If you want to visit Caffeine & Machine, that popular location that combines a love of cars with a place to get a coffee or something to eat in a location just outside Stratford on Avon, then you need to plan ahead. Huge demand from enthusiasts has meant that the venue instituted a ticketing system that applies at all times of day over the weekend and also on Wednesday and Friday evenings. Tickets generally sell out, so you can’t make a last minute decision. I was well aware of this when planning exactly what I was going to do over the late May Bank Holiday weekend. The anchor event was on the Sunday, at Sywell, and I then decided to go and explore the newly opened Great British Car Journey museum in Derbyshire the day before, which meant that an evening and overnight in the Coventry area would make sense as well as allowing me to charge around the squash court against one of my regular opponents, and if I was going to be in the area, then Caffeine & Machine for what they call their “Sundowner” would be the obvious choice both for evening entertainment and as a place to get something to eat. Accordingly I booked a ticket, and was delighted when the day came to learn that there was forecast to be almost unbroken sunshine, which coupled with the long hours of daylight at this time of the year meant that a very pleasant evening beckoned. Part of the joy of Caffeine & Machine is that you never know quite what cars will turn up, and whilst there are some models that are almost always somewhere on site, there are always some rarities as well. This visit was no exception as this report will evidence.
Somewhat unusually, there were no other Abarths on site during the time I was on site, so my much loved 595 Competizione was the only example of the Scorpion brand for people to see.
Designed, developed and built by Quattro GmbH, Audi’s high performance private subsidiary, the Audi R8 is often heralded as the world’s best everyday supercar. Built on an aluminium monocoque chassis, the R8 has been described by 6-time le Mans winner Jacky Ickx as the “best handling road car today”, high praise indeed, and he is far from the only person to be impressed. Even the UK motoring journalists, not renowned for the positive words that they pen on Audis (in complete contrast to their German peers) almost ran out of superlatives for this car. This is one of the V8 models, which means that it has 430 bhp, a 0-60 time of 4.0 seconds and a top speed of 168 mph
The styling of the Audi TT began in the spring of 1994 at the Volkswagen Group Design Center in California. The TT was first shown as a concept car at the 1995 Frankfurt Motor Show. The design is credited to J Mays and Freeman Thomas, with Hartmut Warkuss, Peter Schreyer, Martin Smith and Romulus Rost contributing to the interior design. A previously unused laser beam welding adaptation, which enabled seamless design features on the first-generation TT, delayed its introduction. Audi did not initially offer any type of automatic transmission option for the TT. However, from 2003, a dual clutch six-speed Direct-Shift Gearbox (DSG) became available, with the United Kingdom TT variants becoming the world’s first user of a dual clutch transmission configured for a right-hand drive vehicle, although the outright world first for a road car equipped with a dual clutch transmission was claimed earlier by a Volkswagen Group platform-mate, the left hand drive Volkswagen Golf Mk4 R32. The Audi TT takes its name from the successful motor racing tradition of NSU in the British Isle of Man TT (Tourist Trophy) motorcycle race. NSU marque began competing at the Isle of Man TT in 1907 with the UK manager Martin Geiger finishing in fifth position in the single-cylinder race. The 1938 Isle of Man Lightweight TT race was won by Ewald Kluge with a 250 cc supercharged DKW motor-cycle and the DKW and NSU companies later merged into the company now known as Audi. The TT name has also been attributed to the phrase “Technology & Tradition”. The production model (internal designation Type 8N) was launched as a coupé in September 1998, followed by a roadster in August 1999. It is based on the Volkswagen Group A4 (PQ34) platform as used for the Volkswagen Golf Mk4, the original Audi A3, the Škoda Octavia, and others. The styling differed little from the concept, except for slightly reprofiled bumpers, and the addition of rear quarterlight windows behind the doors. Factory production commenced in October 1998. Early TT models received press coverage following a series of high-speed accidents and the related fatalities which occurred at speeds in excess of 112 mph (180 km/h) during abrupt lane changes or sharp turns. Both the coupé and roadster variants were recalled in late 1999/early 2000, to improve predictability of the car’s handling at very high speeds. Audi’s Electronic Stability Programme (ESP) or Anti Slip Regulation (ASR) and rear spoiler were added, along with modifications to the suspension system. All changes were incorporated into subsequent production. Mechanically, the TT shares an identical powertrain layout with its related Volkswagen Group-mates. The TT uses a transversely mounted internal combustion engine, with either front-wheel drive or ‘quattro four-wheel drive’ available as an option. It was first available with a 1.8-litre inline four-cylinder 20-valve turbocharged engine in two states of DIN-rated power outputs; 180 PS (178 bhp) and 225 PS (222 bhp). The engines share the same fundamental design, but the 225 PS version features a larger K04 turbocharger (180 PS version came with a smaller K03), an additional intercooler on the left side (complementing the existing right-side intercooler), larger 20mm wrist-pins, a dual tailpipe exhaust, intake manifold with inlet on driver’s side, and a few other internals – designed to accommodate the increase in turbo boost, from roughly 10 pounds per square inch (0.7 bar) peak, to 15 pounds per square inch (1.0 bar). Haldex Traction enabled four-wheel drive, ‘branded’ as “Quattro” was optional on the 180 engine, and standard on the more powerful 225 version. The original four-cylinder engine range was complemented with a 3,189 cc VR6 engine rated at 250 PS (247 bhp) and 320 Nm (236 lb/ft) of torque in early 2003, which came as standard with the quattro four-wheel-drive system. In July 2003, a new six-speed dual clutch transmission – dubbed the Direct-Shift Gearbox (DSG), which improves acceleration through much-reduced shift times, was offered, along with a stiffer suspension.
The second generation TT was launched in 2006.
Also here was the current, third generation TT seen in top spec RS guise.
There were rather fewer BMWs here than is usually the case, with only a couple attracting my camera. Earlier of the designs was this M140i, a car which offered a lot of performance for not a huge amount of money. Available in either the three or five door body, the M140i replaced the M135i at the time of the facelift (LCI) models in 2015. The new car upgraded the engine to the BMW B58 and included various cosmetic changes. It ran through to the autumn of 2019 at which point the entire range was replaced by the new front wheel 1 Series.
BMW introduced the new 128ti earlier this year, with the name aimed at rekindling memories of the much loved 2002 ti and 2002 tii of the early 70s. A four cylinder car, this one has rather less power than the current top of the range M135i, and its sporting aspirations are made clear with the red highlights that you may or may not like.
Now getting rare is the Citroen C2, seen here in sporting VTS guise. The Citroën C2 is a supermini that was produced by the French manufacturer Citroën, with production starting August 2003. It replaced the Citroën Saxo and was built at the Aulnay plant, on the outskirts of Paris. A different design of the C2, based on that of the Peugeot 206, is sold in China. Along with the Citroën C3, the C2 successfully replaced the popular, but ageing Citroën Saxo. The two cars have relatively different designs, allowing Citroën to grab different submarkets of the supermini class. The C2 was designed by Donato Coco. The C3 was originally designed as a larger “family-friendly vehicle”, with its five doors, whereas the C2 was to project a “young driver” image with two doors and flatter styling. Unlike the Saxo, with 2 of 5 stars from Euro NCAP, the C2 achieved 4 out of 5 stars. Unlike its sister models, the Citroën C1 and C3, the C2 was seen as a victim of poor advertising.According to many in the motoring press, it was the most neglected model in the Citroën lineup in terms of promotion. In comparison, the C1 and the C3, on which the C2 is based, were both well presented in the media. Despite that, the Citroën C2 was awarded the “Best European Hatchback of 2003” in September 2003. The LX model was the “no-frills” version of the C2 and came with basic equipment, including black plastic bumpers and no fog lamps. The L model, produced from 2003 to 2005, came with black lower bumper and door handles, CD player, rear-seat modulation, and no fog lamps. The Design included body coloured bumpers and electric windows. The SX was the luxury spec. It featured ‘bumper colour coded paint’ and air conditioning, the latter of which increases the 1.1 SX’s 0–100 km/h time by 4.5 seconds to 17.2 seconds. The Furio, VTR and VTS are the sports models which made the C2’s predecessor, the Saxo, famous as an affordable, sporty looking and very fast ‘pocket rocket’. The Furio has the same sports body kit as the more expensive VTR and VTS models but lacks their alloy wheels. Earlier models of the Furio had 15″ Coyote alloys, but these were later replaced with wheel trims from the end of 2003 onwards. The VTR also has a 110 bhp engine, whereas the VTS, the premium sports model, has a 125 bhp engine capable of accelerating from 0 to 60 mph in 8.0 seconds, seen as sluggish by modern hot hatch standards where the fastest contemporary hot hatch achieved 5.3 seconds (Clio V6), although this is designed to be more insurance friendly. Other additions that helped the VTS model achieve a low insurance rating (in the United Kingdom) were security-based including deadlocks and a Thatcham Category 1 alarm system which includes perimeter and volumetric detection as well as an engine immobiliser. The limited-edition model GT, introduced in September 2004, offered a sporty body kit, with bright red, blue, silver and black paintwork and unique white alloy wheels. All GTs have a numbered certificate to show their authenticity. Only 2,250 were made, exclusive to the United Kingdom. In 2006, there were a number of small revisions to the C2. Externally the car looks identical save minor changes to alloy wheels (on the VTR), half colour coded door mirrors, clear side indicator lenses, and white indicator rear lenses. Internal changes saw a new stereo with vehicle computer integration and some cosmetic changes to the driver displays and centre console. The Citroën C2 was discontinued in October 2009, and replaced by the Citroën DS3 in January 2010, with production having totalled 700,600 units.
An all new design, the 458 Italia was first officially unveiled at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show. Once more, Ferrari advised that the model incorporated technologies developed from the company’s experience in Formula 1. The body computer system was developed by Magneti Marelli Automotive Lighting. The 458 came with a 4,499 cc V8 engine of the “Ferrari/Maserati” F136 engine family, producing 570 PS ( 562 hp) at 9,000 rpm and 540 N·m (398 lb/ft) at 6,000 rpm with 80% torque available at 3,250 rpm. The engine featured direct fuel injection, a first for Ferrari mid-engine setups in its road cars. The only transmission available was a dual-clutch 7-speed Getrag gearbox, in a different state of tune shared with the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG. There was no traditional manual option, making this the fourth road-car after the Enzo, Challenge Stradale and 430 Scuderia not to be offered with Ferrari’s classic gated manual. The car’s suspension featured double wishbones at the front and a multi-link setup at the rear, coupled with E-Diff and F1-Trac traction control systems, designed to improve the car’s cornering and longitudinal acceleration by 32% when compared with its predecessors. The brakes included a prefill function whereby the pistons in the calipers move the pads into contact with the discs on lift off to minimise delay in the brakes being applied. This combined with the ABS and standard Carbon Ceramic brakes caused a reduction in stopping distance from 100–0 km/h to 32.5 metres. Ferrari’s official 0–100 km/h (62 mph) acceleration time was quoted as 2.9–3.0 seconds with a top speed of 340 km/h (210 mph). In keeping with Ferrari tradition the body was designed by Pininfarina under the leadership of Donato Coco, the Ferrari design director. The interior design of Ferrari 458 Italia was designed by Bertrand Rapatel, a French automobile designer. The car’s exterior styling and features were designed for aerodynamic efficiency, producing a downforce of 140 kg (309 lb) at 200 km/h. In particular, the front grille features deformable winglets that lower at high speeds, in order to offer reduced drag. The car’s interior was designed using input from former Ferrari Formula 1 driver Michael Schumacher; in a layout common to racing cars, the new steering wheel incorporates many controls normally located on the dashboard or on stalks, such as turning signals or high beams. At launch the car was widely praised as being pretty much near perfect in every regard. It did lack a fresh air version, though, but that was addressed with the launch of the 458 Spider at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show. This convertible variant of the 458 Italia featured an aluminium retractable hardtop which, according to Ferrari, weighs 25 kilograms (55 lb) less than a soft roof such as the one found on the Ferrari F430 Spider, and can be opened in 14 seconds The engine cover was redesigned to accommodate the retractable roof system. It had the same 0–100 km/h time as the hard-top but a lower top speed of 199 mph. It quickly became the better seller of the two versions.
The 100 HP edition is the sportiest Panda model. It has the 1.4-litre 16-valve FIRE petrol from the Fiat Punto tuned to develop 100 PS through a six-speed manual transmission. It differs from other Pandas by being equipped with 4-wheel disc brakes, tinted windows, and sports styled front and rear bumpers. The Panda 100 HP features a unique suspension setup with modified springs, dampers, bushes and compliance giving a considerably firmer ride. The Panda 100 hp offers 0–100 km/h acceleration in 9.5 seconds and a maximum speed of 185 km/h (115 mph), with fuel consumption at 6.5 L/100 km (43.5 mpg) in the EU combined cycle and 154 g/km of CO2 emissions. It was available in black, white, red, metallic blue, and metallic gray while a “Pandamonium Pack” which added red disc brakes, decals and colour-coded wing mirrors was an optional extra. The Panda 100 hp was introduced in 2006, but due to tightening emissions regulations, Fiat halted its production in July 2010.
The fourth version of the Ford Escort was launched in March 1986, with only a small number of changes. Although popularly regarded as a fourth generation model (and is popularly known as the “Mark IV”), internally within Ford it was regarded as a Mark III facelift and consequently carried the codename ‘Erika-86’. It was instantly recognisable as an updated version of the previous model, taking styling cues from the recently introduced Scorpio/Granada III – with a smooth style nose and the “straked” rear lamp clusters smoothed over. Internally the car had a revised interior, with new door cards, a completely new dashboard, switchgear and instrumentation, although the check-light system for low fuel, low oil, low coolant, low screenwash, and worn out brake pads was dropped. Optional new features included a mechanical anti‐lock braking system (standard on RS Turbo models), a fuel computer on fuel-injected models, and a heated windscreen. The main mechanical changes were the introduction of a ‘lean-burn’ 1.4 L CVH engine (replacing the previous 1.3 CVH). A 1.3 L version of the Valencia overhead valve engine was introduced for the Popular and L specification models, in addition to the existing 1.1L version. A new subframe for mounting the powertrain was introduced to combat earlier criticisms of drivetrain refinement of the original car, as well as more tweaking to the suspension settings to address the long standing issues with the Escort’s damping and handling characteristics. Initially Chubb AVA lock barrels were fitted to the facelifted 1986 models but these were soon changed over to the Tibbe type as with the Ford Orion. These changes were welcome at a time when the Escort was faced with a host of new competitors; General Motors had brought out a new version of the Opel Kadett/Vauxhall Astra 18 months earlier, shortly after Volkswagen had introduced the Mk II Golf and British Leyland had launched the Austin Maestro, while the British-built Peugeot 309 had gone on sale just weeks before the updated Escort. All-new competitors from Fiat and Renault were just two years away. In 1987, an LX trim designation was introduced, situated between the L and GL models. The 1989 model year cars saw major changes to the engine line up, with the diesel engine being enlarged to 1.8 L. The entry level 1.1 L and 1.3 L models were updated with the redesigned HCS version of the Kent/Valencia family developed for the Mk III Fiesta. On the 1.6 L CVH injection engines, a Ford developed electronic fuel injection system replaced the Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection system in the XR3i and Orion Ghia injection. Other changes for the ’89 were the slightly altered front grille aperture (which was now common to both the Escort and Orion) whilst the Escort badge at the rear changed to look more modern as well as some minor trim revisions and equipment upgrades on all models – “L” models now had tinted glass and a sunroof as standard. Ford gave the Escort‐based Orion saloon a similar makeover. Carried over from the previous range was the 3-speed automatic which was ultimately replaced late in the production run with a variant of the CTX stepless gearbox as first used in the Fiesta a couple of years earlier. The 1990 model year saw equipment levels across the range improved substantially, with all but the base Popular models being fitted with a sunroof as standard, and the GL gaining electric windows and mirrors. Spring 1990 saw the final revisions – the Popular now gained a radio cassette and a 5-speed gearbox, whilst catalytic converters and central point fuel injection were now available on the 1.4 and 1.6 CVH engines. Once a common sight on our roads, these cars are quite rare now, so it was good to this well presented 5 door Estate model.
The Mark 3 Escort here was a sporting car as well, which is not unusual, as most of the “cooking” versions have simply disappeared. A sporting model was announced with the 1.1, 1.,3 and 1,6 litre cars in October 1980. This was the XR3, and it came initially with a carb fed 1.6 litre engine generating 105 bhp and had a four speed gearbox. For 1983, it was upgraded to 115bhp thanks to the use of fuel injection and a five speed transmission had been standardised. Both variants proved very popular, getting a significant percentage of Escort sales and also as a slightly more affordable alternative to a Golf GTi. For those for whom the performance was not quite enough, Ford had an answer, withe the RS Turbo. This 132 PS car was shown in October 1984, as a top of the range car, offering more power than the big-selling XR3i and the limited production RS1600i. Going on sale in the spring of 1985, it proved to be somewhat of a disappointment, with the chassis coming in for severe criticism. The RS Turbo Series 1 was only marketed in a few European nations as production was limited to 5,000 examples, all in white. They were well equipped, with the alloy wheels from the limited production RS 1600i, Recaro seats, and a limited slip differential. One car only was finished in black; it was built especially for Lady Diana. Ford facelifted the entire Escort range in January 1986, and a few months later, a revised Series 2 RS Turbo emerged, which adopted the styling changes of the less potent models, and the new dashboard, as well as undergoing a mechanical revision and the addition of more equipment including anti-lock brakes. The Series 2 cars were available in a wider range of colours. Seen here was a second generation RS Turbo.
The Sierra RS Cosworth model. a very sporting version of Ford’s upper-medium sized family car, was built by Ford Europe from 1986 to 1992, the result of a Ford Motorsport project with the purpose of producing an outright winner for Group A racing in Europe. The project was defined in the spring of 1983 by Stuart Turner, then recently appointed head of Ford Motorsport in Europe, who had realised right away that Ford was no longer competitive in this area. Turner got in touch with Walter Hayes, at the time the vice-president of public relations at Ford, to get support for the project. Hayes had earlier been the driving force behind the development of the Ford GT40 that won Le Mans in 1966, and the Cosworth DFV engine that brought Ford 154 victories and 12 world championships in Formula One during the 1960s and 1970s. Hayes found the project very appealing and promised his full support. Turner then invited Ken Kohrs, vice-president of development, to visit Ford’s longtime partner, the automotive company Cosworth, where they were presented a project developed on Cosworth’s own initiative, the YAA engine. This was a twin cam, 16-valve engine based on Ford’s own T88 engine block, better known as the Pinto. This prototype proved an almost ideal basis for the engine Turner needed to power his Group A winner. Therefore, an official request for a turbocharged version (designated Cosworth YBB) capable of 180 HP on the street and 300 HP in race trim, was placed. Cosworth answered positively, but they put up two conditions: the engine would produce not less than 204 HP in the street version, and Ford had to accept no fewer than 15,000 engines. Turner’s project would only need about 5,000 engines, but Ford nevertheless accepted the conditions. The extra 10,000 engines would later become one of the reasons Ford also chose to develop a four door, second generation Sierra RS Cosworth. To find a suitable gearbox proved more challenging. The Borg-Warner T5, also used in the Ford Mustang, was chosen, but the higher revving nature of the Sierra caused some problems. Eventually Borg-Warner had to set up a dedicated production line for the gearboxes to be used in the Sierra RS Cosworth. Many of the suspension differences between the standard Sierra and the Cosworth attributed their development to what was learned from racing the turbocharged Jack Roush IMSA Merkur XR4Ti in America and Andy Rouse’s successful campaign of the 1985 British Saloon Car Championship. Much of Ford’s external documentation for customer race preparation indicated “developed for the XR4Ti” when describing parts that were Sierra Cosworth specific. Roush’s suspension and aerodynamics engineering for the IMSA cars was excellent feedback for Ford. Some production parts from the XR4Ti made their way into the Cosworth such as the speedometer with integral boost gauge and the motorsport 909 chassis stiffening plates. In April 1983, Turner’s team decided on the recently launched Sierra as a basis for their project. The Sierra filled the requirements for rear wheel drive and decent aerodynamic drag. A racing version could also help to improve the unfortunate, and somewhat undeserved, reputation that Sierra had earned since the introduction in 1982. Lothar Pinske, responsible for the car’s bodywork, demanded carte blanche when it came to appearance in order to make the car stable at high speed. Experience had shown that the Sierra hatchback body generated significant aerodynamic lift even at relatively moderate speed. After extensive wind tunnel testing and test runs at the Nardò circuit in Italy, a prototype was presented to the project management. This was based on an XR4i body with provisional body modifications in fibreglass and aluminium. The car’s appearance raised little enthusiasm. The large rear wing caused particular reluctance. Pinske insisted however that the modifications were necessary to make the project successful. The rear wing was essential to retain ground contact at 300 km/h, the opening between the headlights was needed to feed air to the intercooler a
nd the wheel arch extensions had to be there to house wheels 10” wide on the racing version. Eventually, the Ford designers agreed to try to make a production version based on the prototype. In 1984, Walter Hayes paid visits to many European Ford dealers in order to survey the sales potential for the Sierra RS Cosworth. A requirement for participation in Group A was that 5,000 cars were built and sold. The feedback was not encouraging. The dealers estimated they could sell approximately 1,500 cars. Hayes did not give up, however, and continued his passionate internal marketing of the project. As prototypes started to emerge, dealers were invited to test drive sessions, and this increased the enthusiasm for the new car. In addition, Ford took some radical measures to reduce the price on the car. As an example, the car was only offered in three exterior colours (black, white and moonstone blue) and one interior colour (grey). There were also just two equipment options: with or without central locking and electric window lifts. The Sierra RS Cosworth was first presented to the public at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1985, with plans to release it for sale in September and closing production of the 5,000 cars in the summer of 1986. In practice, it was launched in July 1986. 5545 were manufactured in total of which 500 were sent to Tickford for conversion to the Sierra three-door RS500 Cosworth. The vehicles were manufactured in right hand drive only, and were made in Ford’s Genk factory in Belgium. Exactly 500 RS500s were produced, all of them RHD for sale in the UK only – the biggest market for this kind of Ford car. It was originally intended that all 500 would be black, but in practice 56 white and 52 moonstone blue cars were produced.To broaden the sales appeal, the second generation model was based on the 4 door Sierra Sapphire body. It was launched in 1988, and was assembled in Genk, Belgium, with the UK-built Ford-Cosworth YBB engine. Cylinder heads on this car were early spec 2wd heads and also the “later” 2wd head which had some improvements which made their way to the 4X4 head. Suspension was essentially the same with some minor changes in geometry to suit a less aggressive driving style and favour ride over handling. Spindles, wheel offset and other changes were responsible for this effect. Approximately 13,140 examples were produced during 1988-1989 and were the most numerous and lightest of all Sierra Cosworth models. Specifically the LHD models which saved weight with a lesser trim level such as manual rear windows and no air conditioning. In the UK, the RHD 1988-1989 Sierra Sapphire RS Cosworth is badged as such with a small “Sapphire” badge on the rear door window trims. All 1988-1989 LHD models are badged and registered as a Sierra RS Cosworth with no Sapphire nomenclature at all. “Sapphire” being viewed as a Ghia trim level that saw power rear windows, air conditioning and other minor options. Enthusiasts of the marque are mindful of this and will describe the LHD cars by their body shell configuration, 3 door or 4 door. As the Sapphire Cosworth was based on a different shell to the original three-door Cosworth, along with its more discreet rear wing, recorded a drag co-efficient of 0.33, it registered slightly better performance figures, with a top speed of 150 mph and 0-60 of 6.1 seconds, compared to the original Cosworth. In January 1990, the third generation Sierra RS Cosworth was launched, this time with four wheel drive. As early as 1987, Mike Moreton and Ford Motorsport had been talking about a four wheel drive Sierra RS Cosworth that could make Ford competitive in the World Rally Championship. The Ferguson MT75 gearbox that was considered an essential part of the project wasn’t available until late 1989 however. Ford Motorsport’s desire for a 3-door “Motorsport Special” equivalent to the original Sierra RS Cosworth was not embraced. The more discreet 4-door version was considered to have a better market potential. It was therefore decided that the new car should be a natural development of the second generation, to be launched in conjunction with the face lift scheduled for the entire Sierra line in 1990. The waiting time gave Ford Motorsport a good opportunity to conduct extensive testing and demand improvements. One example was the return of the bonnet louvres. According to Ford’s own publicity material, 80% of the engine parts were also modified. The improved engine was designated YBJ for cars without a catalyst and YBG for cars with a catalyst. The latter had the red valve cover replaced by a green one, to emphasise the environmental friendliness. Four wheel drive and an increasing amount of equipment had raised the weight by 100 kg, and the power was therefore increased to just about compensate for this. The Sierra RS Cosworth 4×4 received, if possible, an even more flattering response than its predecessors and production continued until the end of 1992, when the Sierra was replaced by the Mondeo. The replacement for the Sierra RS Cosworth was not a Mondeo however, but the Escort RS Cosworth. This was to some extent a Sierra RS Cosworth clad in an “Escort-like” body. The car went on sale in May 1992, more than a year after the first pre-production examples were shown to the public, and was homologated for Group A rally in December, just as the Sierra RS Cosworth was retired. It continued in production until 1996. The Sierra and Sapphire Cosworths were undoubted performance bargains when new, but they also gained a reputation both for suffering a lot of accidents in the hands of the unskilled and also for being among the most frequently stole cars of their generation. These days, though, there are some lovely and treasured examples around and indeed you are far more likely to see a Cosworth version of the Sierra than one of the volume selling models, as was the case here.
In 2005 Ford unveiled a hot hatch version of the Mk 2 Focus. Called Focus ST, and available in either three or five-door hatchback variant, the car uses the Volvo Modular engine, a turbocharged 2.5 L 5-cylinder engine producing 225 bhp. Ford however rebadged it as the Ford Duratec ST, applied variable valve timing to both camshafts, applied a lighter flywheel and performed a throttle recalibration. The Ford Focus Mk 2 ST is also known as the XR5 Turbo in the Australian and New Zealand market, but is sold as a five-door hatchback only. In 2008 Ford, in conjunction with Mountune Racing, unveiled a power upgrade kit which raises the power output to 260 bhp the kit consists of: a K&N panel filter, larger intercooler and a re-map. Although the platform is the same, no saloon version was ever released. Sales ceased when the third generation Focus was released in 2011. There were three of them here all in Signal Orange, a mix of the pre- and post-facelift guises.
Ford played much the same guessing game about whether there would be an RS version of the third generation car as they had done with the earlier versions. Production of the regular cars started in late 2010, but it was not until the 2015 Geneva Motor Show before the production ready MKIII Ford Focus RS was unveiled. It came packing the turbocharged 2.3-litre inline-four engine found in the Mustang EcoBoost. In the Focus RS, the engine itself produces 350 hp. Power is sent to all four wheels via Ford’s all-new Torque-Vectoring All-Wheel-Drive system with a rear drive unit designed by GKN, as well as upgraded suspension and brakes. As well as that, the new Focus RS will be fitted with Drive Modes – including an industry-first Drift Mode that allows controlled oversteer drifts – and Launch Control. The RS will boast a model specific aerodynamic package that helps to differentiate it from other Focus models. The RS is capable of accelerating to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 4.7 seconds. Sales finally started in mid 2016, with long waiting lists having been created, though Ford did eventually catch up with expanded production levels allowing them to meet the demand.
There were a number of examples of the smaller Fiesta ST here, too, with a couple of the latest models attracting my camera.
The “X300” model was the first XJ produced entirely under Ford ownership, and can be considered an evolution of the outgoing XJ40 generation. Like all previous XJ generations, it featured the Jaguar independent rear suspension arrangement. The design of the X300 placed emphasis on improved build quality, improved reliability, and a return to traditional Jaguar styling elements. At the car’s launch in October 1994 at the Paris Motor Show, Jaguar marketing material made use of the phrase “New Series XJ” to describe the X300 models. The X300 series represented the result of a £200 million facilities renewal program by Ford. which included the introduction of state-of-the-art automated body welding robots manufactured by Nissan. Aesthetically, the X300 received several updates in the design refresh led by Geoff Lawson in 1991. The mostly flat bonnet of the XJ40 was replaced with a fluted, curvaceous design that accentuated the four separate round headlamps. Rear wings were reshaped to accommodate the new wrap-around rear light clusters. Also, the separate black-rubber bumper bar of the XJ40 were replaced with a fully integrated body-coloured bumper. The interior of the X300 was similar to that found in the XJ40, with some revisions. The seats were updated to have a more rounded profile, wood trim was updated with bevelled edges, and the steering wheel was redesigned. Jaguar’s V12 engine and AJ6 inline-six (AJ16) engine were both available in various X300 models, although they received significant updates. Both engines were fitted with distributorless electronic engine management systems. The Jaguar X308 first appeared in 1997 and was produced until 2003. It was an evolution of the outgoing X300 platform, and the exterior styling is nearly identical between the two generations, though there are quite a few detailed differences if you know what to look for. The major change was the under the bonnet. Having discontinued production of both the AJ16 inline-six and V12 engines, Jaguar offered only its newly designed V8 engine (named the AJ-V8.) It was available in either 3.2 or 4.0 litre forms, although certain markets, such as the United States, only received cars powered by the 4.0 litre version. The 4.0 litre version was also supercharged in certain models. Equipment levels were notably more generous than had previously been the case.
Considered to be part of the Beta family, though there is an awful lot about the car that is very different from the front wheel drive models was the MonteCarlo, one example of which was displayed. First conceived in 1969, with a a final design completed by 1971 by Paolo Martin at Pininfarina, what was initially known as the Fiat X1/8 Project, was originally designed as Pininfarina’s contender to replace Fiat’s 124 Coupe, but it lost out to Bertone’s cheaper design, which became the Fiat X1/9. Rather than scrap the proposal completely, it was developed further, when Fiat commissioned Pininfarina to build a 3.0 litre V6 mid-engined sports car. An X1/8 chassis was used as the start point, and developed for the first time in-house by Pininfarina and not based on any existing production car. Due to the 1973 Oil Crisis, the project was renamed X1/20 and updated to house a 2.0 litre engine. The first car to be made out of the X1/20 Project was the Abarth SE 030 in 1974. The project was passed to Lancia, and the road car was launched at the 1975 Geneva Motor Show as the Lancia Beta MonteCcarlo. It was the first car to be made completely in-house by Pininfarina. Lancia launched the MonteCarlo as a premium alternative to the X1/9, with the 2 litre twin cam engine rather than the X1/9’s single cam 1300. Both used a similar, based on the Fiat 128, MacPherson strut front suspension and disc brakes at both front and rear. Lancia Beta parts were limited to those from the existing Fiat/Lancia standard parts bin, the transverse mount version of the Fiat 124’s twin cam engine and the five speed gearbox and transaxle. MonteCarlos were available as fixed head “Coupés” and also as “Spiders” with solid A and B pillars, but a large flat folding canvas roof between them. Sales were slow to get started, and it soon became apparent that there were a number of problems with a reputation for premature locking of the front brakes causing particular alarm. Lancia suspended production in 1979 whilst seeking a solution, which meant that the car was not produced for nearly two years. The second generation model, known simply as MonteCarlo now, was first seen in late 1980. The braking issue was addressed by removing the servo, as well as few other careful mechanical tweaks. The revised cars also had glass panels in the rear buttresses, improving rear visibility somewhat, and there was a revised grille. In the cabin there was a new three spoke Momo steering wheel in place of the old two spoke one, as well as revamped trim and fabrics. The engine was revised, with a higher compression ratio, Marelli electronic ignition and new carburettors which produced more torque. It was not enough for sales to take off, and the model ceased production in 1982, although it took quite a while after that to shift all the stock. Just under 2000 of the Phase 2 cars were made, with 7798 MonteCarlos made in total.
Twenty-five years after the introduction of the original Range Rover, the second-generation was introduced for the 1995 model year, based on the 8 inches (20 centimetres) longer chassis of the old LWB model, and with an updated version of the Rover V8 engine. There was also the option of a 2.5-litre BMW six-cylinder turbo-diesel with a Bosch injection pump. This was the first diesel injection with electronic controls in a Land Rover, before common rails were introduced. This was a result of BMW’s subsequent ownership of Rover Group and hence the Land Rover brand. The new model offered more equipment and premium trims, positioning the vehicle more strongly above the Land Rover Discovery than the old original, to meet the increased competition in the SUV marketplace. This model was the last to feature the Rover V8 and interior leather supplied by Connolly who went out of business in 2002. It was the first model to feature Satellite Navigation as an option. The car never found the same level of enthusiasm as the model it replaced.
At the Frankfurt 2011 Show, the 2012 version of the Exige S was announced. It features a supercharged 3.5 litre V6 engine (from the Evora S) rated at 345 hp. In 2013, a roadster version was introduced with only minor changes to the design for the removable top. The engine and performance were virtually unchanged from the coupe. To accommodate the V6 engine, the new model is approximately 25 cm (9.8 inches) longer and 5 cm (2.0 in) wider (exterior bodywise) than the model with the inline-four engine, being 4,052 mm (159.5 inches) long, 1,802 mm (70.9 in) wide (not counting the mirrors) and 1,153 mm (45.4 in) tall. The drag coefficient is 0.433. Since that time there have been a bewildering array of different versions and you need to be a real marque expert to tell them all apart. The policy has worked, though, as sales have remained steady whilst Lotus try to amass the finances to develop any all new models. The Exige V6 Cup is a track oriented version of the Exige S while the Exige CupR is the track-only version of Exige V6 Cup. The Exige V6 Cup is offered for sale in the United States as a track only car. If purchased, US Lotus Dealers will only provide a bill of sale instead of a title. The vehicles were unveiled at the 2013 Autosport International motor show. Limited to 50 examples, the Lotus Exige 360 Cup was revealed on 14 August 2015. The car is powered by a 3.5-liter supercharged Toyota V6 delivering 355 hp. The Lotus Exige Sport 380 is a track focused and more powerful version of the Lotus Exige lineup. It was unveiled on 23 November 2016. Lotus’ CEO, Jean-Marc Gales describes it as, “The Exige Sport 380 is so good, that it is no longer the best in class, it’s now in a class of its own”, and it fulfills this statement by taking on some of the powerful and expensive super cars both on the track and the streets. The 3.5-litre, super-charged V6 engine is now uprated and produces 375 hp and 410 Nm (302 lb/ft) of torque with a 6500 rpm red line achieved by revised supercharger and ECU. It can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds and has a top speed of 178 mph (286 km/h). The interior is also stripped out and features necessary driver aids. The Exige Sport 380 weighs 1,076 kg (2,372 lb), thanks to the extensive use of carbon fibre on the exterior as well as the interior, the application of polycarbonate windows instead of traditional glass windows and a newly designed rear transom panel which features two rear lights instead of four.The Lotus Exige Cup 380 is a more hardcore variant of the Exige Sport 380. Performance of the car remains the same as the Sport 380 but it features more aero components and a larger rear wing to produce more downforce at high speeds. The Exige Cup 380 generates 200 kg (441 lb) of downforce at its maximum speed of 175 mph (282 km/h); the top speed is reduced due to excess downforce and more drag. It features a more stripped out interior in order to save weight and other light weight carbon fiber components, Lotus states a lowest possible dry weight of only 1,057 kg (2,330 lb). On 9 November 2017, Lotus unveiled the most powerful version of the Exige to date called the Exige Cup 430, producing 430 PS (424 hp) and using the Evora GT430’s powertrain, modified to fit in the smaller Exige. The car body can produce 220 kg (485 lb) of downforce. The Cup 430 is 19 kg (42 lb) lighter than the Sport 380 due to the use of carbon fibre in body panels and interior and a titanium exhaust. The gearbox allows quicker gearshifts than the previous model. The Cup 430 is not offered with an automatic gearbox. The Lotus Exige Cup 430 is capable of covering the Hethel circuit in 1 minute 24.8 seconds – the fastest production car to lap the circuit – 1.2 seconds faster than the road going Lotus 3-Eleven.
Issigonis’ friend John Cooper, owner of the Cooper Car Company and designer and builder of Formula One cars, saw the potential of the Mini for competition. Issigonis was initially reluctant to see the Mini in the role of a performance car, but after John Cooper appealed to BMC management, the two men collaborated to create the Mini Cooper. The Austin Mini Cooper and Morris Mini Cooper debuted in September 1961. The 848 cc engine from the Morris Mini-Minor was given a longer stroke to increase capacity to 997 cc increasing power from 34 to 55 bhp. The car featured a race-tuned engine, twin SU carburettors, a closer-ratio gearbox and front disc brakes, uncommon at the time in a small car. One thousand units of this version were commissioned by management, intended for and designed to meet the homologation rules of Group 2 rally racing. The 997 cc engine was replaced by a shorter stroke 998 cc unit in 1964. In 1962, Rhodesian John Love became the first non-British racing driver to win the British Saloon Car Championship driving a Mini Cooper. A more powerful Mini Cooper, dubbed the “S”, was developed in tandem and released in 1963. Featuring a 1071 cc engine with a 70.61 mm bore and nitrided steel crankshaft and strengthened bottom end to allow further tuning; and larger servo-assisted disc brakes, 4,030 Cooper S cars were produced and sold until the model was updated in August 1964. Cooper also produced two S models specifically for circuit racing in the under 1,000 cc and under 1,300 cc classes respectively, rated at 970 cc and a 1,275 cc both had a 70.61 mm bore and both were also offered to the public. The smaller-engine model was not well received, and only 963 had been built when the model was discontinued in 1965. The 1,275 cc Cooper S models continued in production until 1971. Sales of the Mini Cooper were: 64,000 Mark I Coopers with 997 cc or 998 cc engines; 19,000 Mark I Cooper S with 970 cc, 1,071 cc or 1,275 cc engines; 16,000 Mark II Coopers with 998 cc engines; 6,300 Mark II Cooper S with 1,275 cc engines. There were no Mark III Coopers and 1,570 Mark III Cooper S.
The first Lancer Evo appeared in October 1992, but it was only really with the launch of the Evo IV that enthusiasts started to take proper note and the car’s legendary cult-following took off. The Lancer platform was completely changed in 1996, and along with it, the Evolution, which had become extremely popular throughout the world. The engine and transaxle were rotated 180° to better balance the weight and eliminate torque steer. There were two versions available, The RS and GSR. The RS version was produced as a competition car with a limited-slip front differential and a friction type LSD at the rear. It also came with GLX seats and a choice of either 16″ or 17″ OZ light weight racing wheels. The RS also had wind up windows, optional air conditioning in some models, and a few extra brace bars to strengthen the chassis, one behind the front grill and the other across the boot floor. The GSR and the RS shared a new twin scroll turbocharger which helped to improve response and increase power to 280 PS at 6,500 rpm and 243 lb·ft torque at 4,000 rpm. Mitsubishi’s new Active Yaw Control appeared as a factory option on the GSR model, which used steering, throttle input sensors and g sensors to computer-hydraulically control torque split individually to the rear wheels and as a result the 10000 Evolution IVs produced all sold quickly. The Evolution IV can be distinguished by its two large fog lights in the front bumper (option on RS version), and the newly designed tail lights on the rear, which became a standard design to Evolution V, which would become yet another trademark of the Evolution series. This new generation was slightly heavier than previous Evos—the GSR in particular due to the added technology systems—but to counter this the car produced even more power—the weight of the RS being 1,260 kg (2,778 lb) and the GSR being 1,345 kg (2,965 lb). Much of the technical improvements for this generation were also used in the second generation Mitsubishi RVR sold only in Japan. The car was soon updated to Evo V spec, with the latest car being shown in January 1998, and was then sold for just a year. Many aspects of the car were changed such as: the interior was upgraded in the GSR version with a better class of Recaro seat; te body kit had flared arches at the front and rear and a new aluminium rear spoiler replaced the IV FRP version and gave an adjustable angle of attack to alter rear down force; the track was widened by 10 mm (0.4 in), the wheel offset changed from ET45 to ET38 along with the wheel diameter which rose from 16″ to 17″ to accommodate Brembo brakes which were added to enhance braking. In addition the brake master cylinder bore increased by 0.3 millimetres (0.01 in). The engine was strengthened in a few areas and the cam duration was increased. The pistons were lighter with a smaller skirt area. 510 cc injectors were replaced with 560 cc injectors for better engine reliability due to more electrical “headroom” and the ECU was changed to include a flash ROM, allowing more boost pressure to the same TD05-HR as the Mitsubishi Evolution IV. Furthermore, the turbocharger was again improved. Torque was increased to 275 lb·ft at 3000 rpm. Power officially stayed the same, at 280 PS, though some claim horsepower was actually somewhat higher. These were true enthusiasts cars, but they were costly to run, and many have now been scrapped, so it was good to see this Evo V here.
The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII appeared in 2003 this time sporting 17″ grey Enkei wheels, Brembo brakes and Bilstein shocks to handle traction and a 5-speed manual gearbox with 280 PS. Originally a one off model, sales were so successful in the U.S. that by 2005 it was available in four trims: the standard GSR model in Japan, the RS, 5-speed gearbox, and standard wheels (lacking excess components, such as interior map lights, power windows/doors, and radio), the SSL (with a sunroof, trunk mounted subwoofer, and leather seats) All of which had chrome head and taillight housings, and the MR, which came with a revised front limited-slip differential, aluminium MR shift knob, handbrake with carbon fibre handle, 17 inch BBS wheels, aluminum roof, and a 6-speed manual gearbox. The new Evolution Mr also sported Black housing taillights and headlights. The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII MR used slick-response Bilstein shocks for improved handling. The aluminium roof panel and other reductions in body weight have lowered the centre of gravity to produce more natural roll characteristics. Detail improvements have also been made to Mitsubishi’s own electronic four-wheel drive, to the ACD 5 + Super AYC 6 traction control, and to the Sports ABS systems. The Lancer Evolution VIII displayed at the 2003 Tokyo Motor Show took the MR designation traditionally reserved for Mitsubishi Motors high-performance models (first used for the Galant GTO). Other parts on the MR include BBS alloy wheels, the aforementioned Bilstein shocks, and an aluminium roof. In the United Kingdom, many special Evolutions were introduced, including the 260, FQ300, FQ320, FQ340, and FQ400 variants. They came with 260, 305, 325, 345, and 405 hp. The FQ-400, sold through Ralliart UK, produced 411 PS at 6,400 rpm and maximum torque of 481 Nm (355 lb/ft) at 5,500 rpm, from its 1,997 cc 4G63 inline-four engine, the result of special modifications by United Kingdom tuning firms Rampage Tuning, Owen Developments, and Flow Race Engines. At 202.8 hp per litre, it has one of the highest specific outputs per litre of any road car engine. With a curb weight of 1,450 kg (3,197 lb), it achieves 0–60 mph in 3.5 seconds, 0–100 mph (161 km/h) in 9.1 seconds, 1⁄4 mile (402 m) in 12.1 seconds at 117 mph (188 km/h), and a top speed of 175 mph (282 km/h) while costing £48,000. BBC’s television series Top Gear demonstrated that the stock FQ-400 could keep up with a Lamborghini Murciélago around a test track. The Stig recorded a Top Gear Power Lap Time of 1 minute and 24.8 seconds (damp track), 1.1 seconds slower than the Murciélago’s time of 1 minute 23.7 seconds (dry track). In a similar test conducted by Evo magazine, the Evolution was able to lap the Bedford Autodrome faster than an Audi RS4 and a Porsche 911 Carrera 4S. The Lancer Evolution VIII was also the first Evolution to be sold in the United States of America, spurred by the success of the Subaru Impreza WRX which had been released there just the year prior. The Evolution VIII found its true competition in the Subaru Impreza WRX STI model the same year as the Evolution VIII’s US introduction. With its 2.0 litre, 271 hp engine, the 2003 Evolution VIII was capable of achieving a 0–100 km/h (62 mph) time of 5.1 seconds. However, the internal components for the American versions were largely stripped-down versions of the specifications for the Japanese Lancer Evolution VIII. No US-spec Evolution model prior to the Evo X has active yaw control, including the 2006 Evolution IX. The American 2003 and 2004 GSRs are without the helical limited-slip front differential and 6-speed manual transmission. The 2004 US spec RS models, however, do have a front helical limited-slip differential. All 2003, 2004 and 2005 RS and GSR models have the Japanese Evolution VII’s 5-speed transmission. The MR edition was introduced to the US in 2005, with ACD and the only model with a 6-speed transmission. The 2005 US spec RS and GSR have the ACD standard, and the front helical limited-slip differential is now standard on all models. The boos
t, timing, and tuning are also significantly lower than its Japanese counterpart, allowing it to adhere to the strict emissions regulations of the United States. Starting in 2005, the US model Evos were also fitted with a 5500 rpm limit on launching in 1st gear to protect the drivetrain. Most Evolution VIIIs have a carbon fibre rear spoiler with matching body-colour endplates. Furthermore, the US versions of the Lancer Evolution VIII 2003–2005 were given bulkier rear bumpers than their Japanese counterparts to accommodate US safety laws in the form of the metal rear crash bar. All Evos have lightweight aluminum front fenders and hoods. The basic RS Edition does not come with power windows, locks, or mirrors, an audio system, rear wing, sound deadening material, map lamps or an anti-lock braking system. All Evo VIII RS models sold in the US have an air conditioning system. The 2005 MR/RS editions came with an aluminium roof. Additionally, Evolution VIII MR Editions come equipped with a 6-speed transmission, Bilstein shocks, optional graphite grey color (unique to the Evolution VIII MR), optional BBS wheels and an optional vortex generator. The MR Edition also received engine updates and reliability changes, the engine updates include larger turbo diameter mouth, updated cam profiles, lighter balance shafts and changed from single wastegate solenoid to dual solenoid. Exterior changes included HID headlights, updated tail lights, and MR rear badging. Interior updates included black suede Recaro seats with higher side bolsters, carbon look dash trim, and MR badging on center console. Mechanical changes saw S-AWC rear diff changes, a larger oil cooler core, ion coated piston rings, reinforced cylinder head and 5 layer head gasket compared to the 3 layer. The car seen here is an Evo VIII MR FQ 340.
Mitsubishi introduced the Lancer Evolution IX in Japan on March 3, 2005, and exhibited the car at the Geneva Motor Show for the European market the same day. The North American markets saw the model exhibited at the New York International Auto Show the following month. The 2.0 litre 4G63 Inline-four engine has MIVEC technology (variable valve timing), and a revised turbocharger design boosting official power output at the crankshaft to 291 PS ( 287 hp) and torque to 392 Nm (289 lb/ft). There were a number of different models offered, with increasing amounts of power. These were named and packaged different in different markets. In the United Kingdom, the Evolution IX used a model scheme based on the car’s horsepower. There were initially three models available: the FQ-300, FQ-320 and FQ-340 each with around 300, 320 and 340 PS (296, 316 and 335 bhp), respectively. An FQ-360 model was subsequently released as a successor to the Evolution VIII FQ-400. While the new FQ-360 produced 371 PS (366 bhp) at 6,887 rpm (less horsepower than its predecessor), although it had more torque at 492 Nm (363 lb/ft) at 3,200 rpm. All four models were designed to run on super unleaded petrol only. The MR FQ-360 was also released in limited numbers (only 200) in the last year of production. The FQ-300, 320, 340 came with a 6-speed, Bilstein monotube shocks, AYC (Active Yaw Control), and ran on super unleaded petrol only. The FQ-360 had a 6-speed, Bilstein monotube shocks, AYC (Active Yaw Control), Ralliart Sports Meter Kit, carbon front splitter, Speedline alloy wheels, super unleaded petrol only. The MR FQ-360 had a new turbo with titanium aluminium alloy turbo fins, Speedline Turini alloy wheels, Privacy Glass, lowered Eibach coil springs (10 mm (0.39 in) at the front/ 5 mm (0.20 in) at the rear), IX MR interior, super unleaded petrol only. The cars were not cheap to buy, but it was the running costs that were the real challenge, with very high servicing costs, and intervals as low as every 3000 miles. Enthusiasts soon found that they simply could not afford to run the cars when they were new.
I did not see this Morgan arrive but if I had, I am sure I would have been puzzled by the lack of noise, All would become clear when the driver lifted the bonnet and revealed not a petrol engine as you would expect to see, but an array of batteries. An increasing number of such conversions of classic cars are being developed. Some will approve and others will decry them. Only time will tell as to whether they really a good idea or not.
The very first generation of the 240SX can be divided into two distinct versions, both having the sporting advantage of rear wheel drive standard. Each of these variants came in two distinct body styles: hatchback, which was offered in both base and SE trim, LE trim, and coupe, which was offered in base, XE, LE and SE. Both styles shared the same front bodywork as the Japanese-market Nissan 180SX, featuring the sloping front with pop-up headlights. This bodywork distinguishes the coupe model from its Japanese-market counterpart, the Silvia, which featured fixed headlights. Both styles in all markets share the same chassis, and with few exceptions, most components and features are identical. The 240SX is a popular car in the sport of drifting due to its long wheelbase, low cost, ample power, light weight, well balanced chassis and abundant after-market support. 1989 and 1990 models are powered by a naturally aspirated 140 bhp, 152 lb/ft (206 Nm) 2,389 cc SOHC KA24E engine with 3 valves per cylinder (instead of the turbo-charged and intercooled 1.8-litre DOHC CA18DET offered in Japan and Europe in the 180SX and Silvia). Four-wheel disc brakes were standard, with antilock brakes available as an option on the SE. Both models were offered with either a 4-speed automatic or 5-speed manual transmission. “Coupes” offered a Heads-up display (HUD) with a digital speedometer as part of the optional Power Convenience Group. The 240SX received some updates in 1991. The matte silver, teardrop wheels were replaced by polished aluminium 7-spoke wheels that had better brake cooling properties but more drag. The nose was smoothed out by getting rid of the non-functional slots and gave back the aerodynamic efficiencies lost by the wheels. This gave the car an overhaul that included a minor update of the exterior and a new cylinder head. A new “LE” hatchback trim package was added that included leather interior. The SOHC KA24E was replaced by the DOHC KA24DE, now with 4 valves per cylinder, rated at 155 bhp at 5,600 rpm and 160 lb/ft (217 Nm) at 4,400 rpm of torque. An optional sports package including ABS, a limited slip differential, and Nissan’s HICAS four wheel steering was now available on hatchback models. The S13 was known for sharp steering and handling (thanks to front MacPherson struts and a rear multilink suspension) and relatively light weight (2700 lb) but was regarded in the automotive press as being underpowered. The engine, while durable and relatively torquey, was a heavy iron-block truck unit that produced meagre power for its relatively large size. It was only modestly improved by the change to the DOHC version in 1991. Furthermore, despite the modest power output, relatively low vehicle weight, and good aerodynamics, gas mileage was mediocre. These engines are the primary difference between the North American 240SX and the world-market Silvia/180SX/200SX. The KA24DE did not come turbocharged while the SR20DET did. The U.S. version was regarded as a highly capable sports car that only needed a better engine. Other differences include a standard limited slip differential on overseas and Canadian models, available digital climate control in Japan, and manual seat belts standard in Japan and Canada vs. automatic restraint seatbelts in America. In 1992, a convertible was added to the lineup and was exclusive to the North American market. These vehicles began life in Japan as coupes and were later modified in the California facilities of American Specialty Cars (ASC). For the 1994 model year, the only available 240SX was a Special Edition convertible equipped with an automatic transmission. The US 240SX convertible differed from the Japanese market version, in that the Japanese market model had a power top cover boot, whereas the US market model had manually installed boot cover once the top is down. It was also produced in Japan, rather than by ASC. A replacement model was launched in the autumn of 1994.
Subaru introduced the “New Age” Impreza, the second generation car, to Japan in August 2000, and it arrived in Europe towards the end of that year. Larger in size compared to the previous iteration, the sedan increased its width by 40 millimetres (1.6 in), while the wagon notably increased by just 5 millimetres (0.2 in)—placing the two variants in different Japanese classification categories. The coupe body style from the first generation did not reappear for the new series, and the off-road appearance package that included contrasting-coloured bumpers did carry over forward. Marketed as a separate model line, this North America-only variant was, as before, badged the Outback Sport. Naturally aspirated flat-four (boxer) engines comprised the 1.5-litre EJ15, the 1.6-litre EJ16, the 2.0-litre EJ20, and the 2.5-litre EJ25. Turbocharged versions of the 2.0- and 2.5-litre engines were offered in the WRX and WRX STI models. STI models featured a more powerful 2.0-litre (2.5-litre outside of the Japanese market) turbocharged engine. WRX models featured a 2.0-litre turbocharged boxer engine until 2005, after which they switched to the 2.5-litre turbocharged engine. As with the first generation, the turbocharged STI variants were available in numerous specifications with a myriad of limited edition variants sold. The bug-eyed styling was not well received, and Subaru had two further attempts at the front end, neither of which was entirely successful, either, but enthusiasts were happy to overlook the gawky looks because the way the car drove. Subaru issued yearly updates to the STI, tweaking cosmetics and equipment levels, and also improving performance and handling. The car was replaced in 2007 by the third generation Impreza, widely regarded as inferior in many ways to this version.
No real surprise to see a Yaris GR here. This is definitely the enthusiast’s “car of the moment” and with nearly six months of deliveries having been completed, the car is an increasingly common sight at events like this.
The Chimaera was the slightly softer version of the Griffith, that was sold from 1993 to 2003. Offered with a choice of 4.0, 4,3 and later 4.5 and 5 litre Rover V8-based engines, this was still an exciting car, and a good looking one as well.
Intended to compete directly with the Fiesta ST, Opel/Vauxhall had another go at a hot version of their supermini, with the result, badged Corsa OPC in Opel guise and Corsa VXR as a Vauxhall, launching it in February 2015. Compared to the previous generation model, power output had increased by 15PS to 207PS (204 bhp) from 1.6 Turbo engine, with a maximum torque of 245 Nm (181 lb-ft) between 1900 and 5800 rpm. An overboost function increased torque to 280Nm (210 lb-ft) when needed. As a result, the Corsa OPC was able to sprint from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 6.8 seconds and to reach a maximum speed of 230 km/h (143 mph). The Corsa OPC featured a sports chassis with Frequency Selective Damping (FSD) technology, which enabled the damping forces to adapt to the frequency of the car to balance sportiness with comfort. The suspension was lowered by 10mm (0.39 in) compared to standard Corsa models, and the car also received an optimised steering system with more direct and precise reactions. OPC also worked on the brakes, adding 308mm discs on the front axle. Opel also offered the Corsa OPC Performance Package, which included a mechanical multi-disc differential lock made by Drexler, 18-inch wheels with Michelin tires, and an even more athletic chassis set up. The package also brought a Brembo high-performance braking system with 330mm braking discs on the front axle. Styling-wise, the Corsa OPC/VXR received more aggressive body kits with new bumpers, aluminium frames for the fog lights, a small scoop in the hood, a big roof spoiler, and twin-pipe Remus exhaust with a diffuser. Inside, the Recaro performance seats took centre stage, with other upgrades including the flat-bottomed leather steering wheel, OPC gear knob, and sports pedals, as well as OPC design instruments. Sales were disappointing and the car was quietly withdrawn after a couple of years, long before the rest of the fifth generation Corsa found a replacement.
As ever, this visit was most enjoyable, even though on this occasion I was there by myself, as opposed to with friends. A venue where you can sit outside, enjoying a pizza and a beer, watching interesting cars come and go has huge appeal, and that is exactly what was delivered. As Caffeine & Machine found out a few weeks ago, the number of people who want to do this seemingly knows no bounds, so the need for tickets even for the evening slots at weekends remains for now. That can call for some advance planning, as they generally sell out some days in advance. Lots of people clearly have the same idea as me that this is an ideal way to enjoy the long hours of summer daylight.