Some years ago the Italian Auto Moto Club held their early Autumn meet on the quayside of Gloucester Docks. Sadly I was unable to attend as I was already committed to another event elsewhere in the country, but when I saw the pictures, it was clear that this was a spectacular setting, with views of the waterfront and the restored bonded warehouses complementing an array of fine Italian machinery very nicely. It was an obvious venue that it would be nice to be able to use again, and the chance came with news that agreement had been reached with the Mayor’s office to include an Italian car feature in the “Gloucester Goes Retro” event, and that the Italian Cars had been allocated to the Dock area. I found out that the overall event had run a couple of times before, with the four main streets – the four Gates, named after the points of the compass in which they head from The Cross in the centre of the city – closed to through traffic so that they could accommodate display cars. What promised to be an entertaining and pretty local day for me was further improved by the fact that the sun shone and only a few passing clouds broke up the otherwise blue skies. Held on the Saturday of the late August Holiday weekend, it was no surprise to find that turnout was massive, with throngs of spectators, some who had probably just come to go shopping but plenty of whom had come because they knew that for once the centre of Gloucester really would be worth a visit.
THE DOCKS – ITALIAN CARS
As I had offered to be an event marshall, the first couple of hours were spent parking up the array of Italian cars that had booed. With finite space, it was necessary to be quite firm with anyone who turned up with a reservation, and others had the thankless task of turning the way. My job was to try to get all the booked cars into the available space, and as the morning passed by and yet more cars arrived it looked as it we might struggle, but in the end, everything fitted, Just! With the exception of a long line of Abarths along the water side, everything else had to be parked more or less in the sequence in which it arrived, which led to a varied display. In between directing drivers, I was able to grab some of my photos before the crowds arrived to throng around the cars, and by mid morning with everyone in, I could then take a proper look.
The majority of the large number of Abarths booked into the event were from the 500/595 family, with no two the same. Cars here ranged from some of the early cars from the 2009 UK launch when there was but one model, upgradeable to the Esseesse with a dealer fitted kit that came in a large wooden chest, and the choice of colours was quite limited, through to the array of Series 4 cars that are still in production, with a number of subtly different versions included in the range.
A limited edition model, the 695 XSR was created in recognition of the fact that for the third year running, in 2017 Abarth was to be the Official Sponsor and Official Car Supplier of the Yamaha Factory Racing Team, competing in the 2017 FIM MotoGP World Championship. In the wake of the Abarth 595 Yamaha Factory Racing and the 695 biposto Yamaha Factory Racing Edition, the 695 XSR Yamaha Limited Edition special series is available exclusively with a Pista Grey livery: only 695 sedans and 695 convertibles will be made. The new car was created to celebrate the Yamaha XSR900 Abarth, which is the first exclusive motorcycle to spring from the collaboration between the two brands and which sports the same grey livery with red trim as the 695 XSR, as well as sharing many of its features. The special series makes extensive use of carbon fibre to demonstrate its affinity with the front fairing, front mudguard and saddle cover of the two-wheel Yamaha. The Abarth 695 XSR and the Yamaha XSR900 Abarth also share Akrapovič ultralight exhaust developed in the racing world to boost the personality, sound and performance of both vehicles. On the Abarth car, the carbon fibre tailpipes enhance the looks and technology of the exhaust system. The XSR logo on the tailgate distinguishes the Abarth 695 XSR, while an aluminium badge identifies the sequential number of 695 units for each body type. Other carbon fibre details, in addition to the mirror caps and Akrapovič tailpipes, are available as optional equipment, such as dashboard fascia, pedal covers, gear knob and kick plate. The car uses the 1.4 T-Jet engine delivering 165 bhp. Equipment on this special series includes Koni rear suspension and Eibach springs, 17” Supersport alloy rims with Matt Black finish, Satin Chrome accents on handles and badge supports, red details on bumpers and mirrors, red brake callipers and a braking system with perforated discs. This version can be customised even further using the tuning kit to increase the power to 180 HP, improve handling by fitting a Koni front suspension with FSD (Frequency Selective Damping) valve and make braking even prompter with 305x28mm perforated and self-ventilating Brembo floating front discs with high-performance Ferodo HP 1000/1 front brake pads. It also features the new UconnectTM 7″ HD LIVE system integrated with Apple CarPlay allows iPhone users to access contents such as Apple Maps, Messages, telephone calls, Apple Music, also with Siri voice assistance.
Also a limited production model, this is the slightly confusingly badged Fiat-Abarth 595 50th Anniversary. This was unveiled at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show, as a limited production car of which just 299 vehicles would be made commemorating the 50th anniversary of the original Fiat-Abarth 595. As that original car had been badged a Fiat, so was this one, which confused everyone who had been trying to explain how Abarth is a separate company. The UK cars listed at around £29,000 so not cheap, but for that money you got the 180 PS 1.4 T-Jet engine, Abarth Competizione gearbox, 17-inch alloy wheels with 695 Magnesio Grey design embellished and red liner, Brembo 305 mm floating brake discs, fixed four-piston caliper, special shock absorbers, ‘Record Monza’ variable back-pressure dual mode exhaust, matt three-layer white body colour, Xenon headlights with dipped and driving light functions, red leather sports seats with white inserts and red stitching, Abarth logo at black leather steering wheel with red inserts and finder and the kick plate.
Latest addition to the range is a new 595 Esseesse, which is based on the Competizione, but includes a limited slip differential and iconic white wheels as well as a few other trim differences and an Akarpovic exhaust system. Not exactly cheap, this is still a desirable range-topper.
The Abarth Grande Punto debuted at the 2007 Frankfurt IAA Show, going on sale in the UK in late summer of 2008. Offering 155 bhp from its 1.4 litre T-Jet engine, coupled to a six speed gearbox, and riding on 45 profile 17″ alloys, the standard car got rave reviews from the journalists when they first tried it, and they were even more impressed by the changes wrought by the optional Esseesse kit. This increased power to 177 bhp, brought 18″ OZ lower profile wheels, whilst new springs lowered the ride height by 15-20mm, and high-performance front brake pads and cross-drilled front disc brakes helped the car to stop more quickly. The most distinctive feature of the car were the white alloy wheels, though, as owners found, keeping these clean is not a job for the uncommitted, and many have a second set of wheels that they use for grubbier conditions. Despite the positive press at launch, the car entered a very competitive sector of the market, and the combination of being relatively unknown, a limited number of dealers and the existence of established rivals from Renault and others meant that this always remained a left-field choice. The owners loved them, though, and they still do. The oldest cars have now had their 10th birthdays, and some have amassed relatively big mileages, but they are still a car for the cognoscenti.
The Punto Evo was launched at the 2010 Geneva Show, with the cars reaching UK buyers in the summer of that year, and it incorporated many of the changes which had been seen a few months earlier on the associated Fiat models, the visual alterations being the most obvious, with the car taking on the nose of the associated Fiat, but adapted to make it distinctively Abarth, new rear lights and new badging. There was more to it than this, though, as under the bonnet, the T-Jet unit was swapped for the 1.4 litre Multi-Air, coupled to a 6 speed gearbox, which meant that the car now had 165 bhp at its disposal. Eventually, Abarth offered an Esseesse kit for these cars, though these are exceedingly rare. Part of the Punto Evo family is the SuperSport, usually identified by the distinctive black bonnet, though not all cars feature it. Just 199 of the SuperSport versions were built, of which around 120 are registered on UK roads. These cars had many of the options from the Punto Evo included as standard. Power came from the the 1.4-litre MultiAir turbo engine, tuned to produce 178bhp and 199lb ft of torque, up from 165 of the standard Punto Evo, giving the SuperSport a 0-62 time of 7.5 seconds and a top speed of over 132mph. To help put the power down, the SuperSport was fitted with wider 18″ wheels and optional Koni FSD dampers. Standard equipment included the Blue&Me infotainment system with steering wheel controls, automatic climate control and a popular option was the ‘Abarth Corsa by Sabelt’ sports leather seats. The SuperSport was available in the same colours as the regular Punto Evo, which means white, grey, black and red.
There were perhaps fewer Alfa Romeo models here than you might expect, but there was nice variety that were here. Oldest of these were a number of the 105 Series cars, starting with the Coupe model. The first car was called the Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GT, and was revealed at a press event held at the then newly opened Arese plant on 9 September 1963, and displayed later the same month at the Frankfurt Motor Show. In its original form the Bertone body is known as scalino (step) or “step front”, because of the leading edge of the engine compartment lid which sat 1/4 an inch above the nose of the car. The Giulia Sprint GT can be distinguished from the later models by a number of features including: Exterior badging: Alfa Romeo logo on the front grille, a chrome script reading “Giulia Sprint GT” on the boot lid, and rectangular “Disegno di Bertone” badges aft of the front wheel arches; flat, chrome grille in plain, wide rectangular mesh without additional chrome bars; single-piece chrome bumpers; no overriders. Inside the cabin the padded vinyl dashboard was characterised by a concave horizontal fascia, finished in grey anti-glare crackle-effect paint. Four round instruments were inset in the fascia in front of the driver. The steering wheel was non-dished, with three aluminium spokes, a thin bakelite rim and a centre horn button. Vinyl-covered seats with cloth centres and a fully carpeted floor were standard, while leather upholstery was an extra-cost option. After initially marketing it as a four-seater, Alfa Romeo soon changed its definition of the car to a more realistic 2+2. The Giulia Sprint GT was fitted with the 1,570 cc version of Alfa Romeo’s all-aluminium twin cam inline four (78 mm bore × 82 mm stroke), which had first debuted on the 1962 Giulia Berlina. Breathing through two twin-choke Weber 40 DCOE 4 carburettors, on the Sprint GT this engine produced 105 hp at 6,000 rpm. Like all subsequent models, the Sprint GT was equipped with an all-synchromesh 5-speed manual transmission. The braking system comprised four Dunlop disc brakes and a vacuum servo. The rear brakes featured an unusual arrangement with the slave cylinders mounted on the axle tubes, operating the calipers by a system of levers and cranks. According to Alfa Romeo the car could reach a top speed of “over 180 km/h (112 mph)”. In total 21,902 Giulia Sprint GT were produced from 1963 to 1965, when the model was superseded by the Giulia Sprint GT Veloce. Of these 2,274 were right hand drive: 1,354 cars fully finished in Arese, and 920 shipped in complete knock-down kit form for foreign assembly. For 1966, the Giulia Sprint GT was replaced by the Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GT Veloce, which was very similar but featuring a number of improvements: a revised engine—slightly more powerful and with more torque—better interior fittings and changes to the exterior trim. Alongside the brand new 1750 Spider Veloce which shared its updated engine the Sprint GT Veloce was introduced at the 36th Geneva Motor Show in March 1966, and then tested by the international specialist press in Gardone on the Garda Lake. Production had began in 1965 and ended in 1968. The Giulia Sprint GT Veloce can be most easily distinguished from other models by the following features: badging as per Giulia Sprint GT, with the addition of round enamel badges on the C-pillar—a green Quadrifoglio (four-leaf clover) on an ivory background—and a chrome “Veloce” script on the tail panel; black mesh grille with three horizontal chrome bars; the grille heart has 7 bars instead of 6; stainless steel bumpers, as opposed to the chromed mild steel bumpers on the Giulia Sprint GT. The bumpers are the same shape, but are made in two pieces (front) and three pieces (rear) with small covers hiding the joining rivets. Inside the main changes from the Giulia Sprint GT were imitation wood dashboard fascia instead of the previous anti-glare grey finish, front seats revised to a mild “bucket” design, and a dished three aluminium spoke steering wheel, with a black rim and horn buttons through the spokes. The Veloce’s type 00536 engine, identical to the Spider 1600 Duetto’s, featured modifications compared to the Giulia Sprint GT’s type 00502—such as larger diameter exhaust valves. As a result it produced 108 hp at 6,000 rpm, an increase of 3 hp over the previous model, and significantly more torque. The top speed now exceeded 185 km/h (115 mph). Early Giulia Sprint GT Veloces featured the same Dunlop disc brake system as the Giulia Sprint GT, while later cars substituted ATE disc brakes as pioneered on the GT 1300 Junior in 1966. The ATE brakes featured an handbrake system entirely separate from the pedal brakes, using drum brakes incorporated in the rear disc castings. Though the Sprint GT Veloce’s replacement—the 1750 GT Veloce—was introduced in 1967, production continued throughout the year and thirty final cars were completed in 1968. By then total Giulia Sprint GT Veloce production amounted to 14,240 examples. 1,407 of these were right hand drive cars, and 332 right hand drive complete knock-down kits. The Alfa Romeo 1750 GT Veloce (also known as 1750 GTV) appeared in 1967 along with the 1750 Berlina sedan and 1750 Spider. The same type of engine was used to power all three versions; this rationalisation was a first for Alfa Romeo. The 1750 GTV replaced the Giulia Sprint GT Veloce and introduced many updates and modifications. Most significantly, the engine capacity was increased to 1779 cc displacement. Peak power from the engine was increased to 120 hp at 5500 rpm. The stroke was lengthened from 82 to 88.5 mm over the 1600 engine, and a reduced rev limit from 7000 rpm to 6000 rpm. Maximum torque was increased to 137 lb·ft at 3000 rpm. A higher ratio final drive was fitted (10/41 instead of 9/41) but the same gearbox ratios were retained. The result was that, on paper, the car had only slightly improved performance compared to the Giulia Sprint GT Veloce, but on the road it was much more flexible to drive and it was easier to maintain higher average speeds for fast touring. For the United States market, the 1779 cc engine was fitted with a fuel injection system made by Alfa Romeo subsidiary SPICA, to meet emission control laws that were coming into effect at the time. Fuel injection was also featured on Canadian market cars after 1971. Carburettors were retained for other markets. The chassis was also significantly modified. Tyre size went to 165/14 from 155/15 and wheel size to 5 1/2J x 14 instead of 5J x 15, giving a wider section and slightly smaller rolling diameter. The suspension geometry was also revised, and an anti-roll bar was fitted to the rear suspension. ATE disc brakes were fitted from the outset, but with bigger front discs and calipers than the ones fitted to GT 1300 Juniors and late Giulia Sprint GT Veloces. The changes resulted in significant improvements to the handling and braking, which once again made it easier for the driver to maintain high average speeds for fast touring. The 1750 GTV also departed significantly from the earlier cars externally. New nose styling eliminated the “stepped” bonnet of the Giulia Sprint GT, GTC, GTA and early GT 1300 Juniors and incorporated four headlamps. For the 1971 model year, United States market 1750 GTV’s also featured larger rear light clusters (there were no 1970 model year Alfas on the US market). Besides the chrome “1750” badge on the bootlid, there was also a round Alfa Romeo badge. Similar Quadrofoglio badges to those on the Giulia Sprint GT Veloce were fitted on C pillars, but the Quadrofoglio was coloured gold instead of green. The car also adopted the higher rear wheelarches first seen on the GT 1300 Junior. The interior was also much modified over that of earlier cars. There was a new dashboard with large speedometer and tachometer instruments in twin binnacles closer to the driver’s line of sight. The instruments were mounted at a more conventional angle, avoiding the reflections caused by the upward angled flat dash of earlier cars. Conversely, auxiliary instruments were moved to angled bezels in the centre console, further from the driver’s line of sight than before. The new seats introduced adjustable headrests which merged with the top of the seat when fully down. The window winder levers, the door release levers and the quarterlight vent knobs were also restyled. The remote release for the boot lid, located on the inside of the door opening on the B-post just under the door lock striker, was moved from the right hand side of the car to the left hand side. The location of this item was always independent of whether the car was left hand drive or right hand drive. Early (Series 1) 1750 GTV’s featured the same bumpers as the Giulia Sprint GT Veloce, with the front bumper modified to mount the indicator / sidelight units on the top of its corners, or under the bumper on US market cars. The Series 2 1750 GTV of 1970 introduced other mechanical changes, including a dual circuit braking system (split front and rear, with separate servos). The brake and clutch pedals on left hand drive cars were also of an improved pendant design, instead of the earlier floor-hinged type. On right hand drive cars the floor-hinged pedals were retained, as there was no space for the pedal box behind the carburettors. Externally, the series 2 1750 GTV is identified by new, slimmer bumpers with front and rear overriders. The combined front indicator and sidelight units were now mounted to the front panel instead of the front bumper, except again on the 1971-72 US/Canadian market cars. The interior was slightly modified, with the seats retaining the same basic outline but following a simpler design. 44,269 1750 GTVs were made before their replacement came along. That car was the 2000GTV. Introduced in 1971, together with the 2000 Berlina sedan and 2000 Spider, the 2 litre cars were replacements for the 1750 range. The engine displacement was increased to 1962 cc. Oil and radiator capacities remained unchanged. The North American market cars had fuel injection, but everyone else retained carburettors. Officially, both versions generated the same power, 130 hp at 5500 rpm. The interior trim was changed, with the most notable differences being the introduction of a separate instrument cluster, instead of the gauges installed in the dash panel in earlier cars. Externally the 2000 GTV is most easily distinguished by its grille with horizontal chrome bars, featuring protruding blocks forming the familiar Alfa heart in outline, smaller hubcaps with exposed wheel nuts, optional aluminium alloy wheels of the same size as the standard 5. 1/2J × 14 steel items, styled to the “turbina” design first seen on the alloy wheels of the Alfa Romeo Montreal, and the larger rear light clusters first fitted to United States market 1750 GTV’s were standard for all markets. From 1974 on, the 105 Series coupé models were rationalised and these external features became common to post-1974 GT 1300 Junior and GT 1600 Junior models, with only few distinguishing features marking the difference between models. 37,459 2000 GTVs were made before production ended and these days they are very sought after with prices having sky-rocketed in recent years.
Alfa replaced the Giulia-based Spider model with an all-new design which finally made its debut in 1966 together with the Giulia Sprint GT Veloce at an event organised in Gardone Riviera. With its boat tailed styling, it quickly found favour, even before taking a starring role in the film “The Graduate”. The original 1600cc engine was replaced by a more powerful 1750cc unit at the same time as the change was made to the rest of the range, and the car continued like this until 1970, when the first significant change to the exterior styling was introduced on the 1750 Spider Veloce, with the original’s distinctive elongated round tail changed to a more conventional cut-off tail, called the “Kamm tail”, as well as improving the luggage space. Numerous other small changes took place both inside and out, such as a slightly different grille, new doorhandles, a more raked windscreen, top-hinged pedals and improved interior trim. 1971 saw the Spider Veloce get a new, larger powerplant—a 1962 cc, 132 hp unit—and consequently the name was changed from 1750 Spider Veloce to 2000 Spider Veloce. The 1600 Spider restarted production a year later as the Spider 1600 Junior, and was visually identical to the 1300. 1974 saw the introduction of the rare, factory request, Spider-Targa. Based upon the Spider, it featured a Porsche style solid rear window and lift out roof panels, all made out of black GRP type material. Less than 2,000 models of such type were ever made and was the only part solid roof Spider until the introduction of the factory crafted hard top. The 1300 and 2000 cars were modified in 1974 and 1975 respectively to include two small seats behind the front seats, becoming a “two plus two” four seater. The 1300 model was discontinued in 1977. Also, between 1974 and 1976, the early-style stainless-steel bumpers were discontinued and replaced with black, rubber-clad units to meet increasingly stringent North American crash requirements. 4,557 examples of the 1300 Junior were made and 4,848 of the 1600 Junior as well as 16,320 2000 Spider Veloces and 22,059 of 2000 Spider Veloce US version. There were also 4,027 1750 Spider Veloces produced. Although demand for the car in Europe dropped in the 1980s, it remained popular in the US, which meant that Alfa not only kept the car in production, but also updated a couple more times. The S4 marked the final major change to the long running Spider when it came out in 1990. Mechanically, the biggest different was the use of Bosch Motronic electronic fuel injection with an electric fan. Externally, the Spider lost its front under-bumper spoiler and the rather ungainly rear boot spoiler of the S3, and picked up 164-style rear lights stretching across the width of the car as well as plastic bumpers the same colour as the car. This also marked the first generation of the car with automatic transmission, as well as on-board diagnostics capabilities. The car had remained in production largely thanks to continued demand in North America, though this market had to wait until 1991 for the changes to appear on their cars. European markets were offered a car with a 1600cc engine and carburettors as well as the 2 litre injected unit. As with the earlier S3, the car was not sold new in the UK by Alfa Romeo, but a number of them were imported at the time, and more have found their way to the UK since. Some have been converted to right hand drive, which makes the car more usable in the UK. Production finally ended in 1993, with an all new model, the 916 Series Spider appearing a year later.
It was nice to see a couple of examples of the AlfaSud here, the older of the two having appeared at MITCAR back in 2018 and a number of events during 2019 and being joined by a Series 3 Ti. These characterful small cars evoke a very positive reaction, with many people wistfully recollecting one that they, or their parents, owned back in the 1970s, but observing that the car, whilst divine to drive, simply rusted away almost before your very eyes. There are a lot more of these cars left in the UK than you might imagine, but most of them are on SORN, needing massive restorations that may or may not ever happen. That should not detract from the splendour of the models on show at this event. Alfa Romeo had explored building a smaller front wheel drive car in the 1950s but it was not until 1967 that firm plans were laid down for an all-new model to fit in below the existing Alfa Romeo range. It was developed by Austrian Rudolf Hruska, who created a unique engineering package, clothed in a body styled by Giorgetto Giugiaro of ItalDesign. The car was built at a new factory at Pomigliano d’Arco in southern Italy, hence the car’s name, Alfa Sud (Alfa South). January 18, 1968, saw the registration at Naples of a new company named “Industria Napoletana Costruzioni Autoveicoli Alfa Romeo-Alfasud S.p.A.”. 90% of the share capital was subscribed by Alfa Romeo and 10% by Finmeccanica, at that time the financial arm of the government controlled IRI. Construction work on the company’s new state sponsored plant at nearby Pomigliano d’Arco began in April 1968, on the site of an aircraft engine factory used by Alfa Romeo during the war. The Alfasud was shown at the Turin Motor Show three years later in 1971 and was immediately praised by journalists for its styling. The four-door saloon featured an 1,186 cc Boxer water-cooled engine with a belt-driven overhead camshaft on each cylinder head. It also featured an elaborate suspension setup for a car in its class (MacPherson struts at the front and a beam axle with Watt’s linkage at the rear). Other unusual features for this size of car were four-wheel disc brakes (with the front ones being inboard) and rack and pinion steering. The engine design allowed the Alfasud a low bonnet line, making it very aerodynamic (for its day), and in addition gave it a low centre of gravity. As a result of these design features, the car had excellent performance for its engine size, and levels of roadholding and handling that would not be equaled in its class for another ten years. Despite its two-box shape, the Alfasud did not initially have a hatchback. Some of the controls were unorthodox, the lights, turn indicators, horn, wipers and heater fan all being operated by pulling, turning or pushing the two column stalks. In November 1973 the first sport model joined the range, the two-door Alfasud ti—(Turismo Internazionale, or Touring International).Along with a 5-speed gearbox, it featured a more powerful version of the 1.2 engine, brought to 67 hp by adopting a Weber twin-choke carburettor; the small saloon could reach 160 km/h. Quad round halogen headlamps, special wheels, a front body-colour spoiler beneath the bumper and rear black one around the tail distinguished the “ti”, while inside there were a three-spoke steering wheel, auxiliary gauges, leatherette/cloth seats, and carpets in place of rubber mats. In 1974, Alfa Romeo launched a more upscale model, the Alfasud SE. The SE was replaced by the Alfasud L (Lusso) model introduced at the Bruxelles Motor Show in January 1975. Recognisable by its bumper overriders and chrome strips on the door sills and on the tail, the Lusso was better appointed than the standard Alfasud (now known as “normale”), with such features as cloth upholstery, headrests, padded dashboard with glove compartment and optional tachometer. A three-door estate model called the Alfasud Giardinetta was introduced in May 1975. It had the same equipment of the Alfasud “L”. It was never sold in the UK and these models are particularly rare now. The Lusso model was produced until 1976, by then it was replaced with the new Alfasud 5m (5 marce, five speed) model, the first four-door Alfasud with a five-speed gearbox. Presented at the March 1976 Geneva Motor Show, it was equipped like the Lusso it replaced. In late 1977 the Alfasud Super replaced the range topping four-door “5m”; it was available with both the 1.2- and 1.3-litre engines from the “ti”, though both equipped with a single-choke carburettor.The Super introduced improvements both outside, with new bumpers including large plastic strips, and inside, with a revised dashboard, new door cards and two-tone cloth seats. Similar upgrades were applied to the Giardinetta. In May 1978 the Sprint and “ti” got new engines, a 78 hp 1.3 (1,350 cc) and a 84 hp 1.5 (1,490 cc), both with a twin-choke carburettor. At the same time the Alfasud ti received cosmetic updates (bumpers from the Super, new rear spoiler on the boot lid, black wheel arch extensions and black front spoiler) and was upgraded to the revised interior of the Super. The 1.3 and 1.5 engines were soon made available alongside the 1.2 on the Giardinetta and Super, with a slightly lower output compared to the sport models due to a single-choke carburettor. All Alfasuds were upgraded in 1980 with plastic bumpers, new instrument panel, headlamps and rear lights as well as other revisions. The Ti version was now fitted with a twin-carburettor version of the 1490 cc engine that had been fitted to the Sprint the previous year, developing 95 bhp A three-door hatchback was added to the range in 1981 in either SC or Ti trim and the two-door Ti and Giardinetta were deleted from most markets around this time. Belatedly in 1982 the four-door cars were replaced by five-door versions as by now, most of its competitors were producing a hatchback of this size, although some also produced a saloon alternative. The range was topped by the five-door Gold Cloverleaf, featuring the 94 hp engine from the Ti and enhanced interior trim. In 1983 an attempt to keep pace with the hot hatchback market, the final version of the Alfasud Ti received a tuned 1490 cc engine developing 105 PS Now named Quadrifoglio Verde (Green Cloverleaf) this model was also fitted with Michelin low profile TRX tyres on metric rims as well as an enhanced level of equipment. The five-door Alfasud saloons were replaced by the 33 models in 1983. The 33 was an evolution of the AlfaSud’s floorpan and running gear, including minor suspension changes and a change from four-wheel disc brakes to front disc and rear drum brakes to reduce costs. The three-door versions continued for a further year before being replaced by the unsuccessful Alfa Romeo Arna a joint venture between Alfa Romeo and Nissan.
The 116 Series Giulietta was introduced in November 1977 and while it took its name from the original Giulietta of 1954 to 1965, it was a new design based on the Alfa Romeo Alfetta chassis (including its rear mounted transaxle). While it was a conventional three-box saloon/sedan body style, a defining point of difference was at the rear, where there was a short boot, and a small aerodynamic spoiler, integrated into the body. The Giulietta was only offered in saloon form, but there were several estate/station wagon conversions made. First out was Moretti, whose conversion appeared in the first half of 1978. At launch, two models were available: Giulietta 1.3, with an oversquare 95 PS 1357 cc engine, and Giulietta 1.6, with a 109 PS 1570 cc engine, both Alfa Romeo Twin Cam inline-fours fed by two twin-choke carburettors. In April 1979, just under two years later, Giulietta 1.8 with a 122 PS 1,779 cc engine was added, and in May of the following year the Giulietta Super with a 2-litre engine (1,962 cc, 130 PS appeared. In summer of 1981, the Giulietta received a minor facelift, externally and internally, while the engines remained the same. The car got plastic protection around the lower body, while interior modifications included a new steering wheel and new seats. The instrument panel and the centre armrest were also modified. The Autodelta-produced Giulietta 2.0 Turbo Autodelta (175 PS) was introduced at the 1982 Paris motor show. This special version had a turbocharged 1,962 cc engine. The production Giulietta Turbodelta version had 170 PS and a KKK turbocharger coupled with two double-barrel Weber carburettors. All turbo versions were black with red interior; only 361 were produced. In the same year, the Giulietta 2.0 Ti and turbodiesel (VM) 1995 cc version with 82 PS were also introduced, going on sale in early 1983. In 1982, Alfetta and Giulietta turbodiesels achieved seven world speed records over 5/10/25/50 thousand kilometres and 5/10/25 thousand miles at Nardò (Lecce). While one of the quickest diesels in its category at the time, the Giulietta was rather costly and suffered from a very forward weight distribution (56.9 per cent over the front wheels). In late 1983, the “84” Giulietta (Series 3) was presented, with minor differences in appearance, bumpers were redesigned and the dashboard was significantly re-designed, the instruments changed slightly and the rear seat in some versions changed its form. Mechanically it was basically the same, with minor modifications to the brake booster and inlet manifold on some versions. The largest market for the Giulietta was South Africa, where a very successful TV advertising campaign by Alfa Romeo produced good sales between 1981 and 1984. Central to this campaign was emphasis of the Giulietta’s new ‘aerodynamic’ line, which was carried over to the 75, and then the 33. The Giulietta was the ‘last hurrah’ for Alfa in South Africa before the appearance of the 164 and 156 models in the 1990s. In 1985, after around 380,000 Giuliettas had been built, it was replaced by the Alfa Romeo 75, which used much of the Alfetta/Giulietta underpinnings.
It was more than 10 years after the Montreal had ceased production before Alfa offered another high-end and costly Coupe model, and the result, seen for the first time in 1989, could hardly have been more different than its forebear. That car had been praised for its looks, whereas this one, the SZ, and cruelly nicknamed “Il Mostro”, was almost wilfully, well, “different”. First seen at the 1989 Geneva Show, the car was also first shown simply as a concept, called the ES-30, for Experimental Sports car 3 litre. It was produced by Zagato. Robert Opron of the Fiat design studio was responsible for the initial sketches while Antonio Castellana was largely responsible for the final styling details and interior. Only the ‘Z’ logo of Zagato was kept. The car possessed unusual headlights positioned in a trio on each side – a styling used more subtly on later Alfa Romeos in the 2000s. Mechanically and engine-wise, the car was based on the Alfa 75, production being carried out by Zagato at Terrazzano di Rho near the Alfa factory in Arese. The thermoplastic injection moulded composite body panels were produced by Italian company Carplast and French company Stratime Cappelo Systems. The suspension was taken from the Alfa 75 Group A/IMSA car, and modified by Giorgio Pianta, engineer and team manager of the Lancia and Fiat rally works team. A hydraulic damper system was made by Koni. The SZ was originally equipped with Pirelli P Zero tyres (front 205/55 ZR 16, rear 225/50 ZR 16) and is able to sustain over 1.1 G in cornering, some drivers have measured a cornering force of 1.4 G, which remains an excellent performance figure. Low volume production got underway late in 1989, and over the next three years, 1036 were built, slightly more than planned. With the exception of a black car made for Zagato, all of them were red. Subsequently a convertible version, the RZ (for Roadster Zagato), was produced from 1992 until December 1994. Although almost identical to look at the two cars had completely different body panels save for the front wings and boot. The RZ had a revised bumper and door sills to give better ground clearance and the bonnet no longer featured the aggressive ridges. Three colours were available as standard: black, yellow and red, with black and yellow being the more popular choices. Yellow and red cars got a black leather interior and black cars burgundy. Although the interior layout was almost unchanged from the SZ, the RZ had a painted central console that swept up between the seats to conceal the convertible roof storage area. 350 units were planned but production was halted after 252 units when the Zagato factory producing the cars for Alfa Romeo went in to receivership, a further 32 cars were then completed under the control of the receivers before production finished at 284 units. Of those final three were painted silver with burgundy interior and another pearlescent white.
The 155 was very successful in touring car racing, using the Supertouring-homologated GTA and the V6 TI for the DTM. The Alfa Romeo 155 V6 TI was a FIA Class 1 touring car which was powered by a high-revving 2.5 litre 60° V6 engine, coupled to a four wheel drive system, producing 400 PS at 11500 rpm. Alfa Corse entered two 155 V6 TIs for works drivers Alessandro Nannini and Nicola Larini; the 1993 season was dominated by Larini winning 11 of 22 races, In 1994 the rivals from Mercedes seemed to have the advantage but Alfa did manage to win a further 11 races. A more consistent performance from the Germans gave them the title. In the UK in 1993, Larini in an Alfa 155 was placed second in the FIA Touring Car Challenge behind Paul Radisich in a Ford Mondeo. Between 1992 and 1994, the 155 also managed to take the Italian Superturismo Championship, the Spanish Touring Car Championship (with Adrián Campos), and the British Touring Car Championship (with Gabriele Tarquini). For the 1995 season the team got new sponsorship livery from Martini Racing. The 1996 version had a 2.5 litre 90° V6 engine based loosely on the PRV engine delivering 490 PS at 11,900 rpm, had a top speed of around 300 km/h (190 mph) and weighed 1,060 kilograms. The 155 remained competitive until it was replaced with the 156, finishing third in the DTM (then known as the International Touring Car Championship, or ITC) in 1996 with Alessandro Nannini and winning the Spanish championship again in 1997 with Fabrizio Giovanardi. All told, the Alfa 155 V6 TI achieved a total off 38 wins (plus 3 other non-championship races). The victories were obtained by seven different drivers: 17 (+1) Nicola Larini, 13 (+1) Alessandro Nannini, 2 Stefano Modena, 2 (+1) Christian Danner, 2 Michael Bartels, 1 Kris Nissen and 1 Gabriele Tarquini. In the UK, the car is best remembered for its winning ways in the Touring Car Championship (my 1995 Alfa had a sticker in the rear window reminding everyone of the fact), The 156 was to continue the high standard set by the 155, winning the European Touring Car Championship multiple times. The car seen here is not actually one of the original race cars, but a recreation in homage to this successful career.
Well represented were the 916 Series duo of GTV and Spider. These were conceived to replace two very different models in the Alfa range. First of these was the open topped 105 Series Spider which had been in production since 1966 and by the 1990s was long overdue a replacement. Alfa decided to combine a follow on to the Alfetta GTV, long out of production, with a new Spider model, and first work started in the late 1980s. The task was handed to Pininfarina, and Enrico Fumia’s initial renderings were produced in September 1987, with the first clay models to complete 1:1 scale model made in July 1988. Fumia produced something rather special. Clearly an Italian design, with the Alfa Romeo grille with dual round headlights, recalling the Audi-based Pininfarina Quartz, another design produced by Enrico Fumia back in 1981, the proposal was for a car that was low-slung, wedge-shaped with a low nose and high kicked up tail. The back of the car is “cut-off” with a “Kamm tail” giving improved aerodynamics. The Spider would share these traits with the GTV except that the rear is rounded, and would feature a folding soft-top with five hoop frame, which would completely disappear from sight under a flush fitting cover. An electric folding mechanism would be fitted as an option. Details included a one-piece rear lamp/foglamp/indicator strip across the rear of the body, the minor instruments in the centre console angled towards the driver. The exterior design was finished in July 1988. After Vittorio Ghidella, Fiat’s CEO, accepted the design, Alfa Romeo Centro Stile under Walter de Silva was made responsible for the completion of the detail work and also for the design of the interiors, as Pininfarina’s proposal was not accepted. The Spider and GTV were to be based on the then-current Fiat Group platform, called Tipo Due, in this case a heavily modified version with an all new multilink rear suspension. The front suspension and drivetrain was based on the 1992 Alfa Romeo 155 saloon. Chief engineer at that time was Bruno Cena. Drag coefficient was 0.33 for the GTV and 0.38 for the Spider. Production began in late 1993 with four cars, all 3.0 V6 Spiders, assembled at the Alfa Romeo Arese Plant in Milan. In early 1994 the first GTV was produced, with 2.0 Twin Spark engine. The first premiere was then held at the Paris Motor Show in 1994. The GTV and Spider were officially launched at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1995 and sales began the same year. The cars were well received. At launch, many journalists commented that Alfa had improved overall build quality considerably and that it came very close to equalling its German rivals. I can vouch for that, as I owned an early GTV for eighteen months, and it was a well built and reliable car. In 1997 a new engine, a 24-valve 3.0 litre V6, was available for the GTV along with bigger, 12.0 inch brakes and red four-pot calipers from Brembo. The console knobs were changed from round central to rectangle ones and to a three-spoke steering wheel. Some versions were upgraded with different front bumper mesh to bring the wind noise down to 74 dBA. In May 1998 the cars were revamped for the first time, creating the Phase 2 models. Most of the alterations were inside. The interior was changed with new centre console, painted letters on skirt seals, changed controls and switches arrangement and different instrument cluster. Outside, the main changes included chrome frame around the grille and colour-coded side skirts and bumpers. A new engine was introduced, the 142 hp 1.8 Twin Spark, and others were changed: the 2.0 Twin Spark was updated with a modular intake manifold with different length intakes and a different plastic cover. Power output of the 2.0 TS was raised to 153 hp. Engines changed engine management units and have a nomenclature of CF2. The dashboard was available in two new colours in addition to the standard black: Red Style and Blue Style, and with it new colour-coded upholstery and carpets. The 3.0 24V got a six-speed manual gearbox as standard and the 2.0 V6 TB engine was now also available for the Spider. August 2000 saw the revamp of engines to comply with new emission regulations, Euro3. The new engines were slightly detuned, and have a new identification code: CF3. 3.0 V6 12V was discontinued for the Spider and replaced with 24V Euro3 version from the GTV. 2.0 V6 Turbo and 1.8 T.Spark were discontinued as they did not comply with Euro3 emissions. By the 2001-2002 model year, only 2 engines were left, the 2.0 Twin.Spark and 3.0 V6 24V, until the Phase 3 engine range arrived. The Arese plant, where the cars had been built, was closing and, in October 2000, the production of GTV/Spider was transferred to Pininfarina Plant in San Giorgio Canavese in Turin. In 2003 there was another and final revamp, creating the Phase 3, also designed in Pininfarina but not by Enrico Fumia. The main changes were focused on the front with new 147-style grille and different front bumpers with offset numberplate holder. Change to the interior was minimal with different centre console and upholstery pattern and colours available. Instrument illumination colour was changed from green to red. Main specification change is an ASR traction control, not available for 2.0 TS Base model. New engines were introduced: 163 hp 2.0 JTS with direct petrol injection and 237 hp 3.2 V6 24V allowing a 158 mph top speed. Production ceased in late 2004, though some cars were still available for purchase till 2006. A total of 80,747 cars were made, and sales of the GTV and Spider were roughly equal. More V6 engined GTVs than Spiders were made, but in 2.0 guise, it was the other way round with the open model proving marginally more popular.
Rather than replacing the 916 Series GTV with a single model, Alfa elected to produce two successors., The more commodious of the two, the GT, was the first to appear, making its debut in March 2003 at the Geneva Motor Show, finally going on sale in early 2004. The other 916 series replacement cars were the Brera and Spider models, and this is what was to be seen here. Visually similar to the 159 models at the front, the Brera and Spider boasted unique styling from the A pillars rearwards. They were offered with the same range of engines as the 159, and thanks to that strong, but rather heavy platform on which they were built, even the 3.2 litre V6 cars were more Grand Tourer than rapid sports car. Pininfarina was responsible for both models. The Brera was first to market, in 2005, with the Spider following in 2006. Production of both ceased in late 2010, by which time 12,488 units of the Spider and 21,786 units of the Brera had been built. It will be very surprising if these do not attain classic status, and the consequent rise in values, though that has not happened yet.
Still seen by many as the most beautiful Ferrari ever built was the 246 GT Dino and this time there was just one example here. The Ferrari Dino was created to honour Alfredo ‘Dino’ Ferrari, Enzo Ferrari’s only legitimate son, who sadly died of muscular dystrophy in 1956. Unlike any previous road-going Ferrari, the Dino utilised a V6 engine, the Tipo 156, which Alfredo himself had helped develop and strongly advocated during his working life. Following continued motor racing success and in order to homologate Ferrari’s 1966 Formula Two campaign, a new line of mid-engined production V6 coupés with Fiat running gear went on sale in 1967 in two litre 206 GT form. However, in 1969 a larger 2.4 litre Dino was introduced, named the 246 GT or GTS in the case of the Spider. Only 3,913 definitive Dinos were built before the introduction of the completely restyled V8 engined 308 in 1973. The voluptuous bodywork of the 246, which many regard as the prettiest ever to grace a road-going Ferrari, was designed by Pininfarina and built by Scaglietti. It clothed a tubular chassis which carried wishbone independent suspension at each corner. The compact four-cam, 190bhp. engine was mounted transversely above the five-speed gearbox and just ahead of the rear axle, allowing for both a comfortable cockpit and some usable boot space.
Introduced at the 1985 Frankfurt Show alongside the Mondial 3.2 series, the Ferrari 328 GTB and GTS (Type F106) were the successors to the Ferrari 308 GTB and GTS which had first been seen in October 1975. While mechanically still based on the 308 GTB and GTS respectively, small modifications were made to the body style and engine, most notably an increase in engine displacement to 3185 cc for increased power and torque output. As had been the case for a generation of the smaller Ferraris, the model name referred to the total cubic capacity of the engine, 3.2 litres, and 8 for the number of cylinders. Essentially the new model was a revised and updated version of the 308 GTS, which had survived for eight years without any radical change to the overall shape, albeit with various changes to the 3-litre engine. The 328 model presented a softening of the wedge profile of its predecessor, with a redesigned nose that had a more rounded shape, which was complemented by similar treatment to the tail valance panel. The revised nose and tail sections featured body colour bumpers integral with the valance panels, which reflected the work done concurrently to present the Mondial 3.2 models, with which they also shared a similar radiator grille and front light assembly layout. Thus all the eight-cylinder cars in the range shared fairly unified front and rear aspects, providing a homogeneous family image. The exhaust air louvres behind the retractable headlight pods on the 308 series disappeared, coupled with an increase in the size of the front lid radiator exhaust air louvre, which had been introduced on the 308 Quattrovalvole models, whilst a new style and position of exterior door catch was also provided. The interior trim also had a thorough overhaul, with new designs for the seat panel upholstery and stitching, revised door panels and pulls, together with more modern switchgear, which complemented the external updating details. Optional equipment available was air conditioning, metallic paint, Pirelli P7 tyres, a leather dashboard, leather headlining to the removable roof panel plus rear window surround, and a rear aerofoil (standard on Japanese market models). In the middle of 1988 ABS brakes were made available as an option, which necessitated a redesign of the suspension geometry to provide negative offset. This in turn meant that the road wheel design was changed to accommodate this feature. The original flat spoke “star” wheels became a convex design, in the style as fitted to the 3.2 Mondial models, whether ABS was fitted or not. The main European market 328 GTS models had a tubular chassis with a factory type reference F 106 MS 100. Disc brakes, with independent suspension via wishbones, coil springs, and hydraulic shock absorbers, were provided all round, with front and rear anti roll bars. There were various world market models, each having slight differences, with right and left hand drive available. The V8 engine was essentially of the same design as that used in the 308 Quattrovalvole model, with an increase in capacity to 3185 cc. The engine retained the Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection system of its predecessor, but was fitted with a Marelli MED 806 A electronic ignition system, to produce a claimed power output of 270 bhp at 7000 rpm. As with the preceding 308 models the engine was mounted in unit with the all synchromesh five-speed manual transmission assembly, which was below, and to the rear of the engine’s sump. The 328 GTS continued in production for four years, until replaced by the 348 ts model in the autumn of 1989, during which time 6068 examples were produced, GTS production outnumbering the GTB (1344 produced) version almost five to one.
With styling that had a close link to the Testarossa, the next V8 Ferrari to be launched, in 1989, was the 348, as a replacement for the 328 GTB/GTS models. At launch, the 348 series were not that enthusiastically received by the press who found much to complain about. The 348’s styling differed from previous models with straked side air intakes and rectangular taillights resembling the Testarossa. Launched in two models, a coupe badged 348 tb (Trasversale Berlinetta) and targa roofed 348 ts (Targa), these were soon joined by a fully open car, the 348 Spider. All featured a normally aspirated 3.4-litre version of the quad-cam, four-valve-per-cylinder V8 engine. As with its predecessors, the model number was derived from this configuration, with the first two digits being the displacement and the third being the number of cylinders. The engine, which produced 300 hp was mounted longitudinally and coupled to a transverse manual gearbox, like the Mondial t with which the 348 shared many components. This was a significant change for Ferrari, with most previous small Ferraris using a transverse engine with longitudinal transmission. The “T” in the model name 348 tb and ts refers to the transverse position of the gearbox. The 348 was fitted with dual-computer engine management using twin Bosch Motronic ECUs, double-redundant anti-lock brakes, and self-diagnosing air conditioning and heating systems. Late versions (1993 and beyond) have Japanese-made starter motors and Nippondenso power generators to improve reliability, as well as the battery located within the front left fender for better weight distribution. Similar to the Testarossa but departing from the BB 512 and 308/328, the oil and coolant radiators were relocated from the nose to the sides, widening the waist of the car substantially, but making the cabin much easier to cool since hoses routing warm water no longer ran underneath the cabin as in the older front-radiator cars. This also had the side effect of making the doors very wide. The 348 was equipped with a dry-sump oil system to prevent oil starvation at high speeds and during hard cornering. The oil level can only be accurately checked on the dipstick when the motor is running due to this setup. The 348 was fitted with adjustable ride-height suspension and a removable rear sub-frame to speed up the removal of the engine for maintenance. Despite trenchant criticism of the car, especially its handling, 2,895 examples of the 348 tb and 4,230 of the 348 ts were produced.
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 lbf·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.
Next up was the 458, of which there were examples of both the closed Coupe and the later Spider model. An all new design, the 458 Italia was first officially unveiled at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show. Once more, Ferrari advised that the model incorporated technologies developed from the company’s experience in Formula 1. The body computer system was developed by Magneti Marelli Automotive Lighting. The 458 came with a 4,499 cc V8 engine of the “Ferrari/Maserati” F136 engine family, producing 570 PS ( 562 hp) at 9,000 rpm and 540 N·m (398 lb/ft) at 6,000 rpm with 80% torque available at 3,250 rpm. The engine featured direct fuel injection, a first for Ferrari mid-engine setups in its road cars. The only transmission available was a dual-clutch 7-speed Getrag gearbox, in a different state of tune shared with the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG. There was no traditional manual option, making this the fourth road-car after the Enzo, Challenge Stradale and 430 Scuderia not to be offered with Ferrari’s classic gated manual. The car’s suspension featured double wishbones at the front and a multi-link setup at the rear, coupled with E-Diff and F1-Trac traction control systems, designed to improve the car’s cornering and longitudinal acceleration by 32% when compared with its predecessors.The brakes included a prefill function whereby the pistons in the calipers move the pads into contact with the discs on lift off to minimise delay in the brakes being applied. This combined with the ABS and standard Carbon Ceramic brakes caused a reduction in stopping distance from 100–0 km/h (62-0 mph) to 32.5 metres. Ferrari’s official 0–100 km/h (62 mph) acceleration time was quoted as 2.9–3.0 seconds with a top speed of 340 km/h (210 mph). In keeping with Ferrari tradition the body was designed by Pininfarina under the leadership of Donato Coco, the Ferrari design director. The interior design of Ferrari 458 Italia was designed by Bertrand Rapatel, a French automobile designer. The car’s exterior styling and features were designed for aerodynamic efficiency, producing a downforce of 140 kg (309 lb) at 200 km/h. In particular, the front grille features deformable winglets that lower at high speeds, in order to offer reduced drag. The car’s interior was designed using input from former Ferrari Formula 1 driver Michael Schumacher; in a layout common to racing cars, the new steering wheel incorporates many controls normally located on the dashboard or on stalks, such as turning signals or high beams. At launch the car was widely praised as being pretty much near perfect in every regard. It did lack a fresh air version, though, but that was addressed with the launch of the 458 Spider at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show. This convertible variant of the 458 Italia featured an aluminium retractable hardtop which, according to Ferrari, weighs 25 kilograms (55 lb) less than a soft roof such as the one found on the Ferrari F430 Spider, and can be opened in 14 seconds The engine cover was redesigned to accommodate the retractable roof system. It had the same 0–100 km/h time as the hard-top but a lower top speed of 199 mph. It quickly became the better seller of the two versions.
Known for being the car which really put Italy on wheels, the Topolino was one of the smallest cars in the world at the time of its production. Launched in 1937, three versions were produced until 1955, all with only minor mechanical and cosmetic changes. It was equipped with a 569 cc four-cylinder, side-valve, water-cooled engine mounted in front of the front axle, which meant that it was a full-scale car rather than a cyclecar. The radiator was located behind the engine which made possible a lowered aerodynamic nose profile at a time when competitors had a flat, nearly vertical grille. The shape of the car’s front allowed exceptional forward visibility. The rear suspension initially used quarter-elliptic rear springs, but buyers frequently squeezed four or five people into the nominally two-seater car, and in later models the chassis was extended at the rear to allow for more robust semi-elliptic springs. With horsepower of about 13 bhp, its top speed was about 53 mph and it could achieve about 48 mpg. The target price given when the car was planned was 5,000 lire. In the event the price at launch was 9,750 lire, though the decade was one of falling prices in several part of Europe and later in the 1930s the Topolino was sold for about 8,900 lire. Despite being more expensive than first envisioned, the car was competitively priced and nearly 520,000 were sold. Nowadays the car seen here is known as the 500A, and this shares its body with the later 500 Model B, but the later car had more power, a heady 16 hp. It was made between 1948 and 1949. The Model A was offered as a 2-door coupé, 2-door cabriolet and a 2-door van, while the Model B also introduced a 3-door estate under the name 500 B Giardinetta (“estate car”). The 500 Model C was introduced in 1949 with a restyled body and the same engine as Model B, and was offered in 2-door coupé, 2-door cabriolet, 3-door estate and 2-door van versions. In 1952, the Giardinetta was renamed the Belvedere (“A turret or other raised structure offering a pleasant view of the surrounding area”, referring to its sunroof). The Model C was produced until 1955. The car seen here was the original Topolino, but with an uprated engine to make it better able to keep up with the flow of modern traffic.
Known as project 110, the brief for the Nuova 500 was to create a micro-car that would not only carry on the tradition of the earlier Topolino, but which would also take sales away from the ever popular Lambretta and Vespa scooters of the day. It clearly needed to be smaller than the 600 which had been released with a conventional 4 cylinder engine. Not an easy task, but development started in 1953 and by August 1954, two designs were ready to be shown to Fiat management. They selected one, and serious development began. At first the car was referred to as the 400, as it was going to have a 400cc engine, but it was soon realised that this was just too small, so a larger 500cc air-cooled engine was developed. It was signed off in January 1956, with production starting in March 1957 in advance of a June launch. Fiat’s marketing department got busy, with hundreds of the new car taking to the streets of Turin, each with a pretty girl standing through the open sunroof that was a feature of all the early cars. The press loved it. 50 units were shipped to Britain, where the car made its debut at Brands Hatch, and again the reception was enthusiastic. But the orders just did not come in. Fiat went for a hasty rethink, relaunching the car at the Turin Show later that year. power was increased from 13 to 15 bhp, and the poverty spec was lessened a little, with headlight bezels, brightwork on the side and chrome hubcaps, a Nuova500 badge on the engine cover, winding side windows (the launch cars just had opening quarterlights) and the option of a heater fan. It was enough to get sales moving. The original car was still offered, at a lower price, called the Economy. In the first year of production, 28,452 Fiat 500s were made. Over the next 19 years, the car changed little in overall appearance, but there were a number of updates with more power and equipment added. A 500 Sport was launched in August 1958, with a more powerful version of the 499cc engine. It lost the soft top, having a ridged steel roof, to increase strength of the body. It was only available in grey with a red side flash. The first major changes came in 1960 with the 500D. This looks very similar to the Nuova, but with two key differences. One is the engine size: the D features an uprated 499 cc engine producing 17 bhp as standard, an engine which would be used right through until the end of the L in 1973; and the other is the roof: the standard D roof does not fold back as far as the roof on the Nuova, though it was also available as the “Transformable” with the same roof as the Nuova. The D still featured “suicide doors”. There were larger rear light clusters, more space in the front boot thanks to a redesign of the fuel tank and new indicators under the headlights. A year later, Fiat added a light on the rear-view mirrors and a windscreen washer, but the car still lacked a fuel gauge. Sales increased from 20,900 in 1960 to 87.000 in 1961, 132,000 in 1962 and by 1964, the last year of production, they hit 194,000 units. The D was replaced in 1965 by the 500F, which finally moved the door hinges from back to the front, owing to changes in Italian safety laws. There was a deeper windscreen and thinner door pillars, which increased the height of the car by 10mm, improving visibility for the driver. The 500F ran through to 1975, from 1968 alongside the more luxurious 500L which was added to the range in 1968. The L is easy to tell apart, with its bumper overriders. The final updates created the 500R, which incorporated many changes from the 126 under the skin of the classic shape, and in this form production continued alongside the newer 126 until 1976.
The X1/9 followed a 1969 show concept car called the Autobianchi Runabout, with styling by Bertone under chief designer Marcello Gandini. The Runabout was powered by the same engine as the Autobianchi A112. Designed around the all-new 128 SOHC engine and with the gearbox (transmission) from the front wheel drive Fiat 128, the X1/9 relocated the transverse drive train and suspension assembly from the front of the 128 to the rear of the passenger cabin, directly in front of the rear axle, giving a mid-engined layout. The layout also located the fuel tank and spare wheel side by side ahead of the engine, directly behind the seats — optimising the proportion of the car’s weight falling within its wheelbase for more effective handling and also enabling cargo areas front and rear. Unlike Fiat’s marketing nomenclature at the time which used a numerical system (e.g., 127, 128, 124, 131) denoting relative position in the model range, the X1/9 retained its prototype code as its marketing name. Fiat’s prototype coding used X0 for engines, X1 for passenger vehicles and X2 for commercial vehicles. The X1/9 was thus the ninth passenger car developed using the nomenclature. The prototype car featured a distinctive wedge shape and took many styling cues from contemporary power-boat design. Though the more extreme features of the Runabout such as the C pillar mounted headlights and the small wind-deflector windscreen were lost for the production car, many aesthetic features of the Autobianchi Runabout are readily identifiable on the X1/9. The long flat bonnet with central indentation, the large front overhang, the wedge shape with prominent C pillar roll-over hoop and the car-length indented plimsoll-line all made the successful transition to the X1/9, giving it a highly distinctive appearance. Once developed for production, the two-seater featured sharp-edged styling with a wedge shape, pop-up headlights and a removable hard top roof panel (targa top). The removable hardtop stores in the front luggage compartment, below the front hood, only slightly reducing the space available for cargo. An aftermarket company offered a top made of lightweight clear-smoked polycarbonate. The car was developed for release for European sales in 1972 to replace the 850 spider by Bertone. It was not intended as a replacement for the 124 Sport spider and production of the 124 spider and X1/9 continued in parallel for much of the X1/9’s life. The car’s monocoque body was produced at the Bertone factory in Torino and then transported to the Fiat’s Lingotto factory for final assembly. In 1982, shortly after the introduction of the 1500 model, complete production was assumed by Bertone with models subsequently badged as the “Bertone” X1/9. Bertone models featured revised footwells redesigned to enhance legroom and sitting comfort for persons taller than the original design’s target. The first models featured a 75 bhp 1290 cc single overhead cam engine with an aluminium head. In 1978 the more powerful 85bhp 1500cc unit found its way into the engine bay which necessitated a raised engine cover to provide the clearance. Larger bumpers were fitted at this time. Fiat made few other changes for many years, as if they lost interest in the car. The last production models were named the Gran Finale and sold over the 1989/1990 period. They were a dealer modification of the special edition (commonly abbreviated to SE) of 1988/1989, with the addition of a rear spoiler and “gran finale” badges.
For the UK market, Fiat called their replacement for the popular 128 saloon the Strada, figuring that the Italian name of Ritmo would be too hard for the English tongue. Few of these cars survive, more of them the sporting versions than the regular family hatches, so it was no surprise that the one seen here was indeed a hotter version, a 130TC. Fiat started work on the Ritmo in 1972, at a time when the hatchback bodystyle for small family cars was still relatively uncommon in Europe, although Fiat had utilised it for its 127 supermini. In the intervening years, however, rival European manufacturers began launching small family hatchbacks, the most notable being the Volkswagen Golf in 1974. Prior to its launch, the press speculated that the project codename 138 would be the final production name, however, Fiat resolved to follow the precedent set by the Fiat Mirafiori by giving its new car the Ritmo name, rather than another three digit number. Technologically, the biggest innovation of the Ritmo was not the car itself (since it was mechanically based on its predecessor, the Fiat 128) but the way in which it was manufactured at the Cassino plant. Fiat, in conjunction with its subsidiary Comau, developed the pioneering “Robogate” system which automated the entire bodyshell assembly and welding process using robots, earning the car the advertising slogan “Handbuilt by robots”, immortalised in a memorable television advertising campaign showing the robots assembling the Ritmo bodyshells to the strains of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville. The avant-garde nature of its exterior design is highlighted by large plastic bumper bars integrated into the styling (a trend that became an industry standard, thanks to this plastic’s ability to absorb small impacts without damage, unlike the then more prevalent metal bumper bars), the manner in which these intersected the front round headlights and incorporated the rear taillights plus licence plates, and how round shapes (such as the headlights, door handles and the rear edge of the roof ending in an upward sweep) were combined within overall sharp lines (e.g. from those of the sloping rear hatch and slanted rear window corners to the badges and shape of the side indicators and rear view mirrors). Its aerodynamic design resulted in an excellent — for its era — drag coefficient of Cd=0.38, The initial 4-cylinder engine range included 1.1-Litre 60 PS 1.3-litre 65 PS and 1.5-litre 75 PS petrol engines, which were reasonably refined and economical. Suspension was independent all-round, the braking system comprised front discs and rear drums and the wheels measured 13-inch in diameter. Gearboxes ranged from a standard 4-speed manual (5-speed optional on CL models) and an optional 3-speed Volkswagen-derived automatic. The Ritmo finished second in the European Car of the Year awards, finishing narrowly behind the winning car, the Simca-Chrysler Horizon – which was similar in concept. The CL range was the better-equipped model (with the 60 CL comprising 80% of total initial sales in Italy) and the whole range also distinguished itself by having numerous optional accessories unseen in past Fiat cars. These included: larger tyres; a rev counter; stereo system; safety seatbelts and headrests; passenger-side rear view mirror; split-fold rear seat; tinted windows; rear window wiper; heated rear window; metallic paint; sunroof . The instrumentation was incorporated in a rectangular pod with modular slots that could house various gauges and switches, either standard depending on the model or optional (e.g. digital clock and switches for hazard lights or adjustable-speed ventilation fan). Whilst well received in the key Italian and German markets, the first series of the Ritmo was criticised for its basic interior trim (e.g. no fabric on door panels) and other assembly shortfalls. As a consequence, Fiat quickly responded in 1979 with various revisions and the introduction of the Targa Oro (“Gold plate”) range. The latter was based on the Ritmo 65 (or 75 for export markets) and was distinguished by, among other things: a mink paint (or black for the 3-door version), gold striping plus accents in the alloy wheels, foglights, dark bumper bars and velour trim interiors. That same year, the 65 CL range could also be had with a VW-derived automatic transmission, and a 1,049 cc petrol engine built by Fiat of Brazil that had the same power and torque figures as those of the 128-derived 1.1-litre engine, was also introduced to power the “60 L” models available in some markets. At the 1980 Geneva Motor Show, a 5-door only diesel version — marketed as the Ritmo D and available in both L and CL trim — was introduced with a 1,714 cc 55PS engine.To accommodate this considerably heavier engine, the steering rack was slowed down (from 3.5 to 4 turns) and the suspension adjusted. Nonetheless, a 65.5% forward weight distribution was hard to mask and both handling and braking suffered when compared to petrol-powered Ritmos. In 1981, the Targa Oro and 75 models were replaced by the 5-door only Ritmo Super (or Superstrada in some export markets). They brought higher specification and fittings (from chrome trimmings to a more complete instrumentation and optional central locking), larger 14-inch wheels and, most significantly, revised engines with 75 PS (1300) and 85 PS (1500). This extra power was gained through slight alterations to the camshaft profile, a twin carburettor, and a twin exhaust system. Other differences included lower profile tyres (Pirelli P8) and a close-ratio 5-speed manual gearbox. The steering was also somewhat faster. By this time, the Ritmo range in Italy also included 3- and 5-door manual versions of the 75 CL and 3-door 75 CL Automatica, with the price of the popular 60CL now ranging from ₤6,868,000 to 7,180,000 for the 3- and 5-door versions, respectively. In May 1981, the first sports version, the Ritmo 105 TC, was launched. Available only as a 3-door, it was powered by a 105 PS Fiat DOHC engine with a displacement of 1,585 cc, which was derived from that used in the 131 and 132 models. This car had the same 14-inch wheels as the Ritmo Super, but with black centre hubcaps. British and Irish models had black and silver Speedline alloy wheels (5.5 x 14) as standard. Other distinguishing features relative to the normal range included: front fog lights integrated into the front bumper; integrated front spoiler combined with wheel arch extensions; black lower door paint; black mesh air intake; rear spoiler at the base of the rear window. Series 2 cars would be introduced in 1982, with more conventional frontal styling. In 1983, Fiat completed the range with the Ritmo ES (“energy saving”) models and the hot hatch, Ritmo Abarth 130 TC. The latter was based on the 125 TC (which had not been sold in the UK) but was powered by a 1,995 cc engine with power output increased to 130 PS. This was achieved by replacing the single Weber carb used in the 125 TC with twin Solex/Weber carburettors on a side-draught manifold, and via improved cam profiles. The 130 TC had a top speed of 195 km/h (121 mph) and accelerated from 0 to100 km/h (62 mph) in 7.8 seconds. It was fitted with Recaro bucket seats in Britain and it remained the only 1980s European hot hatch to continue utilise carburettors instead of fuel injection. Ignition timing was controlled electronically. Although appearing outwardly similar to the restyled 105 TC with its lower door and wheelarch trims, the 130 TC could be distinguished by its polished four-spoke alloy wheels (continued from the earlier 125 TC), aerodynamic perspex front door wind deflectors, and lower hatchback spoiler. The powerful twin-cam was mated to a close ratio five-speed ZF manual gearbox and had superior performance to its contemporary rivals, which included the Volkswagen Golf GTI, Ford Escort XR3i, Vauxhall Astra GTE and the MG Maestro. In its day, it was faster than all of them, but it found relatively few buyers. When you see a Strada these days, it tends to be one of the sporting ones, and that was the case here, with an example of the 130TC Abarth cars on show.
The Tipo (Type 160 in development speak) was styled by the I.DE.A Institute design house, and produced between 1988 and 1995. The Tipo was initially available only as a five door hatchback. The car was made entirely out of galvanised body panels to avoid rust, and was built on a completely new Fiat platform, which was later used on Fiat, Alfa-Romeo, and Lancia models. It stood out because of its boxy styling that gave it innovative levels of packaging, rear passenger room being greater than that in a rear-wheel-drive Ford Sierra, but in a car that was of a similar size to the smaller Ford Escort. This type of design was comparable to the smaller Fiat Uno, which was launched five years earlier. For 1989, the Tipo won the European Car of the Year award. Unveiled in January 1988, the Tipo went on sale in Europe during June 1988, and on the right-hand drive UK market from 16 July 1988, initially base (i.e.), DGT, (early Italian market DGT models were badged as ‘digit’, presumably in recognition of the digital dash, but this was quickly changed to DGT after a dispute over ownership of the name, leading to confusion about whether the model was diesel-powered) S, SX and 16v trim levels were available. Power outputs ranged from 57 to 146 bhp, with a engines of 1.1, 1.4, 1.6, 1.7, 1.8, 1.8 16v, 2.0, and 2.0 16v litre petrol engines, as well as a 1.7 and 1.9 diesel, and 1.9 turbodiesel, though not all of these were available in all markets. The 1.1 base engine was widely regarded as underpowered for the car, which was otherwise roomy for five adults and with above average equipment. This version was never sold in the UK, which initially received only the 1.4 and 1.6 versions of the Tipo, with the 1.8 and 2.0 petrol engines and the diesel powered units not being imported until the early 1990s. The smaller Uno had been a huge success there during the 1980s (peaking at more than 40,000 sales in 1988) and it was widely expected by both Fiat and by the motoring press that the Tipo would prove similarly successful, not least as the car launched into a favourable market in the UK, where none of the “big three” (Ford, Vauxhall, and Austin Rover) had launched an all new car of this size for at least four years. However, these three marques all had new Tipo sized products within three years, and increased competition reduced the Tipo’s sales. Initially it won plaudits for its innovative and practical design, as well as its good handling. It was originally sold with only 1.4 and 1.6 petrol engines, although the 16 valve 1.8 and 2.0 engines with fuel injection became available in the early 1990s. The digital dashboard of higher end models proved to be controversial and unreliable. The addition of the more powerful models did little to help, even though these were pretty good. The top of the range was the 2.0 Sedicivalvole (16 valves), which took its engine from the Lancia Thema, and with a much smaller and lighter bodyshell to house it, this power unit brought superb performance and handling, and a top speed of around 130 mph (210 km/h), which made it faster than the Volkswagen Golf GTI of that era. Many thought it to be one of the best cars in its class at the time. The Tipo was facelifted in 1993 and a three door version was added, as well as minor exterior changes (the two evolutions of the car can be differentiated by their slightly different radiator grilles and headlamps) and improved specifications; safety features like stiffer bodyshells, driver’s airbag, and side impact bars were added to the range. This included the new S, SX, and SLX trim levels, as well as a new eight valve 2.0 GT model. The Tipo ceased production in the summer of 1995, and was replaced by the three door Fiat Bravo and five-door Fiat Brava.
After the 124 Spider ended production, there was a wait of over 10 years before Fiat would produce another open-topped car. Developed between 1990 and 1994 under the project name Tipo B Spider 176, the Barchetta, a small open topped rival to the Mazda MX5 was designed by Andreas Zapatinas and Alessandro Cavazza under the supervision of Peter Barrett Davis and other car designers at the Fiat Centro Stile, and prototyping was carried out by Stola. Production began in February 1995 and lasted until June 2005, with a brief pause due to the bankruptcy of coachbuilder Maggiora. The Barchetta was based on the chassis of the Mark 1 Fiat Punto. The Barchetta has 1,747 cc DOHC petrol engine fitted with variable camshaft timing, used for the first time in a Fiat production car, after being patented in 1970. The engine has 132 PS, and with a weight of 1056 kg (2328 lb) without air conditioning can accelerate to 100 km/h in 8.9 seconds and on to a top speed of 200 km/h (124 mph). It came in various trim levels which offered different features, for example, diamond cross stitch – patterned red leather instead of the standard black leather or fabric seats, alloy wheels instead of steel wheels, or fog-lights as an option. Arguably one of the biggest external cosmetic changes was made by the addition of the third brake light, first introduced by Fiat on the Lido and Riviera in 2000, and on sub models thereafter. The bodies were welded at ILCAS in Sparone Canavese, and final assembly was done in Chivasso by the coachbuilder Maggiora. After Maggiora’s bankruptcy in 2002, Fiat relocated production of the Barchetta to its Mirafiori plant and resumed production two years later. The most notable changes were the revised front spoiler and rear bumper. Production of the car eventually stopped in June 2005, with around 57,700 cars having been built. Production of the Barchetta was limited to LHD cars only, even though the car was marketed and sold in two RHD markets, the United Kingdom and Japan.
Taking note of the increasing popularity of open-topped versions of family-sized cars during the 1980s and 1990s, Fiat decided to offer an open version of their hugely popular Punto. The cabriolet version was built by Bertone rather than at the main Fiat factory. It featured an electric powered fully retracting roof and was one of the cheapest open-top cars in the world at the time. In Europe, it was also made with a manual roof. Available in both ELX and SX trim, initially powered by the 90 hp 1.6 engine, replaced in 1995 by the 86 hp 1.2 litre 16v FIRE unit. Approximately 55,000 cars were built between 1994 and 1999, although the last cars were registered in 2000.
Developed as the Tipo 175, the Coupe was introduced at the Brussels Motor Show in 1993. It is perhaps best remembered for its distinctive, angular design, with unique scalloped side panels. The body was designed by Chris Bangle from Centro Stile Fiat, while the interior was designed by Pininfarina, and the car media headlines in auto magazines during 1992 after several spy shots were taken revealing the car on test. On its launch in 1993, the Coupé was available with a four-cylinder, 2.0 litre 16V engine, in both turbo (190 PS) and normally aspirated (139 PS) versions. Both engines were later versions of Fiat’s twin-cam design and inherited from the Lancia Delta Integrale. 1996 brought in a 1.8 litre 131 PS 16V engine (not available in the UK), along with a 2.0-litre 5-cylinder 20V (147 PS), and a 5-cylinder 2.0-litre 20V turbo (220 PS). The turbocharged 16 and 20 valve versions were equipped with a very efficient Viscodrive limited-slip differential to counter the understeer that plagues most powerful front wheel drive cars. Additionally, the coupe featured independent suspension all round: at the front MacPherson struts and lower wishbones anchored to an auxiliary crossbeam, offset coil springs and anti-roll bar; at the rear, trailing arms mounted on an auxiliary subframe, coil springs and an anti-roll bar. The car was well received at launch, and the 5 cylinder engines just made it even better, with sales increasing slightly for a couple of years, but then they started to drop off, as Coupe models in general fell from favour. 1998 saw the release of the Limited Edition which featured red Brembo brake calipers at the front and standard red calipers at the back, a body kit, push-button start, six-speed gearbox, strut brace to make the chassis more rigid and Recaro seats with red leather inserts which offered better support than the standard 20VT seats. The LE was produced in Black, Red, Vinci Grey (metallic), Crono Grey and Steel Grey (metallic). The bodywork of the LE also benefited from titanium coloured insert around the light bezels and the wing mirrors. Each Limited Edition (‘LE’) Coupé was manufactured with a badge located by the rear-view mirror which contained that car’s unique number (it is rumoured that Michael Schumacher was the original owner of LE No. 0001, however when the question was raised to him personally he confirmed he had owned one, but a red one, while LE No. 0001 is a Crono Grey one). Originally a spokesman from Fiat stated only approximately 300 Limited Editions would be built. The final number was much higher, perhaps as many as 1400. This angered many of the owners of the original 300 cars and almost certainly impacted residual values. The original number however was quoted by a Fiat UK spokesman, so probably that number only applied to the UK market. The numbered plaque on every Coupe features enough space for 4 numbers. In 1998 the 2.0-litre 5-cylinder 20V got a Variable Inlet System which brought the power to 154 PS. The 2.0-litre 5-cylinder 20V Turbo received a 6-speed gearbox and a large, satin gloss push starter button. In addition, the sills of the Turbo version were colour matched with the body paintwork. Fiat also released the 2.0 litre 5 cylinder Turbo ‘Plus’. This model came with an option kit that made it virtually identical to the LE, except for minor interior design changes and without the unique identification badge of the LE. In 2000 Fiat released another special version of the Fiat Coupé. Featuring the 1.8-litre engine, it was only available throughout mainland Europe and marketed as an elegant and affordable edition. Fiat also made changes throughout the rest of the range: new seats, side skirts and wheels for the 2.0-litre 20V model, ‘Plus’ edition wheels on turbo models and Fiat manufactured seats on the ‘Plus’ that were virtually identical to the original Plus Recaro seats with the addition of extra airbags. The 2.0-litre 20V Turbo model is capable of accelerating from 0–100 km/h (0 to 62 mph) in 6.5 seconds and 6.3 seconds for the 20v Turbo Plus, with a top speed of 240 km/h (149 mph) or 250 km/h (155 mph) with later 6-speed gearbox. When production finally stopped in September 2000, a total number of 72,762 units had been produced. There are still well over 1000 units in the UK, so this is a Fiat which has proved durable as well as good to drive, and to look at.
Also present was an example of the modern 124 Spider, a car whose UK sales career appears to have been cut short by the imposition of the new WLTP emissions regime, sales having ended at the start of this year less than three years after the model’s launch here. It would appear destined to remain a rare sighting.
There was a nice example of the Flavia here, a rare Convertible. Named after the Via Flavia, the Roman road leading from Trieste (Tergeste) to Dalmatia, and launched at the 1960 Turin Motor Show, the Flavia was initially available only as a four-door saloon, featuring a 1.5 litre aluminium boxer engine, Dunlop disc brakes on all four wheels, front-wheel drive and front suspension by unequal-length wishbones. This model was soon joined by a two-door coupé, designed by Pininfarina on a shortened platform. Vignale built 1,601 two-door convertibles, while Zagato designed an outlandish-looking light weight two-door sport version. The sport version has twin carburettors for extra power (just over 100 hp); however, this version of the engine was notoriously difficult to keep in tune. Even the single-carburettor engine suffered from the problem of timing chain stretch. Sprockets with vernier adjusters were fitted to allow for chain wear, and the cam timing was supposed to be checked every 6000 miles. Early cars also suffered from corrosion of the cylinder heads caused by using copper gaskets on aluminium heads; nevertheless, the car was quite lively for its day, considering the cubic capacity. Later development of the engine included an enlargement to 1.8 litres, a mechanical injection version using the Kugelfischer system, and a five-speed manual gearbox. Towards the end of the 1960s, when Fiat took control of the company, the Vignale and Zagato versions were discontinued. The coupé and saloon versions received new bodywork, first presented in March 1969 at the Geneva Motor Show. The engine increased to 2.0 litres, available with carburettor or injection, and four- or five-speed gearbox. The 2.0 litre models were only made with revised Pininfarina Coupe and revised Berlina bodies.
Lancia replaced the long-running Appia with a new model in 1963, the Fulvia. Like the larger Flavia which had been shown 3 years earlier, it came with front wheel drive, and a host of exquisite engineering which ensure that even though it was expensive, it was actually not profitable for its maker, and was a direct contribution to the marque’s bankruptcy and take over by Fiat in 1969. It was not long before the initial Berlina saloon model was joined by a Coupe. First seen in 1965. the Coupe proved to be the longest lived of all Fulvia variants, surviving until 1976 when it was effectively replaced by the 1300cc version of the Beta Coupe. Before that, it had undergone a steady program of updates, with more powerful engines, including a capacity increase from the initial 1200cc of the narrow angle V4 to 1300 and then later 1600cc, and the car was developed into a successful rally machine for the late 60s. The Sport Zagato version was designed by Ercole Spada at Zagato and was intended to be the more sporting model of the range. It was also considerably more expensive. Early cars had an unusual side hinged bonnet, but this was changed on the Series 2 models which were launched in 1970, and which also switched to all-steel bodies. Seen here was an early example of the very elegant regular Coupe model and the more radical Sport Zagato.
Lancia launched the Delta in 1979, as what we would now think of as a “premium hatch”. Offered in 1300 and 1500cc engines, this car, which collected the prestigious “Car of the year” award a few months later, brought Italian style and an expensive feeling interior to a new and lower price point in the market than Lancia had occupied since the early days of the Fulvia some 15 years earlier. The range grew first when a model was offered using the 4 speed AP automatic transmission and then in late 1982, more powerful models started to appear, with first a 1600cc engine, and then one with fuel injection, before the introduction of the HF Turbo. All these cars kept the same appearance and were quite hard to tell apart. These were the volume models of the range, but now they are very definitely the rare ones, as it is the performance versions which have survived and are now much loved classics, even though relatively were sold when they were new, thanks to a combination of the fact that they were quite costly and that they only ever came with left hand drive. The Integrale evolved over several years, starting off as the HF Turbo 4WD that was launched in April 1986, to homologate a new rally car for Lancia who needed something to fill the void left by the cancellation of Group B from the end of 1986. The Delta HF 4X4 had a four-wheel drive system with an in-built torque-splitting action. Three differentials were used. Drive to the front wheels was linked through a free-floating differential; drive to the rear wheels was transmitted via a 56/44 front/rear torque-splitting Ferguson viscous-coupling-controlled epicyclic central differential. At the rear wheels was a Torsen (torque sensing) rear differential. It divided the torque between the wheels according to the available grip, with a maximum lockup of 70%. The basic suspension layout of the Delta 4WD remained the same as in the rest of the two-wheel drive Delta range: MacPherson strut–type independent suspension with dual-rate dampers and helicoidal springs, with the struts and springs set slightly off-centre. The suspension mounting provided more isolation by incorporating flexible rubber links. Progressive rebound bumpers were adopted, while the damper rates, front and rear toe-in and the relative angle between springs and dampers were all altered. The steering was power-assisted rack and pinion. The car looked little different from the front wheel drive models. In September 1987, Lancia showed a more sophisticated version of the car, the Lancia Delta HF Integrale 8V. This version incorporated some of the features of the Delta HF 4WD into a road car. The engine was an 8-valve 2 litre fuel injected 4-cylinder, with balancing shafts. The HF version featured new valves, valve seats and water pump, larger water and oil radiators, more powerful cooling fan and bigger air cleaner. A larger capacity Garrett T3 turbocharger with improved air flow and bigger inter-cooler, revised settings for the electronic injection/ignition control unit and a knock sensor, boosting power output to 185 bhp at 5300 rpm and maximum torque of 224 lb/ft at 3500 rpm. The HF Integrale had permanent 4-wheel drive, a front transversely mounted engine and five-speed gearbox. An epicyclic centre differential normally split the torque 56 per cent to the front axle, 44 per cent to the rear. A Ferguson viscous coupling balanced the torque split between front and rear axles depending on road conditions and tyre grip. The Torsen rear differential further divided the torque delivered to each rear wheel according to grip available. A shorter final drive ratio (3.111 instead of 2.944 on the HF 4WD) matched the larger 6.5×15 wheels to give 24 mph/1000 rpm in fifth gear. Braking and suspension were uprated to 284 mm ventilated front discs, a larger brake master cylinder and servo, as well as revised front springs, dampers, and front struts. Next update was to change the engine from 8 valves to 16. The 16v Integrale was introduced at the 1989 Geneva Motorshow, and made a winning debut on the 1989 San Remo Rally. It featured a raised centre of the bonnet to accommodate the new 16 valve engine, as well as wider wheels and tyres and new identity badges front and rear. The torque split was changed to 47% front and 53% rear. The turbocharged 2-litre Lancia 16v engine now produced 200 bhp at 5500 rpm, for a maximum speed of 137 mph and 0–100 km/h in 5.5 seconds. Changes included larger injectors, a more responsive Garrett T3 turbocharger, a more efficient intercooler, and the ability to run on unleaded fuel without modification. The first Evoluzione cars were built at the end of 1991 and through 1992. These were to be the final homologation cars for the Lancia Rally Team; the Catalytic Evoluzione II was never rallied by the factory. The Evoluzione I had a wider track front and rear than earlier Deltas. The bodyside arches were extended and became more rounded. The wings were now made in a single pressing. The front strut top mounts were also raised, which necessitated a front strut brace. The new Integrale retained the four wheel drive layout. The engine was modified to produce 210 bhp at 5750 rpm. External changes included: new grilles in the front bumper to improve the air intake for engine compartment cooling; a redesigned bonnet with new lateral air slats to further assist underbonnet ventilation; an adjustable roof spoiler above the tailgate; new five-bolt wheels with the same design of the rally cars; and a new single exhaust pipe. Interior trim was now grey Alcantara on the Recaro seats, as fitted to the earlier 16V cars; leather and air conditioning were offered as options, as well as a leather-covered Momo steering wheel. Presented in June 1993, the second Evolution version of the Delta HF Integrale featured an updated version of the 2-litre 16-valve turbo engine to produce more power, as well as a three-way catalyst and Lambda probe. A Marelli integrated engine control system with an 8 MHz clock frequency which incorporates: timed sequential multipoint injection; self-adapting injection times; automatic idling control; engine protection strategies depending on the temperature of intaken air; Mapped ignition with two double outlet coils; Three-way catalyst and pre-catalyst with lambda probe (oxygen sensor) on the turbine outlet link; anti-evaporation system with air line for canister flushing optimised for the turbo engine; new Garrett turbocharger: water-cooled with boost-drive management i.e. boost controlled by feedback from the central control unit on the basis of revs/throttle angle; Knock control by engine block sensor and new signal handling software for spark park advance, fuel quantity injected, and turbocharging. The engine now developed 215 PS as against 210 PS on the earlier uncatalysed version and marginally more torque. The 1993 Integrale received a cosmetic and functional facelift that included. new 16″ light alloy rims with 205/45 ZR 16 tyres; body colour roof moulding to underline the connection between the roof and the Solar control windows; aluminium fuel cap and air-intake grilles on the front mudguards; red-painted cylinder head; new leather-covered three-spoke MOMO steering wheel; standard Recaro seats upholstered in beige Alcantara with diagonal stitching. In its latter years the Delta HF gave birth to a number of limited and numbered editions, differing mainly in colour, trim and equipment; some were put on general sale, while others were reserved to specific markets, clubs or selected customers. There were several examples of the Integrale here.
The first generation Delta had been given a second lease of life by its rallying successes, but by the 1990s it was over ten years old and due replacement; its four-door saloon sibling, the Prisma, had already been replaced by the Lancia Dedra. By the time the new car was ready, Lancia had all but pulled out of the UK, so the car was never officially sold here. A few have since been brought in, though, and there were two of them here. Both are the three door HPE models, and are familiar sights at Italian car and other gatherings in the area. The “Nuova Delta” (Tipo 836)—always referred to by Lancia as Lancia δ with the lower-case Greek letter – was introduced at the Geneva Show in 1993, alongside the final “Evo 2” HF Integrale. Sales commenced in May 1993. Initially the Nuova Delta was offered with three engines and outputs varying from 76 to 142 PS: an entry level SOHC 1.6-litre, and two DOHC inline fours with Lancia’s twin counter rotating balance shafts, an 8-valve 1.8 and a 16-valve 2.0 litre. Trim levels were three: base and LE for the 1.6 and 1.8, base and richer LS for two-litre models. The sportier 2.0 HF was also unveiled in Geneva, but went on sale in September; it used a version of the 16-valve 2.0 litre equipped with a Garrett T3 turbocharger and an intercooler to produce 186 PS. Mechanical changes from the other Deltas included up-sized 205/50 tyres, stiffer suspension, standard 4-way ABS, a “Viscodrive” viscous coupling limited slip differential and, in the HF LS trim, electronically adjustable dampers with two settings. Visually the HF turbo was set apart by an eggcrate grille with a gunmetal surround and a yellow HF badge, a sportier front bumper complementing 1.1 inch wider front wings, black side skirts, specific 15 inch 7-spoke alloy wheels and a spoiler at the base of the rear window. Larger disk brakes and optional Alcantara Recaro sport seats were shared with the 2.0 LS. About a year after the launch, in June 1994, the 1.9 turbo ds turbodiesel variant was added to the range; it was powered by the usual 1,929 cc SOHC unit, pushing out 90 PS. The turbo ds was given the flared fenders and bumper of the HF, and was available in base and LE trim. Presented a month later and put on sale in autumn, the Delta 2.0 GT paired the naturally aspirated 2-litre engine with the looks of the HF—flared wings, bumper and spoiler. Although a three-door had been rumoured since 1991, it was not until the 1995 Geneva Motor Show that one became available. It was christened HPE—a denomination that had previously been used for a variant of the Lancia Beta, and standing for “High Performance Executive”. At first the HPE was only available with the three top engines: 2.0 16v, 1.9 turbodiesel and 2.0 16v turbo in HF guise. The three-door bodyshell had entirely redesigned body sides, but retained the roof and rear section of the five-door model; rear wheelarch flares complemented the HF-derived wide front wings and bumper, sported by all HPE versions. This meant the HPE was around 2.4 inches wider than a standard Delta, while all other exterior dimensions remained unchanged. Styling differences from the five-door included specific side skirts and a body-colour grille, to which the HPE 2.0 HF added all the accoutrements of the five-door HF and additional air intakes under the headlights. At the beginning of 1996 the range was updated. All naturally aspirated engines were replaced; the 1.6 and 1.8 8-valve by 16-valve units, while the 2.0 16v was discontinued in favour of a 1.8 16v equipped with variable valve timing. Trim levels for the 5-door were now three: base LE, richer LX and GT, exclusive to the 1.8 V.V.T. engine. The three-door HF turbo remained the only one offered, as the five-door version was discontinued. In addition to the turbocharged engines, the HPE was available with 1.8 V.V.T. and also the smaller 1.6 engines; the latter, entry level HPE adopted the bumper and narrow front wings of the standard Delta. Minor styling changes were introduced, such as alloy wheels and wheel covers of a new design, chrome vertical bars to the 5-door cars’ grille, and body colour mirror caps. November 1997 brought the last revisions for the Delta. Seven models made up the updated range: 5-door and HPE with a choice of 1.6, 1.8 V.V.T. or 1.9 td engines—the 18 16v having been phased out—and a renewed 2.0 HF, again in HPE form only. The 5-door range was reduced to a single LS trim. More of the plastic exterior details were now painted in body colour, namely bumper, bodyside and C-pillar inserts. All HPEs donned flared front wings. The updated HPE 2.0 HF was shown at the Bologna Motor Show in November. Visually it continued the monochrome theme of the restyled cars, and it was made more distinctive by bumpers, side skirts, and spoiler of a new design, and 16 inch Speedline Montecarlo alloy wheels with 215/50 tyres; inside the seats were upholstered in black leather with contrasting colour Alcantara centres. Mechanically it received a tweaked engine, producing 193 PS, which made for a 5 km/h higher top speed. The Delta was dropped from Lancia’s lineup in 1999, with no immediate successor.
Thinking that there would be rather more Abarths than Maserati in attendance, a logic which I had applied to the event I had been at the day before, as well, I decided to bring the Ghibli. And for a while, it looked like there were only going to be a couple of cars with the iconic Trident badge on them, mine being one. But a few more did arrive.
Often the most numerous Maserati cars at events these days are those known internally as the Tipo 338 and better known as the 3200GT and 4200GT and Spider, and indeed there were a couple of them here, both the 4200 model. After producing BiTurbo based cars for 17 years, Maserati replaced their entire range with a new model in July 1998, the 3200 GT. This very elegant 2+2 grand tourer was styled by Italdesign, whose founder and head Giorgetto Giugiaro had previously designed, among others, the Ghibli, Bora and Merak. The interior design was commissioned to Enrico Fumia. Its name honoured the Maserati 3500 GT, the Trident’s first series production grand tourer. Sold mainly in Europe, the 3200 GT was powered by the twin-turbo, 32-valve, dual overhead cam 3.2-litre V8 engine featured in the Quattroporte Evoluzione, set up to develop 370 PS (365 hp). The car was praised for its styling, with the distinctive array of tail-lights, consisting of LEDs, arranged in the shape of boomerang being particularly worthy of comment. The outer layer of the ‘boomerang’ provided the brake light, with the inner layer providing the directional indicator. The car was also reviewed quite well by the press when they got to drive it in early 1999, though it was clear that they expected more power and excitement. That came after 4,795 cars had been produced, in 2001, with the launch of the 4200 models. Officially called the Coupé and joined by an open-topped Spyder (Tipo M138 in Maserati speak), these models had larger 4.2 litre engines and had been engineered so the cars could be sold in America, marking the return to that market for Maserati after an 11 year gap. There were some detailed styling changes, most notable of which were the replacement of the boomerang rear lights with conventional rectangular units. Few felt that this was an improvement. Minor changes were made to the model during its six year production, but more significant was the launch at the 2004 Geneva Show of the GranSport which sported aerodynamic body cladding, a chrome mesh grille, carbon fibre interior trim, and special 19-inch wheels. It used the Skyhook active suspension, with a 0.4 inch lower ride height, and the Cambiocorsa transmission recalibrated for quicker shifts. The exhaust was specially tuned to “growl” on start-up and full throttle. The GranSport was powered by the same 4244 cc, 90° V8 petrol engine used on the Coupé and Spyder, but developing 400 PS (395 hp) at 7000 rpm due primarily to a different exhaust system and improvements on the intake manifolds and valve seats. A six-speed paddle shift transmission came as standard. The GranSport has a claimed top speed of 180 mph (290 km/h) and a 0–62 mph (0–100 km/h) time of 4.8 seconds. The cars proved popular, though, selling strongly up until 2007 when they were replaced by the next generation of Maserati, the GranTurismo and GranCabrio.
Still acclaimed as one of the best-looking saloons ever produced is this car, the fifth generation Quattroporte, a couple of which were on show. Around 25,000 of these cars were made between 2004 and 2012, making it the second best selling Maserati of all time, beaten only by the cheaper BiTurbo of the 1980s. The Tipo M139 was unveiled to the world at the Frankfurt Motor Show on 9 September 2003, with production starting in 2004. Exterior and interior design was done by Pininfarina, and the result was widely acclaimed to be one of the best looking saloons not just of its time, but ever, an opinion many would not disagree with even now. Built on an entirely new platform, it was 50 cm (19.7 in) longer than its predecessor and sat on a 40 cm (15.7 in) longer wheelbase. The same architecture would later underpin the GranTurismo and GranCabrio coupés and convertibles. Initially it was powered by an evolution of the naturally aspirated dry sump 4.2-litre V8 engine, mounted on the Maserati Coupé, with an improved output of 400 PS . Due to its greater weight compared to the Coupé and Spyder, the 0-62 mph (0–100 km/h) time for the Quattroporte was 5.2 seconds and the top speed 171 mph (275 km/h). Initially offered in only one configuration, equipped with the DuoSelect transmission, the gearbox was the weak point of the car, receiving most of the criticism from the press reviews. Maserati increased the range at the 2005 Frankfurt Motor Show, with the launch of the Executive GT and Sport GT trim levels. The Executive GT came equipped with a wood-rimmed steering wheel, an alcantara suede interior roof lining, ventilated, adaptive, massaging rear seats, rear air conditioning controls, veneered retractable rear tables, and curtain shades on the rear windows. The exterior was distinguished by 19 inch eight-spoke ball-polished wheels and chrome mesh front and side grilles. The Quattroporte Sport GT variant offered several performance upgrades: faster shifting transmission and firmer Skyhook suspensions thanks to new software calibrations, seven-spoke 20 inch wheels with low-profile tyres, cross-drilled brake rotors and braided brake lines. Model-specific exterior trim included dark mesh front and side grilles and red accents to the Trident badges, as on vintage racing Maseratis. Inside there were aluminium pedals, a sport steering wheel and carbon fibre in place of the standard wood inserts. A new automatic transmission was presented at the 2007 Detroit Motor Show, marketed as the Maserati Quattroporte Automatica. As all three trim levels were offered in both DuoSelect and Automatica versions, the lineup grew to six models. The Quattroporte Sport GT S was introduced at the 2007 Frankfurt Motor Show. Taking further the Sport GT’s focus on handling, this version employed Bilstein single-rate dampers in place of the Skyhook adaptive system. Other changes from the Sport GT comprised a lowered ride height and 10 mm wider 295/30 rear tyres, front Brembo iron/aluminium dual-cast brake rotors and red-painted six piston callipers. The cabin was upholstered in mixed alcantara and leather, with carbon fibre accents; outside the door handles were painted in body colour, while the exterior trim, the 20 inch wheels and the exhaust pipes were finished in a “dark chrome” shade. After Images of a facelifted Quattroporte appeared on the Internet in January 2008; the car made its official début at the 2008 Geneva Motor Show. Overseen by Pininfarina, the facelift brought redesigned bumpers, side sills and side mirrors, a convex front grille with vertical bars instead of horizontal, new headlights and tail lights with directional bi-xenon main beams and LED turn signals. Inside there was a new navigation and entertainment system. All Quattroporte models now used the ZF automatic transmission, the DuoSelect being discontinued. The 4.2-litre Quattroporte now came equipped with single-rate damping comfort-tuned suspension and 18 inch wheels. Debuting alongside it was the Quattroporte S, powered by a wet-sump 4.7-litre V8, the same engine of the Maserati GranTurismo S, with a maximum power of 424 bhp and maximum torque of 361 lb·ft. In conjunction with the engine, the braking system was upgraded to cross-drilled discs on both axles and dual-cast 360 mm rotors with six piston callipers at the front. Skyhook active damping suspension and 19 inch V-spoke wheels were standard. Trim differences from the 4.2-litre cars were limited to a chrome instead of titanium-coloured front grille. The Quattroporte Sport GT S was premièred at the North American International Auto Show in January 2009. Its 4.7-litre V8 produced 440 PS (434 hp), ten more than the Quattroporte S, thanks to revised intake and to a sport exhaust system with electronically actuated bypass valves. Other mechanical changes were to the suspensions, where as on the first Sport GT S single-rate dampers took place of the Skyhook system, ride height was further lowered and stiffer springs were adopted. The exterior was distinguished by a specific front grille with convex vertical bars, black headlight bezels, red accents to the Trident badges, the absence of chrome window trim, body colour door handles and black double oval exhaust pipes instead of the four round ones found on other Quattroporte models. Inside veneers were replaced by “Titan Tex” composite material and the cabin was upholstered in mixed Alcantara and leather. This means that there are quite a number of different versions among the 25,256 units produced, with the early DuoSelect cars being the most numerous.
Italian Bikes were also welcome, and there were a small number of them on display, though I seem to have failed to take any photos apart from this one.
Just the Italian cars made for a good show in their own right, but there were a couple of other organised displays in the Docks area.
There was a display of military vehicles here that proved very popular. On show were several versions of the Jeep, an important vehicle that was developed during WW2, with production of these machines undertaken by a variety of manufacturers, including Willys and Ford.
The Volkswagen Kübelwagen was a light military vehicle designed by Ferdinand Porsche and built by Volkswagen during World War II for use by the German military (both Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS). Based heavily on the Volkswagen Beetle, it was prototyped as the Type 62, but eventually became known internally as the Type 82. Kübelwagen is a contraction of Kübelsitzwagen, meaning ‘bucket-seat car’ because all German light military vehicles that had no doors were fitted with bucket seats to prevent passengers from falling out.[ This body style had first been developed by Karosseriefabrik Nikolaus Trutz in 1923. The first Porsche Type 62 test vehicles had no doors and were therefore fitted with bucket seats as Kübelsitzwagen, that was later shortened to Kübelwagen. Mercedes, Opel and Tatra also built Kübelsitzwagen. With its rolling chassis and mechanics built at Stadt des KdF-Wagens (renamed Wolfsburg after 1945), and its body built by US-owned firm Ambi Budd Presswerke in Berlin, the Kübelwagen was for the Germans what the Jeep and GAZ-67 were for the Allies.
An American offering was this larger M2 Half-Track, an armoured half-track produced by the United States during World War II. Its design drew upon half-tracks imported from France in the 1930s, employing standard components supplied by U.S. truck manufacturers to speed production and reduce costs. The concept was designed, and the pilot models manufactured by the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company (before the prototype was officially labelled M2.) Production by the White Motor Company began in 1940 and was expanded to include Autocar. The M2 was initially intended for use as an artillery tractor, but also found use with reconnaissance units. International Harvester Company built the M9 half-track, a variant of their M5 half track, to fulfill the same purpose. The half-track design had been evaluated by the US ordnance department using Citroën-Kégresse vehicles. The cavalry branch of the US Army found that their wheeled armoured scout cars had trouble in wet terrain due to their high ground pressure. In 1938, the White Motor Company took the Timken rear bogie assembly from a T9 half-track truck and added it to an M3 scout car, creating the T7 half-track car. This vehicle was significantly underpowered. When a further requirement came down from US Army artillery units in 1939 for a prime mover to be used as an artillery tractor, a vehicle with an uprated engine was developed, which was designated the half-track scout car T14. By 1940, the vehicle had been standardised as the M2 half-track car. The M2 design was recognized as having the potential for general mechanised infantry use, which spawned the larger bodied M3 half-track. Both the M2 and M3 were ordered into production in late 1940, with M2 contracts let to Autocar, White and Diamond T. The first vehicles were received by the Army in 1941. The M2 was supplied to artillery units as the prime mover and ammunition carrier for the 105mm howitzer, and to armored infantry units for carrying machine gun squads. It was also issued to armoured reconnaissance units as an interim solution until more specialised vehicles could be fielded. Between 1942 and 1943, both the M2 and M3 would receive a number of modifications to the drive train, engine, and stowage, among other things. Total production of M2 and derivatives by White was about 13,500 units. To meet the needs of Lend-Lease to the Allies, the International Harvester Company produced 3,500 units of the M9. The M9 was the same as the IH-produced M5 but with different internal stowage and apart from using IH mechanical components the M9 was longer than the M2. The first M2s were fielded in 1941, and would be used in the Philippines, North Africa, and Europe by the U.S. Army, and around the Pacific by the marines. About 800 M2 and M9 half-tracks were sent to the Soviet Union. Many remaining vehicles initially destined for Lend-Lease were transferred to other U.S. allies, primarily in South America. These vehicles often received a number of upgrades designed at extending service life. Nicaragua’s national guard received 10 M2s in 1942, which saw heavy action during the 1978-79 Nicaraguan Revolution. The Argentine Army retired its last upgraded M9 in 2006 and donated them to Bolivia. In 1947, the Finnish heavy vehicle producer Vanajan Autotehdas bought 425 M2 half-track vehicles from the Western Allied surplus stocks located in France and Germany. The vehicles were delivered without armour. Some 359 units were converted into field and forest clearing vehicles, some were scrapped for parts and 60 units were equipped with conventional rear axles and converted into 4×4 or 4×2 trucks. They were badged as Vanaja VaWh. The last units were sold in 1952.
This is a Buick M88 Hellcat Tank. The M18 Hellcat (officially designated the 76 mm Gun Motor Carriage M18 or M18 GMC) was an American tank destroyer of World War II, also used in the Korean War. It was the fastest U.S. armored fighting vehicle on the road. The speed was attained by keeping armor to a minimum, using the innovative Torqmatic automatic transmission, and by equipping the relatively light vehicle with the same main gun used on the much larger Sherman tank. The Hellcat was the most effective U.S. tank destroyer of World War II. It had a higher kill to loss ratio than any other tank or tank destroyer fielded by U.S. forces in World War II. When the Tank Destroyer Force was organised in 1941, their commander, Lieutenant Colonel (later General) Andrew Davis Bruce envisioned the units being equipped with something faster than a tank, with a better gun but less armour to allow for speed; a cruiser rather than a battleship. He objected to the 3 inch M10 Gun Motor Carriage because it was too heavy and slow for his needs, and later on to the 90 mm M36 Gun Motor Carriage because it was essentially an M10 with a bigger gun. The United States Ordnance Corps made several failed attempts to provide said vehicle using the weapons (the 37 mm, 57 mm, 3 inch, 75 mm and finally the lightweight 76 mm of 1942–1943) and technology available, including mounting the 3-inch gun on the fast M3 Light Tank chassis. The M18 was the end product of a long line of research vehicles aimed at providing the desired machine. In December 1941, the Ordnance Department issued a requirement for the design of a fast tank destroyer using a Christie suspension, a Wright-Continental R-975 radial aircraft engine, and a 37 mm gun. Two pilot vehicles were to be built. What became the M18 originated in Harley Earl’s design studio, part of the Buick Motor Division of General Motors. Previously, basic designs for other kinds of vehicles had mostly originated from within the Ordnance Department. Buick’s engineers used a torsion bar suspension that provided a steady ride. Though it weighed about 20 tons, the Hellcat was capable of traveling upwards of 45 mph. Its power came from Wright R-975, a nine-cylinder, 350-to-400-horsepower radial aircraft engine, paired to a three-speed 900T Torqmatic automatic transmission. Changes to the specification mean that the first pilot – the 57 mm Gun Motor Carriage T49 – was built with the British (57 mm) QF 6-pounder gun instead of the 37 mm and a torsion bar suspension instead of the Christie suspension. It was tested in 1942 but the army wanted a heavier gun – the same 75 mm gun M3 as used on the M4 Sherman medium tank. The T49 project was cancelled and the second pilot was built with the 75 mm gun as the 75 mm Gun Motor Carriage T67. This met approval, but in early 1943 the army requested a more powerful gun – the 76 mm gun M1 under development for the Sherman. Six pilot models – as the 76 mm Gun Motor Carriage T70 – were built with this gun. The trials of these models led to a new turret and changes to the hull front, but the design was otherwise accepted for production, which began in July 1943. Once developed, the Hellcat was tested in the same manner as passenger cars before and after it, at the General Motors Milford Proving Ground. Top speed testing was done on a paved, banked oval and ride quality tests were done over specially developed stretches of bumps. The M18 also required tests of its ability to ford six feet of water, climb small walls, and ram through structures. The first models of the tank destroyer were tested by the US Army’s 704th Tank Destroyer Battalion. The unit had originally been trained on the M3 Gun Motor Carriage (a 75 mm gun installed in the bed of an M3 half-track). Despite its T70 prototypes requiring several improvements, the 704th had a “superlative” testing record, and the unit was later issued production Hellcats after many of their suggestions were integrated into the vehicle. The testing phase of the Hellcat proved that teamwork was an essential element of the new light tank destroyer units, and replaced the fixed, rigid structure of other units with a much more flexible command structure that allowed adapting to more complicated tasks.
Other vehicles here included an Army-service Austin Seven and a much more recent Land-Rover Defender as well as a 1947 Commer Superpoise. The Commer Superpoise range (Q-series) was introduced in 1939, with both semi-forward and full-forward control options. The line included trucks of 1 1⁄2 to six tons capacity powered by 6-cylinder petrol or diesel engines. A new Superpoise range (QX-series, although QX had also been used on some earlier Superpoises) with payloads of between two and five tons was introduced in 1955.
At the other end of the docks were a small gathering of SMART Coupe and Roadster models. Along with the similar Coupé, the Smart Roadster was introduced in 2003, based on a stretched platform of the Fortwo with a full length of 3427 mm. The two variants were meant to be reminiscent of the British roadster of yore, such as the Triumph Spitfire or the MG B. Both the Roadster and Roadster Coupé came with a removable Targa roof or an electrical softtop. The Roadster was powered by 61 or 82 PS versions of the turbocharged 698cc 3-cylinder Suprex engine in the rear, whilst the Roadster Coupé only had the more powerful 82 PS engine. A steering wheel with Formula 1-style gear paddles, to control the semi-automatic sequential transmission, was optional. Weighing as little as 790 kg (he Roadster was meant to provide the emotion of driving a sports car at an affordable cost; still, its price is not very far from that of a Mazda MX-5. Both the Roadster and Roadster Coupé were available in Brabus-tuned versions with power increased to 101 PS. The Brabus versions had a different twin sports exhaust, lower suspension, polished six-spoke aluminium alloy Monoblock VI 17″ wheels, front spoiler, side skirts and radiator grille. Exclusive Brabus (Xclusive) interior includes leather trimmed dashboard, alloy-effect accent parts, instrument graphics, leather/aluminium gearknob with Brabus labelled starter button, aluminium handbrake handle (which fouls the central armrest), aluminium pedals and Brabus labeled floor mats. The Brabus version also features stronger clamping of the clutch plates and a faster gearchange. The Monoblock wheels are known to be very soft and as a result are very easy to buckle. The lacquer on these wheels is also very poor, and corrosion can occur very early in the life of the wheel. Despite a projected break even of only 8-10,000 units per year, first year sales almost doubled this estimate. However, some Smart Roadsters leaked and production ceased due to the warranty work and other costs reaching an average of €3000 per vehicle. While a critical success, the Smart Roadster was, due to these costs, an economic failure for the company. 43,091 Roadsters were built.
SOUTHGATE – POST 1970
Each of the four Gates was allocated to a different time period, with a wide variety of cars then parked wherever there was space more or less from end to end. I suspect the marshalls had the same anxieties I had at how they were going to get everything in whilst maintaining fire lanes and allowing pedestrians to pass freely, but they did somehow achieve it and in some cases there were even similar makes and models grouped together. Southgate, which is the street leading from the Docks to the city centre was allocated to the most recent vehicles, which meant everything post 1970, though in some cases, the models here could equally well have argued a case to be in among the 1960s cars.
Follow on to the DB7 was the DB9 (there has never been a car called DB8 – supposedly because people might have assumed this meant a V8 engine), and there was a nice example here. The Aston Martin DB9, designed by Marek Reichmann and Hendrik Fisker, was first shown by Aston Martin at the 2003 Frankfurt Auto Show, in coupe form. It was widely praised for the beauty of its lines. This was the first model to be built at Aston Martin’s Gaydon facility. It was built on the VH platform, which would become the basis for all subsequent Aston models. The Aston Martin DB9 was initially launched equipped with a 6.0 litre V12 engine, originally taken from the V12 Vanquish. The engine produced 420 lbf·ft of torque at 5,000 rpm and a maximum power of 444 hp at 6,000 rpm, allowing the DB9 to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds and a top speed of 299 km/h (186 mph). The engine largely sits behind the front-axle line to improve weight distribution. Changes to the engine for the 2013 model year increased the power to 503 hp and torque to 457 lb-ft, decreasing the 0 to 60 mph time to 4.50 seconds and with a new top speed is 295 km/h (183 mph). The DB9 was available with either a six-speed conventional manual gearbox from Graziano or a six-speed ZF automatic gearbox featuring paddle-operated semi-automatic mode. The gearbox is rear-mounted and is driven by a carbon-fibre tail shaft inside a cast aluminium torque tube. The DB9 was the first Aston Martin model to be designed and developed on Ford’s aluminium VH (vertical/horizontal) platform. The body structure is composed of aluminium and composites melded together by mechanically fixed self-piercing rivets and robotic assisted adhesive bonding techniques. The bonded aluminium structure is claimed to possess more than double the torsional rigidity of its predecessor’s, despite being 25 percent lighter. The DB9 also contains anti-roll bars and double wishbone suspension, supported by coil springs. To keep the back-end in control under heavy acceleration or braking, the rear suspension has additional anti-squat and anti-lift technology. Later versions of the car also features three modes for the tuning: normal, for every-day use, sport, for more precise movement at the cost of ride comfort, and track, which furthers the effects of the sport setting. The Aston Martin DB9 Volante, the convertible version of the DB9 coupe, followed a few months later. The chassis, though stiffer, uses the same base VH platform. To protect occupants from rollovers, the Volante has strengthened windscreen pillars and added two pop-up hoops behind the rear seats. The hoops cannot be disabled and will break the car’s rear window if deployed. In an effort to improve the Volante’s ride while cruising, Aston Martin have softened the springs and lightened the anti-roll bars in the Volante, leading to a gentler suspension. The retractable roof of the Volante is made of folding fabric and takes 17 seconds to be put up or down. The Volante weighs 59 kilograms (130 pounds) more than the coupe. The coupe and Volante both share the same semi-automatic and automatic gearboxes and engine. The car was limited to 266 km/h (165 mph) to retain the integrity of the roof. Like the coupe, the original Volante has 420 lb·ft of torque at 5,000 rpm and a maximum power of 450 hp at 6,000 rpm. The 0 to 60 mph slowed to 4.9 seconds due to the additional weight. The DB9 was facelifted in July 2008, which mainly amounted to an increase in engine power, to 476 hp and a redesigned centre console. Externally, the DB9 remained virtually unchanged. For the 2013 model year revision, Aston made minor changes to the bodywork by adapting designs from the Virage, including enlarging the recessed headlight clusters with bi-xenon lights and LED daytime strips, widening the front splitter, updating the grille and side heat extractors, updating the LED rear lights with clear lenses and integrating a new rear spoiler with the boot lid. .On newer models, like the coupe’s, the Volante’s horsepower and torque increased to 517 PS (510 hp) and 457 lb·ft respectively. As a finale for the model, a more powerful DB9 was released in 2015, called the DB9 GT. This had 540 bhp and 457 lb-ft of torque at 5500 rpm, giving a 0 to 60mph time of 4.4 seconds and 0 to 100mph in 10.2 seconds, with the standing quarter mile dispatched in 12.8 to 12.9 seconds and a top speed of 183mph. Production of the DB9 ended in 2016 being replaced by its successor, the DB11.
Still well-regarded over 35 years since its launch is the Quattro, a legend which transformed rallying and brought the idea of four wheel drive as a performance benefit to the market. The idea for a high-performance four-wheel-drive car was proposed by Audi’s chassis engineer, Jörg Bensinger, in 1977, when he found that the Volkswagen Iltis could outperform any other vehicle in snow, no matter how powerful. Bensinger’s idea was to start developing an Audi 80 variant in co-operation with Walter Treser, Director of Pre-Development.. Following an unveiling on 1st March 1980, Audi released the original Quattro to European customers in late 1980, with the car featuring Audi’s quattro permanent four-wheel drive system (hence its name), and the first to mate four-wheel drive with a turbocharged engine. The original engine was the 2,144 cc in-line-5-cylinder 10 valve SOHC, with a turbocharger and intercooler. It produced 197 bhp propelling the Quattro from 0 to 100 km/h in 7.1 seconds, and reaching a top speed of over 220 km/h (137 mph). The engine was eventually modified to a 2,226 cc inline-5 10 valve, still producing 197 bhp, but with peak torque lower in the rev-range. In 1989, it was then changed to a 2,226 cc inline-5 20v DOHC setup producing 217 bhp, now with a top speed of 230 km/h (143 mph) Audi Quattros are referred to among owners and enthusiasts by their engine codes, to differentiate between the earlier and later versions: the earliest 2144 cc 10v being the “WR” engine, the 2226 cc 10v being the “MB” engine, and the later 20v being the “RR” engine. Hence, Quattro models may be referred to as either the WR Quattro, MB Quattro, and RR or “20v” Quattro, respectively. Quattro car production was 11,452 vehicles over the period 1980–1991, and through this 11 year production span, despite some touch-ups, there were no major changes in the visual design of the vehicle. For the 1983 model year, the dash was switched from an analogue instrument cluster, to a green digital LCD electronic instrument cluster. This was later changed in 1988 to an orange LCD electronic instrument cluster. The interior was redesigned in 1984, and featured a whole new dash layout, new steering wheel design, and new centre console design, the switches around the instrument panel were also redesigned at this time. In 1985 the dash changed slightly with harder foam and lost a diagonal stripe, the dash switches were varied slightly and the diff lock pull knob gave way to a two-position turning knob with volt and oil temp digital readouts. External styling received very little modification during its production run. Originally, the car had a flat fronted grille featuring four separate headlamp lenses, one for each of the low and high beam units. This was altered for the 1983 model year, and replaced with combined units featuring a single lens, but housing twin reflectors. This was changed again, for the 1985 model year, in what has become known as the ‘facelift model’ and included such alterations as a new sloping front grille, headlights, and trim and badging changes. Max speed was 124 mph. The RR 20v Quattro also featured a new three spoke steering wheel design, leather covering for door arm rests, gloveboxes, centre console and door pockets. There was also a full length leather-wrapped centre console running all the way to the rear seats. The 20v was also the first Ur-Q to have “quattro” script interior with partial leather seats. The floor on the drivers side had a bulge due to dual catalytic exhaust setup. The different models may be distinguished by the emblems on their boot lids: the WR had a vinyl ‘quattro’ decal or a brushed aluminium effect plastic emblem, the MB had chrome plated ‘audi’, ‘audi rings’ and ‘quattro’ emblems, whilst the RR had only chrome plated ‘audi rings’. The rear suspension was altered early on with geometry changes and removal of the rear anti-roll bar to reduce a tendency for lift-off oversteer. For the 1984 facelift, the wheel size went from 6×15-inch with 205/60-15 tyres to 8×15-inch wheels with 215/50-15 tyres. At the same time the suspension was lowered 20 mm with slightly stiffer springs for improved handling. For 1987, the Torsen centre differential was used for the first time, replacing the manual centre differential lock. The last original Audi Quattro was produced on 17 May 1991, more than two years after the first models of the new Audi Coupe range (based on the 1986 Audi 80) had been produced.
With the ADO17 Austin/Morris 1800 cars having ended up two classes above the volume selling 1100/1300 cars, BL needed a true mid-sized car, and that is where ADO15 came in. Developed during the mid 1960s, the car eventually made its debut as the Maxi on 1st May 1969. Promoted as the “5 of everything” car, it had 5 doors, 5 gears (both unusual in the market in those days) as well as 5 seats. It also featured a brand new engine, the 1500cc E Series, which was not really up to the task and it was saddled with what by common consent was one of the most recalcitrant gearchanges ever inflicted on a production car, with a lever operated by rods which had to be carefully lined up to persuade the next gear to engage. That aside, the car had huge potential and a vast amount of space in a footprint that measures less than 14 feet in length. A revised version was launched in the autumn of 1970, with a cable operated gearchange and the option of a more powerful and torquey 1750cc engine. Sadly, apart from adding the twin carburettor HLS version to the range in 1972, that was about all that BL did to the design in the next 10 years. Talk about starving a model of its full potential. The last few cars were branded Series 2 and had new bumpers and interior trim, but that was about it. What a wasted opportunity!
What can be said about the Allegro that has not already been aired? Codenamed ADO67, the car was launched on 15th May 1973, as a replacement for the ADO16 range, which had for many years been Britain’s best seller. A BL management who managed to combine arrogance with naivete and a certain lack of vision confidently asserted that the Allegro would continue in this position at the top of the sales charts. It did not. Build quality of the early cars was random, and frequently plain unacceptable, and despite being bigger than the car that it replaced, there was no more space in it. But the Series 2 models, which arrived in the Autumn of 1975 fixed that offering up to 6″ more legroom, and with better quality trim, and a conventional round steering wheel rather than the unusual Quartic one of the launch cars, the reality is that the Allegro was rather better than its reputation then (and now) would suggest. For sure, it was somewhat outclassed by the VW Golf, but that was considerably more costly model for model, but there were several aspects where it could match or beat an Escort or a Viva. The E series engined 1500 and 1750 cars, with standard 5 speed gearboxes were never as popular as imagined, the market not really being ready for the idea of a large engined small car, but anyone who did buy a 1750SS or the later HL had a very brisk car indeed on their hands. By the late 70s, with a whole slew of much newer models on offer from every single competitor, the car, although better built and with a nicer interior finish, was simply too old fashioned for most people. It is testament to marketing and the skills of the dealers that the car continued to sell into the Eighties in the volumes that it did. Although most were relieved that the car was replaced by the much more competitive Maestro, and everyone assumed that the car would fade – probably quickly given the build quality – into obscurity, but a group of enthusiasts founded an Owners Club long before there was one for most marques, and they figured out how to keep the remaining cars on the road
Without question, the rarest car of the day, and the one that fewest people could identify, was this rather splendid Austin Apache, one of just two such cars in the UK. The Apache is a small family car that was produced by Leykor – the South African subsidiary of BL – between November 1971 and 1978. The Spanish manufacturer Authi also built a version of the car, called the Austin Victoria, at its Pamplona plant between 1972 and 1975. The car was styled by Michelotti, and based on the chassis and various other components of the Austin/Morris 1100. Leykor executives saw Michelotti’s prototype in England and chose it for production in South Africa, where ADO16 sales had been dropping. While the car’s centre structure was that of the Austin/Morris 1100, its front and rear styling was all-new, styled (particularly at the rear, where the boot was a notchback) to resemble a scaled-down Triumph 2000/2500. The tail lights, and outer sections of the rear bumper were the same as those used by the Triumph 2000/2500. In 1973 the Apache received a minor facelift, introducing proper CV joints, round Smiths gauges and a rod linkage for the gear shift. Originally, the ADO16 used rubber drive joints, a strip speedometer, and a remote extension gear lever. Also in 1973, the sporty TC model was added to the lineup. Power was up to 75 PS at 5,800 rpm, compared to 63 PS at 5,250 rpm for the ‘cooking’ versions. The TC also received Rostyle rims, vinyl roof, a rev counter, and a sporty steering wheel. All versions of the Apache and Victoria used the 1,275 cc version of BMC’s venerable A-series four-cylinder, with a variety of outputs. Just under 22,00 units were built. This car has been in the UK for some time, though it is only recently that it has started to appear at events.
Sole BMW in the event was this second generation 7 series, the E32. This was produced from 1986 to 1994. It replaced the E23 and was initially available with straight-six or V12 powerplants. In 1992, V8 engines became available. From its inception, the E32 was widely considered the most technologically advanced series of cars in its day and set the standard for performance luxury cars well into the 1990s. The E32 introduced several features for the first time in a BMW: Electronic Damper Control,; Traction Control System; standard and long wheelbase length (i and iL); and dual-zone climate control. The E32 750i was the first car adhering to “gentlemen’s agreement” amongst the German manufacturers limiting maximium speed to 250 km/h (155 mph). Additionally, some of world’s first automotive features for passenger vehicles were introduced in E32: projector lens headlamps (1986); double glazing windows (1991, beating Mercedes-Benz by a few months); HID (Xenon) headlamps (1991). E32 also introduced BMW’s first V8 engine since BMW 501/502, last produced in 1962, and V12 engine, which was also Germany’s first post-war V12 engine for passenger vehicle. The surprise news of BMW’s V12 also caused Mercedes-Benz to delay the introduction of W140 by two years from 1989 to 1991. In 1994, the E32 was replaced by the E38; an evolutionary design that built upon the E32’s driver-centric design.
David Morris’ 360 Challenge Stradale was parked up here rather than with the other Italian cars. This was a low production track day focused car based on the 360 Modena. From a handling and braking performance perspective was the equivalent of adding a FHP (Fiorano Handling Pack) to the 360, which was available for V12 models such as the 550, 575 or F599 but never separately for the V8’s. It was inspired by the 360 Modena Challenge racing car series so the focus was primarily on improving its track lapping performance credentials by concentrating on handling, braking and weight reduction characteristics, which are essential in pure racing cars. Ferrari engineers designed the car from the outset with a goal of 20% track day use in mind and 80% road use. With only a small 20 bhp improvement in engine power from the Modena (and boasting an improved power-to-weight ratio) the Challenge Stradale accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 4.1 seconds according to Ferrari, four tenths faster than a Modena, but bald figures do not paint the full picture. For the enthusiastic driver the differences are truly staggering; genuine systematic improvements were achieved to the setup and feel of the whole car. Throttle response from the digital throttle was ratcheted up and feedback through the steering wheel was enhanced. The responsiveness of the controls, the balance of the chassis, the braking performance and the driver feedback all contribute greatly to the overall driving experience. Thanks to CCM brakes borrowed from the Enzo, some lower weight parts and a FHP handling pack, the Challenge Stradale was able to claim an impressive 3.5 seconds improvement per lap of its Fiorano circuit compared to the Modena (the target was 2.5 seconds). In total, the Challenge Stradale is up to 110 kg (243 lb) lighter than the standard Modena if all the lightweight options are specified such as deleted radio, lexan (plexiglass) door window and Alcantara fabric (instead of the leather option). As much as 74 kilograms (207 lb) was taken off on the car by lightening the bumpers, stripping the interior of its sound deadening and carbon mirrors and making the optional Modena carbon seats standard. Resin Transfer Moulding was utilized for the bumpers and skirts, a carry over from the Challenge cars which resulted in lighter bumpers than on the Modena. The engine and transmission weight was slimmed down 11 kg (24 lb) through the use of a smaller, lighter weight sports (yet still stainless steel) exhaust back box and valved exit pipes. The Challenge Stradale also got Brembo carbon ceramic brakes as standard (which later became standard fitment on the F430) which shaved 16 kg off the curb weight and improved handling by reducing unsprung weight and completely eliminating brake fade. Cars fitted with the centre console stereo option, sub speaker box behind the seats and glass side windows re-gained approximately 30 kg over the best selected options (from a weight perspective). Challenge Stradale models are much sought after these days, and when they do come up for sale, they command a huge premium over the regular 360 Modena cars.
There was another example of both the Nuova 500 and the X1/9 here.
Representing the Mark 3 Cortina was a top of the range 2000GXL car. In the late 1960s, Ford set about developing the third-generation Cortina,the Mark III, which would be produced in higher volumes than before, following the recent merger of Ford of Britain and Ford of Germany into the modern-day Ford of Europe. The car marked the convergence of the German Taunus and British Cortina platforms with only minor differences between the two, hence the car’s internal name TC1, standing for Taunus-Cortina. It was also the last European car engineered by Harley Copp as Vice President Engineering and head of Brentwood, before he returned to Detroit. Ford UK originally wanted to call it something other than Cortina, but the name stuck. Although the Mark III looked significantly larger than the boxier Mark II Cortina, it was actually the same overall length, but 4 inches wider. Within the overall length, a wheelbase lengthened by more than 3 inches (76 mm) also contributed to the slightly more spacious interior. The Mark III Cortina was inspired by the contemporary “coke bottle” design language which had emanated from Detroit – the car sported similar fluted bonnet and beltline design elements to the North American Mercury Montego and Ford LTD of the same era. It replaced both the Mark II Cortina and the larger, more expensive Ford Corsair, offering more trim levels and the option of larger engines than the Mark II Cortina. The Mark III’s continental European sister car – the Taunus TC – was subtly different in appearance, with longer front indicators, different door skins and rear wing pressings that toned down the drooping beltline in order to lose the “coke-bottle” appearance of the Cortina. The MacPherson strut front suspension was replaced with more conventional double A-arm suspension which gave the Mark III a much softer ride on the road’ but did give the larger engines distinct understeer. Trim levels for the Mark III Cortina were Base, L, XL , GT and GXL. The early Mark III Cortinas came with the same 1,300 and 1,600 cc engines as the Mark II Cortinas, except for the 1,600 cc GXL. These engines are known as the Kent, crossflow engine or OHV engine. There was also the introduction of the 2000 cc engine, the single overhead cam engine, now known as the pinto engine. SOHC. The OHV Kent unit was fitted with a single choke carburettor and was used for the early models up to GT trim, the SOHC twin choke carburettor Pinto unit was used for the GT and GXL models. The GXL was also offered in 1,600 in the later Cortina Mark IIIs. In left-hand drive markets, the 1,600 cc OHC was replaced by a twin-carb OHV (Kent) unit not offered in the home market, in order to distinguish it from the competing Taunus which only came with the OHC Pinto engine. 2.0 litre variants used a larger version of the 1,600 cc Pinto unit and were available in all trim levels except base. Base, L and XL versions were available as a five-door estate. Although no longer than its predecessor, the Mark III was a heavier car, reflecting a trend towards improving secondary safety by making car bodies more substantial. Weight was also increased by the stout cross-member incorporated into the new simplified front suspension set-up, and by the inclusion of far more sound deadening material which insulated the cabin from engine and exhaust noise, making the car usefully quieter than its predecessor, though on many cars the benefit was diminished by high levels of wind noise apparently resulting from poor door fit around the windows. Four-speed manual transmissions were by now almost universally offered in the UK for this class of car, and contemporary road tests commented on the rather large gap between second and third gear, and the resulting temptation to slip the clutch when accelerating through the gears in the smaller-engined cars: it was presumably in tacit acknowledgment of the car’s marginal power-to-weight ratio that Ford no longer offered the automatic transmission option with the smallest 1,298 cc-engined Cortina. Four headlights and Rostyle wheels marked out the GT and GXL versions, while the GXL also had bodyside rub strips, a vinyl roof and a brushed aluminium and black boot lid panel on the GXLs, while the GTs had a black painted section of the boot with a chrome trim at either site sloping dashboard with deeply recessed dials and all coil suspension all round. In general styling and technical make up, many observed that the Mark III Cortina aped the Vauxhall Victor FD of 1967. The Cortina went on sale on 23 October 1970, but sales got off to a particularly slow start because of production difficulties that culminated with a ten-week strike at Ford’s plant between April and June 1971, which was at the time reported to have cost production of 100,000 vehicles, equivalent to almost a quarter of the output for a full year. During 1971 the spring rates and damper settings were altered along with the front suspension bushes which reduced the bounciness of the ride and low speed ride harshness which had generated press criticism at the time of the Cortina Mark III’s launch. Volumes recovered, and with the ageing Austin/Morris 1100/1300 now losing out to various newer models, the Cortina was Britain’s top selling car in 1972, closely followed by the Escort. It remained the UK’s top selling car until 1976 when it overtaken by the Mk2 Escort. In late 1973 the Cortina Mark III was given a facelift. The main difference was the dashboard and clocks, no longer did it slope away from the driver’s line of sight. But shared the same dash and clocks as the later Mark IV and Mark V Cortinas, upgraded trim levels and revised grilles, rectangular headlights for the XL, GT and the new 2000E (the “E” standing for executive), which replaced the GXL. The 1.3 litre Kent engine was carried over but now, 1.6 litre models all used the more modern 1.6 litre SOHC engine. Whilst the TD Cortina still had double A-arm suspension with coils at the front and a four-link system at the rear, handling was improved. The 2000E reverted to the classy treatment offered by the 1600E and later Mark IV/V Ghia models instead of the faux wood-grain trim offered by the GXL. The 2000E was also available as an estate version.
The XR4i version of the Sierra followed the regular hatch models in the spring of 1983. There was a unique three door body with an unusual double spoiler at the back. The car was powered by the 2.8 litre injected Essex engine with 160 bhp and standard rear wheel drive. It was not particularly well received and sales were sluggish. In early 1985 Ford replaced the model with a five door hatch with standard four wheel drive, later combining the same mechanical package with the estate body.
Ford introduced a new Granada in 1977 and it was produced until April 1985 following a mild facelift which paid attention to drivetrain noise, vibration, and harshness in 1982. It was a development of the previous car, the main differences being the use of the “Cologne” V6 engine in 2.0, 2.3, and 2.8 ltire forms replacing the older “Essex” unit (which had never been offered in the Cologne-built Granadas), and the introduction of features such as air conditioning and, for the top-priced 2.8-litre versions, fuel-injection. In mainland Europe, a 1.7 litre V4 was originally available. By the time of its introduction, UK Granada production had been quietly abandoned “for some time”; UK market Granada IIs were imported from Germany. A relatively small number of vehicles were also produced with an Indenor four-cylinder diesel engine in 1.9-, 2.1- and 2.5-litre capacities. Most of these went to taxi operators, and few survive. The smallest 1.9 was quite underpowered and was soon replaced by the somewhat more powerful 2.1, which was presented as the “Granada GLD” in March 1979 at Geneva. By 1982, this was replaced by the more capable 2.5. Fuel-injected 2.8 models were originally offered with an ‘S’ pack or GL trim. In 1979, both versions were replaced by the 2.8i GLS. Today early injection models are particularly rare. The UK only received four door saloons and a commodious estate, but there was a two door saloon as well, offered to those markets who still wanted such a configuration. Although most surviving Granada Mark IIs feature the body-coloured post-facelift (1981) grille, the earlier cars came with a simple black grille regardless of body colour.
In April 1985, the third-generation Granada arrived. The Granada name was retained only for Ireland and the United Kingdom, with the Scorpio badge being used elsewhere in Europe for the whole range as opposed to be the trim designation for the top of the range models as was the case in the UK. The Mark III Granada was the first European volume production model to have anti-lock brakes fitted as standard across the range. It was voted European Car of the Year. Engine options included the familiar SOHC Pinto engine, in either tax-barrier undercutting 1.8 litre form, or a more powerful 2-litre version with fuel injection available. The Cologne V6 engines were carried over from the previous range in short-lived (and not much more powerful than the 2 litre Pinto) 2.4, and 2.8 (later 2.9) litre capacities. In 1991, a new range-topping vehicle was introduced, the Scorpio 24-valve. It featured a 2.9 litre Cologne engine that had been extensively reworked by Cosworth Engineering and featured quad camshafts and 24 valves, enough for 200 bhp). According to Ford, this gave a 0-60 mph time of 8.1 seconds and top speed of 140 mph (230 km/h). This version of the Granada continued the “Ford family” styling concept from the previous versions; this time, the car superficially resembled a larger version of the Cortina’s successor, the Ford Sierra. It had followed the precedent set by both the Sierra and the Escort Mk III in changing from the angular saloon styling of their predecessors to an advanced aerodynamic hatchback body style, though a three-box saloon and an estate were later added to the range, as well. The Ford Granada Mk III was the last car to bear the iconic Granada badge in the UK and Ireland, being replaced in 1994 with the Pan-European Scorpio. The Scorpio shared its platform doors and roof with the Mk III Granada and these elements of the cars design were unremarkable. The styling of the nose and tail sections suffered from the application of the Ford Ovoid design school being used across the Ford range in the 1990s. On the Scorpio, this appeared as a large gaping mouth, ‘bug’-eyed headlights, and a bulbous boot. A 1998 redesign did nothing to save it from being axed the same year with total European sales only 95,587 units.
Yhe Ford Mustang Mach 1 is a performance-oriented option package of the Ford Mustang, originally introduced by Ford in August 1968 as a package for the 1969 model year. The Mach 1 title adorned performance oriented Mustang offerings until the original retirement of the moniker in 1978, returning briefly in 2003 and 2004. Best known of the Mach 1 cars those made in 1971 and 1972, as seen here, not least because the car had a starring role in the Bond film “Diamonds are for Ever”. A new fastback style was introduced for 1971, though the underpinnings were still related to the original Mustang of 1964.
Final Ford, and a sure-fire classic of the future was this example of the current Mustang.
Known internally at Rootes as the “Apex” project, the Imp was to be the group’s first post-Second World War small car. Its main rival on the home market was the BMC Mini, which preceded the Imp by almost four years. Launched in May 1963, much was expected of this promising small car, which was all-new and which was built in a new factory in Linwood in Scotland, far away from the rest of the Rootes Group’s facilities in the Coventry area. Conceived as a direct competitor to the BMC’s Mini, it adopted a different approach to packaging, with a space-saving rear-engine and rear-wheel-drive layout to allow as much luggage and passenger capacity as possible in both the rear and the front of the car. It used a unique opening rear hatch to allow luggage to be put into the back seat rest. In addition to its 875 cc all-aluminium power unit, adapted by Rootes from a Coventry Climax FWMA fire pump engine it was the first mass-produced British car to have an engine in the back and the first car to use a diaphragm spring clutch. The baulk-ring synchromesh unit for the transaxle compensated for the speeds of gear and shaft before engagement, which the Mini had suffered from during its early production years. It incorporated many design features which were uncommon in cars until the late 1970s such as a folding rear bench seat, automatic choke and gauges for temperature, voltage and oil pressure. At launch it was considered advanced for the time, but reliability problems quickly harmed its reputation, which led to the Rootes Group being taken over by Chrysler Europe in 1967. Over the life of the car, Rootes (and later Chrysler UK) produced four body styles. The original saloon was introduced in May 1963 and ran through to the end of production in 1976. It has an opening rear window, making it effectively a hatchback. The opening rear window was intended to make it easier to load the small luggage area behind the fold-down rear seat. The fold-down nature of the rear seat was itself unusual in small car design at the time, being more often associated with larger upmarket estate cars. In 1965 a van badged as the “Commer Imp” was introduced. A coupe, the Imp Californian, was introduced in 1967 at the same time as the van’s pressings were used to create an estate car, badged “Hillman Husky”. Several estate car prototypes using the saloon body with extended rooflines were tried, but never offered to the public. Instead, buyers choosing the estate had to settle for a van-derived car with somewhat unusual styling. Both the van and estate ceased production in 1970. In an attempt to interest a wider public when sales figures fell well short of the intended 100,000 cars per annum, several badge-engineered derivatives, such as the luxury Singer Chamois (launched October 1964), and the Sunbeam Sport (launched October 1966), with a more powerful twin-carburettor engine, were offered with varying degrees of success. For marketing reasons the Singer variants were sold as Sunbeams in many export markets, even before May 1970 when the Singer marque was discontinued altogether by Chrysler UK. In some markets, such as France, the “Sunbeam” name was used on all British Rootes products, including the Imp and the Husky.The coupe bodyshell is similar to the standard body but features a more shallow-raked windscreen and rear window which, unlike that on the standard bodied cars, can not be opened. The attempt at a more sporty design did not translate into better acceleration or top speed figures and the aerodynamics of the standard saloon are actually slightly better. The new body style made its first appearance at the Paris Motor Show in October 1967, with the introduction of the sporting Sunbeam Stiletto. The coupe body had also appeared, with less powerful engines, in the Hillman Imp Californian announced in January 1967 and the more luxurious Singer Chamois coupe. Production continued to 1976, and around 440,00 units were sold, a far cry from the figures achieved by the Mini, which sold at about 10 times that rate.
Sitting below the Hunter in the Hillman range of the 1970s was the Avenger, a conventionally engineered small saloon that competed with the Ford Escort and Vauxhall Viva. 1250 and 1500cc models from launch were upgraded to 1300 and 1600cc in the autumn of 1973 and these garnered the majority of sales, but they are not the cars that have survived in the greatest numbers. The ones that you most often see now are the Tiger models. Named to evoke memories of the Sunbeam Tiger, the Avenger Tiger concept began as a publicity exercise. Avenger Super (four-door) cars were modified by the Chrysler Competitions Centre under Des O’ Dell and the Tiger model was launched in March 1972. Modifications included the 1500 GT engine with an improved cylinder head with enlarged valves, twin Weber carburettors and a compression ratio of 9.4:1. The engine now developed 92.5 bhp at 6,100 rpm. The suspension was also uprated, whilst brakes, rear axle, and gearbox are directly from the GT. The cars were all painted in a distinctive yellow called Sundance and they featured a bonnet bulge, whilst a rear spoiler and side stripes were standard, set off with “Avenger Tiger” lettering on the rear quarters. They are also distinguished by the fact that have rectangular headlights. Road test figures demonstrated a 0–60 mph time of 8.9 seconds and a top speed of 108 mph, which beat the rival Ford Escort Mexico, but fuel consumption was heavy. All Avenger Tigers were assembled by the Chrysler Competitions Centre and production figures are vague but around 200 of the initial Mark 1 seems likely. In October 1972, Chrysler unveiled the more “productionised” Mark 2 Tiger. The Avenger GL bodyshell with four round headlights was used. Mechanically identical to the earlier cars, the bonnet bulge was lost although the bonnet turned matt black, and there were changes to wheels and seats. These cars went on sale at £1,350. Production was around 400. These were available in a bright red colour called Wardance as well as the earlier Sundance, both with black detailing. Seen here were an Avenger GT and a rare surviving Estate car.
Needing no introduction, even now, over 50 years since its Geneva Show premiere in 1961 is the E Type, and this was represented among the Jaguars on display. stunning the world at the 1961 Geneva Show. Considered by many to be Sir William Lyons’ greatest achievement, not only did the car have stop-you-in-your-tracks gorgeous styling, but it had explosive performance (even if the 150 mph that was achieved in The Autocar’s Road Test is now known to have been with a little “help”), but it was the price that amazed people more than anything else. Whilst out of reach for most people, who could barely afford any new car, it was massively cheaper than contemporary Aston Martins and Ferraris, its market rivals. It was not perfect, though, and over the coming years, Jaguar made constant improvements. A 2+2 model joined the initial range of Roadster and Coupe, and more powerful and larger engines came when the 3.8 litre was enlarged to 4.2 litres, before more significant styling changes came with the 1967 Series 2 and the 1971 Series 3, where new front end treatments and lights were a consequence of legislative demands of the E Type’s most important market, America. Many of the cars that were first sold in the US have since been repatriated, so there are plenty of them around now, but even so values continue to rise. Buy while you can still afford one!
There was another example of the Delta Integrale here.
A couple of examples of the MX-5 were, representing two of the four geneations in which this much-loved sports car has been produced since its introduction 30 years ago.
Sometimes known as the “New Generation”, to distinguish it from predecessor with the same model names, this is an example of the W114/115 range of cars that Mercedes introduced in 1968, which were produced until 1976 when they were replaced by the W123 range. W114 models featured six-cylinder engines and were marketed as the 230, 250, and 280, while W115 models featured four-cylinder engines and were marketed as the 200, 220, 230, and 240. All were styled by Paul Bracq, featuring a three-box design. At the time, Mercedes marketed saloons in two size classes, with the W114/W115, positioned below the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. The W114/W115 models were the first post-war Mercedes-Benz production car to use a newly engineered chassis, not derived from preceding models. The new chassis format of semi-trailing rear arms and ball-joint front end first displayed in the W114/W115 chassis would be used in all new Mercedes passenger car models until the development of the multi-link rear suspensions of the 1980s. The W108/109 S-Class chassis of the 280S/8, 280SE/8 and 300SEL/8 (and W113 280SL Pagoda) would be the last of the low-pivot swing axle and king pin/double wishbone front ends. The next S-Class -the W116 chassis- having the same engineering of the W114/115. Mercedes introduced a coupé variant of the W114 in 1969, featuring a longer boot and available with either a 2.5 or 2.8 litre six-cylinder engine. While a classic and understated design these generally cost less than the W113-based 280 SL model that ran through 1971, and its successor, the 3.5 or 4.5 litre V8 Mercedes SL R107/C107 (1971–1989) roadster and coupé. While a ‘hard-top’ unlike the fully convertible SL, the pillarless design allowed all the windows to be lowered completely for open air motoring. Only 67,048 coupés were manufactured from 1969 to 1976 (vs. 1.852,008 saloons). Of these 24,669 were 280C and 280CE (top of the range), and 42,379 were the lesser 250C and 250CE (A Mercedes-Benz 220D pickup on the W115 chassis was produced briefly in Argentina in the 1970s.) The W114 received a facelift in 1973 – with a lower bonnet-line, lower and broader grill, a single front bumper to replace the double bumpers, lower placement of the headlamps, A-pillar treatment for keeping the side windows clear, removal of the quarter-windows in the front doors, ribbed tail lights to minimise occlusion of the tail lights with road dirt, and larger side mirrors. The interior received inertia reel belts and a new padded steering wheel with a four-hole design. These cars were known to be extremely durable and tough, so the survival rate is quite great, especially in Germany, where they are popular classics.
There was a nice example of the W123 generation here. Mercedes-Benz introduced the W123 four-door versions on 29 January 1976. While there were some technical similarities to their predecessors, the new models were larger in wheelbase and exterior dimensions. The styling was also updated, although stylistic links with the W114 / W115 were maintained. Initially, all models except 280/280E featured quad unequal-size round headlights and the latter large rectangular units. When facelifted, these units became standard across the range. All W115 engines were carried over, with the 3-litre 5-cylinder diesel model being renamed from “240D 3.0” to “300D” (as it had already been called before in North American markets). The only new engine was the 250’s 2,525 cc inline-six (Type M123, a short-stroke version of the 2.8-litre six Type M110) that replaced the old 2,496 cc Type M114 “six”. In the spring of 1976, a Coupé version was introduced on a shorter wheelbase than the saloon (106.7 in versus 110.0 in. This W123C/CE was available as a 230C (later 230CE) and as a 280C/CE in most markets; in North America there were additional 300CD versions with naturally aspirated, later turbocharged 3-litre diesel engines. In North America, buyers favored diesel engines for upmarket cars, while CAFE legislation meant that Mercedes-Benz North America had to lower their corporate average fuel economy. This led to the introduction of a few diesel models only sold in the United States. It is a tribute to the car’s instant popularity – and possibly to the caution built into the production schedules – that nine months after its introduction, a black market had developed in Germany for Mercedes-Benz W123s available for immediate delivery. Customers willing to order new cars from their local authorised dealer for the recommended list price faced waiting times in excess of twelve months. Meanwhile, models that were barely used and were available almost immediately commanded a premium over the new price of around DM 5,000. From August 1976, long-wheelbase versions (134.8 in) were produced. These were available as 7/8 seater saloons with works bodies or as a chassis with complete front body clip, the latter serving as the base for ambulance and hearse bodies by external suppliers like Binz or Miesen. These “Lang” versions could be ordered as 240D, 300D and 250 models. At the Frankfurt Auto Show in September, 1977 the W123T estate was introduced; the T in the model designation stood for “Touring and Transport”. All engines derivative except “200TD” were available in the range. T production began in March, 1978 in Mercedes’ Bremen factory. It was the first factory-built Mercedes-Benz estate, previous estates had been custom-built by external coachbuilders, such as Binz. In early 1979, the diesel models’ power output was increased; power rose from 54 hp to 59 hp in the 200D, from 64 hp to 71 hp in the 240D and from 79 hp to 87 hp in the 300D; at the same time, the 220D went out of production. The first Mercedes turbo diesel production W123 appeared in September, 1981. This was the 300 TD Turbodiesel, available with automatic transmission only. In most markets, the turbocharged 5-cylinder 3-litre diesel engine (Type OM617.95) was offered only in the T body style, while in North America it was also available in saloon and coupé guises. June 1980 saw the introduction of new four-cylinder petrol engines (Type M102). A new 2-litre four with shorter stroke replaced the old M115, a fuel-injected 2.3-litre version of this engine (in 230E/TE/CE) the old carburettor 230. Both engines were more powerful than their predecessors. In 1980/81, the carburettor 280 versions went out of production; the fuel-injected 280E continued to be offered. In September 1982, all models received a mild facelift. The rectangular headlights, previously fitted only to the 280/280E, were standardised across the board, as was power steering. Since February 1982, an optional five-speed manual transmission was available in all models (except the automatic-only 300 turbodiesel). W123 production ended in January, 1986 with 63 final T-models rolling out. Most popular single models were the 240D (455,000 built), the 230E (442,000 built), and the 200D (378,000 built). The W123 introduced innovations including ABS (optional from August, 1980), a retractable steering column and an airbag for the driver (optional from 1982). Power (vacuum servo) assisted disc brakes were standard on all W123s. Available options included MB-Tex (Mercedes-Benz Texturized Punctured Vinyl) upholstery or velour or leather upholstery, interior wood trim, passenger side exterior mirror (standard on T models), 5-speed manual transmission (European market only), 4-speed automatic transmission (standard in turbodiesel models), power windows with rear-seat switch cut-outs, vacuum powered central locking, rear-facing extra seats (estate only), Standheizung (prestart timer-controlled engine heating), self-locking differential, sun roof, air conditioning, climate control, “Alpine” horn (selectable quieter horn), headlamp wipers (European market only), Tempomat (cruise control), power steering (standard after 1982/08), seat heating, catalytic converter (available from 1984 for California only, from fall (autumn) 1984 also in Germany for the 230E of which one thousand were built). These days, the cars are very popular “youngtimer” classics, with all models highly rated.
As one of Britain’s most popular classic cars, it was no surprise to find several examples of the MGB here, with cars from throughout the model’s long life, both in Roadster and MGB GT guise, as well as one of the short-lived V8 engined cars. Launched in October 1962, this car was produced for the next 18 years and it went on to become Britain’s best selling sports car. When first announced, the MGB was an innovative, modern design, with a monocoque structure instead of the traditional body-on-frame construction used on both the MGA and MG T-types and the MGB’s rival, the Triumph TR series, though components such as the brakes and suspension were developments of the earlier 1955 MGA and the B-Series engine had its origins back in 1947. The lightweight design reduced manufacturing costs while adding to overall vehicle strength, and with a 95hp 3-bearing 1798cc engine under the bonnet, performance was quite respectable with a 0–60 mph time of just over 11 seconds. The car was rather more civilised than its predecessor, with wind-up windows now fitted as standard, and a comfortable driver’s compartment offered plenty of legroom. The roadster was the first of the MGB range to be produced. The body was a pure two-seater but a small rear seat was a rare option at one point. By making better use of space the MGB was able to offer more passenger and luggage accommodation than the earlier MGA while being 3 inches shorter overall. The suspension was also softer, giving a smoother ride, and the larger engine gave a slightly higher top speed. The four-speed gearbox was an uprated version of the one used in the MGA with an optional (electrically activated) overdrive transmission. A five-bearing engine was introduced in 1964 and a number of other modifications crept into the specification. In late 1967, sufficient changes were introduced for the factory to define a Mark II model. Alterations included synchromesh on all 4 gears with revised ratios, an optional Borg-Warner automatic gearbox, a new rear axle, and an alternator in place of the dynamo with a change to a negative earth system. To accommodate the new gearboxes there were significant changes to the sheet metal in the floorpan, and a new flat-topped transmission tunnel. US market cars got a new safety padded dashboard, but the steel item continued for the rest of the world. Rostyle wheels were introduced to replace the previous pressed steel versions in 1969 and reclining seats were standardised. 1970 also saw a new front grille, recessed, in black aluminium. The more traditional-looking polished grille returned in 1973 with a black “honeycomb” insert. Further changes in 1972 were to the interior with a new fascia. To meet impact regulations, in late 1974, the chrome bumpers were replaced with new, steel-reinforced black rubber bumpers, the one at the front incorporating the grille area as well, giving a major restyling to the B’s nose, and a matching rear bumper completed the change. New US headlight height regulations also meant that the headlamps were now too low. Rather than redesign the front of the car, British Leyland raised the car’s suspension by 1-inch. This, in combination with the new, far heavier bumpers resulted in significantly poorer handling. For the 1975 model year only, the front anti-roll bar was deleted as a cost-saving measure (though still available as an option). The damage done by the British Leyland response to US legislation was partially alleviated by revisions to the suspension geometry in 1977, when a rear anti-roll bar was made standard equipment on all models. US emissions regulations also reduced horsepower. In March 1979 British Leyland started the production of black painted limited edition MGB roadsters for the US market, meant for a total of 500 examples, but due to a high demand, production ended with 6682 examples. The United Kingdom received bronze painted roadsters and a silver GT model limited editions. The production run of home market limited edition MGBs was split between 421 roadsters and 579 GTs. Meanwhile, the fixed-roof MGB GT had been introduced in October 1965, and production continued until 1980, although export to the US ceased in 1974. The MGB GT sported a ground-breaking greenhouse designed by Pininfarina and launched the sporty “hatchback” style. By combining the sloping rear window with the rear deck lid, the B GT offered the utility of a station wagon while retaining the style and shape of a coupe. This new configuration was a 2+2 design with a right-angled rear bench seat and far more luggage space than in the roadster. Relatively few components differed, although the MGB GT did receive different suspension springs and anti-roll bars and a different windscreen which was more easily and inexpensively serviceable. Although acceleration of the GT was slightly slower than that of the roadster, owing to its increased weight, top speed improved by 5 mph to 105 mph because of better aerodynamics. 523,826 examples were made.
Sitting alongside the MGB in the MG range was the smaller Midget, and there were a couple of these cars here, a Series 3 model and one of the later rubber-bumpered cars. The 1961 Midget resurrected the name that was used by MG for their smallest car, the M Type, in the late 20s, was the Midget announced in 1961, and was essentially a slightly more expensive badge-engineered version of the MkII Austin-Healey Sprite. The original ‘Frogeye’ Sprite had been introduced specifically to fill the gap in the market left by the end of production of the MG T-type Midget as its replacement, the MGA had been a significantly larger and more expensive car with greater performance. Many existing MG enthusiast and buyers turned to the Sprite to provide a modern low-cost sports car and so a badge-engineered MG version reusing the Midget name made sense. The new Midget differed from the Sprite only in its grille design, badging, colour options and having both leather seats and more external chrome trim as standard to justify its higher purchase price. Mechanically the car was identical to its Austin-Healey counterpart, retaining the rear suspension using quarter-elliptic leaf springs and trailing arms from the ‘Frogeye’. The engine was initially a 948 cc A-Series with twin SU carburettors producing 46 hp at 5500 rpm and 53 lb/ft at 3000 rpm. Brakes were 7″ drums all round. A hard top, heater, radio and luggage rack were available as factory-fitted extras. In October 1962 the engine was increased to 1098 cc, raising the output to 56 hp at 5500 rpm and 62 lb/ft at 3250 rpm, and disc brakes replaced the drums at the front. Wire spoked wheels became available. The doors had no external handles or locks and the windows were sliding Perspex side-screens. A heater was still an optional extra. The car sold well, with 16,080 of the small-engined version and 9601 of the 1098 being made before the arrival in 1964 of the Mark II. Externally the main changes were to the doors, which gained wind-up windows, swivelling quarter lights, external handles and separate locks. The windscreen also gained a slight curvature and was retained in a more substantial frame. The hood, though modified, continued to have a removable frame that had to be erected before the cover was put on. The rear springs were replaced by more conventional semi-elliptic types which gave a better ride. The engine block was strengthened and larger main bearings were fitted, increasing the power to 59 hp at 5750 rpm and torque to 65 lbf·ft at 3500 rpm. A total of 26,601 were made. 1967 saw the arrival of the Mark III. The engine now grew to 1275 cc using the development seen on the Mini-Cooper ‘S’. Enthusiasts were disappointed that this was a detuned version of the 76-bhp Cooper ‘S’ engine, giving only 65 hp at 6000 rpm and 72 lbf·ft at 3000 rpm. A reduced compression ratio of 8.8:1 was used instead of the 9.75:1 employed on the Cooper S engine. The Midget used the 12G940 cylinder head casting that was common to other BMC 1300 cars, whereas the Cooper ‘S’ had a special head with not only larger inlet, but also larger exhaust valves; however, these exhaust valves caused many ‘S’ heads to fail through cracking between the valve seats. The detuned engine was used for reasons of model range placement – with the Cooper ‘S’ spec engine, the Midget would have been faster than the more expensive MGB. The hydraulic system gained a separate master cylinder for the clutch. The hood was now permanently attached to the car, with an improved mechanism making it much easier to use. Minor facelift changes were made to the body trim in late 1969 with the sills painted black, a revised recessed black grille, and squared off taillights as on the MGB. The 13″ “Rostyle” wheels were standardised, but wire-spoked ones remained an option. The square-shaped rear wheel arches became rounded in January 1972 and later that year a Triumph steering rack was fitted, giving a gearing that was somewhat lower than earlier Midgets. A second exhaust silencer was also added in 1972. Alternators were fitted instead of dynamos from 1973 onwards. Many consider the round-arch Midgets with chrome bumpers produced for model years 1972 and 1974 to be the most desirable. These round-arch cars started leaving the Abingdon factory in late 1971. Between 1966 and the 1969 face lift, 22,415 were made, and a further 77,831 up to 1974.
Morgan’s first supercar, the first run of Aero models was unveiled at the Geneva motorshow in 2000 by Charles Morgan, it was in his words “the result of the biggest development project ever undertaken by the Morgan Motor Company”. The result of many years of hard work, a development programme that included racing in the FIA GT series and a partnership with BMW. Whilst the car structure comes as pre-formed bonded aluminium elements significant work goes into hand making the overall vehicle continuing the handmade history of the company. The method of building the car was ahead of most companies in the marketplace and represented a dramatic shift for the company. The superformed and bonded aluminium chassis has elements of an ash frame to provide a link to the more traditional cars. It was designed by Chris Lawrence who had a long standing relationship with Morgan and included many features of racing cars of the time. Items such as in-board shock absorbers, double wishbones all round, a flat floor, centre lock magnesium wheels, rose-jointed suspension and other elements were included providing significant handling improvements over previous models. Complete with a bespoke aluminium chassis, all independent suspension and powered by a 4.4 litre BMW V8 engine (M62TUB44) producing 286 bhp at 5500 rpm and 322 lbs-ft (430Nm) at 3750 rpm this was a radical departure from the traditionally built Morgans. Performance was 0 to 62 mph in 4.8 seconds with a top speed of 160 mph. The interior had a turned aluminium dashboard, unusual asymmetric design and a custom made Burberry case for use as a removable glovebox, along with nods to modern services such as cruise control, air-conditioning and a heated windscreen. With many elements from BMW including the engine, gearbox and axle to push 1100kgs the performance was on a par with Ferraris, Porsches, TVRs and other supercars of the day. Whilst the car did include an LSD the absence of other stability and traction aids mean the driver had total control over the car. Famous for its cross-eyed squint courtesy of the reversed VW Beetle headlamps, this was a culmination of both aerodynamic requirements and availability of light units at the time. Initially Porsche lights had been trialled along with the yet to be released new Mini units, the Mini lights were a favourite but BMW didn’t want the first model to launch their new headlights to be the Aero so these were not an option. Aerodynamically (extensive wind tunnel testing was carried out at MIRA – another Morgan first) Morgan needed a way to allow the leading edge of the front wings to be forward of the radiator, thus providing space to incorporate a front splitter. The VW Beetle headlamps were spotted by Chris Lawrence who invisaged reversing them to give the perfect angle to meet the aerodynamic requirements, and thus the cross-eyed look was born. Around 210 Series 1 cars were made with many smaller changes being made to the car over this period internally and externally. The Series 2 of the Aero 8 was launched at the 2004 Los Angeles Motor Show. This was the first Aero that was made for sale in North America. It was called the Aero Series 2 or Aero America as a result. The back of the car was changed in a number of ways. The petrol tank was repositioned to comply with US rear impact regulations. The boot lid was raised to improve aero-dynamics and storage. The previous folding roof was changed for a pram style changing the shape from the previous low “gangster” style roof of the Series 1. Now using the BMW V8 4.4L engine N62B44 333 bhp at 6,100 rpm and 331 lb-ft (450Nm) at 3,600 rpm using VarioCam on the inlet manifold. The factory offered single side exit exhausts as an option with the exit just in front of the rear wheels on each side. The new V8 provided a top speed of 160 mph with 0 to 62 mph acceleration in 4.8 seconds. Further revisions included a conversion to standard 5 stud wheels, uprated gearbox, brakes and other elements of the running gear. The car retained the same overall dimensions but internal space was increased by moving the doors further out and making the wings/running boards narrower over the Series 1. The unusual asymmetric dashboard of the Series 1 was replaced with a more conventionally styled dashboard however the fly-off handbrake was retained. Something in the region of 60 cars (both LHD and RHD) were produced. The third iteration of the Aero was largely around adding the new style Mini headlamps with changes to the wings and front panels resolving the famous squint of the earlier cars. It retained the interior and mechanical platform of the Series 2. This new front design went on to be used on the new AeroMax and subsequent Aero models. Version 4 of the Morgan Aero 8 saw the 3rd new engine in the life of the vehicle; the BMW 4.4 V8 has been replaced with the BMW 4.8 V8 (N62B48) with 362 bhp and 370 lb/ft of torque. This 13% power increase over the previous Aero gives the new Series 4 Aero 8 a power to weight ratio of 315bhp per tonne. A first for the Aero 8 also comes in the form of an optional automatic transmission; Morgan state: – ZFs 6 HP26 six speed gives even better performance than a manual gearbox due to its special lock up clutch, low power loss design and instant change characteristic. The automatic is usable either as a full automatic for more relaxed driving or in sport manual mode when the bespoke gear lever will hold the engine revs up to the maximum in each gear, increase change speed and blip the throttle to smooth down changes. In addition to these technical changes, a repositioned fuel tank (to improve the weight distribution), revised instrumentation (from cream dials with blue numerals to black with white), an increase in luggage space, revised air vents, a move to a conventional handbrake lever and air intakes and exits on the front wings distinguish the Series 4 Aero 8 from previous models. 179 of these were produced between 2007 and 2010.
No surprise to see the evergreen Morris Minor here as this is a very popular classic. The Minor was conceived in 1941. Although the Nuffield Organization was heavily involved in war work and there was a governmental ban on civilian car production, Morris Motors’ vice chairman, Miles Thomas, wanted to prepare the ground for new products to be launched as soon as the war was over. Vic Oak, the company’s chief engineer, had already brought to Thomas’ attention a promising junior engineer, Alec Issigonis, who had been employed at Morris since 1935 and specialised in suspension design but he had frequently impressed Oak with his advanced ideas about car design in general. Issigonis had come to Oak’s particular attention with his work on the new Morris Ten, which was in development during 1936/7. This was the first Morris to use unitary construction and was conceived with independent front suspension. Issigonis designed a coil-sprung wishbone system which was later dropped on cost grounds. Although the design would later be used on the MG Y-type and many other post-war MGs the Morris Ten entered production with a front beam axle. Despite his brief being to focus on the Ten’s suspension Issigonis had also drawn up a rack and pinion steering system for the car. Like his suspension design this was not adopted but would resurface in the post-war years on the MG Y-type, but these ideas proved that he was the perfect candidate to lead the design work on a new advanced small car. With virtually all resources required for the war effort, Thomas nonetheless approved the development of a new small family car that would replace the Morris Eight. Although Oak (and Morris’ technical director, Sidney Smith) were in overall charge of the project it was Issigonis who was ultimately responsible for the design, working with only two other draughtsmen. Thomas named the project ‘Mosquito’ and ensured that it remained as secret as possible, both from the Ministry of Supply and from company founder William Morris (now Lord Nuffield), who was still chairman of Morris Motors and, it was widely expected, would not look favourably on Issigonis’ radical ideas. Issigonis’ overall concept was to produce a practical, economical and affordable car for the general public that would equal, if not surpass, the convenience and design quality of a more expensive car. In later years he summed up his approach to the Minor; that he wanted to design an economy car that “the average man would take pleasure in owning, rather than feeling of it as something he’d been sentenced to” and “people who drive small cars are the same size as those who drive large cars and they should not be expected to put up with claustrophobic interiors.” Issigonis wanted the car to be as spacious as possible for its size and comfortable to drive for inexperienced motorists. Just as he would with the Mini ten years later, he designed the Mosquito with excellent roadholding and accurate, quick steering not with any pretence of making a sports car, but to make it safe and easy to drive by all. As work proceeded, there were plenty of battle to overcome, to get Issigonis’ ideas approved, and not all of them were. The production car, called the Minor was launched at the British Motor Show at Earls Court in London on October 27, 1948. At the same show Morris also launched the new Morris Oxford and Morris Six models, plus Wolseley variants of both cars, which were scaled-up versions of the new Minor, incorporating all the same features and designed with Issigonis’ input under Vic Oak’s supervision. Thus Issigonis’ ideas and design principles underpinned the complete post-war Morris and Wolseley car ranges. The original Minor MM series was produced from 1948 until 1953. It included a pair of four-seat saloons, two-door and (from 1950) a four-door, and a convertible four-seat Tourer. The front torsion bar suspension was shared with the larger Morris Oxford MO, as was the almost-unibody construction. Although the Minor was originally designed to accept a flat-4 engine, late in the development stage it was replaced by a 918 cc side-valve inline-four engine, little changed from that fitted in the 1935 Morris 8, and producing 27.5 hp and 39 lbf·ft of torque. This little engine pushed the Minor to just 64 mph but delivered 40 mpg. Brakes were four-wheel drums. Early cars had a painted section in the centre of the bumpers to cover the widening of the production car from the prototypes. This widening of 4 inches is also visible in the creases in the bonnet. Exports to the United States began in 1949 with the headlamps removed from within the grille surround to be mounted higher on the wings to meet local safety requirements. In 1950 a four-door version was released, initially available only for export, and featuring from the start the headlamps faired into the wings rather than set lower down on either side of the grille. The raised headlight position became standard on all Minors in time for 1951. From the start, the Minor had semaphore-type turn indicators, and subsequent Minor versions persisted with these until 1961 An Autocar magazine road test in 1950 reported that these were “not of the usual self-cancelling type, but incorporate[d] a time-basis return mechanism in a switch below the facia, in front of the driver”. It was all too easy for a passenger hurriedly emerging from the front passenger seat to collide with and snap off a tardy indicator “flipper” that was still sticking out of the B-pillar, having not yet been safely returned by the time-basis return mechanism to its folded position. Another innovation towards the end of 1950 was a water pump (replacing a gravity dependent system), which permitted the manufacturer to offer an interior heater “as optional equipment”. When production of the first series ended, just over a quarter of a million had been sold, 30 per cent of them the convertible Tourer model. In 1952, the Minor line was updated with an Austin-designed 803 cc overhead valve A-series engine, replacing the original side-valve unit. The engine had been designed for the Minor’s main competition, the Austin A30, but became available as Austin and Morris were merged into the British Motor Corporation. The new engine felt stronger, though all measurements were smaller than the old. The 52 second drive to 60 mph was still calm, with 63 mph as the top speed. Fuel consumption also rose to 36 mpg. An estate version was introduced in 1952, known as the Traveller (a Morris naming tradition for estates, also seen on the Mini). The Traveller featured an external structural ash (wood) frame for the rear bodywork, with two side-hinged rear doors. The frame was varnished rather than painted and a highly visible feature of the body style. Commercial models, marketed as the Morris Quarter Ton Van and Pick-up were added in May 1953. Rear bodies of the van versions were all steel. The 4-seat convertible and saloon variants continued as well. The car was again updated in 1956 when the engine was increased in capacity to 948 cc. The two-piece split windscreen was replaced with a curved one-piece one and the rear window was enlarged. In 1961 the semaphore-style trafficators were replaced by the flashing direction indicators, these were US-style red at the rear (using the same bulb filament as the brake lamp) and white at the front (using a second brighter filament in the parking lamp bulb) which was legal in the UK and many export markets at the time (such as New Zealand). An upmarket car based on the Minor floorpan using the larger BMC B-Series engine was sold as the Riley One-Point-Five/Wolseley 1500 beginning in 1957: versions of this Wolseley/Riley variant were also produced by BMC Australia as the Morris Major and the Austin Lancer. In December 1960 the Morris Minor became the first British car to sell more than 1,000,000 units. To commemorate the achievement, a limited edition of 350 two-door Minor saloons (one for each UK Morris dealership) was produced with distinctive lilac paintwork and a white interior. Also the badge name on the side of the bonnet was modified to read “Minor 1,000,000” instead of the standard “Minor 1000”. The millionth Minor was donated to the National Union of Journalists, who planned to use it as a prize in a competition in aid of the union’s Widow and Orphan Fund. The company, at the same time, presented a celebratory Minor to London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children, but this car was constructed of cake. The final major upgrades to the Minor were made in 1962. Although the name Minor 1000 was retained, the changes were sufficient for the new model to be given its own ADO development number. A larger version of the existing A-Series engine had been developed in conjunction with cylinder head specialist Harry Weslake for the then new ADO16 Austin/Morris 1100 range. This new engine used a taller block than did the 948 cc unit, with increased bore and stroke bringing total capacity up to 1,098 cc. Although fuel consumption suffered moderately at 38 mpg, the Minor’s top speed increased to 77 mph with noticeable improvements in low-end torque, giving an altogether more responsive drive. Other changes included a modified dashboard layout with toggle switches, textured steel instrument binnacle, and larger convex glove box covers. A different heater completed the interior upgrade, whilst the larger combined front side/indicator light units, common to many BMC vehicles of the time, were fitted to the front wings. These now included a separate bulb and amber lens for indicators while larger tail lamp units also included amber rear flashers. During the life of the Minor 1000 model, production declined. The last Convertible/Tourer was manufactured on 18 August 1969, and the saloon models were discontinued the following year. Production of the more practical Traveller and commercial versions ceased in 1972, although examples of all models were still theoretically available from dealers with a surplus of unsold cars for a short time afterwards. 1,619,857 Minors of all variants were ultimately sold.
I know that Top Gear famously destroyed a few Morris Marina in their time, but not withstanding the fact that this car is still the butt of jokes now just as it was from birth, there is a thriving Owners Club, so I would have rather expected a few more examples of what for most of its life was one of the best selling cars in Britain. By 1968, when British Leyland was formed as a merger of BMC and British Motor Holdings, the new management were somewhat alarmed to discover that apart from the soon to be launched Maxi, there were no new models under development, and as rival brand Ford’s Cortina was performing extremely well in the market, it was decided to give priority to a mid-sized car that would replace the elderly Minor and Farina saloons and take the Ford head on in the quest for sales. Conceived,. designed and put into production in record quick time, of just 18 months, the Marina was launched in the spring of 1971. An utterly conventional car, with rear wheel drive, and simple proven mechanicals using the familiar A and B Series engines, the model was launched as a 2 door Coupe and 4 door Saloon. Unusually, the Coupe was cheaper than the Saloon, which should have given the Morris something of an advantage over the Dagenham rival, who charged quite a premium for a Capri over a Cortina. However, the Marina had one attribute which completely eluded the Ford, certainly in its more powerful guises: terminal understeer. It is understood that when the British press got the chance to drive the car some while before launch, they all complained bitterly about this and the dire consequences that could follow, but BL management assured them that this would be fixed for the production cars. It was not, and a usually loyal press struggled to contain their disappointment in what they wrote in early Road Tests. About 30,000 cars were built like this before a revised suspension design was deployed and gradually the early cars were tamed somewhat. This weakness not withstanding, the Marina quickly picked up sales, and although it hardly ever outsold the Cortina in any given month, it became a strong performer in the UK Sales Charts, all the more so when an Estate model was added to the range in the autumn of 1972.
The De Ville is a neo-classic luxury vehicle which was produced by Panther Westwinds, from 1974 to 1985. The De Ville was conceived by Robert Jankel to appeal to the taste of nouveau riche customers, including singer Elton John and actor Oliver Reed. With a wheelbase of 142 inches (3,600 mm), the tubular-framed De Ville used a straight-six engine or a V12 engine from Jaguar Cars. The flowing wing lines and big headlights of the De Ville were styled to imitate the Bugatti Royale. The cockpit of the De Ville was modern, without the exterior’s pretense of pre-war styling. The Panther De Ville was equipped with Jaguar suspension, power steering and automatic transmission, so it was an easy car to drive and quite quick, although poor aerodynamics tended to keep the top speed low. Interiors were lavish and often featured TV sets and drinks bars. The doors of the De Ville were from the BMC 1800 family car. About 60 De Villes were hand-built, including eleven two-door convertibles (for many years Britain’s most expensive listed production car), and one pink and gold six-door limousine.
Perhaps the best loved of all Peugeot models is the 205 GTi, and there were a couple of these here, along with the XL. 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.
Launched at the Brussels Motor Show in January 1980, the R5 Turbo was primarily designed for rallying, as a response to Lancia’s rallying success with the mid-engined Stratos, Renault’s Jean Terramorsi, vice-president of production, asked Bertone’s Marc Deschamps to design a new sports version of the Renault 5 Alpine supermini. The distinctive new rear bodywork was styled by Marcello Gandini at Bertone. Although the standard Renault 5 has a front-mounted engine, the 5 Turbo featured a mid-mounted 1397 cc Cléon-Fonte turbocharged engine placed behind the driver in mid-body in a modified Renault 5 chassis. In standard form, the engine developed 160 PS. At the time of its launch it was the most powerful production French car. The first 400 production 5 Turbos were made to comply with Group 4 homologation to allow the car to compete in international rallies, and were manufactured at the Alpine factory in Dieppe. Once the homologation models were produced, a second version named Turbo 2 was introduced using more stock Renault 5 parts replacing many of light alloy components in the original 5 Turbo version. The Turbo 2 was less expensive, but had nearly the same levels of performance, top speed of 200 km/h (120 mph) and 0–100 km/h in 6.9 seconds. A total of 3576 R5 Turbos were manufactured during a four-year production run.
When new, the Silver Shadow was considered a big car, but looking at this one, it does not seem quite so massive any more.The Silver Shadow was produced from 1965 to 1976, and the Silver Shadow II from 1977 to 1980. Initially, the model was planned to be called “Silver Mist”, a natural progression from its predecessor Silver Cloud. The name was changed to “Silver Shadow” after realising that “Mist” is the German word for manure, rubbish, or dirt. The design was a major departure from its predecessor, the Silver Cloud; although several styling cues from the Silver Cloud were modified and preserved, as the automobile had sold well. The John Polwhele Blatchley design was the firm’s first single bow model. The original Shadow was 3 1⁄2 inches narrower and 7 inches shorter than the car it replaced, but nevertheless managed to offer increased passenger and luggage space thanks to more efficient packaging made possible by unitary construction. Aside from a more modern appearance and construction, the Silver Shadow introduced many new features such as disc rather than drum brakes, and independent rear suspension, rather than the outdated live axle design of previous cars. The Shadow featured a 172 hp 6.2 litre V8 from 1965 to 1969, and a 189 hp 6.75 ltire V8 from 1970 to 1980. Both powerplants were coupled to a General Motors-sourced Turbo Hydramatic 400 automatic gearbox, except on pre-1970 right-hand-drive models, which used the same 4-speed automatic gearbox as the Silver Cloud (also sourced from General Motors, the Hydramatic). The car’s most innovative feature was a high-pressure hydropneumatic suspension system licensed from Citroën, with dual-circuit braking and hydraulic self-levelling suspension. At first, both the front and rear of the car were controlled by the levelling system; the front levelling was deleted in 1969 as it had been determined that the rear levelling did almost all the work. Rolls-Royce achieved a high degree of ride quality with this arrangement. In 1977, the model was renamed the Silver Shadow II in recognition of several major changes, most notably rack and pinion steering; modifications to the front suspension improved handling markedly. Externally, the bumpers were changed from chrome to alloy and rubber starting with the late 1976 Silver Shadows. These new energy absorbing bumpers had been used in the United States since 1974, as a response to tightening safety standards there. Nonetheless, the bumpers on cars sold outside of North America were still solidly mounted and protruded 2 in less. Also now made standard across the board was the deletion of the small grilles mounted beneath the headlamps. Outside of North America, where tall kerbs and the like demanded more ground clearance, a front skirt was also fitted to the Silver Shadow II and its sister cars. In 1979 75 Silver Shadow II cars were specially fitted to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the company with the original red “RR” badges front and rear, pewter/silver paint, grey leather with red piping, scarlet red carpets, and a silver commemorative placard on the inside of the glove box door. 33 75th anniversary cars were designated for and shipped to the North American market. 8425 examples of the Shadow II were made, which, when added to the total of over 16,000 of the first generation cars made this the biggest selling Rolls Royce of all time. There were Series 1 and Series 2 cars here.
Whilst the 3 litre P5 model may have been thought of as a replacement for the top end of the long running P4 Rovers, it was really this car, the P6 model, first seen in October 1963 which was its true successor. Very different from the long-running 60/75/80/90/95/100/105/110 models, this car took some of its inspiration, it is claimed, from the Citroen DS as well as lessons learned from Rover’s Jet Turbine program of the 1950s and early 60s. It was a “clean sheet” design, carrying nothing over, and was advanced for the time with a de Dion tube suspension at the rear, four-wheel disc brakes (inboard on the rear), and a fully synchromesh transmission. The unibody design featured non-stressed panels bolted to a unit frame. The de Dion set-up was unique in that the “tube” was in two parts that could telescope, thereby avoiding the need for sliding splines in the drive shafts, with consequent stiction under drive or braking torque, while still keeping the wheels vertical and parallel in relation to the body. The Rover 2000 won industry awards for safety when it was introduced and included a carefully designed “safety” interior. One innovative feature was the prism of glass on the top of the front side lights. This allowed the driver to see the front corner of the car in low light conditions, and also confirmed that they were operative. One unique feature of the Rover 2000 was the design of the front suspension system, in which a bell crank (an L-shaped rotating bracket trailing the upper hub carrier joint) conveyed the vertical motion of the wheel to a fore-and-aft-horizontally mounted spring fastened to the rear wall of the engine compartment. A single hydraulically damped arm was mounted on the firewall for the steering. The front suspension was designed to allow as much width for the engine compartment as possible so that Rover’s Gas Turbine engine could be fitted. In the event, the engine was never used for the production vehicle, but the engine compartment width helped the accommodation of the V8 engine adopted years after the car’s initial launch for the 2000. The luggage compartment was limited in terms of usable space, because of the “base unit” construction, complex rear suspension and, in series II vehicles, the battery location. Lack of luggage space (and hence the need to re-locate the spare tyre) led to innovative options for spare tyre provision including boot lid mountings and optional Dunlop Denovo run-flat technology. The car’s primary competitor on the domestic UK market was the Triumph 2000, also released in October 1963, just one week after the Rover, and in continental Europe, it contended in the same sector as the Citroen DS which, like the initial Rover offering, was offered only with a four-cylinder engine – a deficiency which in the Rover was resolved, four years after its launch, when Rover’s compact V8 was engineered to fit into the engine bay. The Rover 2000 interior was not as spacious as those of its Triumph and Citroen rivals, especially in the back, where its sculpted two-person rear seat implied that Rover customers wishing to accommodate three in the back of a Rover should opt for the larger and older Rover 3 Litre. The first P6 used a 1,978 cc engine designed specifically for the car, which put out around 104 bhp. That was not enough to live up to the sports saloon ambitions, so Rover later developed a twin SU carburettor version with a re-designed top end and marketed the revised specification vehicles as the 2000 TC. The 2000 TC was launched in March 1966 for export markets in North America and continental Europe, relenting and making it available to UK buyers later that year. This engine generated around 124 bhp. The standard specification engines continued in production in vehicles designated as 2000 SC models. These featured the original single SU. More performance was to come. Rover saw Buick’s compact 3528 cc V8 unit that they had been looking at developing as the means of differentiating the P6 from its chief rival, the Triumph 2000. They purchased the rights to the innovative aluminium engine, and, once improved for production by Rover’s own engineers, it became an instant hit. The Rover V8 engine, as it became known, outlived its original host, the P5B, by more than thirty years. The 3500 was introduced in April 1968, one year after the Rover company was purchased by Triumph’s owner, Leyland and continued to be offered until 1977. The light metal V8 engine weighed the same as the four-cylinder unit of the Rover 2000, and the more powerful car’s maximum speed of 114 mph as well as its 10.5-second acceleration time from 0–60 mph were considered impressive, and usefully faster than most of the cars with which, on the UK market, the car competed on price and specifications. It was necessary to modify the under-bonnet space to squeeze the V8 engine into the P6 engine bay: the front suspension cross-member had to be relocated forward, while a more visible change was an extra air intake beneath the front bumper to accommodate the larger radiator. There was no longer space under the bonnet for the car’s battery, which in the 3500 retreated to a position on the right side of the boot. Nevertheless, the overall length and width of the body were unchanged when compared with the smaller-engined original P6. Having invested heavily in the car’s engine and running gear, the manufacturer left most other aspects of the car unchanged. However, the new Rover 3500 could be readily distinguished from the 2000 thanks to various prominent V8 badges on the outside and beneath the radio. The 3500 was also delivered with a black vinyl covering on the C-pillar, although this decoration later appeared also on four-cylinder cars. A 3-speed Borg Warner 35 automatic was the only transmission until the 1971 addition of a four-speed manual 3500S model, fitted with a modified version of the gearbox used in the 2000/2200. The letter “S” did not denote “Sport”, it was chosen because it stood for something specific on those cars: “Synchromesh”. However it is important to note that the 3500S was noticeably quicker than the automatic version of this car with a 0-60mph time of 9 seconds, compared with 10.1 for the standard car. Moreover, due to the fuel-guzzling nature of automatic gearboxes of this era, the manual car’s official cycle was 24mpg compared to the automatic’s 22mpg. The Series II, or Mark II as it was actually named by Rover, was launched in 1970. All variants carried the battery in the boot and had new exterior fixtures such as a plastic front air intake (to replace the alloy version), new bonnet pressings (with V8 blips even for the 4-cylinder-engined cars) and new rear lights. The interior of the 3500 and 2000TC versions was updated with new instrumentation with circular gauges and rotary switches. The old-style instrumentation with a linear speedometer and toggle switches continued on the 2000SC versions. The final changes to the P6 came in the autumn of 1973 when the 2200 SC and 2200 TC replaced the 2000 SC and TC. These cars used an enlarged 2,205 cc version of the 2000 engine, which increased power outputs to 98 and 115 bhp respectively as well as offering improved torque. The P6 was replaced by the SD1 Rover, a completely different sort of car indeed, after 322,302 cars had been built.
It is hard to imagine now just how excited people were when this dramatically different looking Rover burst onto the scene in July 1976. These days it takes a very extreme supercar for most car enthusiasts to get truly animated, but back then, a 3.5 litre V8 engined 5 seater British hatchback was all it took, and it was no surprise that the model collected the “Car of the Year” award later in 1976, fending off the second placed Ford Fiesta and the new Audi 100. Replacing both the Rover P6 and the big Triumphs which had been launched at the 1963 Motor Show and updated only in detail since then, this new David Bache styled car, with more than a hint of Ferrari Daytona in its profile really was something very different indeed to look at, even if underneath it was more of a clever update of proven mechanicals, with the 3.5 litre V8 engine carried over from its predecessor. Early press reports suggested that the car was as good to drive as it was to behold, and quickly there were long waiting lists as Rover struggled to produce the car fast enough in an all-new manufacturing facility in Solihull. Sadly, it did not take too long before it became apparent that although the car had been a long time in gestation, there were a number of design and manufacturing quality issues, quite apart form the extra ones that were inflicted by a still very truculent and strike-prone workforce. These frustrations did little to quell demand, though, which increased when the promised 6 cylinder models arrived in the autumn of 1977. 2300 and 2600 models sported a new 6 cylinder engine and were the more obvious replacement for the big Triumph and the Rover 2200 than the V8 car had been. BL’s next move was to take the car up market with the launch of the V8S in 1979 which was available in a rather bright Triton Green metallic paint and a choice of gold or silver alloy wheels, as well having a far higher standard level of equipment. It was replaced by the even more luxurious Vanden Plas model in late 1980. There are not that many of the early cars left now. A more significant change was a facelift which came in early 1982. A revised rear window line was aimed at improving the rather limited rear visibility and finally a rear wiper was fitted, this having been excluded from the earlier cars as it had been deemed unnecessary by a BL management who still thought that they knew better than the customers who clamoured for one) and the bumpers and lights were altered, along with significant interior trim and equipment changes. A few weeks later, a cheaper 4 cylinder 2000 model appeared, with the O Series engine under the bonnet, aimed at the all important fleet market and later that year it was joined by a diesel version, using the VM Motor engine, creating the 90 bhp 2400SD. The real joy though was the car revealed at the 1982 British Motor Show, the Vitesse, which boasted fuel injection and 190 bhp to give the car better performance, and with a new front and rear spoiler, the looks to suggest that this was an Autobahn-stormer to rival BMW and Mercedes. Of course, the other reason for the Vitesse was so as to homologate some of the changes for what turned out to be a less than successful career on the race track. It was this which led to the final handful of Vitesse models having a further power upgrade with the TwinPlenum versions, and these are the most highly prized cars of the lot these days. That said, values of SD1 remain very low, with the result that the majority of the cars have been scrapped as they are economic to restore. You see more Vitesse models than anything else and that was the case here, but there were also some of the lesser Vanden Plas models on show as well.
2019 marks the 30th anniversary of the launch of this highly-rated range, and there was a special feature to mark this, with examples of all the different body styles on show. Under development the car was known as Project YY, a joint venture with Honda for a range of family sized cars. When news about it first emerged, it was assumed that once again each would adopt their own body style. Honda was first to market, by some months, with their Concerto, and when the Rover 200 Series, as the new 5 door hatch models were called, were then revealed in the autumn of 1989, there was much disappointment expressed that it seemed that Rover had merely changed the details of lights, bumpers and grille, as well putting their own touches to the interior. They had also put their brand new K Series 1.4 litre engine under the bonnet, though, and once the press and then the public got to drive the new car, any thoughts that this might be another dull Japanese car were dispelled, as it was evident that this was a cracking new car in every respect. Only high prices counted against it, but look past that, and the choice between a Rover 214 with a 92 bhp engine and sweet five speed gearbox and a quality interior, or a Ford Escort 1.4 saddled with the rough and crude 75bhp 1.4 litre CVH engine and a decidedly mass-market feeling interior pointed in the Rover’s favour every time. The 216 model retained a Honda engine, but with 125 bhp, this was unbelievably rapid for the class. The 4 door saloon version, the 400, followed a few months later, and then Rover added their own unique 3 door body style, as well as the option of a 2 litre model for a hot hatch to rival the Golf GTi and 309 GTi.
Coupe, Cabrio and 400 Tourer versions followed soon after, giving a comprehensive range which was a clear class leader. I had a 414 Si from January 1992 for three years, during which time I put over 100,000 miles on the clock, the highest mileage I had covered to date, and I thought the car was absolutely brilliant. It would have been even better with power steering, probably, but this was an era when you needed to go up a size or two to find this feature as standard. There were several examples of the 400 Tourer here, and a couple of the 200 Cabrio, a nicely finished open topped car which competed against Escort, Golf and Astra models at the time. Rover changed the front end of the cars with a false grille not long after the October 1992 launch of the Coupe, the car that was codenamed TomCat, so you don’t see many with the simple front end, but there was one here, along with a large number of cars with the grille. With a choice of 1.6 and 2,0 injected engines or a 2.0 Turbo that was astonishingly fast for its day and the money charged, these were popular cars which sold well, with only really the Calibra as a true market rival.
Contemporary Triumph marketing advertised the GT6 as being developed from the “race winning Le Mans Spitfires” to capitalise on their aesthetic similarities, whereas the Le Mans Spitfires and the GT6 were actually two entirely separate development programmes (the GT programme pre-dating the racing programme). However, the marketing spin was so successful that many people erroneously believed the Le Mans Spitfires to actually be GT6s. The production car was introduced in 1966 and called the Triumph GT6. The new body was a sleek fastback design with an opening rear hatch which gave the GT6 the nickname “Poor man’s E-Type”. It was really a 2-seater, but a small extra rear seat could be ordered if required and was large enough for small children. The family resemblance to the Spitfire Mk II was strong, the longer 6-cylinder engine necessitated a new bonnet top with a power bulge and the doors were provided with opening quarter light windows and squared-off glass in the top rear corner. The 6-cylinder engine was tuned to develop 95 bhp at 5000 rpm, and produced 117 lb·ft of torque at 3000 rpm. The increased power necessitated certain changes to the Spitfire mechanics; the radiator was new and mounted further forward in the car and the gearbox was the stronger unit from the Vitesse, with optional overdrive. Front springs were uprated to cope with the extra weight of the new engine. The overall vehicle weight unladed was 1,904 lb (864 kg). The interior of the GT6 was well equipped; a wooden dashboard housed a full complement of instruments, with carpets and heater included as standard. The new car had some very strong selling points. The new engine provided a 106 mph top speed and 0–60 mph in 12 seconds, a little better than the MGB GT. Moreover, the unit was comparatively smooth and tractable, in marked contrast to the MG’s rather harsh 4-cylinder engine. Fuel economy was very reasonable for the period at 20mpg, and the interior well up to the competition. The only major criticism was of its rear suspension; the GT6 inherited the swing-axle system from the Spitfire, which in turn was copied from the Herald small saloon. In the saloon it was tolerated, in the little Spitfire it was not liked and in the powerful GT6 it was heavily criticised. Triumph had done nothing to improve the system for the GT6 and the tendency to break away if the driver lifted off the power mid-corner was not helped at all by the increased weight at the front of the car. The handling was most bitterly criticised in the USA, an important export market for Triumph, where they were traditionally very strong. Similar criticism was being levelled at the Vitesse saloon, which shared the GT6’s engine and its handling problems. Triumph realised that they needed to find an answer to the handling problem, if only to maintain their reputation in the USA. Their response came with the 1969 model year, with the introduction of the GT6 Mk II, known in the States as the GT6+. The rear suspension was significantly re-engineered using reversed lower wishbones and Rotoflex driveshaft couplings, taming the handling and turning the Triumph into an MGB beater. The Vitesse was also modified, but the Spitfire had to wait until 1970 for any improvements to be made. There were other changes for the Mk II; the front bumper was raised (in common with the Spitfire Mk.3) to conform to new crash regulations, necessitating a revised front end, and side vents were added to the front wings and rear pillars. Under the bonnet, the engine was uprated to develop 104 bhp with a new cylinder head, camshaft, and manifolds. Performance improved to 107 mph but perhaps more noteworthy the 0–60 mph time dropped to 10 seconds. The fuel economy was also improved to 25 mpg. The interior was updated with a new dashboard and better ventilation, a two-speed heater fan and a black headlining. Overdrive remained a popular option for the manual transmission. A further update to the Series 3 came in the autumn of 1970, at the same time as the Spitfire Mark IV was launched, but sales remained low and the car was deleted in the autumn of 1973 with production having reached 40,926 examples.
Envisioned as a luxury sports car, the Stag was designed to compete directly with the Mercedes-Benz SL. It started as a styling experiment, cut and shaped from a 1963–4 Triumph 2000 pre-production saloon, which had also been styled by Michelotti, and loaned to him by Harry Webster, Director of Engineering at Triumph. Their agreement was that if Webster liked the design, Triumph could use the prototype as the basis of a new Triumph model. Harry Webster, who was a long time friend of Giovanni Michelotti, whom he called “Micho”, loved the design and took the prototype back to England. The end result, a two-door drop head (convertible), had little in common with the styling of its progenitor 2000, but retained the suspension and drive line. Triumph liked the Michelotti design so much that they propagated the styling lines of the Stag into the new Mark 2 2000/2500 saloon and estate. The initial Stag design was based around the saloon’s 2.5-litre six cylinder engine, but Harry Webster intended the Stag, large saloons and estate cars to use a new Triumph-designed overhead cam 2.5-litre fuel injected V8. Under the direction of Harry Webster’s successor, Spen King in 1968, the new Triumph OHC 2.5 PI V8 was enlarged to 2997 cc to increase torque. To meet emission standards in the USA, a key target market, the troublesome mechanical fuel injection was dropped in favour of dual Zenith-Stromberg 175 CDSE carburettors. A key aim of Triumph’s engineering strategy at the time was to create a family of engines of different size around a common crankshaft. This would enable the production of power plants of capacity between 1.5 and 4 litres, sharing many parts, and hence offering economies of manufacturing scale and of mechanic training. A number of iterations of this design went into production, notably a slant four-cylinder engine used in the later Triumph Dolomite and Triumph TR7, and a variant manufactured by StanPart that was initially used in the Saab 99. The Stag’s V8 was the first of these engines into production. Sometimes described as two four-cylinder engines Siamesed together, it is more correct to say that the later four-cylinder versions were half a Stag engine. It has sometimes been alleged that Triumph were instructed to use the proven all-aluminium Rover V8, originally designed by Buick, but claimed that it would not fit. Although there was a factory attempt by Triumph to fit a Rover engine, which was pronounced unsuccessful, the decision to go with the Triumph V8 was probably driven more by the wider engineering strategy and by the fact that the Buick’s different weight and torque characteristics would have entailed substantial re-engineering of the Stag when it was almost ready to go on sale. Furthermore Rover, also owned by British Leyland, could not necessarily have supplied the numbers of V8 engines to match the anticipated production of the Stag anyway. As in the Triumph 2000 model line, unitary construction was employed, as was fully independent suspension – MacPherson struts in front, semi-trailing arms at the rear. Braking was by front disc and rear drum brakes, while steering was power-assisted rack and pinion. Although other bodystyles were envisaged, these never made production, so all Stags were four-seater convertible coupés. For structural rigidity – and to meet new American rollover standards of the time – the Stag required a B-pillar “roll bar” hoop connected to the windscreen frame by a T-bar. A removable hardtop was a popular factory option for the early Stags, and was later supplied as a standard fitment. The car was launched one year late in 1970, to a warm welcome at the various international auto shows. Sadly, it rapidly acquired a reputation for mechanical unreliability, usually in the form of overheating. These problems arose from a variety of causes, all of which are now well understood, and for which solutions have been identified, but at the time, they really hurt the reputation and hence sales of the car. They ranged from late changes to the engine which gave rise to design features that were questionable from an engineering perspective, the choice of materials which necessitated the use of antifreeze all year round, the engine’s use of long, simplex roller link chains, which would first stretch and then often fail inside fewer than 25,000 miles; the arrangement of the cylinder head fixing studs, half of which were vertical and the other half at an angle causing sideways forces which caused premature failure of the cylinder head gaskets. and poor quality production from a plant troubled with industrial unrest and poor quality control. At the time, British Leyland never provided a budget sufficient to correct the few design shortcomings of the Triumph 3.0 litre OHC V8, and the dealers did not help matters. The Stag was always a relatively rare car. British Leyland had around 2,500 UK dealers when the Stag was on sale and a total of around 19,000 were sold in the UK. Thus the average dealer sold only seven or eight Stags during the car’s whole production run, or roughly one car per year. This meant that few dealers saw defective Stags often enough to recognise and diagnose the cause of the various problems. Many owners simply replaced the engine altogether, often with the Rover V8, Ford Essex V6, or even the Triumph 6-cylinder engine around which the car was originally designed. Perhaps thanks to such a reputation for its unreliable engine, only 25,877 cars were produced between 1970 and 1977. Of this number, 6780 were export models, of which 2871 went to the United States. The majority of cars were fitted with a Borg-Warner 3-speed automatic transmission. The other choice was a derivative of the ancient Triumph TR2 gearbox which had been modified and improved over the years for use in the TR series of sports cars. Other than the choice of transmissions there were very few factory-installed options. On early cars buyers could choose to have the car fitted with just the soft-top, just the hard-top (with the hood storage compartment empty) or with both. Later cars were supplied with both roofs. Three wheel styles were offered. The standard fitments were steel wheels with Rostyle “tin-plate” trims. Five-spoke alloy wheels were an option, as were a set of traditional steel spoke wheels with “knock-off”‘ hubcaps. The latter were more commonly found on Stags sold in North America on Federal Specification vehicles. Electric windows, power steering and power-assisted brakes were standard. Options included air conditioning, a luggage rack, uprated Koni shock absorbers, floor mats and Lucas Square Eight fog lamps, and a range of after-market products, most of which were dealer installed as optional accessories could also be fitted. Rather unusually for a 4-seat touring car, the accessory list included a sump protector plate that was never produced. This was probably included as a slightly “gimmicky” tribute to Triumph’s rallying successes. Nowadays, the Stag is seen in a very different light, with lots of very enthusiastic and knowledgeable owners who enjoy the good points of this attractive looking car and who revel in the fact that the market has not yet boosted prices into the unaffordable category, as one day will surely happen.
The Toledo was one of two cars that Triumph presented to replace the innovative, but rather costly to build front wheel drive 1300 model in August 1970. To cut costs, it made the switch from front to rear wheel drive, whilst the other new car, the Triumph 1500 stayed (initially) as a front driver. Both cars had new styling which was clearly based on the 1300, but updated. Both had a new split grille at the front, but instead of the 1500’s twin round headlamps, the Toledo had single rectangular units set in a grey plastic grille. The rear end was like that of the 1300 except for the tail lights, which were of a simpler, flat-faced design. The biggest change for the Toledo was a move to rear-wheel drive and live rear axle (still with coil springs), in the interest of simplicity and low production costs. The interior was also cheaper, with wood confined to a dashboard consisting of a simple plank with holes drilled for the quite basic instrumentation but the interior was a cut above most other small cars at a time when black plastic was commonplace. Initially, the Toledo was only available as a two-door saloon with the 1300 cc engine of 58 bhp Drum brakes were fitted all round and there was no overdrive or automatic option available. In March 1971 a 4-door “special export” version was launched at the Geneva Motor Show, featuring a 1500 cc engine in single and twin carburettor “TC” form producing 61 and 64 bhp respectively. From late August 1971 the four-door model was also available on the home market. The four-door Toledo featured the same side body pressings as the Triumph 1300. The interior furnishings were in most respects indistinguishable between the two versions, but buyers of the four-door car received two extra ashtrays in each of the extra doors. Radial ply tyres were specified in place of the cross-plies offered on the two-door car, compensating for the additional 50 kg of weight involved in installing the extra doors. The two-door model featured non-wraparound front and rear bumpers, although this would change in 1973 to full wraparound bumpers, something the four-door featured from the start. Two front bumper under-riders were fitted to the two-door model; however these were deleted on later cars from around late 1972 / early 1973. The specification gradually improved over the years. In October 1972 front disc brakes were fitted as standard on both models and a heated rear window became standard equipment by late 1973 / early 1974. In March 1975 the two-door version was dropped: the four-door model continued in production for another year, but in improved specification form. The existing Triumph Herald three-rail type gearbox was replaced with a Triumph Spitfire 1500 type single-rail gearbox and the car was fitted with a new clutch. The new look Toledo was also fitted with side body trims, new look black type front grille (replacing the silver type front grille) and a stainless trim was added to the side roof guttering. The specification again improved; standard equipment now included a rear-view dipping mirror, fasten seat belt warning light, reclining front seats (previously an option), twin reversing lights (also previously an option), cigar lighter, hazard warning lights and a driver’s exterior door mirror. A laminated windscreen, front head rests and brushed nylon seat facings were optional extras. The Toledo was finally replaced by the Dolomite 1300 and 1500 in March 1976. Total production was 119,182 cars, making it one of Triumph’s best-selling small saloon cars.
The Dolomite really was the 3 Series of its day, a family sized saloon that offered a combination of luxury and sportiness that made it a cut above the average Cortina and Marina. Designed as the successor for the upmarket variants of Triumph’s front-wheel drive designs, and also to replace a sporting relative of the Herald, the 6-cylinder Triumph Vitesse, the Triumph Dolomite was unveiled at the London Motor Show in October 1971. However, due to a number of strikes and other industrial upsets, the car was not reported to be in full production until October 1972. The Dolomite used the longer bodyshell of the front wheel drive Triumph 1500, but with the majority of the running gear carried over from the rear-wheel drive Triumph Toledo. Initially, the only version available used the new slant-four 1854 cc engine, which mated an alloy OHC head to an iron block, providing 91 bhp which offered sprightly performance. This was a version of the engine that the company was already providing to Saab for use in their 99 model. The car was aimed at the then-new compact performance-luxury sector, vying for sales against cars such as the BMW 2002 and Ford Cortina GXL, and was offered with a high level of standard equipment, including twin headlamps, a clock, full instrumentation, luxury seats and carpets, a heated rear window, and a cigar lighter. Styling was similar to the Triumph 1500, with some updates such as a black painted rear panel, vinyl D-posts, and new wheel trims. The car was capable of 100 mph with 60 mph coming up in just over 11 seconds. An overdrive gearbox was soon made available as an option, offering relaxed motorway cruising and improved fuel economy, and there was also an optional automatic transmission. Although the Dolomite proved to be refined and rapid, competitors such as the BMW 2002 had a performance advantage which was costing Triumph dearly, both in terms of sales and prestige. To remedy this, Triumph unveiled the Dolomite Sprint in June 1973, although the launch had been delayed by a year; it had been due to go on sale in 1972. A team of engineers led by Spen King developed a 16-valve cylinder head with all of the valves being actuated using a single camshaft rather than the more conventional DOHC arrangement. The capacity was also increased to 1,998 cc and combined with bigger carburettors the output was upped to 127 bhp. This represented a significant power increase over the smaller 1850cc variant, however it fell short of the original target of 135 bhp Despite BL engineers being able to extract a reliable 150 bhp from test engines, the production line was unable to build the engines to the same level of quality, with production outputs being in the region of 125 bhp to 130 bhp. This led to the original model designation, the Dolomite 135, being replaced at short notice with the Sprint name. As a result of the use of this engine, the Dolomite Sprint has been claimed to be “the world’s first mass-produced multi-valve car”. While other multi-valve engines (notably the Lotus 907) were produced in volume, they were not used in mass production vehicles until after the introduction of the Dolomite Sprint. The design of the cylinder head won a British Design Council award in 1974. Performance was excellent, with 0–60 mph taking around 8.4 seconds, with a maximum speed of 119 mph. Trim was similar to the 1850, with the addition of standard alloy wheels (another first for a British production car), a vinyl roof, front spoiler, twin exhausts and lowered suspension. By now seats were cloth on the 1850, and these were also fitted to the Sprint. Due to the increase in power brought by the new engine, the rest of the driveline was upgraded to be able to withstand the extra torque. The gearbox and differential were replaced by a version of those fitted to the TR and 2000 series cars, albeit with a close ratio gearset in the gearbox. The brakes were upgraded with new pad materials at the front, and the fitment of larger drums and a load sensing valve at the rear. Other changes over the standard Dolomite included the option of a limited slip differential. The optional overdrive and automatic transmission from the 1850 model were also offered as options on the Sprint. Initial models were only offered in Mimosa Yellow, although further colours were available from 1974 on. At launch the Sprint was priced at £1740, which compared extremely well to similar cars from other manufacturers. Prospective buyers would have been hard pressed to justify the extra £1000 cost of the BMW 2002 Tii, which offered similar performance. The four-door practicality of the Sprint also made it a very attractive proposition for the young executive choosing his first company car. The press gave the Dolomite Sprint an enthusiastic reception. Motor summarised its road test (subtitled “Britain leads the way”) with glowing praise: ” …the Sprint must be the answer to many people’s prayer. It is well appointed, compact, yet deceptively roomy. Performance is there in plenty, yet economy is good and the model’s manners quite impeccable … Most important of all, it is a tremendously satisfying car to drive”. Sadly, it proved not quite so satisfying to own, as the legendary BL lack of reliability was a feature on some, but by no means all Sprints. In 1976, Triumph rationalised their range, calling all their small models, Dolomite, and using the same body shell, so the Toledo (which had maintained its stubby tail until this point) and 1500TC became the Dolomite 1300, 1500 and 1500HL respectively. With minor changes to trim and equipment, the cars continued in production until 1980.
Although we think of these cars as an Allegro, that badge was not used, and the car was officially called the Vanden Plas 1500, and later the Vanden Plas 1750. Introduced in September 1974, this car followed on from the popular Vanden Plas 1100 and 1300 models as a very upmarket version of a volume selling car. It featured a prominent grille at the front and an interior enhanced by a range of modifications designed to attract traditionally inclined customers, including: special seats upholstered in real leather, with reclining backrests; deep-pile carpets; extra sound insulation; a new instrument panel in walnut; walnut folding tables for the rear passengers; nylon headlining; and for the luggage, a fully trimmed boot. In 1974, a time when the UK starting price for the Austin Allegro was given as £1159, BLMC were quoting, at launch, a list price of £1951 for the Vanden Plas 1500. The larger 1750 cc engine was added to the range a few years later. The model changed little during its production run.
The last of the Cresta series, the PC, was introduced for the London Motor Show in October 1965. No longer offered as a lower specification Velox version, it was designated PCS (standard), PCD (Deluxe) and PCE (Executive), this last having its own name, ‘Viscount’. It was a different car, larger and styled with the coke-bottle look that would also be seen in the FD Victor series: it now resembled a slightly smaller Chevrolet Impala. It was similar to the Australian Holden HR, but larger and better trimmed, and featured the 123 DIN/142 SAE hp 3.3-litre straight-six engine for its entire seven-year production run. Though a small-block V8 would have dropped straight in, this option was never offered in Europe. Initially, the three-speed column-shift manual transmission was standard with optional overdrive; four-speed manual and two-speed Powerglide were also optional. Later cars, from about 1971, came with four-speed manual or three-speed automatic, both having floor shift and bucket seats. The De-Luxe version had four headlamps instead of the two fitted on the (much rarer) base models. In January 1967 domestic market deliveries began of the Vauxhall Cresta estate car. This vehicle resulted from a conversion by Martin Walter of Folkestone, a firm better known for their (primarily Bedford based) Dormobile motorhome conversions. The estate version was 2 1⁄2 inches higher than the saloon due to a combination of heavy-duty rear suspension, an increase in the outer diameter of the tyres (to 7.00-14 in from 5.90-14in) and the modified roof line.] The Cresta estate was initially offered in the UK at £1,507, which represented a price premium of around 40% over the equivalent saloon. The long established Humber Hawk estate and recently introduced Ford Zephyr estate carried UK sales prices of £1,342 and £1,379 respectively. The Cresta estate offered a load platform length of 47 inches (120 cm) which increased to an impressive 76 inches (190 cm) when the back seat was folded down, but Vauxhall’s contender was never priced to be a big seller and the last estate cars were made in 1968. The saloon ran until 1972 and was not directly replaced.
Now quite a rare sighting this is a C70 Cabrio, a stylish model offered in Coupe and Cabrio guise from 1997, and an example of which I enjoyed driving for a few months, in Coupe guise. Like most, mine ad the 5 cylinder 2.3 litre Turbo engine, but there were also 2.0 litre models available.
EASTGATE – THE 1960s
Eastgate was given over to the cars of the 1960s. Not surprisingly there was a much stronger British marque dominance here, as this was a decade when although more foreign cars were available, they were significantly more expensive than the domestic product thanks to the hefty import due that was levied on them. Some of the cars here were relatively every day machines of their time but there were also more unusual vehicles which would have been rare even when new.
Another Alfa Spider was to be found here.
The Morris Minor was already well established when rival Austin launched their competitor, the A30 Saloon of 1952. That was also the year that Austin and Morris merged to become the British Motor Corporation, so suddenly the two cars that had been conceived to compete against each other were stablemates. Except BMC did not work like that. Separate dealer chains remained in place, as they would do for a further 30 years, and whilst this may sound inefficient now, it has to be noted that brand loyalty was such that there were plenty of people would only consider an Austin say, and not a Morris, or vice versa. The A30 was smaller than the Minor and at £507, at launch, it was also £60 cheaper. The body structure was designed by T.K. Garrett, who had been an aeronautical engineer before joining Austin. It was of fully stressed monocoque chassis-less construction, which made it lighter and stiffer than most contemporary vehicles, the first Austin to be made in this way. Inside there were individual seats at the front and a bench at the rear covered in PVC with an option of leather facings on the seats. Evidence of economy was seen in only having a single windscreen wiper, central combined stop/tail/numberplate lamp and a sun visor in front of the driver only. A passenger-side wiper and sun visor, and a heater were available as optional extras. Even so, it sold well, and 223,264 examples were built. The A30 was replaced by the Austin A35 in 1956 with the new name reflecting the larger and more powerful 34 hp A-Series engine, which gave the car a slightly higher top speed and better acceleration, though much of this came as a result of different gearbox ratios. The A30 had the first three ratios close together then a big gap to top, whereas in the A35, the ratios were better spaced and gave a higher speed in third gear. That top speed was 72 mph and 0 – 60 acceleration times are just over 30 seconds, so this remains a very slow car by modern standards. The A35 was very similar in appearance to the A30, and is best recognised by its larger rear window aperture and a painted front grille, with chrome horse-shoe surround, instead of the chrome grille featured on the A30. The semaphore trafficators were replaced with present-day front- and rear-mounted flashing light indicators. A slightly easier to operate remote-control gear-change was provided. Like the A30, the A35 was offered as a two- or four-door saloon, two-door “Countryman” estate and also as a van. The latter model continued in production through to 1968. A rare coupe utility (pickup) version was also produced in 1956, with just 477 sold. Drawings were made for a sports tourer, but no prototype was actually built. The A35 passenger cars were replaced by the new body shape A40 Farina models in 1959 but the estate car version continued until 1962 and van until 1968. These days they are popular as an affordable classic. Their simple mechanicals, good availability of some parts (not bodywork, though) and pert looks give them wide-spread appeal. Although this was very much a product of the 50s, as a late model A35 van, this one qualified for display in the 60s vehicles.
The Austin 3 litre sat at the top of the non-premium part of the British Leyland range, acting as a replacement not just for the Austin Westminster, but also the Wolseley 6/110 and even the Vanden Plas Princess 3 litre. It was premiered at the 1967 Earls Court Motor Show, but production did not start until well into 1968, by which the model had been slightly restyled with twin circular headlights replacing the oblong units of the launch car. Sharing the centre body section with the established ADO17 Austin/Morris 1800 range, the car was elongated at both ends, providing a much larger boot at the back, and space for the 3 litre inline 6 cylinder C Series engine to be installed in the front. Unlike the 1800cc cars, this one was rear wheel drive. Initial reviews were luke warm, at best, and sales were sluggish. They did not get any better as the months went by, and production ceased in 1971 after just 8600 cars had been made. Few have survived, as many met their fate on the banger racing circuit where the immense strength of the body was a real asset, but those which have – and an impressive total of seven of them were on show here – are thought of more fondly now than they were when new. Martin Buckley, well known for his love of slightly off-beat classics, is a particular fan.
One of the shortest lived of all Ford models is the Consul Classic and Capri ranges. The Ford Consul Classic is a mid-sized car that was launched in May 1961 and built by Ford UK from 1961 to 1963. It was available in two or four door saloon form, in Standard or De Luxe versions, and with floor or column gearshift. The name Ford Consul 315 was used for export markets. The Ford Consul Capri was a 2-door coupé version of the Classic, and was available from 1961 until 1964. The 1,340 cc four-cylinder engine was replaced in August 1962 by an over-square 1,498 cc engine with a new five-bearing crankshaft and a new gearbox with syncromesh on all four forward ratios. Steering and suspension also received “greased for life” joints. The Classic (and related Consul Capri) had the right-hand-drive and home market Ford code of 109E (but 110E if L.H.D.) for 1961–1962 models with 1340cc engines, or 116E (but 117E for L.H.D.) for 1962–63 manufacture with 1500cc engines. Those codes also distinguish the gearboxes and steering components which are not greasable on later cars, so cutting first-user servicing costs. Despite all these codes the cars all looked the same throughout production 1961–1963, the visual distinctions being the number of doors, the trim & equipment level between Standard and De Luxe and the choice of colours. The Classic was made by Ford to be “suitable for the golf club car park”, and was originally intended for introduction earlier and deletion later than actually occurred. The styling exercises were mainly undertaken in 1956 under Colin Neale. The main styling cues came straight from Dearborn, as they so often did, defining the car as a scaled-down Galaxie 500, from the waist down, topped with a Lincoln Continental roofline. Other aspects of R&D followed, and it is likely that a recognisably similar car could have been introduced in 1959 subject to different senior management decisions. In practice the run-away early success of the Anglia (1959 on) used up most of the car manufacturing capacity at Dagenham, vindicating the decision to compete against the BMC Mini (the Halewood plant did not open until 1963). Ford therefore entered the 1960s with the small Anglia, Popular and Prefect, the big “three graces” launched back in 1956, and not the mid-size market Classic. The Ford Classic was similar in appearance to the more popular Ford Anglia, featuring the same distinctive reverse-rake rear window. This feature was imported from the 1958 Lincoln Continental where it was necessitated by the design requirement for an opening (“breezeway”) rear window. With quad headlamps and different frontal treatment it was longer, wider and so heavier than the Anglia. In fact, from the windows down the body design was a scaled-down version of Ford’s large, US Ford Galaxie. Inside, the separate front seats and rear bench had a standard covering of PVC but leather was available as an option. There was a choice of floor-mounted or column-mounted gear change. Single or two-tone paint schemes were offered. Several of the car’s features, unusual at the time, have subsequently become mainstream such as the headlight flasher (“found on many Continental cars”) and the variable speed windscreen wipers. The boot or trunk capacity was exceptionally large, with a side-stowed spare-wheel well, and more important, the huge high-lift sprung lid allowed a great variety of loads to be both contemplated and packed. At 21 cubic feet, this was 15% larger than the Zodiac MK2 and had obvious advantages for business use. The Consul Classic was also mechanically similar to the Anglia, and used slightly larger 1340 cc and, from 1962, 1498 cc, variants of the Ford Kent Engine. The car had front 9.5 in (241 mm) disc brakes and was fitted with a four-speed gearbox: early cars provided synchromesh on the top three ratios, while the arrival of the 1498 cc version coincided with the provision of synchromesh on all forward gears. Suspension was independent at the front using MacPherson struts, and at the rear the live axle used semi elliptic leaf springs. A contemporary road tester was impressed, noting that “probably the most impressive thing about the Classic is its road holding”. The Consul Classic was complex and expensive to produce and was replaced in 1963 by the Ford Corsair which was largely based on Ford Cortina components. Only 111,225 Classics and 18,716 Capris were produced (Including 2002 ‘GT’ Versions). These are small numbers by Ford standards, and probably indicative of the public not taking to the controversial styling along with the availability of the cheaper, similar-sized Cortina.
There was one representative of the Mark 1 Cortina here. Using the project name of “Archbishop”, management at Ford of Britain in Dagenham created a family-sized car which they could sell in large numbers. The chief designer was Roy Brown Jr., the designer of the Edsel, who had been banished to Dagenham following the failure of that car. The car was designed to be economical, cheap to run and easy and inexpensive to produce in Britain. The front-wheel drive configuration used by Ford of Germany for the new Ford Taunus P4, a similarly sized model, was rejected in favour of traditional rear-wheel drive layout. Aimed at buyers of the Morris Oxford Farina and Vauxhall Victor, the car was launched as the Consul Cortina was launched on 20 September 1962. with a 1,198 cc three-bearing engine, which was an enlarged version of the 997 cc engine then fitted in the Ford Anglia. A few months later, in January 1963, the Cortina Super was announced with a five-bearing 1,498 cc engine. Versions of the larger engine found their way into subsequent variations, including the Cortina GT which appeared in spring 1963 with lowered suspension and engine tuned to give a claimed output of 78 bhp ahead of the 60 bhp claimed for the Cortina 1500 Super. The engines used across the Mark I range were of identical design, differing only in capacity and setup. The formula used was a four-cylinder pushrod design that came to be known as the “pre-crossflow” version as both inlet and exhaust ports were located on the same side of the head. The most powerful version of this engine (used in the GT Cortina) was 1,498 cc and produced 78 bhp. This engine contained a different camshaft profile, a different cast of head featuring larger ports, tubular exhaust headers and a Weber double barrel carburettor. Advertising of the revised version, which appeared at the London Motor Show in October 1964, and which dropped the Consul name from its official designation, made much of the newly introduced “Aeroflow” through-flow ventilation, evidenced by the extractor vents on the rear pillars. A subsequent test on a warm day involving the four different Cortina models manufactured between 1964 and 1979 determined that the air delivery from the simple eyeball outlets on the 1964 Mark I Cortina was actually greater than that on the Mark II, the Mark III or the Mark IV. The dashboard, instruments and controls were revised, for the second time, having already been reworked in October 1963 when round instruments replaced the strip speedometer with which the car had been launched: twelve years later, however, the painted steel dashboard, its “knobs scattered all over the place and its heater controls stuck underneath as a very obvious afterthought” on the 1964 Mark I Cortina was felt to have aged much less well than the car’s ventilation system. It was also in 1964 that front disc brakes became standard across the range. The Mark 1 Cortina was available as a two-door and four-door saloon, as well as in five-door estate (from March 1963) forms. Standard, Deluxe, Super, and GT trims were offered but not across all body styles. Early Standard models featured a simple body coloured front grille, earning it the nickname ‘Ironbar’. Since this version cost almost the same as the better equipped Deluxe it sold poorly and is very rare today. Options included heater and bench seat with column gearchange. Super versions of the estates offered the option of simulated wood side and tailgate trim. In an early example of product placement many examples of the brand new Cortina featured as “Glamcabs” in the comedy film Carry On Cabby.
Crayford had hardly got into their stride with the Mk.1 convertible, only around fifty had been built on C & D registrations, when Ford told Crayford there would be an “all new” Cortina for the October 1966 Motor Show. Crayford did not want to wait up to a year to develop a Mk.2 Cortina Crayford, so they asked Ford if they could supply a car now for development work, but they were told that no pre production cars where available and, in any case, the car was top secret untill press day at the Motor Show. They did however agree to ship, in great secrecy, a Mk.2 two-door shell and all the parts in kit form. Crayford’s directors and staff then began building the car at the Westerham factory and with only two weeks to go Director Jeff Smith set about converting the car into a Crayford convertible, virtually single-handed, working night and day on the project. The result was, that when the show opened on press day, The Ford Motor Company had on their stand No.143, an entire range of six, all new, Cortina saloons and GT’s – but not far away on stand No.173, surrounded by a bevy of trendy dolly girls dressed in black and white chequered mini dresses, was a shiny metallic blue mink Crayford Cortina Mk.2 with a white pvc hood. This car has been in the long term ownership of our magazine publisher John Peters and is registered SOO 661D, it still has many unique pre production features, see our gallery on the home page. The public never realised fully how this dual launch was achieved. Crayford followed up a year later at the Earls Court Motor Show with an upmarket and expensive Mk.2 Cortina Cabriolet, this had a smaller hood that sat deeper into the car around a much smaller rear seat, suitable only for children, in effect it made the normal 5 seater convertible into a two plus two car. The Corsair cabriolet even had an inner headlining for extra comfort. Being a shorter hood it was capable of one-man-operation and the car also had a longer metal rear deck than the 5 seater convertible. Crayford soon had a full order book and made two, sometimes three a week with a total production run of over 400 convertibles and a handful of cabriolets, which like all Crayford cabriolets had to be built in Cologne, Germany under licence.
Also based on the Cortina Mark 2 was this Savage. Jeff Uren managed the Willment race team, which fielded Ford Falcons, Galaxies, Cobras, GT40s and, most famously, the humble Cortina Mk1. When John Willment gave up racing, Jeff set up Race Proved Ltd as his own company. The first car to have the Savage treatment (ie dropping in a Ford 3.0 L Essex V6 engine) was the Mk2 Cortina; this then progressed to Mk3s /Mk4s and even a one off Mk5 Cortina. Race Proved then linked up with Weslake Engineering who did most of the engine tuning for Jeff Uren. The customers had various tuning choices; the standard Ford Capri-spec 3.0 L engine with 138 bhp and 182 ft-lbs of torque, the 170, 180, 190 and the mighty 210 bhp Tecalemit fuel-injected version. In total it is thought around 1,000 Savages were produced with between 50 and 100 being the Cortina MK3 versions.
This is a 1966 Galaxie 500. The 1965 Galaxie was an all-new design, featuring vertically stacked dual headlights. The cars were taller and bulkier than the previous year’s. The new top-of-the-line designation was the Galaxie 500 LTD and Galaxie 500 XL. The LTD and the XL trim package were accessory upgrades from the base Galaxie model. Engine choices were the same as 1964, except for an all-new 240 cu in (3.9 L) six-cylinder engine replacing the 1950s-era 223 “Mileage-Maker” six and the 352 was now equipped with dual exhausts and a four-barrel carburettor. Suspension on the 1965 models was redesigned. Replacing the former leaf-spring rear suspension was a new three-link system, with coil springs. Interiors featured a new instrument panel, as well as two-way key vehicle access: the introduction of two keys was for valet parking, where the rounded head key would only open the trunk or locked glove compartment, while the squared head key would only unlock the doors and the ignition. A new model was introduced for 1966; the Galaxie 500 7 Litre, fitted with a new engine, the 345 hp 428 cu in (7.0 L) Thunderbird V8. This engine was also available on the Ford Thunderbird and the Mercury S-55. The police versions received a 360 hp version of the 428 known as the ‘Police Interceptor’ as police cars. The 1966 body style was introduced in Brazil (Ford do Brasil) as a 1967 model; it had the same external dimensions throughout its lifetime until Brazilian production ended in 1983. Safety regulations for 1966 required seat belts front and rear on all new cars sold domestically. The Galaxie 500 would be the #3-selling convertible in the U.S. in 1966, with 27,454 sold; it was beaten by the Mustang (at 72,119, by more than 2:1) and by the Impala at 38,000. A parking brake light on the dashboard and an AM/FM radio was optional. The 1966 LTD dropped the Galaxie name. For 1967, the 7 Litre model no longer carried the Galaxie name; it was to be the last year of it being separately identified. That identification was mainly trim such as horn ring and dashboard markings as well as the “Q” in the Vehicle Identification Number. The 7 Litre for 1967 was a trim and performance option on the Ford XL, which was now a separate model as well. Little else changed, except for trim and the styling; the same engines were available, from the 240 cu. inch six-cylinder to the 428 cu. inch V8. Modifications to the styling included adding a major bend in the centre of the grille and making the model less “boxy” than the 1966 model. An 8-track tape cartridge player became an option. Back-up lights were standard. For 1967 all Fords featured a large, padded hub in the centre of the plastic steering wheel, along with an energy-absorbing steering column (introduced late into the 1967 model year), padded interior surfaces, recessed controls on the instrument panel, and front outboard shoulder belt anchors. Another safety related change was the introduction of the dual brake master cylinder used on all subsequent Galaxies (and other Ford models). The 1968 model had a new grille with headlights arranged horizontally, although the body was essentially the same car from the windshield back. The ‘long hood, short deck’ style with a more upright roofline and a notchback rear was followed too, as was the new trend for concealed headlights on the XL and LTD. One other change for 1968 was that the base V8 engine increased from 289 to 302 cu in (4.9 L). Standard equipment included courtesy lights, a cigarette lighter, a suspended gas pedal, and padded front seat backs. The 1968 models featured additional safety features, including side marker lights and shoulder belts on cars built after December 1, 1967. The 1967 model’s large steering wheel hub was replaced by a soft “bar” spoke that ran through the diameter of the wheel (and like the 1967 style, was used throughout the Ford Motor Company line). A plastic horn ring was also featured. A new design arrived for 1969.
Another Morris Minor, a Tourer, featured here.
By the mid 1950s, the BMC organisation was well established, and it dominated the UK market with a 39% share. Plans were made for a complete new range of cars that would encompass all the marques: Austin, Morris, MG, Riley and Wolseley. Italian stylist Pininfarina was commissioned to design them. The first model to appear was the A40, launched early in 1958. There were no examples of that model here, but there were several of the range that followed. which are often referred to as the Farina Saloons. BMC took the decision to produce a very similar looking model with each of the 5 marque’s badges attached. They were released over a period of months, starting in late 1958 with the Wolseley 15/60. This was followed by the A55 Cambridge Mark II, the Morris Oxford Series V, the MG Magnette Series III and the Riley 4/68. The same basic body style was applied to all, with just trim differences, and in the case of the MG and Riley, more powerful engines thanks to a twin carburettor set up under the bonnet, introducing the world to the concept of “badge engineering”. Whilst the styling was something of an amalgam of Italian glamour and a touch of Americana, with prominent tail fins, under the skin the cars were very conventional. Whilst some may have been disappointed that BMC had not been more adventurous, this was an era when home car maintenance was an established part of the suburban landscape, so simplicity was not completely unwelcome. The familiar 1.5-litre B-Series engine, four-speed manual and straightforward rear-wheel drive gave it solid appeal to many middle-class buyers, especially those horrified by the black magic of the newly launched front-drive Mini. All 5 cars were four-door saloons, with estate versions offered of the Austin and Morris. A facelift was applied to them all in late 1961, when the tail fins were toned down and an enlarged 1622cc B Series engine found its way under the bonnet, with more power, new names came in for the Wolseley which became the 16/60 and the Austin which adopted the A60 Cambridge name. It was a Series VI Morris Oxford which was seen here.
One of the more distinctive commercial vehicles ever to grace Britain’s roads, this started out life as the Morris FG Series, and was launched in 1960. Later it was also sold as the Austin S200 and 404, and it was renamed the BMC FG in 1968. The name changed again in 1970 when it became the Leyland FG, which was the final branding until production ceased in the early 1980s. The new FG truck burst onto the scene in early 1960, with payload ratings ranging from 1½ tons to 5 tons, it would replace both the LC-series and the lower end of the forward-control FE range. At its launch, the FG’s cab was hailed as a leap forward in commercial vehicle design. Uniquely, the cabin doors were mounted across the angled rear corners of the cab; being rear-hinged and rather narrow, this meant that when opened, they barely protruded beyond the width of the cab itself, thus delivering the main benefit of sliding doors in a context where these clearly could not be used. While BMC coined the term “angle-planned” to describe this arrangement, the FG’s unusual shape soon led users to refer to it as the “three-penny bit”, after the pre-decimal, twelve-sided British coin of that name. Another innovative feature of the FG was its curved kerbside-view windows, mounted at the front corners of the cab, below the windscreen. These helped the driver to “place” the truck when parking, and were also an important aid to safety in busy high streets, as they eliminated a traditional blind-spot. However, all was not sweetness and light for the FG’s driver: the “angle-planned” design had a detrimental impact on the internal width of the cab, and consequently, the seats were rather narrow – as were the doors themselves – making life tough for the more portly driver. And assuming that he could get himself seated comfortably, he then had to contend with the heat generated by the engine which shared his cab-space, and get to grips with a gear lever that was thoughtfully mounted right at the rear of the cab. Despite these shortcomings, the FG had a loyal following in the commercial market; the British Gas company was particularly fond of it, but to anyone who grew up in Britain during the 1970s the FG will be immediately identifiable as the archetypal Sunblest baker’s van. Another popular application for the FG was as a laundry van, in which configuration a capacious walk-through body was fitted to the basic chassis/front-end – with sliding doors.
The Elf was one of a pair of Mini based models which BMC launched in 1961, the other being the Wolseley Hornet. Both had longer, slightly finned rear wings and larger boots that gave the cars a more traditional three-box design. Wheelbase of the Elf and Hornet remained at 2.036 m (6.68 ft), whereas the overall length was increased to 3.27 m (10.7 ft). This resulted in a dry weight of 638 kg for the Elf and 618 kg for the Hornet. Front-end treatment, which incorporated each marque’s traditional upright grille design (the Hornet’s grille with a lit “Wolseley” badge), also contributed to a less utilitarian appearance. The cars had larger-diameter chrome hubcaps than the Austin and Morris Minis, and additional chrome accents, bumper overriders and wood-veneer dashboards. The Riley was the more expensive of the two cars. The name “Wolseley Hornet” was first used on 1930s saloon, coupé, sports and racing cars, while the name “Elf” recalled the Riley Sprite and Imp sports cars, also of the 1930s (Riley’s first choice of name “Imp” could not be used as Hillman had registered it). The full-width dashboard was a differentiator between the Elf and Hornet. This dashboard was the idea of Christopher Milner the Sales Manager for Riley. Both the Riley Elf’s and Wolseley Hornet’s bodies were built at Fisher & Ludlow under their “Fisholow” brandname. Plates in the engine compartment on the right side fitch plate bear evidence of this speciality. Very early Mark I versions of both cars had no overriders on the bumpers and a single piece front wing (A-panel and wing in one piece, no outside seam below scuttle panel) that was soon given up again, allegedly due to cost. The Elf’s and Hornet’s special bumper overriders first appeared in 1962. Early production Mark I’s also had a combination of leather and cloth seats whereas all later models had full leather seats. Mark I models were equipped with single leading shoe brakes on the front. Both the Elf and the Hornet went through three engine versions. Initially, they used the 848 cc 34 bhp engine with a single HS2 carburettor, changing to a single HS2 carburettor 38 bhp version of the Cooper’s 998 cc power unit in the Mark II in 1963. This increased the car’s top speed from 71 to 77 mph . Therefore, Mark II cars also came with increased braking power in the form of front drum brakes with twin leading shoes to cope with the increased power output. Both Mark I and Mark II featured four-speed gearboxes (three synchromesh gears) with rod gear change, a.k.a. “magic wand” type. Automatic gearboxes became available on the Mark II in 1965 as an option. The Mark III facelift of 1966 brought wind-up windows and fresh-air fascia vents. Concealed door hinges were introduced two years before these were seen on the mainstream Mini. The gear selecting mechanism was updated to the rod type, as seen on all later Mini type cars. Automatic gearboxes were available to the Mark III in 1967 again. Full-four synchromesh gearing was eventually introduced during 1968. 30,912 Riley Elfs and 28,455 Wolseley Hornets were built. Production of both models ceased in late 1969.
Newest Riley here was an example of the very last model to bear the Blue Diamond badge before it was killed off in 1969, a Kestrel 1300 Mark 2. Apart from the luxurious Vanden Plans version, this version sat at the top of the ADO16 range. First of the ADO16 cars, the second of Issigonis’ trio of front wheel drive designs, to appear was the Morris 1100, which was unveiled in August 1962. A four door saloon, with styling that had been influenced by Pininfarina, this car applied the same principles as had been seen in the Mini of three years earlier, but in a larger package, creating plenty of space for 4 or even 5 adults and with more luggage room. Power came from a 1098cc version of the proven A Series engine, which gave it a lively (for the time!) performance and the combination of a long wheelbase and innovative hydrolastic suspension gave it a particularly comfortable ride. A sporting MG model, with twin carburettors was added to the range before the year was out. In 1963 an Austin model appeared, identical to the Morris in all but grille and tail end treatment, and then Wolseley, Riley and even Vanden Plas models were added to the range in 1965 and 1966, as well as Countryman and Traveller estate versions of the Austin and Morris. The range was Britain’s best selling car in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
The first completely new car that Rover announced after the war was the P4 model, known as the 75. It was launched at the Earls Court Motor Show in September 1949, to replace all previous models and then continued in production until 1964, though the car underwent lots of change under the skin in those 15 years. Designed by Gordon Bashford, the car went into production in 1949 as the 6-cylinder 2.1-litre Rover 75. It featured unusual modern styling in stark contrast with the outdated Rover P3 model 75 which it replaced. Gone were the traditional radiator, separate headlamps and external running boards. In their place were a chromium grille, recessed headlamps and a streamlined body the whole width of the chassis. The car’s styling was derived from the then controversial 1947 Studebakers. The Rover executives purchased two such vehicles and fitted the body from one of them to a prototype P4 chassis to create a development mule. In James Taylor’s highly regarded book ‘Rover P4 – The Complete Story’ he advised that this vehicle was affectionately known as the ‘Roverbaker’ hybrid. Another, at the time minor, distinctive feature but this one did not catch-on was the centrally mounted light in the grille where most other manufacturers of good quality cars provided a pair, one fog and one driving light often separately mounted behind the bumper. Known, unkindly, as the “Cyclops eye” it was discontinued in the new grille announced 23 October 1952. The earliest cars used a more powerful version of the Rover engine from the 1948 Rover P3 75, a 2103 cc straight-6 engine now with chromium plated cylinder bores, an aluminium cylinder head with built-in induction manifold and a pair of horizontal instead of downdraught carburetters. A four-speed manual transmission was used with a column-mounted gear lever which was replaced by a floor-mounted mechanism in September 1953. At first the gearbox only had synchromesh on third and top but it was added to second gear as well in 1953. A freewheel clutch, a traditional Rover feature, was fitted to cars without overdrive until mid-1959, when it was removed from the specifications, shortly before the London Motor Show in October that year. The cars had a separate chassis with independent suspension by coil springs at the front and a live axle with half-elliptical leaf springs at the rear. The brakes on early cars were operated by a hybrid hydro-mechanical system but became fully hydraulic in 1950. Girling disc brakes replaced drums at the front from October 1959. The complete body shells were made by the Pressed Steel company and featured aluminium/magnesium alloy (Birmabright) doors, boot lid and bonnets until the final 95/110 models, which were all steel to reduce costs. The P4 series was one of the last UK cars to incorporate rear-hinged “suicide” doors. After four years of the one model policy Rover returned to a range of the one car but three different sized engines when in September 1953 they announced a four-cylinder Rover 60 and a 2.6-litre Rover 90. A year later, an enlarged 2230cc engine was installed in the 75, and an updated body was shown with a larger boot and a bigger rear window and the end of the flapping trafficators, with redesigned light clusters. Further detailed changes would follow. Announced 16 October 1956, the 105R and 105S used a high-output, 8.5:1 compression version of the 2.6 litres engine used in the 90. The higher compression was to take advantage of the higher octane fuel that had become widely available. This twin-SU carburettor engine produced 108 hp. Both 105 models also featured the exterior changes of the rest of the range announced a month earlier. The 105S featured separate front seats, a cigar lighter, chromed wheel trim rings and twin Lucas SFT 576 spotlamps. To minimise the cost of the 105R, these additional items were not standard, however they were provided on the (higher priced) 105R De Luxe. The 105R featured a “Roverdrive” automatic transmission. This unit was designed and built by Rover and at the time was the only British-built automatic transmission. Others had bought in units from American manufacturers such as Borg-Warner. This unit was actually a two-speed automatic (Emergency Low which can be selected manually and Drive) with an overdrive unit for a total of three forward gears. The 105S made do with a manual transmission and Laycock de Normanville overdrive incorporating a kick-down control. The 105S could reach a top speed of 101 mph. Production of the 105 line ended in 1958 for the 105R and 1959 for the manual transmission 105S, 10,781 had been produced, two-thirds with the manual transmission option. For 1959 the manual model was described simply as a 105 and the trim and accessory level was reduced to match the other models. In 1959, the engines were upgraded again, with the 80 replacing the 60 and the 100 replacing the 90 and the 105. The four cylinder cars were not particularly popular, though and in September they were replaced by the six cylinder 95. Final model was the 110, which took its place at the top of the range until production ceased, a few months after the very different P6 model 2000 had come along. These cars are popular classics these days.
This is a Singer Gazelle, the first Singer to be produced following the take-over of the Singer company by the Rootes Group in 1956. It was a version of the new mainstream “Audax” Hillman Minx differing mainly in retaining the Singer overhead cam engine. Externally the only significant difference was a restyled nose based around a traditional Singer grille. The Gazelle was initially offered in saloon and convertible body styles, though when the first changes came through, creating, the Gazelle Series II, in the autumn of 1957, an estate car was added to the range, which had optional overdrive and larger fuel tank. Engineering of the car was pretty conventional, with independent suspension at the front using coil springs while at the rear was a live axle and half elliptic leaf springs. The steering gear used a worm and nut system. As standard, the car had a bench front seat but individual seats were available as an option. To allow for the bench seat, the handbrake lever was between the seat and the door. Roots Group made frequent updates to their cars, so the Series II was soon followed by the Series IIa, the main difference being the substitution of the standard Hillman pushrod overhead valve engine for the Singer overhead cam unit, though the new engine was more powerful, developing 56 bhp against 49 bhp. In September 1958 the car became the Series III and received better seats, now enhanced at the front by a folding central arm rest. A new two-tone paint became available with this upgrade. The Series IIIA of 1959 gained small tail fins and a larger windscreen. The engine was upgraded with twin Solex carburettors replacing the single Solex, distinguishing it from the Minx, and lifting output to 60 bhp. Home market cars got a floor gear change and as well as overdrive, Smith’s Easidrive automatic transmission also became an option. The Series IIIB was launched September 1960,. It reverted to a single carburettor which improved fuel consumption and facilitated servicing “in remoter territories”. The IIIB also received a new back axle featuring a hypoid bevel in place of the former model’s spiral bevel. A larger engine of 1592 cc developing 53 bhp was fitted to the July 1961 Series IIIC. The convertible was dropped in February 1962 followed by the estate car in March 1962. There was no Series IV, as this name was intended to be applied to the larger model that emerged as the Hillman Super Minx and Singer Vogue. That was not the end for the model, though, and a Series V was introduced in August 1963. Following a similar change to the Hillman Minx it had an updated body with longer rear doors and no longer having a wrap-around rear window, the front brakes became discs and from 1964 it gained a new gearbox with synchromesh on first gear. The optional Borg Warner automatic got a floor mounted selector lever. The final change came when the Series VI was announced. It had an all new, five-bearing crankshaft engine of 1725 cc at first developing 65 bhp but this was later reduced to 59 bhp. These cars are easily recognised by a chance to the Singer grille, with the top now somewhat flattened and no longer attached to the opening bonnet but fixed to the front panels on opening. Only 1182 of the Series VI were made before the Gazelle was replaced, in 1967 by the “Arrow” based “New Gazelle”. The car seen here is a late model car with the revised roofline.
There an example of the Alpine Harrington here. These were Coupe versions of the Alpine, much like the later MGB GT in concept, which were built by Thomas Harrington Ltd. After the Le Mans Index of Efficiency success of 1961, Harrington sold replicas as the “Harrington Le Mans”, using a fastback body and an engine tuned to 104 hp. Unlike the Le Mans racers, these cars had a more integrated rear roofline and were without the tail fins of the roadsters. Until 1962 the car was assembled for Rootes by Armstrong Siddeley. Over 400 of them were produced, based on the Series II, III and IV.
The Sunbeam Stiletto sat at the top of the Hillman Imp-based range which at its height spread over 4 of the brands in the Rootes Group portfolio (Hillman, Singer for the Chamois, Commer for the van as well as this Sunbeam). It took a while before the range filled out following the May 1963 unveiling of this innovative small car, about which everything was new, including the location where it was built, at Linwood in the suburbs of Glasgow, far away from Rootes’ base in Coventry. The Singer Chamois, a luxury version of the model was first to arrive, in late 1964, and the Commer Van came next. We had to wait until October 1967 for the sporting Sunbeam model, but many thought it worth the wait, as this version was quickly considered be the most desirable, and it is certainly the most sought after Imp model. I’d always assumed that the name was coined to link with the fashion for ladies’s stiletto heels, but it would seem that a more likely explanation is that the car joined the larger Rapier in Sunbeam’s range and that a shrunken rapier becomes a stiletto, a medieval dagger with a very slim blade, elegant and wicked. The Stiletto combined the sleek coupé lines of the Imp Californian with the engine of the Imp Sport which had twin Stromberg carburettors and a new cylinder head along with larger inlet valves, higher lift cam, stronger pistons and an oil cooler which gave the car genuine 90 mph performance, and a 0 – 50 time of 10.6 secs. The Stiletto had four headlights as standard, along with a vinyl roof, which was always a black Leathercloth. Inside, the dashboard is the most noticeable difference from other Imps. The large, black, moulded piece of engineering (peculiar only to this model) featured novel ideas such as warning lights which can be dipped for night time driving. Equipment levels were good for the time, with wall-to-wall carpets, through-flow heating and ventilation. and reclining front seats as well as a lockable glove box, padded arm rests. and individual fold-down rear seats. All Stiletto models had white twin coachlines – except Polar White, which had twin red ones. Two distinct model series were produced: the first, for the first year or so were the Rootes Group cars and then from 1969 until the end of production in 1972, the Chrysler cars had detailed differences including a repositioned door handle (restorers beware!) and new seats. Despite the production run of 3 years, just 3,378 of these cars were produced compared to the 4735 examples of the 301 series early cars. With total production of less than 9000 cars, the Stiletto was never a common sight, and is definitely rare these days, though there are still a reasonable number of them left on our roads.
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.
The TR’s smaller and cheaper brother was the Spitfire and there was example of the long-lived Mark IV/1500 here. Based on the chassis and mechanicals of the Triumph Herald, the Spitfire was conceived as a rival to the Austin-Healey Sprite and MG Midget, which were launched a year earlier. The Triumph soon found a strong following, with many preferring it to the BMC cars which in time would become in-house stablemates. Mark II models arrived in 1965 and a more comprehensive facelift in 1967 with the distinctive “bone in mouth” front grille necessitated by US bumper height regulations also brought changes, but it was with the Mark IV that the greatest number of alterations would come about. The Mark IV featured a completely re-designed cut-off rear end, giving a strong family resemblance to the Triumph Stag and Triumph 2000 models, both of which were also Michelotti-designed. The front end was also cleaned up, with a new bonnet pressing losing the weld lines on top of the wings from the older models, and the doors were given recessed handles and squared-off glass in the top rear corner. The interior was much improved: a proper full-width dashboard was provided, putting the instruments ahead of the driver rather than over the centre console. This was initially black plastic however was replaced with wood in 1973. An all-new hardtop was also available, with rear quarter-lights and a flatter rear screen. By far the most significant change, however, was to the rear suspension, which was de-cambered and redesigned to eliminate the unfortunate tendencies of the original swing-axle design. The Triumph GT6 and Triumph Vitesse had already been modified, and the result on all these cars was safe and progressive handling even at the limit. The 75 hp engine was now rated at 63 hp (for UK market employing the 9:1 compression ratio and twin SU HS2 carburettors; the less powerful North American version still used a single Zenith Stromberg carburettor and an 8.5:1 compression ratio) due to the German DIN system; the actual output was the same for the early Mark IV. However, it was slightly slower than the previous Mark III due to carrying more weight, and employing a taller 3.89:1 final drive as opposed to the earlier 4.11:1. The engine continued at 1296 cc, but in 1973 was modified with larger big-end bearings to rationalise production with the TR6 2.5 litre engines, which somewhat decreased its “revvy” nature; there was some detuning, to meet new emissions laws, which resulted in the new car being a little tamer. With the overall weight also increasing to 1,717 lb (779 kg) the performance dropped as a consequence, 0 to 60 mph now being achieved in 15.8 seconds and the top speed reducing to 90 mph. The overall fuel economy also dipped to 32mpg. The gearbox gained synchromesh on its bottom gear. The Mark IV went on sale in the UK at the end of 1970 with a base price of £735. In 1973 in the United States and Canada, and 1975 in the rest of the world, the 1500 engine was used to make the Spitfire 1500. Although in this final incarnation the engine was rather rougher and more prone to failure than the earlier units, torque was greatly increased by increasing the cylinder stroke to 87.5 mm (3.44 in), which made it much more drivable in traffic. While the rest of the world saw 1500s with the compression ratio reduced to 8.0:1, the American market model was fitted with a single Zenith-Stromberg carburettor and a compression ratio reduced to 7.5:1 to allow it to run on lower octane unleaded fuel, and after adding a catalytic converter and exhaust gas recirculating system, the engine only delivered 53 bhp with a slower 0–60 time of 16.3 seconds. The notable exception to this was the 1976 model year, where the compression ratio was raised to 9.1:1. This improvement was short-lived, however, as the ratio was again reduced to 7.5:1 for the remaining years of production. In the UK the 9:1 compression ratio, less restrictive emissions control equipment, and the Type HS2 SU carburettors now being replaced with larger Type HS4 models, led to the most powerful variant to date. The 1500 Spitfire now produced 71hp (DIN) at 5500 rpm, and produced 82 lb/ft of torque at 3000 rpm. Top speed was now at the magical 100 mph mark, and 0 to 60 mph was reached in 13.2 seconds. Fuel economy was reduced to 29mpg. Further improvements to the suspension followed with the 1500 included longer swing axles and a lowered spring mounting point for more negative camber and a wider rear track. The wider, lower stance gave an impressive skid pad result of 0.87g average. This put the Spitfire head and shoulders over its competition in handling. The American market Spitfire 1500 is easily identified by the big plastic over-riders and wing mounted reflectors on the front and back wings. The US specification models up to 1978 still had chrome bumpers, but on the 1979 and 1980 models these were replaced by black rubber bumpers with built-in over-riders. Chassis extensions were also fitted under the boot to support the bumpers. Detail improvements continued to be made throughout the life of the Mark IV, and included reclining seats with “chequered brushed nylon centre panels” and head restraints, introduced for domestic market cars early in 1977 along with a new set of column stalk operated minor controls (as fitted already in the TR7) replacing the old dashboard mounted knobs and switches. Also added for the model’s final years were a wood dash, hazard flashers and an electric screen washer, in place of the previous manual pump operated ones. Options such as the hard top, tonneau cover, map light and overdrive continued to be popular, but wire wheels ceased to be available. The 1980 model was the last and the heaviest of the entire run, weighing 1,875 lb (850.5 kg). Base prices for the 1980 model year was £3,631 in the UK. The last Spitfire, an Inca Yellow UK-market model with hardtop and overdrive, rolled off the assembly line at Canley in August 1980, shortly before the factory closed. It was never sold and is now displayed at the museum at Gaydon.
Three years after the launch of the Herald, Triumph created a more sporting version by putting a 1600cc 6 cylinder engine under the bonnet, calling the result the Vitesse. Handling of the early cars, on their swing axle suspension was best described as “interesting”, but Triumph worked hard to revise (tame!) it so by the time that the 2 litre models were launched in 1965, the car was rather easier to drive briskly on bendy roads. A Mark 2 version was launched in 1968, with new front end styling and other trim differences, and the model lived on until 1971.
The 1300 Saloon a medium sized luxury car, was intended as a replacement of the popular Triumph Herald. Launched at the London Motor Show in October 1965, the 1300 was designed by Michelotti in a style similar to the larger Triumph 2000. It was Leyland’s first front-wheel drive design. Their major rival was BMC, who were at the time producing three FWD model ranges including the Mini and the best-selling Austin 1100 series; it was hoped by Leyland that some of the 1100s phenomenal success would rub off on the new Triumph. Triumph decided to adopt a different layout to BMC however, placing the engine above the gearbox in a front-back configuration (but not sharing the same oil) rather than BMC’s transverse engine layout. This resulted in a tall profile for the engine/gearbox combination which limited styling options. The engine was the same 1296 cc unit as used in the Triumph Herald 13/60. (the engine had originated in 1953 in the Standard Eight in 803 cc form) A conventional OHV four-cylinder unit, it developed 61 hp with the single Stromberg CD150 carburettor (also as used in the Herald 13/60) and was mated to a 4-speed all-synchromesh gearbox. Front suspension was by double wishbone layout, attached to a shock-absorber/spring unit, and the rear suspension by semi-trailing arms and coil springs like the 2000. The interior was particularly well-appointed with full instrumentation in a wooden dashboard, wooden door cappings, adjustable steering column and comfortable seats with ventilated PVC upholstery. There was through-flow ventilation with outlets under the rear roof lip. The car was fairly roomy, and aside from a slightly baulky gearchange, easy to drive with very reasonable performance. Standard equipment was generous and included thick carpeting but no heated backlight. Although not reclining, the front seats were remarkably versatile and could be easily adjusted for height and rake. The steering column was adjustable not only up and down but back and forth as well. From a safety angle the door handles were recessed and could not be caught on clothing and the (awkward to operate) window winders were spring-loaded and similarly recessed. The instrument panel had a speedometer, fuel gauge, temperature gauge, ammeter and a comprehensive cluster of warning lights arranged in a “pie chart” formation. The rear seat had a centre armrest which could be folded up when not in use. Although the car was costly compared to its more humdrum rivals, it did find favour, both with the press, who rated it, and the public, who bought it in decent quantity. For 1968, the 1300TC joined the basic model. The TC used the engine then fitted in the Triumph Spitfire, which featured twin SU carburettors and in this configuration provided an advertised 75 hp. The compression ratio of the TC was 9.0:1, whereas the single carb engine compression was rated 8.5:1 The car was identified by discreet “TC” badges. Top speed was significantly higher than the 1300 at a claimed 90 mph and acceleration times were cut by 11 percent to a 0–50 mph time of 11.5 seconds. A road test a few months later significantly improved on the company’s performance claims, achieving a maximum speed of 93 mph and 0–50 mph time of 10.5 seconds. With the car then retailing for a recommended UK price of £909, the road test concluded that “the 1300 TC costs only £41 more than the original model, and is a very good bargain indeed”. An estate version of the 1300 reached the concept stages, but was never produced due to budgetary constraints, so all 1300s are four door saloons. In August 1970 the 1300 and 1300TC were replaced by the Triumph 1500. The engine was enlarged to 1493 cc, providing a useful increase in torque, but a decrease in overall power and increased fuel consumption. The front end was cleaned up considerably, and the rear redesigned with longer tail, providing a useful increase in boot space. Production of the FWD Triumphs came to an end in 1973. 113,00 examples of the regular 1300 were made and 35,342 1300TCs, but there are surprisingly few left now.
The Princess 1100 sat of the top of the ADO16 range, and although mechanically, it was no different from some of the other models, the extra purchase price brought a much higher quality interior with lashings of real wood, plush leather seats, thick carpets and rear picnic tables, as well as a distinctive front grille which was a styling nod to the larger Vanden Plas models. It was first seen at the end of 1964 and proved quite popular, having no real rivals at the time. It received the 1300cc engine when this was added to the other models in the range, and continued in production until 1974 when it was replaced by an Allegro-based car.
The 15/50 was replaced by the Wolseley version of the Farina range of saloons. This was the first of the quintet to appear, as the 15/60, in late 1958. When the entire range was facelifted for 1962, a larger 1622cc version of the B Series engine was put under the bonnet, and the rear tail fins were toned down somewhat, creating the 16/60, which stayed in the range until 1971.
WESTGATE – PRE 1960
There is a much longer stretch of Westgate, from the Cross down to the junction with Worcester Street, so this Gate was allocated all the pre-1960 cars and whilst there were more 50s cars than those of other decades there were a good number of gleaming pre-war models as well, some with their own special display or diorama around them to give a bit of period flavour.
Because prices of these cars have reached levels that only the fortunate few can afford, on the rare occasions that they come up for sale, if you want a car that looks like a 30s Alfa, then your only other alternative is to do as David Roots did when he created his car, variously referred to as Alfa Special or a “Bitsarrini”. I had always assumed that it was designed an homage to the 1935 8C Tipo C 35 Monoposto, a race car of which just 8 were built in 1935 and in which Tazio Nuvolari won the 1936 Coppa Ciano, but in fact, the real inspiration, and car of David’s dreams was the 8C2900. This was produced at around the same time in 1935, but to understand it, you have to go back a bit earlier in the 1930s to the equally desirable 8C2300. This was the first car with the now legendary 8 cylinder engine, developed by Vittorio Jano and which went on to score at least one victory in every major race and championship. In its initial 1931 configuration, the engine displaced 2336 cc, it grew gradually to 2905 cc, primarily by increasing the stroke. The engine was created by mounting two alloy blocks of four cylinders on a single crankcase. On top of the two blocks an alloy head was installed, housing two camshafts. Aspiration was forced, through two Roots-Type Superchargers. Although the engine increased in size throughout its career, its layout and auxiliaries remained very much similar to Jano’s 1931 design. One of the best known racing cars powered by the 8 cylinder engine was the Tipo B or P3 of 1932, which is to date considered as one of the finest Grand Prix racers ever constructed. Run by Enzo Ferrari’s Scuderia Ferrari, the Alfa Romeos were almost unbeatable. From its 1931 introduction, the 8C 2300 took four straight victories in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, driven by talented drivers like Tazio Nuvolari and Luigi Chinetti. Tazio Nuvolari’s brilliance was even more visible when driving the P3, the first single seater racer ever. The P3 was unbeaten in 1933, but eventually succumbed to defeat by the greater budgets being spent by Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union. With the rise of the German Grand Prix teams, Alfa Romeo focused more of its attention on sportscar and road racing. Designed specifically for Italy’s most legendary road race, the Mille Miglia, was the 8C 2900. Much like the contemporary Grand Prix racers, the 8C 2900 featured all-round independent suspension, with wishbones at the front and swing-axles at the rear. Installed in the chassis was a 220 bhp version of the 2905cc eight cylinder engine, which was created by mounting two four-cylinder alloy blocks on a single crankcase with twin Roots-type superchargers attached. The suspension was all-independent with wishbones in the front and the rear had swing-axles. A total of six of these road racers, later known as 8C 2900A, were constructed. Three of these were entered in the 1936 running of the Mille Miglia. The new cars were immediately successful and occupied the first three places at the finish with the Brivio and Ongaro driven 8C on top. A year the cars secured a second victory and the next two places. With the winning cars as a base, a road going customer version was constructed. Dubbed 8C 2900B, the road car featured a de-tuned engine, with 40 hp less, but other than that were very similar to the racer and even in this guise they were the fastest production vehicle in the world at the time. Two versions were available, the 2800 mm short wheelbase (Corto) and 3000 mm long wheelbase (Lungo) versions. Most of these were sent to Touring to be fitted with Berlinetta, Spyder and Roadster bodies. With its competition chassis and high top speed it was faster and quicker than anything its competition had to offer. Due to its high price, only a very few of these supercars were constructed, just 10 Lungo and 20 Corto chassis cars. Being very similar to the competition 8C 2900A, it came as no surprise the 8C 2900B was used as a racer as well. To suit this purpose Alfa Romeo constructed a further 13 8C 2900B chassis fitted with the 220 bhp engine. Many of these were fitted with roadster bodies and were entered in road races like the Mille Miglia. After the two 8C 2900A victories in 1936 and 1937, another two victories were scored by the 8C 2900B in 1938 and 1947. No other Alfa Romeo has scored as many Mille Miglia victories as the 8C 2900. Needless to say, on the rare occasions that one of these legends comes up for sale, there is an eight figure price tag, putting the car well out of reach of most of us. Like many of us, David dreamed of owning a car like the original, but unlike most of us, he did the next best thing to paying the millions and decided to create his own. The story starts back in 1989, somewhat deterred by the thought of the hours that could be spent lying underneath a rusty wreck at the side of the road, missing some obscure part that would need to be made specially, he decided to opt for a special combining retro styling with new bodywork and reasonably modern mechanics. A company called Classic Specials created that something, combining a bespoke chassis using MGB mechanics with a Lenham Healey bodyshell. Ten years later, in 1999, at the Castle Combe Classic Action Day he ‘blew’ the trusty B Series engine and that was the turning point which caused him to wonder if he could not actually design his own car. Many of us dream of doing this, but he actually decided to set about the task. Using the MG-Lenham chassis and Lenham Healey rear bodywork, the MG engine and gearbox were replaced with those from a 1969 Alfa Romeo 1750 GTV. Then a body had to be designed and constructed. This was done by making a buck from the aeroscreens forward, which was used to make a mould and moulding. Whilst it is not a precise rendering of the classic 8C2900, the result is impressive and the car always generates lots of positive and appreciative comments whenever it is displayed. Today was no exception.
The Alvis Fourteen also known as TA 14 was the first car to be produced by major defence contractor Alvis cars after World War II. The entire car factory had been destroyed on the night of Thursday 14 November 1940. Announced in November 1946 it was made until 1950 when its postwar austerity 1900 cc engine was replaced by the 2993 cc Alvis Three Litre or TA 21. The Fourteen was available as a four-door sports saloon built for Alvis by Mulliners of Birmingham but there were also Tickford and Carbodies drophead versions. When compared with the 12/70 car it replaced the interior is 4 inches wider and the distance between rear-seat armrests is increased almost 5 inches. The 1892 cc engine is a slightly larger-bore version of the one used in the 12/70 and produced 65 bhp. It is fitted with a single SU type H4 -inch side-draught carburettor. Inlet valves have been enlarged. The triplex chain drive has been given an automatic tensioner. The engine’s exhaust system has been extensively revised and the direction of flow of cooling water around the engine has been substantially changed. The bodies were mounted on an updated pre-war Alvis 12/70 chassis that was widened and lengthened but retained the rigid-axle leaf spring suspension. Employing Silentbloc bushes (except at the front of the front springs to maintain steering precision) it is controlled by double acting Armstrong hydraulic dampers. Hypoid bevel final drive was fitted for the first time and greatly reduced the height of the transmission tunnel. Steering is by Marles with a spring spoked steering wheel. Mechanically operated brakes are two-leading-shoe type by Girling. Disc wheels replaced the 12/70’s wire wheels and are fitted with larger tyres. The top speed is around 74 mph and acceleration from 0 to 60 mph in 22.2 seconds. This is a 1951 TA Drophead with a Carbodies body.
There were two examples of the TC21/100 Drophead here. The Alvis Three Litre, TC 21 is an automobile produced between 1953 and 1955. An updated version of the Three Litre TA 21, it was available as a 4-door saloon and, in its later TC 21/100 form, also as a 2-door drophead coupé. The TC 21 was available as four-door saloon but, unlike its TA 21 predecessor, no drophead version was offered. The bodies were made for Alvis by Mulliners (Birmingham). A sunshine roof remained standard as did “separately adjustable front seats; heater and air-conditioning unit; Trico windscreen washers” drawing the comment from Autocar “In detail fittings . . . this car leaves little to be desired”. The 2,993 cc engine was upgraded to produce 100 bhp by modifying the cylinder head and fitting twin SU carburettors. Suspension was the same as the TA 21, independent at the front using coil springs with leaf springs at the rear. The 11 in drum brakes using a Lockheed system were also retained. However this update found few buyers during a very difficult year for the British Motor Industry and though it remained in the catalogue and continued to be advertised it was in practice replaced by the Grey Lady. The TC.21/100 or Grey Lady announced 20 October 1953 came with a guarantee of a speed of 100 mph resulting from an improved exhaust system and an engine compression ratio raised from 7:1 to 8:1 to take advantage of the availability of better petrol. The final drive ratio was raised from 4.09:1 to 3.77:1.A paired front fog lamp and matching driving lamp became a standard fitting. The bonnet gained air scoops and wire wheels were fitted to try to enliven the car’s image. A heater was fitted as standard but a radio remained an expensive option. Four door saloon and drophead coupé versions were offered. A saloon version tested by The Motor magazine in 1954 had a top speed of 100.1 mph and could accelerate from 0-60 mph in 15.4 seconds. A fuel consumption of 20.6 mpg was recorded. The test car cost £1,821 including taxes. Nevertheless, just 18 months later the Times’ Motoring Correspondent tested and reported on the Grey Lady under the headline “Few Concessions to Fashion Trends”. His opening gambit was that this Alvis was now one of the few British cars that did not look American and, he said, there was little concession to the cult of streamlining beyond the two air scoops in the bonnet. He wrote that spacious internal headroom and wire wheels completed that picture. It was noted the instruments were not in front of the driver but in the centre of the dashboard (instrument panel) and so the speedometer was apt to be masked by the driver’s left hand. However the front seats were comfortable and rear seat passengers received padding on the wheel arches surmounted by armrests. Leather upholstery, pile carpets and walnut facings for the dashboard and lower parts of the window frames completed the traditional picture. He did however say that “the driver who is sensitive to the “feel” of his car will enjoy every moment of his motoring irrespective of the traffic” and reported the car’s behaviour on corners was extremely stable though potholes like those caused by recessed manhole covers proved very heavy going for the springing.
This is a 1938 16HP, a model produced between 1938 and 1940, with a total production of 950 vehicles. The 16HP was an entirely new model that was announced in September 1938. It had an engine capacity of 1,909cc (65mm x 100mm) and the shape of the combustion chambers was evolved from aero experience with the overhead valves having unusually long guides. The seats were carefully separated from the adjoining walls, thus providing free water spacing all round. The valve ports were also completely separated and were also water cooled. The car had a maximum speed of 70mph and returned 25mpg. The chassis was of the sealed floor fume-proof type with the body bolted to the frame making a special box section that gave rigidity and lightness. It had reverse cambered suspension that gave an easy ride with maximum stability, self compensating adjustable brakes, automatic chassis lubrication and a quick filling petrol tank with a reserve tap. There was only one wheelbase of 9’ 3”. Two body types were available – the Coach Saloon (6 light body) and the Touring Saloon (4 light body) that both cost £380. Colour schemes were of black, green, grey, fawn or red.
There were several example of the baby Seven here, Herbert Austin’s masterpiece which did much to put Britain on wheels in the 1920s. The first Sevens were built in 1922, and were four seat open tourers. Nicknamed Chummy, the first 100 featured a 696cc four cylinder engine, which was quickly upgraded to the 747cc unit that remained until the end of production some 17 years later. The first cars had an upright edge to the doors and a sloping windscreen, but from 1924, the screen became upright and there was a sloping edge to the doors, as well as a slightly longer body. Stronger brakes came along in 1926, along with a slightly taller nickel-plated radiator grille, conventional coil ignition, a more spacious body and wider doors. An even longer and wider body arrived in 1930, as well as a stronger crankshaft and improvements to the brakes which coupled front and rear systems together so they both worked by the footbrake. In 1931 the body was restyled , with a thin ribbon-style radiator and by 1932 there was a four speed gearbox to replace the earlier three-speeder. 1933 saw the introduction of the Ruby, a car that looked more modern with its cowled radiator. There were also Pearl and Opal versions. Development continued, so in 1937 there was a move to crankshaft shell bearings in place of the white metal previously used, and the Big Seven appeared. The last Seven was made in 1939, by which time 290,000 had been produced. Aside from saloons and tourers, there had been vans and sports derivatives like the Le Mans, the supercharged Ulster and the rather cheaper Nippy. Around 11,000 Sevens survive today.
Sitting above it in the range was the Ten, a model which Austin had launched in 1932, to plug the gap between the diminutive Seven and the larger Twelve models in their range which had been updated in early 1931. The Ten became the marque’s best seller and was produced, in a number of different versions through to 1947. A number of improvements were made to the car in the months following launch, but it was for 1937 when the first really big change came about with the launch of the almost streamlined Cambridge saloon and Conway cabriolet. Compared with the preceding cars, the passengers and engine were positioned much further forward, the back seat now being rather forward of the back axle. There were six side windows like the Sherborne and the quarter lights were fixed. Again like the Sherborne the forward doors opened rearwards. At the back there was now a compartment large enough to take a trunk as well as more luggage on the open compartment door when it was let down. A new smoother single plate spring-drive clutch was now fitted, the two friction rings carried by the centre plate were held apart by leaf springs. Other changes included Girling brakes with wedge and roller shoe expansion and balance lever compensation using operating rods in tension with automatic compensation between front and rear brakes all four of which might be applied by hand or foot. Drums were now 9 inches diameter. 16-inch steel disc wheels replaced the 18-inch wires Top speed from the 1141cc engine rose to 60 mph.
There was an A35 saloon here, complementing the van seen in among the 60s cars.
There were a couple of examples of the “Big Healey” here, one of Britain’s most popular classics. Donald Healey had been producing a range of expensive sports cars from the 1940s, cars such as the Silverstone, the Abbott and the Farnham. For the 1952 London Motor Show, he produced a new design, which was called the Healey Hundred, based on Austin A90 mechanicals, which he intended to produce in-house at his small car company in Warwick. It was one of the stars of the 1952 Show, and it so impressed Leonard Lord, the Managing Director of Austin, who was looking for a replacement to the unsuccessful A90. that Lord struck a deal with Healey on the spot, to build it in quantity. Bodies made by Jensen Motors would be given Austin mechanical components at Austin’s Longbridge factory. The car was renamed the Austin-Healey 100, in reference to the fact that the car had a top speed of 100 mph. Production got under way in 1953, with Austin-Healey 100s being finished at Austin’s Longbridge plant alongside the A90 and based on fully trimmed and painted body/chassis units produced by Jensen in West Bromwich—in an arrangement the two companies previously had explored with the Austin A40 Sports. By early 1956, production was running at 200 cars a month, 150 of which were being sold in California. Between 1953 and 1956, 14,634 Austin-Healey 100s were produced, the vast majority of them, as was the case for most cars in this post war era, going for export. The car was replaced by an updated model in 1956, called the 100-6. It had a longer wheelbase, redesigned bodywork with an oval shaped grille, a fixed windscreen and two occasional seats added (which in 1958 became an option with the introduction of the two-seat BN6 produced in parallel with the 2+2 BN4), and the engine was replaced by one based on the six-cylinder BMC C-Series engine. In 1959, the engine capacity was increased from 2.6 to 2.9 litres and the car renamed the Austin-Healey 3000. Both 2-seat and 2+2 variants were offered. It continued in this form until production ceased in late 1967. The Big Healey, as the car became known after the 1958 launch of the much smaller Austin-Healey Sprite, is a popular classic now. You come across the 3000 models more frequently than the 100s, as they accounted for more than 60% of all Big Healey production
There was also one of its smaller stablemates, the “Frog Eye”. Known officially as the Sprite, it was announced to the press in Monte Carlo by the British Motor Corporation on 20 May 1958, just before that year’s Monaco Grand Prix. It was intended to be a low-cost model that “a chap could keep in his bike shed”, yet be the successor to the sporting versions of the pre-war Austin Seven. The Sprite was designed by the Donald Healey Motor Company, with production being undertaken at the MG factory at Abingdon. It first went on sale at a price of £669, using a tuned version of the Austin A-Series engine and as many other components from existing cars as possible to keep costs down. It was produced for a little over 3 years before being replaced by a Mark 2 version, which was then joined by a badge-engineered MG version, the Midget, reviving a model name used by MG from the late 1920s through to the mid 1950s. Enthusiasts often refer to Sprites and the later Midgets collectively as “Spridgets.” The first Sprite quickly became affectionately known as the “frogeye” in the UK and the “bugeye” in the US, because its headlights were prominently mounted on top of the bonnet, inboard of the front wings. The car’s designers had intended that the headlights could be retracted, with the lenses facing skyward when not in use; a similar arrangement was used many years later on the Porsche 928. But cost cutting by BMC led to the flip-up mechanism being deleted, therefore the headlights were simply fixed in a permanently upright position, giving the car its most distinctive feature. The body was styled by Gerry Coker, with subsequent alterations by Les Ireland following Coker’s emigration to the US in 1957. The car’s distinctive frontal styling bore a strong resemblance to the defunct American 1951 Crosley Super Sport. The problem of providing a rigid structure to an open-topped sports car was resolved by Barry Bilbie, Healey’s chassis designer, who adapted the idea provided by the Jaguar D-type, with rear suspension forces routed through the bodyshell’s floor pan. The Sprite’s chassis design was the world’s first volume-production sports car to use unitary construction, where the sheet metal body panels (apart from the bonnet) take many of the structural stresses. The original metal gauge (thickness of steel) of the rear structure specified by Bilbie was reduced by the Austin Design Office during prototype build, however during testing at MIRA (Motor Industry Research Association) distortion and deformation of the rear structure occurred and the original specification was reinstated. The two front chassis legs projecting forward from the passenger compartment mean the shell is not a full monocoque. The front sheet-metal assembly, including the bonnet (hood) and wings, was a one-piece unit, hinged from the back, that swung up to allow access to the engine compartment. The 43 bhp, 948 cc OHV engine (coded 9CC) was derived from the Austin A35 and Morris Minor 1000 models, also BMC products, but upgraded with twin 11⁄8 inch SU carburettors which gave it 43 hp at 5200 rpm and 52 lb/ft at 3300 rpm. When tested by “The Motor” magazine in 1958. It had a top speed of 82.9 mph and could accelerate from 0-60 mph in 20.5 seconds. Fuel consumption of 43 mpg was recorded. The rack and pinion steering was derived from the Morris Minor 1000 and the front suspension from the Austin A35. The front suspension was a coil spring and wishbone arrangement, with the arm of the Armstrong lever shock absorber serving as the top suspension link. The rear axle was both located and sprung by quarter-elliptic leaf springs, again with lever-arm shock absorbers and top links. There were no exterior door handles; the driver and passenger were required to reach inside to open the door. There was also no boot lid, owing to the need to retain as much structural integrity as possible, and access to the spare wheel and luggage compartment was achieved by tilting the seat-backs forward and reaching under the rear deck, a process likened to potholing by many owners, but which resulted in a large space available to store soft baggage. The BMC Competition Department entered Austin Healey Sprites in major international races and rallies, their first major success coming when John Sprinzel and Willy Cave won their class on the 1958 Alpine Rally. Private competitors also competed with much success in Sprites. Because of its affordability and practicality, the Austin Healey Sprite was developed into a formidable competition car, assuming many variants by John Sprinzel, Speedwell and WSM. The Sebring Sprite became the most iconic of the racing breed of Austin Healey Sprites. Many owners use their Austin Healey Sprites in competition today, sixty years after its introduction. 48,987 “frogeye” Sprites were made and the car remains popular to this day.
This is a 1957 BelAir four door. The story of these cars starts in 1955, when Chevrolet replaced the entire range of cars, producing what are sometimes referred to as the “Tri-Five” range, which would live for three years. Revolutionary in their day, they spawned a cult following that exists in clubs, website and even entire businesses that exclusively cater to the enthusiasts of the Tri Five automobiles. All featured a front-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout. 1955-1957 were watershed years for Chevrolet, who spent a million dollars in 1956 alone for retooling, in order to make their less expensive Bel Air models look more like a Cadillac, culminating in 1957 with their most extravagant tailfins and Cadillac inspired bumper guards. In 1955, Americans purchased 7.1 million new automobiles, including 1.7 million Chevrolets, giving the company fully 44% of the low-price market and surpassing Ford in total unit sales by 250,000. The Bel Air was an instant hit with consumers, with Base One-Fifty models starting under $1600 and featuring a six cylinder engine. The introduction of the new optional 170 hp 265ci V8, coupled with the Powerglide automatic transmission quickly earned the model the nickname “The Hot One”. In the first year of production, the oil filter was considered an option, although not having it led to significantly shorter engine life. With three basic model lines of 150, 210 and Bel Air and a range of body styles from 2 and 4 door Sedans to Coupes, Convertibles and Wagons, there were as many as 19 different Tri-five models available. The 1956 cars saw minor changes to the grille, trim and other accessories. It meant huge gains in sales for Chevrolet, who sold 104,849 Bel Air models, due in part to the new V8 engine introduced a year before. By this time, their 265cid V8 had gained popularity with hot rodders who found the engine easy to modify for horsepower gains. This wasn’t lost on Chevrolet’s engineers, who managed to up the horsepower in 1956 from 170 hp to 225 hp with optional add-ons. The average two door Bel Air in 1956 sold for $2100, which was considered a good value at the time. Prices ranging from $1665 for the 150 sedan with six cylinder engine to $2443 for the V8 equipped convertible, with Nomad models running slightly higher. Bigger changes came for 1957, including the large tailfins, “twin rocket” bonnet design, even more chrome, tri-colour paint and a choice from no less than seven different V8 engines. While in 1957, Ford outsold Chevrolet for the first time in a great while, years later the used 1957 Chevrolets would sell for hundreds more than their Ford counterparts. As the horsepower race continued, Chevrolet introduced a new version of their small block, with 283 cubic inches of displacement and 245 hp. They also introduced a limited number of Rochester fuel injected 283 engines that produced 283 hp, the first production engine to achieve 1 hp per cubic inch. For all intent and purposes, this made the 1957 Bel Air a “hot rod”, right off the production line. It was available with manual transmission only. The base 265cid engine saw an increase from 170 to 185 hp as well. While not as popular as the previous year’s offering, Chevrolet still managed to sell 1.5 million cars in 1957.
This is an “Advance Design” 3100 truck. Advance-Design was a light and medium duty truck series by Chevrolet, their first major redesign after WWII. Its GMC counterpart was the GMC New Design. It was billed as a larger, stronger, and sleeker design in comparison to the earlier AK Series. First available on Saturday June 28, 1947, these trucks were sold with various minor changes over the years until March 25, 1955, when the Task Force Series trucks replaced the Advance-Design model. The same basic design family was used for all of its trucks including the Suburban, panel trucks, canopy express, and cab overs. The cab overs used the same basic cab configuration and similar grille but used a shorter and taller hood and different fenders. The unique Cab Over fenders and hood required a custom cowl area which makes the Cab Over Engine cabs and normal truck cabs incompatible with one another while all truck cabs of all weights interchange. From 1947 until 1955, Chevrolet trucks were number one in sales in the United States, with rebranded versions sold at GMC locations. While General Motors used this front end sheet metal, and to a slightly lesser extent the cab, on all of its trucks except for the Cab Overs, there are three main sizes of this truck: the half-, three-quarter-, and full ton capacities in short and long wheelbase.
Dating form 1930, this is a C4 Landaulette. The Citroën C4 and C6 models were designed to replace the Citroën Type A 10 hp and Citroën Type B model family cars. The styling of the two models was said to be heavily influenced by American counterparts of the same time period, however in France, the new model was considered just that: new. The traditional grill styles of previous Citroën models were abandoned and a sleeker, flatter grill was used. There were numerous options in terms of body styles, including a particularly popular commercial line. These nameplates were later used for the Citroën C4 and the Citroën C6 in the 21st century, although being classified into the different class.
This a Dellow. Made in a factory at Alvechurch, near Birmingham, between 1949 and 1956, Dellow Motors Ltd was started by Ken Delingpole and Ron Lowe to produce road-going sports cars for the enthusiast to use in trials, rallies and hill-climbs. A small number of very early cars used Austin 7 chassis as per Ron Lowe’s special, FUY 374. The other prototypes included OP 3835 owned by Earl “Mick” Heighway, HAB 245 (Eric Penn) CAB 282 (Lewis Tracey) and EDE 384 (Merrick). From 1950, with scrap Austin 7’s in short supply, an 1172cc Ford 10 engine was utilised in an A-frame chassis with a very light tubular steel framework welded to the chassis and panelled in aluminium, early cars having no doors. The chassis frames were made partly from government surplus chrome-molybdenum rocket tubes, the rockets being RP3 types as used by Hawker Typhoon and Bristol Beaufighter aircraft. The design emphasis was on light weight and a rearward weight bias for trials. Many sporting awards were won by drivers of Dellow cars in the early 1950s, not only in trials but also in other events such as driving tests and hillclimbs. Dellows also took overall honours in the MCC organised Daily Express National Rally and the Circuit of Ireland Rally. Dellow drivers often shone in other forms of motor sport, Tony Marsh from Kinver went on to become RAC Hill Climb Champion on no less than 6 occasions. Peter Collins from Kidderminster, later drove for HWM, BRM and Vanwall, then for Ferrari. Dellow styling was created by Lionel Evans at his Radpanels coachbuilding business in Kidderminster. The car evolved through several variants known as Mk I to Mk V. Early cars had the Ford beam front axle with transverse spring and short Panhard rod, quarter elliptics at the rear and Andre Hartford friction dampers all round. The Ford torque-tube was suitably shortened and the vast majority of cars used the 3-speed Ford gearbox but a very small number of cars (KOX 300 being one of them) were produced to customer order with a 4 speed gearbox, from the 10M series Morris. The Ford E93A engines were mildly tuned and many used twin SU’s on a cast alloy ‘Dellow’ manifold. However, as an option the factory also offered the car with a Wade-Ventor (Roots type) supercharger installation. The MkII saw the introduction of a new and much more robust rear chassis section with coil springs, separate telescopic shock absorbers and a Panhard rod. This stiffer chassis allowed doors to become an optional fitting. The Mk V version was derived from the “Lightweight” Dellow (WRF 81) constructed by Tony Marsh for speed events in 1954. It saw coil springs introduced at the front (over telescopic dampers) although still with a one-piece Ford beam axle. About 300 Dellows in total are believed to have been constructed.
The Ford Prefect was introduced in October 1938 and built by the Ford plant in Dagenham, Essex. The original Ford Prefect was a slight reworking of the previous year’s 7W, the first Ford car designed outside of Detroit, Michigan. It was designed specifically for the British market. It had a 1,172 cc side-valve engine with thermocirculation radiator (no pump) and the ability to be started by a crank handle, should the battery not have sufficient power to turn the starter motor, running from the six-Volt charging system. The windscreen wipers were powered by the vacuum ported from the engine intake manifold — as the car laboured uphill the wipers would slow to a standstill due to the intake manifold vacuum dropping to near nil, only to start working again as the top was reached and the intake vacuum increased. The windscreen opened forward pivoting on hinges on the top edge; two flaps either side of the scuttle also let air into the car. The car has a durable four-cylinder motor. The most common body styles were two- and four-door saloons, but pre-war a few tourers and drophead coupés were made. Post-war, only four-door saloons were available on the home market, but two-door models were made for export. 41,486 were made up to 1941 and a further 158,007 between 1945 and 1948
Ford replaced their large cars in 1956, with new models using the same names as their predecessors, Consul, Zephyr and Zodiac. The styling was all new and with a decidedly American theme to it. As before, the Consul had a 4 cylinder engine, now of 1700cc capacity and the Zephyr and Zodiac had in-line 6 cylinder units These were enlarged to 2,553 cc with power output correspondingly raised to 86 bhp The wheelbase was increased by 3 inches to 107 inches and the width increased to 69 inches. The weight distribution and turning circle were also improved. Top speed increased to 88 mph and the fuel consumption was also improved at 28 mpg. Following a styling revision in 1959, the models are now referred to as “Highline” or “Lowline”, depending on the year of manufacture — the difference being 1.75 in being cut from the height of the roof panel. The “Highline” variant, the earlier car, featured a hemispherical instrument cluster, whereas the “Lowline” had a more rectangular panel. A two-door convertible version was offered with power-operated hood. Because of the structural weaknesses inherent in the construction of convertibles, few convertibles are known to survive, and these are particularly highly prized these days. Seen here a Zodiac convertible and one of the rare Farnham-bodied Estates.
This is a 1958 Fairlane 500, from the second generation of model to bear the name. For 1957, a new style gave a longer, wider, lower, and sleeker look with low tailfins. The new proportions and modern styling were a hit with customers to the extent that the Ford outsold Chevrolet in 1957 for the first time since 1935. A new top trim level was reversed, the Fairlane 500. For the first time, the lower-level Custom line had a shorter wheelbase than the Fairlane. Engines were largely the same as the year before. The big news for 1957 was the introduction of the Fairlane 500 Skyliner power retractable hardtop, whose solid top hinged and folded down into the trunk space at the touch of a button. Another facelift for 1958 had fashionable quad headlights, a grille that matched the 1958 Thunderbird, and other styling changes. New big-block FE V8s of 332 and 352 CID (5.4 L and 5.8 L) replaced the previous largest V8s, and a better three-speed automatic transmission was also available. A new top-level full-sized model was introduced at mid-year 1959, the Ford Galaxie. The 1959 Galaxie displayed both “Fairlane 500” and “Galaxie” badging. A new third generation model was launched for the 1960 model year.
The Minx sold between 1945 and 1947 had the same 1185 cc side-valve engine, the same wheelbase and virtually the same shape as the prewar Minx. This postwar Minx became known as the Minx Mark I (or Minx Phase I).This was the first Minx with a protruding boot that nodded to the Ponton, three-box design by then replacing the ‘flat back’ look, inherited from models that had debuted in the 1930s. Between 1947 and 1948, Hillman offered a modified version they called the Minx Mark II. A much more modern looking Minx, the Mark III, was sold from 1948. Three different body styles were offered initially, these being saloon, estate car and drophead coupé (convertible). Beneath the metal, however, and apart from updated front suspension, little had changed: the Mark III retained the 1185 cc side-valve engine of its predecessor. Claimed power output, at 35 bhp, was also unchanged. However, in 1949 the old engine was bored out and compression ratio increased, for the Minx Mark IV, to 1265 cc, and power output increased by 7 per cent to 37.5 bhp. A Mark IV saloon tested by The Motor magazine in 1949 had a top speed of 67 mph (108 km/h) and could accelerate from 0–60 mph in 39.7 seconds. A fuel consumption of 32.1 mpg was recorded. The test car cost £505 including taxes, the price including radio (£36), over-riders (£5) and heater (£18). The Mark V, introduced in 1951, featured side chromium trim and a floor mounted handbrake. The Mark VI of 1953 featured a new grille, revised combustion chambers and a two-spoke steering wheel. A fourth body variation was added, badged as the Hillman Minx Californian, a two-door hard-top coupé with, slightly unusually, a b-pillar that wound down out of sight along with the rear side window to give an unbroken window line when all windows were fully opened: the rear window assembly was of a three-piece wrap-around form. The wheelbase and overall length of the car remained the same as those of the four-door saloon and convertible permutations. The Mark VII, also introduced in 1953, featured longer rear mudguards and a bigger boot. For the Mark VIII, in 1954, a new ohv 1390 cc engine was installed. This engine, two years later, went into the first of the new “Audax series” Minxes.
In 1958 new Cob and Husky models were introduced, based on the “Audax” Hillman Minx and the Cob was updated in line with the frequent changes to the Minx. Production ceased in early 1965 when the model was replaced by a new Imp-based van.
The Jaguar Mark 1 is a British saloon car produced between 1955 and 1959. It was referred to in contemporary company documentation as the Jaguar 2.4 Litre and Jaguar 3.4 Litre. Its designation as Mark 1 was retroactive, following its October 1959 replacement by Jaguar’s 2.4-litre Mark 2. The 2.4 Litre was the company’s first small saloon since the end of its 1½ and 2½ Litre cars in 1949, and was an immediate success, easily outselling the larger much more expensive Jaguar saloons. The 2.4 Litre saloon was announced on 28 September 1955. The 3.4 Litre saloon announced 17 months later in the U.S. on 26 February 1957 was designed for the American market and was not at first freely available on the domestic market. In 1951 Jaguar relocated to Daimler’s Browns Lane plant which provided not merely sufficient production capacity for their existing range, but enabled them to move into the middle-weight executive saloon sector, then occupied in the UK by cars such as the stately Humbers, the bulbous Standard Vanguard and the heavy Rover P4. Jaguar’s new 2.4 and 3.4 introduced a modern style and a new level of performance to this respectable company. Although having a family resemblance to the larger Mark VII, the Mark I differed in many ways. It was the first Jaguar with unitary construction of body and chassis. The independent front suspension featured double wishbones, coil springs, telescopic dampers, and an anti-roll bar, all carried in a separate subframe mounted to the body by rubber bushes (with only minor revisions, this system was used on subsequent Jaguar saloons including early versions of the XJ). The live rear axle used a simplified version of the D-Type suspension, with inverted semi-elliptic springs cantilevered into the main body frame with the rear quarter section carrying the axle and acting as trailing arms. Transverse location was secured by a Panhard rod, the system being a significant improvement over other contemporary Jaguar saloons and sports cars (the reason for the unusual inverted leaf spring arrangement was the same as for the D-Type: to transfer all rear axle loads forward to the unitary body shell. The rear of the car was unstressed). The rear wheel track was some 4.5 in (114 mm) narrower than the front track and looked peculiar from behind, a feature that was blamed (probably incorrectly) for excessive understeer at low speed. It was reported to be better balanced at higher speeds – indeed, the narrower track was deemed to assist high speed straight-line stability and was a feature incorporated in many record-breaking cars of pre and post-War design. Nevertheless, it is probable that the narrower rear track was occasioned by the lack of a suitably dimensioned component from Salisbury, the axle manufacturer. The interior was of similar design to the contemporary Jaguar saloons and sports cars, with most of the dials and switches being located on the central dashboard between the driver and passenger. This arrangement reduced the differences between LHD and RHD versions. Although its profile was very different from that of previous Jaguars, the side window surrounds and opening rear “no draught ventilator” (quarterlight) windows are reminiscent of Jaguar Mark IV saloons. At launch the car had 11.125 in (283 mm) drum brakes but from the end of 1957 got the innovative (at the time) option of disc brakes on all four wheels. The car was available in standard or special equipment versions with the former lacking a tachometer, heater (available as an option), windscreen washers, fog lights and cigarette lighter. Both versions did however have leather upholstery and polished walnut trim. The Mark 1 was initially offered with a 2.4 Litre short-stroke version of the XK120’s twin-cam six-cylinder engine, first rated at 112bhp net by the factory at the launch in 1955. From February 1957 the larger and heavier 3.4 Litre 210bhp (gross) unit already used in the Jaguar Mark VIII also became available, largely in response to pressure from US Jaguar dealers. Wire wheels became available. The 3.4 had a larger front grille for better cooling, a stronger rear axle and rear-wheel covers (spats) were cut away to accommodate the wire wheels’ knock-off hubcaps. The 2.4 Litre was also given the larger grille. After 200 cars had been built and sent to USA and just prior to the car’s announcement, a major factory fire destroyed 3.4 Litre production facilities. In September 1957 a three-speed Borg-Warner automatic transmission (previously an export-only option) became available with either engine, and Dunlop disc brakes for all four wheels were made available as an optional extra on all Jaguar models except the Mark VIII saloon. 19,992 of the 2.4 and 17,405 of the 3.4 Litre versions were made.
This is a D Type, most likely a replica, as the real cars are rare an exceedingly valuable and hence rarely seen these days.
The first of the T Series sports cars appeared in 1936, to replace the PB. Visually they were initially quite similar, and as was the way in the 1930s, updates came frequently, so both TA and TB models were produced before global hostilities caused production to cease. Whilst the TC, the first postwar MG and launched in 1945, was quite similar to the pre-war TB, sharing the same 1,250 cc pushrod-OHV engine, it had a slightly higher compression ratio of 7.4:1 giving 54.5 bhp at 5200 rpm. The makers also provided several alternative stages of tuning for “specific purposes”. It was exported to the United States, even though only ever built in right-hand drive. The export version had slightly smaller US specification sealed-beam headlights and larger twin rear lights, as well as turn signals and chrome-plated front and rear bumpers. The body of the TC was approximately 4 inches wider than the TB measured at the rear of the doors to give more cockpit space. The overall car width remained the same resulting in narrower running boards with two tread strips as opposed to the previous three. The tachometer was directly in front of the driver, while the speedometer was on the other side of the dash in front of the passenger. 10,001 TCs were produced, from September 1945 to Nov. 1949, more than any previous MG model. It cost £527 on the home market in 1947.
There were a number of examples of the Eight, which was produced from 1935 to 1948, inspired by the sales popularity of the similarly shaped Ford Model Y. The success of the car enabled Morris to regain its position as Britain’s largest motor manufacturer. The Eight was powered by a Morris UB series 918 cc four-cylinder side-valve engine with three bearing crankshaft and single SU carburettor with maximum power of 23.5 bhp. The gearbox was a three-speed unit with synchromesh on the top two speeds and Lockheed hydraulic brakes were fitted. Coil ignition was used in a Lucas electrical system powered by a 6 volt battery and third brush dynamo. The body which was either a saloon or open tourer was mounted on a separate channel section chassis with a 7 feet 6 inches wheelbase. The tourer could reach 58 mph and return 45 mpg; the saloons were a little slower. The chrome-plated radiator shell and honeycomb grille were dummies disguising the real one hidden behind. In September 1934 the bare chassis was offered for £95. For buyers of complete cars prices ranged from £118 for the basic two-seater to £142 for the four door saloon with “sunshine” roof and leather seats. Bumpers and indicators were £2 10 shillings (£2.50) extra. Compared with the similarly priced, but much lighter and longer established Austin 7, the 1934/35 Morris Eight was well equipped. The driver was provided with a full set of instruments including a speedometer with a built in odometer, oil pressure and fuel level gauges and an ammeter. The more modern design of the Morris was reflected in the superior performance of its hydraulically operated 8 inch drum brakes. The Morris also scored over its Ford rival by incorporating an electric windscreen wiper rather than the more old-fashioned vacuum powered equivalent, while its relatively wide 45 inch track aided directional stability on corners. The series I designation was used from June 1935 in line with other Morris models, cars made before this are known as pre-series although the official Morris Motors designation was by the model year even though they were introduced in October 1934. Of the 164,102 cars produced approximately 24,000 were tourers. Seen here were a Saloon, a Tourer and a Series E Saloon.
The 1954 Oldsmobiles were completely restyled with new longer and lower body shells and wrap-around windshields and rear windows. Wheelbases increased to 122 inches (3.1 m). Base models reverted to being simply called 88s after being designated as DeLuxe 88s for only one year and the Super 88 was once again the top series (beneath the larger 98). The Rocket V8 was enlarged from 303 to 324 cubic inches with 88s powered by a two-barrel, 170 bhp unit while Super 88s came with a 185 bhp version with four-barrel carburettor. Also, a safety padded dash became optional, at $17. The 1955 models were heavily facelifted with new grillework, taillights and body-side chrome. Horsepower for the 324-cubic-inch Rocket V8 increased to 185 for 88s and 202 for Super 88s. At mid-year, Olds introduced the new pillarless four-door hardtop body, dubbed the Holiday sedan, in both the 88 and Super 88 series. The four-door Oldsmobile 88 Holiday, along with the four-door 98 Holiday, Buick Century Riviera, and Special Riviera, were the first four-door hardtops ever produced. Air conditioning became an option. The 88 had full instrumentation. For 1956, styling highlights included a new split grille in front and revised taillights and deck along with revised side chroming. Horsepower for the 324 Rocket V8 increased to 230 for 88s and 240 for Super 88s. A new four-speed Jetaway Hydra-Matic was introduced this year to replace the original Hydra-Matic transmission that Olds had used since 1940. The new Jetaway Hydra-Matic retained the four forward speeds and fluid coupling unit, but added a new “Park” position to the shift quadrant and no longer required band adjustment as a specified routine maintenance. Inside, an oval speedometer replaced the round unit and a new foot-operated parking brake replaced the previous T-handle unit.
This is a 1939 Eight One-Twenty. First introduced in 1924, the Eight was notable as the first Packard to employ four-wheel brakes. Its sidevalve straight-eight engine developed 85bhp from 5.9 litres, and the Eight line-up initially comprised ten models on two wheelbase lengths. In 1927 the engine was enlarged to 6.3 litres and a smaller 5.2-litre Standard Eight introduced for 1929. The larger engine continued to power the Custom and DeLuxe Eights, the latter being renamed ‘Super Eight’ for 1933. Introduced for the 1935 season, the ‘One Twenty’ Eight, also known as the ‘Junior Packard’, represented the company’s first foray into the medium-priced market sector. This car has the 282ci (4,623cc) 120bhp engine introduced on the One Twenty line-up for 1936, independent front suspension, synchromesh transmission and hydraulic brakes having been part of the specification for some years. Curiously, the ‘One Twenty’ designation was dropped for 1938 but returned for 1939, the car offered here belonging to that year’s 17th Series, which commenced production in September 1938. Overdrive transmission (‘Econo-Drive’ in Packard parlance) was an option for the first time on ’39 models and is fitted to this car, affording effortless cruising at 60-65mph and 18-20mpg on a long run. A right-hand drive example, this particular One Twenty Convertible Coupé was sold new in Australia and first owned by a Mrs MacBride, of Maroubra, New South Wales. In the 1950s the car belonged to the Logan family, of Sydney, NSW and was driven up to 1966 when it was placed in storage on blocks. The Packard’s next owner was Jim Lissiman, of Crawley, Western Australia, who acquired it in 1991. Mr Lissiman commissioned a total restoration, which was carried out during the early 1990s by local specialists, as detailed in his letter on file dated April 1995 addressed to the car’s next owner, Mr Dieter Bonitz, of Point Piper, NSW and then Hamburg, Germany. Originally French Blue with black trim, the car was repainted in a modern equivalent of Packard Loyola Maroon metallic and reupholstered in Coral Tan hide. In 2005 the Packard passed to its next owner, Mr William Balbur, of Kelso in the Scottish Borders and then in 2007 was sold on again, coming to market in 2009.
A 1940 Super Eight 160. “The 1940 Packard”, boasted the company, “spoils you for all other cars”. That was an appeal to the rapidly dwindling luxury automobile market that had been hit so hard by the Great Depression. There were four Packard lines for the 1940 model year, representing the final iteration of classic Packard styling: There were now two Junior models and two Seniors, which were now called the Super-Eight One-Sixty and the Super-Eight One-Eighty. “160”, wrote Beverly Rae Kimes in her comprehensive history of the marque, “…meant something; it was the developed horsepower of the brand-new engine to be used in both Senior cars.” The 180 was merely a 160 with better-quality upholstery, trim, and other accoutrements. The 1940 body shells were essentially the same as had been introduced in 1938. The hood appeared longer, with the narrowed radiator shell now extended an extra five inches, and framed by “catwalk” grilles. This would be the final year for separate bullet headlights, which were now of sealed-beam design for the first time. Smaller parking lights atop the front fenders echo the elongated shape of the headlights. Although management had some misgivings about the styling, there was no doubt that the cars could perform. Advertising proudly declared “With its 160 horsepower, (the One-Sixty) is the most powerful eight-cylinder motor built for passenger car use in America today.” The cast-iron en bloc engine had nine main bearings and a bore and stroke of 3 ½ x 4 5/8 inches, delivering peak power at 3500 rpm, with 292 foot-pounds of torque arriving at just 1800. The Super Eight, part of Packard’s Eighteenth Series, was produced from August of 1939 to September, 1940, and was virtually identical to the outgoing Model 120, save for some minor trim items. Of the 98,000 automobiles delivered by Packard in 1940, only 5662 were from the Super Eight line.
There were a couple of pre-war Riley models here, a Kestrel saloon and a very elegant Airline-style Coupe, a 1939 Riley 16 Kestcock Special. The Riley Kestcock Special is a relatively modern conversion from an accident damaged Kestrel Saloon. Using a shortened chassis, the tail of the body is similar in profile to that of the original saloon, but in place of the rear doors and ‘sixth’ light, there is a single rear side window over the rear wheel arch and therefore a shortened roof panel as well. In order to further emphasise the difference of this car, the wings both front and rear are more sporting in appearance, with no vertical panelling, even on the swept front wings, which are also cut higher at the front. Along with the absence of the front bumpers and an earlier style radiator, this gives the car a unique appearance.
The Riley RM Series was the last model developed independently by Riley. RM vehicles were produced from 1945, after the Second World War, until the 1952 merger of Riley’s parent company, the Nuffield Organisation with Austin to form BMC. They were originally made in Coventry, but in 1949 production moved to the MG works at Abingdon. The RM models were marketed as the Riley 1½ Litre and the Riley 2½ Litre. There were three types of RM vehicles produced: the RMA was a large saloon, and was replaced by the updated RME, both of which had the 1.5 litre engine; the RMB was an even larger car, and was replaced by the RMF, and these cars had the 2.5 litre engine; the RMC and RMD were open topped cars produced in limited numbers, intended largely for the all important export markets, with about 500 of each being made. These were nicely produced quality cars and considered quite sporting in their day, with the sort of appeal that many years later would be inherent in a BMW. Ironically, of course, BMW now own the rights to the Riley brand. It is an RME Saloon that was seen here. as well as an RMC. The RMC (Roadster) was an open 2-door, single bench seat, 2/3-seater version of the RMB, with a large rear deck area and fold-flat windscreen. Instead of side windows it was supplied with flexible celluloid-glazed side curtains with a hole for hand signals and, when deployed, flimsy synthetic roofing over a light metal frame. It shared that car’s 2.5 litre 100 hp engine, and could reach 100 mph. The car was primarily designed for the North American export market, and just over 500 were built from 1948 until 1951. The gear change lever was moved to the steering column on left-hand-drive models.
This is an early Silver Cloud, a model first introduced in 1955 and was, with its later iterations the Cloud II and III, to prove the core of Rolls-Royce production until the arrival of the monocoque Silver Shadow in 1966. Construction of all Cloud models was body-on-frame, which allowed a number of creative coach-builders to work their magic, but over the course of its eleven years of production the vast majority were built with the standard Pressed Steel shell. The Silver Cloud II was notable for introducing a new engine, the essence of which is still used by Bentley today. The Silver Cloud III was the final version and deliveries to customers commenced in mid 1963. External dimensions were slightly altered with a one and a half inch reduction in grille height and by necessity, a slightly more sloping bonnet, but the most distinctive difference was the grouping of the headlights in a four headlamp unit which was sufficiently attractive to be carried over to the new Shadow. The car’s weight was reduced by over 100kg, and performance was improved by fitting 2″ SU carburettors and increasing the compression ratio to 9:1. One of the respected coach-builders who created something different on the Cloud III chassis was H.J.Mulliner (later Mulliner Park Ward), who offered a supremely elegant two door Drophead Coupe. These cars are now very sought after and are few and far between.
This is a Singer SM Roadster, a car that is little known these days. The Singer Roadster was a 9HP open 2/4-seater sports-tourer automobile made by Singer from 1939 to 1955. It was launched in March 1939 as an open version of Singer’s Bantam saloon and using many Bantam parts. After less than six months production was suspended for the duration of World War II then restarted with the engine moved forward, more interior space and other minor modifications. The Roadster was upgraded to the 4A model in 1949 with a four speed manual gearbox. The short lived 4AB and 4AC models were released in 1950 followed by the 4AD SM Roadster in 1951. This final version was officially known as the Singer SM Roadster. First seen at the October 1951 Paris Motor Show it was initially intended for export only.It used the 48 hp 1497 cc engine from the SM1500 saloon fitted to a virtually unchanged chassis and body, retaining the hydraulic/mechanical hybrid braking system. A 58 hp twin carburettor engine option was offered from 1953. The 4AD can be told apart from a 4AB by its larger, rounder bumpers, as well as bigger taillights mounted on long stalks. Although early 4AD production was still all for export, with the smaller 4AB being regularly available in the United Kingdom, from 1953 1.5 litre cars became available on the domestic market as well. The last cars were made in 1955.
The Flying Nine was a small family car produced by the British Standard Motor Company between 1937 and 1940. It was the smallest of several relatively streamlined cars with which the company, in common with several UK mass market competitors, widened and updated its range in the later 1930s. Behind the stylish rearward sloping radiator grill was a 1131 cc side-valve engine, with a relatively long 100 mm stroke. This maximised the engine capacity available in the 9 hp tax class which, in the UK at that time, categorised cars and set annual car tax according to the bore of the engine’s cylinders. Power was delivered to the rear wheels via a three speed gearbox. A minor facelift in time for the 1938 London motor-show involved a change to the radiator grill which, while still rearward leaning, now became more curvaceous. Production came to an end in 1940, in response to the requirement to switch the UK car factories over to producing war supplies. By this time the car had been joined in the company’s line-up by the similarly bodied but smaller engined Standard Eight, and after the war, with Britain much impoverished, only the Standard Eight was revived.
Introduced initially as the Eight, it was launched in 1953 as a replacement for the Triumph Mayflower. Deliberately designed to be cheaper in every way, the first cars were extremely basic, though they were the cheapest four door car on sale at the time, listing for £481 at launch. They were too basic, as it turned out, and gradually, some of the features which the market considered important, such as an external boot lid and a passenger sun visor were added, and a more powerful engine appeared making the Ten, which arrived in 1954. A posher model, called the Pennant was added to the range in 1957, sporting traces of the then fashionable tail fins in an attempt to modernise the styling appeal, along with two tone paintwork. A very practical Estate model was also offered, called the Companion. In the 1950s, estate cars were regarded as largely being the preserve of the commercial traveller for whom luxury certainly did not seem to matter. Standard adapted their small car to produce the Companion, which was unusual among its competitors for having four passenger doors. The model was replaced by the Triumph Herald in 1959.
The Sunbeam-Talbot 90 was a compact executive car produced and built by Sunbeam-Talbot from 1948 to 1954 and continued as the Sunbeam Mk III from 1954 to 1957. The car was launched in 1948 along with the smaller-engined Sunbeam-Talbot 80 but many features dated back to the pre war Sunbeam-Talbot 2 Litre. The body was completely new and available as a 4-door saloon or 2-door drophead coupe. The saloon featured a “pillarless” join between the glass on the rear door and the rear quarter window. The car went through three versions before the name was changed to Sunbeam Mk III (without “Talbot”) in 1954. The original version had a 64 bhp 1,944 cc side-valve four-cylinder engine derived from a pre-war Humber unit carried over from the Sunbeam-Talbot 2-Litre. The chassis was derived from the Ten model but with wider track and had beam axles front and rear and leaf springs. The brakes were updated to have hydraulic operation. Saloon and Drophead coupé bodies were fitted to the chassis and the rear wheel openings were covered by metal “spats”. 4000 were made. The Mk II got a new chassis with independent front suspension using coil springs. The engine was enlarged to 2267 cc. The increased engine block capacity was shared with the company’s 1950 Humber Hawk, but in the cylinder head the Humber retained (until 1954) the old side-valve arrangement. The Sunbeam’s cylinder head was changed to incorporate overhead valves, giving rise to a claimed power output of 70 bhp compared with only 58 bhp for the Humber. The favourable power-to-weight ratio meant that the Talbot could be “geared quite high” and still provide impressive acceleration where needed for “quick overtaking”.The front of the Talbot 90 body was modified; the headlights were higher and there were air inlet grilles on either side of the radiator. 5493 were made. Clming in 1952, the Mk IIA had a higher compression engine raising output to 77 bhp.To cater for the higher speeds the car was now capable of, the brakes were enlarged and to improve brake cooling the wheels were pierced. The Talbot MkIIA coupe/convertible is regarded as the rarest of the Sunbeam Talbots. The rear wheel spats were no longer fitted. 10,888 were made. From 1954 to 1957 the car continued, but without the Talbot name and was marketed as the Sunbeam MkIII and badged on the radiator shell as Sunbeam Supreme. The drophead coupé was not made after 1955. There were some minor styling changes to the front with enlarged air intakes on each side of the radiator shell and three small portholes just below each side of the bonnet near to the windscreen. Duo-tone paint schemes were also available. Engine power was increased to 80 bhp and overdrive became an option. Approximately 2250 were made.
Having started off producing smaller models such as the SuperSeven to compete against the market dominating Austin and Morris models, by the early 1930s, Triumph came to the conclusion that they could not really compete against these bigger selling cars, so a new strategy was conceived to offer larger and more costly cars instead. The result was the Gloria, made between 1934 and 1938. The Gloria was available in a large and complex range of sporting saloons, coupés, tourers, 2-seater sports cars, drophead coupés and golfer’s coupés. All these Glorias, apart from the final two models (1.5-Litre Saloon and Fourteen (1767 cc) Six-Light Saloon of 1937-1938) were powered by 1087 or 1232 cc four-cylinder or 1467 or 1991 cc six-cylinder Coventry Climax overhead inlet and side exhaust valve designed engines (modified and built under licence by Triumph). The chassis came in two lengths, with an extra 8 in ahead of the passenger compartment depending on whether the four- or six-cylinder engine was fitted, and had conventional non-independent suspension with semi elliptic leaf springs. The brakes were hydraulically operated using the Lockheed system with large 12 in drums. A four-speed transmission was fitted with an optional free wheel mechanism allowing “clutchless” gear changing. Synchromesh was fitted to the gearbox on the final Fourteen and 1.5-litre models. From August 1934 to 1936 the Gloria range included ‘Gloria Vitesse’ models (not to be confused with later Vitesses) which were up-rated, with twin carburettor engine and equipment, versions of the equivalent Gloria and slightly different bodywork in the case of some saloons.
The 1800 Roadster, model number 18TR, was designed in the closing days of World War II. Triumph had been bought by the Standard Motor Company in 1944, and the managing director of Standard, Sir John Black, wanted a sports car to take on Jaguar, who had used Standard engines in the pre-war period. Frank Callaby was selected to style the new car. After getting Black’s approval for the general shape, Callaby worked with Arthur Ballard to design the details of the body. Design of the rolling chassis was by Ray Turner. Walter Belgrove, who had styled the pre-war Triumphs and was employed as Chief Body Engineer, had no part in the design. Early post-war steel shortages meant that the body was built from aluminium, using rubber press tools that had been used making panels for the largely wooden bodied Mosquito bomber that had been built by Standard during the war. The frame was hand welded up from steel tube. The engine was a version of Standard’s 1.5-litre, four-cylinder side-valve design that had been converted to overhead valves by Harry Weslake and built by Standard exclusively for SS-Jaguar before World War II. The Triumph version differed from the Jaguar version in having a 6.7:1 compression ratio instead of the Jaguar’s 7.6:1 and a downdraught Solex carburettor instead of the Jaguar’s side-draught SU. A four-speed gearbox with synchromesh on the top three ratios was used. The tubular steel chassis was a short-wheelbase version of the 1800 saloon, featuring transverse leaf sprung independent suspension at the front and a live axle with semi-elliptic springs at the rear. The rear track was wider than the front by some 4 inches. Brakes were hydraulic. The body design was anachronistic. A journalist old enough to remember the pre-war Dolomite Roadster that had inspired the car felt that the elegant proportions of the earlier model had been abandoned in favour of a committee-based compromise, “a plump Christmas turkey to set against that dainty peacock … [more] Toadster [than Roadster]”. The front had large separate headlamps and the radiator was well back from the front between large “coal scuttle” wings. Passenger accommodation was on a bench seat that was claimed to seat three: the car’s 64 inch width helped make a reality of the three-abreast seating, and the approach meant a column gear change was required. The car’s unusual width also made it necessary to fit three screen wipers in a row, an example followed by early shallow windscreen Jaguar E Types. Additional room for two was provided at the rear in a dickey seat with its own folding windscreen: this was outside the hood that could be erected to cover the front seat. Entry and exit to the dickey seat was never easy and a step was provided on the rear bumper. The Roadster was the last production car with a dickey seat. The actor, John Nettles, drove a red 1947 Triumph Roadster 1800 in the 1980s television series, Bergerac. Two cars were actually used over the duration of the series production. This was made evident by the colour difference of the front mudguards and body without hood ornament on one car used in the earlier series and the same colour front mudguards and body with the hood ornament on the other car used in later series. The same number plate J 1610 was used on both cars in the series. In some episodes both cars appeared purporting to be the same car. The only significant update in the Roadster’s production came in September 1948 for the 1949 models, when the 2088 cc Vanguard engine, transmission, and rear axle were fitted. A retrograde step was the fitting of a three-speed gearbox even though it now had synchromesh on bottom gear. Apart from minor modifications to the mounting points, the chassis, suspension and steering were unaltered. This later version of the Roadster was given the model designation TRA. The car was never made in large numbers and was mainly hand built. 2501 examples of the 1800 and 2000 of the larger-engined version were made. Production ended in October 1949.
The Vauxhall Velox had been introduced in 1948, with a new version in 1951. The Cresta E version, launched in 1954, had the same 2262 cc six cylinder engine in the same state of tune but scored over the Velox in having a choice of leather or fabric upholstery, optional two tone paintwork, a heater as standard, a small electric fascia mounted clock, a cigar lighter, a lamp automatically illuminating the boot when opened and a vanity mirror on the inside of the front passenger’s sun visor along with a special ornamental badge above the V (for Vauxhall) badge on the nose of the car. A radio was optional. In October 1955 a facelift model with deeper front and rear screens was introduced. The balanced drop windows were replaced by ones with proper winding mechanisms, there were interior trim improvements, separate amber rear flasher lights and windscreen washers became standard. A new chrome plated grille with fewer vertical slats replaced the earlier diecast version. This model was assembled in New Zealand, alongside the Wyvern and Velox, with 840 being built in 1956, according to a local owners’ group with access to copies of the GM Petone plant ledgers. More changes were made in October 1956, with a new grille with horizontal bars, higher compression ratio engine, electrically operated windscreen wipers (replacing the camshaft driven system) and changes to the body trim and two tone colour scheme. In June 1957 the Cresta received a redesigned engine of the same capacity based on the deeper block design introduced in four-cylinder form in the Victor F series in March of that year.
A close relative of the better known MG Magnette was this Wolseley 4/44, produced from 1953 to 1956. It was designed under the Nuffield Organisation but by the time it was released in 1953, Wolseley was part of BMC. Much of the design was shared with the MG Magnette ZA which was released later in the same year. Unlike the MG, the 4/44 used the 1250 cc XPAW engine a version of the XPAG engine previously seen in the later MG T-type series of cars but detuned by only having a single carburettor. The power output was 46 bhp at 4800 rpm. The four speed manual transmission had a column change. The construction was monocoque with independent suspension at the front by coil springs and a live rear axle. The car had upmarket trim with wooden dashboard and leather seats and a traditional Wolseley radiator grille with illuminated badge but was expensive at £997 on the home market. The 4/44 was replaced in 1956 by the similar Wolseley 15/50.
NORTHGATE – BUSES
Final set of displays were a number of historic buses.
As well as the cars, there was some mobile entertainment with a couple of groups of actors meandering up and down the streets. I missed getting a photo of the cast of much-loved TV sit-com “Allo Allo” but a convincing Rene, Herr Flick, Michelle and Officer Crabtree could be found posing for photos with the locals, and there were also a couple of 50s style British bobbies who were there to remonstrate with those who they thought need to have their collars felt. All good harmless fun!
For sure the weather helped, but this really was a splendid event. There was lots to see, and of course being set in the city centre, there was no shortage of places for food and drink on hand. The variety of the displays was impressive, and of course those who were lucky to be in the Docks area really could get some shots of their cars with the fabulous backdrop. Plans are in place for the event to be repated in 2020.