Cars of London – June 2021

The internet is awash with posts – mostly on Instagram or YouTube – showing an array of supercars spotted on the and streets of London. Clearly if you want to see cars of this type, you need to be selective about the area of the city to which you head, with the richest pickings likely to be found in the West End, around Park Lane and extending out towards Harrods and the Knightsbridge area. Here you will very likely find some extremely valuable metal simply parked up on the street, there often being no alternative parking place for the owners to use. I’ve wandered around these areas, camera in hand, in the past, and was quite surprised by just what I found. So, when my good friend Andy Convery and I were planning what to do in London after our visit to the London Concours event and paying a visit to the Joe Macari showroom – both of which are documented separately in other reports – before our scheduled return trains, we headed on the tube to Hyde Park Corner and then simply meandered around the streets, cameras at the ready to see what we could spot. We had a couple of hours, punctuated by a pit stop for what turned out to be some really rather mediocre pizza, and these are the cars we found which were either high-end super cars or luxury cars, or sufficiently worth of a photo or two for some other reason.

ABARTH

It will come as no surprise to anyone who knows me, to find that any Abarths I spotted on the streets we roamed would feature here. There weren’t many – perhaps because the owners of these characterful cars were all out driving them?! All examples I came across were from the 500-family. the majority of them 595 models.

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During the life of the 500-based model there have been an almost bewildering array of limited edition cars, not all of which have been sold in the UK. One of the most special is he 695 Edizione Maserati of Sam Cottenden, a car which has been off the road for many months awaiting a turbo actuator part, which had finally arrived just in time for her to be able to bring her much loved car to the her own event. It was at the 2012 Geneva Show when Abarth first showed the 695C Edizione Maserati, a limited production version of the Abarth 500C convertible with the 1.4 Turbo T-Jet 16v engine rated at 180 hp, a 5-speed electrically operated manual Abarth Competizione gearbox with steering wheel controls, Maserati “Neptune” 17″ alloy wheels with performance tyres, Brembo 305 mm brake discs with fixed four-piston caliper and special shock absorbers, Record Modena variable back-pressure “dual mode” exhaust, Pontevecchio Bordeaux body colour, Xenon headlights with dipped and driving light functions, sand beige Poltrona Frau leather seats with containment strips featuring single-layer padding and the pista grey contrasting electro-welding, black leather steering wheel, aluminium pedal unit and sill plate, carbon fibre kick plate, boosted hi-fi audio system. Production was limited to 499 units, and around 20 of them came to the UK, all in the Pontevecchio Bordeaux colour. The grey cars were offered for sale in Asia, but such is the way with these things that several of these have subsequently been brought into the UK.

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ASTON MARTIN

First car of note that we saw, just after emerging from the tube station was this DB7 Zagato. The DB7 Vantage Zagato was introduced at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in August 2002 and later shown at the Paris Motor Show the following October. It was only offered for the 2003 model year, with a limited run of 99 cars built (a 100th car was produced for the Aston Martin museum), all of which immediately sold out. The car has a steel body designed in collaboration between Andrea Zagato at Zagato and the then chief designer of Aston Martin Henrik Fisker and features the signature ‘double-bubble’ Zagato roofline. Other features include a unique Analine leather interior not found on the normal DB7 and Zagato styled five-spoke alloy wheels. The car was only available in the UK, Europe and South East Asia. Like the DB7 Vantage on which it is based, the DB7 Zagato is powered by a 6.0 litre V12 engine that has been tuned to now produce 435 bhp at 6,000 rpm and 410 lb/ft (556 Nm) of torque at 5,000 rpm. Power goes to the rear wheels via a 6-speed manual transmission or an optional 5-speed automatic. It featured upgraded suspension and brakes as well It has a top speed of 186 mph (299 km/h) and a 0–60 mph acceleration time of 4.9 seconds. Unlike the later DB AR1, the Zagato is built on a shortened chassis that has a 60 mm (2 in) shorter wheelbase and is 211 mm (8 in) shorter overall. It is also approximately 130 lb (59 kg) lighter than the standard DB7.

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The DB6 was launched in 1965 as a replacement for the DB5 which had run since 1963. The wheelbase was now 4″ longer than before, resulting in an extensive restyle with a more raked windscreen, raised roofline and reshaped rear quarter windows. Opening front quarter lights made a reappearance, but the major change was at the rear where a Kamm tail with spoiler improved the aerodynamics, greatly enhancing stability at high speeds. “The tail lip halves the aerodynamic lift around maximum speed and brings in its train greater headroom and more luggage space”, declared Motor magazine, concluding that the DB6 was one of the finest sports cars it had tested. Famed employee, Tadek Marek, designed the six cylinder engine, which had been enlarged to 3,995cc for the preceding DB5 and remained unchanged. Power output on triple SU carburettors was 282bhp, rising to 325bhp in Vantage specification. Premiered at the 1965 London Motor Show, the DB6 Volante marked the first occasion the evocative ‘Volante’ name had been applied to a soft-top Aston Martin. After 37 Volante convertibles had been completed on the DB5 short wheelbase chassis, the model adopted the longer DB6 chassis in October 1966. A mere 140 DB6 based Volantes were manufactured, and of these only 29 were specified with the more powerful Vantage engine.

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This is a DBS. Aston Martin had used the DBS name once before on their 1967–72 grand tourer coupe. The modern car replaced the 2004 Vanquish S as the flagship of the marque, and was a V12-engined super grand tourer based on the DB9. The DBS was officially unveiled at the 2007 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance on 16 August 2007, which featured a brand new exterior colour (graphite grey with a blue tint) which has been dubbed “Lightning Silver”, followed by an appearance at the 2007 Frankfurt motor show. Deliveries of the DBS began in Q1 2008. The convertible version of the DBS dubbed the DBS Volante was unveiled at the 2009 Geneva Motor Show on 3 March 2009. The DBS Volante includes a motorized retractable fabric roof controlled by a button in the centre console and can fold into the compartment located behind the seats in 14 seconds after the press of the button. The roof can be opened or closed while at speeds up to 48 km/h (30 mph). Apart from the roof, changes include a new wheel design available for both the coupé and volante versions and a 2+2 seating configuration also available for both versions. Other features include rear-mounted six-speed manual or optional six-speed ‘Touchtronic 2’ automatic gearbox, Bang & Olufsen BeoSound DBS in-car entertainment system with 13 speakers. Deliveries of the DBS Volante began in Q3 2009. The model was replaced by a new generation Vanquish in 2012.

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From the current model range were examples of the Rapide and the more recent DB11.

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AUDI

This is an eTron, the first all-electric to be announced, Since its launch a couple of years ago, Audi have added further versions to the range, with the Sportback and the GT, as well as adding a higher performance eTron S model to the range.

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BENTLEY

The success of the Mulsanne Turbo and Turbo R brought new life to Bentley, changing the position of the preceding 15 years where sales of the marque’s badge-engineered Rolls Royce cars had been only a very small percentage of the company’s sales. The obvious next step would be further to enhance the distinctive sporting nature of the Bentley brand and move away from a Bentley that was merely a re-badged Rolls Royce. Bentley appointed stylists John Heffernan and Ken Greenley to come up with ideas for a new, distinctive, Bentley coupé. The fibreglass mock up was displayed at the 1984 Geneva Motor Show in Rolls-Royce’s “Project 90″ concept of a future Bentley coupé. The concept was met with an enthusiastic reception, but the Project 90 design was largely shelved as the company began to work towards a replacement for the Rolls-Royce Corniche. During this process, Graham Hull, chief stylist in house at Rolls Royce, suggested the designs before the board for the Corniche, would suit a Bentley coupé better. From this point it was decided the Corniche could continue as it was, and efforts would once again be channelled into a new Bentley coupé. In 1986 Graham Hull produced a design rendering of a new Bentley coupé which became the Continental R. Based on the Rolls Royce SZ platform (which was an evolution of the SY platform), an aerodynamically shaped coupé body had been styled. John Heffernan and Ken Greenley were officially retained to complete the design of the Continental R. They had run the Automotive Design School at the Royal College of Art and headed up their own consultancy, International Automotive Design, based in Worthing, Southern England. Greenley and Heffernan liaised constantly throughout the styling process with Graham Hull. The interior was entirely the work of Graham Hull and the small in house styling team at Rolls Royce. The shape of the car was very different from the somewhat slab sided four door SZ Rolls-Royce and Bentley vehicles of the time and offered a much improved 0.37 coefficient of drag. The Continental R also featured roof-cut door frames, a necessity to allow easier access into the car which had a lower roof line than its 4-door contemporaries. A subtle spoiler effect was also a feature of the rear. The finished car is widely acknowledged as a very cleverly styled vehicle, disguising its huge dimensions (The Continental R is around 4” longer than a 2013 long wheelbase Mercedes S Class) and a very well proportioned, extremely attractive, car. The “Continental” designation recalls the Bentley Continental of the post-war period. The “R” was meant to recall the R Type Bentleys from the 1950s as well as the Turbo R of the 1980s and 90’s where the “R” refers to “roadholding”. 1504 Continental R and 350 Continental T models were made before production finally ceased in 2003. The revival of the Bentley marque following the introduction of the Bentley Mulsanne Turbo, and then the Continental R, is widely acknowledged to have saved Rolls Royce Motor cars and formed the groundwork which led to the buyout and parting of the Rolls Royce and Bentley brands in 1998. Bentley was once again capable of standing alone as a marque in its own right.

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Although the Turbo models claimed the limelight of the 1980s and 1990s, the lesser versions of the car sold well, too. Several different version of what started out simply as the Mulsanne, a badge-engineered version of the Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit were offered. The Eight was Bentley’s “entry-level” offering from 1984 until 1992. Distinguished mainly by a wire-mesh grille radiator instead of vertical slats, the Eight also had somewhat less equipment than the similar Mulsanne on which it was based. This brought the introductory price to under the psychologically important £50,000 mark at the time of introduction, £6,000 less than the Mulsannne. A firmer suspension offered slight handling improvements. The Eight was so popular that sales expanded from the original UK market to Europe and the United States. The Eight was introduced with cloth upholstery, steel wheels, and a mesh grille that was simpler than the slatted grille of the Mulsanne. Fuel injection and anti-lock brakes were added in 1986, leather upholstery and power memory seats were added in 1987, and automatic ride height adjustment was added in 1990. In Britain, catalytic converters became optional in 1990 – although they had been available long before in markets where such were required. The three-speed automatic transmission was replaced by a four-speed transmission in August 1992. The Bentley Brooklands was introduced in 1992 as a replacement for the Bentley Mulsanne S and Bentley Eight models. It was intended as a slightly cheaper alternative to the Bentley Turbo R, featuring the same styling, underpinnings and the Rolls-Royce 6.75-litre V8 engine, but without the more powerful model’s turbocharger. The Brooklands continued Bentley’s relatively angular design theme, which was also used on contemporary Rolls-Royce vehicles, throughout the 1980s and early 1990s. The exterior design featured the classic Bentley waterfall grille as well as dual headlights with wraparound parking lights. As in many Bentley and Rolls-Royce vehicles, the Brooklands also featured the trademark descending bootlid and chrome B-pillars. The interior remained relatively unchanged from previous Bentley models, with more curvaceous design elements surrounding the leather-wrapped centre console. The steering wheel and interior door panels remained largely unchanged; the major change arrived in the form of relocating the gear selector to the centre console – for decades the standard practice among R-R and Bentley models utilised a steering column mounted selector. The interior continued to be surrounded by ample woodgrain which featured engraved, lighter-coloured outlines on the door panels.

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A car you could not miss, even if you wanted to, was this Bentayga which had received the Mansory treatment. This renowned customiser has offered their modifications to the Bentley SUV for some time now, with a range of alterations from lashings of carbon fibre to a wide-body kit. larger wheels and some, erm, distinctive additional trim. Not for me, at all, I am afraid!

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Also from recent production was an example of last generation Mulsanne, the latest Continental GT Coupe and a more standard-looking Bentayga.

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CADILLAC

Cadillac have made a number of spectacularly unsuccessful attempts to sell their cars in the UK over the last 30 years, believing the US hype that their cars were now deemed to be on a par with European rivals. They weren’t, though they were generally not bad cars and would certainly have qualified on the basis of being something different. This is from one of those efforts, the Seville STS. The fifth generation Cadillac to bear the name, this redesigned Seville was introduced in late 1997 for 1998 MY, built on GM’s G platform (which GM chose to continue to refer to as the K). The wheelbase was extended to 112.2 in (2,850 mm) but the overall length was down slightly to 201 in (5,100 mm). The car looked quite similar to the fourth-generation model, but featured numerous suspension and drivability improvements. The Seville STS (and companion Eldorado ETC) became the most powerful front-wheel-drive cars on the market at 300 bhp. The top STS model ran 0–60 mph in 6.4 seconds and had a 14.8 second quarter-mile time. The fifth-generation Seville was the first Cadillac engineered to be built in both left- and right-hand-drive form; and the first modern Cadillac to be officially sold in a right-hand-drive market (the United Kingdom). Models sold in Japan were left-hand drive. In the past, right-hand-drive Cadillacs were built from CKD kits or special conversion kits shipped for local conversion. An export version was produced with narrower bumpers to get under a 5 meter taxation length. The 1998 Seville was the first Cadillac launched with a European type approval number in Europe; the United Kingdom first, and then Germany, Belgium, France, Spain, Italy, Finland and other markets. In January 2002 the STS received a new MagneRide adaptive suspension system, unavailable on the SLS. Production of the Seville STS ended on May 16, 2003. Seville SLS production ended seven months later on December 4, 2003. In 2004, only the Seville SLS model was available for purchase. The Seville model name was discontinued for 2005 and replaced with the Cadillac STS.

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DODGE

Also hailing from the US is the Dodge Challenger. This joined the range in 2009, as a rival to the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro and like them, taking its styling direction from the much loved model of the same name from the early 70s. It has been updated only in detail ever since, and sales remain buoyant with the car beating the Camaro in the US sales charts on a regular basis now. It is a bit larger than its rivals which means that there are usable back seats and a decent boot, so in the US this would be the pick of the muscle car rental cars if more than 2 people need to be accommodated (and even if there are only 2 of you) but here, of course, it does seem rather large.

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FERRARI

Launched at the 2015 Geneva Show, the 488GTB followed the lead set by the California T in bringing turbocharging into a modern-day, mid-engined V8 Ferrari supercar for the first time. The engine is completely new when compared with its V8 stablemate, not only in components but also in feel and character. It is a twin-turbocharged 3902cc unit whilst that in the California T is 3855cc. In the 488 GTB, it produces 660bhp at 8000rpm and 560lb ft at 3000rpm. Both outputs are significant increases over the normally aspirated 4.5-litre V8 used in the 562 bhp 458 Italia and 597 bhp 458 Speciale, and also greater than the car’s biggest rival, the McLaren 650S. The torque figure of the 488 GTB is such that it also exceeds the 509lb ft at 6000rpm of the normally aspirated V12 used in the range-topping Ferrari F12 Berlinetta. The mighty new engine in the 488 GTB drives the rear wheels through a revised seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox derived from the 458. It features a new ‘Variable Torque Management’ system which, Ferrari says, “unleashes the engine’s massive torque smoothly and powerfully right across the rev range”. The gear ratios are also tuned to “deliver incredibly progressive acceleration when the driver floors the throttle”. The 488 GTB can crack 0-62mph in just 3.0sec, 0-124mph in 8.4sec and reach a top speed of 205mph. Its 0-62mph and 0-124mph times match the McLaren 650S’s, but the Woking car’s top speed is slightly higher at 207mph. The engine also accounts for the ‘488’ element of the car’s name, because each of the engine’s eight cylinders is 488cc in capacity when rounded up. The GTB suffix, standing for Gran Turismo Berlinetta, is a hallmark of previous mid-engined V8 Ferraris such as the 308 GTB. Not only is the new turbo engine more potent than the 4.5-litre V8 from the 458 Italia, but it is also more economical. Combined fuel economy is rated at 24.8mpg, compared with 21.2mpg in the 458 Italia, and CO2 emissions are 260g/km – a 47g/km improvement. Ferrari’s HELE engine stop-start system features on the 488 GTB. Developments on the dynamic side include a second generation of the Side Slip Angle Control system, called SSC2. This allows the driver to oversteer without intruding, unless it detects a loss of control. The SSC2 now controls the active dampers, in addition to the F1-Trac traction control system and E-Diff electronic differential. Ferrari says the result is “more precise and less invasive, providing greater longitudinal acceleration out of corners” and flatter, more stable behaviour during “complex manoeuvres”. Learnings from the Ferrari XX programme have also been incorporated into the 488 GTB, something that Ferrari says allows all drivers and not just professionals, to make the most of its electronic and vehicle control systems. It also claims the 488 GTB is “the most responsive production model there is”, with responses comparable to a track car. The 488 GTB has lapped Ferrari’s Fiorano test track in 1min 23sec – two seconds faster than the 458 Italia, and half a second quicker than the 458 Speciale. The dimensions of the 488 GTB – it is 4568mm in length, 1952mm in width and 1213mm in height – closely match the 458 Italia from which it has evolved. Its dry weight is 1370kg when equipped with lightweight options – 40kg more than the McLaren 650S. The new look, styled at the Ferrari Styling Centre, features several new aerodynamic features that improve downforce and reduce drag. Most notable is the addition of active aerodynamics at the rear through a ‘blown’ rear spoiler, where air is channelled from the base of the glass engine cover under the spoiler. This contributes to the 50% increase in downforce over the 458 Italia. Also new is a double front spoiler, an aerodynamic underbody, a large air intake at the front that references the 308 GTB, a diffuser with active flaps, new positioning for the exhaust flaps and new-look lights. The interior has been redesigned to be made more usable, including new switchgear, air vents and instrument panel. The multi-function steering wheel remains, while the infotainment system gets a new interface and graphics. The Spider followed the closed coupe model six months later, and it soon became the bigger seller of the pair, as was the case with the 458 models.

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After a gap of some years, Ferrari added a 4 seater V8 model to the range at the 2008 Paris Motor Show, with the California. According to industry rumours, the California originally started as a concept for a new Maserati, but the resulting expense to produce the car led the Fiat Group to badge it as a Ferrari in order to justify the high cost of purchase; the company denies this, however. The California heralded a number of firsts for Ferrari: the first front engined Ferrari with a V8; te first to feature a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission; the first with a folding metal roof; the first with multi-link rear suspension; and the first with direct petrol injection. Bosch produced the direct injection system. The engine displaces 4,297 cc, and used direct injection. It delivered 453 bhp at 7,750 rpm; its maximum torque produced was 358 lbf·ft at 5,000 rpm. The resulting 106 bhp per litre of engine displacement is one of the highest for a naturally aspirated engine, as other manufacturers have used supercharging or turbocharging to reach similar power levels. Ferrari spent over 1,000 hours in the wind tunnel with a one-third-scale model of the California perfecting its aerodynamics. With the top up, the California has a drag coefficient of Cd=0.32, making it the most aerodynamic Ferrari ever made until the introduction of the Ferrari F12 Berlinetta. Throughout the California’s production, only 3 cars were built with manual transmission, including one order from the UK. On 15 February 2012, Ferrari announced an upgrade, which was lighter and more powerful. Changes include reducing body weight by 30 kg (66 lb), increased power by output of 30 PS and 11 lbf·ft, acceleration from 0–100 km/h (62 mph) time reduced to 3.8 seconds, introduction of Handling Speciale package and elimination of the manual transmission option. The car was released at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show as a 2012 model in Europe. To give the clients a more dynamic driving experience, an optional HS (Handling Speciale) package was developed as part of the update. It can be recognised by a silver coloured grille and ventilation blisters behind the front wheel wells. The HS package includes Delphi MagneRide magnetorheological dampers controlled by an ECU with 50% faster response time running patented Ferrari software, stiffer springs for more precise body control and a steering rack with a 9 per cent quicker steering ratio (2.3 turns lock to lock as opposed to the standard rack’s 2.5). A more substantive update came in 2014, with the launch of the California T. It featured new sheetmetal, a new interior, a revised chassis and a new turbocharged powertrain. Production ceased in 2019 when the new Portofino model supplanted it.

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The Ferrari FF (FF meaning “Ferrari Four”, for four seats and four-wheel drive, the Type F151) is a grand tourer presented by Ferrari on March 1, 2011 at the Geneva Motor Show as a successor to the 612 Scaglietti and is Ferrari’s first production four-wheel drive model. The body style has been described as a shooting-brake, a type of sporting hatchback/estate car with two doors. With a top speed of f 335 km/h (208 mph) and it accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 3.7 seconds, Ferrari stated that the FF was the world’s fastest four-seat automobile upon its release to the public. At the time of its reveal, the Ferrari FF had the largest road-going Ferrari engine ever produced: an F140 EB 6,262 cc naturally aspirated direct injected 65° V12, which produced 660 PS (485 kW; 651 hp) at 8,000 rpm and 683 N⋅m (504 lb⋅ft) of torque at 6000 rpm. The FF is equipped with a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission and paddle shift system similar to the California, the 458 Italia, and the Ferrari F12berlinetta. The new four-wheel drive system, engineered and patented by Ferrari, is called 4RM: it is around 50% lighter than a conventional system, and provides power intelligently to each of the four wheels as needed. It functions only when the manettino dial on the steering wheel is in the “comfort” or “snow” positions, leaving the car most often in the traditional rear wheel drive layout. Ferrari’s first use of 4RM was in a prototype created in the end of the 80s, called 408 4RM (abbreviation of “4.0 litre, 8 cylinder, 4 Ruote Motrici”, meaning “four-wheel drive”). This system is based around a second, simple, gearbox (gears and other components built by Carraro Engineering), taking power from the front of the engine. This gearbox (designated “power take off unit”, or PTU) has only two forward gears (2nd and 4th) plus reverse (with gear ratios 6% taller than the corresponding ratios in the main gearbox), so the system is only active in 1st to 4th gears. The connection between this gearbox and each front wheel is via independent Haldex-type clutches, without a differential. Due to the difference in ratios “the clutches continually slip” and only transmit, at most, 20% of the engine’s torque. A detailed description of the system (based on a conversation with Roberto Fedeli, Ferrari’s technical director) has been published. The FF shares the design language of contemporary Ferraris, including the pulled-back headlights of the 458 Italia, and the twin circular taillights seen on the 458 as well as the 599 GTB Fiorano. Designed under the direction of Lowie Vermeersch, former Design Director at Pininfarina, and Flavio Manzoni, Ferrari’s Styling Centre, work on the shooting brake concept initially started following the creation of the Sintesi show car of 2007. Distinctive styling elements include a large egg-crate grille, defined side skirts, and four exhaust tips. The shooting brake configuration is a departure from the conventional wedge shape of modern Ferraris, and the FF has been likened to the similarly-shaped 1962 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Drogo race car. The combination of hatchback-like shooting-brake design and collapsible rear seats gives the Ferrari FF a boot capacity of between 16 and 28 cu ft. Luxury is the main element of the interior and the use of Leather is incorporated throughout, just like the predecessors of the FF. Creature comforts like premium air conditioning, GPS navigation system, carpeting and sound system are also used. An updated version. called the GTC4 Lusso was launched in 2016 by which 2291 examples had been built.

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The GTC4Lusso is a successor to the Ferrari FF. Like its predecessor, the GTC4Lusso is a 3-door shooting-brake with an all-wheel drive drivetrain, and is powered by a front-mid mounted V12 engine. The GTC4Lusso’s 6,262 cc Ferrari F140 65° V12 engine is rated at 690 PS at 8,000 rpm and 697 Nm (514 lb/ft) of torque at 5,750rpm. The increase in output of the engine is due to the compression ratio raised to 13.5:1. Ferrari claims a top speed of 335 km/h (208 mph), unchanged from the FF, and a 0–100 km/h (0–62 mph) acceleration time of 3.4 seconds. The car uses an improved version (called the 4RM Evo) of Ferrari’s patented four-wheel drive system introduced on the FF, integrated with four-wheel steering into the system. Collectively, the system is called 4RM-S. The GTC4Lusso was unveiled at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show. A second version joined the range, unveiled at the 2016 Paris Motor Show. This was the GTC4Lusso T, a rear wheel drive only version of the GTC4Lusso powered by a V8 engine with lesser displacement, though the 4WS four-wheel steering system from its V12 variant is retained. The GTC4Lusso T comes with a 3,855 cc Ferrari F154 twin turbocharged V8 engine rated at 610 PS at 7,500 rpm and 760 Nm (561lb/ft) of torque at 3,000–5,250 rpm. According to the manufacturer the car can attain a top speed of over 320 km/h (199 mph) and accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h (0 to 62 mph) in 3.5 seconds. The rear features Ferrari’s signature Quad Circular Rear Lights (last seen on the F430) and the interior contains a Dual Cockpit Concept Design, separating the Driver Cockpit and the Passenger Cockpit by a central divider. The front of the car has a single grille that provides all the necessary cooling. Production of the car recently ceased.

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The latest of the 2-seater V8 cars is the F8 Tributo, a surprise newcomer at the 2019 Geneva Show, and the successor to the 488 GTB and the most powerful mid-engined V8 berlinetta in the history of the brand. The new Ferrari F8 Tributo is powered by the company’s twin-turbo 3.9-litre V8 engine, here tuned to produce 710 bhp and 568lb/ft (770Nm) of peak torque. The numbers are the exact same with the special 488 Pista. Ferrari claims that the new F8 Tributo is capable of a 0-62mph (100km/h) in 2.9 seconds, with 0-124mph (200km/h) in 7.8 seconds before hitting a top speed of 211mph (340km/h). It’s not a secret that the new F8 Tributo is the latest evolution of the aluminium 458 platform, with Ferrari saying that their latest mid-engine berlinetta is “a bridge to a new design language”. The new supercar blends in new design elements with aero features such as an S-Duct at the front, which on its own increases downforce by 15 percent compared to a standard 488 GTB. The rear end of Ferrari’s McLaren 720S rival marks the return of the classic Ferrari twin light clusters, while the engine cover is now made out of Lexan and features louvres to extract hot air and remind us of the iconic F40. The chassis of the new F8 Tributo employs Ferrari’s latest version of the Side Slip Angle Control traction management system, which aims to make sliding the car around manageable even for the less experienced drivers. The changes over the 488 GTB are less prominent once you look inside the cabin; the layout of the redesigned dashboard remains the same as before, only now there are completely new door panels and a centre console, as well as a new steering wheel design. The passenger gets a 7-inch touchscreen display. First deliveries of the new Ferrari F8 Tributo started earlier in 2020.

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Our meandering took us to Barclay Square and to the showroom of renowned dealer Jack Barclay. They had two cars on display and were happy for us (and others) to come in and have a look and take photos. As well as a brand new 812 GTS they have a glorious 275 GTB/4 on show. The Ferrari 275 GTB is one of those Ferrari models whose price tag generally runs into 7 figures when it is offered for sale these days. The 275 was a series of two-seat front-engined V12-powered models produced in GT, roadster, and spyder form by Ferrari between 1964 and 1968. The first Ferrari to be equipped with a transaxle, the 275 was powered by a 3286 cc Colombo 60° V12 engine that produced 280-300 hp. Pininfarina designed the GT and roadster bodies, Scaglietti the rare NART Spyder, among the most valuable of all Ferraris made. The standard 275 GTB coupe came first. It was produced by Scaglietti and was available with 3 or 6 Weber twin-choke carburettors. It was more of a pure sports car than the GT name suggested. Some cars were built with an aluminium body instead of the standard steel body. A Series Two version with a longer nose appeared in 1965. The 275 GTB/4 debuted in 1966. A much updated 275 GTB, it generated 300 bhp from a substantially reworked 3286 cc Colombo V12 engine, still with two valves per cylinder but now with a four-cam engine and six carburettors as standard. In a departure from previous Ferrari designs, the valve angle was reduced three degrees to 54° for a more-compact head. The dual camshafts also allowed the valves to be aligned perpendicular to the camshaft instead of offset as in SOHC engines. It was a dry-sump design with a huge 17 qt (16 litre) capacity. The transaxle was also redesigned. A torque tube connected the engine and transmission, rather than allowing them to float free on the body as before. This improved handling, noise, and vibration. Porsche synchronizers were also fitted for improved shifting and reliability. The 275 GTB/4 could hit 268 km/h (166.5 mph). With new bodywork, it was the first Ferrari to not be offered with wire wheels. A total of 280 were produced through to 1968 when it was replaced by the 365 GTB/4 Daytona.

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FIAT

I spotted this, parked some way up a street we had planned to explore, but the sight of the latest all-electric Fiat 500e was too much to resist so we went to get a closer look. Although the overall shape of the car is similar to that of the familiar model that has been produced since 2007 and production of which continues for the foreseeable future, it is of course different in detail both outside and in. Deliveries only started a few weeks ago, but I predict that this car will become a relatively common sight on our roads before too long.

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HONDA

Earlier we had seen one of the cars which is a direct rival, the Honda e. This was launched just over a year ago, and was also well received, though the rather limited range does count against it in the eyes of some. It managed to retain most of the cute looks of the concept cars that did the Show rounds a few years ago, even though a lot had to change for volume production.

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LAMBORGHINI

There were surprisingly few Lamborghini models in evidence. A sign of the changing tastes, perhaps, there were none of the recent V10 powered cars such as the Gallardo and Huracan, but there were a number of the Urus, the firm’s entrant in the commercially significant Uber-SUV market. Global sales of this model have already exceeded 10,000, though most of those have been sold in markets such as the Middle East, Russia, China and America.

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In its turn, the Diablo gave way to the Murcielago in 2001. Taking its name from the Spanish for “bat”, this was Lamborghini’s first new design in eleven years and more importantly, the brand’s first new model under the ownership of German parent company Audi, which was manifest in a much higher level of quality and reliability. The Murcielago was styled by Peruvian-born Belgian Luc Donckerwolke, Lamborghini’s head of design from 1998 to 2005. Initially it was only available as a Coupe. The Murciélago was an all-wheel drive, mid-engined supersports car. With an angular design and an exceptionally low slung body, the highest point of the roof is just under 4 feet above the ground. One of the vehicle’s most distinguishing features are its scissor doors. which lends to the extreme image. First-generation Murciélagos, produced between 2001 and 2006, were powered by a Lamborghini V12 that traces its roots back to the company’s beginnings in the 1960s. The rear differential is integrated with the engine itself, with a viscous coupling centre differential providing drive to the front wheels. Power is delivered through a 6-speed manual transmission. The Murciélago suspension uses an independent double-wishbone design, and bodywork features carbon fiber, steel and aluminium parts. The rear spoiler and the active air intakes integrated into the car’s shoulders are electromechanically controlled, deploying automatically only at high speeds in an effort to maximise both aerodynamic and cooling efficiency. The first generation cars were produced between 2001 and 2006, and known simply as Murciélago, sometimes Murciélago VT. Their V12 engines produced just under 580 PS (572 bhp), and powered the car to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 3.8 seconds. Subsequent versions incorporated an alphanumeric designation to the name Murciélago, which indicated their engine configuration and output. However, the original cars are never referred to as “LP 580s”. The Murciélago Roadster was introduced in 2004. Primarily designed to be an open top car, it employed a manually attached soft roof as cover from adverse weather, but a warning on the windshield header advised the driver not to exceed 100 mph (160 km/h) with the top in place. The designer used the B-2 stealth bomber, the Wally 118 WallyPower yacht, and architect Santiago Calatrava’s Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències in Valencia, Spain as his inspiration for the roadster’s revised rear pillars and engine cover. In March 2006, Lamborghini unveiled a new version of its halo car at the Geneva Motor Show: the Murciélago LP 640. The new title incorporated the car’s name, along with an alphanumeric designation which indicated the engine’s orientation (Longitudinale Posteriore), along with the newly updated power output. With displacement now increased to 6.5 litres, the new car made 640 PS ( 631 bhp) at 8000 rpm. The Murciélago’s exterior received a minor facelift. Front and rear details were revised, and side air intakes were now asymmetrical with the left side feeding an oil cooler. A new single outlet exhaust system incorporated into the rear diffuser, modified suspension tuning, revised programming and upgraded clutch for the 6-speed “e-Gear” automated sequential transmission with launch control rounded out the performance modifications. Interior seating was also re-shaped to provide greater headroom, and a new stereo system formed part of the updated dashboard. Optional equipment included Carbon fibre-reinforced Silicon Carbide (C/SiC) ceramic composite brakes, chrome paddle shifters and a glass engine cover. At the 2006 Los Angeles Auto Show, Lamborghini announced that the roadster version of the Murciélago would also be updated to LP 640 status. At the 2009 Geneva Motor Show, Lamborghini unveiled the ultimate version of the Murciélago, the LP 670–4 SuperVeloce. The SV moniker had previously appeared on the Diablo SV, and Miura. SV variants are more extreme and track-oriented, and are released at the end of each model’s production run. The SuperVeloce’s V12 produced 670 PS (661 hp) at 8000 rpm and 660 N·m (490 lbf·ft) of torque at 6500 rpm, thanks to revised valve timing and upgraded intake system. The car’s weight was also reduced by 100 kg (220 lb) through extensive use of carbon fibre inside and out. A new lighter exhaust system was also used. As a result of the extensive weight loss, the SV had a power-to-weight ratio of 429 bhp/ton. Also standard were the LP 640’s optional 15-inch carbon-ceramic disc brakes with 6 piston calipers. The original production plan for the SV was limited to 350 cars, but in fact only 186 LP 670-4s were produced before the factory had to make room for the new Aventador production line. Numbered cars 1–350 do not represent the order in which cars were manufactured. Only 5-6 were made with manual transmission. Production of the Murciélago ended on November 5, 2010, with a total run of 4,099 cars. Its successor, the Aventador, was released at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show.

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LANCIA

Although their sales only amounted to a small fraction of the total number of first generation Delta cars produced, it is the Integrale models which are best known these days, and the ones you most often see. It may be over 20 years since the last one was produced, but everyone, even youngsters, knows what they are, and just about everyone lusts after them, declaring them as a clear candidate for their Dream Garage. I know that I would certainly have one in mine! Seen here were a number of examples, with Mike Butcher’s lovely car that I had first seen at the January photo shoot joined by some red models. The Integrale evolved over several years, starting off as the HF Turbo 4WD that was launched in April 1986, to homologate a new rally car for Lancia who needed something to fill the void left by the cancellation of Group B from the end of 1986. The Delta HF 4X4 had a four-wheel drive system with an in-built torque-splitting action. Three differentials were used. Drive to the front wheels was linked through a free-floating differential; drive to the rear wheels was transmitted via a 56/44 front/rear torque-splitting Ferguson viscous-coupling-controlled epicyclic central differential. At the rear wheels wa a Torsen (torque sensing) rear differential. It divided the torque between the wheels according to the available grip, with a maximum lockup of 70%. The basic suspension layout of the Delta 4WD remained the same as in the rest of the two-wheel drive Delta range: MacPherson strut–type independent suspension with dual-rate dampers and helicoidal springs, with the struts and springs set slightly off-centre. The suspension mounting provided more isolation by incorporating flexible rubber links. Progressive rebound bumpers were adopted, while the damper rates, front and rear toe-in and the relative angle between springs and dampers were all altered. The steering was power-assisted rack and pinion. The car looked little different from the front wheel drive models. In September 1987, Lancia showed a more sophisticated version of the car, the Delta HF Integrale 8V. This version incorporated some of the features of the Delta HF 4WD into a road car. The engine was an 8-valve 2 litre fuel injected 4-cylinder, with balancing shafts. The HF version featured new valves, valve seats and water pump, larger water and oil radiators, more powerful cooling fan and bigger air cleaner. A larger capacity Garrett T3 turbocharger with improved air flow and bigger inter-cooler, revised settings for the electronic injection/ignition control unit and a knock sensor, boosting power output to 185 bhp at 5300 rpm and maximum torque of 224 lb/ft at 3500 rpm. The HF Integrale had permanent 4-wheel drive, a front transversely mounted engine and five-speed gearbox. An epicyclic centre differential normally split the torque 56 per cent to the front axle, 44 per cent to the rear. A Ferguson viscous coupling balanced the torque split between front and rear axles depending on road conditions and tyre grip. The Torsen rear differential further divided the torque delivered to each rear wheel according to grip available. A shorter final drive ratio (3.111 instead of 2.944 on the HF 4WD) matched the larger 6.5×15 wheels to give 24 mph/1000 rpm in fifth gear. Braking and suspension were uprated to 284 mm ventilated front discs, a larger brake master cylinder and servo, as well as revised front springs, dampers, and front struts. Next update was to change the engine from 8 valves to 16. The 16v Integrale was introduced at the 1989 Geneva Motorshow, and made a winning debut on the 1989 San Remo Rally. It featured a raised centre of the bonnet to accommodate the new 16 valve engine, as well as wider wheels and tyres and new identity badges front and rear. The torque split was changed to 47% front and 53% rear. The turbocharged 2-litre Lancia 16v engine now produced 200 bhp at 5500 rpm, for a maximum speed of 137 mph and 0–100 km/h in 5.5 seconds. Changes included larger injectors, a more responsive Garrett T3 turbocharger, a more efficient intercooler, and the ability to run on unleaded fuel without modification. The first Evoluzione cars were built at the end of 1991 and through 1992. These were to be the final homologation cars for the Lancia Rally Team; the Catalytic Evoluzione II was never rallied by the factory. The Evoluzione I had a wider track front and rear than earlier Deltas. The bodyside arches were extended and became more rounded. The wings were now made in a single pressing. The front strut top mounts were also raised, which necessitated a front strut brace. The new Integrale retained the four wheel drive layout. The engine was modified to produce 210 bhp at 5750 rpm. External changes included: new grilles in the front bumper to improve the air intake for engine compartment cooling; a redesigned bonnet with new lateral air slats to further assist underbonnet ventilation; an adjustable roof spoiler above the tailgate; new five-bolt wheels with the same design of the rally cars; and a new single exhaust pipe. Interior trim was now grey Alcantara on the Recaro seats, as fitted to the earlier 16V cars; leather and air conditioning were offered as options, as well as a leather-covered Momo steering wheel. Presented in June 1993, the second Evolution version of the Delta HF Integrale featured an updated version of the 2-litre 16-valve turbo engine to produce more power, as well as a three-way catalyst and Lambda probe. A Marelli integrated engine control system with an 8 MHz clock frequency which incorporates: timed sequential multipoint injection; self-adapting injection times; automatic idling control; engine protection strategies depending on the temperature of intaken air; Mapped ignition with two double outlet coils; Three-way catalyst and pre-catalyst with lambda probe (oxygen sensor) on the turbine outlet link; anti-evaporation system with air line for canister flushing optimised for the turbo engine; new Garrett turbocharger: water-cooled with boost-drive management i.e. boost controlled by feedback from the central control unit on the basis of revs/throttle angle; Knock control by engine block sensor and new signal handling software for spark park advance, fuel quantity injected, and turbocharging. The engine now developed 215 PS as against 210 PS on the earlier uncatalysed version and marginally more torque. The 1993 Integrale received a cosmetic and functional facelift that included. new 16″ light alloy rims with 205/45 ZR 16 tyres; body colour roof moulding to underline the connection between the roof and the Solar control windows; aluminium fuel cap and air-intake grilles on the front mudguards; red-painted cylinder head; new leather-covered three-spoke MOMO steering wheel; standard Recaro seats upholstered in beige Alcantara with diagonal stitching. In its latter years the Delta HF gave birth to a number of limited and numbered editions, differing mainly in colour, trim and equipment; some were put on general sale, while others were reserved to specific markets, clubs or selected customers.

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LAND ROVER

There are, of course, lots of Land Rover models to be seen on the streets of London, with the Range Rover versions particularly prevalent. I picked out two more unusual models to photograph: a Range Rover Sport SVR and an example of the new and highly rated Defender

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MASERATI

Parked outside the Dorchester was this Ghibli Hybrid, the first one I’ve seen on the road apart from my own. It had a 70 plate suggesting that it must have been one of the very first to be registered in the UK, with deliveries having started around the turn of the year.

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The only other Maserati I came across was this Levante, the SUV model in the range.

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MERCEDES-BENZ

This is a long wheelbase W126-generation S Class. This premiered in September 1979 at the Frankfurt IAA Show, with sales starting in Europe in March 1980 and October 1980 for the UK. Following the debut of the 1970s generation W116 (which also included the limited-production Mercedes-Benz 450 SEL 6.9), Mercedes-Benz began plans for the next-generation S-Class model in October 1973. Codenamed “project W126,” the project aimed to provide an improved ride, better handling, and improved fuel efficiency, to help retain the model’s marketing position. Mercedes-Benz made fuel efficiency a goal (named “Energy Program”), in the large V8 engined versions of the S-Class. The W126 design team, led by Mercedes-Benz’s Bruno Sacco, sought to produce a car that was more aerodynamic than the previous model. The application of lighter materials and alloys combined with thorough wind tunnel testing to reduce overall drag meant the car consumed about 10% less fuel than its predecessor. The W126 featured the first seatbelt pretensioners. After six years of development, the W126 was introduced at the Internationale Automobil-Ausstellung (International Motor Show, or IAA) in Frankfurt on September 1979.[5] The initial rsnge featured seven models in standard (S S-KLasse-Vergaser, SE S-Klasse-Einspritzmotor, SD S-Klasse-Diesel) and long (SEL, SDL) wheelbase sedan body styles: the 280 S/SE/SEL, 380 SE/SEL, 500 SE/SEL and 300 SD. The long-wheelbase (SEL) variants were internally codenamed V126. In 1981, the coupé version C126 (SEC, acronym for S-Klasse-Einspritzmotor-Coupé) of the W126 S-Class premiered at the IAA with the 500 SEC model. In 1981, Wheels Magazine selected the W126 model 380 SE as its Car of the Year. Although the top of range Mercedes-Benz 450 SEL 6.9 of the previous generation was not directly replaced, the W126 carried forward the hydropneumatic suspension of the 6.9 as an option on the 500 SEL and later on 420 SEL and 560 SEL models. Four years after the introduction of the fuel-efficiency “Energieskonzept” (Energy Concept) in 1981, the model range was extensively revised. In September 1985, again at the IAA in Frankfurt, the revised model range was introduced. Apart from visual changes to the bumpers, side covers and larger 15-inch wheels with a new design on the hubcaps and alloys (optional), there where technical upgrades as well as revised engines available. A new generation of inline-six petrol and diesel engines and new 4.2- and 5.5-litre V8s were added, and other engines were revised. The W126 generation was replaced by the W140 in 1991. Over the twelve years,1979-1991, W126 S-Class production reached 892,123 — including 818,063 sedans and 74,060 coupés.

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Designed in 1984, and launched in 1989, the R129 was based on the shortened floorpan of the Mercedes-Benz W124 and featured many innovative details for the time, for instance electronically controlled damping (Adaptive Damping System ADS, optional) and a hidden, automatically extending roll-over bar. The R107’s somewhat dated rear suspension with semi-trailing arms gave way to a modern multi-link axle. The number of standard features was high, with electric action for the windows, mirrors, seats and hydraulic convertible top. This car has the distinction of being the first passenger vehicle to have seat belts integrated into the seats as opposed to anchoring to the floor, B-pillar, and transmission tunnel. Initially, there were three different engines available: 300 SL with a M103 3.0 L 12-valve SOHC I6 (188 bhp), a 300 SL-24 with a M104 3.0 L 24-valve DOHC I6 (228 bhp) and the 500 SL with a M119 5.0 L 32-valve DOHC V8 (322 bhp) . These were joined in July 1992 by the 600 SL with a M120 6.0 L 48-valve DOHC V12 (389 bhp). There was a choice of 5-speed manual or 4–5 speed automatic for the six-cylinder cars; the V8 and V12 could only be ordered with a 4-speed automatic gearbox. In autumn 1993 Mercedes-Benz rearranged names and models. Also, the 300 SL and 300 SL-24 were respectively replaced by: SL 280 with a M104 2.8 L 24-valve DOHC I6 (190 bhp) and the SL 320 with a M104 3.2 L 24-valve DOHC I6 (228 bhp). Only the 280 was available with a manual gearbox. SL 500 and 600 continued with their respective engines.Starting in 1993, the cars were re-designated. For example, 500 SL became SL 500. Starting in model year 1994, Mercedes-Benz offered special SL models from time to time, such as the Mille Miglia edition cars of model year 1994 or the SL edition of model year 2000. 1994 cars had minor updates for the car and then in 1995 there was a minor facelift for the car, with the front fender vents updated to only 2 rounded slots, rather than 3 squared slots, and bumpers in body colour. The V8 and V12s were upgraded to 5 speed electronic transmission, the previous transmission was hydraulic 4-speed. A second facelift occurred in 1998 with many detailed changes applied, including new external mirrors, 17″ wheels and new bumpers. Also new were the engines, a SL 280 with a M112 2.8 L 18-valve SOHC V6 (201 bhp); SL 320 with a M112 3.2 L 18-valve SOHC V6 (221 bhp) and a SL 500 with a M113 5.0 L 24-valve SOHC V8 (302 bhp). The V12 engine remained unchanged. The car was replaced by the R230 generation SL in 2001, after 213,089 had been built.

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A rare machine indeed, this is the S65 AMG version of the recently superceded W222 generation S Class. It is a version of the long wheelbase S-Class sedan with an AMG 6.0-litre V12 biturbo engine rated 621 bhp (630 PS) at 4,800 rpm and 1,000 Nm (738 lb/ft) at 2,300-4,300 rpm, exclusive carbon-fibre/aluminium engine cover, 2 AMG logos on left and right with a centrally positioned Mercedes star, seven-speed automatic transmission, 78 Ah lithium-ion battery, AMG sports suspension with MAGIC BODY CONTROL with Crosswind stabilization, ESP Dynamic Cornering Assist, electromechanical AMG speed-sensitive sports steering with variable steering ratio, 20×8.5/20×9.5-inch front/rear ceramic high-gloss polished AMG 16-spoke light-alloy wheels (optional 10-spoke forged wheels in polished titanium grey or matt black with a high-sheen rim flange and screw-in fully integrated wheel bolt cover, 5-twin-spoke forged wheels in titanium grey with a high-sheen finish and a black wheel bolt cover), 255/40 R 20 and 285/35 R 20 tyres, optional AMG ceramic high-performance composite braking system (front brake discs with a diameter of 420 millimetres, “AMG Carbon Ceramic” logo at brake callipers), V12 radiator grille with six twin louvres in high-gloss chrome, front apron with three large cooling air intakes, grilles and flics (air deflectors) on the side air intakes in high-gloss chrome and dark paint colours, side sill panels in high-gloss chrome, high-gloss black rear diffuser insert (optional grilles and flics in high-gloss black), “V12 BITURBO” lettering on the wings and the “S 65 AMG” model badge on the boot lid in modern typography, AMG sports exhaust system with two chrome-plated separate twin tailpipes, interior upholstery in exclusive nappa leather with seat upholstery layout in an exclusive diamond-pattern design, delineated perforations in the leather upholstery of the AMG sports seats, no perforations in the nappa leather wherever there is contrasting topstitching, nappa leather roof liner, leather-lined dashboard, door centre panels in a diamond-pattern design, leather-clad roof grab handles, additional wood trim, AMG stainless-steel door sill panels illuminated in white, choice of 5 colour schemes for Exclusive nappa leather upholstery (black, satin beige/espresso brown, nut brown/black, porcelain/black and crystal grey/seashell grey), newly contoured seat cushions and backrests, AMG badges on all four seat backrests, embossed AMG emblems on the front and rear centre console, AMG emblems on the trim of the seat backs, 2-spoke AMG sports steering wheel, contoured steering wheel rim is covered with nappa leather with perforated leather in the grip area, insert with AMG lettering, aluminium shift paddles, analogue clock in an exclusive IWC design (three-dimensional, milled metal hands and genuine metal appliqués on the dial), chrome-plated door pins with AMG logo, AMG instrument cluster with two animated round dials on TFT colour display (AMG-specific lettering and the needles in red/silver, AMG logo in the speedometer with 360 km/h scale (left) and the “V12 BITURBO” lettering in the rev counter (right), animated AMG start-up display is shown on the right-hand display, AMG main menu with digital speedometer and a permanent gear display in the upper section), head-up display, 6.5 x 4.5 centimetres touchpad integrated into the handrest with a cover for the keypad. AMG Performance Studio options include AMG Exterior Carbon-Fibre package, AMG ceramic high-performance composite braking system, AMG performance steering wheel in Nappa leather/DINAMICA (black), AMG trim in carbon-fibre/black piano lacquer, red brake callipers. Other options include 360° camera, Business Telephony in the rear, designo appointments packages, executive seat, First-Class rear suite, Individual Entertainment System in the rear, folding tables in the rear, Warmth Comfort package. The vehicle was unveiled in the 2013 Los Angeles International Auto Show and the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show, followed by the 2013 Osaka Motor Show and went on sale in March 2014. On 24 February 2019, Mercedes-Benz announced the S 65 Final Edition with a limited run of 130 units and unveiled the final edition at the Geneva Auto Salon on 2 March 2019. This will end the era of the V12 engine in the Mercedes-AMG model; however, the M279 V12 engine could continue in Mercedes-Benz S 600 as well as Mercedes-Maybach S 650 (S 680 for the Chinese market) and possible GLS 680 for the foreseeable time. The Final Edition is finished in Obsidian Black metallic paint with bronze highlights in the front and rear bumpers and underneath the doors as well as bronze-coloured 20-inch alloy wheels. The special AMG emblems are affixed to the C-pillars. The interior is trimmed in black Exclusive Nappa leather, with special carbon ornamental elements, and bronze-stitching black foot mats. Production ended in November 2019.

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We spotted just one example of the current sportscar, the AMG GT and here it was in Roadster guise.

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London always seems to yield plenty of the G Wagen, and this trip was no exception with plenty of them, including the latest generation model, and mostly in top-dog AMG spec in evidence.

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Now quite collectible are early versions of the G Wagen. The G-class was developed as a military vehicle from a suggestion by the Shah of Iran (at the time a significant Mercedes shareholder) to Mercedes and offered as a civilian version in 1979. In this role it is sometimes referred to as the “Wolf”. The Peugeot P4 was a variant made under licence in France with a Peugeot engine. The first military in the world to use it was the Argentine Army (Ejército Argentino) beginning in 1981 with the military model 461. The development of the G-Class started in 1972 with a cooperative agreement between Daimler-Benz and Steyr-Daimler-Puch in Graz, Austria. Mercedes-Benz engineers in Stuttgart were in charge of design and testing, while the team in Graz developed the production plans. The first wooden model was presented to Daimler-Benz management in 1973, with the first drivable prototype beginning various testing including German coalfields, the Sahara Desert, and the Arctic Circle in 1974. Construction commenced on a new production facility in Graz, where the new cross-country vehicle would be assembled nearly entirely by hand in 1975, with production of the “G Model” beginning in Graz in 1979. In 1980, the Vatican took delivery of a specially made G-Wagen outfitted with a clear thermoplastic top which served as the Popemobile. The “Papa G” later took up permanent residence at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, Germany. W460 was introduced at a press event held at the off-road proving ground in Toulon, France. W460 went on sale in September 1979 with three engine choices and five body variants. Over the decade, the engine and transmission choices were expanded or updated along with more and more optional extra cost creature comforts (air conditioning, automatic transmission, power windows, etc.). G-Wagen gained the global fame in 1980 when Mercedes-Benz built a Popemobile based on 230 G cabriolet during the first visit of Pope John Paul II in Germany. Mercedes-Benz never exported G-Wagen officially to the United States because it was considered more of utilitarian vehicle and didn’t fit the American perception of what Mercedes-Benz was. During the 1980s, the grey import specialists brought W460 to the United States and modified them to meet the US regulations. In 1988, the new federal law, Motor Vehicle Safety Compliance Act, closed the loopholes and tightened up the regulations for grey imports, making it more difficult and more expensive for the registered importers to federalise W460 in a very small number. The other issue was severely underpowered engines in 230 GE, 280 GE, and 300 GD might not appeal to the Americans as it was the case with Mercedes-Benz 380 SEL in the early 1980s. 200 GE was built specifically for Italian markets and other markets where the heavy tax penalty was incurred for engines larger than 2 litres. 300 GD was the most popular model while 280 GE the most powerful. Despite the availability of turbocharged diesel engine in other Mercedes-Benz vehicles, it was never fitted to G-Wagen W460. The rarest W460 variants were 230 GE 2.6 Brabus (1989–?), 280 GE AMG (specific years not given), and 560 GE (1993). Brabus increased the engine displacement of 2.3-litre four-cylinder inline engine to 2.6 litres, increasing the power to 153 bhp. AMG modified the 2.8-litre six-cylinder inline petrol engine for more power, 180 bhp. No further production information about price and number of units built were established. Only two units of 560 GE were built in 1993 as part of feasibility study that resulted in a limited series of W463 500 GE for 1993–1994 and W463 G 500 from 1998 on. The first major refinements were introduced in 1981, including an automatic transmission, air conditioning, an auxiliary fuel tank, protective headlamp grilles and a cable winch. Fuel injection became available in 1982, when the 230 GE was introduced in Turin, along with more comfortable and supportive front seats, auxiliary heating, wider tires and fender flares. For 1985, differential locks, central door locking and a tachometer became standard and by 1986 over 50,000 G Models had been produced. The G-Wagen was facelifted in 1990. In 1989, for the 10th anniversary of the G Model, a new model variant with permanent 4-wheel drive, a wood-trimmed interior and optional Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) debuted at the Frankfurt International Motor Show. Production began the following April. For 1992, a new sub-series for professional users began production. The civilian model began to offer cruise control, a stainless-steel spare-tire cover, running boards and Burl Walnut wood interior trim. The same year, the 100,000th G Model was built in Graz. In 1994, the model line was officially renamed the G-Class. Ventilated front disc brakes and a driver’s air bag became standard. In 1996 the automatic transmission became an electronically controlled 5-speed unit. Headlamp washers, cruise control and a front passenger’s air bag were added. In 1998, the range-topping G 500 with a 296 hp V 8 was introduced for series production. For 1999 a limited run of V 8 powered “G 500 Classic” special editions marked the model’s 20th anniversary. A multifunction steering wheel was added to all models. Later in the year, the new G 55 AMG debuts as the most powerful G-Class yet, with 354 hp. The U.S. market launch of the G-Class took place in 2001. New alloy wheels, a chrome grille and body-colour bumpers plus a more luxurious cabin were introduced. New dynamic control systems included the Electronic Stability Program (ESP), Brake Assist and the 4 wheel Electronic Traction System (4 ETS). The G 55 AMG was upgraded in 2004 with a supercharged V 8 engine developing 476 hp. In Siberia in 2006, a documentary filmmaker was the first foreigner to reach the world’s coldest region with a passenger vehicle in winter, driving a stock G 500 nearly 19,000 km without a single breakdown, in temperatures as frigid as −63˚F/-53 °C. A new version was expected for 2007, but the new GL-Class did not replace the G-Wagen, and it will continue to be hand-built in Graz, Austria at an annual production of 4,000 to 6,000 units. In February 2009, Magna Steyr, an operating unit of Magna International, announced that it signed an agreement with Daimler AG to extend the production of the Mercedes-Benz G-Class at Magna Steyr in Graz, Austria until 2015. Besides the production, the further development of the G-Class by Daimler’s subsidiary Mercedes-Benz Consult Graz since 1992. There were further changes, taking the G Wagen ever further up-market until production finally ceased in 2017 when a brand new version was unveiled.

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NISSAN

Looking somewhat oversized for our roads was this current model Patrol, also known as the Armada in the US. Designed for the Middle Eastern markets where it sells in large numbers, this is closely related to the equally massive Infiniti QX80, and it almost makes a Range Rover look small!

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PORSCHE

Starting to become evident on our roads, at least in neighbourhoods like these is the Taycan, Porsche’s highly rated all-electric saloon and we came across a number of them during our couple of hours walking the streets.

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We also found this 911. Based on an early 70s 911 shell, the car has enough differences to suggest that it is not one of the prized 911 RS Carrera 2.7 models of 1973, but rather it takes its detailed cues from some of the racing versions of the model of the period. Still very special, whatever its detailed provenance.

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This is the new Porsche 911 Targa 4S Heritage Design, the first of four classic-led special editions and marks broader expansion plans for Porsche’s bespoke arm, Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur. The four special editions will be revealed over the course of the 992-generation 911’s lifetime, appearing on different 911 variants and celebrating different decades in the 911’s history. They are intended to blend the technology of modern-day 911s with design elements from the past. The idea was first launched last year on the limited-edition 911 Speedster Heritage Design. Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur director Boris Apenbrink said: “The Speedster Heritage Design concept was a prequel which tested out how the design features work on Porsche fans and customers.” As the first Heritage Design production model, the Targa 4S was chosen because it is “the most emotional derivative in the 911 range”, said Apenbrink. “Everyone recognises a Targa at first glance, so we decided this was the best basis for the first Heritage Design model.” Limited to 992 units – reflecting the eighth-generation 911’s internal designation – the Heritage Design model costs £136,643 – £26,918 more than a standard Targa 4S. Order books open today, with first deliveries in the autumn. Technical specifications, including a 0-62mph time of 3.6sec, remain unchanged. The model harks back to details of the 1950s and 1960s, led by exclusive Cherry Red paint, which was inspired by the early shades of the 356. The Porsche logo returns the word ‘Porsche’ to its old font, while the brake calipers are black. “In the ’50s, we didn’t have red or yellow ones,” says Apenbrink. There is historical white livery, including lollipop stickers on the doors on which customers can specify numbers, and gold trim parts as they once were. Porsche has also reintroduced a badge on the rear lid, inspired by those given to 356 owners who reached 100,000km in their cars. “We took that design and made it a bit more modern but easily recognisable for fans,” said Apenbrink. Inside, the Heritage Design’s stand-out details are red leather and corduroy seats, both of which were used in the 356, as well as the white indicators and sport chronograph known from classic Porsches. Talking about the rollout of more models from the bespoke division, Apenbrink said: “It will be up to two years before you can expect the next car. We don’t want to overdo it. Porsche Exclusive stands for passion and craftsmanship. We want enthusiasts to say: ‘They’ve nailed it, that car has everything that is truly iconic for the ’50s’. “This first one reflects the ’50s and ’60s, while upcoming ones will cover the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s. We started on the Targa, and the other three limited editions will be based on other 911 variants.” Talking about potential buyers for the cars, Apenbrink said: “These special editions are not in competition with electrification or connectivity features but an addition. We have a lot of customers who are fascinated by classic design features and want to see them in modern cars. We are known for our rich heritage. But it might also inspire people who have not considered Porsche before to think: ‘This is a cool style that brings back something from the past’.” North America is expected to account for a third of sales, Europe half of sales and the rest spread worldwide. Apenbrink explained: “There’s not much interest from the Chinese market, because people are more focused on modern times than knowing the past of Porsches. It’s for those countries where we have many fans that know Porsche heritage.” He also acknowledged the business sense of the bespoke arm. “Our investment in the future with electrification is very expensive, so it makes sense that everything Porsche does needs to be profitable, such as projects like these. From a business standpoint, these are very attractive, so it’s a clear win-win: it attracts customers and helps keep the business alive.” Alongside the special editions, an unlimited Heritage Design pack, which adds some of the design features of the fully fledged versions, will be available across the 911 range. “The strategy will always consist of limited-edition models and packages available for other 911 model types. That means we can strengthen exclusivity of the [Exclusive] brand but still get exposure to it on the roads,” said Apenbrink. The division will also look beyond heritage-inspired models in future. “We can grow far beyond the heritage area. It makes sense to start on the 911, but we are looking into our other model lines,” added Apenbrink. He also hinted that a future limited edition might be offered as manual only. “We are great supporters of manual transmissions, because we think it is where you have the most involvement as a driver. Times are changing, because many people are not used to operating manual transmissions any more. From the heart, the [manual] is still something that no one wants to miss, especially in a Porsche. Maybe there will be another Heritage Design car that will only be offered as a manual transmission. That decision is not made yet, but we would be big fans.”

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ROLLS ROYCE

The most impressive car to be found outside the Dorchester, always a place where you are likely to see something special, was this Silver Cloud Series 3. The Silver Cloud was first introduced in 1955 and was, with its later iterations the Cloud II and III, to prove the core of Rolls-Royce production until the arrival of the monocoque Silver Shadow in 1966. Construction of all Cloud models was body-on-frame, which allowed a number of creative coach-builders to work their magic, but over the course of its eleven years of production the vast majority were built with the standard Pressed Steel shell. The Silver Cloud II was notable for introducing a new engine, the essence of which is still used by Bentley today. The Silver Cloud III was the final version and deliveries to customers commenced in mid 1963. External dimensions were slightly altered with a one and a half inch reduction in grille height and by necessity, a slightly more sloping bonnet, but the most distinctive difference was the grouping of the headlights in a four headlamp unit which was sufficiently attractive to be carried over to the new Shadow. The car’s weight was reduced by over 100kg, and performance was improved by fitting 2″ SU carburettors and increasing the compression ratio to 9:1. One of the respected coach-builders who created something different on the Cloud III chassis was H.J.Mulliner (later Mulliner Park Ward), who offered a supremely elegant two door Drophead Coupe. These cars are now very sought after and are few and far between.

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There was a full complement of recent Rolls Royce models to be seen here, ranging from the rather boxy Cullinan to the latest and previous generation Phantom, the open-topped Dawn and fastback Wraith. We did see the Ghost as well, but the camera failed to record this fact.

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TOYOTA

The Toyota Alphard (Japanese: トヨタ・アルファード, Toyota Arufādo) is a minivan produced by the Japanese automaker Toyota since 2002. It is available as a seven- or eight-seater with petrol and hybrid engine options. Hybrid variants have been available since 2003, and it incorporates Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive technology. The vehicle was named after Alphard, the brightest star in the constellation Hydra. The Alphard is primarily made for the Japanese market, but is also sold in Bangladesh, Belarus, Russia, the Middle East, Greater China, and Southeast Asia. Similar to the Camry, it is often classified as a luxury car in Southeast Asian markets. A number of them have arrived in the UK on the “grey import” market. This is a first generation model, which ran from 2002 to 2008.

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This was an enjoyable third car-related activity with which to conclude what we both thought had been an absolutely Top Day. You really have no idea what you are going to see and where, unless, of course you are plugged into the various Spotter social networks, who are lightning fast at sharing where something particularly unusual has been seen. There are probably greater numbers of cars to be seen at weekends, but as this report evidences, if you are in the area during the week, there is still plenty to be seen of the ilk that you would be unlikely to come across in other parts of the country.

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