In recent years, there has been a massive rise in the popularity of Historic Racing. It’s not that long ago that cars entered for motorsport events were cast aside on more or less an annual basis, as something new and “better”, and complaint with any change in the regulations became the focus. Fortunately, though, an awful lot of cars – from just about every branch of motorsport from Formula 1, the World Rally Championship and the various Touring Car formulae to less prestigious series – were rarely scrapped, so a lot of the stars of yesteryear are still around, in better condition than some cases than others. They were often bought by enthusiasts who soon discovered the fun of competing in their cars, and as the popularity of these historic events grew so more and more organisation surrounded it. Nowadays although there are true enthusiasts who drive to the circuit with their race car on a trailer and have the support of a couple of friends, there are also plenty who turn up with the support not dissimilar to that which you will see in professional motor sport such as Formula 1, with huge race transporters, an array of tools and spares and a team to help the driver out. It’s a massive business it in its own right. The largest events in the UK take place at Silverstone and Donington, and have been doing so for many years now, but it should surprise no-one that some of the other circuits have decided that they want some of the action. In 2019, a Historic Festival was launched at the Thruxton circuit. Sadly the dates clashed with other things to which I was already committed, but when I was approached by the Car Club organiser to see if I wanted to reserve a place for Abarth Owners Club at the 2020 event, I did not hesitate to say “yes”. Then Covid struck, so the original date came and went, with the event unable to take place, but undeterred, the organisers came up with a new date, of mid August. Although the Covid restrictions had been eased by this time, it was still far from a given that public events on this sort of scale could safely proceed, but to the huge credit of everyone involved, everything was put in place, and a few days before the scheduled date, it was announced that the 2020 Thruxton Historic Festival would be able to take place. To say I was excited is a huge understatement. Not only have I enjoyed the Historic Festivals I have attended elsewhere, I had never actually been to Thruxton, so I was keen to experience a new circuit and most importantly of all, this was going to be the first event of any sort that I had attended since the first weekend of March. I set off on a rather drizzly day, full of anticipation, and I was not disappointed. Here is what I saw.
As this was only the second time that the event has taken place, it is not yet etched into many Car Club schedules, so even without the Covid effect, there were never likely to be vast numbers of cars in the area reserved for the Car Clubs. That meant that there was plenty of space for those who were booked, who have been allocated areas on the banking on the outside of the circuit. It was marked out for the entire weekend, and judging by some of the signs and empty spaces, I would guess that thee were likely to be more cars in this area on the Sunday than I saw on the Saturday.
All this meant that on the Saturday, Abarth Owners Club, with support from the Wiltshire and Surrey Sussex and Hampshire Groups had the largest number of cars of any displaying Club, a total of 14 cars. We had a wonderful spot, right opposite the exit from the pits, and on banking which meant you were looking down onto the circuit, though I did have to hope that everyone had applied their handbrakes firmly, especially after a double row of parked cars was created!
The majority of the Abarths here were from the 500 and 595 families, with the usual variety of different variants and colours. Most of them were relatively new cars, from what is known as the Series 4, which means those cars produced after the facelift revealed in early 2016. Among them were examples of the mid-range Pista and top spec 595 Esseesse which joined the range during 2019 as part of the 70th anniversary celebrations.
Also here was a lovely 695 Rivale. This is the latest celebration of Fiat’s partnership with Riva, which has already seen a special Riva version of the 500,. Described as being “the most sophisticated Abarth ever”, it is available either as a hatch or a cabriolet, with both of them featuring a two-tone Riva Sera Blue and Shark Grey paintwork. The Rivale is adorned with an aquamarine double stripe, satin chrome finish on the door handles and satin chrome moulding on the tailgate, various aesthetic elements inspired by the Riva 56 Rivale yachts and ‘695 Rivale’ logos, joined by Brembo Brakes, Koni suspension, and 17-inch Supersport alloy wheels. Enhancing the nautical theme the new 695 Rivale features either a carbon fibre or mahogany dashboard, black mats with blue inserts, blue leather seats and door panels, carbon fibre kick plates, special steering wheel wrapped in blue and black leather and with a mahogany badge, blue leather instrument panel cover, and mahogany gear lever knob and kick plate. These are joined by the standard Uconnect infotainment with a 7-inch display, which is compatible with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and there is also a hand-written numbered plate that can be customised with the mane of the customer’s yacht on request. Powering the 695 Rivale is the same 1.4-litre turbocharged engine that makes 180PS (177hp) and 184lb/ft of torque, that features in the 595 Competizione, allowing it to go from rest to 100km/h (62mph) in 6.7 seconds and up to a top speed of 225km/h (140mph). This is a regular model in the range, but confusingly, there is also the Abarth 695 Rivale 175 Anniversary, created to celebrate 175 years of the Riva brand. Just 350 of these were produced, half of them the hatch and the other half cabriolets. These featured 17-inch alloy wheels with a special pattern, celebratory badge on the outside, hand-crafted details such as the two-tone colour – blue and black hand-stitched leather seats with a celebratory logo stitched onto the headrest, carbon dashboard silk screen printed with special logo, numbered plate. Standard Rivale cars arrived in the UK in April, and quite a few have been sold. They always attract lots of interest when they do appear.
There was one example of the Abarth Punto here, though only rather briefly, arriving in late morning and only staying for a brief time, This was the increasingly rarely seen Grande Punto version. 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 fro 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. Even the newest of these cars have now had their 9th birthdays, and some have amassed relatively big mileages, but they are still a car for the cognoscenti.
There was just one 124 Spider here, too that of Graeme Wear, who had travelled down from the Milton Keynes area, making him the furthest travelled of the group of Abarths on this occasion. Eagerly awaited, the 124 Spider went on sale in September 2016. A quick reminder as to what this car is: The Abarth 124 Spider was developed in parallel with the Fiat model. It does cost a lot more, and there are those who think you don’t get enough extra for your money, but those who have driven it will tell you otherwise. You certainly get more power. The 1.4 MultiAir turbo unit jumps up from 138bhp to 168bhp, while torque also increases by a modest 10Nm to 250Nm, which gives it a 0-62mph time of 6.8 seconds, which is half a second quicker than the 2.0-litre Mazda MX-5. The top speed is 143mph. It weighs just 1060kg meaning a power-to-weight ratio of 158bhp-per-tonne, and with the new Record Monza exhaust system it sounds great even at idle. The Abarth version gets a stiffer suspension setup than the regular Fiat 124 Spider, with Bilstein dampers and beefed-up anti-roll bars. Bigger Brembo brakes also feature, with aluminium calipers. It can be had with a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission with paddles, and the latter gets a Sport mode for quicker shifts. Many of the UK cars sport the ‘Heritage Look’ pack, which is a no-cost option. It brings a matt black bonnet and bootlid, plus red exterior trim detailing and has proved popular. The £29,565 starting price gets you standard equipment such as cruise control, climate control, Bluetooth, a DAB radio and satnav, plus Alcantara black and red (or pure black) seat trim. The automatic gearbox is a £2,035 extra, while an optional visibility pack brings LED DRLs, auto lights and wipers and rear parking sensors. The final cars have largely been sold, so there are only around 1800 of them in the UK, which means that this is always going to be quite a rare sighting.
Alfa Romeo was allocated space next to Abarth. Early in the morning there was just one car there, but later on a further two arrived.
The GTV and Spider 916 Series is a range which achieved classic status almost before production ceased, and thanks to the much improved rust protection and build quality standards of the late 90s, the survival rate is good. Prices for the remaining cars did continue to diminish for some time but in recent months they have started to increase suggesting that the market has seen the appeal of these cars, something the owners did not need to be told. The 916 Series cars 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.
When the 156 was launched in 1997, things looked very bright for Alfa. Striking good looks were matched by a driving experience that the press reckoned was better than any of its rivals. The car picked up the Car of the Year award at the end of the year. and when it went on sale in the UK in early 1998, waiting lists soon stretched out more than 12 months. Reflecting the way the market was going, Alfa put a diesel engine under the bonnet, launched a (not very good, it has to be admitted) automated transmission with the SeleSpeed, added a very pretty if not that commodious an estate model they called Sport Wagon and then added a top spec 3.2 litre GTA with its 250 bhp engine giving it a performance to outrun all its rivals. And yet, it did not take long before the press turned on the car, seduced by the latest 3 Series once more, citing build quality issues which were in fact far from universal. The 156 received a very minor facelift in 2002 and a more significant one in late 2003 with a new front end that was a clue to what would come with the car’s successor. Production ceased in 2005.
Final Alfa here was a 4C Competizione. First seen as a concept at the 2011 Geneva Show, the production model did not debut for a further 2 years. Production got underway later that year at the Maserati plant in Modena, and the first deliveries were late in 2013. Production was originally pegged at 1000 cars a year and a total of just 3500, which encouraged many speculators to put their name down in the hope of making a sizeable profit on selling their cars on. That plan backfired, and in the early months, there were lots of cars for sale for greater than list price. Press reaction to the car has been mixed, with everyone loving the looks, but most of them feeling that the driving experience is not as they would want. Owners generally disagree – as is so often the case! – and most love their car. I know I would if I could find space (and funds!) for one in my garage!
With the DB7, produced from September 1994 to December 2004, Aston Martin made more cars from a single model than all Astons previously made, with over 7000 built. Known internally as the NPX project, the DB7 was made mostly with resources from Jaguar and had the financial backing of the Ford Motor Company, owner of Aston Martin from 1988 to 2007. The DB7’s platform was an evolution of the Jaguar XJS’s, though with many changes. The styling started life as the still-born Jaguar F type (XJ41 – coupe / XJ42 – convertible) designed by Keith Helfet. Ford cancelled this car and the general design was grafted onto an XJS platform. The styling received modest changes by Ian Callum so that it looked like an Aston Martin. The first generation Jaguar XK-8 also uses an evolution of the XJ-S/DB7 platform and the cars share a family resemblance, though the Aston Martin was significantly more expensive and rare. The prototype was complete by November 1992, and debuted at the Geneva Motor Show in March, 1993, with the car positioned as an “entry-level” model below the hand-built V8 Virage introduced a few years earlier. With production of the Virage (soon rechristened “V8” following Vantage styling revisions) continuing at Newport Pagnell, a new factory was acquired at Bloxham, Oxfordshire that had previously been used to produce the Jaguar XJ220, where every DB7 would be built throughout its production run. The DB7 and its relatives were the only Aston Martins produced in Bloxham and the only ones with a steel unit construction inherited from Jaguar . Aston Martin had traditionally used aluminium for the bodies of their cars, and models introduced after the DB7 use aluminium for the chassis as well as for many major body parts. The convertible Volante version was unveiled at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in 1996. Both versions have a supercharged straight-six engine that produced 335 bhp and 361 lb·ft of torque. The Works Service provided a special Driving Dynamics package, which greatly enhanced performance and handling for drivers who wanted more than what the standard configuration offered. In 1999, the more powerful DB7 V12 Vantage was introduced at the Geneva Motor Show. Its 5.9 litre, 48-valve, V12 engine produced 420 bhp and 400 lb·ft of torque. It has a compression ratio of 10.3:1. Transmissions were available with either a TREMEC T-56 six speed manual or a ZF 5HP30 five speed automatic gearbox. Aston Martin claimed it had a top speed of either 186 mph with the manual gearbox or 165 mph with the automatic gearbox, and would accelerate from 0–60 mph in 4.9 seconds. It is 4,692 mm long, 1,830 mm (72.0 in) wide, 1,243 mm (48.9 in) high, with a weight of 1,800 kg (3,968.3 lb). After the launch of the Vantage, sales of the supercharged straight-6 engine DB7 had reduced considerably and so production was ended by mid-1999. In 2002, a new variant was launched, named V12 GT or V12 GTA when equipped with an automatic transmission. It was essentially an improved version of the Vantage, its V12 engine producing 435 bhp and 410 lb·ft of torque for the manual GT, although the automatic GTA retained the 420 bhp and 400 lb·ft of torque of the standard DB7 Vantage. Additionally, the GT and GTA chassis had substantially updated suspension from the DB7 Vantage models. Aesthetically, compared to the Vantage it has a mesh front grille, vents in the bonnet, a boot spoiler, an aluminium gear lever, optional carbon fibre trim and new wheels. It also has 14.0 in front and 13.0 in rear vented disc brakes made by Brembo. When being tested by Jeremy Clarkson on Top Gear in 2003, he demonstrated the car’s ability to pull away in fourth gear and continue until it hit the rev limiter: the speedometer indicated 135 mph. Production of the GT and GTA was extremely limited, as only 190 GT’s and 112 GTA’s were produced worldwide with 17 of them shipped to the US market, for a total of 302 cars
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.
A couple of the last generation Vantage model were here. Following the unveiling of the AMV8 Vantage concept car in 2003 at the North American International Auto Show designed by Henrik Fisker, the production version, known as the V8 Vantage was introduced at the Geneva Motor Show in 2005. The two seat, two-door coupé had a bonded aluminium structure for strength and lightness. The 172.5 inch (4.38 m) long car featured a hatchback-style tailgate for practicality, with a large luggage shelf behind the seats. In addition to the coupé, a convertible, known as the V8 Vantage Roadster, was introduced later in that year. The V8 Vantage was initially powered by a 4.3 litre quad-cam 32-valve V8 which produced 380 bhp at 7,300 rpm and 409 Nm (302 lb/ft) at 5,000 rpm. However, models produced after 2008 had a 4.7-litre V8 with 420 bhp and 470 Nm (347 lbft) of torque. Though based loosely on Jaguar’s AJ-V8 engine architecture, this engine was unique to Aston Martin and featured race-style dry-sump lubrication, which enabled it to be mounted low in the chassis for an improved center of gravity. The cylinder block and heads, crankshaft, connecting rods, pistons, camshafts, inlet and exhaust manifolds, lubrication system and engine management were all designed in house by Aston Martin and the engine was assembled by hand at the AM facility in Cologne, Germany, which also built the V12 engine for the DB9 and Vanquish. The engine was front mid-mounted with a rear-mounted transaxle, giving a 49/51 front/rear weight distribution. Slotted Brembo brakes were also standard. The original V8 Vantage could accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds before topping out at 175 mph. In 2008, Aston Martin introduced an aftermarket dealer approved upgrade package for power and handling of the 4.3-litre variants that maintained the warranty with the company. The power upgrade was called the V8 Vantage Power Upgrade, creating a more potent version of the Aston Martin 4.3-litre V8 engine with an increase in peak power of 20 bhp to 400 bhp while peak torque increased by 10 Nm to 420 Nm (310 lb/ft). This consists of the fitting of the following revised components; manifold assembly (painted Crackle Black), valved air box, right and left hand side vacuum hose assemblies, engine bay fuse box link lead (ECU to fuse box), throttle body to manifold gasket, intake manifold gasket, fuel injector to manifold seal and a manifold badge. The V8 Vantage had a retail price of GB£79,000, US$110,000, or €104,000 in 2006, Aston Martin planned to build up to 3,000 per year. Included was a 6-speed manual transmission and leather-upholstery for the seats, dash board, steering-wheel, and shift-knob. A new 6-speed sequential manual transmission, similar to those produced by Ferrari and Lamborghini, called Sportshift was introduced later as an option. An open-topped model was added to the range in 2006 and then in the quest for more power a V12 Vantage joined the range not long after. All told, Aston produced 18 different versions of the model in a production run which continued until 2018, with a number limited edition cars swelling the ranks.
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. This one is an Allegro Series 3 with chrome bumpers from an earlier generation on it.
Sole BMW here was an E28 M5, the first model to bear the now legendary name. This M5 made its debut at Amsterdam Motor Show in February 1984. It was the product of demand for an automobile with the carrying capacity of a saloon, but the overall appearance of a sports car. It utilised the 535xi chassis and an evolution of the bodykit from the M535i. At its launch, the E28 M5 was the fastest production sedan in the world. The first generation M5 was hand-built in Preussenstrasse/Munich prior to the 1986 Motorsport factory summer vacation. Thereafter, M5 production was moved to Daimlerstrasse in Garching where the remainder were built by hand. Production of the M5 continued until November 1988, well after production of the E28 chassis ended in Germany in December 1987. The M5 was produced in four different versions based on intended export locations. These were the left-hand drive (LHD) Euro spec, the right-hand drive (RHD) UK spec, the LHD North American (NA) spec for the United States and Canada, and the RHD South African (ZA) spec. The European and South African M5s used the M88/3 engine which produced 286 PS. North American 1988 models used the S38B35 engine which was equipped with a catalytic converter and produced 256 hp. With a total production of 2,191 units, the E28 M5 remains among the rarest regular production BMW Motorsport cars – after the BMW M1 (456 units), BMW E34 M5 Touring (891 units), and the BMW 850CSi (1510 units).
Launched at the 2015 Geneva Show, the 488GTB followed the lead set by the California T in bringing turbocharging into a modern-day, mid-engined V8 Ferrari supercar for the first time. The engine is completely new when compared with its V8 stablemate, not only in components but also in feel and character. It is a twin-turbocharged 3902cc unit whilst that in the California T is 3855cc. In the 488 GTB, it produces 660bhp at 8000rpm and 560lb ft at 3000rpm. Both outputs are significant increases over the normally aspirated 4.5-litre V8 used in the 562 bhp 458 Italia and 597 bhp 458 Speciale, and also greater than the car’s biggest rival, the McLaren 650S. The torque figure of the 488 GTB is such that it also exceeds the 509lb ft at 6000rpm of the normally aspirated V12 used in the range-topping Ferrari F12 Berlinetta. The mighty new engine in the 488 GTB drives the rear wheels through a revised seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox derived from the 458. It features a new ‘Variable Torque Management’ system which, Ferrari says, “unleashes the engine’s massive torque smoothly and powerfully right across the rev range”. The gear ratios are also tuned to “deliver incredibly progressive acceleration when the driver floors the throttle”. The 488 GTB can crack 0-62mph in just 3.0sec, 0-124mph in 8.4sec and reach a top speed of 205mph. Its 0-62mph and 0-124mph times match the McLaren 650S’s, but the Woking car’s top speed is slightly higher at 207mph. The engine also accounts for the ‘488’ element of the car’s name, because each of the engine’s eight cylinders is 488cc in capacity when rounded up. The GTB suffix, standing for Gran Turismo Berlinetta, is a hallmark of previous mid-engined V8 Ferraris such as the 308 GTB. Not only is the new turbo engine more potent than the 4.5-litre V8 from the 458 Italia, but it is also more economical. Combined fuel economy is rated at 24.8mpg, compared with 21.2mpg in the 458 Italia, and CO2 emissions are 260g/km – a 47g/km improvement. Ferrari’s HELE engine stop-start system features on the 488 GTB. Developments on the dynamic side include a second generation of the Side Slip Angle Control system, called SSC2. This allows the driver to oversteer without intruding, unless it detects a loss of control. The SSC2 now controls the active dampers, in addition to the F1-Trac traction control system and E-Diff electronic differential. Ferrari says the result is “more precise and less invasive, providing greater longitudinal acceleration out of corners” and flatter, more stable behaviour during “complex manoeuvres”. Learnings from the Ferrari XX programme have also been incorporated into the 488 GTB, something that Ferrari says allows all drivers and not just professionals, to make the most of its electronic and vehicle control systems. It also claims the 488 GTB is “the most responsive production model there is”, with responses comparable to a track car. The 488 GTB has lapped Ferrari’s Fiorano test track in 1min 23sec – two seconds faster than the 458 Italia, and half a second quicker than the 458 Speciale. The dimensions of the 488 GTB – it is 4568mm in length, 1952mm in width and 1213mm in height – closely match the 458 Italia from which it has evolved. Its dry weight is 1370kg when equipped with lightweight options – 40kg more than the McLaren 650S. The new look, styled at the Ferrari Styling Centre, features several new aerodynamic features that improve downforce and reduce drag. Most notable is the addition of active aerodynamics at the rear through a ‘blown’ rear spoiler, where air is channelled from the base of the glass engine cover under the spoiler. This contributes to the 50% increase in downforce over the 458 Italia. Also new is a double front spoiler, an aerodynamic underbody, a large air intake at the front that references the 308 GTB, a diffuser with active flaps, new positioning for the exhaust flaps and new-look lights. The interior has been redesigned to be made more usable, including new switchgear, air vents and instrument panel. The multi-function steering wheel remains, while the infotainment system gets a new interface and graphics. The Spider followed the closed coupe model six months later, and supplies of that car are now reaching the UK. This is now the bigger seller of the pair, as was the case with the 458 models.
There have been a significant number of recreation and replica versions of the GT40 produced over the years, by a wide range of manufacturers, and there were several of them here.
Designed by brothers Dennis and Peter Adams, this well-known car caused something of a sensation when it was shown at the 1964 Racing Car Show. Known as the Marcos 1800, it had a glassfibre body, with a wooden chassis and was offered for sale fully built or in kit form. This was to be the design that would become familiar to sports car enthusiasts for more than 30 years, even though the original plywood chassis would later be replaced by a steel chassis and the futuristic scalloped dashboard also vanished after a few years. The plywood chassis was glued together from 386 separate pieces and was not only light and strong, but also required a minimum up front investment to construct. The extremely low Marcos required a nearly supine driving position and fixed seats, mounted lower than the floor of the car. In return, the entire pedal set could be moved fore and aft with a knob on the dashboard. If this proved not to be enough Marcos also offered optional booster pillows. This setup, with the fixed seats, remained until the end of Marcos production in late 2007. The original Marcos 1800 had a two-spoke steering wheel and a novel dash with a prominent centre console, a rather expensive design which did not survive onto the Ford-engined cars. The entire nose portion, of a long and tapered design, was hinged at the front and was held down by latches behind the front wheelwells. It used the cast-iron four-cylinder 96 hp Volvo 1778 cc B18 unit with overdrive gearbox from the Volvo P1800S enough for a 116 mph top speed and a 0-60 mph time of 8.2 seconds. Successful in competition, the rather expensive 1800 sold very slowly, and after the first 33 cars the de Dion rear suspension was replaced by a live Ford axle. The price was dropped from ₤1500 to ₤1340, but it was not enough to make the car profitable. Cars were stockpiling in 1966, and after 106 (or 99) had been built, the 1800 was replaced by the Ford-engined 1500. Normally fitted with a four-speed manual transmission a five-speed one was also available, allowing for a higher top speed. According to some sources, a few of the last cars built had the 2 litre Volvo B20 engine fitted, as did some of the racing cars. The 1800 is the only Marcos that is eligible for historic racing and as such is considerably more valuable today than later models. In 1966 the GT was changed to a pushrod inline-four Ford Kent engine of 1500 cc, in order to lower costs as the 1800 had been rather too expensive to market. The complex dash was also replaced with a flat polished wood unit, which was soon downgraded further yet to a mass-produced “wood-effect” one. Power and performance were both down on the 1800, but sales increased considerably. To hide the fact that a common Ford engine was used, Marsh replaced the rocker covers with Marcos ones and switched from Weber to Stromberg carburettors. An overbored Lawrencetune 1650 cc version was made available in 1967 (32 built) to ameliorate the power shortage, for the Marcos 1650 GT. The 1650 also had bigger disc brakes and a standard Webasto sunroof, but proved somewhat less than reliable It and the 1500 were both replaced by Ford’s new Crossflow four not much later, in late 1967. The 1600 proved to be the most popular model yet, with 192 cars built until early 1969. Weight was 740 kg (1,631 lb) and disc brakes up front were standard, although power assist was an optional extra. Production ended in October 1969 as the new steel chassis was not well suited for the crossflow engine. A new model, the 2 litre, appeared at the January 1969 London Show with the engine changed to the Ford Essex V4 engine from the Ford Corsair – while a V6 engine had already appeared at the top of the lineup in 1968. Also in 1969, the plywood chassis was gradually replaced by a square section steel one, which shortened production time and saved on cost. These steel framed cars required a lower sill panel and have reshaped rear bumpers, as well as some subtle interior differences. The wooden chassis had also begun to meet a certain amount of resistance from buyers. There seem to have been no V4-engined wooden cars made, although there is a few months overlap between the introduction dates. The V4 received most of the same standard and optional equipment (except the overdrive) and the same central bonnet bulge as did the V6 models; very few of the Marcos 2 litres still have their V4 engines, as a V6 swap is a rather quick job and makes for a much faster car than the original’s 85 hp. It was not exactly a success story, 78 2 litres were most likely built, although numbers as low as 40 have also been mentioned. New at the October 1968 London Show was the more powerful Marcos 3 litre. Fitted with the double-carb Ford Essex V6 engine and transmission from the Ford Zodiac, production beginning in January 1969. Max power was 140 bhp and aside from the badging, this car is most easily recognised by the large, central bonnet bulge necessary to clear the larger engine. The 3 litre had a four-speed manual with a Laycock-de-Normanville Overdrive for the third and fourth gears fitted. In December 1969 a twin-carburetted 3-litre Volvo B30 straight-six became available (initially only for the US), and in 1971 eleven or twelve cars were fitted with the 150 bhp Triumph 2.5-litre straight-six. These were called the Marcos 2½ litre. As the bonnet was a close fit over the various larger engines, this resulted in a corresponding variation in the bonnet design as regards changes designed to clear engine air intakes, often the only external sign of the type of engine fitted. All inline-sixes required a rather angular bulge right of centre on the bonnet to clear the carburettors. Around this time, some V6 cars begun sporting single rectangular headlights (not on US-market cars), borrowed from the Vauxhall Viva HB. Later in 1969 the six-cylinder cars, as with their four-cylinder counterparts, received the new steel chassis. Either 100 or 119 of the wood-chassied V6 cars were built. The Ford V6 version achieved over 120 mph on test and the Volvo-engined model was not far behind it, but the heavy cast-iron engines increased nose-heaviness in comparison to the four-cylinder variants. With US sales going strong, Marcos production was up to three per week and they had to invest in a bigger space in 1969. Cars for the North Americas market had Volvo’s inline-six cylinder, 3 litre engines with a standard Borg-Warner Type 35 automatic transmissions. They sat on tubular steel space frames, have a higher ride height, and no headlight covers – all of this was in order to get US road certification. Air conditioning was also listed as an option by New York-based importers Marcos International Inc. Delays and problems with the federalised cars were beginning to mount. In 1970, 27 exported cars were impounded by US Customs for supposedly not meeting federal law, causing Marcos to withdraw entirely from the US market. Together with the development costs of the Mantis and the introduction of VAT on kit cars on the horizon, Marcos had to close its doors for what turned out to be the first time. About sixty US market cars were built, some of which were brought back after the US market dried up in 1970 and converted to RHD for sale in the home market. Production of the Volvo 3 litre continued for the rest of the world, with these cars fitted with a four-speed manual transmission. Either 80 or 172 of the Volvo I6-engined Marcos were built until early 1972, with the final one destined to become the last Marcos built for the next ten years. After Marcos had run out of money the company was sold to Hebron & Medlock Bath Engineering in mid-1971. They themselves had to call in the receivers only six months later. The Rob Walker Garage Group bought the factory only to sell off everything, including some finished cars such as all six Mark 2 1600s built. Jem Marsh bought up spares and other parts at the liquidation sale and proceeded to run a company servicing existing Marcos, until he resumed production of Marcos kits in 1981. The original GT continued to be built until 1989 or 1990, being developed into its altered Mantula form. This was further developed into more powerful and aggressively-styled designs, culminating in the 1994 LM600 (which competed in the 1995 Le Mans 24-hour race).
There was a space marked out for Porsche Club GB, and just one (undepicted) car in it. How many events like this have I been to where Porsche is outnumbered by Abarth on a ratio of 14:1? Err, probably this is the only one!
This is the fourth generation of the Supra, known as the A80, work on which began in February 1989 under various teams for design, product planning, and engineering. By the middle of 1990, a final A80 design concept from Toyota Technical Centre Aichi was approved and frozen for production in late 1990. The first test mules were hand-built in A70 bodies during late 1990, followed by the first A80 prototypes being hand-assembled in 1991. Again using subframe, suspension,and drivetrain assemblies from the Z30 Soarer (Lexus SC300/400), test model pre-production started in December 1992 with 20 models, and official mass production began in April 1993. This redesign saw Toyota placing great emphasis on a more serious high-performance car. The new Supra was completely redesigned, with rounded body styling and featured two new engines: a naturally aspirated Toyota 2JZ-GE producing 220 hp at 5800 rpm and 210 lb·ft at 4800 rpm of torque and a twin turbocharged Toyota 2JZ-GTE making 276 hp and 318 lb·ft of torque for the Japanese version. The styling, while modern, does seem to borrow some elements from Toyota’s first grand touring sports car, the Toyota 2000GT. For the export model (America/Europe) Toyota upgraded the Supra turbo’s engine which increased the power output to 320 hp at 5600 rpm and 315 lb·ft at 4000 rpm. The turbocharged variant could achieve 0–60 mph in as low as 4.6 seconds and 1/4-mile in 13.1 seconds at 109 mph. The turbo version was tested to reach over 285 km/h (177 mph), but the cars were restricted to just 180 km/h (112 mph) in Japan and 250 km/h (155 mph) elsewhere. The twin turbos operated in sequential mode, not parallel. Initially, all of the exhaust is routed to the first turbine for reduced lag. This resulted in boost and enhanced torque as early as 1800 rpm, where it already produced 300 lb·ft of torque. At 3500 rpm, some of the exhaust is routed to the second turbine for a “pre-boost” mode, although none of the compressor output is used by the engine at this point. At 4000 rpm, the second turbo’s output is used to augment the first turbo’s output. Compared to the parallel mode, sequential mode turbos provide quicker low RPM response and increased high RPM boost. This high RPM boost was also aided with technology originally present in the 7M-GE in the form of the Acoustic Control Induction System (ACIS) which is a way of managing the air compression pulses within the intake piping as to increase power. For this generation, the Supra received a new 6-speed Getrag/Toyota V160 gearbox on the turbo models while the naturally aspirated models made do with a 5-speed manual W58, revised from the previous version. Each model was offered with a 4-speed automatic with manual shifting mode. All vehicles were equipped with 5-spoke aluminium alloy wheels, the naturally aspirated model had 16″ rims and the turbo models were 17″. The difference in wheel size was to accommodate the larger brakes equipped as standard onto the turbo model, but in Japan were optional extras. Both models had a space saver spare tire on a steel rim to save both space and weight. Toyota took measures to reduce the weight of this new model. Aluminium was used for the hood, targa top (when fitted), front crossmember, oil and transmission pans, and the suspension upper A-arms. Other measures included hollow carpet fibres, magnesium-alloy steering wheel, plastic gas tank and lid, gas injected rear spoiler, and a single pipe exhaust. Despite having more features such as dual airbags, traction control, larger brakes, wheels, tyres, and an additional turbo, the car was at least 200 lb lighter than its predecessor. The base model with a manual transmission had a curb weight of 3,210 lb (1,460 kg). The Sport Roof added 40 lb while the automatic transmission added 55 lb. It had a 51:49 (front:rear) weight distribution. The turbo model weighed 3,450 lb (1,560 kg) for the manual, automatic added another 10 lb (4.5 kg). Weight distribution was 53% front/47% rear. The Supra was heavier than the spartan Mazda RX-7 and all aluminium bodied Acura/Honda NSX, but it was lighter than the Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4. The Supra soon became something of a legend, establishing itself as an effective platform for drifting in Japan, and for roadracing, with several top 20 and top 10 One Lap of America finishes in the SSGT1 class. Despite its curb weight, in 1994 the A80 managed remarkable skidpad ratings of 0.95 lateral g’s (200 ft) and 0.98 lateral g’s (300 ft), and the car has proved popular even as it ages in the UK, with several “grey market” cars having been brought here over the years.
There was a single example of the “Amazon” Volvo here. Although costly when new, thanks to the UK’s Import Duty which applied to foreign car imports at the time, the Volvo of this era was surprisingly popular with UK buyers. The cars were tough, as strong success in rallying evidenced, but not that many have survived. There’s a complex history to this model, with lots of different numbers applied to the car during a 13 year production run. When introduced, the car was named the Amason (with an ‘s’), deriving from the fierce female warriors of Greek mythology, the Amazons. German motorcycle manufacturer Kreidler had already registered the name, and the two companies finally agreed that Volvo could only use the name domestically (i.e., within Sweden), modifying the spelling to Amazon. Subsequently, Volvo began its tri-digit nomenclature and the line became known as the 120 Series. Under prototype designation 1200, following the PV444’s internal designation as the 1100, the Amazon was released in the press in February 1956, with production initially set to begin in July of the same year, and deliveries commenced in August 1956 — under the now modified internal designation 120 series. The Amazon sedan’s ponton genre, three-box styling was inspired by US cars of the early 1950s, strongly resembling the Chrysler New Yorker sedan and the Chrysler 300C hardtop Coupe. According to designer Jan Wilsgaard, the Amazon’s styling was inspired by a Kaiser he saw at the Gothenburg harbour. The Amazon featured strong articulation front to rear, pronounced “shoulders”, and slight but visible tailfins. These features became inspiration for Peter Horbury when reconceiving Volvo’s design direction with the V70 after decades of rectilinear, slab-sided, boxy designs. The Amazon’s bodywork was constructed of phosphate-treated steel (to improve paint adhesion) and with heavy use of undercoating and anti-corrosive oil treatment. The Amazon shared the wheelbase, tall posture and high H-point seating of its predecessor, the PV. In 1959 Volvo became the world’s first manufacturer to provide front seat belts as standard equipment — by providing them on all Amazon models, including the export models — and later becoming the first car featuring three-point seat belts as standard equipment. The Amazon’s handbrake location, outboard of the driver’s seat, was intended to accommodate subsequent bench seat models with column shift transmissions — which never materialised. Buyers began to receive the first cars in February 1957, and initial models were two-tone red and black with light grey roof, light grey with a black roof, followed by a dark blue with grey roof in 1958. Further iterations included the 121, the base model with a single carburettor 66 bhp engine, the 122S introduced in 1958 as a performance model equipped with a dual carburettor 85 bhp engine. The estate version was introduced at the 1962 Stockholm Auto Show, and Volvo manufactured 73,000 examples between 1962 and 1969. The Amazon estate featured a two-piece tailgate, with the lower section folding down to provide a load surface and the upper section that hinged overhead. The vehicle’s rear licence plate, attached to the lower tailgate, could fold “up” such that when the tailgate was lowered and the vehicle in use, the plate was still visible. This idea was used by the original 1959 Mini. In recent years a similar arrangement was used on the tailgate of the Subaru Baja. In 1966 the Volvo PV ended production, replaced by the Amazon Favorit, a less expensive version of the Amazon, without exterior chrome trim, a passenger-side sun visor or cigarette lighter, and with a three-speed rather than four-speed transmission — available in black with red interior and later white or black with red interior. The newer Volvo 140 was becoming the company’s mainstream model, and the last of the four-door 120 saloons were produced in 1967, the year which saw the launch of the 123GT, which was a Model 130 with high-compression four-cylinder B18B engine (from the Volvo P1800), M41 gearbox, fully reclining seats, front fog and driving lights (on some markets), alternator, fender mounted mirrors, special steering wheel, dash with a shelf and tachometer, and other cosmetic upgrades. In 1969 the displacement of the old B18 engine was increased and the engine was called the B20. The last Amazon was manufactured on 3 July 1970. By the end of production, 234,653 four-door models, 359,917 two-door models and 73,220 station wagons had been produced, of which 60% were exported; a total of 667,791 vehicles.
When I first arrived, the marshalls had mis-directed me, and initially it looked like I would be parked up inside the circuit in an area which had a wide variety of cars in it, all clearly with some special privilege which meant that could park here and not in the public car park. Having parked in the correct place, I clearly wanted to go back and see what else was there, and word soon reached the Abarth group that if you showed your ticket, you could get paddock access, so off I headed. There were indeed quite a few interesting cars in this area, as well as a few which were actually right in the Paddock.
One of the reasons I had ended up in the wrong place, apart from the mis-direction by the marshalls was because I actually followed another Abarth in, this black 595. I did wonder if it was actually a car that should have been in the Club display but who just decided to leave his car where I now found it, but I did not recognise the plate, so it is likely that it was just another Abarth enthusiast who was unaware of a larger number of the cars to be found elsewhere.
Hidden away in the outer reaches of the Paddock was this 116 Series Giulietta, a car which slotted into the range below the Alfetta and of which this is a late model example. This 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.
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.
This is an example of the B5 version of the latest 5 Series.
This is the latest version of the Vantage, a distinctively styled car which had far from universal admiration when launched and whose sales have – if Aston were being truthfully honest – been rather disappointing. The significant price hike compared to its predecessor presented the car in a different class with some formidable rivals.
There were quite a number of Bentley models here, oldest of which some of the 3 litre models, as produced in the 1920s and which epitomise the classic Bentley to many people. The 3 Litre was the company’s first model, first shown in 1919 and made available to customers’ coachbuilders from 1921 to 1929. It was conceived for racing. The Bentley was very much larger than the 1368 cc Bugattis that dominated racing at the time, but double the size of engine and strength compensated for the extra weight. The 4000 lb (1800 kg) car won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1924, with drivers John Duff and Frank Clement, and again in 1927, this time in Super Sports form, with drivers S. C. H. “Sammy” Davis and Dudley Benjafield. Its weight, size, and speed prompted Ettore Bugatti to call it “the fastest lorry in the world.” The 3 Litre was delivered as a running chassis to the coachbuilder of the buyer’s choice. Bentley referred many customers to their near neighbour Vanden Plas for bodies. Dealers might order a short cost-saving run of identical bodies to their own distinctive design. Most bodies took the simplest and cheapest form, tourers, but as it was all “custom” coachwork there was plenty of variation. The 2,996 cc straight-4 engine was designed by ex-Royal Flying Corps engineer Clive Gallop and was technically very advanced for its time. It was one of the first production car engines with 4 valves per cylinder, dry-sump lubrication and an overhead camshaft. The four valve SOHC Hemi design, with a bevel-geared shaft drive for the camshaft, was based on the pre-war 1914 Mercedes Daimler M93654 racing engine. Just before the outbreak of the war Mercedes had placed one of the winning Grand Prix cars in their London showroom in Long Acre. At the suggestion of W.O. Bentley, then being commissioned in the Royal Naval Air Service, the vehicle was confiscated in 1915 by the British army, dismantled at Rolls-Royce and subjected to scrutiny. A notable difference to both the Mercedes and the aero engines was the cast-iron monobloc design, and the fully Aluminium enclosed camshaft, which greatly contributed to its durability. But having the valve-head and block in one-piece made for a complicated and labour intensive casting and machining. This was a feature shared during that time by the Bugattis which the car was later to compete with. The engine was also among the first with two spark plugs per cylinder, pent-roof combustion chambers, and twin carburettors. It was extremely undersquare, optimised for low-end torque, with a bore of 80 mm (3.1 in) and a stroke of 149 mm (5.9 in). Untuned power output was around 70 hp, allowing the 3 Litre to reach 80 mph. he Speed Model could reach 90 mph; the Super Sports could exceed 100 mph. A four-speed gearbox was fitted. Only the rear wheels had brakes until 1924, when four-wheel brakes were introduced. There were three main variants of the 3 litre and they became known by the colours commonly used on the radiator badge. There was a definite rule controlling badge colours but astonishingly it has since been established that given “special circumstances” the factory would indeed supply a “wrong” colour. Blue label was the standard model with 117.5 in wheelbase from 1921 to 1929 or long 130.0 in wheelbase from 1923 to 1929. The Red label used a 5.3:1 high compression engine in the 117.5 in wheelbase chassis and was made from 1924 to 1929. The Green label was made between 1924 and 1929 and was the high performance model with 6.3:1 compression ratio and short 108 in wheelbase chassis. 100 mph performance was guaranteed. As well as 3 Experimental cars, Bentley produced 1088 examples of the 3 litre, and the Speed Model numbered 513 and there were 18 Super Sports.
This is an S Type Continental Flying Spur, a luxury car produced by Bentley from 1959 until 1962. The successor to the S1, it featured the new Rolls-Royce – Bentley L Series V8 engine and improved air conditioning made possible by that engine’s increased output. Power steering was also standard, and a new dashboard and steering wheel were introduced. Some early S2s were built with the earlier S1 dashboard. Announced at the beginning of October 1959 the S2 replaced the S1’s straight-six engine with the new aluminium Rolls-Royce – Bentley L Series V8 shared with the Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud II. It displaced 6.2 L (6230 cc), and offered significantly improved performance. The cylinder block and heads are cast in aluminum alloy and hydraulic tappets operate the overhead valves. The engine has a compression ratio of 8 to 1 and is fitted with twin carburetors with automatic choke. Other features available include fully automatic transmission, power-assisted steering, electrically operated ride control, redesigned and more flexible air conditioning, electric rear window demisters and press button window lifts. Of the 1,863 standard S2 models produced, 15 had H. J. Mulliner & Co. drophead coupe bodies. Of the 57 long-wheelbase cars, five had James Young bodies and one a Mercedes-Bentley yachting station-wagon body by Wendler. An “S2 Continental” chassis was built with higher performance engines and higher gearing for lighter bodywork. 388 were built, bodied by the same group of coachbuilders as the standard S2.
Also parked up was this Bentayga, a critically important model for Bentley, whether you love it or not over 20,000 have been sold, so clearly plenty of people do like it!
Better known as the Daytona. First seen at the 1968 Paris Motor Show, the 365 GTB/4 was the last of the classic front engined V12 Ferrari models. Almost immediately the 365 GTB/4 gained its ‘Daytona’ moniker from Ferrari’s 1-2-3 result in the 1967 24-hour race of the same name. The Daytona’s engine and handling certainly didn’t undermine its racing nomenclature. The 4.4-litre, 4-cam V12 produced an astonishing 352bhp and, despite its 1,633kg bulk, the Daytona was billed as the fastest road car in the world. Not only was 174mph more than brisk, but crucially, it was faster than the Miura. The 5-speed gearbox was mounted at the rear for a more optimal weight distribution, and helped give the Daytona its predictable handling and solid road-holding. Like so many Ferraris of the period, the Daytona’s beautiful bodywork was designed by Pininfarina with the car built by Scaglietti. The delicate front was cleanly cut with both pop-up and Plexiglas headlight varieties. The rear slope was suggestively rakish and a Kamm tail provided further clues as to the performance of the car. The wheel arch flares, although elegant in proportion, are the only real overt notion that this car has significant pace, until you drive one! A number of them had their roof removed in the 1980s when people wanted the far rarer GTS Spider version, but values of the cars are such now that I would hope no-one would even contemplate such an act of sacrilege again! Along with 123 “official” open-topped GTS cars, 1284 Daytona models were produced. Among the cars shown was the very the last of 123 factory-built Spider cars.
The 812 Superfast is effectively the modern version of the Daytona. Also a front-engined 2 seater GT with a V12 engine, the model arrived in 2018, a significant update to the F12 Berlinetta.
The first 124 Spider made its debut at the Turin Show in 1966, and continued in production until the mid 1980s, bearing the badge of its desginer, Pininfarina, in later years when it remained popular in the American market. Early cars had 1400 and 1600cc engines, and these were gradually enlarged first 1800cc and then 2 litre, with fuel injection being added for more power and emissions compliance during the 1970s. Fiat spotted the potential of the car for more than just boulevard cruising, though, so in November 1972 they announced the Fiat Abarth 124 Rally, an overtly sporting version. Its main purpose was to receive FIA homologation in the special grand touring cars (Group 4) racing class, and replace the 1.6-litre Fiat Sport Spider rally car which had been campaigned. At the time, the 124 had already won the 1972 European Rally Championship at the hands of Raffaele Pinto and Gino Macaluso. The 124 Rally was added to the Sport Spider range, which included the 1600 and 1800 models; the first 500 examples produced were earmarked for the domestic Italian market. Amongst the most notable modifications over the standard spider there were independent rear suspension, engine upgrades, lightweight body panels, and a fixed hard top. In place of the usual rear solid axle, there was a Chapman-type McPherson strut independent suspension, supplemented by a longitudinal torque arm. At the front a radius rod on each side was added to the standard double wishbones. The Abarth-tuned type 132 AC 4.000 1.8-litre, twin-cam engine was brought from the standard 118 to 128 PS DIN by replacing the standard twin-choke carburettor with double vertical twin-choke Weber 44 IDF ones, and by fitting an Abarth exhaust with a dual exit exhaust The 9.8:1 compression ratio was left unchanged. The transmission was the all-synchronised 5-speed optional on the other Sport Spider models, and brakes were discs on all four corners. Despite the 20 kg (44 lb) 4-point roll bar fitted, kerb weight was 938 kg (2,068 lb), roughly 25 kg (55 lb) less than the regular 1.8-litre Sport Spider. The bonnet, boot lid and the fixed hard top were fibreglass, painted matt black, the rear window was perspex and the doors aluminium. Front and rear bumpers were deleted and replaced by simple rubber bumperettes. A single matte black wing mirror was fitted. Matte black wheel arch extensions housed 185/70 VR 13 Pirelli CN 36 tyres on 5.5 J × 13″ 4-spoke alloy wheels. Inside, the centre console, rear occasional seats, and glovebox lid were eliminated; while new features were anodised aluminium dashboard trim, a small three-spoke leather-covered Abarth steering wheel, and Recaro corduroy-and-leather bucket seats as an extra-cost option. The car carried Fiat badging front and rear, Abarth badges and “Fiat Abarth” scripts on the front wings, and Abarth wheel centre caps. Only three paint colours were available: Corsa red, white, and light blue. Seen here was one of the last of the line.
The Ford Country Squire (later the Ford LTD Country Squire) is a series of station wagons that was assembled by American automaker Ford. The premium station wagon of the Ford division, the Country Squire was distinguished by its external woodgrain trim. From the 1950 to 1991 model years, eight generations of the Country Squire were produced. Following the discontinuation of Edsel, Mercury marketed the Mercury Colony Park as a divisional counterpart of the Country Squire, sharing bodywork and trim. For the 1960 model year, in place of a yearly update, the Ford model line underwent a complete redesign. Coinciding with the introduction of the compact Falcon, full-size Fords grew in size, adopting a 119-inch wheelbase. As part of a model shift, the Galaxie was slotted above the Fairlane as the flagship Ford model range, with the Country Squire becoming its station wagon counterpart for 1960. For 1961, Mercury revised its model range following the discontinuation of Edsel, with the Monterey becoming a longer-wheelbase version of the Galaxie; in a change that would last until their 1991 discontinuation, the Colony Park became the Mercury counterpart of the Country Squire. Retaining the use of a perimeter frame, the Country Squire grew in size over its predecessor, five inches wider and five inches longer than its predecessor. The wood exterior trim returned to the appearance of boat decking, with a simpler border trim design. To improve entry and exit, the forward-sloping A-pillar was replaced by a rearward-sloping design, allowing for wider front door opening. While the third-row seat still required the removal of the lower cushion to fold flat, access was improved as one-third of the second-row seat folded separately. The 1960 Ford chassis, used by the fifth-generation Country Squire with a 119-inch wheelbase, shared with all other full-size Ford models. To improve handling, the rear leaf suspension was redesigned with longer springs, as part of anti-dive and anti-squat control. The front suspension is a double wishbone configuration, with ball-jointed A-arms. Shared with the F-Series, the Country Squire used 11-inch drum brakes on all four wheels. At its launch, the fifth-generation retained several engines from the previous generation. A 145 hp 223 cubic-inch inline-six was standard, with three optional V8 engines. A 292 cubic-inch V8 (retuned to 185 hp) made its return, along with a 352 cubic-inch V8 (235 hp with 2-barrel; 300 hp with 4-barrel). For 1961, the engines were detuned, with the six making 135 hp, the 292 175 hp, and the 352 220 hp (the 300 hp V8 remained). For 1962, the engines were retuned to 138 hp for the inline-6 and 170 hp for the 292; while the 220 hp version of the 352 remained, the 300 hp version was replaced by a 390 cubic-inch V8 producing 300 hp (the only version of the 390 offered with the Country Squire). For 1963, the 292 V8 was discontinued, replaced by a 164 hp 260 cubic-inch V8. For 1964, the 260 V8 was expanded to 289 cubic inches (producing 195 hp); the 352 was retuned to 250 hp. As with the previous generation, three and four-speed (overdrive) manual transmissions were offered, along with three-speed Fordomatic or Cruise-O-Matic automatics.For 1964, the 3-speed manual was redesigned, becoming synchronized in all three gears. In contrast to the fourth generation Country Squire, the fifth generation largely abandoned yearly body updates. The body design was more conservative, integrating the headlights into the grille and fairing the bumper more closely into the fenders. For 1961, the rear tailgate underwent a complete redesign, abandoning the two-piece tailgate for a one-piece tailgate with a roll-down window. As part of the tailgate design, a safety lockout required the rear window to be fully lowered before the tailgate could be lowered; the window was lowered either manually or electrically. On both tailgate designs, the tailgate used a torsion bar spring to counterbalance its hinge. Coinciding with the liftgate redesign for 1961, the front and rear fascias were redesigned, marking the return of (small) tailfins and large round taillamps, in line with the Ford Thunderbird. For 1964, the Country Squire underwent a facelift of its rear fascia (deleting the tailfins) and its side trim, with a redesign of the wood trim. The car seen here is from 1963.
Replacement for the XK models came in 1961 with the E Type, and it stunned the world at its premier at the 1961 Geneva Show. Considered by many to be Sir William Lyons’ greatest achievement, not only did the car have stop-you-in-your-tracks gorgeous styling, but it had explosive performance (even if the 150 mph that was achieved in The Autocar’s Road Test is now known to have been with a little “help”), but it was the price that amazed people more than anything else. Whilst out of reach for most people, who could barely afford any new car, it was massively cheaper than contemporary Aston Martins and Ferraris, its market rivals. It was not perfect, though, and over the coming years, Jaguar made constant improvements. A 2+2 model joined the initial range of Roadster and Coupe, and more powerful and larger engines came when the 3.8 litre was enlarged to 4.2 litres, before more significant styling changes came with the 1967 Series 2 and the 1971 Series 3, where new front end treatments and lights were a consequence of legislative demands of the E Type’s most important market, America
Also here was a Project Seven. This was first shown in the summer of 2013, more of an indication of what could be done with the new F Type rather than as something which was going to be produced, but such was the clamour from enthusiasts that Jaguar decided to build a limited run of them, and even at a starting price of £130,000, there were more people who wanted to buy one than cars that Jaguar planned to make, with the car selling out before it officially went on sale. Just 250 will be built, 80 available to buyers in the UK, 50 in Germany and the balance to the Americans, who, it would seem, have been getting their cars first. The Seven in the name refers to Jaguar’s seven Le Mans wins (two of them with the help of Ecurie Ecosse, of course). Visually, it is easy to recognise from a standard F Type, with its abbreviated screen, its new front bumper, many aero mods (carbonfibre splitter, blade-like side skirts, rear diffuser and deck-mounted rear wing) and its nose stripes and racing roundels. The owner explained that he is not allowed to put a number on the roundel for road use, and he is also agonising over whether to put on a front number plate, as it would spoil the looks of the car. The Project 7 starts as a standard V8 drophead, with its 5.0-litre supercharged engine modified to produce 567bhp, which is 25bhp more than an F-Type R Coupé and 516lb ft of torque (15lb ft more). Proportionally speaking, these aren’t huge increases, but they’re delivered via unique throttle maps that let you feel the extra energy from around 2500rpm and these figures do make this the most powerful Jaguar ever made. Combine this with the benefits of a 45kg weight reduction (35kg of this comes from that rather ungainly “get you home” hood and the seats have race-bred carbonfibre shells) and you get an F-Type capable of the 0-60mph sprint in 3.8sec. The top speed is electronically limited to 186mph or 300km/h, as with other F-Types. With the exhaust butterflies open (there’s a special console switch), the car emits a superb growl-bark that turns into a magnificent crackle on the overrun. It’s the one thing that makes you want to slow down, though we did not get the real benefit of this as the car was driven, carefully around the rough and cobbled surfaces of the Square. A lot of the engineering effort spend on developing the car was in rebalancing the suspension and aerodynamics for high-speed duty. Font negative camber was increased from 0.5 to 1.5deg, to encourage the front wheels to dig in, and rear torque vectoring – differential braking of the rear wheels – is there to make the car turn easily. The car’s rear-biased aerodynamic downforce was addressed by fitting side skirts and a large front splitter, while slightly reducing the effectiveness (and drag) of the bootlid wing. Project Seven is fitted with all the top-end running gear: eight-speed Quickshift transmission, electronic differential, carbon-ceramic brakes, unique-tune adaptive dampers and its own special settings for engine management and chassis stability control. The Project 7 also has unique springs and anti-roll bars, the most prominent feature being front springs that are a stonking 80% stiffer, to cope with the potential force generated by the brakes and withstand turn-in loads at high speed on the soft standard Continental Force tyres. Engineers also moved the Sport and standard suspension settings further apart, to provide good options for short and long-distance use. The modifications are apparently most obvious on track, and Jaguar SVO reckon most owners will take their cars there as part of the limited mileage that they will probably cover in an average year.
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.
This is an example of the firm’s first road car, the rather awkwardly titled MP4 12C, later shorted just to 12C. This was the first ever production car wholly designed and built by McLaren, and their first production road car produced since the McLaren F1, which ended production in 1998. McLaren started developing the car in 2007 and secretly purchased a Ferrari 360 to use as a test mule. The mule called MV1 was used to test the 3.8-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine. The car also featured side vents for additional cooling which were later incorporated in the final production model. Later in the year, the company purchased an Ultima GTR to test the braking system and suspension components, that mule was called the MV2. The space frame and body of that car were modified in order to accommodate the new components. Later another prototype was purchased which was another Ferrari 360 dubbed the MV3 which was used to test the exhaust system. McLaren then built two prototypes themselves called CP1 and CP2 incorporating the Carbon Monocell monocoque which were used for testing the heat management system and performance. The MP4-12C features a carbon fibre composite chassis, and is powered by a longitudinally-mounted Rear mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout McLaren M838T 3.8 litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine, developing approximately 600 PS (592 bhp) at 7500 rpm and around 600 N⋅m (443 lbf⋅ft) of torque at 5600 rpm. The car makes use of Formula 1-sourced technologies such as “brake steer”, where the inside rear wheel is braked during fast cornering to reduce understeer. Power is transmitted to the wheels through a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. The entire drivetrain is the first to be entirely designed and produced in house by McLaren. The chassis is based around a F1 style one-piece carbon fibre tub, called the Carbon MonoCell, weighing only 80 kg (176 lb). The MonoCell is made in a single pressing by using a set of patented processes, using Bi-Axial and Tri-Axial carbon fibre multiaxial fabrics produced by Formax UK Ltd. with the MonoCell manufactured by Carbo Tech in Salzburg, Austria. This has reduced the time required to produce a MonoCell from 3,000 hours for the F1 and 500 hours for the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren, to 4 hours for the MP4-12C. The McLaren MP4-12C utilizes a unique hydraulic configuration to suspend the vehicle as opposed to more traditional coil springs, dampers and anti-roll bars. What McLaren has called “ProActive Chassis Control,” the system consists of an array of high and low pressure valves interconnected from both left to right and front to back, and the typical anti-roll bars were omitted entirely. When high pressure meets high pressure under roll conditions, stiffness results; and subsequently when high pressure meets low under heave and warp, more give is allowed, ultimately providing a firmer, competent suspension setup in spirited driving, and a very plush, compliant and comfortable ride when moving at slower, constant speeds. The car has a conventional two side-by-side seating arrangement, unlike its predecessor the McLaren F1 which featured an irregular three seat formation (front centre, two behind either side). To make up for this however, the car’s central console is narrower than in other cars, seating the driver closer to the centre. Interior trim and materials can be specified in asymmetric configuration – known as “Driver Zone”. The final car was unveiled to the public on 9 September 2009 before the company’s launch in 2010. A convertible version of the car called the MP4-12C Spider, as added to the range in 2012. The name’s former prefix ‘MP4’ has been the chassis designation for all McLaren Formula 1 cars since 1981. ‘MP4′ stands for McLaren Project 4 as a result of the merger between Ron Dennis’ Project 4 organisation with McLaren. The ’12’ refers to McLaren’s internal Vehicle Performance Index through which it rates key performance criteria both for competitors and for its own cars. The criteria combine power, weight, emissions, and aerodynamic efficiency. The coalition of all these values delivers an overall performance index that has been used as a benchmark throughout the car’s development. The ‘C’ refers to Carbon, highlighting the application of carbon fibre technology to the future range of McLaren sports cars. At the end of 2012, the name of the MP4-12C was reduced to 12C – that name is usually used when referring to the coupe, the open-top version now being called the 12C Spider.
This is the Taycan, Porsche’s recently released all-electric saloon which has been launched to critical acclaim from just about all quarters. Fearsomely expensive, yes, but in all other respects, this is a impressive achievement, and with looks that are everything the Panamera never quite managed to be.
This splendid car is from the 993 generation. The 993 Turbo coupé was introduced in 1995. It featured a new twin-turbocharged engine displacing 3.6 litres and generating a maximum power output of 408 PS (402 hp).Air-to-air intercoolers, electronic engine management, redesigned cylinder heads and other modified engine internals completed the new engine. The 993 Turbo was the first 911 Turbo with all wheel drive, taken from the 959 flagship model. The Turbo’s bodywork differs from the Carrera by widened rear wheel arches (approximately 6 cm), redesigned front and rear bumper mouldings, and a fixed “whale tail” rear wing housing the intercoolers. New 18 in alloy wheels with hollow spokes were standard. The 993 Turbo was one of the first production cars in the world to have OBDII diagnostics system (the 3.8-litre and GT versions didn’t have that system, and the normally aspirated 993 variants didn’t get it until 1996 model year). The successors of the 993 Turbo since have had water-cooled heads. The car also had brakes that were larger than those on the base Carrera model. Throughout the production run of the Turbo, there were two distinct differences: the 1996 and the later model year cars. The 1997 and 1998 cars had the following differences from the 1996 cars: Stronger transmission input shafts (a known weakness due to the combination of immense power and AWD system); An ECU that was able to be flashed and modified (the 1996 model’s ECU was not modifiable); With the addition of a Porsche child seat, the passenger airbag was cut off; Motion sensors for the alarm that were integrated into the map light above the rear view mirror; Standard wheel centre caps that had “turbo” embedded on them (the 1996 version had Porsche crests). During the second to the last year of production of the 993 (1997), Porsche offered the 993 Turbo S which was manufactured by Porsche Exclusiv department. The Turbo S is a high-specification Turbo including a power upgrade to 450 hp (DIN) for the American market) achieved by larger KKK K-24 turbochargers, an additional oil cooler and a modified Motronic engine management system. The inclusion of extras including carbon fibre decoration in the interior makes it different from the earlier lightweight, spartan 964 Turbo S. The 993 Turbo S is recognized by yellow brake calipers, a slightly larger rear wing, a quad-pipe exhaust system, a front spoiler with brake cooling ducts (on European market cars), carbon fibre door sills with ‘Turbo S’ badging and air scoops behind the doors. This was the last of the air-cooled 911 Turbos. The curb weight of the car amounted to 1,500 kg (3,307 lb). Performance figures include a 0– 60 mph acceleration time of 3.6 seconds, 0–100 mph acceleration time of 8.9 seconds and a top speed of 296.6 km/h (184.3 mph).
There was also an example of the latest and highly rated A110 here.
As is generally the case with events like this, you can wander around all the competing cars and see them up close, as they are being prepared and ready for action, or resting after it. The paddock and pit area here is much smaller than at circuits like Silverstone or even Donington, but even so there was a lot to see, and as I looked after the event at the results and at other pictures from the Sunday, it is clear that some of the competing cars must have been well hidden, as I saw far from everything. There were numerous different classes on the program, with most of the races lasting for around 20 minutes, but with the classes so defined that some cars were entered in more than one race.
Three generations of Alfa saloon from three decades were to be seen here: the Giulia Berlina of the 60s, the Giulietta 116 of the 70s and the 75 of the 80s.
A number of Austin cars from the 50s were in action here, all of them cars that you see putting up valiant but rarely class-leading performances. These range from the diminutive A35 saloons from early to the mid point of the decade, the slightly larger A40 Farina and the 6 cylinder A90 Westminster.
Oldest of the Austin Healey cars here was a Healey 100, a popular entrant in historic racing series.
The Austin-Healey Sebring Sprite was produced by the Donald Healey Motor Company at its Cape Works in Warwick, the Healey’s Speed Equipment Division in Grosvenor Street, London and subsequently by John Sprinzel Ltd from their well-known premises in Lancaster Mews. A modified version of the production Austin-Healey Sprite, it was recognized by the governing body of motorsport, the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile, as a separate model in its own right, featuring Girling disc brakes as well as specified engine and chassis improvements. After its homologation (motorsport) on 17 September 1960, FIA regulations permitted the use of ‘special bodies’ and a small number of Sebring Sprites were subsequently fitted with coupé bodywork in aluminium alloy and glassfibre, the most strikingly attractive examples being those devised by well-known race and rally driver John Sprinzel, who had won the 1959 RAC British Rally Championship. Sprinzel commissioned the coachbuilders Williams & Pritchard, renowned for their racing and prototype work, to produce the bodies. These are usually said to have numbered six, but eight are known to have been made. Further Sprites received similar alloy bodywork from Alec Goldie and Fred Faulkner of the firm Robert Peel Sheet Metal Works (more usually known as ‘Peel Coachworks’). The name ‘Sebring Sprite’ would become a generic term for any Sprite with disc brakes, and later for any Sprite with coupé or fastback bodywork. For the celebrated long-distance race at Sebring, Florida, in March 1959, the BMC Competition Department entered three Austin-Healey Sprites in the 12 Hours Grand Prix d’Endurance. The cars were prepared by Donald’s son Geoffrey Healey at the company’s Cape Works in Warwick, and were fitted with a prototype Dunlop disc brake on all four wheels as well as wire wheels (and tyres) from the same company. Larger twin 11⁄4-inch SU carburettors gave the engines more performance and special twin-plate racing clutches took the drive to straight-cut close-ratio gearboxes. The cars were raced by Hugh Sutherland, Phil Stiles, Ed Leavens, Dr Harold Kunz, Fred Hayes, John Christy and John Colgate Jnr. Despite setbacks, the Sprites managed to finish first, second and third in their class, and their success in this premier sportscar race, which was part of FIA World Sportscar Championship, gave valuable publicity to BMC in the important North American market. The Healeys subsequently offered to equip customers’ Sprites to a similar specification to the Sebring cars, though using twin 11⁄2-inch SU H4 carburettors and a complete replacement braking system by Girling. This comprised 81⁄2-inch ‘Type 9′ calliper discs for the front wheels and 8-inch drums at the rear, with all brake lines, unions, flexibles and fluid being replaced with Girling equipment. One such Sprite (registered 888 HPA) was owned, tuned and raced by Beatrice Shilling, the aeronautical engineer now hailed a Second World War hero for making a small but life-saving improvement to the Spitfires’ Merlin engines. These Healey Sebring Sprites were modified at The Cape Works, and from early 1960 also at the small workshop at the London showrooms in Grosvenor Street, where the Healey Speed Equipment Division was run by the then reigning British Rally Champion, John Sprinzel and the chief mechanic was future F1 driver Paul Hawkins. John Sprinzel had founded the highly successful tuning firm Speedwell Performance Conversions Ltd, where he was joined by future Formula 1 World Champion Graham Hill. Speedwell developed a sleek, alloy-bodied Sprite coupe, the Speedwell GT, designed by aerodynamicist Frank Costin and built by Williams & Pritchard. However, Donald Healey had managed to lure John Sprinzel away from Speedwell by inviting him to set up the Healey Speed Equipment Division and the promise of Healey works drives at both Sebring and Le Mans. Because of increasing safety worries about the speed differential between the smallest and largest-engined cars, a separate four-hour race for GT cars of under one litre was organized at Sebring in 1960. Stirling Moss drove a Sebring Sprite to a class win and second overall in this event. In the twelve-hour race, John Sprinzel drove a prototype Sprite with a GRP Falcon kit-car body, built and entered by the Donald Healey Motor Company, to another impressive class win, finishing 41st overall. Leaving the Healeys to set up his own tuning and race preparation concern at Lancaster Mews in December 1960, John Sprinzel launched his Williams & Pritchard-bodied coupe to immediate acclaim at the Racing Car Show in London. Sprinzel Sebring Sprites were soon being built for racers Cyril Simson (S 221), Chris Williams (52 LPH), Ian Walker (WJB 707), Andrew Hedges (410 EAO) and for BMC works rally driver David Seigle-Morris (D 20). Sprinzel’s personal Sebring Sprite bore the registration number PMO 200, and he campaigned the car at Sebring and in international rallies as well as races throughout the 1961 season, culminating in an outright win in the Targa Rusticana rally at the beginning of 1962. No fewer than 7 Sebring Sprites contested the long-distance races at Sebring in 1961. Five Healey-prepared BMC works cars were driven by Ed Leavens, Briggs Cunningham, Dick Thompson, Bruce McLaren and Walt Hansgen. There were also two of John Sprinzel’s striking coupes, piloted by one of the top-rated Grand Prix drivers of all time, Stirling Moss, together with his sister Pat Moss, Britain’s most successful woman rally driver. The Sebring Sprites finished in six of the top eight places in the 4-hour race for one-litre homologated GT cars. In the 12-hour race, Sebring Sprites were driven by Ed Leavens, John Colgate, Joe Buzetta, Glenn Carlson, Cyril Simson and future F1 driver Paul Hawkins to strong performances, finishing 2nd, 3rd and 4th in the 1150cc sports (prototype) class and 15th and 25th and 37th overall. Over the years, the cars were sold to privateers who raced and rallied them. In later years, the Sebring Sprite became a prized possession and the object of veneration within the Austin-Healey fraternity. Enthusiasts sought out the cars, sometimes discovering them in advanced stages of deterioration. Today, the cars are cherished classics that can be driven to and from competitions just like the originals were in their day. Subsequently, numbers of other Sprites were modified as period replicas of the original Speedwell GTs and Sprinzel Sebring Sprites, built to the same homologated specification.
Among the pre-war cars competing were examples of the legendary 3 litre Bentley.
Designed as a 1.5 litre Endurance Sports racer the ALSR (A- type Long Chassis Sports Racer) was intended as a potential Le Mans car for McAlpine. Two cars were built, ALSR 11 and ALSR 12. The first chassis was bought by privateer racer John Coobes and raced by Stirling Moss and Les Leston.
An absolute staple of classic racing these days, you often get large numbers of Lotus Cortina models competing against Alfas and BMWs of the period – much as they did when the cars were new.
During the 70s, Ford concentrated their efforts on formula variously called Touring Cars, Saloon Cars and Group A with their Capri and there were examples of both the Mark 2 and Capri Mark 3 from this era competing here.
The C-Type was built specifically for the race track . It used the running gear of the contemporary road-proven XK120 clothed in a lightweight tubular frame, devised by William Heynes, and clothed in an aerodynamic aluminium body designed by Malcolm Sayer. The road-going XK120’s 3.4-litre twin-cam, straight-6 engine produced between 160 and 180 bhp, but when installed in the C-Type, it was originally tuned to around 205 bhp. Early C-Types were fitted with SU carburettors and drum brakes. Later C-Types, from mid 1953, were more powerful, using triple twin-choke Weber carburettors and high-lift camshafts. They were also lighter, and braking performance was improved with disc brakes on all four wheels, which were something of a novelty at the time, though their adoption started to spread quite quickly after Jaguar had used them. The lightweight, multi-tubular, triangulated frame was designed by William Heynes. Malcolm Sayer designed the aerodynamic body. Made of aluminium in the barchetta style, it is devoid of road-going items such as carpets, weather equipment and exterior door handles. The C-Type was successful in racing, most notably at the Le Mans 24 hours race, which it won twice. In 1951 the car won at its first attempt. The factory entered three, whose driver pairings were Stirling Moss and Jack Fairman, Leslie Johnson and triple Mille Miglia winner Clemente Biondetti, and the eventual winners, Peter Walker and Peter Whitehead. The Walker-Whitehead car was the only factory entry to finish, the other two retiring with lack of oil pressure. A privately entered XK120, owned by Robert Lawrie, co-driven by Ivan Waller, also completed the race, finishing 11th. In 1952 Jaguar, worried by a report about the speed of the Mercedes-Benz 300SLs that would run at Le Mans, modified the C-Type’s aerodynamics to increase the top speed. However, the consequent rearrangement of the cooling system made the cars vulnerable to overheating, and all three retired from the race. The Peter Whitehead-Ian Stewart and Tony Rolt/Duncan Hamilton cars blew head gaskets, and the Stirling Moss-Peter Walker car, the only one not overheating having had a full-sized radiator hurriedly fitted, lost oil pressure after a mechanical breakage. Testing by Norman Dewis at MIRA after the race proved that the overheating was caused more by the revisions to the cooling system than by the altered aerodynamics: the water pump pulley was undersized, so it was spinning too fast and causing cavitation; also the header tank was in front of the passenger-side bulkhead, far from the radiator, and the tubing diameter was too small at 7/8 inch. With the pump pulley enlarged, and the tubing increased to 1 1/4 inch, the problem was eliminated. The main drawback of the new body shape was that it reduced downforce on the tail to the extent that it caused lift and directional instability at speeds over 120 mph on the Mulsanne Straight. These cars had chassis numbers XKC 001, 002 and 011. The first two were dismantled at the factory, and the third survives in normal C-type form. In 1953 C-Types won again, and also placed second and fourth. This time the body was in thinner, lighter aluminium and the original twin H8 sand cast SU carburettors were replaced by three DCO3 40mm Webers, which helped boost power to 220 bhp. Further weight was saved by using a rubber bag fuel tank, lighter electrical equipment and thinner gauge steel for some of the chassis tubes . Duncan Hamilton and Tony Rolt won the race at 105.85 mph (170.35 km/h) – the first time Le Mans had been won at an average of over 100 miles per hour (161 km/h). 1954, the C-Type’s final year at Le Mans, saw a fourth place by the Ecurie Francorchamps entry driven by Roger Laurent and Jacques Swaters. Between 19951 and 1953, a total of 53 C-Types were built, 43 of which were sold to private owners mainly in the US. When new, the car sold for about $6,000, approximately twice the price of an XK120. Genuine cars have increased in value massively in recent years, however buyers do need to be aware that replicas have been produced by a number of companies, though even these are far from cheap to buy thesedays. Cars with true racing provenance are well into the millions now. A C-Type once owned and raced by Phil Hill sold at an American auction in August 2009 for $2,530,000 and another C-type was sold at the Pebble Beach auction in 2012 for $3,725,000, More recently an unrestored C-Type that raced at Le Mans has sold for £5,715,580, during the Grand Prix Historique race meeting in Monaco. In August 2015, an ex-Ecurie Ecosse Lightweight C-type, chassis XKC052 and the second of only three works lightweights, driven by Peter Whitehead and Ian Stewart to fourth at the 1953 Le Mans 24 Hours, fetched £8.4 million at auction in California.
Successor to the C Type was the D Type. Although it shared many of its mechanical components with the C-Type, including the basic straight-6 XK engine design, initially of 3.4 litres and later enlarged to 3.8 litres in the late fifties, the structure of the car was radically different. The innovative monocoque construction brought aviation industry technology to competition car design, together with an aeronautical understanding of aerodynamic efficiency. The structural design, revolutionary at the time, applied aeronautical technology. The “tub”, or cockpit section, was of monocoque construction, mostly comprising sheets of aluminium alloy. Its elliptical shape and comparatively small cross-section provided torsional rigidity and reduced drag. To the front bulkhead was attached an aluminium tubing subframe for the engine, steering assembly, and front suspension. Rear suspension and final drive were mounted to the rear bulkhead. Fuel was carried in the tail and the designers followed aviation practice by specifying a deformable Marston Aviation Division bag in place of a conventional tank. The aerodynamic bodywork was largely the work of Malcolm Sayer, who had joined Jaguar following a stint with the Bristol Aeroplane Company during the Second World War and later worked on the C-Type. For the D-Type, he insisted on a minimal frontal area. To reduce the XK engine’s height, Jaguar’s chief engineer, William Haynes, and former Bentley engineer, Walter Hassan, developed dry sump lubrication, and it has been said that the car’s frontal area was also a consideration in canting the engine at 8½° from the vertical (which necessitated the offset bonnet bulge). Philip Porter, in his book Jaguar Sports Racing Cars, says that “[a] more likely reason was to provide extra space for the ram pipes feeding the three twin-choke Weber carburettors.” Reducing underbody drag contributed to the car’s high top speed; for the long Mulsanne Straight at Le Mans, a fin was mounted behind the driver for aerodynamic stability. For the 1955 season, factory cars were fitted with a longer nose, which lengthened the car by 7½ inches and further increased maximum speed; and the headrest fairing and aerodynamic fin were combined as a single unit that smoothed the aerodynamics and saved weight. Mechanically, many features were shared with the outgoing C-Type. Its front and rear suspension and innovative all-round disc brakes were retained, as was the XK engine. Apart from the new lubrication system, the engine was further revised as development progressed during the D-Type’s competition life. Notably in 1955 larger valves were introduced, together with asymmetrical cylinder heads to accommodate them. Jaguar D-Types fielded by a team under the leadership of Jaguar’s racing manager Lofty England were expected to perform well in their debut at the 1954 24 Hours of Le Mans race. In the event, the cars were hampered by fuel starvation caused by problems with the fuel filters, necessitating pit stops for their removal, after which the entry driven by Duncan Hamilton and Tony Rolt speeded up to finish less than a lap behind the winning Ferrari. The D-Type’s aerodynamic superiority is evident from its maximum speed of 172.8 mph on the Mulsanne Straight compared with the 4.9 litre Ferrari’s 160.1 mph. For 1955 the cars were modified with long-nose bodywork and engines uprated with larger valves. At Le Mans, they proved competitive with the Mercedes-Benz 300 SLRs, which had been expected to win. Mike Hawthorn’s D-Type had a narrow lead over Juan Manuel Fangio’s Mercedes when another Mercedes team car was involved in the most catastrophic accident in motorsport history.Driver Pierre Levegh and more than 80 spectators lost their lives, while many more were injured. Mercedes withdrew from the race. Jaguar opted to continue, and the D-Type driven by Hawthorn and Ivor Bueb went on to win. Mercedes withdrew from motorsport at the end of the 1955 season, and Jaguar again entered Le Mans in 1956. Although only one of the three factory-entered cars finished, in sixth place, the race was won by a D-Type entered by the small Edinburgh-based team Ecurie Ecosse and driven by Ron Flockhart and Ninian Sanderson, beating works teams from Aston Martin and Scuderia Ferrari. In America, the Cunningham team raced several D-Types. In 1955, for example, a 1954 works car on loan to Cunningham won the Sebring 12 Hours in the hands of Mike Hawthorn and Phil Walters, and in May 1956 the team’s entries for Maryland’s Cumberland national championship sports car race included four D-Types in Cunningham’s white and blue racing colours. Driven by John Fitch, John Gordon Benett, Sherwood Johnston and team owner Briggs Cunningham, they finished fourth, fifth, seventh and eighth, respectively. Although Jaguar withdrew from motorsport at the end of the 1956 season, 1957 proved to be the D-Type’s most successful year. Jaguar D-Types took five of the top six places at Le Mans; Ecurie Ecosse, with considerable support from Jaguar, and a 3.8-litre engine, again took the win, and also second place. This was the best result in the D-Type’s racing history. Rules for the 1958 Le Mans race limited engine sizes to three litres for sports racing cars, which ended the domination of the D-Type with its 3.8-litre XK engine. Jaguar developed a three-litre version to power D-Types in the 1958, 1959 and 1960 Le Mans races but it was unreliable, and by 1960 it no longer produced sufficient power to be competitive. The D-Type’s success waned as support from Jaguar decreased and the cars from rival manufacturers became more competitive. Although it continued to be one of the cars to beat in club racing and national events, the D-Type never again achieved a podium finish at Le Mans. By the early 1960s it was obsolete. Total D-Type production is thought to have included 18 factory team cars, 53 customer cars, and 16 XKSS versions. A 1955 car was sold at Sothebys in 2016 for £19,8 million, making it the most valuable British car ever.
Other Jaguar models here were a whole class of the E Type as well as the much loved Mark 2 Saloon.
Beginning in 1954, company manager and racing driver Brian Lister brought out the first in a series of sports cars from a Cambridge iron works. Inspired by Cooper, he used a tubular ladder chassis, de Dion rear axle, and inboard drum brakes. Like others, he used a tuned MG engine and stock gearbox. It made its debut at the British Empire Trophy at Oulton Park in 1954, with former MG pilot Archie Scott Brown at the wheel. Later, Lister swapped in a Moore-tuned Bristol two-litre engine and knockoff wire wheels in place of the MG’s discs to improve performance. For the sports car race supporting the 1954 British Grand Prix at Silverstone, Scott Brown won the two-litre class and placed fifth overall behind only works Aston Martins. In 1955, a handful of Lister-Bristols were built with a new body built by an ex-Bristol employee with the aid of a wind tunnel. Despite its new fins and strakes, it was less successful than the original Lister-Bristol of 1954. Lister moved up to a six-cylinder motor from a Formula 2 Maserati A6GCS for their own car, while customers continued to receive the Bristol motor, sold for ₤3900. Lister also attempted single-seater racing with a multi-tube chassis powered by a Coventry-Climax motor and using an MG gearbox, but the car was a failure. For 1957, Lister redesigned the car around a 3.4 litre Jaguar D-type Jaguar D-type XK inline-six, with an aerodynamic aluminium body; it was tested by racing journalist John Bolster, performing a 0–100 mph run in 11.2 seconds. Driver Archie Scott Brown won the 1957 British Empire Trophy in the new Lister-Jaguar. Refined again in 1958, the Lister-Jaguar entered international competitions. Brown was killed that season when he crashed the Lister-Jaguar at Spa-Francorchamps. Lister also developed another single-seater car based on the Lister-Jaguar, for use in the unique Race of Two Worlds at Monza. Cars from this era are affectionately known as the “Lister Knobbly” cars, due to their curved bodywork. For 1959, Lister hired aerodynamicist Frank Costin who produced entirely new bodywork built around a new Chevrolet Corvette powerplant. However, the front-engine layout of the new Lister-Chevrolet was quickly eclipsed by the rear-engine layout of the new Cooper sports car. By the end of 1959, Lister withdrew from competition, although production of sports cars continued for customers. More recently, of course, there has been a series of 10 “new” Lister Jaguar cars produced.
This Coventry-Climax FWE engined Lola Mark I considered by many to be the most definingly pretty and best-proportioned of all front-engined small-capacity sports-racing cars of the 1950s was actually used in period by Mr Broadley himself, and it is a car which he bought back for nostalgic reasons many years ago, and it is now offered here direct from his long-term ownership. While popular history suggests that Eric Broadley took the name for his initial 1172 Formula sports-racing special from the title of the song popular at that time “Whatever Lola Wants, Lola Gets”, it was in fact coined by Eric’s cousin Graham because, as he said, whatever Lola wanted, Eric got. Eric himself disliked the proposal and considered changing it, but other requirements took priority. With Eric himself driving, the Lola proved highly successful. His original intention had been just to design, build and race the prototype he had no intention to build any for sale. For him this was a hobby, not a business opportunity. However, he soon bowed to pressure from would-be customers to build further cars for sale, small-quantity production supplying a growing club racing and International sporting market. During 1959 Peter Ashdown became the leading driver in the 1100cc sports-racing car class, winning the BRSCC Sports Car Championship and shining in the ADAC 1,000Kms World Championship race at the Nurburgring in Germany, until Eric took over and ended their race in a ditch. Peter Ashdown also beat nothing less than Jean Behra’s Porsche to win the Tropheed’Auvergne at Clermont-Ferrand. His Lola Mark IClimax proved the nemesis of the immense Lotus 1 brigade deploying the Colin Chapman-designed car which had dominated that category since its introduction in 1956. Eric Broadley built the early Lola cars in sheet metal specialist Mo Gomm’s workshop in Byfleet-this location being reflected by the contemporary Lola chassis number form, as in this fine example serial ‘BY-2’ later cars built in Bromley featuring the chassis prefix ‘BR’.The Lola family of cars grew rapidly, with Eric Broadley introducing his first single-seater the front-engined Formula Junior Lola Mark 2 for 1960, (which Peter Ashdown drove into second place in the Prix Monaco Junior) itself superseded by a rear-engined Lola Mark 3 for 1961. Backed by the Bowmaker finance house, Lola then built a Coventry Climax V8-powered Formula 1 car for multiple motor-cycle World Champion John Surtees and veteran team-mate Roy Salvadori – to campaign in 1962, the Mark 5A Junior single-seater adopted similarly graceful, beautifully proportioned lines, and in 1963 Broadley launched the Ford V8 rear-engined Lola Mark 6 GT from which the immortal Ford GT40 family would be derived with his early help. By 1966 Lola Cars Ltd was not only the world’s largest manufacturer of specialist racing cars, but its products also won the Indianapolis 500-Miles (with the American Red Ball Special Lola-Ford T90 driven by Graham Hill) and the inaugural CanAm sports-prototype Championship. It has been said that Colin Chapman of Lotus always kept a very close sometimes envious eye upon what “Eric’s up to at Lola”, and that the Lotus 17 sports-racing car which he introduced to combat the Lola Mark I’s increasing grasp upon the 1100cc class suffered from a glaring design error. Upon a similar basis, Colin Chapman then made his next major mistake the fragile backbone-chassised Lotus 30 Series 1 in knee-jerk reaction to Lola Cars’ contract from Ford to participate in what became the Ford GT programme. In1965 the definingly lovely Lola T70 emerged to contest unlimited-capacity Group 7 sports car competition. John Surtees won the inaugural CanAm Championship with the quasi-works T70 in 1966, and such success led to the T70 GT series and the enduring success enjoyed by so many owner/drivers ever since. Within this context Lola competition cars as designed by Eric Broadley and his growing technical team repeatedly set widely acknowledged new aesthetic standards. The cars not only went well but absolutely looked the part. Pride of ownership amongst the Lola contingent has always been high…and it was the Mark I such as ‘BY-2’ now offered here which laid the legend’s firm foundation. As ‘Autosport’ magazine reported on the 1959 Easter Monday Goodwood Chichester Cup race for 1100cc sports cars here: “This race was a Lola benefit: the marque’s first appearance as a works team could not have been more decisive,more impressive, or more complete as a victory. The three cars…” (Coventry-Climax-powered Lola Mark 1s) “…circulated as one, with never more than a length separating any of them, and all racing at great speed and well clear of the rest of the field…”. That initial Lola works team comprised drivers Peter Ashdown and Peter Gammon, with private owner Michael Taylor in close touch until he spun still recovering to finish third. The best-placed Lotus 11 in that momentous race could do no better than finish fourth, driven by Dick Prior, whom ‘Autosport’ complimented by emphasizing that he: “…had driven a very neat and orderly race, but was rather overshadowed by the fantastic Broadley designs”. Driving his own Lola Mark 1Eric Broadley became the first man to lap Brands Hatch short circuit in under one minute. Chassis ‘BY-2′ now offered here was built new as the fourth of its kind, emerging in 1959 when it became the first of the new breed to feature a fairing behind the driver’s head. The car was sold to Allan Ross who soon after became Lola’s American agent – and passed through a number of amateur owner/driver’s hands achieving significant wins in SCCA National and Regional events. It was campaigned thereafter by three further US owners before in 1985 it was found by star driver Brian Redman in the States and Eric Broadley bought it back, purely for sentimental reasons. It is understood this is the very car in which Eric won a Stateside race at Stout Field aerodrome Indiana, on July 26, 1959. As presented here the car is fitted not with the standard 1097cc Coventry Climax FWA 4-cylinder single-overhead camshaft engine but with the larger 1,216cc FWE Coventry Climax power unit, which is believed to have been refurbished in recent years. The Eric Broadley-designed multi-tubular spaceframe chassis is resplendent in his preferred shade of Valspar primrose paint unlike the grey or black preferred by so many of Lola’s rivals in order to show up any potential cracking more effectively…perhaps rather than hide it… Requiring recommissioning, this is a superb and very original example of the Lola Mark 1, offered here with impeccable provenance, direct from many years’ long-term ownership by its original designer and constructor, Eric Broadley – one of the most widely admired and best respected figures of not only the British motor racing scene but also the global motor sporting stage. Very few Historic racing cars can ever have boasted higher patronage an accolade that is certain to benefit all of this delightful little Lola’s future owners.
The Eleven is a racing car built in various versions by Lotus from 1956 until 1958. The later versions built in 1958 are sometimes referred to as Lotus 13, although this was not an official designation. In total, about 270 Elevens of all versions were built. The Eleven was designed by Colin Chapman and fitted with a sleek body designed by aerodynamicist Frank Costin. Its top version, dubbed Le Mans, was generally fitted with a 1100 cc Coventry Climax FWA engine and occasionally with a 1500 cc Coventry Climax FWB engine mounted in the front of a tubular space frame and featured a De Dion rear axle and Girling disc brakes. Fully loaded, the car weighed only about 1,000 lb (450 kg). Versions for a 1100 cc Climax engine (Club) and a 1172 cc Ford engine (Sport) were also produced; both featured a live rear axle and drum brakes. Several cars were fitted with alternative engines by their owners, these included Coventry Climax 1500cc FWB and FPF and 1200 cc FWE, Maserati 150S 1500cc, DKW 1000cc SAAB 850cc and 750cc engines. There were two main body styles: one with a headrest and the other with no headrest, just two small fins. Some cars were later fitted with a closed body with gullwing doors to meet GT specifications. Despite the wide variety of engines installed, the car was primarily designed to compete in the 1100 cc class where it was one of the most successful cars during the mid- to late-1950s. In 1956, An Eleven, modified by Costin with a bubble canopy over the cockpit, was driven by Stirling Moss to a class world record of 143 mph (230 km/h) for a lap at Monza. Several class victories at Le Mans and Sebring followed, and the Eleven became Lotus’ most successful race car design. A 750cc version won the Index of Performance at Le Mans in 1957. In 1957, the Eleven underwent a major design change, including a new front suspension and improvements to the drivetrain. Although officially called Eleven Series 2, these late models are sometimes informally referred to as Lotus 13s, since they were produced between the 12 and 14 models and the 13 designation was not used by Lotus. There have been several replicas and re-creations of the Lotus Eleven, including the Kokopelli 11, the Challenger GTS, the Spartak and the best known, the Westfield XI.
As well as a Magnette saloon from the 50s, there was the legendary MGB entered here.
Also entered was the smaller Midget, seen here with Ashley modifications which made the car more aerodynamic with a reshaped and lighter glassfibre bonnet as well as a roof.
Entered in the pre-war race this 1930s 3 wheeler Morgan.
To see one of these SLR Morgans is rare enough, but to see all three of them together is something which happens rarely. Just four cars were built with this body style, and they all survive. The first of them is known as the Triumph SLR and was the prototype. The design would be replicated three more times for instalment on Morgan Plus 4 chassis – happily of very similar dimensions to the TR4 and indeed motivated by the same power-plant. SLR in full is the Sprinzel LawrenceTune Racing. The SLR treatment, as you might have already gathered looking at three Morgans (with fared-in wheels!) and a Triumph wearing very similar skins, is primarily a body transformation. Its origins are as humble as the car’s achievements are impressive but that’s no surprise when talking about feisty early ‘60s sportscars. In 1960 a club racer by the name of Neil Dangerfield got into racing Triumphs. Good fortune on track in his TR3A spurred him to purchase a brand new TR4. It too did brilliantly, with the car’s preparer drove it to Monza, took second in class and drove it home again! Enter Morgan Maestro Charles Lawrence, who in his search for a bit of investment cash for the advancement of his Morgan racing project, took over preparation of the car. Together with Dangerfield and John Sprinzel, the decision was taken to re-body the TR4 with something lighter and slipperier. The SLR body was born, by the collective pens and panel-beating of Chris Spender and Charlie Williams.
For a bit of fun, look no further than this 1959 Morris Minor in Panda car livery. Owner of this car is Chris Rea, who bought the car to enter historic racing, having raced as a guest in a couple of HRDC events, and decided he wanted to enter a Minor rather than one of the all-conquering A35s or A40s that dominate the smaller-engine class. HRDC organiser Julius Thurgood found this example rusting away in North Wales, removed it from that particular road to ruin and entrusted it to Alfa Romeo preparation experts Chris Snowdon Racing in November 2014 to be turned into a racing car. The project took the equivalent of one month’s full-time work and, because it was so rusty, ten days of welding alone. Rea apparently briefly considered restoring it as a road car once he realised its police history but decided instead to follow the original plan and nod to the car’s past by finishing it in a panda livery and entering it under the number 999. ‘Pc Rea 6149’ is painted on the doors in reference to Rea’s 2005 song ‘Somewhere Between Highway 61 & 49’. The car uses a BMC A-series engine as it did originally, but seriously modified and producing near three times its original output, as the 1.75-inch twin SUs and large oil-cooler attest. For the real experts among you, you are correct in asserting that it can’t be an ex-panda car if it’s a 1959 car as it would have been seven years old, at least, when the livery was introduced! And you’re right, a little liberty has been taken here, but the car is a genuine ex-police car which now provides fun for competitors and spectators alike at events such as this. The car made a valiant effort on track. but clearly was not well, as in the first race it was at the back of the pack with a lot of smoke coming out the back and it struggled even more in the second race later in the day
This is a 1935 Riley Kestrel 12-4 Special, essentially a special racing body built on the chassis of what once had been a Kestrel Sports Saloon.
When the Rover SD1 had been unveiled in 1976, thoughts of creating a very high performance derivative (VHPD) whose halo appeal would cascade down to the lesser variants, was not given serious consideration. However, that was all to change from 1979 when the Group 1 regulations for the 1980 British Saloon Car Championship (BSCC) saw the engine capacity limit being raised from 3.0-litres to 3.5-litres. BL Motorsport’s Director, John Davenport, was one of those who had been keen for the change as it would allow them to consider entering the Rover SD1 as a successor to the Triumph Dolomite Sprint, which was soon to end production. The Group 1 regulations required cars to have an engine capacity below 3500cc, so for the BSCC Rovers their engines would have a shorter stroke to create a displacement size of 3495cc. Two Rover SD1 3500s would be prepared and managed by David Price Racing for the 1980 Tricentrol RAC BSCC season, with BL Motorsport providing technical services. FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile) regulations stipulated that only minor modifications beyond a showroom-spec car were permitted. The changes therefore centred on upgrades to the suspension, closer ratios in the gearbox, four-piston front brake callipers and minor tuning to the engine. The end result was a car that weighed 1,130kg and featured a V8 engine producing around 250bhp. The two Triplex/Esso/Motor liveried Rovers made their debut in round one of the BSCC held at Mallory Park on 23 March 1980 driven by former Ford works driver Jeff Allam and Motor magazine’s Technical Editor Rex Greenslade. The Rover’s presence would soon be boosted from July of that year by a privateer entry for Brian Muir and Terry Watts managed by Patrick Motorsport. This brought the number of campaigning Rovers to three. The results for that season were mixed, mainly due to engine reliability issues. However, Rex Greenslade had managed to finish second at the Silverstone race meeting and Jeff Allam first at the British Grand Prix support race at Brands Hatch. According to James Taylor’s book Rover SD1: The Full Story 1976-1986, not even a mid-season rule change which permitted the team to use an American Huffaker manifold and two-barrel Holley carburettor to increase power to 280bhp, could improve their overall finishing position. It was only when David Price got Tom Walkinshaw of Tom Walkinshaw Racing (TWR) involved midway through the 1980 season and he had been allowed by John Davenport to secretly test one of the motorsport SD1s, that there would be major improvements to the competitiveness of the SD1. This would be evident during the 1981 season by which time the cars were being prepared and managed by TWR, with the engines also built by TWR at their 4000 square foot factory based near Oxford. 1981 proved to be a good year for the SD1 as further wins were achieved. The battle in Group 1 was between the SD1 and the rival Capris raced by the Gordon Spice team. The SD1 clocked up six wins out of eleven rounds with four of those being a 1-2 finish. 1982 was another successful venture and the SD1 took home the overall class title. By now, the SD1 had established something of a sporting reputation. Marketing were keen for a more sporting derivative to make the most of this and the racing team were keen for performance parts to be homologated for racing. It was this combination of requirements which allowed the development of perhaps the most famous SD1 – the Vitesse. Launched to the world in 1982, the Vitesse featured stiffer suspension, fuel injection and a rear spoiler which did actually generate downforce – rather than acting as a mere styling appendage. As the SD1 proved itself on the circuit, so sales of the fastest Rover ever produced took off and it remains a car recalled fondly by car enthusiasts today. The Vitesse improvements didn’t reach the race track until 1983 but they made a huge difference. The SD1 completely dominated the season completely winning every round. There was now 290bhp on offer and while oversteer could still be an issue, it was somewhat tamed by the downforce offered by that big rear spoiler. A real achievement was the win during the RAC Tourist Trophy in very wet conditions. Even the formidable Jaguar XJ-S racers were forced to concede to the SD1 with Steve Soper and Rene Metge scooping the win. The 1983 British Saloon Car Championship was sealed up nicely. Or so Rover thought. In June 1983, one of the BMW teams lodged a formal complaint about the SD1 claiming that the rear wheelarches of the Rovers were over-sized and that the engine contained non-homologated parts. In fact, it was thought that the engines were actually using Volvo rockers as these had been used on the TR8 rally cars using the same basic V8 engine. The counter claim was that the covers had been ‘found’ at the Solihull factory and used in good will. However, following a lengthy enquiry which even ended up at the High Court, Rover was stripped of the championship proving that anything to do with British Leyland seemed to be jinxed. The decision took so long to be made that the 1984 season had already commenced. However, on hearing the news, the Rover team was withdrawn mid-season – the SD1 works cars would now compete only in the European Touring Car series. The SD1 was not entirely out of the running in the BSCC however. Andy Rouse enjoyed great success in his privately entered SD1 and scooped the 1984 championship. No disputing it this time – the SD1 was the British champion. Meanwhile, in Europe, the SD1 was taking the battle to the turbocharged Volvos but controversy was not far away. This time however, the company in the spot-light was Volvo. It built the necessary 500 cars for homologation but then stripped 477 cars of their special components and sold them as normal saloons. This caused a lot of upset and while not technically illegal, was not really in the spirit of the regulations. Rover, meanwhile, was having no trouble shifting Vitesses, so had no need for such under-hand tactics. 1985 was a battle royale between the blocky Volvos and the sleek, British executive express. Could there be two more unlikely track racers? In the end, the Volvo was dominant – but then, with 340bhp on tap, it should have been, even if it did display all of the aerodynamic properties of an Ikea wardrobe. For 1986 however, the mighty twin-plenum Vitesse became available. The twin throttle plenum chambers were developed by Lotus to improve engine breathing. In truth, road cars did not really notice the difference although these are now the rarest and most coveted of SD1s. Allied to the hotter camshaft employed by the racing teams however, the Vitesse received a useful power boost. The difference was certainly apparent in the results. A BSCC Grands Prix supporter race at Brands Hatch saw Jeff Allam take the win with Rovers taking five of the top six places. Ironically, this was during July which coincided with the launch of the 800, the SD1s Honda-derived replacement. The Rover then clocked up wins at Monza, Donington and the RAC Tourist Trophy. Win Percy came home second at Estoril which was enough to put him one point ahead of Roberto Ravaglia’s BMW. All was yet again not how it seemed however. 1986 had been dogged by several protests and Volvo and Ford found themselves falling foul of the regulations for slightly-oversized fuel tanks and illegal fuel. But by far the worst problem befell Win Percy – FISA (Fédération Internationale du Sport Automobile) suddenly remembered that in January, they had announced that the worst five results would be removed from everyone’s total points tally rather than the four of the previous year. Following recalculation, the SD1 was stripped of yet another trophy. Plot lines like these would surely make a good film – although audiences would surely claim that such a crazy set of circumstances would never happen in real life! Rover and Volvo decided that enough was enough and neither returned for the 1987 season. Aside from the works cars however, privateer teams were having more success with the SD1. Kurt Thiim won the German Touring Car (DTM) championship ahead of Mercedes 190s and BMWs while Tim Harvey notched up a BSCC championship in 1987 driving a Vitesse. Austin-Rover may not have been directly involved with these achievements but they certainly did the groundwork which made these victories possible. The Triumph TR7 and TR8 had been fairly successful as rally cars so perhaps it was a logical step for the big Rover to take on the baton following the retirement of these wedgy twins. The SD1 seemed to fit the bill and one was tested over the winter of 1981/82. With four twin-choke Webers, there was a meaty 290bhp. The project was given the go-ahead with long-distance rallying in mind and the development team began to eye-up the 1983 Paris-Dakar – which, in typical ‘luck of the Rover’ fashion was cancelled. During 1982, the cars were driven in several Middle East rallies but this was not the success expected and there were numerous reliability issues. The cars were sold off and rally plans were put on hold. Tom Walkinshaw saw potential in the SD1 however and he managed to gain approval to develop and build a fresh set of rally cars for 1983. The SD1 had an outing at the annual Austin-Rover Rallysprint event at Donington Park. This event was packed full of well-known racing drivers including a young Nigel Mansell, John Watson, Derek Warwick, Stiq Blomqvist and Jimmy McRae. Tony Pond, who drove for Austin-Rover, was the firm favourite but he was pipped to the post by Mansell in an SD1 face-off. The SD1 would never be a world-beater in rallying but on home soil, it would prove very handy with Ken Wood and Peter Brown taking the Scottish Rally Championship in 1984. By 1986, the frankly-barking MG Metro 6R4 was the rally tool of choice and the SD1 competed no more although privateers would continue to use the big Rover. So there you have it. The SD1 was almost a huge success in racing and not really a contender in rallying. It sadly reflected the life of the production car – should have done better. All the ingredients were there but a few careless choices (and plenty of bad luck) conspired against Austin-Rover to leave the trophy cabinet far emptier than had been hoped.
Back in the 50s, regular family saloons took the track with remarkably few changes. Some were more suited than others. The Phase 3 Vanguard as seen here was not really an obvious choice, as the road car was a worthy but rather stodgy large saloon, though you do have to remember that some of the mechanicals were shared by the TR Series of sports cars, so there was certainly some potential there.
Final entrant that I spotted was this Dolomite, a sports saloon of the 70s that was entered in both saloon car racing and rallying in period. It was somewhat under-developed when it first took to the track and struggled with reliability for much of its career, which is a shame as on paper this should have been strong competition for the dominant BMW 2002 and Ford Capri of the era. The Dolomite Sprint was campaigned in the British Saloon Car Championship from 1974 to 1978. The BSCC changed to an FIA Group-1 (series-production touring cars) competition from 1974 and the Dolomite Sprint was homologated into Group-1 on 2 Jan 1974. This required initial production of 5,000 cars in 12 months, which was exceeded, just, in 1973. Continued production was then needed to maintain Group-1 eligibility. For 1974, “The series production is regarded as completely stopped if the monthly rate has decreased for more than four consecutive months to below 1/12th of the minimum figure required”, i.e. it required more than 417 per month for 3 evenly spaced months in 12. But from 1975 (following FIA rule changes), it only required 500 a year. Nonetheless, it may be assumed that production capacity was determined on the initial requirement for 5000 in the first 12 months and at least 1250 a year (417 a month at 4 month intervals) thereafter. It met with some success, with Andy Rouse winning the Drivers’ Championship in 1975, and also lifting the manufacturer’s title in 1974 with teammate Tony Dron. The Sprint driven by Andy Rouse and Tony Dron managed fifth overall in the Spa 24 hours race in July 1974. In September Dron managed 3rd place overall in a Sprint competing in the RAC Tourist Trophy race of that year. In 1975 Andy Rouse won the British Saloon Car Championship outright by taking the driver’s title in a Sprint. In 1976 Broadspeed only ran one Dolomite Sprint in British Saloon Car Championship, with Rouse finishing second in the two-litre class. 1977 saw the departure of Rouse and the return of Tony Dron as driver of the Broadspeed prepared Dolomite Sprint. Dron won no less than seven of the twelve races outright against some stiff competition, and narrowly missed out on winning the championship outright because of tyre failure on the final race when leading his class by over a minute. In 1978 Broadspeed entered a sole Dolomite Sprint (driven by Tony Dron) where it won only one race outright, although the Sprint still won class B in the last year a factory entered Sprint would compete in the British Saloon Car Championship. It appears that, at least from some point, the racing Dolomites Sprints used in the BSCC series were fitted with larger 2″ SU HS8 carburettors, instead of the 1.75″ HS6 carbs of the production cars. These are referred to as the “group one and a half cars”. The larger HS8s were also approved for FIA Group 1 from 1 Feb 1975. However, it is not clear how this approval could have been granted, given that FIA/CSI rules (Appendix J, 1975) for Group 1 denied any such modification to the carburation and thus required an additional 5000 cars to be produced in 12 months and fitted with any such modification affecting performance. Yet there is no evidence of any production of Dolomite Sprints fitted with HS8s. Neither is there any evidence of BL documentation supposed to mislead the FIA that 5000 cars fitted with HS8s and a higher lift cam, as an ’emissions kit’, were exported to California. Also, this approval was removed from a later version of the FIA form of recognition for the Dolomite Sprint and was not transferred to FISA Group A approvals. There does not appear to be any current evidence of the use of HS8s on Group 1 or the “group one and a half” Dolomite Sprints outside the BSCC series. A similarly anomalous FIA approval for the Group 1 use of Weber 48DCOE carbs and suitable inlet manifold, dated 1 Jan 1977, was also removed later and not transferred to FISA Group A. The use of Weber equipped Dolomite Sprints in FIA Group 2 competitions (where choice of carburation was free) seems clear, but their use in Group 1 or “group one and a half” is not.
It goes without saying that I enjoyed this event, hugely. The fact that it was the first one for nearly five months, ensure that this would be the case, but to cite that as the reason for why it was good would be unfair, as it was good in absolute terms, too. Of course, there was a slightly different feel to things, with cars well spaced out, and a rather smaller crowd than you would probably get in a world that did not need to socially distance, but all the elements that I look for were present. There was lots to see, with Car Club cars, and the chance to catch up with a number of Abarth friends, none of whom I had seen at all in 2020 and there was everything I found in the Paddock. And the racing was great, and thanks to a great vantage position that we had been given, on a bank, and right by the exit from the pits, there was no particular need to move from the car, but by walking some way around the circuit there were even better views. The threatened rain never got beyond a few drops of drizzle, which was an added bonus. It was not just me who enjoyed the event, and the consensus among the Abarth Owners was that this is definitely one to put on the 2021 calendar, with the hope that things will be rather more normal by then.