1984 by a CVH powerplant of similar capacity, itself superseded by the lean burn 1.4 L two years later. The 957 and 1,117 cc Kent/Valencia engines continued with only slight alterations and for the first time a Fiesta diesel was produced with a 1,600 cc engine adapted from the Escort. The new CTX continuously variable transmission, also fitted in the Fiat Uno, eventually appeared early in 1987 on 1.1 L models only. The second generation Fiesta featured a different dashboard on the lower-series trim levels compared to the more expensive variants. The recently launched XR2 model was thoroughly updated with a larger bodykit. It also featured a 96 bhp 1.6 litre CVH engine as previously seen in the Ford Escort XR3, and five-speed gearbox rather than the four-speed gearbox which had been used on the previous XR2 and on the rest of the Fiesta range. The engine was replaced by a lean-burn variant in 1986 which featured a revised cylinder head and carburettor; it was significantly cleaner from an environmental viewpoint but was slightly less powerful as a result with 95 bhp. These days it tends to be the XR2 that you see most often, but on this occasions, it was a much more mundane spec model that was here.
Ford launched the first Thunderbird in 1955, an open topped two seater. Although initially conceived to do so, by the time of its launch, rather than competing directly against the Chevrolet Corvette, as a sports car, it was pitched as a two seater “personal luxury” car, trying to create a new market segment. It was a bold move, and it paid off, with sales in the first year 23 times those of the Corvette. The idea proved popular well into the 1990s by which time the Coupe was losing out to other body styles. Ford refreshed the car at frequent intervals. Seen here was a third generation car, made between 1961 and 1963. The 1961 model had sleeker styling that gave the car a distinctively bullet-like appearance. A new engine, the 390 cu in (6.4 litre) FE V8, was the standard and only engine initially offered in the Thunderbird, producing 300 hp and it was mated to a 3-speed automatic transmission. The new Thunderbird was immediately well received with 73,051 sold for 1961. The car was 1961’s Indianapolis 500 pace car and was featured prominently in US President John F. Kennedy’s inaugural parade, probably helped along by the appointment of Ford executive Robert McNamara as Secretary of Defence. A vinyl-roofed Landau option with simulated S-bars was added to the Thunderbird for 1962 as was a Sports Roadster package for convertible models. The Sports Roadster included 48-spoke Kelsey Hayes-designed wire wheels and a special fibreglass tonneau cover for the rear seats which gave the car the appearance of a two-seat roadster like the original Thunderbird. The Sports Roadster package was slow-selling due the high price of the package and complexity of the tonneau cover, resulting in few Thunderbirds being equipped with it. Newly optional for 1962 was an upgraded version of the V8 called the “M-Code” (a nickname used in reference to the letter M used as the engine code in the VIN in cars so equipped), which was equipped with three two-barrel Holley carburettors and could produce 340 hp. M-Code V8 Thunderbirds are exceptionally rare with only 200 being sold between 1962 and 1963. For 1963 only, Y-code cars could come equipped with the same 390 cubic inch V-8 also equipped by the factory with tri-power carburettors only if the buyer desired air conditioning. Few other changes were made to the Thunderbird for 1963 as Ford prepared to introduce a new version for 1964.
The Prelude was launched in 1978, as a Japanese rival to the Ford Capri, Opel Manta and Toyota Celica. As was the case at the time, the model was refreshed approxiamtely every 4 years, with what turned out to be the fifth and final generation arriving on 7 November 1996. The fifth generation retained an FF layout with an independent front suspension and 63/37 weight distribution. Most fifth-generation Honda Preludes came with 16-inch aluminium alloy wheels with all-season 205/50 R16 87V tyres, featured the 11.1″ front brakes like the ’96 VTEC model, and most Preludes also received a five-lug hub (not the four-lug wheel hub of older models). There were plenty of different engines and trims offered across the world European models came with the 2.2 litre injected four cylinder and a choice of five speed manual or four speed automatic transmissions. The fifth-generation Prelude marked a return to the more square bodystyle of the third generation (1987–1991), in an attempt to curb slumping sales of the fourth-generation bodystyle. Sales were not strong, particularly due to competition from Honda’s other offerings. The sixth-generation Accord coupe received an exclusive front fascia, rear tail lights, wheels and many other body panels, now being marketed alongside the Prelude with shared brochures in Canada, yet its sedan roots gave it much more utility than the comparatively cramped Prelude, and the option of a V6 engine gave North American buyers an appealing alternative. The sixth-generation Civic Si coupe was considerably less expensive than the Prelude as well, while also providing better fuel economy ratings. The Honda S2000 was another offering that while more expensive than the Prelude, offered rear wheel drive, a six-speed transmission, 40 extra horsepower, and a convertible top. The exterior dimensions of the Prelude were no longer in compliance with Japanese government regulations, and the additional costs resulting from this contributed to the popularity of smaller Honda products.
Although bearing a family resemblance to the earlier XK120 and XK140, the XK150, launched in the spring of 1957, was radically revised. A one-piece windscreen replaced the split screen, and the wing line no longer dropped so deeply at the doors. The widened bonnet opened down to the wings, and on the Roadster the windscreen frame was moved back 4 inches to make the bonnet longer. The XK140’s walnut dashboard was replaced by one trimmed in leather. On the early Drophead Coupés, the aluminium centre dash panel, which was discontinued after June 1958, had an X pattern engraving similar to the early 3.8 E-Type. Thinner doors gave more interior space. On the front parking lights, which were located atop the wings, a little red light reminded the driver the lights were on. Suspension and chassis were very similar to the XK140, and steering was by rack and pinion; power steering was not offered. The standard engine, the similar to the XK140, but with an new “B” type cylinder head, was the 3.4 litre DOHC Jaguar straight-6 rated at 180 SAE bhp at 5750 rpm but most cars were fitted with the SE engine whose modified cylinder head (B type) and larger exhaust valves boosted the power to 210 SAE bhp at 5500 rpm. Twin 1.75-inch (44 mm) SU HD6 carburettors were fitted. While the first XK150s were slower than their predecessors, the deficit was corrected in the spring of 1958 with a 3.4-litre “S” engine whose three 2-inch SU HD8 carburettors and straight-port cylinder head increased power to a claimed 250 SAE bhp. For 1960, the 3.4 litre engine was bored to 3.8 litres, rating this option at 220 hp in standard tune or 265 hp in “S” form. A 3.8 litre 150S could top 135 mph and go from 0–60 mph in around 7.0 seconds. Fuel economy was 18mpg. Four-wheel Dunlop 12 in disc brakes appeared for the first time although it was theoretically possible to order a car with drums. When leaving the factory the car originally fitted either 6.00 × 16 inch Dunlop Road Speed tyres as standard, or you could specify 185VR16 Pirelli Cinturato CA67 as a radial option on either 16 × 5K½ solid wheels (basic models) or 16 × 5K wire wheels. Production ended in October 1960, and totalled 2265 Roadsters, 4445 Fixed Head Coupés and 2672 Drophead Coupés.
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 nice Fulvia HF Coupe.
Lancia launched the Delta in 1979, as what we would now think of as a “premium hatch”. Offered in 1300 and 1500cc engines, this car, which collected the prestigious “Car of the year” award a few months later, brought Italian style and an expensive feeling interior to a new and lower price point in the market than Lancia had occupied since the early days of the Fulvia some 15 years earlier. The range grew first when a model was offered using the 4 speed AP automatic transmission and then in late 1982, more powerful models started to appear, with first a 1600cc engine, and then one with fuel injection, before the introduction of the HF Turbo. All these cars kept the same appearance and were quite hard to tell apart. These were the volume models of the range, but now they are very definitely the rare ones, as it is the performance versions which have survived and are now much loved classics, even though relatively were sold when they were new, thanks to a combination of the fact that they were quite costly and that they only ever came with left hand drive. The Integrale evolved over several years, starting off as the HF Turbo 4WD that was launched in April 1986, to homologate a new rally car for Lancia who needed something to fill the void left by the cancellation of Group B from the end of 1986. The Delta HF 4X4 had a four-wheel drive system with an in-built torque-splitting action. Three differentials were used. Drive to the front wheels was linked through a free-floating differential; drive to the rear wheels was transmitted via a 56/44 front/rear torque-splitting Ferguson viscous-coupling-controlled epicyclic central differential. At the rear wheels was a Torsen (torque sensing) rear differential. It divided the torque between the wheels according to the available grip, with a maximum lockup of 70%. The basic suspension layout of the Delta 4WD remained the same as in the rest of the two-wheel drive Delta range: MacPherson strut–type independent suspension with dual-rate dampers and helicoidal springs, with the struts and springs set slightly off-centre. The suspension mounting provided more isolation by incorporating flexible rubber links. Progressive rebound bumpers were adopted, while the damper rates, front and rear toe-in and the relative angle between springs and dampers were all altered. The steering was power-assisted rack and pinion. The car looked little different from the front wheel drive models. In September 1987, Lancia showed a more sophisticated version of the car, the Lancia Delta HF Integrale 8V. This version incorporated some of the features of the Delta HF 4WD into a road car. The engine was an 8-valve 2 litre fuel injected 4-cylinder, with balancing shafts. The HF version featured new valves, valve seats and water pump, larger water and oil radiators, more powerful cooling fan and bigger air cleaner. A larger capacity Garrett T3 turbocharger with improved air flow and bigger inter-cooler, revised settings for the electronic injection/ignition control unit and a knock sensor, boosting power output to 185 bhp at 5300 rpm and maximum torque of 224 lb/ft at 3500 rpm. The HF Integrale had permanent 4-wheel drive, a front transversely mounted engine and five-speed gearbox. An epicyclic centre differential normally split the torque 56 per cent to the front axle, 44 per cent to the rear. A Ferguson viscous coupling balanced the torque split between front and rear axles depending on road conditions and tyre grip. The Torsen rear differential further divided the torque delivered to each rear wheel according to grip available. A shorter final drive ratio (3.111 instead of 2.944 on the HF 4WD) matched the larger 6.5×15 wheels to give 24 mph/1000 rpm in fifth gear. Braking and suspension were uprated to 284 mm ventilated front discs, a larger brake master cylinder and servo, as well as revised front springs, dampers, and front struts. Next update was to change the engine from 8 valves to 16. The 16v Integrale was introduced at the 1989 Geneva Motorshow, and made a winning debut on the 1989 San Remo Rally. It featured a raised centre of the bonnet to accommodate the new 16 valve engine, as well as wider wheels and tyres and new identity badges front and rear. The torque split was changed to 47% front and 53% rear. The turbocharged 2-litre Lancia 16v engine now produced 200 bhp at 5500 rpm, for a maximum speed of 137 mph and 0–100 km/h in 5.5 seconds. Changes included larger injectors, a more responsive Garrett T3 turbocharger, a more efficient intercooler, and the ability to run on unleaded fuel without modification. The first Evoluzione cars were built at the end of 1991 and through 1992. These were to be the final homologation cars for the Lancia Rally Team; the Catalytic Evoluzione II was never rallied by the factory. The Evoluzione I had a wider track front and rear than earlier Deltas. The bodyside arches were extended and became more rounded. The wings were now made in a single pressing. The front strut top mounts were also raised, which necessitated a front strut brace. The new Integrale retained the four wheel drive layout. The engine was modified to produce 210 bhp at 5750 rpm. External changes included: new grilles in the front bumper to improve the air intake for engine compartment cooling; a redesigned bonnet with new lateral air slats to further assist underbonnet ventilation; an adjustable roof spoiler above the tailgate; new five-bolt wheels with the same design of the rally cars; and a new single exhaust pipe. Interior trim was now grey Alcantara on the Recaro seats, as fitted to the earlier 16V cars; leather and air conditioning were offered as options, as well as a leather-covered Momo steering wheel. Presented in June 1993, the second Evolution version of the Delta HF Integrale featured an updated version of the 2-litre 16-valve turbo engine to produce more power, as well as a three-way catalyst and Lambda probe. A Marelli integrated engine control system with an 8 MHz clock frequency which incorporates: timed sequential multipoint injection; self-adapting injection times; automatic idling control; engine protection strategies depending on the temperature of intaken air; Mapped ignition with two double outlet coils; Three-way catalyst and pre-catalyst with lambda probe (oxygen sensor) on the turbine outlet link; anti-evaporation system with air line for canister flushing optimised for the turbo engine; new Garrett turbocharger: water-cooled with boost-drive management i.e. boost controlled by feedback from the central control unit on the basis of revs/throttle angle; Knock control by engine block sensor and new signal handling software for spark park advance, fuel quantity injected, and turbocharging. The engine now developed 215 PS as against 210 PS on the earlier uncatalysed version and marginally more torque. The 1993 Integrale received a cosmetic and functional facelift that included. new 16″ light alloy rims with 205/45 ZR 16 tyres; body colour roof moulding to underline the connection between the roof and the Solar control windows; aluminium fuel cap and air-intake grilles on the front mudguards; red-painted cylinder head; new leather-covered three-spoke MOMO steering wheel; standard Recaro seats upholstered in beige Alcantara with diagonal stitching. In its latter years the Delta HF gave birth to a number of limited and numbered editions, differing mainly in colour, trim and equipment; some were put on general sale, while others were reserved to specific markets, clubs or selected customers
There has only ever been one front wheel drive model with Lotus badges on it, the “M100” Elan sports car. Like many specialist produced cars of the era, there was a long wait for this car form when news first broke that it was under development to the actual release of cars people could buy. The M100 Elan story goes back to 1986 and the purchase of Lotus by General Motors which provided the financial backing to develop a new, small, affordable car in the same spirit as the original Elan, the last of which had been built in December 1972. A development prototype, the M90 (later renamed the X100) had been built a few years earlier, using a fibreglass body designed by Oliver Winterbottom and a Toyota-supplied 1.6-litre engine and transmission. Lotus was hoping to sell the car through Toyota dealerships worldwide, badged as a Lotus Toyota, but the project never came to fruition and the prototype was shelved, although Lotus’s collaboration with Toyota had some influence on the design of the Toyota MR2. The idea of a small roadster powered by an outsourced engine remained, however, and in late 1986 Peter Stevens’s design for the Type M100 was approved and work began by Lotus engineers to turn the clay styling buck into a car that could be built. This process was completed in just under three years, a remarkably short time from design to production car. The M100 Elan was conceived as a mass-market car and in particular one that would appeal to US buyers. Consequently, Lotus put an enormous effort (for such a small firm) into testing the car; over a two-year period 19 crash cars and 42 development vehicles were built, logging nearly a million test miles in locations from Arizona to the Arctic. The Elan was driven at racing speeds for 24 hours around the track at Snetterton. Finally each new car was test-driven for around 30 miles at Lotus’s Hethel factory to check for any manufacturing defects before being shipped to dealers. The choice of front-wheel drive is unusual for a sports car, but according to Lotus sales literature, “for a given vehicle weight, power and tyre size, a front wheel drive car was always faster over a given section of road. There were definite advantages in traction and controllability, and drawbacks such as torque steer, bump steer and steering kickback were not insurmountable.” This was the only front-wheel-drive vehicle made by Lotus. Every model made since the M100 Elan, such as the Lotus Elise, has been rear-wheel drive. The M100 Elan’s cornering performance was undeniable (on release the Elan was described by Autocar magazine as “the quickest point to point car available”). Press reaction was not uniformly positive, as some reviewers found the handling too secure and predictable compared to a rear-wheel-drive car. However, the Elan’s rigid chassis minimised roll through the corners and has led to its description as ‘the finest front wheel drive [car] bar none’. Unlike the naturally aspirated version, the turbocharged SE received power steering as standard, as well as tyres with a higher ZR speed rating. The M100 Elan used a 1,588 cc double overhead camshaft (DOHC) 16-valve engine, sourced from the Isuzu Gemini and extensively modified by Lotus (a third generation of this engine was later used in the Isuzu Impulse), which produced 162 hp. 0–60 acceleration time was measured by Autocar and Motor magazine at 6.5 seconds, and a top speed of 137 mph was recorded. Significant differences in the Isuzu-Lotus engine from the original include a new exhaust system, re-routed intake plumbing for better thermodynamic efficiency, improved engine suspension, and major modifications to the engine control unit to improve torque and boost response. Almost all models featured an IHI turbocharger. Two variants were available at launch, the 130 bhp Elan 1.6 (retailing at £17,850) and the 162 bhp Turbo SE (£19,850). Initial sales were disappointing, perhaps because its launch coincided with a major economic recession in the UK and USA, and perhaps also because it coincided with the cheaper Mazda MX-5 which was arguably similar in concept, though the MX-5 was quite intentionally nostalgic and old fashioned (apeing the original Elan), while the M100 was deliberately futuristic, modern and forward looking. The Elan was regarded as a good product in a bad market, but was also very expensive to make (the cost to design and produce the dashboard alone was more than the total cost of the Excel production line), and sales figures were too low to recoup its huge development costs. Altogether 3,855 Elans were built between November 1989 and July 1992, including 129 normally aspirated (non-turbo) cars. 559 of them were sold in the US, featuring a ‘stage 2 body’ which had a different rear boot spoiler arrangement together with a lengthened nose to accommodate a USA-compliant crash structure and airbag, and 16-inch wheels (optional in most markets, standard in the U.S.) instead of 15-inch as on the UK model. A limited edition of 800 Series 2 (S2) M100 Elans was released during the Romano Artioli era (produced June 1994–September 1995) when it was discovered that enough surplus engines were available to make this possible. According to Autocar magazine, the S2 addressed some of the concerns over handling, but power was reduced to 155 bhp and the 0–60 acceleration time increased to 7.5 seconds, due to the legislative requirement to fit a catalytic converter in all markets. The S2s have very similar performance to the USA vehicles, having an identical engine management system calibration and a slightly lower overall vehicle weight.
Still acclaimed as one of the best-looking saloons ever produced is this car, the fifth generation Quattroporte, a couple of which were on show. Around 25,000 of these cars were made between 2004 and 2012, making it the second best selling Maserati of all time, beaten only by the cheaper BiTurbo of the 1980s. The Tipo M139 was unveiled to the world at the Frankfurt Motor Show on 9 September 2003, with production starting in 2004. Exterior and interior design was done by Pininfarina, and the result was widely acclaimed to be one of the best looking saloons not just of its time, but ever, an opinion many would not disagree with even now. Built on an entirely new platform, it was 50 cm (19.7 in) longer than its predecessor and sat on a 40 cm (15.7 in) longer wheelbase. The same architecture would later underpin the GranTurismo and GranCabrio coupés and convertibles. Initially it was powered by an evolution of the naturally aspirated dry sump 4.2-litre V8 engine, mounted on the Maserati Coupé, with an improved output of 400 PS . Due to its greater weight compared to the Coupé and Spyder, the 0-62 mph (0–100 km/h) time for the Quattroporte was 5.2 seconds and the top speed 171 mph (275 km/h). Initially offered in only one configuration, equipped with the DuoSelect transmission, the gearbox was the weak point of the car, receiving most of the criticism from the press reviews. Maserati increased the range at the 2005 Frankfurt Motor Show, with the launch of the Executive GT and Sport GT trim levels. The Executive GT came equipped with a wood-rimmed steering wheel, an alcantara suede interior roof lining, ventilated, adaptive, massaging rear seats, rear air conditioning controls, veneered retractable rear tables, and curtain shades on the rear windows. The exterior was distinguished by 19 inch eight-spoke ball-polished wheels and chrome mesh front and side grilles. The Quattroporte Sport GT variant offered several performance upgrades: faster shifting transmission and firmer Skyhook suspensions thanks to new software calibrations, seven-spoke 20 inch wheels with low-profile tyres, cross-drilled brake rotors and braided brake lines. Model-specific exterior trim included dark mesh front and side grilles and red accents to the Trident badges, as on vintage racing Maseratis. Inside there were aluminium pedals, a sport steering wheel and carbon fibre in place of the standard wood inserts. A new automatic transmission was presented at the 2007 Detroit Motor Show, marketed as the Maserati Quattroporte Automatica. As all three trim levels were offered in both DuoSelect and Automatica versions, the lineup grew to six models. The Quattroporte Sport GT S was introduced at the 2007 Frankfurt Motor Show. Taking further the Sport GT’s focus on handling, this version employed Bilstein single-rate dampers in place of the Skyhook adaptive system. Other changes from the Sport GT comprised a lowered ride height and 10 mm wider 295/30 rear tyres, front Brembo iron/aluminium dual-cast brake rotors and red-painted six piston callipers. The cabin was upholstered in mixed alcantara and leather, with carbon fibre accents; outside the door handles were painted in body colour, while the exterior trim, the 20 inch wheels and the exhaust pipes were finished in a “dark chrome” shade. After Images of a facelifted Quattroporte appeared on the Internet in January 2008; the car made its official début at the 2008 Geneva Motor Show. Overseen by Pininfarina, the facelift brought redesigned bumpers, side sills and side mirrors, a convex front grille with vertical bars instead of horizontal, new headlights and tail lights with directional bi-xenon main beams and LED turn signals. Inside there was a new navigation and entertainment system. All Quattroporte models now used the ZF automatic transmission, the DuoSelect being discontinued. The 4.2-litre Quattroporte now came equipped with single-rate damping comfort-tuned suspension and 18 inch wheels. Debuting alongside it was the Quattroporte S, powered by a wet-sump 4.7-litre V8, the same engine of the Maserati GranTurismo S, with a maximum power of 424 bhp and maximum torque of 361 lb·ft. In conjunction with the engine, the braking system was upgraded to cross-drilled discs on both axles and dual-cast 360 mm rotors with six piston callipers at the front. Skyhook active damping suspension and 19 inch V-spoke wheels were standard. Trim differences from the 4.2-litre cars were limited to a chrome instead of titanium-coloured front grille. The Quattroporte Sport GT S was premièred at the North American International Auto Show in January 2009. Its 4.7-litre V8 produced 440 PS (434 hp), ten more than the Quattroporte S, thanks to revised intake and to a sport exhaust system with electronically actuated bypass valves. Other mechanical changes were to the suspensions, where as on the first Sport GT S single-rate dampers took place of the Skyhook system, ride height was further lowered and stiffer springs were adopted. The exterior was distinguished by a specific front grille with convex vertical bars, black headlight bezels, red accents to the Trident badges, the absence of chrome window trim, body colour door handles and black double oval exhaust pipes instead of the four round ones found on other Quattroporte models. Inside veneers were replaced by “Titan Tex” composite material and the cabin was upholstered in mixed Alcantara and leather. This means that there are quite a number of different versions among the 25,256 units produced, with the early DuoSelect cars being the most numerous.
Still a current model, or rather range, with no fewer than 18 different models offered in either Coupe or Roadster versions, the AMG GT is a sports car which was aimed more directly at the 911 than ahd been the case for its more costly SLS successor.
During the 90s, Mitsubishi produced a long line of Lancer Evo models in quick succession, with the road cars keeping up with the constant evolution of the highly successful rally models. The Evolution VI’s changes mainly focused on cooling and engine durability. It received a larger intercooler, larger oil cooler, and new pistons, along with a titanium-aluminide turbine wheel for the RS model, which was a first in a production car. Output was rated at 280 PS (276 hp) at 6,500 rpm and maximum torque of 373 Nm (275 lb/ft) at 3,000 rpm. The Evolution VI received new bodywork yet again, with the most easily noticeable change being within the front bumper where the huge fog lights were reduced in size and moved to the corners for better airflow. A new model was added to the GSR and RS lineup; known as the RS2, it was an RS with a few of the GSR’s options. Another limited-edition RS was known as the RS Sprint, an RS tuned by Ralliart in the UK to be lighter and more powerful with 330 hp. Yet another special edition Evolution VI was released in December 1999: the Tommi Mäkinen Edition, named after Finnish rally driver Tommi Mäkinen who had won Mitsubishi four WRC drivers championships. It featured a different front bumper, Red/Black Recaro seats (with embossed T. Mäkinen logo), 17″ white Enkei wheels, a leather Momo steering wheel and shift knob, a titanium turbine that spooled up more quickly, front upper strut brace, lowered ride height (with tarmac stages in mind), and a quicker steering ratio. Amongst other colours, the Evo VI came in either red (Tommi Mäkinen Edition only), white, blue, black or silver with optional special decals, replicating Tommi Mäkinen’s rally car’s colour scheme. This car is also sometimes referred to as an Evolution 6½, Evolution 6.5, or TME for short.
A real rarity was this Galant. A long-running nameplate, in 1987 the same platform as its predecessor was used for a sixth-generation model which adopted taller, rounded styling. This generation won the Car of the Year Japan award in 1987 and the GS model became Motor Trend’s Import Car of the Year in 1989. This Galant began American sales in 1989 side by side with the previous generation Sigma. Mitsubishi developed Dynamic ECS adaptive air suspension, the world’s first production semi-active electronically controlled suspension system in passenger cars; the system was first incorporated in the 1987 Galant model. The Galant range underwent a minor facelift in 1991, with new grilles and other modifications. Also in 1991, Mitsubishi Motors Company completed a new assembly facility at Barcelona, Venezuela, with the Galant being one of the first models produced. It was sold there until 1994 under the ZX, MF, MS and MX names, which identified the various levels of equipment and transmission. The Sigma designation disappeared with the 1990 model. A new hardtop liftback model was added in 1988, called the (Japanese: Mitsubishi Eterna). and in Japan, the Eterna was only sold at a specific retail chain called Car Plaza. This generation Galant was also sold in Canada as the Dodge 2000 GTX and Eagle 2000 GTX. The five-door liftback version was never offered in North America, where buyers prefer traditional sedans. Sales ended in 1994. A limited edition based on the GTi-16v model was introduced in 1989, modified by German tuning company AMG (now owned by Mercedes-Benz), with mildly uprated engine (170 PS or 168 hp) and unique body kit, alloy wheels, and full leather interior. The AMG appearance treatment was also achieved on the Debonair for 1986. It was the first and only Japanese Car that received the AMG Treatment. The sixth generation was also the first to see the introduction of the VR-4 variant, which was the basis for Mitsubishi’s participation in the 1988–1992 World Rally Championships. The Galant’s 4G63 two-litre DOHC turbocharged engine and 4WD transmission was later adopted for the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution with little modification and would remain in production for fifteen years. Starting in 1989, the Mitsubishi Galant V-series were produced for the Japanese market as a sporty alternative to the regular Galant range. The lineup consisted of Viento and VX-S/VZ-S models featuring the higher output 1.8 and 2.0 Turbo DOHC engines with both automatic and manual transmissions available. The V-series featured the VR-4 interior, exterior design and updated bumpers (without side skirts), clear indicator lens covers, optional two-tone body paint, as well as standard air conditioning, full electrics, rear windscreen wiper, spoiler and alloy wheels. Although fans like to call this car the “Evo Zero” it was never an official name as the Evolution series is a Lancer-based vehicle, not the Galant series. The series was discontinued in 1994, when the next generation Galant appeared.
Although the GTi is the best known and most commonly seen sporting version of the legendary 205, there was another model that Peugeot offered from 1988 to 1992, the 205 Rallye, which was engineered and produced by Peugeot–Talbot sport. This edition of the 205 was positioned as a cost-effective alternative to the 205 GTI, retaining its sporty character, but being less expensive to buy or maintain. To achieve this, Peugeot used a derivative of the TU-series engine used in the post-1987 205s, which was designated TU24. The engine is essentially the same engine as was in the 1.1-litre 205 with the cylinders bored out to a total engine displacement of 1294 cc, a sports camshaft and twin Weber carburetors. The 1.3-litre engine produced 103 PS at 6,800 rpm. The car got the 1.6 GTI front suspension with ventilated brake discs, and the 1.6 GTI rear axle with drum brakes. The 205 Rallye was completely stripped of almost all soundproofing, electrical systems or other luxury items, bringing down the weight to no more than 794 kg (1,750 lb). Its minimalistic equipment, together with the high revs needed to unleash all of the engine’s horsepower, gives the 205 Rallye a very spartan character and makes it a difficult but rewarding car to drive hard, which is one of the reasons it is now very popular among 205 GTI enthusiasts. Peugeot expected to build around 5000 Rallyes. In the end 30,111 Rallyes were produced, even though they were only sold in certain mainland European markets (including France, Belgium, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Greece and the Netherlands). The distinctive aesthetic features of the 205 Rallye include the squarer wheel arches (which are different from GTI arches), the steel body-coloured wheels and the rainbow-coloured Peugeot-Talbot sport decals on the front grille and the tailgate. They were only available in white. The Rallye was sold with a reduced-weight interior with the Peugeot-Talbot sport logo embroidered in the front seats. From 1990 to 1992 Peugeot also built a 1.9 litre version of the 205 Rallye. Only about 1000 of them were produced and they were only sold in Germany, because the 1.3 litre version did not meet German road regulations. The 1.9 Rallye is just a 105 bhp 1.9 GTI with the Rallye bodyshell and the new-style clear indicators and rear light units. Although they are even rarer than the 1.3 Rallye, they are less popular among Peugeot enthusiasts, because they lack the raw and spartan character of the 1.3 Rallye and are 150 kg (331 lb) heavier. In 1994 Peugeot introduced the Rallye to the UK market, it was available in three colours (500 white, 250 yellow, 80 blue) and was essentially a re-badged XT. It came equipped with black cloth seats embroidered with the Peugeot-Talbot Sport logo, the Peugeot-Talbot sports colours behind the front arches and over the back arches, as well as the same markings on the grill and tailgate of its European brother. It was powered by an iron-blocked 1360 cc TU3.2 engine with the same twin-choke Solex carburettor found on the earlier XS engine. It produced 75 bhp (56 kW; 76 PS) and achieved 107 mph (172 km/h) with a 0–60 mph of 11.7 seconds. After the 205 Rallye, Peugeot again used the ‘Rallye’ designation for some of its 106 and 306 models.
Three different generation 911 cars attracted my camera: a 964, a 997 GT3 RS and a more recent 991 GTS.
It is probably true to say that the 2020 edition of Race Retro did little to change my view of this event. The Live Rally Stage is what makes it, with a wide variety of cars to be seen in action, but the spectators do not get the best of views, as they are really only able to see the spectacle from one corner of the special stage. Indoors, for sure there are some nice special displays, but if I look at the whole event, and the price of the ticket, I have to conclude that this remains an event which feels like it has over-reached itself somewhat. There is of course a postlude to this conclusion which applies in 2020. I did not realise it when I attended, but life for everyone would change beyond all recognition just 4 weeks later with the national lockdown forcing the cancellation of all following events, So whilst in a more normal ordinary, I might rank this one in the bottom quadrant of events, the fact that it did take place, unlike so many that could not, means that I may look back a bit more favourably on it. Who knows what 2021 will bring? Dates have been announced, as the 19 – 21 February, but whether the event will be able to take place then, or even at all is something we will not know until very much closer to the event.