No question, Caffeine and Machine was a huge hit of 2019 for everyone who is a car enthusiast and a good few more people besides. What is perhaps surprising is that no-one had quite come up with the concept before. A location in the middle of England just a few miles off the M40 that is easy to get to, but with few neighbours to complain about the number of comings and goings, and somewhere where cars and bikes are actively encouraged and welcomed, that serves drinks and food all day, and even has a couple of meeting rooms and a small of bedrooms for those who want to stay overnight. As word spread around the car community in early 2019 it proved necessary to enlarge the car park twice in short order and then to introduce a pre-booking system so people could guarantee there would be space when they arrived, as on sunny weekends, the place tended to get packed out. I dropped by a number of times during the year, invariably staying longer than planned as there were so many interesting cars that kept arriving, and I even hosted a couple of well-received Abarth Owners Club meetings on site. As the calendar clicked over into 2020, I was looking forward to many more visits. And then Covid arrived. Like every venue in the country, the 23rd March saw Caffeine & Machine closed as part of the national lockdown. And so it stayed for months. Like many enterprising hospitality venues, the staff applied their best creative thinking as to what they could so that they could open on some legal and safe basis as soon as people were allowed out again, knowing that there were huge numbers of car and bike enthusiasts as keen to visit and to meet with friends as I was. With plenty of outdoor seating, it was easier for Caffeine & Machine than for some venues to get close to the way they had operated pre-Covid, with only minor adjustments to the food and drink service (based on ordering from an app having scanned a QR code on the table, which actually helped the servers out who previously had to yell order numbers out) and the inevitable need to accept any pre-booked attendees, which would both control and limit numbers and ensure that there were details on file for Track & Trace if needed. Not surprisingly, the first weekends were as packed out as they were allowed to be. It was not until October and a new set of local restrictions in place that I got to attend, and then as things worked out, I managed 5 separate visits during the month, before Lockdown 2.0 closed the venue down again at the start of November. Weekend visits were time-limited, and yes, they did more or less enforce this, but even so, there is plenty of variety in the cars that you will see in this report. Read on:
As more and more events had to be cancelled or rescheduled during the main event season, the first weekend of October became a popular option, and a few weeks out, I was struggling with a significant number of choices, trying to pick which one to attend. I selected the twice-rescheduled Bicester Heritage Sunday Scramble and even persuaded three friends from around the country to come along. We were all looking forward both to meeting up and seeing some cars, but then with a couple of weeks to go, the sad but not unexpected news came out that this, too, was now cancelled. Hurriedly we made plans to meet up at Caffeine & Machine instead, securing tickets for the 12:30 slot on the Sunday. The weather did its level best to try to ruin things, with the day before proving to be one of the wettest days of the whole year, and the forecast for Sunday was not a lot better, though in fact, it did hold off for most of the time we were on site, but it mean it was very wet and soggy under foot. l know that poor weather does tend to reduce the number of attendees and also discourage people from bringing older cars along, but wondered as everyone would have booked long before they knew the forecast, whether they would still come. In the end there was no shortage of cars, though there were a lot of heavily modified and slammed VW Groups cars, not really to my taste at all, and accordingly which you will notice do not feature directly in the photos.
As well as the Abarth Owners Club meets that I have arranged here, some of the Regional Clubs have also done the same and even when there is not a formal Abarth gathering organised, you can be pretty sure that you will find at least one, and more likely several example of the marque parked up. On this occasion there was only one, a somewhat personalised 500, and not a car that I can recall seeing in any of the large number of Facebook groups for the owners.
When the 156 was launched in 1997, things looked very bright for Alfa. Striking good looks were matched by a driving experience that the press reckoned was better than any of its rivals. The car picked up the Car of the Year award at the end of the year. and when it went on sale in the UK in early 1998, waiting lists soon stretched out more than 12 months. Reflecting the way the market was going, Alfa put a diesel engine under the bonnet, launched a (not very good, it has to be admitted) automated transmission with the SeleSpeed, added a very pretty if not that commodious an estate model they called Sport Wagon and then added a top spec 3.2 litre GTA with its 250 bhp engine giving it a performance to outrun all its rivals. And yet, it did not take long before the press turned on the car, seduced by the latest 3 Series once more, citing build quality issues which were in fact far from universal. The 156 received a very minor facelift in 2002 and a more significant one in late 2003 with a new front end that was a clue to what would come with the car’s successor. Production ceased in 2005. 156s are getting quite rare now, so it was good to see this late model facelift 156 SportWagon.
The 166 may have failed to hit the jackpot, but the next Alfa certainly did. This was the 147, launched at the 2000 Turin Motor Show as a replacement for the 145 and 146 hatchbacks, and based on the running gear of the larger 156 saloon. Designed by Walter de’Silva and Wolfgang Egger, the 147 received considerable praise for its styling on launch, later it was awarded with some styling awards. It was available initially with 1.6, 2.0, petrol engines and a 1.9-litre diesel engine. A sequential, paddle operated ‘Selespeed’ transmission was available from launch. Two trim levels were available, Turismo and Lusso. The 147 was the first Alfa Romeo to feature dual-zone climate control and electronic traction control. Although some thought the car had lost of some of the Alfa magic, it was well received and was awarded the Car of the Year trophy a few weeks after launch. The entire 147 range was revamped in 2004, with the exterior styling changed considerably to be more reminiscent of the new 159 and Brera models, and Alfa Romeo Visconti concept car, most notably for its more aggressive look, with a new front grille, new headlights, new rear lights and the interior was updated on all models besides the GTA version. A new more powerful diesel engine arrived and suspension was also tweaked. In 2006, the 147 1.9 JTD Q2 version was launched, which featured a front Torsen limited slip differential. Alfa Romeo presented a new limited edition 147 called Ducati Corse at the 2007 Bologna Motor Show. The car came equipped with a 170 PS (68 hp) JTD diesel engine and Q2, a front Torsen limited slip differential. The 147 was in production for ten years, making it one of the oldest small family cars on sale in Europe at the time of its replacement by the Alfa Romeo Giulietta in late May 2010. In total around 580,000 cars were made.
The current Giulietta arrived in 2010 as a much awaited replacement for the 147. Spy photos had suggested that the car was going to look very like Fiat’s ill-fated Bravo, but the reality was that it had a style all of its own. A range of very efficient petrol and diesel engines were among the most emissions-efficient in their class at the time, and a 250 bhp Quadrifoglio version at the top of the range made sure there was something for the man who wanted a rapid, but quite subtle hatch. The car has enjoyed reasonable success in the UK, and the car has certainly found favour among Alfa enthusiasts, and quite a group of them were parked up here, most of them modified in some way or other.
Based on the BMW 5 Series (E60), the Alpina B5 was available in saloon and wagon bodystyles. The car succeeded the E39-based Alpina B10. The B5 is based on the 545i and uses a modified version of its 4.4-litre valvetronic V8 engine designated by Alpina as the H1 (shared with the B7 and B6). Changes to the engine include an Alpina specific block made by Steyr, a forged crankshaft and low compression Mahle pistons. The engine retains the valvetronic system and uses a centrifugal-type supercharger, made by ASA to Alpina’s specifications the supercharger is belt-driven by the crankshaft and has a boost pressure of about 0.8 bar (11.7 psi). The supercharger was added to eliminate lag in power delivery during every day use. The modified engine has a power output of 500 PS (493 bhp) at 5,500 rpm and 700 Nm (516 lb/ft) from 4,250 to 5,250 rpm. The engine has a red-line of 6,000 rpm. The car uses a 6-speed “Switch Tronic” transmission manufactured by ZF Friedrichshafen. The transmission has a manual over-ride mode in which gears are shifted by buttons on the steering wheel. Unlike its sister car, the B6, the B5 does not come with a limited slip differential. The B5 comes with 19-inch forged multi-spoke alloy wheels and Michelin Sport Contact 2 tyres measuring 245/40 ZR19 at the front and 275/35 ZR19 at the rear. The B5 has Alpina’s own suspension system designed to give a soft ride in normal driving conditions. The brakes used on the car were taken from the Middle-Eastern specification 760Li. Exterior changes over a regular 5 Series included a front chin spoiler with Alpina lettering and optional Alpina pinstripes on the exterior paint. The interior came standard with Lavalina leather upholstery, wood trim, BMW iDrive system, Alpina gauges, perforated Alpina sports seats and Alpina badging throughout. The interior was fully customisable by the Alpina interior department. Introduced in 2008, the B5 S is a high performance variant of the B5. The B5 S has a further upgraded engine having a power output of 530 PS (523 bhp) at 5,500 rpm and 724 N⋅m (534 lb⋅ft) of torque at 4,750 rpm. The electronic damper control system (EDC) of the standard B5 was recalibrated and came with Comfort and Sport settings. It came with 20-inch multi-spoke alloy wheels and Michelin pilot sport tyres for increased grip. Claimed performance figures for the car include a standing kilometre time of 22.1 seconds, a 0–60 mph acceleration time of 4.6 seconds and a top speed of 317 km/h (197 mph).
With the DB7, produced from September 1994 to December 2004, Aston Martin made more cars from a single model than all Astons previously made, with over 7000 built. Known internally as the NPX project, the DB7 was made mostly with resources from Jaguar and had the financial backing of the Ford Motor Company, owner of Aston Martin from 1988 to 2007. The DB7’s platform was an evolution of the Jaguar XJS’s, though with many changes. The styling started life as the still-born Jaguar F type (XJ41 – coupe / XJ42 – convertible) designed by Keith Helfet. Ford cancelled this car and the general design was grafted onto an XJS platform. The styling received modest changes by Ian Callum so that it looked like an Aston Martin. The first generation Jaguar XK-8 also uses an evolution of the XJ-S/DB7 platform and the cars share a family resemblance, though the Aston Martin was significantly more expensive and rare. The prototype was complete by November 1992, and debuted at the Geneva Motor Show in March, 1993, with the car positioned as an “entry-level” model below the hand-built V8 Virage introduced a few years earlier. With production of the Virage (soon rechristened “V8” following Vantage styling revisions) continuing at Newport Pagnell, a new factory was acquired at Bloxham, Oxfordshire that had previously been used to produce the Jaguar XJ220, where every DB7 would be built throughout its production run. The DB7 and its relatives were the only Aston Martins produced in Bloxham and the only ones with a steel unit construction inherited from Jaguar . Aston Martin had traditionally used aluminium for the bodies of their cars, and models introduced after the DB7 use aluminium for the chassis as well as for many major body parts. The convertible Volante version was unveiled at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in 1996. Both versions have a supercharged straight-six engine that produced 335 bhp and 361 lb·ft of torque. The Works Service provided a special Driving Dynamics package, which greatly enhanced performance and handling for drivers who wanted more than what the standard configuration offered. In 1999, the more powerful DB7 V12 Vantage was introduced at the Geneva Motor Show. Its 5.9 litre, 48-valve, V12 engine produced 420 bhp and 400 lb·ft of torque. It has a compression ratio of 10.3:1. Transmissions were available with either a TREMEC T-56 six speed manual or a ZF 5HP30 five speed automatic gearbox. Aston Martin claimed it had a top speed of either 186 mph with the manual gearbox or 165 mph with the automatic gearbox, and would accelerate from 0–60 mph in 4.9 seconds. It is 4,692 mm long, 1,830 mm (72.0 in) wide, 1,243 mm (48.9 in) high, with a weight of 1,800 kg (3,968.3 lb). After the launch of the Vantage, sales of the supercharged straight-6 engine DB7 had reduced considerably and so production was ended by mid-1999. In 2002, a new variant was launched, named V12 GT or V12 GTA when equipped with an automatic transmission. It was essentially an improved version of the Vantage, its V12 engine producing 435 bhp and 410 lb·ft of torque for the manual GT, although the automatic GTA retained the 420 bhp and 400 lb·ft of torque of the standard DB7 Vantage. Additionally, the GT and GTA chassis had substantially updated suspension from the DB7 Vantage models. Aesthetically, compared to the Vantage it has a mesh front grille, vents in the bonnet, a boot spoiler, an aluminium gear lever, optional carbon fibre trim and new wheels. It also has 14.0 in front and 13.0 in rear vented disc brakes made by Brembo. When being tested by Jeremy Clarkson on Top Gear in 2003, he demonstrated the car’s ability to pull away in fourth gear and continue until it hit the rev limiter: the speedometer indicated 135 mph. Production of the GT and GTA was extremely limited, as only 190 GT’s and 112 GTA’s were produced worldwide with 17 of them shipped to the US market, for a total of 302 cars.
Although it went on sale in the middle of the year, because I have not been out much, thanks to Lockdown, this was actually the first of the new fourth generation A3 cars that I have seen in the metal. I have to say that it is a disappointment, with a much fussier front end than used to be the case with Audi cars, but not entirely a surprise as the smaller second generation A1 gave a good hint at how Audi was going to move in their new and regrettable styling direction. Disappointingly, the interior quality is apparently somewhat less impressive than used to be the case, too. lt will be interesting to see how the market reacts.
The third generation Audi S4 quattro (Typ 8E — saloon: 8E2, Avant: 8E5, and Cabriolet: 8H7) debuted its saloon and Avant bodystyles in Europe in March 2003. This was based on the latest Volkswagen Group B6 (PL46) platform used by the then current Audi B6 A4. Despite having moved to an entirely new platform, one of the S4’s most publicised new features was its new engine – a 4.2-litre V8 engine. Following its initial launch of either a four-door five-seat saloon (sedan), or a five-door five-seat Avant, it eventually became available in three bodystyles – and for the first time in the Audi ‘S’ car range, from February 2004, a two-door four-seat Cabriolet (convertible), Typ 8H, was included in the model range. Official performance figures for standard discipline of sprinting from standstill to 100 km/h (62.1 mph) in the saloon with manual transmission are 5.6 seconds (Avant 5.8 s, Cabriolet 5.9 s), however, a road test conducted by the American automotive magazine Motor Trend[ indicated that it could go from a standstill to 60 mph (96.6 km/h) in less than 5 seconds, and make it to 200 km/h (124.3 mph) in slightly over 20 seconds, although doing this led to fuel consumption dipping into single digits. This was considerably worse than the earlier V6 models. Top speed is electronically limited to 250 km/h (155.3 mph). Replacing the 2.7-litre ‘biturbo’ V6 engine of the previous generation B5 S4, the new B6 S4 powertrain gained an all-aluminium alloy 4.2-litre, 40 valve (five valves per cylinder) V8 engine with chain-driven double overhead camshafts, roller-finger rocker arm cam followers, and included variable inlet camshaft timing. It also used a strengthened alloy crankshaft bedplate for the five main bearings, and a two-part baffled oil sump, and a light-alloy variable intake manifold (VIM), containing the fractionally sequentially actuated fuel injectors. This petrol engine, based on the unit from the Audi A8, displaces 4,163 cc and it produces 344 PS (339 bhp) at 7,000 rpm, and generates torque of 410 Nm (302 lb/ft) at 3,500 rpm, making it more powerful than the RS2 Avant, and nearly as powerful as the B5 RS4. Engine management was by way of a Bosch Motronic ME 7.1.1 electronic engine control unit (ECU), using a Bosch ‘E-Gas’ drive by wire electronic throttle, and powering eight individual spark coils with longlife quad-electrode Bosch spark plugs. Ignition timing is a mapped direct ignition, with cylinder-selective knock control with the aid of four knock sensors. The exhaust system includes vacuum-operated valves in the twin rear silencers (mufflers), finished with chrome plated tail-pipes. Like its predecessors, the B6 S4 was standard with a Getrag six-speed (M6S) manual transmission a single plate dry clutch, and Torsen T-2 quattro permanent four-wheel drive system. From July 2003, the ZF 6HP19 tiptronic automatic transmission was included as an option. The B6 S4 came equipped with electronically controlled, variable assisted ‘servotronic’ rack and pinion power assisted steering (PAS) as standard. Standard wheels were ‘Avus-III die-cast aluminium alloy, 8.0Jx18H2 ET45 in size, and shod with 235/40 ZR18 95Y XL (eXtra Load) high performance tyres, with factory supplies being either Continental SportContact2 or Michelin PilotSport PS2. Discrete lower door trims, along with the now trademark Audi ‘S’ model vertical-emphasis line grille, and solid aluminium (later replaced with plastic covered by aluminium) exterior door mirrors, and S4 badging front and rear are all that visually distinguish the S4 from its related A4 brethren. In the interior, front and rear Recaro seats (fronts fully electric with the option of heated seats), as well as S4 logos in the instrument panel and door sills complete the detail. The B6 S4 saloon and Avant variants ceased factory production in December 2004, with the Cabriolet ending twelve months later at December 2005, replaced by the heavily updated B7 generation cars, an example of which I drove for 3 years from March 2005.
Final Audi of note was this example of the recently superceded RS3 Sportback, a car which I sampled a few years ago and thoroughly enjoyed, finding it much more to my liking than the rival CLA45 AMG.
Perhaps because it only sold in relatively small numbers, the E90 generation is the last one to have offered the M3 in four door saloon as well as coupe and convertible bodies. The M3 model of the E90/E92/E93 3 Series range was powered by the BMW S65 V8 engine and was produced in sedan, convertible and coupé body styles. The E9x is the first and only standard production M3 powered by a V8 engine as its successor would revert to using a straight 6 engine. In the standard M3, the S65 engine rated at 414 bhp at 8,300 rpm and 400 Nm (295 lb/ft) at 3,900 rpm. Initially, the M3 was produced with a 6-speed manual transmission. In April 2008, the E90/E92/E93 M3 became the first BMW to be available with a dual-clutch transmission when the 7-speed Getrag “M-DCT” transmission was introduced as an option. The official 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) acceleration times for the coupé and sedan are 4.6 seconds with the DCT transmission (4.8 seconds with the manual transmission)and 5.1 seconds for the convertible. The E90 and E92 versions received many positive reviews, including “the greatest all-around car in the world”, “the finest car on the market, period” and “the best, most complete car in the world”. The first body style to be introduced was the coupé, which was previewed at the 2007 Geneva Motor Show and introduced in production form at the 2007 Frankfurt Motor Show on 12 September. The coupé version uses a carbon fibre roof to reduce weight and lower the centre of gravity. In 2010, the coupé and convertible versions received a minor facelift, which included revised headlights, LED tail-lights and minor interior trim pieces. The E93 convertible version was introduced shortly after the coupé and uses a power retractable hardtop. The leather seats in the convertible version are treated with a coating to reflect sunlight, in order to reduce their tendency to become uncomfortably hot with the top down. The saloon version was introduced in 2008 and was the second (along with the E36) M3 by generation to be produced in a 4-door body style. The sedan has the same drivetrain and similar external styling as the coupé, however the lack of a carbon fibre roof contributes to a weight increase of 10 kg (22 lb) compared to an identically equipped coupé. Total production of the E9x M3 was 40,092 coupés, 16,219 convertibles and 9,674 sedans. Production of sedan models finished in 2011, with coupés remaining in production until July 5, 2013.
There were a number more BMWs here, of course. Catching the photographer’s eye was this M140i.
A car that you can be pretty sure of seeing here was the M2, a popular choice among venue attendees, it would seem. The M2 was first revealed in Need for Speed: No Limits on November 2015, before later premiering at the North American International Auto Show in January 2016. Production commenced in October 2015 and is only available as a rear-wheel drive coupé. The M2 is powered by the turbocharged 3.0-litre N55B30T0 straight-six engine producing 365 bhp at 6,500 rpm and 465 Nm (343 lb/ft) between 1,450–4,750 rpm, while an overboost function temporarily increases torque to 500 N⋅m (369 lb⋅ft). The M2 features pistons from the F80 M3 and F82 M4, and has lighter aluminium front and rear suspension components resulting in a 5 kg (11 lb) weight reduction. The M2 is available with a 6-speed manual or with a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission which features a ‘Smokey Burnout’ mode. 0-100 km/h acceleration times are 4.5 seconds manual transmission models and 4.3 seconds for models equipped with the 7-speed dual clutch transmission. Top speed is limited to 250 km/h (155 mph) but can be extended to 270 km/h (168 mph) with the optional M Driver’s package. The M2 Competition was introduced at the 2018 Beijing Auto Show and succeeded the standard M2 Coupé. Production began in July 2018. The M2 Competition uses the high performance S55 engine which is a variant of the 3.0-litre twin turbocharged straight six engine found in the F80 M3 and F82 M4. The engine features a redesigned oil supply system and modified cooling system from the BMW M4 with the Competition Package, and also features a gasoline particulate filter in certain European Union countries to reduce emissions. Compared to the standard M2, the S55 produces an additional 30 kW (40 hp) and 85 Nm (63 lb/ft), resulting in a larger and more sustained power output of 405 bhp between 5,370–7,200 rpm, and 550 N⋅m (406 lb⋅ft) at 2,350–5,230 rpm. The 0-100 km/h acceleration time is 4.4 seconds for six-speed manual transmission models, and 4.2 seconds for models with the 7-speed dual clutch transmission. Top speed is electronically limited to 250 km/h (155 mph), but the M Driver’s package can extend the limit to 280 km/h (174 mph) which is 10 km/h (6 mph) further than in the M2. The M2 Competition also has a carbon-fibre reinforced plastic strut bar, enlarged kidney grilles, and larger brake discs of 400 mm (15.7 in) in the front axle and 380 mm (15.0 in) in the rear axle. Because of the new engine and cooling system, the M2 Competition is 55 kg (121 lb) heavier than the standard M2 at 1,550 kg (3,417 lb) for manual transmission models and 1,575 kg (3,472 lb) for dual-clutch transmission models. It remains in production.
Like the modern Abarth, another car that is a doyen of this venue is the Fiesta ST, and hardly surprisingly, as many of the owners are the sort of enthusiast who likes bringing their car out so others can see it and so they can see other cars.
Most recently, the most sporting Fords have been the RS versions of the Focus. On each occasion there was been a long wait for the car after the launch of the cooking models. The regular second generation cars were released in late 2004. An ST version followed very quickly, and for a long time, Ford maintained that was the only sporty Focus there was going to be. Finally, on December 17, 2007 Ford of Europe confirmed that a Mk 2 Focus RS would be launched in 2009, with a concept version due in mid-2008. t with an upgraded Duratec ST engine with 305PS Duratec RS, gearbox, suspension, and LSD. In 2008, Ford revealed the new Focus RS in “concept” form at the British International Motor Show. Contrary to numerous rumours and speculation, the RS was announced by Ford to have a conventional FWD layout. The Duratec RS engine was upgraded to produce 301 bhp and 325 lb/ft of torque. 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) acceleration was quoted to be under 6 seconds. The RS used a modified Volvo -engineered 2,522cc five-cylinder engine found in the Focus ST. A larger Borg Warner K16 turbo now delivers up to 20.3-psi of boost. A new air-to-air intercooler has been developed as a complement, while the forged crankshaft, silicon-aluminum pistons, graphite-coated cylinder bores, 8.5:1 compression ratio and variable valve timing also up the power output. The car remained front wheel drive, but to reduce torque steer used a Quaife Automatic Torque Biasing LSD, and a specially designed MacPherson strut suspension at the front called RevoKnuckle, which provided a lower scrub radius and kingpin offset than traditional designs while avoiding the increased weight and complexity of double wishbone and multi-link suspension setups. Ford UK claim: “It’s as close as you’ll come to driving a full-spec rally car (Ford Focus RS WRC). The production car was finally unveiled on 5 January 2009. It looked very distinctive, as at the rear a large venturi tunnel and a dramatic rear spoiler created a purposeful look. It was available in three expressive exterior colours: Ultimate Green, Performance Blue and Frozen White. The ‘Ultimate’ Green was a modern reinterpretation of the classic 1970s Ford Le Mans Green of the Ford Escort RS1600 era.
Joining it was my friend, Andy Convery’s lovely Focus ST model. With their characterful 5 cylinder engines and exemplary steering and handling, these cars are sure-fire classics of the future and the day will surely come when we see people paying the sort of money that are for older sporting Fords with low mileage on them.
Another car from one of the trio of friends with who I had come, this is Alex Wild’s Ioniq. Perhaps not the most obvious car to pick out, though that is doing the car a disservice, as by all accounts it is an excellent vehicle and increasingly popular as company car since it ticks all the boxes required by both a Fleet Manager and the driver.
Modern Jaguar cars were represented by both the F Type sports car and the all-electric I Pace.
I was using my Ghibli for the weekend, as it has been out so little since the first lock-down. It was the only one present which is perhaps not a surprise as there are not that many of them on UK roads. It was not the only Maserati, though, as there was also an example of the recently discontinued GranTurismo also parked up.
One of the rarer cars of the day was this, which was badged 180SX, not a naming that was used for British market cars when it was new in the mid 80s. As was the case then, Europe only tended to see a very small subset of models and model variants compared to those offered to Japanese domestic market customers, and it is only as some of those cars have found their way to our shores have we seen some of what we missed out on when new.
There have been GTi versions of the Peugeot whose model number starts with a 2 ever since the legendary 205 GTi. None has come even close to generating the same levels of love and affection, though the most recent one, the 208GTi has probably been the nearest at doing so, the car getting generally positive reviews, but simply failing to beat the excellence of the Fiesta ST and the Clio RS.
A number of Porsche 911 models starred, from the 996 and 997 generations.
This is a second generation Megane RS. Although the looks were a little controversial, there was no doubting the merits of this car, with many rating as best in class, especially as the original 2002 car evolved with further refinements to the engine and chassis.
Final car of our quartet of amigos was Stu Clough’s Octavia vRS.
The third-generation MR2 was marketed as the Toyota MR-S in Japan, Toyota MR2 Spyder in the US, and the Toyota MR2 Roadster in Europe. Also known as the Midship Runabout-Sports, the newest MR2 took a different approach than its predecessor, most obviously becoming a convertible and receiving the ‘Spyder’ marketing nomenclature. The first prototype of MR-S appeared in 1997 at the Tokyo Motor Show. The MR2 Spyder chief engineer Harunori Shiratori said, “First, we wanted true driver enjoyment, blending good movement, low inertia and light weight. Then, a long wheelbase to achieve high stability and fresh new styling; a mid-engine design to create excellent handling and steering without the weight of the engine up front; a body structure as simple as possible to allow for easy customizing, and low cost to the consumer.” The only engine available for the ZZW30 was the all-aluminium alloy 1ZZ-FED, a 1.8 litre Inline-four engine. Like its predecessors, it used DOHC and 4 valves per cylinder. The intake camshaft timing was adjustable via the VVT-i system, which was introduced earlier on the 1998 MR2 in some markets. Unlike its predecessors, however, the engine was placed onto the car the other way round, with the exhaust manifold towards the rear of the car instead of towards the front. The maximum power of 138 bhp at 6,400 rpm and 126 lb/ft (171 Nm) of torque at 4,400 rpm was quite a drop from the previous generation, but thanks to the lightness of the car it could still move quite quickly, accelerating from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 6.8 to 8.7 seconds depending on the transmission option, the Sequential Manual being unable to launch and shift as quickly as the clutch operated manual. Curb weight is 996 kg (2,195 lb) for manual transmission models. In addition to the 5-speed manual transmission, a 6-speed manual or 5-speed Sequential Manual Transmission (SMT) was also available starting in 2002. The SMT was a standard feature in Australian market; however, air conditioning was optional. After 2003, a 6-speed SMT was an option. The SMT had no conventional H-pattern shift lever or clutch pedal. The driver could shift gears by tapping the shift lever forward or backward or by pressing steering-wheel mounted buttons. Clutch engagement is automatic, and the car will automatically shift to second and then first gear when stopping. Cruise control was never offered with the manual transmission, but was standard for SMT-equipped cars. The MR2 Spyder featured a heated glass rear window. A hard top was also available from Toyota in Japan and Europe. Production ended in 2007 and there was no direct successor.
VW launched the second generation Golf in August of 1983, nearly 9 years after production of the first model to bear the name had begun. This time, a GTi version was included in the product plans from the start, and the new GTi was announced in May 1984. Like the regular Golf 2, it was almost 7″ longer than the Mark 1, with 3″ extra in the wheelbase and a 2″ wider track. It was also 10% heavier, but with significantly improved aerodynamics, resulting from attention to detail which included integrated gutters and flush glass as well as more rounded styling, the cd fell from 0.42 to 0.34. Initially it was powered by the same 1781cc fuel injected engine, but there were all round disc brakes and longer suspension travel improved the ride. Competitors came snapping at its heels, though, so after 2/5 years, VW responded by giving the car 24% more power, achieved by doubling the number of valves to 16. Lower stiffer suspension and bigger front brakes were also fitted, all of which restored the Golf GTi 16V to the top of the Hot Hatch pile. For most people that is, though the 8v car retained a following thanks to its broader torque spread. This less powerful car changed from a mechanical K-Jetronic injection system to a new Digifant electronic set up in 1987 at which point the front quarterlights were deleted, and a digital instrument pack became an option on the 16v car. Power steering became standard in late 1990 and the 8v gained the interior from the 16v model. Production ran through to February 1992, by which time the Mark 3 GTi was waiting in the wings. over 600,000 were built over an 8 year period, around 10% of all Mark 2 Golf production. This is a later model car with the big bumpers.
Also here was a Polo GTi
Two weekends later and Caffeine & Machine was still open, located in Tier 1, still with the need to pre-book. I had a weekend up in the Midlands planned which involved a mixture of playing squash and seeing cars, so it was not hard to decide to stop by again. Once again, this was a 12:30 booking, but with better weather there was rather more to see, and a very different collection of cars from the previous visit.
A couple of Abarths caught my eye. First of them was the popular 595.
And also there was a 124 Spider, still a rare car with around 1750 of them sold in the UK, though it is unlikely to become any more commonplace, as it was recently announced that the car was withdrawn from sale, at least for now (due to a WLTP issue, I believe). That means it has had a short on sale time in the UK, as the 124 Spider only went on sale in September 2016, at the same time as the Fiat version, which was developed in parallel. Critics immediately complained that the Abarth version does cost a lot more, and there are those who think you don’t get enough extra for your money, but those who have driven it will tell you otherwise. You certainly get more power. The 1.4 MultiAir turbo unit jumps up from 138bhp to 168bhp, while torque also increases by a modest 10Nm to 250Nm, which gives it a 0-62mph time of 6.8 seconds, which is half a second quicker than the 2.0-litre Mazda MX-5. The top speed is 143mph. It weighs just 1060kg meaning a power-to-weight ratio of 158bhp-per-tonne, and with the new Record Monza exhaust system it sounds great even at idle. The Abarth version gets a stiffer suspension setup than the regular Fiat 124 Spider, with Bilstein dampers and beefed-up anti-roll bars. Bigger Brembo brakes also feature, with aluminium calipers. It can be had with a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission with paddles, and the latter gets a Sport mode for quicker shifts. Many of the UK cars sport the ‘Heritage Look’ pack, which is a no-cost option. It brings a matt black bonnet and bootlid, plus red exterior trim detailing and has proved popular. The £29,565 starting price gets you standard equipment such as cruise control, climate control, Bluetooth, a DAB radio and satnav, plus Alcantara black and red (or pure black) seat trim. The automatic gearbox is a £2,035 extra, while an optional visibility pack brings LED DRLs, auto lights and wipers and rear parking sensors.
The Aston of the day was this DB11.
The styling of the Audi TT began in the spring of 1994 at the Volkswagen Group Design Center in California. The TT was first shown as a concept car at the 1995 Frankfurt Motor Show. The design is credited to J Mays and Freeman Thomas, with Hartmut Warkuss, Peter Schreyer, Martin Smith and Romulus Rost contributing to the interior design. A previously unused laser beam welding adaptation, which enabled seamless design features on the first-generation TT, delayed its introduction. Audi did not initially offer any type of automatic transmission option for the TT. However, from 2003, a dual clutch six-speed Direct-Shift Gearbox (DSG) became available, with the United Kingdom TT variants becoming the world’s first user of a dual clutch transmission configured for a right-hand drive vehicle, although the outright world first for a road car equipped with a dual clutch transmission was claimed earlier by a Volkswagen Group platform-mate, the left hand drive Volkswagen Golf Mk4 R32. The Audi TT takes its name from the successful motor racing tradition of NSU in the British Isle of Man TT (Tourist Trophy) motorcycle race. NSU marque began competing at the Isle of Man TT in 1907 with the UK manager Martin Geiger finishing in fifth position in the single-cylinder race. The 1938 Isle of Man Lightweight TT race was won by Ewald Kluge with a 250 cc supercharged DKW motor-cycle and the DKW and NSU companies later merged into the company now known as Audi. The TT name has also been attributed to the phrase “Technology & Tradition”. The production model (internal designation Type 8N) was launched as a coupé in September 1998, followed by a roadster in August 1999. It is based on the Volkswagen Group A4 (PQ34) platform as used for the Volkswagen Golf Mk4, the original Audi A3, the Škoda Octavia, and others. The styling differed little from the concept, except for slightly reprofiled bumpers, and the addition of rear quarterlight windows behind the doors. Factory production commenced in October 1998. Early TT models received press coverage following a series of high-speed accidents and the related fatalities which occurred at speeds in excess of 112 mph (180 km/h) during abrupt lane changes or sharp turns. Both the coupé and roadster variants were recalled in late 1999/early 2000, to improve predictability of the car’s handling at very high speeds. Audi’s Electronic Stability Programme (ESP) or Anti Slip Regulation (ASR) and rear spoiler were added, along with modifications to the suspension system. All changes were incorporated into subsequent production. Mechanically, the TT shares an identical powertrain layout with its related Volkswagen Group-mates. The TT uses a transversely mounted internal combustion engine, with either front-wheel drive or ‘quattro four-wheel drive’ available as an option. It was first available with a 1.8-litre inline four-cylinder 20-valve turbocharged engine in two states of DIN-rated power outputs; 180 PS (178 bhp) and 225 PS (222 bhp). The engines share the same fundamental design, but the 225 PS version features a larger K04 turbocharger (180 PS version came with a smaller K03), an additional intercooler on the left side (complementing the existing right-side intercooler), larger 20mm wrist-pins, a dual tailpipe exhaust, intake manifold with inlet on driver’s side, and a few other internals – designed to accommodate the increase in turbo boost, from roughly 10 pounds per square inch (0.7 bar) peak, to 15 pounds per square inch (1.0 bar). Haldex Traction enabled four-wheel drive, ‘branded’ as “Quattro” was optional on the 180 engine, and standard on the more powerful 225 version. The original four-cylinder engine range was complemented with a 3,189 cc VR6 engine rated at 250 PS (247 bhp) and 320 Nm (236 lb/ft) of torque in early 2003, which came as standard with the quattro four-wheel-drive system. In July 2003, a new six-speed dual clutch transmission – dubbed the Direct-Shift Gearbox (DSG), which improves acceleration through much-reduced shift times, was offered, along with a stiffer suspension. The second generation TT was launched in 2006.
Also here was an RS3 Sportback.
The M3 version of the E46 3 Series was produced in coupé and convertible body styles. The E46 M3 is powered by the S54 straight-six engine and has a 0-100 km/h (62 mph) acceleration time of 5.1 seconds for the coupe, with either the manual or SMG-II transmission. The skid pad cornering results are 0.89 g for the coupe and 0.81 g for the convertible.The top speed is electronically limited to 250 km/h (155 mph). The available transmissions were a Getrag 420G 6-speed manual transmission or a SMG-II 6-speed automated manual transmission, which was based on the Getrag 420G. The SMG-II used an electrohydraulically actuated clutch and gearshifts could be selected via the gear knob or paddles mounted on the steering wheel. The SMG-II was praised for its fast shift times and racetrack performance, but some people found its shifts to be delayed and lurching in stop-start traffic. In 2005, a special edition was introduced which used several parts from the CSL. This model was called the M3 Competition Package (ZCP) in the United States and mainland Europe, and the M3 CS in the United Kingdom. Compared to the regular M3, the Competition Package includes: 19-inch BBS alloy wheels- 19″x 8″ at the front and 19″x 9.5″ at the rear; Stiffer springs (which were carried over to the regular M3 from 12/04); Faster ratio steering rack of 14.5:1 (compared with the regular M3’s ratio of 15.4:1) as per the CSL; Steering wheel from the CSL; M-track mode for the electronic stability control, as per the CSL; The CSL’s larger front brake discs (but with the regular M3 front calipers) and rear brake calipers with larger pistons; Alcantara steering wheel and handbrake covers; The engine, gearbox and other drivetrain components are the same as the standard M3. Total production of the E46 M3 was 56,133 coupes and 29,633 convertibles. The cars were assembled at the BMW Regensburg factory in Germany and production was from September 2000 until August 2006, production totalled 85,766.
There were examples of all the versions of he current M3 family here. Coupe and convertible models took on the M4 badge with this generation, and despite some anxiety about whether this would harm model recognition, it does not seem to have done so. Ever more potent and pricier versions of hte M3 family have appeared with each successive generation, and yet this does not seem to have harmed sales, even though the entry point now is out of reach of many who would have been able to afford say an E46 or one of its predecessors.
Widely regarded as the best looking of the recent 6 Series family was this Gran Coupe model.
Needing little in the way of introduction, perhaps, is this BMW i8. First introduced as the Concept Vision EfficientDynamics, the i8 is part of BMW’s “Project i” and it is being marketed as a new brand, BMW i, sold separately from BMW or Mini. The BMW i3, launched for retail customers in Europe in the fourth quarter of 2013, was the first model of the i brand available in the market, and it was followed by the i8, released in Germany in June 2014 as a 2015 model year. Other i models are still expected to follow. The initial turbodiesel concept car was unveiled at the 2009 Frankfurt International Motor Show. In 2010, BMW announced the mass production of the Vision EfficientDynamics concept in Leipzig beginning in 2013 as the BMW i8. The BMW i8 petrol-powered concept car destined for production was unveiled at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show and the final production version of the BMW i8 was unveiled at the 2013 Frankfurt International Motor Show. It features butterfly doors, head-up display, rear-view cameras and partially false engine noise. Series production of customer vehicles began in April 2014. The electric two-speed drivetrain is developed and produced by GKN. It is the first production car with laser headlights, reaching further than LED lights. The i8 has a vehicle weight of 1,485 kg (3,274 lb) (DIN kerb weight) and a low drag coefficient (Cd) of 0.26. In all-electric mode the BMW i8 has a top speed of 120 km/h (75 mph). In Sport mode the i8 delivers a mid-range acceleration from 80 to 120 km/h (50 to 75 mph) in 2.6 seconds. The electronically controlled top speed is 250 km/h (155 mph). By early November 2016 global sales since mid-2014 totalled more than 10,000 units, making the i8 the world’s top selling plug-in electrified sports car. The top selling markets are the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, China and Canada.
Final BMW to catch my eye was the latest 8 Coupe. On looks alone, this car does not really hit the mark, with a lot of fussy details ruining, in my opinion, what is otherwise quite an attractive shape. Sadly, the press who have driven out have also concluded that it does not quite have what it takes from behind the wheel, and that is before you take into account the ambitious price tags.
It was with the 360 Modena that sales of Ferrari models really took off, with unprecedented volumes of the car being sold. The 360 Modena was launched in 1999, named after the town of Modena, the birthplace of Enzo Ferrari. A major innovation in this all new model came from Ferrari’s partnership with Alcoa which resulted in an entirely new all-aluminium space-frame chassis that was 40% stiffer than the F355 which had utilised steel. The design was 28% lighter despite a 10% increase in overall dimensions. Along with a lightweight frame the new Pininfarina body styling deviated from traditions of the previous decade’s sharp angles and flip-up headlights. The new V8 engine, common to all versions, was of 3.6 litre capacity with a flat plane crankshaft, titanium connecting rods and generates 400 bhp Despite what looks like on paper modest gains in reality the power to weight ratio was significantly improved on over the F355, this was due to the combination of both a lighter car and more power. The 0 to 100 km/h acceleration performance improved from 4.6 to 4.3 seconds. The first model to be rolled out was the 360 Modena, available as a manual, or an F1 electrohydraulic manual. Next up was an open car. The 360 was designed with a Spider variant in mind; since removing the roof of a coupe reduces the torsional rigidity, the 360 was built for strength in other areas. Ferrari designers strengthened the sills, stiffened the front of the floorpan and redesigned the windscreen frame. The rear bulkhead had to be stiffened to cut out engine noise from the cabin. The convertible’s necessary dynamic rigidity is provided by additional side reinforcements and a cross brace in front of the engine. Passenger safety is ensured by a strengthened windscreen frame and roll bars. The 360 Spider displays a curvilinear waistline. The fairings imply the start of a roof, and stable roll bars are embedded in these elevations. Due to use of light aluminium construction throughout, the Spider weighs in only 60 kg heavier than the coupé. As with the Modena version, its 3.6 litre V8 with 400 bhp is on display under a glass cover. The engine — confined in space by the convertible’s top’s storage area — acquires additional air supply through especially large side grills. The intake manifolds were moved toward the center of the engine between the air supply conduits in the Spider engine compartment, as opposed to lying apart as with the Modena. In terms of performance, the 0-60 mph time was slightly slower at 4.4 seconds due to the slight weight increase, and the top speed was reduced from 189 to 180 mph. Despite the car’s mid-mounted V8 engine, the electrically operated top is able to stow into the compartment when not in use. The convertible top was available in black, blue, grey and beige. The transformation from a closed top to an open-air convertible is a two-stage folding-action that has been dubbed “a stunning 20 second mechanical symphony”. The interior of the Spider is identical to that of the coupé. It was a Spider that was to be seen here.
I have to confess that when I first saw this car I had no idea as to what it might be. The answer is a Fisker Tramonto, and a chat with the owner revealed that it is the only one in the UK and the only one built with right hand drive. He has a number of other cars, and indeed was here with several of them and several friends, and said he has owned this one for around 15 years. The Tramonto is the first car produced by the Fisker company. A hand-built sports car, launched in 2005, original production was scheduled to be limited to 150 pieces worldwide, but only 15 were ever built. It used the base architecture of the Mercedes-Benz SL, retaining the engineering and safety features of the original car. However, unlike the original, the Tramonto had a slimmer back end, a longer bonnet line and no visual bumpers. This look was created using a variety of different materials. The interior of the Tramonto was hand trimmed and hand stitched using Italian leather. Each car was built in California and was individually numbered. The Tramonto used the hand-built AMG power plant and customers had the choice of 8-cylinder or 12-cylinder engines. The Tramonto has a 0-62 mph (100 km/h) time of 3.6 seconds for the V-8 and 3.2 for the V-12. The top speed is 202 mph (325 km/h) for the V8 and over 205 mph for the V-12. The only Tramonto V-12 built (car 15 of 15) had an output of 700 bhp and 1,000 lb/ft (1,356 Nm) of torque. I rather liked it.
Oldest Ford here was this rather splendid Lotus Cortina. The history of this version began in 1961, before the launch of Ford’s family saloon. Colin Chapman had been wishing to build his own engines for Lotus, mainly because the Coventry Climax unit was so expensive and his chance came when he commissioned Harry Mundy (a close friend and designer of the Coventry Climax engine and technical editor for Autocar) to design a twin-cam version of the Ford Kent engine. Most of the development of the engine was done on the 997cc and 1,340cc bottom end, but in 1962 Ford released the 116E five bearing 1,499 cc engine and work centred on this. Keith Duckworth, from Cosworth, played an important part in tuning of the engine. The engine’s first appearance was in 1962 at the Nürburgring in a Lotus 23 driven by Jim Clark. Almost as soon as the engine appeared in production cars (Lotus Elan), it was replaced with a larger capacity unit (82.55 mm bore to give 1,557 cc). This was in order to get the car closer to the 1.6 litre capacity class in motorsport. Whilst the engine was being developed, Walter Hayes (Ford) asked Colin Chapman if he would fit the engine to 1,000 Ford saloons for Group 2 homologation. Chapman quickly accepted, although it must have been very busy in the Cheshunt plant, with the Elan about to be launched. The Type 28 or Lotus Cortina or Cortina Lotus (as Ford liked to call it) was duly launched. Ford supplied the 2-door Cortina bodyshells and took care of all the marketing and selling of the cars, whilst Lotus did all the mechanical and cosmetic changes. The major changes involved installing the 1,557 cc 105 bhp engine, together with the same close-ratio gearbox as the Elan. The rear suspension was drastically altered and lightweight alloy panels were used for doors, bonnet and boot. Lightweight casings were fitted to gearbox and differential. All the Lotus factory cars were painted white with a green stripe (although Ford built some for racing in red, and one customer had a dark blue stripe due to being superstitious about green). The cars also received front quarter bumpers and round Lotus badges were fitted to rear wings and to the right side of the radiator grille. Interior modifications were limited to a centre console designed to accommodate the new gear lever position, different seats and the later style dashboard, featuring tachometer, speedometer, oil pressure, water temperature and fuel level gauges. A wood-rimmed steering wheel was fitted. The suspension changes to the car were quite extensive; the car received shorter struts up front, forged track control arms and 5.5J by 13 steel wheel rims. The rear was even more radical with vertical coil spring/dampers replacing the leaf springs and two trailing arms with a A- bracket (which connected to the differential housing and brackets near the trailing arm pivots) sorting out axle location. To support this set-up, further braces were put behind the rear seat and from the rear wheelarch down to chassis in the boot. The stiffening braces meant that the spare wheel had to be moved from the standard Cortina’s wheel well and was bolted to the left side of the boot floor. The battery was also relocated to the boot, behind the right wheelarch. Both of these changes made big improvements to overall weight distribution. Another improvement the Cortina Lotus gained was the new braking system (9.5 in front discs) which were built by brake specialist Girling. This system also was fitted to Cortina GTs but without a servo, which was fitted in the Cortina Lotus engine bay. Initially, the engines were built by J. A Prestwich of Tottenham and then Villiers of Wolverhampton. In 1966, Lotus moved to Hethel in Norwich where they had their own engine building facilities. The Cortina Lotus used a 8.0 in diaphragm-spring clutch, whereas Ford fitted coil-spring clutches to the rest of the range. The remainder of the gearbox was identical to the Lotus Elan. This led to a few problems because although the ultra-close gear ratios were perfect for the race track or open road, the clutch was given a hard time in traffic. The ratios were later changed. The early cars were very popular and earned some rave reviews; one magazine described the car as a tin-top version of a Lotus 7. It was ‘THE car’ for many enthusiasts who before had to settle for a Cortina GT or a Mini-Cooper and it also amazed a lot of the public who were used to overweight ‘sports cars’ like the Austin-Healey 3000. The launch was not perfect however, the car was too specialist for some Ford dealerships who did not understand the car; there are a few stories of incorrect parts being fitted at services. There were a few teething problems reported by the first batch of owners, (most of these problems show how quickly the car was developed) some of the engines were down on power, the gear ratios were too close and the worst problem was the differential housing coming away from the casing. This problem was mainly caused by the high loads put on the axle because of the A bracket it was an integral part of the rear suspension. This was made even worse by the fact any oil lost from the axle worked its way on to the bushes of the A bracket. There were 4 main updates made to the Mk1 Lotus during its production to solve some of these problems. The first change was a swap to a two-piece prop shaft and the lighter alloy transmission casing were changed for standard Ford items; this also included swapping the ultra close ratio gears for Cortina GT gear ratios, the main difference was 1st, 2nd and reverse were much higher ratios. from 1964, standard panels were used rather than the light alloy ones. Alloy items and ultra-close ratios coulds be specified when buying new cars. The 2nd main change came in late 1964 when the entire Cortina range had a facelift which included a full width front grille and aeroflow outlets in the rear quarters because the Cortina Lotus also gained Ford’s new ventilation system which also included an update to the interior. The third and probably most important change came in mid-1965, when the Lotus rear suspension was changed for the leaf springs and radius arms of the Cortina GT. This replaced all the stiffening tubing as well. The last update also came in 1965 when the rear drums were swapped for self-adjusting items and also the famous 2000E gearbox ratios were used. These lowered 1st and reverse about halfway between the Cortina GT ratios and the ultra close-ratio box. All these changes made the cars less specialised but far more reliable and all the special parts were still available for competition as well as to members of the public. The Cortina Lotus had by this time earned an impressive competition reputation. It was also being made in left hand drive when production finished around late 1966 and the Mk2 took over. 3306 examples were made. It is sometimes suggested that the survival rate is well in excess of that, with many cars being created out of non-Lotus models. There certainly are plenty of those around, so it really is a case of “buyer beware” if in the market to acquire one of these cars.
The Mark I Ford Escort was introduced in the UK at the end of 1967, making its show debut at Brussels Motor Show in January 1968, replacing the successful, long-running Anglia. The car was presented in continental Europe as a product of Ford’s European operation. Escort production commenced at the Halewood plant in England during the closing months of 1967, and for left hand drive markets during September 1968 at the Ford plant in Genk. Initially the continental Escorts differed slightly from the UK built ones under the skin. The front suspension and steering gear were differently configured and the brakes were fitted with dual hydraulic circuits; also the wheels fitted on the Genk-built Escorts had wider rims. At the beginning of 1970, continental European production transferred to a new plant on the edge of Saarlouis, West Germany. The Escort was a commercial success in several parts of western Europe, but nowhere more than in the UK, where the national best seller of the 1960s, BMC’s Austin/Morris 1100 was beginning to show its age while Ford’s own Cortina had grown, both in dimensions and in price, beyond the market niche at which it had originally been pitched. In June 1974, six years into the car’s UK introduction, Ford announced the completion of the two millionth Ford Escort, a milestone hitherto unmatched by any Ford model outside the US. It was also stated that 60% of the two million Escorts had been built in Britain. In West Germany cars were built at a slower rate of around 150,000 cars per year, slumping to 78,604 in 1974 which was the last year for the Escort Mark I. Many of the German built Escorts were exported, notably to Benelux and Italy; from the West German domestic market perspective the car was cramped and uncomfortable when compared with the well-established and comparably priced Opel Kadett, and it was technically primitive when set against the successful imported Fiat 128 and Renault 12. Subsequent generations of the Escort made up some of the ground foregone by the original model, but in Europe’s largest auto-market the Escort sales volumes always came in well behind those of the General Motors Kadett and its Astra successor. The Escort had conventional rear-wheel drive and a four-speed manual gearbox, or three-speed automatic transmission. The suspension consisted of MacPherson strut front suspension and a simple live axle mounted on leaf springs. The Escort was the first small Ford to use rack-and-pinion steering. The Mark I featured contemporary styling cues in tune with its time: a subtle Detroit-inspired “Coke bottle” waistline and the “dogbone” shaped front grille – arguably the car’s main stylistic feature. Similar Coke bottle styling featured in the larger Cortina Mark III (also built in West Germany as the Taunus) launched in 1970. Initially, the Escort was sold as a two-door saloon (with circular front headlights and rubber flooring on the “De Luxe” model). The “Super” model featured rectangular headlights, carpets, a cigar lighter and a water temperature gauge. A two-door estate was introduced at the end of March 1968 which, with the back seat folded down, provided a 40% increase in maximum load space over the old Anglia 105E estate, according to the manufacturer. The estate featured the same engine options as the saloon, but it also included a larger, 7 1⁄2-inch-diameter clutch, stiffer rear springs and in most configurations slightly larger brake drums or discs than the saloon. A panel van appeared in April 1968 and the 4-door saloon (a bodystyle the Anglia was never available in for UK market) in 1969. Underneath the bonnet was the Kent Crossflow engine in 1.1 and 1.3 litre versions. A 940 cc engine was also available in some export markets such as Italy and France. This tiny engine remained popular in Italy, where it was carried over for the Escort Mark II, but in France it was discontinued during 1972. There was a 1300GT performance version, with a tuned 1.3 L Crossflow (OHV) engine with a Weber carburettor and uprated suspension. This version featured additional instrumentation with a tachometer, battery charge indicator, and oil pressure gauge. The same tuned 1.3 L engine was also used in a variation sold as the Escort Sport, that used the flared front wings from the AVO range of cars, but featured trim from the more basic models. Later, an “executive” version of the Escort was produced known as the “1300E”. This featured the same 13″ road wheels and flared wings of the Sport, but was trimmed in an upmarket, for that time, fashion with wood trim on the dashboard and door cappings. A higher performance version for rallies and racing was available, the Escort Twin Cam, built for Group 2 international rallying. It had an engine with a Lotus-made eight-valve twin camshaft head fitted to the 1.5 L non-crossflow block, which had a bigger bore than usual to give a capacity of 1,557 cc. This engine had originally been developed for the Lotus Elan. Production of the Twin Cam, which was originally produced at Halewood, was phased out as the Cosworth-engined RS1600 (RS denoting Rallye Sport) production began. The most famous edition of the Twin Cam was raced on behalf of Ford by Alan Mann Racing in the British Saloon Car Championship in 1968 and 1969, sporting a full Formula 2 Ford FVC 16-valve engine producing over 200 hp. The Escort, driven by Australian driver Frank Gardner went on to comfortably win the 1968 championship. The Mark I Escorts became successful as a rally car, and they eventually went on to become one of the most successful rally cars of all time. The Ford works team was practically unbeatable in the late 1960s / early 1970s, and arguably the Escort’s greatest victory was in the 1970 London to Mexico World Cup Rally, co-driven by Finnish legend Hannu Mikkola and Swedish co-driver Gunnar Palm. This gave rise to the Escort Mexico (1598cc “crossflow”-engined) special edition road versions in honour of the rally car. Introduced in November 1970, 10,352 Mexico Mark I’s were built. In addition to the Mexico, the RS1600 was developed with 1,601 cc Cosworth BDA which used a Crossflow block with a 16-valve Cosworth cylinder head, named for “Belt Drive A Series”. Both the Mexico and RS1600 were built at Ford’s Advanced Vehicle Operations (AVO) facility located at the Aveley Plant in South Essex. As well as higher performance engines and sports suspension, these models featured strengthened bodyshells utilising seam welding in places of spot welding, making them more suitable for competition. After updating the factory team cars with a larger 1701 cc Cosworth BDB engine in 1972 and then with fuel injected BDC, Ford also produced an RS2000 model as an alternative to the somewhat temperamental RS1600, featuring a 2.0 litre Pinto (OHC) engine. This also clocked up some rally and racing victories; and pre-empted the hot hatch market as a desirable but affordable performance road car. Like the Mexico and RS1600, this car was produced at the Aveley plant. All models were discontinued at the end of 1974, in preparation for the second generation car.
The Capri Mk III was referred to internally as “Project Carla”, and although little more than a substantial update of the Capri II, it was often referred to as the Mk III. The first cars were available in March 1978, but failed to halt a terminal decline in sales. The concept of a heavily facelifted Capri II was shown at the 1976 Geneva show: a Capri II with a front very similar to the Escort RS2000 (with four headlamps and black slatted grille), and with a rear spoiler, essentially previewed the model some time before launch. The new styling cues, most notably the black “Aeroflow” grille (first used on the Mk I Fiesta) and the “sawtooth” rear lamp lenses echoed the new design language being introduced at that time by Ford of Europe’s chief stylist Uwe Bahnsen across the entire range. Similar styling elements were subsequently introduced in the 1979 Cortina 80, 1980 Escort Mk III and the 1981 Granada Mk IIb. In addition, the Mk III featured improved aerodynamics, leading to improved performance and economy over the Mk II and the trademark quad headlamps were introduced. At launch the existing engine and transmission combinations of the Capri II were carried over, with the 3.0 S model regarded as the most desirable model although the softer, more luxurious Ghia derivative with automatic, rather than manual transmission, was the bigger seller of the two V6-engined models. Ford began to focus their attention on the UK Capri market as sales declined, realising the car had something of a cult following there. Unlike sales of the contemporary 4-door Cortina, Capri sales in Britain were to private buyers who would demand less discounts than fleet buyers allowing higher margins with the coupé. Ford tried to maintain interest in 1977 with Ford Rallye Sport, Series X, “X Pack” options from the performance oriented RS parts range. Although expensive and slow selling these proved that the press would enthusiastically cover more developed Capris with higher performance. In early 1982, the Essex 3.0 V6 which had been the range topper since September 1969 was dropped, while a new sporty version debuted at the Geneva Motor Show, called the 2.8 Injection. The new model was the first regular model since the RS2600 to use fuel injection. Power rose to a claimed 160 PS, even though tests showed the real figure was closer to 150 PS, giving a top speed of 210 km/h (130 mph), but the car still had a standard four-speed gearbox. The Capri 2.8 Injection breathed new life into the range and kept the car in production 2–3 years longer than Ford had planned. The four-speed gearbox was replaced with a five-speed unit early on – at the same time Ford swapped the dated looking chequered seats for more luxurious looking velour trim. A more substantial upgrade was introduced in 1984 with the Capri Injection Special. This development used half leather seating and included a limited slip differential. Externally the car could be easily distinguished by seven spoke RS wheels (without the customary “RS” logo since this was not an RS vehicle) and colour-coded grille and headlamp surrounds. At the same time the 2.0 Capri was rationalised to one model, the 2.0 S, which simultaneously adopted a mildly modified suspension from the Capri Injection. The 1.6 model was also reduced to a single model, the 1.6 LS. The car was finally deleted at the end of 1986, 1.9 million cars having been made over 18 years, and having been sold only in the UK for the final months of production.
On every occasion that I visited in 2019 there had been lots of Hyundai’s well-received i30N on site. This time there was only the one.
One again, the F Type was well represented here.
Few would have guessed that the XJS would run for over 20 years, but eventually it came time for its replacement, and the car charged with so doing was the XK8. Development began in 1992, with design work having starting earlier, in late 1991. By October 1992 a design was chosen and later frozen for production in 1993. Prototypes were built from December 1993 after the X100 was given formal approval and design patents were filed in June 1994. Development concluded in 1996, at which point the car was launched. The first-generation XK series shares its platform with the Aston Martin DB7, and both cars are derived from the Jaguar XJS, though the platform has been extensively changed. One of the revisions is the use of the second generation of Jaguar’s independent rear suspension unit, taken from the XJ40. The XK8 was available in coupé or convertible body styles and with the then new 4.0-litre Jaguar AJ-V8 engine. In 1998 the XKR was introduced with a supercharged version of the engine. 2003 the engines were replaced by the 4.2-litre AJ34 engines in both the normally aspirated and supercharged versions. Equipment levels were generous and there was a high standard of fit and finish. Both models came with all-leather interior, burl walnut trim, and side airbags. Jeremy Clarkson, during a Top Gear test-drive, likened the interior of the original XK8 to sitting inside Blenheim Palace. The model ran for 10 years before being replaced by the X150 model XK.
The Lamborghini you see most often these days is the Huracan and indeed that is the example of the marque that was present here.
I am guessing that the driver of this rather lovely Fulvia Berlina did not have a ticket, as I saw it pull in, and then drive straight through the site and out again. And that was it, just a fleeting glance of a rare car. Named after Via Fulvia, the Roman road leading from Tortona to Turin, the Fulvia was introduced at the Geneva Motor Show in 1963 and manufactured in three variants: Berlina 4-door saloon, 2-door Coupé, and Sport, an alternative fastback coupé designed and built by Zagato on the Coupé floorpan. The Fulvia Berlina was designed by Antonio Fessia, to replace the Lancia Appia with which it shared almost no components. The Appia was a rear wheel drive car, however, while the Fulvia moved to front wheel drive like the Flavia. The general engineering design of the Fulvia was identical to that of the Flavia with the major exception of the engine, the Flavia having a four-cylinder horizontally opposed engine and the Fulvia a ‘Narrow Angle’ vee configuration as featured on most production Lancias from the Lambda. The Fulvia used a longitudinal engine mounted in front of its transaxle. An independent suspension in front used wishbones and a single leaf spring, while a beam axle with a panhard rod and leaf springs was used in back. Four wheel Dunlop disc brakes were fitted to first series Fulvias. With the introduction of the second series in 1970 the brakes were uprated with larger Girling calipers all round and a brake servo. The handbrake design was also changed – using separate drums and brake-shoes operating on the rear wheels. The Fulvia’s narrow-angle DOHC Lancia V4 engine was mounted well forward at a 45° angle. A new design, by Zaccone Mina, its unusually narrow 12° V allowed a single cylinder head to cover all the cylinders, with one cam each for intake and exhaust valves. Displacement started out at just 1091 cc, with a 72 mm bore and 67 mm stroke. Fitted with a single carburettor it produces 57 bhp. A higher (9.0:1) compression ratio and twin Solex carburettors raised power to 70 bhp soon after. The engine was bored to 6 mm for the 1216 cc HF model. With additional tuning output was raised from 79 to 87 bhp. There were a number of versions of the Berlina during its product life. The Berlina 2C ran from late 1964–69, with the more powerful 71 bhp engine fitted with double twin-choke Solex carburettors. 155R14 Michelin X radial tyres. The body-shell also had revised front subframe mountings. It was distinguished by an enamelled “2C” badge on the radiator grille and rear “Fulvia 2C” script. The Berlina GT was introduced at the 1967 Geneva Salon with the 1216 cc (later 1231 cc) engine from the Coupé, producing 80 bhp at 6000 rpm and was distinguished by an enamelled “GT” badge on the radiator grille and rear “Fulvia GT” script. It ran for less than 2 years. The Berlina GTE followed in 1968 with the 1298 cc engine from the Coupé Rallye 1.3, for an output of 87 bhp at 6000 rpm. In addition the brakes were uprated with a brake servo, and fitted with 155 SR 14 Michelin X radial tyres. The Fulvia saloon was updated in August 1969 with a redesigned body on a 20 mm (0.8 in) longer wheelbase, and an updated interior. An altered roofline also provided more space for rear-seat passengers and the 1298cc engine. In 1970 a version became available with the 5 speed gearbox and uprated brakes. Production of the Berlina ceased in 1972, when the Beta was announced, though the Coupe models would continue for several more years.
After I had been on site for an hour or so, a convoy of Lotus models arrived, a mix of current cars. Kudos to the drivers of some of them who arrived, roofless on a day which whilst dry and sunny was pretty chilly.
We are now on the third generation Exige and several of them were part of that Lotus group. At the Frankfurt 2011 Show, the 2012 version of the Exige S was announced. It features a supercharged 3.5 litre V6 engine (from the Evora S) rated at 345 hp. In 2013, a roadster version was introduced with only minor changes to the design for the removable top. The engine and performance were virtually unchanged from the coupe. To accommodate the V6 engine, the new model is approximately 25 cm (9.8 inches) longer and 5 cm (2.0 in) wider (exterior bodywise) than the model with the inline-four engine, being 4,052 mm (159.5 inches) long, 1,802 mm (70.9 in) wide (not counting the mirrors) and 1,153 mm (45.4 in) tall. The drag coefficient is 0.433. Since that time there have been a bewildering array of different versions and you need to be a real marque expert to tell them all apart. The policy has worked, though, as sales have remained steady whilst Lotus try to amass the finances to develop any all new models. The Exige V6 Cup is a track oriented version of the Exige S while the Exige CupR is the track-only version of Exige V6 Cup. The Exige V6 Cup is offered for sale in the United States as a track only car. If purchased, US Lotus Dealers will only provide a bill of sale instead of a title. The vehicles were unveiled at the 2013 Autosport International motor show. Limited to 50 examples, the Lotus Exige 360 Cup was revealed on 14 August 2015. The car is powered by a 3.5-liter supercharged Toyota V6 delivering 355 hp. The Lotus Exige Sport 380 is a track focused and more powerful version of the Lotus Exige lineup. It was unveiled on 23 November 2016. Lotus’ CEO, Jean-Marc Gales describes it as, “The Exige Sport 380 is so good, that it is no longer the best in class, it’s now in a class of its own”, and it fulfills this statement by taking on some of the powerful and expensive super cars both on the track and the streets. The 3.5-litre, super-charged V6 engine is now uprated and produces 375 hp and 410 Nm (302 lb/ft) of torque with a 6500 rpm red line achieved by revised supercharger and ECU. It can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds and has a top speed of 178 mph (286 km/h). The interior is also stripped out and features necessary driver aids. The Exige Sport 380 weighs 1,076 kg (2,372 lb), thanks to the extensive use of carbon fibre on the exterior as well as the interior, the application of polycarbonate windows instead of traditional glass windows and a newly designed rear transom panel which features two rear lights instead of four.The Lotus Exige Cup 380 is a more hardcore variant of the Exige Sport 380. Performance of the car remains the same as the Sport 380 but it features more aero components and a larger rear wing to produce more downforce at high speeds. The Exige Cup 380 generates 200 kg (441 lb) of downforce at its maximum speed of 175 mph (282 km/h); the top speed is reduced due to excess downforce and more drag. It features a more stripped out interior in order to save weight and other light weight carbon fiber components, Lotus states a lowest possible dry weight of only 1,057 kg (2,330 lb). On 9 November 2017, Lotus unveiled the most powerful version of the Exige to date called the Exige Cup 430, producing 430 PS (424 hp) and using the Evora GT430’s powertrain, modified to fit in the smaller Exige. The car body can produce 220 kg (485 lb) of downforce. The Cup 430 is 19 kg (42 lb) lighter than the Sport 380 due to the use of carbon fibre in body panels and interior and a titanium exhaust. The gearbox allows quicker gearshifts than the previous model. The Cup 430 is not offered with an automatic gearbox. The Lotus Exige Cup 430 is capable of covering the Hethel circuit in 1 minute 24.8 seconds – the fastest production car to lap the circuit – 1.2 seconds faster than the road going Lotus 3-Eleven.
Unveiled at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in 2015, the 3-Eleven was launched in 2016 at a price of £82,500 for the road version (plus VAT) £116,500 (including VAT) for the race version) and limited to a production run of 311 units worldwide. In February 2018, the road version received cosmetic and mechanical updates like the rest of the Lotus line up for the final run of production with engine power increased to 430 hp and performance similar to the race version. The upgraded car is known as the 3-Eleven 430. The 3-Eleven is available in two configurations; a road legal version and a race version. The car has a mid-mounted engine configuration and comes with a 3,456 cc Toyota 2GR-FE V6 engine coupled with an Edelbrock Roots-type supercharger. The engine is similar to the one found in the Lotus Evora, but with variable power outputs, producing 410 bhp at 7,000 rpm and 410 Nm (302 lb/ft) at 3,000 rpm of torque in the road version, and with engineering changes and software revisions to produce 460 bhp at 7,000 rpm and 525 Nm (387 lb/ft) at 3,500 rpm in the race version. Both versions of the car have different transmissions; a 6-speed manual transmission is available for the road version and a paddle operated 6-speed sequential manual transmission is available for the race version. Acceleration times also vary with the road version having a 0–62 mph (0–100 km/h) acceleration time of 3.3 seconds and the race version having the same acceleration time of 2.9 seconds which is achieved due to a reduction in dry weight by 35 kg (77 lb). Both versions have a top speed of 180 mph (290 km/h). A more powerful and track focused version of the road car was launched in February 2018 dubbed the 3-eleven 430 edition, having an increase in the power output to 430 hp and performance now similar to the racing version.
Developed under the project name Project Eagle, this car was launched as the Evora on 22 July 2008 at the British International Motor Show. The Evora is based on the first all-new vehicle platform from Lotus Cars since the introduction of the Lotus Elise in 1995 (the Exige, introduced in 2000, and the 2006 Europa S are both derivatives of the Elise Evora was planned to be the first vehicle of three to be built on the same platform and was the first product of a five-year plan started in 2006 to expand the Lotus line-up beyond its track-specialised offerings, with the aim of making Evora a somewhat of a more practical road car that would appeal to the mainstream. As such it is a larger car than recent Lotus models Elise and its derivatives (Exige, Europa S, etc.), with an unladen weight of 1,383 kg (3,049 lb). It is currently the only Lotus model with a 2+2 configuration, although it is also offered in a two-seater configuration, referred to as the “Plus Zero” option. It is also the only 2+2 mid engined coupé on sale. The interior is larger to allow taller persons of 6’5″ to fit. The cooled boot behind the engine is large enough to fit a set of golf clubs, although Lotus Design Head Russell Carr denies that this was intentional. Lotus intends Evora to compete with different market sectors including the Porsche Cayman. The name “Evora” keeps the Lotus tradition of beginning model names with an “E”. The name is derived from the words evolution, vogue, and aura. and it of course sounds similar to Évora, which is the name of a Portuguese city and UNESCO World Heritage Site. Sales started in summer 2009, with an annual target of 2000 cars per year, with prices between £45,000 and just over £50,000. and in America from the beginning of 2010. The Evora received several accolades at its launch from the British motoring press, including: Britain’s Best Driver’s Car 2009 from Autocar and Car of the Year 2009, from Evo. Sales, however, were far from target, as the car was seen as too costly. A more powerful Evora S was launched in 2010 with a supercharged equipped 3.5-litre V6. A facelifted and more powerful Evora 400 model was unveiled at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show.
Arriving a little later was this Elise S2. It is now over 20 years since Lotus launched the Elise, a model which showed a return to the core values of simplicity and light-weight which were cornerstones of Colin Chapman’s philosophy when he founded the marque in 1955. The first generation Elise was produced for just over 4 years, with a replacement model, the Series 2 arriving in October 2000. It came about as the Series 1 could not be produced beyond the 2000 model production year due to new European crash sustainability regulations. Lacking the funding to produce a replacement, Lotus needed a development partner to take a share of investment required for the new car. General Motors offered to fund the project, in return for a badged and GM-engined version of the car for their European brands, Opel and Vauxhall. The result was therefore two cars, which although looking quite different, shared much under the skin: a Series 2 Elise and the Vauxhall VX220 and Opel Speedster duo. The Series 2 Elise was a redesigned Series 1 using a slightly modified version of the Series 1 chassis to meet the new regulations, and the same K-series engine with a brand new Lotus-developed ECU. The design of the body paid homage to the earlier M250 concept, and was the first Lotus to be designed by computer. Both the Series 2 Elise and the Opel Speedster/Vauxhall VX220 were built on the same production line, in a new facility at Hethel. Both cars shared many parts, including the chassis, although they had different drive-trains and power-plants. The VX220 carried the Lotus internal model identification Lotus 116, with the code name Skipton for the launch 2.2 normally aspirated version and Tornado for the 2 litre Turbo which came out in 2004. Fitted with 17 inch over the Elise’s 16 inch front wheels, the Vauxhall/Opel version ceased production in late 2005 and was replaced by the Opel GT for February 2007, with no RHD version for the United Kingdom. The Elise lived on. and indeed is still in production now, some 15 years later, though there have been countless different versions produced in that time. Whilst the first of the Series 2 cars came with the Rover K-Series engine, and that included the 111S model which had the VVC engine technology producing 160 hp, a change came about in 2005 when Lotus started to use Toyota engines. This was initially due to Lotus’ plans to introduce the Elise to the US market, meaning that an engine was needed which would comply with US emissions regulations. The selected 1.8 litre (and later 1.6 litre) Toyota units did, and the K-series did not. that MG-Rover went out of business in 2005 and engine production ceased confirmed the need for the change. Since then, Lotus have offered us track focused Elise models like the 135R and Sport 190, with 135 bhp and 192 bhp respectively, as well as the 111R, the Sport Racer, the Elise S and Elise R. In 2008 an even more potent SC model, with 218 bhp thanks to a non-intercooled supercharger was added to the range. In February 2010, Lotus unveiled a facelifted version of the second generation Elise. The new headlights are now single units; triangular in shape they are somewhat larger than the earlier lights. The cheapest version in Europe now has a 1.6 litre engine to comply with Euro 5 emissions, with the same power output as the earlier 1.8 136bhp car. Lotus has been through some difficult times in recent years, but things are looking more optimistic again, with production numbers having risen significantly in the last couple of years, after a period when next to no cars were made. The Elise is still very much part of the range. Seen here were an array of Series 1 and Series 2 models.
As on my previous visit, there were two Maserati here, my own Ghibli and a (different) Gran Turismo.
This is not the time of year, or with the roads somewhat filthy the driving conditions when many will get their treasure classic out, but one exception came from the driver of this fabulous “Pagoda” Mercedes. By 1955, Mercedes-Benz Technical Director Prof. Fritz Nallinger and his team held no illusions regarding the 190 SL’s lack of performance, while the high price tag of the legendary 300 SL supercar kept it elusive for all but the most affluent buyers. Thus Mercedes-Benz started evolving the 190 SL on a new platform, model code W127, with a fuel-injected 2.2 litre M127 inline-six engine, internally denoted as 220SL. Encouraged by positive test results, Nallinger proposed that the 220SL be placed in the Mercedes-Benz program, with production commencing in July 1957. However, while technical difficulties kept postponing the production start of the W127, the emerging new S-Class W112 platform introduced novel body manufacturing technology altogether. So in 1960, Nallinger eventually proposed to develop a completely new 220SL design, based on the “fintail” W 111 sedan platform with its chassis shortened by 11.8 in, and technology from the W112. This led to the W113 platform, with an improved fuel-injected 2.3 litre M127 inline-six engine and the distinctive “pagoda” hardtop roof, designated as 230 SL. The 230 SL made its debut at the prestigious Geneva Motor Show in March 1963, where Nallinger introduced it as follows: “It was our aim to create a very safe and fast sports car with high performance, which despite its sports characteristics, provides a very high degree of travelling comfort”. The W113 was the first sports car with a “safety body,” based on Bela Barényi’s extensive work on vehicle safety: It had a rigid passenger cell and designated crumple zones with impact-absorbing front and rear sections built into the vehicle structure. The interior was “rounded,” with all hard corners and edges removed, as in the W111 sedan. Production of the 230 SL commenced in June 1963 and ended on 5 January 1967. Its chassis was based on the W 111 sedan platform, with a reduced wheelbase by 11.8 in, recirculating ball steering (with optional power steering), double wishbone front suspension and an independent single-joint, low-pivot swing rear-axle with transverse compensator spring. The dual-circuit brake system had front disc brakes and power-assisted rear drum brakes. The 230 SL was offered with a 4-speed manual transmission, or an optional, very responsive fluid coupled (no torque converter) 4-speed automatic transmission, which was popular for US models. From May 1966, the ZF S5-20 5-speed manual transmission was available as an additional option, which was particularly popular in Italy. The 2,308 cc M127.II inline-six engine with 150 hp and 145 lb/ft torque was based on Mercedes-Benz’ venerable M180 inline-six with four main bearings and mechanical Bosch multi-port fuel injection. Mercedes-Benz made a number of modifications to boost its power, including increasing displacement from 2,197 cc, and using a completely new cylinder head with a higher compression ratio (9.3 vs. 8.7), enlarged valves and a modified camshaft. A fuel injection pump with six plungers instead of two was fitted, which allowed placing the nozzles in the cylinder head and “shooting” the fuel through the intake manifold and open valves directly into the combustion chambers. An optional oil-water heat exchanger was also available. Of the 19,831 230 SLs produced, less than a quarter were sold in the US. Looking identical, the 250 SL was introduced at the 1967 Geneva Motor Show. Production had already commenced in December 1966 and ended in January 1968. The short one-year production run makes the 250 SL the rarest of the W113 series cars. The 250 SL retained the stiffer suspension and sportier feel of the early SLs, but provided improved agility with a new engine and rear disc brakes. Range also improved with increased fuel tank capacity from 65 litres to 82. Like its predecessor, the 250 SL was offered with a 4-speed automatic transmission, and 4-speed or ZF 5-speed manual transmissions. For the first time, an optional limited slip differential was also available. The main change was the use of the 2,496 cc M129.II engine with a larger stroke, increased valve ports, and seven main bearings instead of four. The nominal maximum power remained unchanged at 150 hp, but torque improved from 145 lb/ft to 159 lb/ft. Resiliency also improved with a new cooling water tank (“round top”) with increased capacity and a standard oil-water heat exchanger. The 250 SL also marked the introduction of a 2+2 body style, the so-called “California Coupé”, which had only the removable hardtop and no soft-top: a small fold-down rear bench seat replaced the soft-top well between passenger compartment and boot. It is estimated that only 10% of the 250SLs that were brought into America were California Coupes. Of the 5,196 250 SLs produced, more than a third were sold in the US.The 280 SL was introduced in December 1967 and continued in production through 23 February 1971, when the W 113 was replaced by its successor, the entirely new and substantially heavier R107 350 SL. The main change was an upgrade to the 2,778 cc M130 engine with 170 hp and 180 lb/ft, which finally gave the W 113 adequate power. The performance improvement was achieved by increasing bore by 4.5 mm (0.2 in), which stretched the limits of the M180 block, and required pairwise cylinder casts without cooling water passages. This mandated an oil-cooler, which was fitted vertically next to the radiator. Each engine was now bench-tested for two hours prior to being fitted, so their power specification was guaranteed at last. The M130 marked the final evolution of Mercedes-Benz’ venerable SOHC M180 inline-six, before it was superseded by the entirely new DOHC M110 inline-six introduced with R107 1974 European 280 SL models. For some time, it was also used in the W 109 300 S-Class, where it retired the expensive 3 liter M189 alloy inline-six. Over the years, the W 113 evolved from a sports car into a comfortable grand tourer, and US models were by then usually equipped with the 4-speed automatic transmission and air conditioning. Manual transmission models came with the standard 4-speed or the optional ZF 5-speed, which was ordered only 882 times and thus is a highly sought-after original option today. In Europe, manual transmissions without air conditioning were still the predominant choice. Of the 23,885 280 SLs produced, more than half were sold in the US.
Hard to imagine, but the SLK is close to celebrating its quarter-century. The R170 is the first of three generations of Mercedes-Benz’ smaller and more affordable sports car, and it was first seen in 2006. SLK stands for the company’s design mission to create a sportlich (sporty), leicht (light) and kurz (compact) roadster, and is based on a shortened platform of the W202 Mercedes C-Class. The R170 Mercedes SLK is based on the SLK I Concept and SLK II Concept, which is a two-seater roadster concept car that features a folding metal electro-hydraulic roof, dubbed ‘vario-roof’ by Mercedes, and takes 25 seconds to operate. A German design patent was filed on 30 September 1993, with the final production version of the SLK introduced at the Turin Motor Show on 22 April 1996. The R170 SLK is based on the W202 C-Class platform, sharing many drivetrain and chassis components, as well as using a shortened version of the floor pan. The wheelbase is also identical to the wheelbase of the 190SL and 300SL, at 2,400 mm (94 in). The platform of the R170 Mercedes SLK is also used by the Chrysler Crossfire, which shares 80% of its components with the car. Standard equipment includes power seats, power windows, power steering, dual-zone climate control, dimmable interior mirror, and alloy wheels. Safety features include front and side driver and passenger airbags, anti-lock brakes, and electronic stability control. Models could also be optioned with the AMG body design package, that features body colour side skirts, chromed tailpipes, and 17-inch AMG alloy wheels. Wider wheels were also available on SLK 230. The SLK 200 was exported and sold exclusively to Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Turkey, and Greece, and was only available with the Getrag five-speed manual transmission in most countries. After the 2000 facelift, the SLK 200 Kompressor was introduced to the worldwide market, replacing the SLK 200. The SLK 32 AMG was introduced in 2001, designed to rival the BMW M Roadster and Porsche Boxster S. The car featured the same M112 engine as in the SLK 320, but has a helical twin-screw supercharger and water-to-air intercooler. The SLK 32 AMG introduced Mercedes’ new ‘SpeedShift’ 5G-Tronic (automatic) transmission, that allow for manual shifting of the gears, and faster automatic downshifts before overtaking. There was no manual transmission option available for the SLK 32 AMG. The SLK 32 AMG features a more angular steering wheel, AMG instrument dials, an updated front and rear bumper with larger air intakes, and larger brakes; from 12 inch, upgraded to 13 inch in diameter. SLK 32 production started from January 2001, to March 2004. A total of 4,333 were produced; 979 were sold in Germany, 2,056 were imported to the US, and 263 to the UK. There were detailed changes every year and a significant mid-cycle facelift in 2000. Major changes include: Exterior design changes including: redesigned front and rear bumpers, a redesigned silver grille and taillights, body-colour painted side-skirts and door handles, integrated indicators in wing mirrors, and stainless steel trim in the exhaust. Interior design changes including: a restyled steering wheel and transmission shifter, and more supportive sports seats. The SLK 230 Kompressor engine was updated, the SLK 320 introduced, and the SLK 200 Kompressor replaced the SLK 200 and now introduced for worldwide market. Sales remained buoyant and the car was replaced by a second generation R171 model in 2004.
Also here was the bigger brother, the SL63 AMG.
Two very different Mercedes models from the current range caught my eye, both of them in AMG format. Smaller and more affordable of the two is the A35 AMG, a bridge between the regular A Class cars and the now very pricey indeed A45 AMG, which is aimed at the Audi S3 and BMW M135i, but which by all accounts is a “nearly” car, and then there was the latest G63 AMG which arrived with much noise and some over exuberant driving which occasioned the driver being told off at least twice by the site staff.
A new Mini Cooper named the RSP (Rover Special Products) was briefly relaunched in 1990–91, with slightly lower performance than the 1960s Cooper. It proved popular and a new Cooper-marked Mini went into full production in late 1991. To meet emission standards, Coopers from 1992 on were fitted with a fuel-injected version of the 1,275 cc engine, and in 1997 a multi-point fuel-injected engine was introduced, along with a front-mounted radiator and various safety improvements. It continued until production of the Issigonis-originated Mini ended in 2000.
Representing the modern MINI was this example of a first generation MINI John Cooper Works GP, the last Mk I MINI variant to be produced using the supercharged Tritec engine. This was sold as a light-weight, quasi-race-prepped John Cooper Works model, hand-finished by Bertone in Italy. It was offered as a limited-production run of 2000 cars during the 2006 model year, with 444 of those originally intended for the UK market, although ultimately, 459 were sold, even though the price was somewhat eye-watering. The GP featured more bolstered Recaro front seats but had no rear seats, which along with reduced sound-deadening, removal of the rear wash-wipe system, optional air-conditioning and radio, and other weight-reduction steps, resulted in a weight saving of around 40 kg (88 lb) compared to a Cooper S. Mechanically, it featured a less restrictive intercooler, recalibrated engine management, high-volume injector nozzles, and a freer-flowing exhaust system. Extra cooling capabilities lets the supercharged engine run longer on cooler temperatures for better track performance. This resulted in an output of 218 hp from a faster revving engine. Additionally, the car had enhanced braking, suspension, and a smooth under-body for better aerodynamics. The whole geometry of the rear axle was modified with parts from the Mini Challenge race car to enhance the handling. In place of the rear seats there is a metal bar for a stiffer chassis performance. The car also offered many unique styling points, such as the red door mirrors, a carbon fibre rear spoiler, unique body kit, bespoke, 2 kg lighter four-spoke alloy wheels, and specialised badging. Available in just one colour scheme (Thunder Blue with a Pure Silver roof), each car was individually numbered and featured a decal on the roof along with a plaque on the dashboard. Although they were costly when new, they have held their value very well, and rarely come up for sale even now, more than 10 years after they were new.
In 2001, Mitsubishi was forced by the FIA to run in the WRC using WRC rules for building a car instead of the Group A class rules, and thus did not need to follow homologation rules. The Evolution VII was based on the larger Lancer Cedia platform and as a result gained more weight over the Evolution VI, but Mitsubishi made up for this with multiple important chassis tweaks. The biggest change was the addition of an active centre differential and a more effective limited-slip differential, while a front helical limited-slip differential was added. Torque was increased again to 385 N⋅m (284 lb⋅ft) with engine tweaks that allowed greater airflow, and horsepower officially remained at 280 PS (276 bhp). The introduction of the Evolution VII also marked the first time an automatic drivetrain was included within the model lineup—the GT-A. Noted as the ‘grand theft auto’ version of the visually similar VII GSR and the RS2, the GT-A model was only produced in 2002 and had the following distinguishing interior and exterior specification: GT-A-only diamond cut finish 17-inch (431.8 mm) alloy wheels, clear rear light lenses and all-in-one style front headlights (later used on the Evolution VIII). The GT-A had the option of either no spoiler, the short spoiler (as per the Lancer Cedia; and later used on the Evolution VIII 260) or the thunderspoiler as used on the standard Evolution VII models. The most distinguishing feature was a smooth bonnet with no air-grills on it at all and the revised front bumper. Although offering inferior cooling capabilities, the bonnet was designed to give a cleaner line through the air with less air resistance at motorway speeds. Interior could be specified with factory options of a deluxe velour interior, full leather or the Recaro sports seats. The GT-A interior was different in that it had chromed door handles, a different instrument panel (to show the gear selection) and chrome edged bezels around the speedo and tach. The GT-A also had additional sound deadening installed from the factory and the engine manifold and downpipe had been engineered to be quieter. The 5-speed automatic gearbox had what Mitsubishi called “fuzzy logic”, which meant that the car would learn what the driver’s driving characteristics were like and would adapt the gear change timings and kick down reactions accordingly. The gears could be manually selected as with most Tiptronics via steering wheel + and – buttons (a pair both sides) or via selecting the tiptronic gate with the gear lever. Power was down a little from the standard manual cars with 272 PS 268 bhp). The GT-A gearbox did not appear again in the Evolution VIII but has been installed in the estate version of the Evolution IX Wagon. It was replaced by the Twin Clutch SST gearbox since the introduction of Evolution X. The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII was modified again in 2003 this time sporting 17″ grey Enkei wheels, Brembo brakes and Bilstein shocks to handle traction and a 5-speed manual gearbox with 280 PS (276 hp). Originally a one off model, sales were so successful in the U.S. that by 2005 it was available in four trims: the standard GSR model in Japan, the RS, 5-speed gearbox, and standard wheels (lacking excess components, such as interior map lights, power windows/doors, and radio), the SSL (with a sunroof, trunk mounted subwoofer, and leather seats) All of which had chrome head and taillight housings, and the MR, which came with a revised front limited-slip differential, aluminium MR shift knob, handbrake with carbon fibre handle, 17 inch BBS wheels, aluminium roof, and a 6-speed manual gearbox. The new Evolution Mr also sported Black housing taillights and headlights. The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII MR uses slick-response Bilstein shocks for improved handling. The aluminium roof panel and other reductions in body weight have lowered the centre of gravity to produce more natural roll characteristics. Detail improvements have also been made to Mitsubishi’s own electronic four-wheel drive, to the ACD 5 + Super AYC 6 traction control, and to the Sports ABS systems. The Lancer Evolution VIII displayed at the 2003 Tokyo Motor Show took the MR designation traditionally reserved for Mitsubishi Motors high-performance models (first used for the Galant GTO). Other parts on the MR include BBS alloy wheels, the aforementioned Bilstein shocks, and an aluminium roof. In the United Kingdom, many special Evolutions were introduced, including the FQ300, FQ320, FQ340, and FQ400 variants. They came with 305, 325, 345, and 405 bhp, respectively. The FQ-400, sold through Ralliart UK, produced 411 PS (405 bhp) at 6,400 rpm and maximum torque of 481 Nm (355 lb/ft) at 5,500 rpm, from its 1,997 cc 4G63 inline-four engine, the result of special modifications by United Kingdom tuning firms Rampage Tuning, Owen Developments, and Flow Race Engines. At 202.8 hp per litre, it has one of the highest specific outputs per litre of any road car engine. With a curb weight of 1,450 kg (3,197 lb), it achieves 0–60 mph (97 km/h) in 3.5 seconds, 0–100 mph in 9.1 seconds, 1⁄4 mile in 12.1 seconds at 117 mph (188 km/h), and a top speed of 175 mph (282 km/h) while costing £48,000. BBC’s television series Top Gear demonstrated that the stock FQ-400 could keep up with a Lamborghini Murciélago around a test track. The Stig recorded a Top Gear Power Lap Time of 1 minute and 24.8 seconds (damp track), 1.1 seconds slower than the Murciélago’s time of 1 minute 23.7 seconds (dry track). In a similar test conducted by Evo magazine, the Evolution was able to lap the Bedford Autodrome faster than an Audi RS4 and a Porsche 911 Carrera 4S. Mitsubishi introduced the Lancer Evolution IX in Japan on March 3, 2005, and exhibited the car at the Geneva Motor Show for the European market the same day. The North American markets saw the model exhibited at the New York International Auto Show the following month. The 1,997 cc 4G63 Inline-four engine has MIVEC technology (variable valve timing), and a revised turbocharger design boosting official power output at the crankshaft to 291 PS (287 bhp) and torque to 392 Nm (289 lb/ft). as before, the Lancer Evolution IX models were: standard (Grand Sport Rally or “GSR” in some markets), RS (Rally Sport), SE (Special Edition) and MR (Mitsubishi Racing) varied slightly in their performance capabilities. Subtleties unique to each model accounted for variations in acceleration, handling and top speed. The RS excluded features that came standard on the SE and MR models (stereo system, power windows and locks, rear wiper, rear wing, trunk lining and sound insulation). The result is a weight savings of over 60 lb (27 kg). The Evo X would be an all new design.
Released on July 2002 in Japan at reorganized Nissan Japanese dealerships called Nissan Blue Stage, and August 20, 2002 in the US., the 350Z coupé was available in 5 trim packages: ‘350Z’ (Base), ‘Enthusiast’, ‘Performance’, ‘Touring’, and ‘Track’ editions. In Europe, only the ‘Track’ trim was available, although it was badged and marketed as ‘350Z’. The Base model did not include a VLSD or Traction Control and was only available with cloth seats. It did not include cruise control, nor power or heated seats. The Enthusiast model came with traction control, a VLSD, and cruise control. The Performance model came with bigger 18-inch wheels, front air dam, rear spoiler, optional Brembo brakes, and VDC instead of Traction Control. Touring was made more of the luxury model. It had power, leather, heated seats, VDC, a VLSD, xenon headlamps, optional Brembos, 18-inch wheels, and optional GPS. The Track model included Brembo brakes, front air dam, rear spoiler, traction control, cloth seats, 18-inch wheels, VLSD, and optional GPS. In 2004 Nissan introduced the 350Z Roadster with an electrically retractable soft-top roof. In the U.S. market the car was available in two trim packages (Enthusiast and Touring), while in Europe, the same versions as the coupé were offered. Nissan added the Grand Touring (GT) trim to the Roadster trim packages for 2005. In 2005 Nissan launched a 35th Anniversary edition, with a revised exterior and interior. Early 2005 model-year 35th anniversary edition models were equipped with the original VQ35DE with 287 hp and automatic transmission. In January 2005, Nissan introduced the 35th Anniversary 6-speed manual models and Track models (mid-year introduction), which included the updated VQ35DE 300 hp Rev-up engine and new updated CD009 manual transmission. As well as minor changes to suspension tuning and parts. For the 2006 model year, the 350Z received changes for its mid-cycle facelift. The VQ35DE 300 hp Rev-up engine that was introduced mid-year 2005 on the Track and 35th Anniversary Edition with 6-speed manual transmission models was offered for every trim level that had a manual transmission option. The VQ35DE with 287 hp continued to be offered with only the 5-speed automatic. Additions included bi-xenon projectors, a revised front fascia, new LED rear lights, changes to the interior trim and speed sensitive steering. Touring and Grand Touring models had radio-steering controls standard, MP3 CD compatibility, and Satellite Radio became an available option. For the 2007 model year, the 350Z was again moderately revised. The VQ35DE V6 was replaced with a new VQ35HR V6. It produced 306 hp at 6800 rpm with 268 ft·lb at 4800 rpm using the revised SAE certified power benchmark. The VQ35HR had a raised redline to 7500 rpm and more torque across the rpm range. The bonnet was redesigned with a bulge reminiscent of the original 240Z to accommodate the raised deck height of the new VQ35HR. In the US, trim levels were narrowed down to 350Z (base), Enthusiast, Touring, and Grand Touring, while in Europe the same trim levels remained. Bluetooth was added for the 2007 model year. The car was replaced by the 370Z for the 2009 model year. It has never found quite the same levels of enthusiasm that greeted – and have stayed with – the 350Z.
Also here was the larger and far more potent GT-R, still popular among a certain type of enthusiast even though the basic design now is somewhat elderly, dating back to 2007.
Once again there was a 208 GTi here, this time in the rather unusual two-tone finish which rather than having a colour split to the top and bottom of the car, splits them front and back. Only a few such were sold.
Looking very much like an early 911, this was in fact the 4 cylinder cheaper brother, the 912. Concerned that the considerable price increase of a Type 911 with “flat” six-cylinder powerplant over the Type 356 would cost the company sales and narrow brand appeal, in 1963 Porsche executives decided to introduce a new four-cylinder entry-level model. In 1963, Porsche assigned Dan Schwartz, later Chief Departmental Manager for Development, Mechanics, a project to oversee design and construction of a new horizontally-opposed four-cylinder engine for the car which was code-named 902, utilising components from the new 901 six-cylinder engine, that would produce higher performance than their 356SC engine, and be less costly and complex than their Carrera 2 engine. Another option explored by Claus von Rücker was to increase displacement of the 356 Type 616 engine to 1.8 litres, add Kugelfischer fuel injection, and modify both valve and cooling systems. Considering performance, cost, and scheduling, Porsche discontinued both of these design projects, and instead developed a third option, to tailor the 1.6 litre Type 616 engine to the 902. Before 911 production commenced in 1964, the Porsche Vehicle Research Department had set aside chassis numbers 13328, 13329, 13330, 13352, and 13386 through 13397 for research testing of the 902; research vehicle Serial Number 13394 is the oldest 902 known to exist today. In production form, the Type 912 combined a 911 chassis / bodyshell with the 1.6 litre four-cylinder, push-rod Type 616/36 engine, based upon the Type 616/16 engine used in the Type 356SC of 1964-1965. With a lower compression ratio and new Solex carburetors, the Type 616/36 engine produced five less horsepower than the 616/16, but delivered about the same maximum torque at 3,500 rpm versus 4,200 rpm for the 616/16. Compared to the 911, the resulting production Type 912 vehicle demonstrated superior weight distribution, handling, and range. To bring 912 pricing close to the 356, Porsche also deleted some features standard on the 911. As production of the 356 model concluded in 1965, on April 5, 1965 Porsche officially began production of the 912 coupé. Styling, performance, quality construction, reliability, and price made the 912 a very attractive buy to both new and old customers, and it substantially outsold the 911 during the first few years of production. Porsche produced nearly 30,000 912 coupé units and about 2500 912 Targa body style units (Porsche’s patented variation of a cabriolet) during a five-year manufacturing run. Production of the Targa, complete with removable roof and heavy transparent plastic rear windows openable with a zipper (later called ‘Version I’ by Porsche and the ‘soft-window Targa’ by enthusiasts), commenced in December 1966 as a 1967 model. In January 1968, Porsche also made available a Targa ‘Version II’ option (‘hard window Targa’) with fixed glass rear window, transforming the Targa into a coupé with removable roof. The Type 912 was also made in a special version for the German autobahn police (polizei); the 100,000th Porsche car was a 912 Targa for the police of Baden-Württemberg, the home state of Porsche. In the April 1967 edition, the Porsche factory’s Christophorus Magazine noted: “On 21 December 1966, Porsche celebrated a particularly proud anniversary. The 100,000th Porsche, a 912 Targa outfitted for the police, was delivered.” Porsche executives decided that after the 1969 model year, continuation of 912 production would not be viable, due to both internal and external factors. First, production facilities used for the 912 were reallocated to a new 914-6, a six-cylinder high performance version of the 914 Porsche-Volkswagen joint effort vehicle. Second, the 911 platform had returned to Porsche’s traditional three performance-level ladder, including a most powerful 911S, a fuel-injected 911E, and a base model 911T, with pricing largely in line with market expectations. Third, more stringent United States engine emission control regulations also had a bearing on the decision; Ferry Porsche stated “It would have taken some trouble to prepare the 912 for the new exhaust rules, and with the arrival of the 914 we would have had three different engines to keep current. That was too many.” Porsche had constructed more than 32,000 of the Type 912 from April 1965 to July 1969. For the 1970 model year the four-cylinder 914 superseded the 912 as Porsche’s entry-level model, which Porsche had thought would be less expensive for them to manufacture and sell than the 912. In practice, a deterioration in relationships between Porsche and Volkswagen – who had designed and planned to manufacture the 914 – severely curtailed the intended cost reduction, and 914 production was discontinued in early 1976. After a six-year absence, the 912 was re-introduced to North America as the 1976 model year 912E (internal factory designation 923) which shared the “G-Series” bodywork with the 911S. The “Prototyp” Museum collection in Hamburg, Germany includes a 912E pre-series vehicle constructed utilising a 911 Chassis No. 911 520 1617 and four-cylinder VW-Porsche 90HP 2.0 litre Type 4 similar to the late-model 2.0L 914/4. Once in production, the 912E was powered by an 86 bhp 2.0 litre Volkswagen air-cooled engine, refined with a new Bosch L-Jetronic fuel injection system. The 912E occupied the entry-level position left vacant by the discontinuation of the 914, while the new 924 – another Porsche-Volkswagen joint effort vehicle and the 914’s official replacement – was being finalised and put into production. During the production run of May 1975 to July 1976, Porsche manufactured nearly 2,100 of the 912E, targeted to the United States market.
Next oldest of the 911 family was this 964. The Porsche 964 is the company’s internal name for the Porsche 911 manufactured and sold between 1989 and 1994. Designed by Benjamin Dimson through January 1986, it featured significant styling revisions over previous 911 models, most prominently the more integrated bumpers. It was the first car to be offered with Porsche’s Tiptronic automatic transmission and all wheel drive as options. The 964 was considered to be 85% new as compared to its predecessor, the Carrera 3.2. The first 964s available in 1989 were all wheel drive equipped “Carrera 4” models; Porsche added the rear wheel drive Carrera 2 variant to the range in 1990. Both variants were available as a coupé, Targa or Cabriolet. The 964 Carrera was the last generation sold with the traditional removable Targa roof until the 2011 991 (993, 996, and 997 versions used instead a complex glass-roof “greenhouse” system). A new naturally aspirated engine called the M64 was used for 964 models, with a flat-6 displacement of 3.6 litres. Porsche substantially revised the suspension, replacing torsion bars with coil springs and shock absorbers. Power steering and ABS brakes were added to the 911 for the first time; both were standard. The exterior bumpers and fog lamps became flush with the car for better aerodynamics. A new electric rear spoiler raised at speeds above 50 mph (80 km/h) and lowered down flush with the rear engine lid at lower speeds. A revised interior featured standard dual airbags beginning in late 1989 for all North American production 1990 MY cars. A new automatic climate control system provided improved heating and cooling. Revised instrumentation housed a large set of warning lights that were tied into the car’s central warning system, alerting the driver to a possible problem or malfunction. A variety of more potent models followed including the Turbo and the race-inspired Carrera RS. For a long time, the 964 was seen as a low point in the 911’s evolution, with its replacement, the 993, seen as far more desirable, but views are softening and the cars now have something of a following.
During the 1990s, Porsche was facing financial troubles and rumours of a proposed takeover were being spread. The signature air-cooled flat-6 of the 911 was reaching the limits of its potential as made evident by the 993. Stricter emissions regulations world wide further forced Porsche to think of a replacement of the air-cooled unit. In order to improve manufacturing processes, Porsche took the aid of leading Japanese car manufacturer Toyota whose consultants would assist in the overhaul of the Zuffenhausen manufacturing facility introducing mass production techniques which would allow Porsche to carry out production processes more efficiently. Porsche had realised that in order to keep the 911 in production, it would need radical changes. This led to the development of the 996. The sharing of development between the new 911 and the entry level Boxster model allowed Porsche to save development costs. This move also resulted in interchangeable parts between the two models bringing down maintenance costs. The Porsche 996 was a new design developed by Pinky Lai under Porsche design chief Harm Lagaay from 1992 to 1994; it was the first 911 that was completely redesigned, and carried over little from its predecessor as Porsche wanted the design team to design a 911 for the next millennium. Featuring an all new body work, interior, and the first water-cooled engine, the 996 replaced the 993 from which only the front suspension, rear multi-link suspension, and a 6-speed manual transmission were retained in revised form. The 996 had a drag coefficient of Cd=0.30 resulting from hours spent in the wind tunnel. The 996 is 185 mm (7 in) longer and 40 mm (2 in) wider than its predecessor. It is also 45% stiffer courtesy of a chassis formed from high-strength steel. Additionally, it is 50 kg (110 lb) lighter despite having additional radiators and coolant. All of the M96 engines offered in the 996 (except for the variants fitted to the Turbo and GT2/GT3 models) are susceptible to the Porsche Intermediate Shaft Bearing issue which can potentially cause serious engine failure if not addressed via a retrofit. The 996 was initially available in a coupé or a cabriolet (Convertible) bodystyle with rear-wheel drive, and later with four-wheel drive, utilising a 3.4 litre flat-6 engine generating a maximum power output of 296 bhp. The 996 had the same front end as the entry-level Boxster. After requests from the Carrera owners about their premium cars looking like a “lower priced car that looked just like theirs did”, Porsche redesigned the headlamps of the Carrera in 2002 similar to the high performance Turbo’s headlamps. The design for the initial “fried egg” shaped headlamps could be traced back to the 1997 911 GT1 race car. In 2000, Porsche introduced the 996 Turbo, equipped with a four-wheel-drive system and a 3.6-litre, twin-turbocharged and intercooled flat-six engine generating a maximum power output of 420 bhp, making the car capable of accelerating from 0–60 mph in 4.2 seconds. An X50 option which included larger turbochargers and intercoolers along with revised engine control software became available from the factory in 2002, increasing power output to 451 bhp. In 2005, Porsche introduced the Turbo S, which had the X50 option included as standard equipment, with the formerly optional Carbon fibre-reinforced Silicon Carbide (C/SiC) composite ceramic brakes (PCCB) also included as standard. In 2000, power output on the base Carrera model was increased to 300 bhp. 2001 marked the final year of production for the base Carrera 4 Coupé in narrow body format. In 2002, the standard Carrera models underwent the above-mentioned facelift. In addition, engine capacity was also increased to 3.6-litres across the range, yielding gains of 15 bhp for the naturally aspirated models. 2002 also marked the start of the production of the 996 based Targa model, with a sliding glass “green house” roof system as introduced on its predecessor. It also features a rear glass hatch which gave the driver access to the storage compartment. Also in 2002, the Carrera 4S model was first introduced.
More recent 911 models here on this occasion included the 997 and the current 992.
There were also examples of the Boxster and 718 Cayman
Much rumoured for some time, the Cayman GT4 was officially launched at the 2015 Geneva Show, positioned to sit between the Cayman GTS and the 911 GT3. By the time of the official unveiling, the car was supposedly sold out many times over, though more recently it has become apparent that at least some Porsche dealers have been holding onto cars claiming that the first purchaser changed their mind, and then offering them to those who did not get one of the allocation a year ago, at vastly inflated prices. If true, this is very sharp practice indeed, but seems to be the sort to tricks that are becoming increasingly common as enthusiasts are being fleeced in the name of extra profit. For a starting price of around £65,000 in the UK, the lucky customer would get a car which used used a stiffened and strengthened Cayman bodyshell as a starting point, but lowered by 30mm . Porsche say that in fitting as many GT parts as possible, they did not make it out of a Cayman GTS, but rather they produced an entry-level mid-engined GT3 car. That sounds like PR spin to me, as of course the car does use an awful lot of parts from the regular Cayman. However, plenty is changed, too. There is a reworked version of the Carrera S’s 3.8-litre flat six engine, producing 380bhp at 7400rpm and 310lb ft at 4750-6000rpm, hooked up to a modified version of the Cayman GTS’s six-speed manual gearbox. A PDK dual-clutch automatic was considered but rejected, meaning the Cayman GT4 is manual only. This is enough to mean that the 0-62mph sprint takes 4.4sec and the top speed is 183mph, with combined fuel economy of 27.4mpg and CO2 emissions rated at 238g/km. The front axle and suspension are borrowed from the 911 GT3 and the rear axle and forged aluminium double wishbone suspension are completely new. Dampers are taken from the 911 GT3. The electric steering system from the 911 GT3 does make it onto the Cayman GT4 but is given new software. Stopping power is provided by standard steel brakes, or optional carbon-ceramics from the 911 GT3. The forged 20in alloy wheels were new and are shod with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres. The rear 295/30 ZR20 tyres are bespoke, but the front 245/35 ZR20s were borrowed from the 911 GT3 as they were “a perfect match”. design-wise, the goal was to create a “zero lift car”, but thanks to the extensive aerodynamic and cooling package on the car – which includes a front splitter, a larger front grille and increased frontal air intakes, side air intakes, not one but two rear spoilers and a fully functional diffuser – the Cayman GT4 produces as much downforce at speed (100kg) as the 911 GT3. Every single part on the Cayman GT4 has a functional use. Other design features include “cool” black glass on the front and rear lights, blackened twin central exhausts and quality stitching on the twin lightweight bucket seats, taken from the 918 Spyder, as small details adding to that ‘want factor’.Despite all the extra equipment, the Cayman GT4 weighs no more than a Cayman GTS, tipping the scales at 1340kg dry. You could delete items such as the sat-nav and air-con to save weight, but few customers did, just as with the 911 GT3 RS were just 2% of buyers deleted the air-con. Inside, the steering wheel was new. The sports seats were trimmed in both leather and Alcantara. Standard equipment included bi-xenon headlights, a sports exhaust system, a Sport Chrono Package with dynamic engine mounts, the Porsche Torque Vectoring system, a mechanical limited-slip differential at the rear and the Porsche Stability Management system. On the options list were items such as carbonfibre-reinforced, plastic-backed seats for the two-seat interior. These weigh just 15kg each and were inspired by the 918 Spyder. A customised version of the Sport Chrono Package was offered, as is a Club Sport Package. Initially it was declared that production would be very limited, but Porsche soon relented and far more were built than had originally been declared.
It did not take Renault long to add an RS version to their 3rd generation Megane range. debuting the car at the 2009 Geneva Show. This new Megane Renault Sport 250 included a 2.0litre twin-scroll turbo 4-cylinder F4Rt engine rated at 250 PS (247 bhp) at 5500 rpm and 340 Nm (251 lb/ft) at 3000 rpm with a 6-speed manual gearbox, Brembo front brakes, front splitter, extended sills and wheel arches, rear diffuser with central exhaust pipe, and 18-inch alloy wheels wearing 225/40R18 tyres. Aluminium pedals, a Renault Sport steering wheel with thumb grips, analog rev counter and sport seats with extra lateral support dress up the cabin. Other features include front LED daytime running lights and bi-xenon headlights. The 250 Cup variant contains a number of sharpened performance features including a stiffer chassis, track focused suspension, a limited slip differential and a slightly lighter gross weight. The Cup is differentiated visually with painted red brake calipers, instead of the silver calipers for the normal Sport. 18×8.25″ “Ax-l” alloy wheels are fitted with wider 235/40R18 tyres, while 19×8.25″ “Steev” wheels were available as an option with 235/35R19 tyres. In June 2011 Renault Sport revealed a limited edition 265 PS (261 bhp) version of the Mégane III called the Mégane R.S. Trophy. The Megane R.S. Trophy uses the same 2.0 four-cylinder as the standard 250 PS R.S. but thanks to modifications such as a new air intake and higher turbo pressure it gains an extra 15 hp, increasing the power output to 265 PS. It reaches 0–62 mph in six seconds flat and goes on to a top speed of 254 km/h (157 mph). It is recognizable thanks to model-specific decoration such as Trophy stickers on the doors, a new spoiler and specific 19″ rims with R.S. centre caps. It comes in a model-specific metallic yellow (Jaune Sirius) but is also available in more low-key colours such as white (Blanc Glacier), black (Noir Étoilé) and gray (Gris Cassiopée). Production was limited to 500 examples. In 2012, the Megane R.S. adopted the updated engine from the Trophy version with 265 PS (261 HP) and offers the same “Cup” and “Sport” versions like the previous 250 PS (247 HP) model. Changes include Piano Black interior highlights and wider LED daytime running lights with 6 LEDs per side rather than the 3 LEDs found in the RS250. The 18″ wheels were changed to a new design called “Tibor”, while the 19″ wheels carried over from the 250. Extreme Blue and Sport Yellow were dropped as colour options. In Australia, the Cup and Cup Trophée models were replaced with the Cup, Cup+ and Trophy+ with slightly more flexible specification levels.
Looking very imposing was this Dawn which was one of the group of cars brought by the owner of the Fisker.
By the time that Subaru launched the third generation Impreza, the glory rally days were behind and interest in the marque was shifting somewhat. There were sporting models, both in warm WRX and hot STi guise, but the market seemed to have moved on and not that many were sold, so this is quite a rare car.
This is an example of the sixth, and penultimate generation Celica. Launched in October 1993, the styling of this version was quite different from the car it replaced. Initially it was offered in notchback coupe or liftback form, with a convertible coming later, though the 2 door Coupe was not sold in the UK. ST and GT trims were offered, with the former using a new 1.8 litre 4 cylinder engine and the latter using the larger 2.2 litre that had been in its predecessor. There was also a GT-Four version, the most powerful Celica to date, which produced 239 hp in export versions from an updated 3S-GTE engine. Influenced strongly by Toyota Team Europe, Toyota’s factory team in the World Rally Championship, the final version of the GT-Four included improvements such as an all-aluminium bonnet to save weight, four-channel ABS (with G-force sensor), an improved turbocharger (incorrectly known by enthusiasts as the CT20B), and Super Strut Suspension. The 2500 homologation cars built to allow Toyota to enter the GT-Four as a Group A car in the World Rally Championship also sported extras such as all of the plumbing required to activate an anti-lag system, a water spray bar for the Intercooler’s front heat exchanger, a water injection system for detonation protection, a hood spoiler mounted in front of the windscreen to stop hood flex at high speed and the standard rear spoiler mounted on riser blocks. The car proved to be quite competitive in the 1995 World Championship. However, the team was banned from competition for a year after the car’s single victory due to turbocharger fixing – a device that meant there was no air path restriction on the intake – when the jubilee clip was undone this would flick back into place so as to go un-noticed by inspectors. Toyota has always claimed that they knew nothing of the fix – but opponents say it was one very cleverly engineered device. In some respects this car was a true sports car; in order to qualify for rallying it has a lot of special features and a unique strut arrangement. A minor facelift was applied for 1996, with new bumpers, a smaller air dam and revised rear spoiler. This version of the Celica was replaced in 1999 by the last car to bear the name.
Less familiar is this one, a Mark II Hardtop. Arriving in August 1984, the fifth generation of the Mark II family dropped the “Corona” name in Japan and became simply the Toyota Mark II. This generation Mark II had a lot of rivals including the Nissan Leopard, as well as the traditional competitor Nissan Laurel sedan. The Mark II continued to remain very viable for fleet sales, government agencies and taxi services. There are two different variations of the Mark II; the Hardtop and the Sedan. Visually they are different on the exterior while the interior remains untouched. Exterior changes on the Hardtop version includes a slanted nose which requires a new grille, a thinner headlamp assembly that match the slanted nose, frameless door windows, thinner tail lamp, front fenders and bumper. Body panel is stamped different from the standard version. The Standard version is exactly like the MX73 Toyota Cressida. It does not have the aggressive slanted front end, conservative body panels and framed windows. The Mark II (and its sister cars) received a Twin Turbo version of the 1G inline-six in October 1985. This powerful engine made the earlier turbocharged M-TE engine superfluous and it was discontinued. In August 1986 the range received a minor facelift and some technical improvements. The 1.8-liter LPG engine was replaced by a 2-liter version. The X70 station wagon was produced from 1984 to 1997 with only a few minor revisions over the years. In most markets, sales of this wagon was stopped when the next model of the sedan was introduced but they continued to be sold in Japan for use as delivery vehicles. It was finally superseded by the front-wheel-drive Mark II Qualis that was based on the Camry Gracia. In 1984 for the 1985 model year, a new Cressida was introduced by Toyota. This was the MX73 (MX72 for wagon). The 5M-E engine was mostly unchanged from the 1984 model year but gained a knock-sensor, which detected pre-ignition and adjusted timing accordingly when a lower-grade fuel was used. The 5M-E SOHC also was available in some markets. The bodystyle was all-new, larger, and more aerodynamic than previous generations. Like its main competitor at the time, the Nissan Maxima, it was given the “compact” designation, though it had grown in size. New options included were an electronic shock absorber control (TEMS), CD player, super monitor, digital gauges, standard woodgrain trim, and secondary radio controls that were placed right by the steering wheel for easier access while driving. The automatic transmission retained its Normal/Power selector as many other Toyotas would, but later in production, the Economy selection was dropped. In 1987 the automatic transmission was changed to the A340E that was also used with the 7M-GE and Lexus 1UZ-FE engine at the time. The 1988 model was not offered with a manual transmission and the wagon was discontinued in 1987. By 1988, power output was at 161 hp. Cressida badging was also used in other export markets with smaller engines. In Indonesia, the Cressida GLX-i was available with a 109 PS version of the two-litre 1G-E engine with no emissions controls and low compression suitable for lower-octane petrol. The Chaser GT Twin Turbo hardtop (GX71) series first appeared in August 1984. The “Avante” series previously introduced became a luxury upgrade starting with this generation and body styles were reduced again to a 4-door hardtop only. The exterior dimensions of this car were slightly smaller in comparison to sister cars Mark II and Cresta, but the Chaser was more performance oriented, while maintaining the advanced features and luxurious interior of the Cresta. October 1985, Mark II / Cresta 1G-GTEU vehicles equipped with “GT twin turbo” has appeared. Disc brakes are larger in diameter, and was now equipped with bucket seats, but Toyota’s TEMS electronic suspension wasn’t installed. Only Chaser “GT twin turbo S” 5-speed MT that there was only low-cost upgrades (early types only.) Minor changes were made in August 1986. The 1G-GEU engine received improvements, while the LPG engine was changed to the larger 3Y-PU, larger bumpers, front grille and changes in, substantial efforts were made to the equipment. Was popular in early-type rear combination lamps are kept to a minor change. January 1987 a special edition “Lordly” was released, May 1987 a special edition “Chaser Avante” was released. August 1987 special edition “New Extra XG Chaser” was released. In September 1987 the 2L and 2L-T diesel engines were now compliant with the 1986 passenger car emissions standards. In January 1988 special edition “Avante Supra” released as a companion to the third-generation Supra. April 1988 special edition “with extra XG Auto Air Conditioner” launch. A sixth generation Mark II arrived in August 1988.
More familiar was this, the fourth generation of the Supra, known as the A80, work on which began in February 1989 under various teams for design, product planning, and engineering. By the middle of 1990, a final A80 design concept from Toyota Technical Centre Aichi was approved and frozen for production in late 1990. The first test mules were hand-built in A70 bodies during late 1990, followed by the first A80 prototypes being hand-assembled in 1991. Again using subframe, suspension,and drivetrain assemblies from the Z30 Soarer (Lexus SC300/400), test model pre-production started in December 1992 with 20 models, and official mass production began in April 1993. This redesign saw Toyota placing great emphasis on a more serious high-performance car. The new Supra was completely redesigned, with rounded body styling and featured two new engines: a naturally aspirated Toyota 2JZ-GE producing 220 hp at 5800 rpm and 210 lb·ft at 4800 rpm of torque and a twin turbocharged Toyota 2JZ-GTE making 276 hp and 318 lb·ft of torque for the Japanese version. The styling, while modern, does seem to borrow some elements from Toyota’s first grand touring sports car, the Toyota 2000GT. For the export model (America/Europe) Toyota upgraded the Supra turbo’s engine which increased the power output to 320 hp at 5600 rpm and 315 lb·ft at 4000 rpm. The turbocharged variant could achieve 0–60 mph in as low as 4.6 seconds and 1/4-mile in 13.1 seconds at 109 mph. The turbo version was tested to reach over 285 km/h (177 mph), but the cars were restricted to just 180 km/h (112 mph) in Japan and 250 km/h (155 mph) elsewhere. The twin turbos operated in sequential mode, not parallel. Initially, all of the exhaust is routed to the first turbine for reduced lag. This resulted in boost and enhanced torque as early as 1800 rpm, where it already produced 300 lb·ft (410 N·m) of torque. At 3500 rpm, some of the exhaust is routed to the second turbine for a “pre-boost” mode, although none of the compressor output is used by the engine at this point. At 4000 rpm, the second turbo’s output is used to augment the first turbo’s output. Compared to the parallel mode, sequential mode turbos provide quicker low RPM response and increased high RPM boost. This high RPM boost was also aided with technology originally present in the 7M-GE in the form of the Acoustic Control Induction System (ACIS) which is a way of managing the air compression pulses within the intake piping as to increase power. For this generation, the Supra received a new 6-speed Getrag/Toyota V160 gearbox on the turbo models while the naturally aspirated models made do with a 5-speed manual W58, revised from the previous version. Each model was offered with a 4-speed automatic with manual shifting mode. All vehicles were equipped with 5-spoke aluminium alloy wheels, the naturally aspirated model had 16″ rims and the turbo models were 17″. The difference in wheel size was to accommodate the larger brakes equipped as standard onto the turbo model, but in Japan were optional extras. Both models had a space saver spare tire on a steel rim to save both space and weight. Toyota took measures to reduce the weight of this new model. Aluminium was used for the hood, targa top (when fitted), front crossmember, oil and transmission pans, and the suspension upper A-arms. Other measures included hollow carpet fibers, magnesium-alloy steering wheel, plastic gas tank and lid, gas injected rear spoiler, and a single pipe exhaust. Despite having more features such as dual airbags, traction control, larger brakes, wheels, tyres, and an additional turbo, the car was at least 200 lb lighter than its predecessor. The base model with a manual transmission had a curb weight of 3,210 lb (1,460 kg). The Sport Roof added 40 lb while the automatic transmission added 55 lb. It had a 51:49 (front:rear) weight distribution. The turbo model weighed 3,450 lb (1,560 kg) for the manual, automatic added another 10 lb (4.5 kg). Weight distribution was 53% front/47% rear. The Supra was heavier than the spartan Mazda RX-7 and all aluminium bodied Acura/Honda NSX, but it was lighter than the Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4. The Supra soon became something of a legend, establishing itself as an effective platform for drifting in Japan, and for roadracing, with several top 20 and top 10 One Lap of America finishes in the SSGT1 class. Despite its curb weight, in 1994 the A80 managed remarkable skidpad ratings of 0.95 lateral g’s (200 ft) and 0.98 lateral g’s (300 ft), and the car has proved popular even as it ages in the UK, with several “grey market” cars having been brought here over the years.
I had to take a walk around to the back of this car to see if had any bagdes to tell me what it was, as it certainly looked unfamiliar. The answer is a Crown Estate Athlete. This part of the S170-series of the rown family, the 11th generation of a long-running name plate which was launched in September 1999, featuring a shorter front overhang therefore maximizing interior and trunk space. There are two different 170-series 4-door Saloon; the Royal and Athlete. The Majesta, while sharing the same S170 chassis, is a separate vehicle which is larger and longer than the Crown and has distinctive front and rear styling. The four-door Hardtop was discontinued. The 170-series Estate launched in December 1999 was the first new Crown Wagon after the 130-series and continued in production until March 2007. The engine installed is either the 2.0, 2.5 or 3.0 in-line-six. The Athlete V has 2.5-litre 1JZ-GTE turbo and was offered in both sedan and wagon versions. The Royal was also offered with a 3.0-litre 2JZ-FSE mild hybrid. Later non-hybrid models were offered with the direct-injection version of the 2JZ engine. For the updated Athlete versions starting from August 2001 the tail lamps were changed from incandescent to LED lights and the front grille changed to a mesh design. Optional 17-inch wheels were also offered starting from 2001. An innovation was the electronically controlled (Toyota Electronic Modulated Suspension) air suspension combining nonlinear H-infinity control of damping force and roll-orientation control. The 170-series Crown replaced the aging 130-series in the Indonesian market. The model was not sold in Europe when new, so this is a subsequent grey import.
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.
There were also a couple of examples of the first generation Golf Cabrio here. First produced in 1979, this Karmann built conversion of the regular Golf hatch is generally credited with resurrecting public interest in open-topped versions of family cars again. It would go on, albeit updated, based on the Mark 1 model until the mid 90s when a Mark 3 based model appeared. Seen here was a GLi Cabrio, which shared the engine with the regular Golf GTi, but was less sporting in ambition.
VW had enjoyed considerable success with the Scirocco, a front wheel drive Hatch that was based on the Golf, and offered a stylish modern alternative to the Ford Capri and Opel Manta. the second generation car did not quite the same favour as the first, but even so there was eager anticipation of what was initially thought would be the third generation car. But as VW looked to push the model further upmarket, they opted for a new name, choosing Corrado for the car, which debuted in 1988. Although the new car’s floorpan was based on that of the Mark 2 Golf/Jetta, there had been a plan that the model would actually replace the Porsche 944. That idea came to nought and the car, built by Karmann, as the Scirocco had been, took its place in the VW range, alongside the Scirocco which remained in production for a further three years. All Corrados were front-wheel drive and featured petrol engines, the car debuting with two engine choices: a 1.8 litre 16-valve inline-four with 136 hp and a troublesome supercharged 1.8 litre eight-valve inline-four, marketed as the G60 and delivering 160 hp. The Corrado G60 was named for the G-Lader with which it was equipped, a scroll supercharger whose interior resembles the letter “G”. Volkswagen introduced two new engines for 1992. The first was a naturally-aspirated 2.0 litre 16-valve 136 bhp inline-four, basically a further development of the 1.8 litre engine; this engine was not made available to the North American market. The second was the 12-valve VR6 engine, which came in two variants: a 2.8 litre 179 bhp model for the US and Canadian markets and a 2.9 litre 187 bhp version for the European market. Upon revising the engine, VW updated the styling with a new front grille and foglamps. With the introduction of the VR6 engine, the G60 engine disappeared from the North American market after 1992 and European market in 1993. The VR6 engine provided a compromise between both V-shaped and straight engines by placing the two cylinder banks at an angle of 15° with a single cylinder head. This design allowed engineers to fit a six-cylinder engine into roughly the same space that was previously occupied by four-cylinder engines, while closely approaching the smoothness of a straight-six design. By the time it was launched, VW had updated the Golf to the Mark 3,and some elements of its A3 platform was introduced on the Corrado with the VR6 announcement, including the suspension components, the rear axle assembly and some parts of the A3’s ‘plus’ type front axle assembly. The subsequent wider front wheel-track of the Corrado VR6 necessitated the fitting of new front wings with wider wheel arches and liners along with a new front bumper assembly. Together with a new raised-style bonnet to accommodate the VR6 engine, these body improvements were carried across the model range. A 2.0 litre eight-valve model with 115 hp was produced in Europe in 1995. A UK-only limited production model, the Corrado Storm, was also sold. Some discreet “Storm” badging, a colour-keyed front grille, an additional Storm badge on the gear gaiter surround (an upgrade from the standard Karmann badge), 15 inch BBS “Solitude” alloy wheels, and standard fitment of some previously optional items (such as the leather heated front seats) were all that differentiated this model from the base Corrado VR6. Only 500 were produced: 250 in Classic Green with a cream leather interior, and 250 in Mystic Blue, a colour unique to the Storm, with a black leather interior. The Storm models are the most desirable of all these days. Production ended in 1995. Although the car was much praised for its handling, and the VR6 engine was sublime, t was costly, Karmann’s build quality was patchy and those who experienced the G60 versions had more than their fair share of reliability issues (A colleague of mine had at least 4 superchargers blow in the first 60,000 miles). All told, 97,521 Corrados were produced.
It’s not often you see a Lupo GTi these days and still rarer to find one in original spec since most of these cars have been heavily modified. This one appeared to be riding somewhat lower than its maker intended but otherwise did not appear to have strayed too far from standard. The 1.6 litre Lupo GTI was introduced for the model year of 2000, has been labelled a true successor to the Volkswagen Golf Mk1, one of the first true hot hatches. The GTI can be identified by its fully body coloured bumpers and twin central exhausts. In March 2002, a six speed gearbox was added, together with improved throttle response, and was suggested as a competitor to the Mini Cooper, or the larger Volkswagen Polo GTI. The GTI features much more standard equipment which was not available on any other in the Lupo range, including bi xenon headlights, 15 inch Bathurst alloy wheels and an off black interior. With a DOHC sixteen valve four cylinder engine producing 125 PS (123 hp), the GTI had a top speed of 127 mph (204 km/h) and could accelerate 0 to 60 mph in 7.8 seconds.
Also bearing GTi badges was this 7th generation Golf.
Having enjoyed the previous weekend, it was not hard to plan a repeat. Driving up to Coventry on Friday evening, a blast around the squash court and a meal and a beer grabbed before the 10pm curfew was followed by further squash on Saturday morning before heading to Caffeine & Machine for what would turn out to be another rather wet visit. I noted that there was rather more covered seating with a further larger tepi construction set up on the slopes to the side of the main building. With the venue’s second anniversary due to be celebrated in the coming week, there were also a couple of special cars on site.
This time it was down to a lone example of the 124 Spider to represent the Abarth brand at the venue.
As well as an example of the recently superceded RS3 Sportback there was the latest RS4 Avant here, identifiable by its new front end with larger grille and those slots above it which Audi think will remind us of the original Quattro (but don’t!).
A very small number of recent Camaro have brought into the UK, though every attempt to try to build any momentum behind the brand seems to have fizzled out pretty quickly. You have to really want one, as the cars are all left hand drive, and whilst the engines sound wonderful, they are also very thirsty and have terrifying emissions stats. Someone clearly decided that these were not issues and had this current generation ZL1 car here.
Special attraction brought in as part of the second anniversary celebrations was this F40 which was situated in the front part of the main tepi. This is clearly not a standard roadcar, so I assumed it was perhaps adapted from one of the Le Mans cars, but the posting on the venue’s Facebook page, whilst not saying much about the car, suggested it was not that, either and had its origins in a car that was converted out in Japan.
The Ford Escort RS Cosworth is a sports derivative and rally homologation special of the fifth generation European Ford Escort. It was designed to qualify as a Group A car for the World Rally Championship, in which it competed between 1993 and 1998. It was available as a road car from 1992–96 in very limited numbers. Ford developed the car around the chassis and mechanicals of its spiritual predecessor, the Sierra Cosworth to accommodate the larger Cosworth engine and transmission, whilst clothing it in Escort body panels to make it resemble the standard car. Designed under the guidance of Rod Mansfield and John Wheeler of Ford’s SVO department, the styling was carried out during 1989, a year before the standard Escort was launched, by Stephen Harper at MGA Developments in Coventry. The spoiler was added by Frank Stephenson, who originally proposed a three-deck piece. The body tooling was created by coachbuilders Karmann at their facility in Rheine, Germany, where the cars were manufactured. Changes were made to the engine management system and a new turbocharger was fitted. Permanent four wheel drive with a 34/66% front/rear split came courtesy of an uprated five speed gearbox as used in the Sierra Cosworth. Recaro sports seats came as a standard fitment. Later production models were available without the oversize tail spoiler although by far the majority were still ordered with it. Like its Sierra predecessor, they are commonly nicknamed “Cossie” by enthusiasts. The car’s top speed was 150 mph, which rivalled lower-end supercars including the Audi Quattro, BMW M3, Nissan 300ZX and Toyota Supra, and comfortably outperformed traditional “hot hatchbacks” like the Volkswagen Golf GTI. It was much faster than the 126 mph which the Escort RS2000 and earlier Escort RS Turbo were capable of. Two versions were produced. The initial 2,500 units were “homologation specials” used to get the FIA accreditation for entry into the World Rally Championship. They were fitted with a Garrett T3/T04B turbocharger. Among these initial units, a handful were badged as Motorsport versions, these lacked certain refinements such as a sunroof and sound deadening. The initial cars included features that, although they made the Cosworth a more effective car, did not enhance it as a road vehicle, and once the rules were satisfied Ford attempted to make the car less temperamental and easier to drive under normal conditions. The second generation, starting production from late 1994, were fitted with a Garrett T25 turbocharger, a smaller unit which reduced turbo lag and increased usability in everyday driving situations. With these later models, the ‘whale tail’ spoiler became a delete option. . The Escort Cosworth was a rare car, with 7,145 vehicles produced from the start of production on 19 February 1992 until the last car rolled out of the factory on 12 January 1996.
Other fast Fords here were from the second generation of the Focus, both an ST and the more extreme RS.
First car of camera-worthy note as I got out of my car was this Integra type R. The fourth generation Integra was introduced in Japan on April 13, 2001 and produced from July 2001 to July 2006. For North America (United States and Canada), it was introduced as the Acura RSX in accordance with Acura’s new alphabetical naming scheme. It also had an entirely new engine, the K-series. The Integra came in two models in the United States, the RSX and the RSX Type-S boasting the K20A2 engine from 2002 to 2004, while the 2005 and 2006 RSX-S came with a K20Z1. The RSX was sold as a Honda Integra in Japan and Australia, markets where Acura did not exist. In March 2006, Honda announced that the Integra would be discontinued in June after its final 300 cars were sold, due to the shrinkage of the coupe market. The reaction of the consumers towards the discontinuation, however, forced Honda to extend production until July 2006 and produce 150 more Integras. The Acura RSX was discontinued as well, as the RSX did not fit within the confines of Acura’s re-structured market strategy. This left the Acura TSX as Acura’s entry-level vehicle. Also, the introduction of the similarly powerful and less expensive 2006 model-year Honda Civic Si was there to fill in the gap left by the RSX. The DC5 Type R (Japanese market only) comes standard with a K20A 220 hp 2.0 litre DOHC i-VTEC four-cylinder engine. The “i” in i-VTEC stands for intelligent VTEC, which employs VTC (Variable Timing Control) to advance or retard the intake cam timing within a 50 degree range. The Integra Type R comes equipped with Recaro seats, four-piston Brembo front brakes, a close ratio six-speed manual transmission, a limited-slip differential, variable back-pressure exhaust system, and a stiffer suspension.
You really do not know just what is going to show up at this venue. And that means all sorts of surprises. It certainly was unexpected on this rather wet day that a Miura would be one of the cars, but it was. The Miura, produced between 1966 and 1973, is widely considered to have instigated the trend of high performance, two-seater, mid-engined sports cars. When released, it was the fastest production road car available. The Miura was originally conceived by Lamborghini’s engineering team, Gian Paolo Dallara, Paolo Stanzani, and Bob Wallace who in 1965 put their own time into developing a prototype car known as the P400. The engineers envisioned a road car with racing pedigree – one which could win on the track and be driven on the road by enthusiasts. The three men worked on its design at night, hoping to convince Lamborghini such a vehicle would neither be too expensive nor distract from the company’s focus. When finally brought aboard, Lamborghini gave his engineers a free hand in the belief the P400 was a potentially valuable marketing tool, if nothing more. The car featured a transversely-mounted mid-engine layout, a departure from previous Lamborghini cars. The V12 was also unusual in that it was effectively merged with the transmission and differential, reflecting a lack of space in the tightly-wrapped design. The rolling chassis was displayed at the Turin Salon in 1965. Impressed showgoers placed orders for the car despite the lack of a body to go over the chassis. Bertone was placed in charge of styling the prototype, which was finished just days before its debut at the 1966 Geneva motor show. Curiously, none of the engineers had found time to check if the engine would fit inside its compartment. Committed to showing the car, they decided to fill the engine bay with ballast and keep the car locked throughout the show, as they had three years earlier for the début of the 350GTV. Sales head Sgarzi was forced to turn away members of the motoring press who wanted to see the P400’s power plant. Despite this setback, the car was the highlight of the show, immediately boosting stylist Marcello Gandini’s reputation. The favourable reaction at Geneva meant the P400 was to go into production by the following year. The name “Miura”, a famous type of fighting bull, was chosen, and featured in the company’s newly created badge. The car gained the worldwide attention of automotive enthusiasts when it was chosen for the opening sequence of the original 1969 version of The Italian Job. In press interviews of the time company founder Ferruccio Lamborghini was reticent about his precise birth date, but stressed that he was born under the star sign Taurus the bull. Early Miuras, known as P400s (for Posteriore 4 litri), were powered by a version of the 3.9 litre Lamborghini V12 engine used in the 400GT at the time, only mounted transversely and producing 350 hp. Exactly 275 P400 were produced between 1966 and 1969 – a success for Lamborghini despite its then-steep price. Taking a cue from the Morris Mini, Lamborghini formed the engine and gearbox in one casting. Its shared lubrication continued until the last 96 SVs, when the case was split to allow the correct oils to be used for each element. An unconfirmed claim holds the first 125 Miuras were built of 0.9 mm steel and are therefore lighter than later cars. All cars had steel frames and doors, with aluminium front and rear skinned body sections. When leaving the factory they were originally fitted with Pirelli Cinturato 205VR15 tyres (CN72). The P400S Miura, also known as the Miura S, made its introduction at the Turin Motorshow in November 1968, where the original chassis had been introduced three years earlier. It was slightly revised from the P400, with the addition of power windows, bright chrome trim around external windows and headlights, new overhead inline console with new rocker switches, engine intake manifolds made 2 mm larger, different camshaft profiles, and notched trunk end panels (allowing for slightly more luggage space). Engine changes were reportedly good for an additional 20 hp. Other revisions were limited to creature comforts, such as a locking glovebox lid, a reversed position of the cigarette lighter and windshield wiper switch, and single release handles for front and rear body sections. Other interior improvements included the addition of power windows and optional air conditioning, available for US$800. About 338 P400S Miura were produced between December 1968 and March 1971. One S #4407 was owned by Frank Sinatra. Miles Davis also owned one, which he crashed in October 1972 under the influence of cocaine, breaking both ankles. The last and most famous Miura, the P400SV or Miura SV featured different cam timing and altered carburettors. These gave the engine an additional 15 hp to a total of 380 hp. The last 96 SV engines had a split sump. The gearbox now had its lubrication system separate from the engine, which allowed the use of the appropriate types of oil for the gearbox and the engine. This also alleviated concerns that metal shavings from the gearbox could travel into the engine with disastrous and expensive results and made the application of an optional LSD far easier. The SV can be distinguished from its predecessors from its lack of “eyelashes” around the headlamps, wider rear wings to accommodate the new 9-inch-wide rear wheels and Pirelli Cinturato tyres, and different taillights. 150 SVs were produced.
Once again, my Ghibli features in the photos. It was the only Maserati present on the day.
McLaren have only producing road cars since 2010.but such is the rate of progress that the first model they produced, the MP4 12C (later shortened to just the 12C) is long out of production, as is its successor. This was only announced in February 2014, the related 650S, with revised bodywork, upgraded engine and other technical improvements. In April 2014, McLaren announced the end of production of the 12C. The 650S is the core model in the Super Series, designed and developed to give the enthusiast driver the ultimate in luxury, engagement and excitement. Fitted with the award-winning 3.8-litre twin turbo V8 engine producing 650PS (641bhp) and 678Nm (500lb ft) of torque, it is a no compromise open-top high performance supercar with optimised levels of performance, handling and driver enjoyment. The secret of its success is its carbon fibre MonoCell chassis, which needs no extra strengthening to provide the necessary rigidity or safety when developing a convertible. This keeps any weight increase to a minimum, meaning the McLaren 650S Spider offers all the enjoyment and driver appeal of the fixed-roof sibling – but with the added appeal of roof-down driving. The 650S Spider is fitted with an electrically retractable hard top, which can be automatically raised or lowered on the move in less than 17 seconds. Building on the success of the MP4 12C, with which it shares much, the 650S series, first seen at the 2014 Geneva Show has proved very popular, helping to establish the brand as a serious rival to the established supercar players.
All recent SL Mercedes cars are rare, and this is rare among those, as it is the SL65 AMG version, the V12-engined car for those for whom the V8-powered SL63 just does not quite have enough. The facelifted R230 generation SL model was revealed in the Geneva Motor Show in March 2008, receiving a new, more aggressive front end reflecting Mercedes’s new design philosophy, with a pair of long powerdomes on the bonnet and a single-bar grille replacing the old three-bar effort. Improvements have been made also on the engines. The 3.5 L V6 is uprated to 311 PS (307 bhp) at 6500 rpm. Compared to the previous 3.5-litre engine, the output has been boosted by 16 percent. Torque has also been improved adding 10 Nm (7.4 lb/ft) to the previous 350 Nm (258 lb/ft) making it 360 Nm (266 lb/ft). This engine now can rev up to a max of 7200 rpm for a period as the oil temperature and other engine parameters permit, a higher compression ratio, a new intake manifold and featuring extensive modifications to and lightening of the valve train. In this case, however, the extra power does not come at the expense of fuel economy: with a consumption figure of 9.9 l/100 km, the new SL 350 undercuts the previous model developing 268 bhp by 0.4 l/100 km. Mercedes-Benz is extending the SL-Class line-up by introducing an attractive entry-level model in the shape of the SL 280 developing 228 bhp. The six cylinder powerplant delivers its peak torque of 300 Nm (221 lb/ft) from 2500 rpm and accelerates the roadster from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 7.8 seconds, whilst fuel consumption (NEDC) is just 9.4 L/100 km (30 mpg). It features the AIRSCARF heating system used in the SLK. AnSl63 AMG replaced the former SL55AMG, and then at the top of the regular range was this, the SL65 AMG, which offers 604 bhp from its twin-turbocharged 5,980 cc V12 engine at 5500 rpm. It retailed for $179,720 as of 2005. Mercedes-Benz listed a 0–60 mph time of 4.2 seconds on their official website, though several road tests show that it actually takes under 4 seconds to reach 60 mph. Car and Driver achieved 60 mph from a standstill in 3.6 seconds, 100 mph in 7.5 seconds and recorded a quarter mile time of 11.6 seconds at 123 mph The entire W230 range was replaced by the similar looking R231 cars in 2012 and remains in production even now.
In complete contrast to the F40 at the front of the main tepi was this Minor 1000 which was parked at the back of it. The Minor was conceived in 1941. Although the Nuffield Organization was heavily involved in war work and there was a governmental ban on civilian car production, Morris Motors’ vice chairman, Miles Thomas, wanted to prepare the ground for new products to be launched as soon as the war was over. Vic Oak, the company’s chief engineer, had already brought to Thomas’ attention a promising junior engineer, Alec Issigonis, who had been employed at Morris since 1935 and specialised in suspension design but he had frequently impressed Oak with his advanced ideas about car design in general. Issigonis had come to Oak’s particular attention with his work on the new Morris Ten, which was in development during 1936/7. This was the first Morris to use unitary construction and was conceived with independent front suspension. Issigonis designed a coil-sprung wishbone system which was later dropped on cost grounds. Although the design would later be used on the MG Y-type and many other post-war MGs the Morris Ten entered production with a front beam axle. Despite his brief being to focus on the Ten’s suspension Issigonis had also drawn up a rack and pinion steering system for the car. Like his suspension design this was not adopted but would resurface in the post-war years on the MG Y-type, but these ideas proved that he was the perfect candidate to lead the design work on a new advanced small car. With virtually all resources required for the war effort, Thomas nonetheless approved the development of a new small family car that would replace the Morris Eight. Although Oak (and Morris’ technical director, Sidney Smith) were in overall charge of the project it was Issigonis who was ultimately responsible for the design, working with only two other draughtsmen. Thomas named the project ‘Mosquito’ and ensured that it remained as secret as possible, both from the Ministry of Supply and from company founder William Morris (now Lord Nuffield), who was still chairman of Morris Motors and, it was widely expected, would not look favourably on Issigonis’ radical ideas. Issigonis’ overall concept was to produce a practical, economical and affordable car for the general public that would equal, if not surpass, the convenience and design quality of a more expensive car. In later years he summed up his approach to the Minor; that he wanted to design an economy car that “the average man would take pleasure in owning, rather than feeling of it as something he’d been sentenced to” and “people who drive small cars are the same size as those who drive large cars and they should not be expected to put up with claustrophobic interiors.” Issigonis wanted the car to be as spacious as possible for its size and comfortable to drive for inexperienced motorists. Just as he would with the Mini ten years later, he designed the Mosquito with excellent roadholding and accurate, quick steering not with any pretence of making a sports car, but to make it safe and easy to drive by all. As work proceeded, there were plenty of battle to overcome, to get Issigonis’ ideas approved, and not all of them were. The production car, called the Minor was launched at the British Motor Show at Earls Court in London on October 27, 1948. At the same show Morris also launched the new Morris Oxford and Morris Six models, plus Wolseley variants of both cars, which were scaled-up versions of the new Minor, incorporating all the same features and designed with Issigonis’ input under Vic Oak’s supervision. Thus Issigonis’ ideas and design principles underpinned the complete post-war Morris and Wolseley car ranges. The original Minor MM series was produced from 1948 until 1953. It included a pair of four-seat saloons, two-door and (from 1950) a four-door, and a convertible four-seat Tourer. The front torsion bar suspension was shared with the larger Morris Oxford MO, as was the almost-unibody construction. Although the Minor was originally designed to accept a flat-4 engine, late in the development stage it was replaced by a 918 cc side-valve inline-four engine, little changed from that fitted in the 1935 Morris 8, and producing 27.5 hp and 39 lbf·ft of torque. This little engine pushed the Minor to just 64 mph but delivered 40 mpg. Brakes were four-wheel drums. Early cars had a painted section in the centre of the bumpers to cover the widening of the production car from the prototypes. This widening of 4 inches is also visible in the creases in the bonnet. Exports to the United States began in 1949 with the headlamps removed from within the grille surround to be mounted higher on the wings to meet local safety requirements. In 1950 a four-door version was released, initially available only for export, and featuring from the start the headlamps faired into the wings rather than set lower down on either side of the grille. The raised headlight position became standard on all Minors in time for 1951. From the start, the Minor had semaphore-type turn indicators, and subsequent Minor versions persisted with these until 1961 An Autocar magazine road test in 1950 reported that these were “not of the usual self-cancelling type, but incorporate[d] a time-basis return mechanism in a switch below the facia, in front of the driver”. It was all too easy for a passenger hurriedly emerging from the front passenger seat to collide with and snap off a tardy indicator “flipper” that was still sticking out of the B-pillar, having not yet been safely returned by the time-basis return mechanism to its folded position. Another innovation towards the end of 1950 was a water pump (replacing a gravity dependent system), which permitted the manufacturer to offer an interior heater “as optional equipment”. When production of the first series ended, just over a quarter of a million had been sold, 30 per cent of them the convertible Tourer model. In 1952, the Minor line was updated with an Austin-designed 803 cc overhead valve A-series engine, replacing the original side-valve unit. The engine had been designed for the Minor’s main competition, the Austin A30, but became available as Austin and Morris were merged into the British Motor Corporation. The new engine felt stronger, though all measurements were smaller than the old. The 52 second drive to 60 mph was still calm, with 63 mph as the top speed. Fuel consumption also rose to 36 mpg. An estate version was introduced in 1952, known as the Traveller (a Morris naming tradition for estates, also seen on the Mini). The Traveller featured an external structural ash (wood) frame for the rear bodywork, with two side-hinged rear doors. The frame was varnished rather than painted and a highly visible feature of the body style. Commercial models, marketed as the Morris Quarter Ton Van and Pick-up were added in May 1953. Rear bodies of the van versions were all steel. The 4-seat convertible and saloon variants continued as well. The car was again updated in 1956 when the engine was increased in capacity to 948 cc. The two-piece split windscreen was replaced with a curved one-piece one and the rear window was enlarged. In 1961 the semaphore-style trafficators were replaced by the flashing direction indicators, these were US-style red at the rear (using the same bulb filament as the brake lamp) and white at the front (using a second brighter filament in the parking lamp bulb) which was legal in the UK and many export markets at the time (such as New Zealand). An upmarket car based on the Minor floorpan using the larger BMC B-Series engine was sold as the Riley One-Point-Five/Wolseley 1500 beginning in 1957: versions of this Wolseley/Riley variant were also produced by BMC Australia as the Morris Major and the Austin Lancer. In December 1960 the Morris Minor became the first British car to sell more than 1,000,000 units. To commemorate the achievement, a limited edition of 350 two-door Minor saloons (one for each UK Morris dealership) was produced with distinctive lilac paintwork and a white interior. Also the badge name on the side of the bonnet was modified to read “Minor 1,000,000” instead of the standard “Minor 1000”. The millionth Minor was donated to the National Union of Journalists, who planned to use it as a prize in a competition in aid of the union’s Widow and Orphan Fund. The company, at the same time, presented a celebratory Minor to London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children, but this car was constructed of cake.The final major upgrades to the Minor were made in 1962. Although the name Minor 1000 was retained, the changes were sufficient for the new model to be given its own ADO development number. A larger version of the existing A-Series engine had been developed in conjunction with cylinder head specialist Harry Weslake for the then new ADO16 Austin/Morris 1100 range. This new engine used a taller block than did the 948 cc unit, with increased bore and stroke bringing total capacity up to 1,098 cc. Although fuel consumption suffered moderately at 38 mpg, the Minor’s top speed increased to 77 mph with noticeable improvements in low-end torque, giving an altogether more responsive drive. Other changes included a modified dashboard layout with toggle switches, textured steel instrument binnacle, and larger convex glove box covers. A different heater completed the interior upgrade, whilst the larger combined front side/indicator light units, common to many BMC vehicles of the time, were fitted to the front wings. These now included a separate bulb and amber lens for indicators while larger tail lamp units also included amber rear flashers. During the life of the Minor 1000 model, production declined. The last Convertible/Tourer was manufactured on 18 August 1969, and the saloon models were discontinued the following year. Production of the more practical Traveller and commercial versions ceased in 1972, although examples of all models were still theoretically available from dealers with a surplus of unsold cars for a short time afterwards. 1,619,857 Minors of all variants were ultimately sold and to be seen here were 2 door saloons, the Traveller and a Tourer.
Sole front-engined Porsche of note was this 944. Whilst its precursor, the 924, had received largely positive reviews, it was criticised by many including Porsche enthusiasts for its Audi-sourced engine and although the Turbo model had increased performance, this model carried a high price, which caused Porsche to decide to develop the 924, as they had with generations of the 911. They re-worked the platform and a new all-alloy 2.5 litre inline-four engine, that was, in essence, half of the 928’s 5.0 litre V8, although very few parts were actually interchangeable. Not typical in luxury sports cars, the four-cylinder engine was chosen for fuel efficiency and size, because it had to be fitted from below on the Neckarsulm production line. To overcome roughness caused by the unbalanced secondary forces that are typical of four-cylinder engines, Porsche included two counter-rotating balance shafts running at twice engine speed. Invented in 1904 by British engineer Frederick Lanchester, and further developed and patented in 1975 by Mitsubishi Motors, balance shafts carry eccentric weights which produce inertial forces that balance out the unbalanced secondary forces, making a four-cylinder engine feel as smooth as a six-cylinder. The engine was factory-rated at 150 hp in its U.S. configuration. Revised bodywork with wider wheel arches, similar to that of the 924 Carrera GT, a fresh interior and upgrades to the braking and suspension systems rounded out the major changes and Porsche introduced the car as the 944 in 1982. It was slightly faster (despite having a poorer drag co-efficient than the 924), the 944 was better equipped and more refined than the 924; it had better handling and stopping power, and was more comfortable to drive. The factory-claimed 0-60 mph time of less than 9 seconds and a top speed of 130 mph which turned out to be somewhat pessimistic, In mid-1985, the 944 underwent its first significant changes. These included : a new dash and door panels, embedded radio antenna, upgraded alternator, increased oil sump capacity, new front and rear cast alloy control arms and semi-trailing arms, larger fuel tank, optional heated and powered seats, Porsche HiFi sound system, and revisions in the mounting of the transaxle to reduce noise and vibration. The “cookie cutter” style wheels used in the early 944s were upgraded to new “phone dial” style wheels (Fuchs wheels remained an option). 1985 model year cars incorporating these changes are sometimes referred to as “1985B”, “85.5” or “1985½” cars. For the 1987 model year, the 944 Motronic DME was updated, and newly incorporated anti-lock braking and air bags. Because of the ABS system, the wheel offset changed and Fuchs wheels were no longer an option. In early 1989 before the release of the 944S2, Porsche upgraded the 944 from the 2.5 to a 2.7 litre engine, with a rated 162 hp and a significant increase in torque. For the 1985 model year, Porsche introduced the 944 Turbo, known internally as the 951. This had a turbocharged and intercooled version of the standard car’s engine that produced 220 PS at 6000 rpm. In 1987, Car and Driver tested the 944 Turbo and achieved a 0-60 mph time of 5.9 seconds. The Turbo was the first car using a ceramic port liner to retain exhaust gas temperature and new forged pistons and was also the first vehicle to produce identical power output with or without a catalytic converter. The Turbo also featured several other changes, such as improved aerodynamics, notably an integrated front bumper. This featured the widest turn signals (indicators) fitted to any production car, a strengthened gearbox with a different final drive ratio, standard external oil coolers for both the engine and transmission, standard 16 inch wheels (optional forged Fuchs wheels), and a slightly stiffer suspension (progressive springs) to handle the extra weight. The Turbo’s front and rear brakes were borrowed from the Porsche 911, with Brembo 4-piston fixed calipers and 12-inch discs as ABS also came standard. Engine component revisions, more than thirty in all, were made to the 951 to compensate for increased internal loads and heat. Changes occurred for the 1987 model year. On the interior, the 1987 944 Turbo for North America became the first production car in the world to be equipped with driver and passenger side air bags as standard equipment. A low oil level light was added to the dash as well as a 180 mph (290 km/h) speedometer as opposed to the 170 mph speedometer on the 1986 model Turbos. Also included is the deletion of the transmission oil cooler, and a change in suspension control arms to reduce the car’s scrub radius. The engine remained the same M44/51 as in the 1986 model. In 1988, Porsche introduced the Turbo S. The 944 Turbo S had a more powerful engine (designation number M44/52) with 250 hp and 258 lb·ft torque (standard 944 Turbo 220 hp and 243 lb·ft. This higher output was achieved by using a larger K26-8 turbine housing and revised engine mapping which allowed maintaining maximum boost until 5800 rpm, compared to the standard 944 Turbo the boost would decrease from 1.75 bar at 3000 rpm to 1.52 bar at 5800 rpm. Top speed was factory rated at 162 mph. The 944 Turbo S’s suspension had the “M030” option consisting of Koni adjustable shocks front and rear, with ride height adjusting threaded collars on the front struts, progressive rate springs, larger hollow rear anti-roll/torsion bars, harder durometer suspension bushings, larger hollow anti-roll/torsion bars at the front, and chassis stiffening brackets in the front frame rails. The air conditioning dryer lines are routed so as to clear the front frame brace on the driver’s side. The 944 Turbo S wheels, known as the Club Sport design, were 16-inch Fuchs forged and flat-dished, similar to the Design 90 wheel. Wheel widths were 7 inches in the front, and 9 inches in the rear with 2.047 in offset; sizes of the Z-rated tyres were 225/50 in the front and 245/45 in the rear. The front and rear fender edges were rolled to accommodate the larger wheels. The manual transmission featured a higher friction clutch disc setup, an external cooler, and a limited slip differential with a 40% lockup setting. The Turbo S front brakes were borrowed from the Porsche 928 S4, with larger Brembo GT 4-piston fixed calipers and 12-inch discs; rear Brembo brakes remained the same as a standard Turbo. ABS also came standard. The 944 Turbo S interior featured power seats for both driver and passenger, where the majority of the factory-built Turbo S models sported a “Burgundy plaid” (Silver Rose edition) but other interior/exterior colours were available. A 10-speaker sound system and equalizer + amp was a common option with the Turbo S and S/SE prototypes. Only the earlier 1986, 250 bhp prototypes featured a “special wishes custom interior” options package. In 1989 and later production, the ‘S’ designation was dropped from the 944 Turbo S, and all 944 Turbos featured the Turbo S enhancements as standard, however the “M030” suspension and the Club Sport wheels were not part of that standard. The 944 Turbo S was the fastest production four cylinder car of its time. For the 1987 model year, the 944S “Super” was introduced, featuring a high performance normally aspirated, dual-overhead-cam 16-valve 190 PS version of the 2.5 litre engine (M44/40) featuring a self-adjusting timing belt tensioner. This marked the first use of four-valve-per-cylinder heads and DOHC in the 944 series, derived from the 928 S4 featuring a redesigned camshaft drive, a magnesium intake tract/passages, magnesium valve cover, larger capacity oil sump, and revised exhaust system. The alternator capacity was 115 amps. The wheel bearings were also strengthened and the brake servo action was made more powerful. Floating 944 calipers were standard, but the rear wheel brake circuit pressure regulator from the 944 turbo was used. Small ’16 Ventiler’ script badges were added on the sides in front of the body protection mouldings. Performance was quoted as 0 – 100 km/h in 6.5 seconds and a 144 mph top speed due to a 2857 lb weight. It also featured an improved programmed Bosch Digital Motronic 2 Computer/DME with dual knock sensors for improved fuel performance for the higher 10.9:1 compression ratio cylinder head. Like the 944 Turbo, the 944S received progressive springs for greater handling, Larger front and rear anti-roll bars, revised transmission and gearing to better suit the 2.5 litre DOHC higher 6800 rpm rev limit. Dual safety air bags, limited-slip differential, and ABS braking system were optional on the 944S. A Club Sport touring package (M637) was available as was the lightweight 16 inch CS/Sport Fuch 16×7 and 16×9 forged alloy wheels. This SC version car was raced in Canada, Europe and in the U.S. IMSA Firehawk Cup Series. Production was only during 1987 and 1988. It was superseded in 1989 by the ‘S2’ 944 edition. The 1987 944S power-to-weight ratio was such that it was able to accelerate from 0 to 62 mph in 6.5 seconds thus matching the acceleration of its newer larger displacement 3.0 litre 944 S2 sibling. In 1989 the 944S2 was introduced, powered by a 211 PS normally aspirated, dual-overhead-cam 16-valve 3.0 litre version of the 944S engine, the largest production 4-cylinder engine of its time. The 944S2 also received a revised transmission and gearing to better suit the 3.0 litre M44/41 powerplant. The 944S2 had the same rounded nose and a rear valance found on the Turbo model. This was the first example of the use of an integrated front bumper, where the fender and hood profiles would merge smoothly with the bumper, a design feature that has only now seen widespread adoption on the 1990 onward production cars. Performance was quoted as 0-60 mph in 6.0 seconds with a top speed of 240 km/h (150 mph) via manual transmission. A Club Sport touring package (M637) was also available. Dual air bags (left hand drive models), limited-slip differential and ABS were optional. Series 90 16-inch cast alloy wheels were standard equipment. In 1989, Porsche released the 944 S2 Cabriolet, a first for the 944 line that featured the cabriolet body built by ASC-American Sunroof Company at Weinsberg Germany. The first year of production included sixteen 944 S2 Cabriolet for the U.S. market. For the 1990 model year, Porsche produced 3,938 944 S2 Cabriolets for all markets including right-hand drive units for the United Kingdom, Australia and South Africa. This car was raced, including the British championship that was called the Porsche Motorsport Championship. Production was during 1989, 1990, and 1991. The 944 S2 power-to-weight ratio was such that it was able to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds. In February 1991, Porsche released the 944 Turbo Cabriolet, which combined the Turbo S’s 250 hp engine with the cabriolet body built by ASC-American Sunroof Company at Weinsberg Germany. Porsche initially announced that 600 would be made; ultimately 625 were built, 100 of which were right-hand drive for the United Kingdom, Japanese, Australian, and South African market. None were imported to the U.S. and The Americas. In early 1990, Porsche engineers began working on what they had intended to be the third evolution of the 944, the S3. As they progressed with the development process, they realised that so many parts were being changed that they had produced an almost entirely new vehicle. Porsche consequently shifted development from the 944 S/S2 to the car that would replace the 944 entirely, the 968. The 944’s final year of production was 1991. A grand total 163,192 cars in the 944 family were produced between 1982 and 1991. This made it the most successful car line in Porsche’s history until the introductions of the Boxster and 997 Carrera.
Boxster models were once again to be seen on site.
Showing the differences between the 911, 4 generations apart was this 964 Targa parked next to a 991 generation model.
The RS version of the 991 GT3 was launched at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show, and featured in first drive articles in the press a few weeks later, with cars reaching the UK in the summer and another series of universally positive articles duly appearing. It had very big shoes to fill, as the 997 GT3 RS model was rated by everyone lucky enough to get behind the wheel, where the combination of extra power and reduced weight made it even better to drive than the standard non-RS version of the car. A slightly different approach was taken here, with the result weighing just 10kg less than the GT3. It is based on the extra wide body of the 991 Turbo. Compared to the 991 GT3, the front wings are now equipped with louvres above the wheels and the rear wings now include Turbo-like intakes, rather than an intake below the rear wing. The roof is made from magnesium a bonnet, whilst the front wings, rear deck and rear spoiler all in carbonfibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP), the rear apron is in a new polyurethane-carbonfibre polymer and polycarbonate glazing is used for the side and rear windows. The wider body allows the RS’s axle tracks to grow, to the point where the rear track is some 72mm wider than that of a standard 3.4-litre Carrera and the tyres are the widest yet to be fitted to a road-going 911. A long-throw crankshaft made of extra-pure tempered steel delivers the 4mm of added piston stroke necessary to take the GT3’s 3.8-litre flat six out to 3996cc . The engine also uses a new induction system, breathing through the lateral air intakes of the Turbo’s body rather than through the rear deck cover like every other 911. This gives more ram-air effect for the engine and makes more power available at high speeds. It results in an output of 500 bhp and 339 lb/ft of torque. A titanium exhaust also saves weight. The suspension has been updated and retuned, with more rigid ball-jointed mountings and helper springs fitted at the rear, while Porsche’s optional carbon-ceramic brakes get a new outer friction layer. Which is to say nothing of the RS’s biggest advancement over any other 911: downforce. The rear wing makes up to 220kg of it, while the front spoiler and body profile generates up to 110kg. In both respects, that’s double the downforce of the old 997 GT3 RS 4.0. The transmission is PDK only. The result is a 0-62 mph time of just 3.3 seconds, some 0.6 seconds quicker than the 997 GT3 RS 4.0 and 0-124 mph (0-200kmh) in 10.9 seconds. The 991 GT3 RS also comes with functions such as declutching by “paddle neutral” — comparable to pressing the clutch with a conventional manual gearbox –- and Pit Speed limiter button. As with the 991 GT3, there is rear-axle steering and Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus with fully variable rear axle differential lock. The Nürburgring Nordschleife time is 7 minutes and 20 seconds. The interior includes full bucket seats (based on the carbon seats of the 918 Spyder), carbon-fibre inserts, lightweight door handles and the Club Sport Package as standard (a bolted-on roll cage behind the front seats, preparation for a battery master switch, and a six-point safety harness for the driver and fire extinguisher with mounting bracket). Needless to say, the car was an instant sell out, even at a starting price of £131,296.
The first three generations of the sporting Clio were widely regarded as class leading, so expectations were high when the fourth iteration made its debut. Sadly, it was generally felt to miss the mark, with the rather dim-witted automatic gearbox, the only choice, being one of the things which got much of the criticism. A variety of different models were offered with Cup chassis and Trophy on offer. The car was not been replaced in the fifth generation and it would seem unlikely that it will be.
The Rover 200 BRM was first shown at the 1997 Frankfurt Motor Show and the reaction from the press and public was good enough that after a year of development the production Rover 200 BRM LE was officially launched at the British Motor Show in October 1998. It was based on the range-topping Vi model but with 1960’s BRM styling cues. It used the 145 PS 1.8-litre VVC K-Series. Inside, there were red quilted leather seats and door panels, red carpet, seat belts and steering wheel. Alloy heater controls and turned aluminium trim complimented this. On the outside, there was Brooklands Green paintwork, with silver trim details, large 16″ alloys, and an exclusive woven mesh grille sat above a large orange snout in the front bumper, which was the BRM trademark nose on all of its 1960s Formula One racing cars. Technical adjustments consisted of 20 mm lower ride height over the Vi and improved damping and handling, a close-ratio gearbox with a TorSen differential further developed from the Rover 220 Turbo, reduced torque steer and improved straight-line stability. The price was £18,000, excluding extras such as air conditioning, passenger airbag and a CD player. There were only 795 built for the UK, with an additional 350 for overseas markets. The steep price was originally slashed to £16,000 and when the Rover 25 was launched, this was cut to £14,000 to get rid of vehicles still lingering in showrooms. These days there is a very active owners Club for the BRMs.
A second visit over the weekend was a last minute decision, but it proved to be a good one. This was for a 9am slot, and I did wonder if we would have to leave around noon or not. As more or less everyone had done so. we stuck out a bit conspicuously so felt obliged to move on and find some food a few miles away in Gaydon village (which proved to be excellent – The Malt Shovel Inn, highly recommended) but that was only having seen a great variety of cars and also having had something of a nice surprise when I arrived.
And the surprise was that as I pulled into the parking area, I found that I was behind a whole line of Abarth 124 Spiders, and even before I got out of the car, there was much waving from people I knew. This was an impromptu meet for the West Midlands 124 Spider group, and if you include the couple of Fiat models that had joined in, the total gathering amassed 9 cars, as my friend Joe Mort had arrived earlier and was parked up away from the rest of the group.
It was good to see a Giulia here. This was not one of the top spec Quadrifolgio models, but one of the lesser cars in the range.
Following the unveiling of the AMV8 Vantage concept car in 2003 at the North American International Auto Show designed by Henrik Fisker, the production version, known as the V8 Vantage was introduced at the Geneva Motor Show in 2005. The two seat, two-door coupé had a bonded aluminium structure for strength and lightness. The 172.5 inch (4.38 m) long car featured a hatchback-style tailgate for practicality, with a large luggage shelf behind the seats. In addition to the coupé, a convertible, known as the V8 Vantage Roadster, was introduced later in that year. The V8 Vantage was initially powered by a 4.3 litre quad-cam 32-valve V8 which produced 380 bhp at 7,300 rpm and 409 Nm (302 lb/ft) at 5,000 rpm. However, models produced after 2008 had a 4.7-litre V8 with 420 bhp and 470 Nm (347 lbft) of torque. Though based loosely on Jaguar’s AJ-V8 engine architecture, this engine was unique to Aston Martin and featured race-style dry-sump lubrication, which enabled it to be mounted low in the chassis for an improved center of gravity. The cylinder block and heads, crankshaft, connecting rods, pistons, camshafts, inlet and exhaust manifolds, lubrication system and engine management were all designed in house by Aston Martin and the engine was assembled by hand at the AM facility in Cologne, Germany, which also built the V12 engine for the DB9 and Vanquish. The engine was front mid-mounted with a rear-mounted transaxle, giving a 49/51 front/rear weight distribution. Slotted Brembo brakes were also standard. The original V8 Vantage could accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds before topping out at 175 mph. In 2008, Aston Martin introduced an aftermarket dealer approved upgrade package for power and handling of the 4.3-litre variants that maintained the warranty with the company. The power upgrade was called the V8 Vantage Power Upgrade, creating a more potent version of the Aston Martin 4.3-litre V8 engine with an increase in Peak power of 20 bhp to 400 bhp while peak torque increased by 10 Nm to 420 Nm (310 lb/ft). This consists of the fitting of the following revised components; manifold assembly (painted Crackle Black), valved air box, right and left hand side vacuum hose assemblies, engine bay fuse box link lead (ECU to fuse box), throttle body to manifold gasket, intake manifold gasket, fuel injector to manifold seal and a manifold badge. The V8 Vantage had a retail price of GB£79,000, US$110,000, or €104,000 in 2006, Aston Martin planned to build up to 3,000 per year. Included was a 6-speed manual transmission and leather-upholstery for the seats, dash board, steering-wheel, and shift-knob. A new 6-speed sequential manual transmission, similar to those produced by Ferrari and Lamborghini, called Sportshift was introduced later as an option. An open-topped model was added to the range in 2006 and then in the quest for more power a V12 Vantage joined the range not long after. All told, Aston produced 18 different versions of the model in a production run which continued until 2018, with a number limited edition cars swelling the ranks.
Having seen an early TT Coupe earlier in the month, it was good to see the corresponding Roadster here now, as these cars have largely disappeared from everyday usage.
A number of different generations of the 3 Series family were represented ranging from the E30 to the current 4 Series Cabriolet, and taking in an E92 generation M3 Coupe.
Also here was the rarely seen Baur cabriolet. This German firm had a history of producing open-topped BMW cars going back to the targa-roofed 2002 of the early 1970s and they were quick off the mark offering an open version of the E30. Sales dwindled when BMW started to produce their own completely open, as opposed to the Targa style car from 1985, but it remained orderable for the life of the E30.
The BMW 1 Series M Coupe (often referred to as the “1M”) is the high-performance model of the E82 coupe range, sold under the BMW M performance sub-brand. While BMW naming convention would have called the car the “M1”, an alternate name was chosen to avoid confusion with the 1970s BMW M1 supercar. At the 2007 Tokyo Auto Show, BMW unveiled the 1 Series tii Concept, which was thought to be a preview of the M version of the 1 Series. However, the eventual 1M model appeared four years later and with significant differences, such as an engine with six-cylinders instead of four. The 1M was BMW M’s second turbocharged engine (after the S63 V8 which debuted in the X6M). The BMW N54 fitted to the 1M was originally being used in the E89 Z4 sDrive35is and has rated outputs of 335 bhp at 5900 rpm and 450 Nm (332 lb/ft) from 1,500 to 4,500 rpm. An additional 50 Nm (37 lb/ft) is produced during overboost taking overall peak torque to 500 Nm (369 lb/ft). The sole transmission available was a six-speed manual. The front and rear track widths were widened by 74 mm (2.9 in) and 46 mm (1.8 in) respectively and a limited slip differential was used. As a result, the overall width is 1,803 mm (71.0 in). The curb weight is 3,296 lb (1,495 kg). Initial plans were to limit production of the 1M Coupe to 2700 units; however, the final production total was 6309. Such is the esteem with which the car is held that it had barely depreciated from new and you will still likely pay over £30k for a good one.
Once again, the M2 was well represented.
Not surprisingly the F40 was still here, so there was a chance to have a second look.
Two other Ferrari models arrived on site and caused lots of interest. First of these was the elegant F12 Berlinetta and shortly after it appeared, an F8 Tributo pulled in, and was able to get the prime parking spot in front of the main entrance. The F8 Tributo is a heavily updated version of the former 488GTB, first seen at the 2019 Geneva Show but deliveries of which did not get underway until the late spring of 2020.
Sporting Fords were dominated by two different model types, of which the Focus was the more numerous. As well as friend Andy Convery’s Focus ST making another appearance, there was one of the latest fourth generation Focus STs here and a rare second generation Focus RS500.
The other model here was the Mustang, with this somewhat menacing looking previous shape previous Mustang GT500 joined by one of the UK-market right hand drive Mustang GT cars.
The second generation NS-X does not seem to have captured the same level of affection and desirability as the first and it is a rare beast. That was not here, but a first generation car was, and everyone seemed to love it. Its origins go back all the way to 1984, when Honda commissioned the Italian car designer Pininfarina to design the HP-X (Honda Pininfarina eXperimental), which had a mid-mounted C20A 2.0 L V6 configuration. After Honda committed to the project, management informed the engineers that the new car would have to be as fast as anything coming from Italy and Germany .The HP-X concept car evolved into a prototype called the NS-X, which stood for “New”, “Sportscar” and “eXperimental”. The NS-X prototype and eventual production model were designed by a team led by Chief Designer Ken Okuyama and Executive Chief Engineer Shigeru Uehara, who subsequently were placed in charge of the S2000 project. The original performance target for the NS-X was the Ferrari 328, and later the 348 as the design neared completion. Honda intended the NS-X to meet or exceed the performance of the Ferrari, while offering targeted reliability and a lower price point. For this reason, the 2.0L V6 of the HP-X was abandoned and replaced with a more powerful 3.0L VTEC V6 engine. The bodywork design had been specifically researched by Okuyama and Uehara after studying the 360 degree visibility inside an F-16 fighter jet cockpit. Thematically the F-16 came into play in the exterior design as well as establishing the conceptual goals of the NSX. In the F-16 and other high performance craft such as unlimited hydroplanes, single seat race cars etc. the cockpit is located far forward on the body and in front of the power plant. This “cab-forward” layout was chosen early in the NSX’s design to optimise visibility while the long tail design enhanced high speed directional stability. The NS-X was designed to showcase several Honda automotive technologies, many derived from its F1 motor-sports program. The NS-X was the first production car to feature an all-aluminium monocoque body, incorporating a revolutionary extruded aluminium alloy frame, and suspension. The use of aluminium in the body alone saved nearly 200 kg in weight over the steel equivalent, while the aluminium suspension saved an additional 20 kg; a suspension compliance pivot helped maintain wheel alignment changes at a near zero value. Other notable features included an independent, 4-channel anti-lock brake system; titanium connecting rods in the engine to permit reliable high-rpm operation; an electric power steering system; Honda’s proprietary VTEC variable valve timing system (a first in the US) and, in 1995, the first electronic throttle control fitted to a Honda. With a robust motorsports division, Honda had significant development resources at its disposal and made extensive use of them. Respected Japanese Formula One driver Satoru Nakajima, for example, was involved with Honda in the NS-X’s early on track development at Suzuka race circuit, where he performed many endurance distance duties related to chassis tuning. Brazilian Formula One World Champion Ayrton Senna, for whom Honda had powered all three of his world championship-winning Formula One race cars before his death in 1994, was considered Honda’s main innovator in convincing the company to stiffen the NSX chassis further after initially testing the car at Honda’s Suzuka GP circuit in Japan. Senna further helped refine the original NSX’s suspension tuning and handling spending a whole day test driving prototypes and reporting his findings to Honda engineers after each of the day’s five testing sessions. Senna also tested the NSX at the Nurburgring and other tracks. The suspension development program was far-ranging and took place at the Tochigi Proving Grounds, the Suzuka circuit, the 179-turn Nurburgring Course in Germany, HPCC, and Hondas newest test track in Takasu, Hokkaido. Honda automobile dealer Bobby Rahal (two-time CART PPG Cup and 1986 Indianapolis 500 champion) also participated in the car’s development. The production car made its first public appearances as the NS-X at the Chicago Auto Show in February 1989, and at the Tokyo Motor Show in October 1989 to positive reviews. Honda revised the vehicle’s name from NS-X to NSX before final production and sale. The NSX went on sale in Japan in 1990 at Honda Verno dealership sales channels, supplanting the Honda Prelude as the flagship model. The NSX was marketed under Honda’s flagship Acura luxury brand starting in 1991 in North America and Hong Kong. It sent shockwaves through the industry, as the car was considerably better than the Ferrari 348 in just about every respect. But that was not the end of the story, of course. While the NSX always was intended to be a world-class sports car, engineers had made some compromises in order to strike a suitable balance between raw performance and daily driveability. For those NSX customers seeking a no-compromise racing experience, Honda decided in 1992 to produce a version of the NSX specifically modified for superior on-track performance at the expense of customary creature comforts. Thus, the NSX Type R (or NSX-R) was born. Honda chose to use its moniker of Type R to designate the NSX-R’s race-oriented design. In 1995, a Targa model was released, the NSX-T, which allowed customers to experience fresh air thanks to two removable targa top panels. The original NSX body design received only minor modifications from Honda in the new millennium when in 2002 the original pop-up headlamps were replaced with fixed xenon HID headlamp units. There was just one of these much admired cars here.
Also here was the current Civic Type R
Once again, the F Type was in evidence here.
The Gallardo was launched in 2003, and stayed in production over 10 years, In excess of 10,000 were made, making it by some margin the most popular Lamborghini yet made. During the long life, lots of different variants were produced with a mixture of all wheel drive and rear wheel power only, open topped bodies, and lightened Superleggera models. Seen here was a Gallardo
Replacing Lamborghini’s sales leader and most produced car, the Gallardo, the Huracán made its auto show debut at the March 2014 Geneva Auto Show, and was released in the second quarter of 2014. The name of the Huracan LP 610-4 comes from the fact that this car has 610 metric horsepower and 4 wheel drive. Huracán (huracán being the Spanish word for hurricane) is inspired by a Spanish fighting bull. Continuing the tradition of using names from historical Spanish fighting bulls, Huracán was a bull known for its courage that fought in 1879. Also Huracan is the Mayan god of wind, storm and fire. Changes from the Gallardo included full LED illumination, a 12.3 inch full-colour TFT instrument panel, Fine Nappa leather and Alcantara interior upholstery, redesigned dashboard and central tunnel, Iniezione Diretta Stratificata (IDS, essentially an adapted version of parent Audi’s Fuel Stratified Injection) direct and indirect gasoline injections, engine Stop & Start technology, EU6 emissions regulation compliance, Lamborghini Doppia Frizione (LDF) 7-speed dual-clutch transmission with 3 modes (STRADA, SPORT and CORSA), 20 inch wheels, carbon-ceramic brake system, optional Lamborghini Dynamic Steering variable steering system and MagneRide electromagnetic damper control. In early 2015, the Huracán appeared on Top Gear. It got a neutral review from Richard Hammond who said that it was too tame to be a “proper Lamborghini.” However, it got around the Top Gear test track in 1:15.8 which is faster than any other Lamborghini to go around the track to date, including the Aventador. Now it has been available in the UK for some a six years, there are quite a few on our roads, so it was no surprise to find the model here, with the Performante Spider being the particular version to be seen on this occasion.
Arriving not long before it was time for us to leave was this spectacular Aventador SV-J. The Aventador has been a huge success for Lamborghini. It was first seen at the 2011 Geneva Show, with the full name of Aventador LP700-4 Coupe, the numbers denoting the output of 700 bhp from the all-new V12 engine and the 4 meaning four wheel drive, something which has featured on every Aventador since. The launch price was £250,000 but even so within a month, Lamborghini had a year’s worth of orders, and within a year, 1000 had been built. In November 2012 a Roadster version arrived, which was very similar to the Coupe, but with a lift-out roof panel. A suite of mechanical changes came at this point, with a cylinder deactiviation technology helping to improve fuel consumption and cut emissions. To mark half a century of car production, in April 2013, the LP720-4 50th Anniversary was launched, with 100 units available. As well as the extra 20 bhp, these had a mildly redesigned nose and tail, special paintwork and unique interior trim. A Roadster version followed in December 2014, the LP 700-4 Pirelli Edition. This did not have the extra power, but did feature two tone paint, unique wheels and a transparent engine cover, with the engine bay finished in carbon fibre. Lamborghini turned up the wick in march 2015 with the LP750-4 SuperVeloce, or SV for short, which featured and extra 50 bhp and a 50 kg weight reduction largely thanks to the use of more carbon fibre. A Roadster version followed a few months later. At the start of 2017, the entry level model was upgraded, becoming the Aventador S, initially as a Coupe, but the Roadster followed later in the year. This had a power boost to 740 bhp, improved aerodynamics, and a revised suspension, as well as the introduction of four-wheel steering and a new TFT dash. In 2018 the 8000th model was produced and just a month after announcing this, the ultimate model appeared, the Aventador SVJ. This boasted 770 bhp and further aerodynamic aids. Production of this version was limited to 900 units. For those who wanted something even more exclusive there were 63 examples of the SVJ 63 edition to mark the formation of the company in 1963.
As well as a late model Defender, there was a second generation Discovery here.
The Land Rover G4 Challenge is a global adventure competition; and as the spiritual successor to the Camel Trophy it has off road driving at its core. Three separate Challenges were conceived, to run in 2003, 2006 and 2009, though the last of these was cancelled 2008/2009 owing to the global credit crunch situation. In each case, this was an 18-month programme which began with National Selections held within each participating nation, followed by an International Selections event at Eastnor Castle in the UK. Each stage of the Challenge included athletic activities such as mountain biking, kayaking, rock-climbing, abseiling, trail running and rope work as well as off-road driving and mental aptitude challenges. In 2003 the first Land Rover G4 Challenge launched with 16 participating nations and traversed the USA, South Africa and Australia over the course of 28 days. The 2003 Challenge was won by Belgian fighter pilot Rudi Thoelen. Rudi declined the prize of a brand new Range Rover, opting instead for two new Defenders. The Team Spirit Award was won by Tim Pickering from the UK, this award was given by the other competitors for the person who in their view contributed most to the race. 18 nations participated in the 2006 G4 Challenge which was staged across Thailand, Laos, Brazil and Bolivia. Land Rover delivered a more vehicle-focused event in 2006 after some criticism that the 2003 event focused too strongly on the adventure-sports element. South African adventure racer Martin Dreyer was the eventual winner of the 2006 event. Dreyer recalled: In 2007, the Land Rover G4 Challenge announced a partnership with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, which would have seen the programme aim to generate more than £1 million over the course of the next two Challenges. The 2008/9 Challenge was intended to be staged in Mongolia with selections events in 2008 and 2009 and the main event later in 2009. the event was billed as: “a thrilling three-week off-road driving and multi sport adventure in the wilds of Asia”. 18 countries would have competed. However Land Rover announced the cancellation of the event on 18 December 2008 due to the current global financial situation. Although the 2009 Challenge was cancelled a few vehicles were prepared and used as pre-event recce vehicles. The 2009 vehicles were decked out similarly to previously Challenge vehicles with the distinctive Tangiers Orange paintwork, but with new body decals emphasising the G4 Challenge’s new association with the Red Cross. At least two Defenders, two Discovery 3s (LR3s), two Freelander 2s (LR2) and one Range Rover were produced for the 2009 event; visitors to the Solihull factory in the autumn of 2008 spotted a number of Tangiers Orange vehicles in the production stores. In 2003., there were 31 Defenders, 30 Range Rovers, 30 Freelanders and 62 Discovery models used, each in different parts of the event. In 2006, there were 31 Defender Diesels, 24 petrol Range Rover Vogues, 39 Discovery 3s, 15 Freelanders and 35 Range Rover Sports prepared for the event.
Sitting below the 720 in the range are the 540 and 570 models. The first of these were revealed at the 2015 New York Auto Show, going on sale towards the end of that year. These were labelled as part of McLaren’s Sports Series. This mid-engine sportscar features the lightweight carbon fibre MonoCell II chassis, and a highly efficient 3.8-litre twin turbo V8 engine generating 562bhp and 443lb/ft of torque. Although the model has been conceived with a greater focus on day-to-day usability and refinement, but it is still very much a pure McLaren, boasting a class-leading power-to-weight ratio of 434PS per tonne, and electrifying performance. The 570S Coupé accelerates from 0 to 100km/h in just 3.2 seconds, reaches 200km/h (124mph) in 9.5 seconds, and on to a top speed of 204mph. Pricing for the 570S Coupé started at £143,250, though like all cars of this type, that figure can quickly rise once you raid the options list.
This duo of Mercedes-AMG GT-R arrived together, in convoy with the Honda NS-X.
This time there were two examples of the second generation MINI GP.
The R32 generation Skyline debuted in 1989 and was available as either a 2-door coupe or 4-door hardtop sedan, all previous bodystyles were dropped. The R32 featured several versions of the RB-series straight-6 engines, which had improved heads (the twelve port inlet was gone) and used the ECCS (Electronically Concentrated Control System) injection system. Also available was an 1,800 cc 4-cylinder GXi model. Most models had HICAS four-wheel steering, with the rear wheels being hydraulically linked to the front steering. The 2.5-litre GTS-25 became one of the first Japanese production cars to feature a 5-speed automatic transmission. The GTS-t came in standard and Type M configurations, with the Type M having larger five-stud 16-inch wheels, four piston front callipers and twin piston rears plus other minor differences. ABS was optional (except for the GT-R and GTS-4), mechanical LSD was standard on the GTR and viscous LSD was standard on all turbo models and optional on all but the GXi. Nissan also produced 100 Australian models of the R32. In addition, there was a 4WD version of the GTS-t Type M, called the GTS-4. This generation was considered a “compact” under Japanese legislation that determined the amount of tax liability based on exterior dimensions. The smaller engines were offered so as to provide Japanese buyers the ability to choose which annual road tax obligation they were willing to pay. The station wagon bodystyle was discontinued, and replaced by the Nissan Stagea. 296,087 of these cars were sold in its five year production run.
I happened to be standing by the entrance as this car drove in, a Polestar 1, the first I had seen on the road, though I had seen its cheaper saloon brother the Polestar 2 the day before. The driver was very quick to point out that the car was not his but borrowed, and indeed when I checked, the plate is the same as the car that had featured in Autocar’s Road Test only a matter of days earlier, so this was almost certainly a press car, though I did not recognise the man driving it. The Polestar 1 is a technological tour de force with a price tag to match. Only pennies change out of £150,000 means that it is destined to remain a rare sight, especially as it is only available in left hand drive form.
Once again a number of Porsche models were here, including the Boxster and a 911 GT3 RS.
This 912, the same car as I had seen on a previous visit this month, arrived not long before we felt obliged to honour the timing on our booking and leave.
Two examples of the latest fourth generation Megane RS were here. Opinions do seem to vary on this one, but none have put it at the top of the class, a sad decline from where Renault used to be a ew years earlier with their hot hatches.
Slightly surprisingly, it is reported that sales of the new A110 have dwindled to very low numbers indeed. It would seem that this well received car, for which there were long waiting lists when it was first revealed has rather more minority appeal at its price point than one might have expected.
The second generation was introduced as a 2003 model at the 2002 Chicago Auto Show, based on the new Impreza platform, featuring several fine-tune improvements over the past model. The 2003 Forester features weight-saving refinements such as an aluminium bonnet, perforated rails, and a hydro-formed front sub-frame. The most noticeable change was the offering of 2.5 litre versions (normally aspirated and turbocharged) and in the U.S. the introduction of the turbo charged 2.5-litre model. In 2004, Subaru launched the Forester STI for the Japanese Market sharing the same engine as the 2005 Subaru Impreza WRX STI. Starting with the 2004 XT, the turbocharged version had Active valve control system cylinder heads. The i-AVLS (active valve lift system) became standard on the naturally aspirated version of the Forester in 2006. This increased horsepower and torque figures to 173 HP and 166 ft-lbs. The 2006 XT received a higher compression ratio to 8.4:1 from 8.2:1. This increased the XT’s power to 230 HP and 235 ft-lbs. A few of these cars have been imported to the UK in recent years.
This is an example of one of the last of the Australian-built models that gained Vauxhall badges for the UK, and which represented something of a performance bargain, thanks to their potent V8 engines that came out of the Corvette. Despite this. sales remained in penny numbers, with customers preferring to spend far more for a roomy performance saloon with a German badge on it. This is a VXR GTS
Once again there was a Corrado here, this time the well-regarded VR6 version.
There was also a Golf Caddy pickup. Released in 1979, the first Volkswagen Caddy was based on the Volkswagen Group A1 platform, shared with the small family car Volkswagen Golf Mk1. The Caddy came to fruition when Volkswagen was experimenting with Golf derivatives, an estate and a pickup. Volkswagen of America was interested in the pickup, and Volkswagen released the Volkswagen Rabbit Pickup in North America, produced at the Volkswagen Westmoreland Assembly Plant in Pennsylvania from 1978 to 1984. Trim levels such as LX and Sportruck were available. In North America, the Caddy came with two engine choices. The 1.6 litre diesel and the 1.7 litre petrol. One unique feature of the diesel was that it came with a five speed gearbox, with the 5th gear labeled as “E” or “Economy”. The Caddy actually was not called Caddy until 1982 when it was released in Europe. European Caddys were built in Volkswagen’s plant TAS in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, back then within SFR Yugoslavia, from 1982 till 1992. The original Caddy was produced in South Africa until 2007, alongside the first generation Golf itself (which was sold until 2009). The stamping equipment was shipped from the closed plant in Westmoreland for both models. Subsequent generations of the Caddy changed to become a small panel van.
And so to the last trip of the month. This was a Saturday, and followed the same sort of weekend format as the previous two weekends, and in advance then of an event in Northamptonshire the following day. Once again, there was plenty to see, with cars continuing to arrive on site during the time I was there. It was cold, much colder than it had been, so many were not staying that long, but I am pleased I stuck it out as long as I did as some interesting machines arrived only late in the time allocation.
Once again, there were a couple of Abarth models here, both of them 595s and neither of which I recognised from the plates.
A couple of recent Aston Martin models could be seen here. The Rapide was here for most of the time that I was, and then there was the late arrival of this DBS Superleggera. You really could not miss it, with a very distinctive appearance which I gather is in fact a wrap – something I learned when I saw this car here and a young enthusiast told me and then exactly what he thought of it. He was not a fan!
A car you are not likely to see very often is the S8, a rather subtle but brutally fast version of the largest saloon that the Ingolstadt firm currently makes.
This is an M Roadster, the M-powered version of the Z3, and is notable ofr the fact that all cars, no matter where they were sold were produced at the Spartanburg plant in South Carolina. The initial roadster was joined by a coupe and these are known respectively as the E36/7 and E36/8. This is because the Z3 was based on the E36 3 Series platform, though it used the rear semi-trailing arm suspension design of the older E30 3 Series. It was the first mass-produced Z Series car. Development on the roadster began in 1991 and was led by Burkhard Göschel. The exterior was designed by Joji Nagashima, being completed in mid-1992 at 39 months before production and the design was frozen in 1993. Design patents were filed on April 2, 1994 in Germany and on September 27, 1994 in the US The Z3 was introduced via video press release by BMW North America on June 12, 1995. Production began on September 20, 1995. Development on the coupé model was run by a group of BMW engineers outside of work in their own time. Roadster models entered production in September 1995, powered by 4-cylinder engines on launch. 6-cylinder engines were later introduced in 1996. A removable hardtop roof was available as an optional accessory. The Z3 Coupé shares the same platform and parts with the roadster, but features a chassis-stiffening hatch area and is 2.7 times stiffer in comparison. The Z3 Coupé was unveiled at the 1997 Frankfurt Motor Show. Coupé models entered production in September 1998 with its controversial shooting brake design, which has been nicknamed “clown shoe” and “bread van” by critics. In Germany, it has been nicknamed the “turnschuh” (sports shoe). Coupé models were only produced as 2.8, 3.0i, and M Coupé models.
The BMW E30 is the second generation of BMW 3 Series, which was produced from 1982 to 1994 and replaced the E21 3 Series, and was the car which really saw the popularity of the 3 Series increase dramatically. . Development of the E30 3 Series began in July 1976, with styling being developed under chief designer Claus Luthe with exterior styling led by Boyke Boyer. In 1978, the final design was approved, with design freeze (cubing process) being completed in 1979. BMW’s launch film for the E30 shows the design process including Computer-aided design (CAD), crash testing and wind-tunnel testing. The car was released at the end of November 1982. Externally, the E30’s appearance is very similar to twin headlight versions of its E21 predecessor, however there are various detail changes in styling to the E30. Major differences to the E21 include the interior and a revised suspension, the latter to reduce the oversteer for which the E21 was criticised. At launch, the car had a 2 door style like its predecessor and just four engines, all of them petrol: the 316 and 318 four cylinder units and the 320 and 323i 6 cylinders. This last was soon upgraded to a 2.5 litre unit. Diesel models were added during the 80s and there was an all-wheel drive 325iX option for continental European markets. In addition to the 2 door saloon and Baur convertible body styles of its E21 predecessors, the E30 became available by early 1984 as a four-door sedan and later a five-door station wagon (marketed as “Touring”). The Touring body style began life as a prototype built by BMW engineer Max Reisböck in his friend’s garage in 1984 and began production in 1987. The factory convertible version began production in 1985, with the Baur convertible conversions remaining available alongside it. Following the launch of the E36 3 Series in 1990, the E30 began to be phased out. Seen here was a 318i, an important car as this started to gain a significant share of the company car fleets.
Successor to the Ferrari 360, this model debuted at the 2004 Paris Motor Show. Designed by Pininfarina, under the guidance of Frank Stephenson, the body styling of the F430 was revised from its predecessor, the Ferrari 360, to improve its aerodynamic efficiency. Although the drag coefficient remained the same, downforce was greatly enhanced. Despite sharing the same basic Alcoa Aluminium chassis, roof line, doors and glass, the car looked significantly different from the 360. A great deal of Ferrari heritage was included in the exterior design. At the rear, the Enzo’s tail lights and interior vents were added. The car’s name was etched into the Testarossa-styled driver’s side mirror. The large oval openings in the front bumper are reminiscent of Ferrari racing models from the 60s, specifically the 156 “sharknose” Formula One car and 250 TR61 Le Mans cars of Phil Hill. Designed with soft-top-convertible. The F430 featured a 4.3 litre V8 petrol engine of the “Ferrari-Maserati” F136 family. This new power plant was a significant departure for Ferrari, as all previous Ferrari V8’s were descendants of the Dino racing program of the 1950s. This fifty-year development cycle came to an end with the entirely new unit. The engine’s output was 490 hp at 8500 rpm and 465 N·m (343 lb/ft) of torque at 5250 rpm, 80% of which was available below 3500rpm. Despite a 20% increase in displacement, engine weight grew by only 4 kg and engine dimensions were decreased, for easier packaging. The connecting rods, pistons and crankshaft were all entirely new, while the four-valve cylinder head, valves and intake trumpets were copied directly from Formula 1 engines, for ideal volumetric efficiency. The F430 has a top speed in excess of 196 mph and could accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in 3.9 seconds, 0.6 seconds quicker than the old model. The brakes on the F430 were designed in close cooperation with Brembo (who did the calipers and discs) and Bosch (who did the electronics package),resulting in a new cast-iron alloy for the discs. The new alloy includes molybdenum which has better heat dissipation performance. The F430 was also available with the optional Carbon fibre-reinforced Silicon Carbide (C/SiC) ceramic composite brake package. Ferrari claims the carbon ceramic brakes will not fade even after 300-360 laps at their test track. The F430 featured the E-Diff, a computer-controlled limited slip active differential which can vary the distribution of torque based on inputs such as steering angle and lateral acceleration. Other notable features include the first application of Ferrari’s manettino steering wheel-mounted control knob. Drivers can select from five different settings which modify the vehicle’s ESC system, “Skyhook” electronic suspension, transmission behaviour, throttle response, and E-Diff. The feature is similar to Land Rover’s “Terrain Response” system. The Ferrari F430 was also released with exclusive Goodyear Eagle F1 GSD3 EMT tyres, which have a V-shaped tread design, run-flat capability, and OneTRED technology. The F430 Spider, Ferrari’s 21st road going convertible, made its world premiere at the 2005 Geneva Motor Show. The car was designed by Pininfarina with aerodynamic simulation programs also used for Formula 1 cars. The roof panel automatically folds away inside a space above the engine bay. The conversion from a closed top to an open-air convertible is a two-stage folding-action. The interior of the Spider is identical to that of the coupé. Serving as the successor to the Challenge Stradale, the 430 Scuderia was unveiled by Michael Schumacher at the 2007 Frankfurt Auto Show. Aimed to compete with cars like the Porsche RS-models and the Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera it was lighter by 100 kg/220 lb and more powerful (510 PS) than the standard F430. Increased power came from a revised intake, exhaust, and an ion-sensing knock-detection system that allows for a higher compression ratio. Thus the weight-to-power ratio was reduced from 2.96 kg/hp to 2.5 kg/hp. In addition to the weight saving measures, the Scuderia semi-automatic transmission gained improved “Superfast”, known as “Superfast2”, software for faster 60 millisecond shift-times. A new traction control system combined the F1-Trac traction and stability control with the E-Diff electronic differential. The Ferrari 430 Scuderia accelerates from 0-100 km/h in 3.6 seconds, with a top speed of 202 miles per hour. Ferrari claimed that around their test track, Fiorano Circuit, it matched the Ferrari Enzo, and the Ferrari F430’s successor, the Ferrari 458. To commemorate Ferrari’s 16th victory in the Formula 1 Constructor’s World Championship in 2008, Ferrari unveiled the Scuderia Spider 16M at World Finals in Mugello. It is effectively a convertible version of the 430 Scuderia. The engine produces 510 PS at 8500 rpm. The car has a dry weight of 1,340 kg, making it 80 kg lighter than the F430 Spider, at a curb weight of 1,440 kg (3,175 lb). The chassis was stiffened to cope with the extra performance available and the car featured many carbon fibre parts as standard. Specially lightened front and rear bumpers (compared to the 430 Scuderia) were a further sign of the efforts Ferrari was putting into this convertible track car for the road. Unique 5-spoke forged wheels were produced for the 16M’s launch and helped to considerably reduce unsprung weight with larger front brakes and callipers added for extra stopping power (also featured on 430 Scuderia). It accelerates from 0-100 km/h in 3.7 seconds, with a top speed of 315 km/h (196 mph). 499 vehicles were released beginning early 2009 and all were pre-sold to select clients.
After a gap of some years, Ferrari added a 4 seater V8 model to the range at the 2008 Paris Motor Show, with the California. According to industry rumours, the California originally started as a concept for a new Maserati, but the resulting expense to produce the car led the Fiat Group to badge it as a Ferrari in order to justify the high cost of purchase; the company denies this, however. The California heralded a number of firsts for Ferrari: the first front engined Ferrari with a V8; te first to feature a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission; the first with a folding metal roof; the first with multi-link rear suspension; and the first with direct petrol injection. Bosch produced the direct injection system. The engine displaces 4,297 cc, and used direct injection. It delivered 453 bhp at 7,750 rpm; its maximum torque produced was 358 lb/ft at 5,000 rpm. The resulting 106 bhp per litre of engine displacement is one of the highest for a naturally aspirated engine, as other manufacturers have used supercharging or turbocharging to reach similar power levels. Ferrari spent over 1,000 hours in the wind tunnel with a one-third-scale model of the California perfecting its aerodynamics. With the top up, the California has a drag coefficient of Cd=0.32, making it the most aerodynamic Ferrari ever made until the introduction of the Ferrari F12 Berlinetta. Throughout the California’s production, only 3 cars were built with manual transmission, including one order from the UK. On 15 February 2012, Ferrari announced an upgrade, which was lighter and more powerful. Changes include reducing body weight by 30 kg (66 lb), increased power by output of 30 PS and 11 lbf·ft, acceleration from 0–100 km/h (62 mph) time reduced to 3.8 seconds, introduction of Handling Speciale package and elimination of the manual transmission option. The car was released at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show as a 2012 model in Europe. To give the clients a more dynamic driving experience, an optional HS (Handling Speciale) package was developed as part of the update. It can be recognised by a silver coloured grille and ventilation blisters behind the front wheel wells. The HS package includes Delphi MagneRide magnetorheological dampers controlled by an ECU with 50% faster response time running patented Ferrari software, stiffer springs for more precise body control and a steering rack with a 9 per cent quicker steering ratio (2.3 turns lock to lock as opposed to the standard rack’s 2.5). A more substantive update came in 2014, with the launch of the California T, which remains in production. It featured new sheetmetal, a new interior, a revised chassis and a new turbocharged powertrain.
Ford played much the same guessing game about whether there would be an RS version of the third generation car as they had done with the earlier versions. Production of the regular cars started in late 2010, but it was not until the 2015 Geneva Motor Show before the production ready MKIII Ford Focus RS was unveiled. It came packing the turbocharged 2.3-litre inline-four engine found in the Mustang EcoBoost. In the Focus RS, the engine itself produces 350 hp. Power is sent to all four wheels via Ford’s all-new Torque-Vectoring All-Wheel-Drive system with a rear drive unit designed by GKN, as well as upgraded suspension and brakes. As well as that, the new Focus RS will be fitted with Drive Modes – including an industry-first Drift Mode that allows controlled oversteer drifts – and Launch Control. The RS will boast a model specific aerodynamic package that helps to differentiate it from other Focus models. The RS is capable of accelerating to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 4.7 seconds. Sales finally started in mid 2016, with long waiting lists having been created, though Ford did eventually catch up with expanded production levels allowing them to meet the demand. There were a number of them here, including two of the rare limited edition red-painted cars.
The Honda Concerto is an automobile co-developed by Honda and the Austin Rover Group. Based on the fourth generation (ED, EE, EF) Honda Civic it was introduced in Japan on 15 June 1988, while the British-built European-market version was introduced in October 1989. The production lasted until October 1992 in Japan and 1994 in England. Named for the musical composition, and primarily designed for European tastes, the Concerto was the successor to the second generation Honda Ballade (which was a higher specification third generation Civic sedan), and the Honda Integra which was discontinued for the European Market owing to its unpopularity. All Japanese versions were exclusive to Japanese Honda dealerships called Honda Clio. The Concerto was sold in both liftback and sedan and built in two locations, Austin Rover’s Longbridge plant for the European market, and by Honda in Suzuka, Mie, Japan. One difference between the British-built and Japanese-built Concertos was in the front suspension – versions built in Longbridge had MacPherson struts, unlike their Japanese counterparts which had double wishbones. Although Japanese production began in June 1988, European deliveries only really began after British Concerto production commenced at the end of 1989. The Europe-only models, such as the 1.4, were presented in October 1989. In some European countries (e.g. Germany and Switzerland) and Australia, it was sold as the five-door liftback version only. It acted as replacement for the disappointing Honda Integra five-door liftback in some markets. The sedan version lasted until 1993 for most nations, especially in the United Kingdom where sales were lower compared to the Rover 200 and Rover 400 Series, which was considered the more upmarket of the two vehicles. A wide variety of engines were available, though these were selected for each market. The UK initially saw a 1.4 litre twin carb 88PS unit and a 1.6 litre twin cam injected 130 bhp engine, though the samller of these was upgraded to a 1.5 litre injected unit towards the end of the model’s life. Four-wheel drive was an option for the four-door sedan in Japan, a system later shared with the Civic-based compact SUV, the Honda CR-V. The Japanese range received a facelift in February 1991, when the twin-cam ZC engine was also added to the JZ-Si model. The Concerto was sold internationally on a platform which was shared with the popular Civic. Just like the five-door Integra it replaced, it offered more features than the Civic and was aimed at a more prestigious section of the market. The styling of the Concerto reflected an influence from the Honda Ascot, most notably the six-light window treatment of the greenhouse. Honda stopped manufacturing the Concerto in Great Britain when its partner, Rover, was taken over by BMW in 1994. Until that point the two companies had been merged up to 20% equally with each other and had collaborated with this model and many others in both companies ranges. The Concerto sedan was replaced by the Honda Domani in Japan and by the sedan version of the sixth generation (EK, EJ) Honda Civic in other markets. The hatchback version was replaced in Europe by the Domani-based 5 door Civic hatchback which was quite different from the rest of the sixth generation Civic range instead, as with the Domani, being based on the platform that underpinned the fifth generation (EG, EH) Civics. The Concerto hatchback was not replaced in other markets. The Domani/5 door Civic hatchback formed the basis for the 1995 Rover 400 while the 1995 Rover 200 was based on the fourth generation Honda Civic platform, and therefore the Concerto’s too.
The International K and KB series are trucks that were produced by International Harvester, the first being the K introduced in mid 1940. In total there were 42 models, 142 different wheelbase lengths and load ratings ranging from 1/2 ton to 90,000 lbs. They are best known for their durability, prewar design in a postwar era, and low price. The followup to the K, the KB, was introduced in 1947, with the characteristic difference being a widened lower grill appearing like “wings”. Between 1947 and 1949 122,000 KB-1 and KB-2 trucks were sold. The KB series was subsequently replaced by the L series. The K models progress from 1 to 14 based upon the load capacity (K1 = half ton, K2 = 3/4 ton, K3 = 1 ton, etc.). There are no K-9 or K-13 model trucks. Few differences exist between K-1 and K-2 models as they share most of their mechanical and chassis components. The rear axles in these two models are supported by a single roller bearing. Their differences in load rating are due to the K-2’s stronger suspension. The K-3 has a heavier frame, larger brakes, and rear axles supported by two roller bearings on a free floating rear end. The heavier duty K-4 has artillery-style wheels. Thee heavy duty K6 and larger use a centre hinged butterfly hood rather than the rear hinged hood of the smaller trucks. K6 and K7 share the same hood, fenders, and grill and use the smaller Blue Diamond engines. K8 to K11 have a larger hood, fenders, and grill with fewer, but wider, grill bars. They use the larger FAB, Red, or RD series engines depending upon model year. K12 has a longer hood to accommodate the larger Continental engine. They can either have the rounded nose common to the KB8 and larger or a flat nose grill. K14 has flat top fenders rather than the rounded top of the smaller sizes. The style of the truck involved headlamps that were integrated into the fenders. The hood opens alligator style. Heavy duty models (K6 and above) carried over the D-series cab and high crowned fenders. For the KB-1 thru KB-5, chrome “wings” were added on the sides of the grill, a wrap-around chrome piece on the front hood, a hood ornament and chrome lettering indicating the model designation below the International nameplate on each side of the hood. For the KB-6 and larger trucks, the only external changes were that the Triple Diamond badge was moved to the top of the grille chrome-work, and the model designations were added to the hood-side chrome trim. The range was replaced by the L Series in 1947.
It is only when you see this Gladiator Rubicon for real that you can appreciate just how big it is. I always thought of Jeep Wranglers as being not that large, but with its extended wheelbase, dual cab and long load bay this one certainly is.
I did think to include a couple of pictures of my own Ghibli from this visit, even though it has been getting steadily grubbier with each of these October visits. The worst of the grime is not that evident in these shots.
Another late arrival, parked up next to that distinctive Aston was this equally striking McLaren 600LT. In June 2018, McLaren unveiled the top-of-the-line sports series variant online. The car, called the 600LT is based on the 570S and is the third McLaren production car to receive the longtail treatment. Inspired by the 675LT and the F1 GTR Longtail, the body of the car has been extended by 73.7 mm (2.9 in). The car also features enhanced aerodynamic elements such as an extended front splitter and rear diffuser, new side sills, and an aero-enhancing fixed rear wing for increased downforce. McLaren claims that 23% parts on the 600LT are new as compared to the 570S. The carbon fibre monocoque utilised in the 600LT is modified and this combined with the extensive use of carbon fibre in the roof along with the cantrails and front fenders, results in a weight saving of 96 kg (212 lb) over the 570S, with the total weight amounting to 1,247 kg (2,749 lb). Another distinguishing feature of the 600LT is the lightweight titanium exhaust system which is mounted on top of the rear of the car which harks back to its original application in the Senna. The interior features sports bucket seats from the P1 and Alcantara trim but can be optioned with the much lighter bucket seats found in the Senna. The 3.8-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine utilised in the 600LT is tuned to produce a maximum power output of 600 PS (592 hp) (hence the 600 in the name) and 620 N⋅m (457 lb⋅ft) of torque, achieving a power-to-weight ratio of 479 PS per tonne. Performance figures and production numbers of the car remain unknown. Production of the 600LT started in October 2018. A Spider version joined the fixed-roof model in January 2019.
As MINI looked to increase the range of products they offered, two new bodystyles were added to the range in 2011, the Coupé and the Roadster,both of them two-seater models. The hardtop Coupé was unveiled in June 2011 and formally launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September 2011. Production was shown in the 2011 documentary Megafactories. It was the first two-seater Mini and was joined by a convertible version called Mini Roadster in 2012, following its showing as a concept car in 2009. The Coupé is known by the internal code R58 and the Roadster by code R59. The Coupé (Coupe in the US), which went on sale in the UK from 1 October 2011, is based on the Mini Cabriolet, but with only two seats allowing a bigger boot of 280 litres (9.9 cubic feet). The Coupé’s windscreen is angled rearwards by 13 degrees more than in the cabrio’s and the roof is 29 mm (1.1 inches) lower than standard Mini Hatch. The rear spoiler rises automatically at speeds above 50 mph or with the use a toggle switch above the rear view mirror. The range of the Coupé follows a similar pattern to other Mini models; featuring Cooper, Cooper S, Cooper SD and the range-topping John Cooper Works (JCW). The JCW version accelerates from 0 to 62 mph (0 to 100 km/h) in 6.4 seconds and a top speed of 149 mph (240 km/h) thanks to a turbocharged 208 bhp 1598 cc four-cylinder. The Cooper SD is a 2.0 L turbo diesel producing 141 bhp available in some markets. All are equipped with a six-speed manual gearbox with the option of automatic on all but the JCW. The styling, which MINI said was supposed to look like a baseball cap being worn backwards (!), attracted lots of comment, and little of favourable. Sales were low so it was no surprise that In February 2015 Mini announced the end of production for both models. There has been no suggestion that the style will be repeated.
There two examples of the latest GP, or more properly the MINI JCW GP here. Launched at the 2019 Los Angeles Auto Show, this is the brand’s fastest street-legal car ever and the most powerful in the subcompact hatchback class. Packing a 301 bhp and 332 lb-ft (450 Nm) of torque, 2.0-litre TwinPower Turbo four, it has the ability to make your neck stiff in a fraction of a second. Nought to 62 mph (0-100 km/h) is dealt with in 5.2 seconds and the ungoverned top speed is 165 mph (265 km/h). Power is sent to the front wheels via an 8-speed Steptronic transmission with integrated differential lock. Peel away the bad-boy body kit and you will see lots of similarities to the regular Cooper S JCW. Nonetheless, the added parts contribute to the theatrical presence of the car and include CFRP fender flares that extend to the front and rear bumpers, as well as a huge roof-mounted wing, restyled diffuser that incorporates the central-mounted exhaust pipes, GP badging on the grille and tailgate, red accents and 18-inch alloy wheels shod in 225/35 Hankook tyres. Moreover, the ‘2020’ number applied to the front wheel arch panel is individual to each car, as it symbolises the production number and was applied using a newly developed paint transfer process. The JCW GP is strictly a two-seater, as MINI has dropped the back seat to make room for the roll cage. At the front, it has bucket seats with contrast stitching and GP badge underneath the integrated headrests, red seatbelts, another custom ‘GPXXXX’ logo incorporated into the dashboard on the passenger side and 12 o’clock mark on the meaty steering wheel, with 3D printed paddle shifters. More GP logos are found throughout the interior and the gear selector boasts double red stripes. The equipment list is generous and includes an infotainment system, digital instrument dials and dual-zone climate control, alongside the usual fancy lighting and trim. Production is limited to 3,000 units worldwide. Deliveries started in the spring, following what can only be described as rather luke-warm press reviews.
The long-running 370Z was here in both standard and Nismo guises.
Perhaps the best loved of all Peugeot models is the 205 GTi, and there was one of these here. Peugeot launched their new “supermini”, the 205 in January 1983, just one day after Fiat had presented the Uno, one of the car’s principal rivals. It was an immediate hit, with smart styling and a range of engines which combined with sharp handling made it good to drive. Mindful of the success of the Golf GTi, in the class above, and how a small car with good handling could take more power, as the Mini Cooper had proved, Peugeot came up with the GTi in early 1984. The first models had a 1.6 litre XU5J engine, producing 105 PS, which was uprated in 1987 with a cylinder head with larger valves thus becoming XU5JA, which took the power output up to 115 bhp. Visually the car retained the good looks of the 3 door version of the regular models, but it featured plastic wheel arch extensions and trim, beefier front and rear bumper valances and judicious use of red badging and trim. The shell also underwent some minor changes, including larger wheel arches (to suit the larger wheels , and the suspension was redesigned and sat lower on the GTI with stiffer springs, different wishbones and a drop-linked anti-roll bar. Red was a dominant colour inside. The car was an instant hit. At the end of 1986, Peugeot followed up with a more potent model, the 1.9 GTi, whose XU9JA engine produced 128 PS. Internally the engine of this car and the 1.6 model are very similar, the main differences on 1.9 litre versions being the longer stroke, oil cooler, and some parts of the fuel injection system. The shorter stroke 1.6 litre engine is famed for being revvy and eager, while the 1.9 litre feels lazier and torquier. Outside the engine bay the main differences between the 1.6 GTi and the 1.9 GTi are half-leather seats on the 1.9 GTi vs. cloth seats and disc brakes all-round (1.9 GTi) vs. discs at the front and drum brakes at the back; as well as the 14-inch Speedline SL201 wheels on the 1.6 GTi vs. 15 inch Speedline SL299 alloys on the 1.9 GTi. The 205 is still often treated as a benchmark in group car tests of the newest GTI models or equivalent. Peugeot itself has never truly recreated this success in future GTI models, although they came very close with the highly regarded GTI-6 variant of the Peugeot 306.
Several Porsche were here, as always seems to be the case, with a mixture of Boxster and Cayman and a 991.2 cars being captured by the camera.
A number of GTi-badged VWs caught my attention, with both Golf and Polo featuring, the former in its third generation, a car not generally seen as the highlight of the model!
Rather rarer is the Golf GTi G60. This was created in 1988 by putting the 160 bhp supercharged engine that was used in the Corrado into the Golf GTi. It was produced until 1990 and sold in relatively small numbers. A much more exclusive G60 Limited was produced in 1990, of which only 57 examples were made. This one generated a healthy 210 bhp.
I enjoyed all these visits. I had been hoping there would be more before 2020 reaches its conclusion. but with Lockdown 2.0 forcing Caffeine & Machine to close its doors again for the month of November, re-emerging in a Tier 3 locale on 2nd December, and the area where I live being declared as Tier 3, it would seem unlikely. But I can be sure that just soon as I can, I will be back at Caffeine & Machine, eager to enjoy the unpredictable array of interesting cars that show up and the special ambience of this appealing venue.