Caffeine & Machine – 31 May 2021

Such is the way that my diary worked over the late May Bank Holiday weekend, that I found myself being able to make a second visit to Caffeine & Machine, this time on the Monday, following a day at Sywell, and an overnight stay back in the Coventry area. Unlike the first of those weekend bookings, which was for an evening slot, this was for the morning period, as it was an obvious stopping-off point en route back home. Slightly surprisingly, given the forecast for some glorious weather, and the fact that there were not many other events taking place on a day when a lot of people would be off work for the Public Holiday, tickets were not completely sold out, so I did wonder just how busy this usually packed-out venue would turn out to be. I need not have worried, as during the course of the morning, plenty of people, with their vehicles, came and went, so there was lots to see as I wandered around the site and when I paused and took a seat whilst I sat drank my morning coffee. There was perhaps less of the older and more unusual stuff that usually turns up, with more of a concentration of more recent performance and enthusiast vehicles, but still plenty of interest, as this report will evidence.

ABARTH

It is rare for there to be no Abarths on site here, but with the exception of my 595 Competizione, that was the case when I arrived and remained so during the entirety of my visit.

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ALFA ROMEO

The 156 GTA cars were launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September 2001. Named after the Alfa Romeo GTA from the 1960s, the letters GTA meaning Gran Turismo Alleggerita (English: lightened Grand Tourer). 2,973 berlinas and 1,678 Sportwagons were built until the GTA production stopped in October 2005 as the 156 gave way to the Alfa Romeo 159. The GTA came with the 3.2 litre Bussone V6 engine (The big Busso, so called after legendary Ferrari engineer Giuseppe Busso), the largest capacity version of the much loved V6 engine. With a 93 mm bore and a 78 mm stroke giving it a capacity of 3,179 cc, it generated 250 PS (247 hp) and 220 lb/ft of torque. After market Alfa Romeo specialist Autodelta produced performance versions up to 3.7 litres and 400 PS. The European Touring Car Championship winning 156 GTA was however running a 2.0 litre 4-cylinder 300 PS engine due to class regulations. The GTA variants were equipped with either a six-speed manual transmission or six-speed Selespeed (paddles in steering wheel, hydraulically operated robotised) gearbox, had a lowered and stiffened suspension, a distinctive body kit, wider rear arches and leather interior. The suspension was specifically made for the GTA by Fiat Research Centre and Fiat Auto Design and Development Department. Steering was also made faster, only 1.7 turns from lock to lock compared to 2.1 in normal models. The GTA had also larger brakes (Brembo), with 12″ front discs and 10.8″ at the rear. The front discs were later upgraded to 13 ” to cope with the performance potential. Even though the name suggests a light car, the GTA isn’t any lighter than other 156s, as it was actually 91 kilograms (201 lb) heavier than the 2.5 litre V6 engined version. The GTA did not get the Giugiaro designed facelift introduced to the 156 in 2002, but continued with the acclaimed Walter de Silva design to the very end of production.

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The current Giulietta arrived in 2010 as a much awaited replacement for the 147. Spy photos had suggested that the car was going to look very like Fiat’s ill-fated Bravo, but the reality was that it had a style all of its own. A range of very efficient petrol and diesel engines were among the most emissions-efficient in their class at the time, and a 250 bhp Quadrifoglio version at the top of the range made sure there was something for the man who wanted a rapid, but quite subtle hatch. The car has enjoyed reasonable success in the UK, and the car has certainly found favour among Alfa enthusiasts, so it was not a surprise to see one here.

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ARIEL

Popular primarily as a track day car, the Atom was first seen in public at the British International Motor Show at the NEC in Birmingham in October 1996, the result of a student project by Coventry University transport design student, Niki Smart. Known then as the LSC (Lightweight Sports Car), it was developed at the university in 1996 with input and funding from various automotive industry members, including British Steel and TWR. Ariel Motor Company boss Simon Saunders was a senior lecturer whose responsibility for the project was primarily as financial manager and design critic for Smart, whom he described as “The best all-round design student I’ve ever seen.” Since then, an operation was created in Crewkerne, Somerset, and around 100 cars a year are produced there. Each one is made by a single person, who undertakes everything from assembly to final road test before putting his name on the finished product. There have been 7 distinct models, with a wide variety of different engines ranging from a 2 litre Honda VTEC unit in naturally aspirate and supercharged guise, to the ultimate, the 500, with a 3 litre V8 that generates 500 bhp. Visually, the cars look similar at a quick glance, and it takes a real marque expert (which I am not!), to tell them apart.

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ASTON MARTIN

Following the unveiling of the AMV8 Vantage concept car in 2003 at the North American International Auto Show designed by Henrik Fisker, the production version, known as the V8 Vantage was introduced at the Geneva Motor Show in 2005. The two seat, two-door coupé had a bonded aluminium structure for strength and lightness. The 172.5 inch (4.38 m) long car featured a hatchback-style tailgate for practicality, with a large luggage shelf behind the seats. In addition to the coupé, a convertible, known as the V8 Vantage Roadster, was introduced later in that year. The V8 Vantage was initially powered by a 4.3 litre quad-cam 32-valve V8 which produced 380 bhp at 7,300 rpm and 409 Nm (302 lb/ft) at 5,000 rpm. However, models produced after 2008 had a 4.7-litre V8 with 420 bhp and 470 Nm (347 lbft) of torque. Though based loosely on Jaguar’s AJ-V8 engine architecture, this engine was unique to Aston Martin and featured race-style dry-sump lubrication, which enabled it to be mounted low in the chassis for an improved centre of gravity. The cylinder block and heads, crankshaft, connecting rods, pistons, camshafts, inlet and exhaust manifolds, lubrication system and engine management were all designed in house by Aston Martin and the engine was assembled by hand at the AM facility in Cologne, Germany, which also built the V12 engine for the DB9 and Vanquish. The engine was front mid-mounted with a rear-mounted transaxle, giving a 49/51 front/rear weight distribution. Slotted Brembo brakes were also standard. The original V8 Vantage could accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds before topping out at 175 mph. In 2008, Aston Martin introduced an aftermarket dealer approved upgrade package for power and handling of the 4.3-litre variants that maintained the warranty with the company. The power upgrade was called the V8 Vantage Power Upgrade, creating a more potent version of the Aston Martin 4.3-litre V8 engine with an increase in peak power of 20 bhp to 400 bhp while peak torque increased by 10 Nm to 420 Nm (310 lb/ft). This consists of the fitting of the following revised components; manifold assembly (painted Crackle Black), valved air box, right and left hand side vacuum hose assemblies, engine bay fuse box link lead (ECU to fuse box), throttle body to manifold gasket, intake manifold gasket, fuel injector to manifold seal and a manifold badge. The V8 Vantage had a retail price of GB£79,000, US$110,000, or €104,000 in 2006, Aston Martin planned to build up to 3,000 per year. Included was a 6-speed manual transmission and leather-upholstery for the seats, dash board, steering-wheel, and shift-knob. A new 6-speed sequential manual transmission, similar to those produced by Ferrari and Lamborghini, called Sportshift was introduced later as an option. An open-topped model was added to the range in 2006 and then in the quest for more power a V12 Vantage joined the range not long after.

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AUDI

The B4 generation of the Audi A4, the first generation of Audi’s mid-sized saloon to wear A4 as oppose to 80 badging, was adapted for use in Touring Car racing and enjoyed considerable success. This would appear to be a car which pays homage to that.

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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.[13] 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.

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There were plenty of RS-badged Audi models here, as is almost always the case, with the RS3 Sportback and previous generation RS6 Avant being the ones to attract my camera.

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Final Audi of note was this rather nice second generation R8 Spyder. the Type 4S. This is based on the Lamborghini Huracan and shares its platform and engine. The Type 4S was introduced at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show and its production began in late 2015. Development of the Type 4S began in 2013 and prototypes began testing in early-2014. The Type 4S is based on the Modular Sports System platform shared with the Lamborghini Huracan. The V10 engine used in the Huracàn was detuned for the base model while the power output of the engine remained the same as the Huracàn for the V10 plus model. Rumors for the V8 engine for the R8 were in circulation but those were proven wrong as the company stated that the V8 engine would be discontinued mainly because of emissions regulations. The Type 4S was introduced at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show. The all-electric version called the e-Tron which was in development phase in the production life span of the Type 42 was also introduced at the same occasion and was now based on the Type 4S. The new R8 has two production variants, the base 5.2 FSI model with a 540 PS ( 533 bhp) V10 engine and the more powerful V10 Plus with a 610 PS (449 kW; 602 hp) engine. The body is lighter and stiffer, due to the substitution of several large aluminium parts in the shell by carbon fibre. Extra electronics are incorporated in the chassis as compared to the first generation to improve handling. The ‘Virtual Cockpit’ first introduced in the TT was also made available. The all-wheel-drive system and the 7-speed S-Tronic transmission are standard with no manual transmission available. The Quattro all-wheel-drive system used on the R8 is slightly rear-biased with power delivery to the wheels variable. A water-cooled front differential and a passive limited-slip rear differential along with an electromechanical power steering contribute to the agile handling of the car. The variable magnetic-ride suspension is available as an option but is exclusive to the European markets. The design reflects Audi’s current design language implemented on all of its models. The distinctive “side-blades” present behind the doors on the Type 42 have now been split into two and are now present on the rear side windows and below the beltline. The side blades can be optioned in body colour. Audi’s trademark LED headlamps were standard on the car and the newly developed laser headlamps are available as an option in Europe only. The R8 is available with 19-inch wheels as standard with 20-inch wheels available as an option. Carbon-ceramic brakes are also optional equipment. In July 2020, Audi announced that it would be discontinuing the 5.2 FSI model in the United States. A special model called the limited edition having production limited to 25 Coupes and 5 Spyders was introduced. The limited-edition is available in three special colours namely Mugello Blue with Pastel silver interior, Avus Silver with black interior with silver stitching, and Sonoma Green with black interior and red stitching. All cars have diamond-stitched Alcantara headliners along with special 20-inch milled silver wheels. Presented at the 2016 New York International Auto Show, the R8 Spyder is the convertible variant of the new R8. Initially, it was only available with the standard V10 engine, which has a power output of 540 PS (533 bhp), although a V10 Plus Spyder with the engine having a power output of 610 PS (602 bhp) was added to the range in mid-2017. The redesigned soft top of the Spyder is operable at speeds up to 50 km/h (31 mph). Unveiled at the 2017 International Motor Show Germany, the R8 RWS (Rear Wheel Series) is the rear-wheel-drive variant of the Audi R8 limited to 999 units. It utilises the same 540 PS (533 bhp) V10 engine of the standard R8 coupe. Because of the deletion of the all-wheel-drive system, weight is reduced by 50 kg (110 lb). Visually, the R8 RWS is signified by a matte-black grille, matte-black front and rear airflow openings, and a gloss-black upper side blade. A red vinyl trim stripe that stretches from the front left to the right rear is optional. Sports seats are standard, as are black 19-inch wheels wrapped in 35-series tyres. The R8 received a mid-cycle facelift in October 2018. Engine power increased by 30 PS for the base model (to 570 PS) while the V10 Plus was renamed V10 Performance Quattro and the engine saw a power increase by 10 PS, now up to 620 PS. Other mechanical changes include the choice of Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres, larger carbon-ceramic brakes, and a new steering rack system for a more direct response. A carbon fibre roll bar is also optional which decreases the weight by 2 kg. Exterior changes included more angular and aggressive styling. The new front bumper of the car has a squared design and winglets on both sides to improve front downforce. The grille was enlarged and now stretched between the headlights. Above the grille, three small horizontal air intakes are present between the headlights for improved airflow harking back to the famous Audi Quattro. Side skirts finished in exposed carbon fibre now flank the sides of the car and at the rear, a single wide grille is now present beneath the taillights joined by an aggressive diffuser and two round dual exhaust tips in exposed and sculptured cut-outs. The interior was carried over from the outgoing model with new trim options available. Performance figures include a 0– 60 mph acceleration time of 3.5 seconds for the base model and 3.1 seconds for the V10 Performance quattro model. Top speed for the V10 Performance quattro is 330 km/h (205 mph). The facelift model went on sale in Europe in early 2019.

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AUSTIN

I had no idea what this was, but guessed it might be an Austin Seven Special. Some research with Google after the event revealed that the Austin bit is correct but with a quoted engine of 1120cc, it is not Seven based but the larger Ten. It was first registered in October 2020 but the donor parts would seem to go back to 1928.

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BENTLEY

I saw this imposing looking machine pull in whilst I was drinking a coffee and it was the first car to go and find once I had finished. I got the chance to talk to the owner. I had wondered if it was based on a more modern Bwntley chassis, but he told me that it is in fact a genuine 1930s Derby Bentley underneath. Had Rolls-Royce not purchased its financially troubled competitor Bentley in 1931, the world would have been denied the Continental, Turbo R, Mulsanne and countless other legendary models subsequently graced with the ‘Flying B’. Of particular loss for many, would have been the coachbuilt Derby Bentleys manufactured between 1933 and 1939. The chassis was derived from an experimental supercharged 2. 75-litre Rolls-Royce (codenamed Peregrine) that never saw the light of day, and power came from a redesigned and tuned version of the company’s 20/ 25 engine, initially of 3. 5-litres (3669cc). Fed by a pair of SU carburettors, it drove through a four-speed manual gearbox, the suspension was by semi-elliptic springs all-round, and retardation by servo-assisted drums. The newcomer was introduced to the public in the appropriate surroundings of Ascot during August 1933, and production of these 3. 5-litre cars continued into 1937; by which time 1, 191 examples had been produced. The last year’s allocation was manufactured alongside the incoming 4. 25-litre (4257cc) version that would ultimately supersede the 3. 5-litre cars. The Derby Bentley was, of course, an exclusively coachbuilt automobile with body styles being the preserve of the customer, and a number of illustrious firms including Park Ward, Barker, Vanden Plas, Thrupp & Maberly, Gurney Nutting, H. J. Mulliner, Hooper, James Young and Arthur Mulliner were keen to clothe these fine cars. In the event, nearly fifty per cent were finished as stylish saloons by Park Ward and these were frequently dubbed ‘The Silent Sports Car’, a slogan which was used by Rolls-Royce in their advertising for many years to come. However, the remainder were coachbuilt in any number of shapes and sizes, mostly with sporting aspirations almost certainly influenced by the ‘Bentley Boys’. Beloved of the press and contemporary newsreels, the Bentley Boys were a group of British motoring enthusiasts that included Woolf Barnato, Sir Henry “Tim” Birkin, steeplechaser George Duller, aviator Glen Kidston, automotive journalist S. C. H. “Sammy” Davis, and Dr Dudley Benjafield. Many were independently wealthy and often had a military background and their colourful lifestyles and motor racing exploits kept them in the news for many years during the late Twenties and early Thirties. The one thing they had in common was a passion for big, open-top Bentleys, keeping the marque’s reputation for high performance alive. This one-off, 1934, 3. 5-litre Derby Bentley “Bologna” was built with that era in mind and was created by Father and Son professional coach builders, Pitney Restorations. Started by Ian Pitney’s father in 1973 and followed by Ian in 2002, Pitney Restorations have been creating one-off aluminium panels for pre and post-war motor cars using time-honoured techniques, traditional tools and skilfull craftsmen for many years. The perfect curves and swooping lines seen on the world’s most expensive cars start life in workshops such as these. Forming, and lovingly shaping, ‘swoopy’ aluminium panels for all of the top pre-war European marques, Ian was confident in his own abilities, but had, for quite a while, been thinking about building something for himself, a very special one-off that, as well as scratching his creative itch, would serve as a ‘shop window’ for the team’s metal working and fabrication skills. It would have to be big and dramatic, superbly crafted, beautifully finished, and with sufficient ‘presence’ to impress the ‘Bentley Boys’ should they still have been around. A Derby Bentley chassis would be an ideal starting point and the body would have a long bonnet, two seats and a bit of a Brooklands racer feel. Ian was an enthusiast for the work of the dozens of small Carrozzeria in the Modena / Bologna area during the thirties so there would be lots of styling cues from there with a bit of Alfa Romeo, Delage and Figoni et Falaschi thrown in. How exciting. Fortunately, a 1934 3. 5-litre Bentley with a sound chassis and excellent mechanics but an uninspiring saloon body became available and was to become the starting point for the project. Once the body had been removed, the chassis prepared and sealed, and the engine ancillaries (carburettors etc) cleaned, it was time to commence the creative process. The two-seat cockpit was positioned further back enabling the superbly balanced long bonnet which is a huge feature of this car and reminiscent of the Blower Bentleys of the thirties. The tail has an Alfa Romeo Monza feel but is unique and not a replication of anything else as Ian was keen to demonstrate the creativity of his craftsmen. Naturally, all the panels are formed from aluminium sheet and are draped over the Bentley’s frame like a very expensive silk scarf. The chassis rails are also clad in hand-beaten aluminium, vented by louvres, there are full length under trays, and the road springs are fitted with the correct leather gaiters. The one-shot lubrication system has been retained. Everywhere you look there are handcrafted details and period features and the cockpit is an engineer’s dream with drilled and lightened aluminium uprights, passenger footrest, aero screens, brass bezelled instruments, fully adjustable red leather bucket seats, adjustable pedals, fitted stopwatches, period steering wheel, and an outside-mounted, fly-off handbrake. There are immaculately crafted aluminium trim pieces around the rear quarters, beautiful boot hinges, a bespoke Bentley step, and freshly re-chromed headlamps, bonnet cowling, and Le Mans style fuel filler. The exhaust system itself is a work of art from the tubular manifold through to the big chrome ‘drainpipe’ at the rear. The car sits on chromed wire wheels and wears modern tyres. During his ownership, our vendor has spent around £12, 000 on a tailored hood and weather equipment adding to the versatility of this remarkable car. Known as the ‘Bologna Special’ as a nod to the pre-war craftsmen from that region, this a wonderful post-vintage tourer. It is not a replica or a re-creation but simply one man’s homage to the speedy roadsters of the past that used to feature on the front of “Boy’s Own” annuals. At its core is a beautifully presented 3. 5-litre Derby Bentley, a valuable asset in itself, but now wearing a ‘designer frock’.

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BMW

Rarest of the many BMW models to be seen here was this E34-generation 5 Series. The BMW E34 is the third generation of the BMW 5 Series, which was produced from November 2, 1987 until 1996. Initially launched as a sedan in January 1988, the E34 also saw a “Touring” station wagon (estate) body style added in September 1992, a first for the 5 Series. BMW replaced the E34 with the E39 5 Series in December 1995, although E34 Touring models remained in production until June 1996. Development ran from July 1981 to early 1987, with the initial design proposal penned by Ercole Spada in 1982. Under the guidance of chief designer Claus Luthe, BMW based much of the design on the E32 7 Series. Following Spada’s departure from BMW and styling approval in 1983, J Mays finalized the design for production in mid-1985. Special attention was paid to aerodynamics, with the E34 basic sedan having a drag coefficient of 0.30. Series production began in November 1987.In December 1987, the E34 sedan was unveiled to the global press. The base model, available only in Europe, was the petrol-powered four-cylinder 518i. Only available with a 5-speed manual transmission, a total of 53,248 cars were produced. The next petrol model up was the six-cylinder 520i, which began production in January 1988. It was initially powered by the BMW M20 single overhead camshaft engine, which was replaced by the BMW M50 double overhead camshaft engine in 1990. The 520i was the second most popular E34 model globally, with 426,971 units produced. The 525i was the most popular E34 model globally with 434,549 units produced. As per the 520i, the 525i initially used the M20 engine, which was replaced by the M50 engine in 1990. A rare E34 model is the petrol-powered six-cylinder 525iX, of which only 9,366 cars were produced. The 525iX was the first all-wheel drive 5 Series, and the only all-wheel drive model in the E34 range. It was powered by the BMW M50 engine and was the first 5 Series to use a rack and pinion steering system. There are two versions of the E34 530i: an inline-six model produced from 1988 to 1990, and a V8 model produced from 1993 to 1995. The earlier model was one of the last applications of the BMW M30 inline-six engine. The V8 version, which replaced the six-cylinder 535i in the lineup, was powered by the new BMW M60 V8 engine and was available with a 5-speed manual or 5-speed automatic transmission. Initially, the V8 models were differentiated from other models by the wide grill; in 1994 the wide grill became available on other models. Between the two versions of the 530i, a total of 57,570 cars were produced. The highest six-cylinder model (except for the M5) was the 535i. Despite the ‘535i’ model designation and ‘3.5’ casting on the intake manifold, the BMW M30 engine found in the E34 535i actually has a displacement of 3.4 litres. A total of 97,679 cars were produced, including the Alpina B10 (BiTurbo, 3.5) models. The 535i was replaced by the V8-engined 530i and 540i models in 1993. In 1993, the 540i model was added to the top of the 5 Series lineup, powered by the BMW M60 V8 engine and available in both sedan and wagon body styles (the latter not in US). Transmission options were a 6-speed manual or a 5-speed automatic. A total of 26,485 units were produced. Initially, the V8 models were differentiated from other models by the wider grilles. In 1994 the wide grilles became available on other models as well. The first diesel model was the 524td, which was introduced in 1988. This model was replaced by the 525tds in 1991, and a lower-specification 525td was introduced in 1993. All diesel models were powered by turbocharged inline-six engines. Introduced in September 1988 and produced until August 1995, the E34 M5 was produced in both sedan and station wagon (‘Touring’) body styles, the latter being the first M5 to be available as a wagon. The E34 M5 is powered by the BMW S38 inline-six engine, originally with a displacement of 3.6 L and an output of 311 bhp, later upgraded to a 3.8 L engine rated at 335 bhp. This 3.8 litre version of the M5 was first seen by the public at the 1991 Frankfurt Motor Show, where the E34 M5 Touring also saw its debut. In its last year of production for the M5, the transmission was upgraded from a 5-speed manual to the Getrag 420G 6-speed manual (which was also used by the 540i model). The whole range was replaced by the E39 series in 1996.

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The M2 was first revealed in Need for Speed: No Limits on November 2015, before later premiering at the North American International Auto Show in January 2016. Production commenced in October 2015 and is only available as a rear-wheel drive coupé. The M2 is powered by the turbocharged 3.0-litre N55B30T0 straight-six engine producing 365 bhp at 6,500 rpm and 465 Nm (343 lb/ft) between 1,450–4,750 rpm, while an overboost function temporarily increases torque to 500 N⋅m (369 lb⋅ft). The M2 features pistons from the F80 M3 and F82 M4, and has lighter aluminium front and rear suspension components resulting in a 5 kg (11 lb) weight reduction. The M2 is available with a 6-speed manual or with a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission which features a ‘Smokey Burnout’ mode. 0-100 km/h acceleration times are 4.5 seconds manual transmission models and 4.3 seconds for models equipped with the 7-speed dual clutch transmission. Top speed is limited to 250 km/h (155 mph) but can be extended to 270 km/h (168 mph) with the optional M Driver’s package. The M2 Competition was introduced at the 2018 Beijing Auto Show and succeeded the standard M2 Coupé. Production began in July 2018. The M2 Competition uses the high performance S55 engine which is a variant of the 3.0-litre twin turbocharged straight six engine found in the F80 M3 and F82 M4. The engine features a redesigned oil supply system and modified cooling system from the BMW M4 with the Competition Package, and also features a gasoline particulate filter in certain European Union countries to reduce emissions. Compared to the standard M2, the S55 produces an additional 40 bhp and 85 Nm (63 lb/ft), resulting in a larger and more sustained power output of 405 bhp between 5,370–7,200 rpm, and 550 Nm (406 lb/ft) at 2,350–5,230 rpm. The 0-100 km/h acceleration time is 4.4 seconds for six-speed manual transmission models, and 4.2 seconds for models with the 7-speed dual clutch transmission. Top speed is electronically limited to 250 km/h (155 mph), but the M Driver’s package can extend the limit to 280 km/h (174 mph) which is 10 km/h (6 mph) further than in the M2. The M2 Competition also has a carbon-fibre reinforced plastic strut bar, enlarged kidney grilles, and larger brake discs of 400 mm (15.7 in) in the front axle and 380 mm (15.0 in) in the rear axle. Because of the new engine and cooling system, the M2 Competition is 55 kg (121 lb) heavier than the standard M2 at 1,550 kg (3,417 lb) for manual transmission models and 1,575 kg (3,472 lb) for dual-clutch transmission models. It remains in production.

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The M3 version of the E46 3 Series was produced in coupé and convertible body styles. The E46 M3 is powered by the S54 straight-six engine and has a 0-100 km/h (62 mph) acceleration time of 5.1 seconds for the coupe, with either the manual or SMG-II transmission. The skid pad cornering results are 0.89 g for the coupe and 0.81 g for the convertible.The top speed is electronically limited to 250 km/h (155 mph). The available transmissions were a Getrag 420G 6-speed manual transmission or a SMG-II 6-speed automated manual transmission, which was based on the Getrag 420G.[58] The SMG-II used an electrohydraulically actuated clutch and gearshifts could be selected via the gear knob or paddles mounted on the steering wheel. The SMG-II was praised for its fast shift times and racetrack performance, but some people found its shifts to be delayed and lurching in stop-start traffic. In 2005, a special edition was introduced which used several parts from the CSL. This model was called the M3 Competition Package (ZCP) in the United States and mainland Europe, and the M3 CS in the United Kingdom. Compared to the regular M3, the Competition Package includes: 19-inch BBS alloy wheels- 19″x 8″ at the front and 19″x 9.5″ at the rear; Stiffer springs (which were carried over to the regular M3 from 12/04); Faster ratio steering rack of 14.5:1 (compared with the regular M3’s ratio of 15.4:1) as per the CSL; Steering wheel from the CSL; M-track mode for the electronic stability control, as per the CSL; The CSL’s larger front brake discs (but with the regular M3 front calipers) and rear brake calipers with larger pistons; Alcantara steering wheel and handbrake covers; The engine, gearbox and other drivetrain components are the same as the standard M3. Total production of the E46 M3 was 56,133 coupes and 29,633 convertibles. The cars were assembled at the BMW Regensburg factory in Germany and production was from September 2000 until August 2006, production totalled 85,766.

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The following two generations of the M3 were also here, the E92 and recently superceded F80 models.

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Two generations of the 6 Series were to be seen: the E63 came from the Bangle Era and was not universally seen as attractive, with the rather awkward boot line being perhaps the most controversial aspect of the styling. Its successor, the 6 Series F12, by contrast, was acclaimed by most as being a good-looking machine.

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Also here was the latest 850i Coupe, a car which somehow fails to capture the elegance of its predecessor.

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FERRARI

Latest in the line of special versions of Ferrari’s V8 models, the 488 Pista was launched at the 2018 Geneva Show but it has taken until now before UK customers have got their hands on the cars they ordered all that time ago. Compared to the regular Ferrari 488 GTB, the 488 Pista is 90 kg lighter at 1280kg dry, features a 20 percent improved aerodynamic efficiency and makes 49hp more from its twin-turbo V8 that now produces 711hp (720PS). These are some stunning specs to be honest, especially when you consider just how good the car it’s based upon is. Ferrari claims a 0-62mph (100km/h) in 2.85 seconds, 0-124mph (200km/h) in 7.6 seconds and a top speed of over 211mph (340km/h). Ferrari has opted to call the new special series sports car “Pista”, which is Italian for ‘track’, joining a celebrated lineup of hardcore models that includes the Challenge Stradale, the 430 Scuderia and the 458 Speciale. The whole bodywork has been reshaped, with the designers using innovations such as the S-Duct at the front and the unique edges of the front bumper and side sills that guide the air flow in -apparently- all the right places. The 3.9-litre V8 engine is essentially the same unit found in the Challenge race car and features specific valves and springs, a new cam profile, strengthened pistons and cylinder heads shorter inlet ducts, radiators with an inverted rake, a larger intercooler and more. It’s also 18kg lighter than the standard engine. For the first time ever in a Ferrari, the new 488 Pista can be fitted with a set of optional single-piece carbon-fibre wheels that are around 40 percent lighter than the GTB’s standard rims. A new generation of Ferrari’s Side Slip Control System is also present (SSC 6.0) because who doesn’t like to slide around a Ferrari with some help from the gods of Maranello. The 488 Pista was not a limited production model and was offered along the regular 488 GTB until it went out of production.

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FIAT

The Cinquecento, Tipo 170 in Fiat development parlance, was launched in December 1991, to replace the Fiat 126. It was the first Fiat model to be solely manufactured in the FSM plant in Tychy, Poland, which had been sold to Fiat by the Polish state, and where production of the Polish variant of the Fiat 126, the Polski Fiat 126p, was still running. It took 18 months before the new city car reached the UK, and its success proved that there was a market for very small cars after all, even though Renault had concluded that there was not sufficient demand for their Twingo which appeared around the same time. The Fiat sold well, and it was not long before it had a number of market rivals, such as the Ford Ka, Seat Arosa and Volkswagen Lupo. The smallest engine, intended for sale in Poland only, was a 704 cc OHV two-cylinder unit, delivering 31 bhp, an engine which was inherited from the 126p BIS. For the front-wheel drive Cinquecento, it underwent a major refurbishment (although the engine still employed a carburettor), which resulted, among other changes, in the crankshaft revolving in the opposite direction than in the 126p BIS! The bigger engine was the 903 cc 40 PS version of the veteran Fiat 100 OHV four-cylinder engine, which saw service in many small Fiat models, starting with the Fiat 850, and dating back to the initial 633 cc unit as introduced in the 1955 Fiat 600. It was fitted with single point fuel injection and was the base engine in most markets. Due to fiscal limitations, the displacement of this unit was limited to 899 cc in 1993, with a slight reduction of output, now producing 39 PS. In 1994, Fiat introduced the Cinquecento Sporting, featuring the 1108 cc SOHC FIRE 54 PS engine from the entry-level Punto of the same era, mated to a close-ratio 5 speed gearbox. Other additions were a drop in standard ride height, front anti-roll bar, 13″ alloy wheels, plus colour-coded bumpers and mirrors. The interior saw a tachometer added, along with sports seats, red seatbelts and a leather steering wheel and gear knob. It is the Sporting model which gave birth to a rallying trophy and a Group A Kit-Car version, and the Sporting is the version you see most often these days, and indeed, that was the variant seen here. Production of the Cinquecento ended in early 1998, when it was replaced by the Seicento.

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Developed as the Tipo 175, the Coupe was introduced at the Brussels Motor Show in 1993. It is perhaps best remembered for its distinctive, angular design, with unique scalloped side panels. The body was designed by Chris Bangle from Centro Stile Fiat, while the interior was designed by Pininfarina, and the car media headlines in auto magazines during 1992 after several spy shots were taken revealing the car on test. On its launch in 1993, the Coupé was available with a four-cylinder, 2.0 litre 16V engine, in both turbo (190 PS) and normally aspirated (139 PS) versions. Both engines were later versions of Fiat’s twin-cam design and inherited from the Lancia Delta Integrale. 1996 brought in a 1.8 litre 131 PS 16V engine (not available in the UK), along with a 2.0-litre 5-cylinder 20V (147 PS), and a 5-cylinder 2.0-litre 20V turbo (220 PS). The turbocharged 16 and 20 valve versions were equipped with a very efficient Viscodrive limited-slip differential to counter the understeer that plagues most powerful front wheel drive cars. Additionally, the coupe featured independent suspension all round: at the front MacPherson struts and lower wishbones anchored to an auxiliary crossbeam, offset coil springs and anti-roll bar; at the rear, trailing arms mounted on an auxiliary subframe, coil springs and an anti-roll bar. The car was well received at launch, and the 5 cylinder engines just made it even better, with sales increasing slightly for a couple of years, but then they started to drop off, as Coupe models in general fell from favour. 1998 saw the release of the Limited Edition which featured red Brembo brake calipers at the front and standard red calipers at the back, a body kit, push-button start, six-speed gearbox, strut brace to make the chassis more rigid and Recaro seats with red leather inserts which offered better support than the standard 20VT seats. The LE was produced in Black, Red, Vinci Grey (metallic), Crono Grey and Steel Grey (metallic). The bodywork of the LE also benefited from titanium coloured insert around the light bezels and the wing mirrors. Each Limited Edition (‘LE’) Coupé was manufactured with a badge located by the rear-view mirror which contained that car’s unique number (it is rumoured that Michael Schumacher was the original owner of LE No. 0001, however when the question was raised to him personally he confirmed he had owned one, but a red one, while LE No. 0001 is a Crono Grey one). Originally a spokesman from Fiat stated only approximately 300 Limited Editions would be built. The final number was much higher, perhaps as many as 1400. This angered many of the owners of the original 300 cars and almost certainly impacted residual values. The original number however was quoted by a Fiat UK spokesman, so probably that number only applied to the UK market. The numbered plaque on every Coupe features enough space for 4 numbers. In 1998 the 2.0-litre 5-cylinder 20V got a Variable Inlet System which brought the power to 154 PS. The 2.0-litre 5-cylinder 20V Turbo received a 6-speed gearbox and a large, satin gloss push starter button. In addition, the sills of the Turbo version were colour matched with the body paintwork. Fiat also released the 2.0 litre 5 cylinder Turbo ‘Plus’. This model came with an option kit that made it virtually identical to the LE, except for minor interior design changes and without the unique identification badge of the LE. In 2000 Fiat released another special version of the Fiat Coupé. Featuring the 1.8-litre engine, it was only available throughout mainland Europe and marketed as an elegant and affordable edition. Fiat also made changes throughout the rest of the range: new seats, side skirts and wheels for the 2.0-litre 20V model, ‘Plus’ edition wheels on turbo models and Fiat manufactured seats on the ‘Plus’ that were virtually identical to the original Plus Recaro seats with the addition of extra airbags. The 2.0-litre 20V Turbo model is capable of accelerating from 0–100 km/h (0 to 62 mph) in 6.5 seconds and 6.3 seconds for the 20v Turbo Plus, with a top speed of 240 km/h (149 mph) or 250 km/h (155 mph) with later 6-speed gearbox. When production finally stopped in September 2000, a total number of 72,762 units had been produced. There are still well over 1000 units in the UK, so this is a Fiat which has proved durable as well as good to drive, and to look at.

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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.

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FORD

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.

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FRAZER NASH

This company was founded in 1922 by Archibald Frazer-Nash who had, with Henry Ronald Godfrey founded and run the GN cyclecar company. The company was established in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey, moving to Isleworth, Middlesex in 1929. The company entered receivership in 1927 and re-emerged as AFN Limited. The majority of AFN was acquired by H. J. (“Aldy”) Aldington in 1929 and run by the three Aldington brothers, H.J., Donald A. and William H. Aldy’s son, John Taylor (“JT”) Aldington was the last of the family owners/directors until AFN Ltd was sold to Porsche GB. The company produced around 400 of the famous chain drive models between 1924 and 1939. They were all built to order, with a surprisingly long list of different models offered during this time. Most had 1.5 litre 4 cylinder engines, and many of the models were built only in single digits, but the Fast Tourer/Super Sports and the TT Replica models were made in significant quantity.

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HYUNDAI

The Hyundai Tiburon, known in Europe as the Hyundai Coupé is a sports coupe that was produced from 1996 to 2008. The name “Tiburon”, a slight variation of “tiburón”, the Spanish word for “shark”, is the name given to the North American, Australian, New Zealand, South African, and Austrian production of the vehicle. It was known as the Hyundai Coupe in some European markets and Indonesia. The first generation Tiburon was discontinued in 2001 after five years in production. Hyundai launched a revised Tiburon in 2002 for the 2003 model year, giving it new styling, larger dimensions, and an optional V6 engine. Tiburon’s wheelbase and overall length grew slightly compared to the previous version, increasing curb weight by about 200 lb (91 kg). In the US, base and GT V6 models were offered with standard front side airbags and optional anti-lock brakes. Base Tiburons retained the 138 hp (103 kW) 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, while GT V6 coupes got the new 2.7-liter 172 hp V6 from Hyundai’s Sonata and Santa Fe. A five-speed manual transmission was standard, and a four-speed automatic was optional. The automatic unit had a manual shift gate. Also optional on the GT V6 was a six-speed manual gearbox. Base models and GT V6 automatics rode on 16-inch tires, versus 17-inch for the GT V6 manual models. Tuscani models had all the upgrades being the “Elite” model with separate badging to set it apart from all other models. Both had standard four-wheel disc brakes. Leather upholstery was standard in the GT V6, as well as a rear spoiler (high spoiler std. on 6-speed only). Aluminium pedals and a sunroof were optional. In 2004, all GT V6s received 17″ wheels. A “special edition” of the GT V6 was also released. It featured a “Special Edition” decal-style badge underneath “Tiburon”, sport cloth upholstery, a Kenwood stereo, red painted front brake calipers, and multi-gauges above the radio. Only the 6-speed and automatic transmissions were available. The special edition was available in Jet Black, Rally Red, and Sunburst Yellow only. The new design received praise from a number of automotive journalists, some of which compared it to the Ferrari 456. In 2005 Hyundai facelifted the Tiburon and reshuffled the model line-up; offering GS, GT, and SE models. The SE was now a separate trim from the GT models. Hyundai’s four-cylinder engine went into the GS, while the other two held the 2.7-liter V6. A five-speed manual transmission was standard. A four-speed automatic with a manual shift was optional for GS and GT models, but the SE had exclusive use of a six-speed manual gearbox. Anti-lock brakes was standard on the SE and optional for the GT coupe, which could be equipped with leather upholstery. GS coupes rode on 16-inch wheels, versus 17-inch for other models. All-disc brakes and front side airbags were standard. Anti-lock brakes were made standard on all 2006 model Tiburons. In the UK, three models were available before and after the 2005 facelift: the 1.6S, 2.0SE and V6. The 1.6S had a single exhaust and leather seats were optional, although following the 2005 facelift half-leather seats were standard. Both other models have twin exhausts and leather seats as standard. The six-speed gearbox was also standard on the V6 model. A popular modification saw owners of the first GK model removing the air-filter resonator box. The resonator box was located directly in front of the front left hand side wheel, behind the fender. This allowed for a greater airflow to the air filter, gaining a minimal increase of brake horsepower (bhp). Hyundai, seeking cost cuts, adopted this modification for 2004+ models. Hyundai also released a new colour for their 2006 Tiburon called Regatta blue, between Tidal Wave blue and Midnight blue, which is Metallic. This colour is also available for the 2007 Elantra and Tiburon. In Greece (S145 model) and perhaps other countries, due to high taxation in hi-displacement engines, a 1.6-liter Turbocharged engine was available for some years, producing 145 PS at 5,800 rpm and 190 Nm (128 lb/tf) of torque at 4,300 rpm and making the 1233 kg vehicle capable of accelerating from 0–100 km/h (0–62 mph) in 9.3 seconds and achieving a top speed of 210 km/h (131 mph). Fuel consumption was 6.4L/100 km (36.8 mpg). Hyundai conducted minor tweaks to the ‘GK’ model in September 2004 for the 2005 model year. The vehicle incorporated reworked sleeker blackened “smoked” headlights, redesigned rear tail lights, more aggressive front air dam, a different range of alloy wheel designs, colored stitching on leather seats (half leather seats available for the 1.6 range). In 2006, Hyundai released the GT Limited Model. This was an upgrade from the GT V6. It included an upgraded tan leather interior, automatic climate controls, a 440w Infinity 6-disc in dash stereo with 10″ subwoofer, an upgraded gauge cluster, and side markers. The GT LTD came in black, Blue, and midnight blue. In Australia, a limited edition TS was released in October 2005. It had a unique “tiger orange” color paintjob (a color that was not available for any other model) and an extra high rear spoiler. Black leather trim with red stitching, sunroof and other extras were included as standard. The name TS stands for “Tiger Shark”, referring to its exclusive orange color and the shark origins of the Tiburon name. Only 80 of these 2005 TS models were released. Each had an individually numbered ID plate inside the driver’s door frame. Number 1 had a manual transmission, and number 80 had an automatic transmission. A limited edition TS of the 2006 model was also released in 2006. It was available in a unique “vivid blue” paintjob. Only 62 of these were released. A more comprehensive facelift was launched in November 2006 for the 2007 model year, named the Coupe SIII in markets such as the UK, this time altering the appearance of the car enough to designate it the fourth generation or GK F/L2 reminiscent of the RD1 and RD2 denotations. The headlights are thinner and angled more aggressively; somewhat similar to the original Tiburon headlights with more straight/sharp lines. The tail lights are similar to the RD2 and GK1 but are somewhat smaller and reflect an after-market styling. The fenders lose the “gill fins” and other small changes are seen. The interior is updated with brushed aluminium accents, new blue backlight scheme for gauges and instrumentation and new seats. Hyundai later introduced the limited, special edition TSIII (UK). This upgraded, limited edition included quilted leather interior with embroidered logos, stiffer sports suspension, quad exhaust exit pipes, a higher level rear spoiler and an anthracite finish to the alloy wheels. The performance of the TSIII remained the same as the SIII. This is the last model made.

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JAGUAR

Introduced in 2013, the XJR is a high performance variant of the XJ. Available in short and long wheelbase configurations, it includes a 5.0-litre supercharged V8 engine rated at 550 PS (542 bhp) and 680 Nm (502 lb/ft), an increased top speed to 280 km/h (174 mph), eight-speed automatic transmission with a bespoke tuning for the XJR, a new front splitter and aerodynamic sill section combined with an additional rear spoiler and unique ‘R’ bonnet louvres, Electronic Active Differential and Dynamic Stability Control systems calibrated to enhance handling characteristics, new 20-inch ‘Farallon’ forged alloy wheels with bespoke Pirelli low-profile tyres, semi-aniline leather, a choice of veneers and contrasting stitching on the seats. The XJR was initially unveiled at 2013 New York Auto Show, followed by the 2013 Goodwood Festival of Speed. The US model went on sale as 2014 model year vehicle.

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LAMBORGHINI

Newest Lamborghini is the Huracan. Replacing Lamborghini’s sales leader and most produced car, the Gallardo, the Huracán made its auto show debut at the March 2014 Geneva Auto Show, and was released in the second quarter of 2014. The name of the Huracan LP 610-4 comes from the fact that this car has 610 metric horsepower and 4 wheel drive. Huracán (huracán being the Spanish word for hurricane) is inspired by a Spanish fighting bull. Continuing the tradition of using names from historical Spanish fighting bulls, Huracán was a bull known for its courage that fought in 1879. Also Huracan is the Mayan god of wind, storm and fire. Changes from the Gallardo included full LED illumination, a 12.3 inch full-colour TFT instrument panel, Fine Nappa leather and Alcantara interior upholstery, redesigned dashboard and central tunnel, Iniezione Diretta Stratificata (IDS, essentially an adapted version of parent Audi’s Fuel Stratified Injection) direct and indirect gasoline injections, engine Stop & Start technology, EU6 emissions regulation compliance, Lamborghini Doppia Frizione (LDF) 7-speed dual-clutch transmission with 3 modes (STRADA, SPORT and CORSA), 20 inch wheels, carbon-ceramic brake system, optional Lamborghini Dynamic Steering variable steering system and MagneRide electromagnetic damper control. In early 2015, the Huracán appeared on Top Gear. It got a neutral review from Richard Hammond who said that it was too tame to be a “proper Lamborghini.” However, it got around the Top Gear test track in 1:15.8 which is faster than any other Lamborghini to go around the track to date, including the Aventador. Now it has been available in the UK for several years, there are now quite a few on our roads, so it was no surprise to find the model here.

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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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LOTUS

It is now almost 25 years since Lotus launched the Elise, a model which showed a return to the core values of simplicity and light-weight which were cornerstones of Colin Chapman’s philosophy when he founded the marque in 1955. The first generation Elise was produced for just over 4 years, with a replacement model, the Series 2 arriving in October 2000. It came about as the Series 1 could not be produced beyond the 2000 model production year due to new European crash sustainability regulations. Lacking the funding to produce a replacement, Lotus needed a development partner to take a share of investment required for the new car. General Motors offered to fund the project, in return for a badged and GM-engined version of the car for their European brands, Opel and Vauxhall. The result was therefore two cars, which although looking quite different, shared much under the skin: a Series 2 Elise and the Vauxhall VX220 and Opel Speedster duo. The Series 2 Elise was a redesigned Series 1 using a slightly modified version of the Series 1 chassis to meet the new regulations, and the same K-series engine with a brand new Lotus-developed ECU. The design of the body paid homage to the earlier M250 concept, and was the first Lotus to be designed by computer. Both the Series 2 Elise and the Opel Speedster/Vauxhall VX220 were built on the same production line, in a new facility at Hethel. Both cars shared many parts, including the chassis, although they had different drive-trains and power-plants. The VX220 carried the Lotus internal model identification Lotus 116, with the code name Skipton for the launch 2.2 normally aspirated version and Tornado for the 2 litre Turbo which came out in 2004. Fitted with 17 inch over the Elise’s 16 inch front wheels, the Vauxhall/Opel version ceased production in late 2005 and was replaced by the Opel GT for February 2007, with no RHD version for the United Kingdom. The Elise lived on. and indeed is still in production now, some 15 years later, though there have been countless different versions produced in that time. Whilst the first of the Series 2 cars came with the Rover K-Series engine, and that included the 111S model which had the VVC engine technology producing 160 hp, a change came about in 2005 when Lotus started to use Toyota engines. This was initially due to Lotus’ plans to introduce the Elise to the US market, meaning that an engine was needed which would comply with US emissions regulations. The selected 1.8 litre (and later 1.6 litre) Toyota units did, and the K-series did not. that MG-Rover went out of business in 2005 and engine production ceased confirmed the need for the change. Since then, Lotus have offered us track focused Elise models like the 135R and Sport 190, with 135 bhp and 192 bhp respectively, as well as the 111R, the Sport Racer, the Elise S and Elise R. In 2008 an even more potent SC model, with 218 bhp thanks to a non-intercooled supercharger was added to the range. In February 2010, Lotus unveiled a facelifted version of the second generation Elise. The new headlights are now single units; triangular in shape they are somewhat larger than the earlier lights. The cheapest version in Europe now has a 1.6 litre engine to comply with Euro 5 emissions, with the same power output as the earlier 1.8 136bhp car. Lotus has been through some difficult times in recent years, but things are looking more optimistic again, with production numbers having risen significantly in the last couple of years, after a period when next to no cars were made.

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In 2004, the Series 2 Exige was introduced. It features a naturally aspirated 1.8 L 16-valve DOHC Toyota/Yamaha engine that is rated at 190 bhp with the Toyota engine designation of 2ZZ-GE. Compared to the Series 2 Elise, it has a front splitter, a fibreglass hardtop roof with roof scoop, a rear engine cover, and rear spoiler. The sole purpose of these aerodynamic additions to the base Elise is to create more downforce (almost 45 kg (100 lb) of downforce at 161 km/h (100 mph) in the Exige versus 5.9 kg (13 lb) at 100 mph in the Elise). In February 2005, Lotus announced a limited production run of 50 Exiges, using the Toyota engine with a supercharger. This increased the power output to 243 bhp. These models were only available in yellow or black, representing the colours of Lotus Sport, and are badged 240R. They have a projected 0 – 60 mph time of 3.9 seconds and 0-161 km/h (100 mph) of 9.9 seconds, with a top speed of 249 km/h (155 mph). The North American Exige was unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show in January 2006. According to Lotus, the standard Exige Series 2 model weighs 2,016 lb (914 kg). In February 2006, Lotus announced the Exige S model which used a supercharged Toyota 2ZZ-GE engine rated at 220 bhp The S was also made available in North American markets as a 2007 model. According to Lotus, the Exige S model, weighing 2,057 lb (933 kg), has the following specifications: In 2008, the Exige S was replaced by the Exige S 240. Power output increased by 9% over the outgoing model to 240 bhp. The S 240 also received upgraded AP Racing brakes from the Exige Cup 240 and a larger roof scoop utilised by the Exige Cup 255. 0–60 mph times improved to 4.0 seconds. The S 240 base manufacturer suggested retail price was $65,690. The Exige S 260 produced an additional 7% power output over the S 240 resulting in 256 bhp. Even with a full fuel tank, extensive use of weight-saving materials such as carbon fiber reduced the vehicle’s gross weight to 916 kg (2,020 lb) compared to 942 kg (2,077 lb) in the S 240. It can accelerate from 0–60 mph in 4.0 seconds. After 2009, both the S 240 and S 260 received distinctively new and enlarged rear spoilers mounted to the rear clam instead of the motor bay cover. Countless limited edition models were produced, as well. A third generation car was launched in 2012.

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MASERATI

There was just one Maserati here, a Ghibli not unlike the first example that I had.

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MAZDA

Mazda introduced rotary-powered vehicles in the US in 1971, beginning with the R100 and eventually introduced the RX-2, RX-3, RX-4, RX-5, and three generations of the RX-7 sports car in the US and worldwide markets. However, due to the lack of conveniences and user-friendliness, coupled with the high price tag and declining interest in sports cars and coupés at the time, Mazda decided to withdraw the RX-7 from most major markets except Japan. After 1995, Mazda suffered from a relatively undistinguished and ordinary product line in the US except for the MX-5 Miata. As popular interest in import tuning and performance cars resurged in the late-1990s due in part to various popular cultural influences, Japanese automakers waded back into the performance and sports car market in the US and in worldwide markets. In addition, Mazda endeavoured to rejuvenate itself around this time, partially with financial and management assistance from its new owner Ford, and successfully developed a new product line of high quality cars with desirable styling and superior driving dynamics compared to their competitors, beginning with the Mazda6 and followed by the Mazda3, paving the way for the arrival of Mazda’s next-generation rotary powered sports car. The RX-8 combined two previous products (the internationally sold RX-7, and the Cosmo which was exclusive to Japan), with the exterior dimensions of the RX-8 to be slightly smaller than those of the Cosmo. Mazda chose not to install the 2.0 L three-rotor 20B-REW, which was discontinued in 1996 when the Cosmo ceased production. In Japan, sales were affected by the fact that the RX-8 did not comply with Japanese Government’s dimension regulations, and Japanese buyers were liable for yearly taxes for driving a larger car. The rotary engine had financial advantages to Japanese consumers in that the engine displacement remained below 1.5 litres, a significant determination when paying the Japanese annual road tax which kept the obligation affordable to most buyers, while having more power than the traditional inline engines. The development of the RX-8 can be traced as far back as the 1995 RX-01 concept car, which featured an early iteration of the 13B-MSP engine. Naturally aspirated with side exhaust ports, this engine has a power output of 210 bhp Because of Mazda’s financial position at the time and the growing market interest in SUVs, the RX-01 did not see further development or production. However, a “skunkworks project” engineering team within Mazda kept the development of the 13B-MSP alive using an elongated MX-5 chassis known internally as “gokiburi-ka”, or “cockroach car” translated to English, eventually catching the attention of management, which was by then heavily influenced by Ford. Development of the 13B-MSP advanced and eventually led to the RENESIS name debuting along with the RX-EVOLV concept car which began to bear semblance to the production version of the RX-8 with the “freestyle” rear suicide doors. The styling was further refined, in Mazda tradition, by competition between its design studios in Japan, the US, and Europe. The lead designer was Ikuo Maeda, the son of Matasaburo Maeda (the lead designer of the original RX-7).[6] The project obtained official approval from management under one condition, that the resulting car should have four doors, and eventually the RX-8 concept car (design/engineering model) was produced and shown in 2001, closer resembling the production version. A near-production “reference exhibit” RX-8 was shown shortly thereafter at the 2001 Tokyo Motor Show, pending final approval for production. The production version of the RX-8 closely resembles this vehicle save for minor trim details, and “Job 1” began in February, 2003 at Mazda’s Hiroshima plant in Japan. The RX-8 was designed as a front mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive, four-door, four-seater quad coupé. The car has a near 50:50 front-rear weight distribution and a low polar moment of inertia, achieved by mounting the engine behind the front axle and by placing the fuel tank ahead of the rear axle. The front suspension uses double wishbones and the rear suspension is multi-link. Weight is trimmed through the use of materials such as aluminum and plastic for several body panels. The rest of the body is made of steel, except for the plastic front and rear bumpers. The manual gearbox model uses a carbon fibre composite driveshaft to reduce the rotational mass (momentum of inertia) connected to the engine. Power is sent to the rear wheels through a torque-sensing conical limited-slip differential for improved handling. While underpowered in comparison to the final variant of the RX-7, the RX-8 is considered its successor as Mazda’s rotary engine sports car. A prominent feature of the RX-8 is its rear-hinged “freestyle” doors (similar to suicide doors) that provide easier access to the rear seats. The RX-8 has no B-pillars between the front and rear doors, but the leading edge of the rear door acts as a “virtual pillar” to maintain structural rigidity. Because of the overlapping design, the rear doors can be opened only when the front doors are open. The RX-8’s cabin was designed to allow enough room to house four adults, making it a genuine 4-seater rather than a 2+2. In designing the RX-8, Mazda’s engineers were able to achieve a chassis stiffness rating of 30,000 The earlier models of the RX-8, having chassis codes SE3P, and JM1FE, were produced from the 2003 model year, though the car’s U.S. debut was for the 2004 model year. It is powered by the RENESIS 13B-MSP (2-rotor, multi-side-port) Wankel engine displacing 1.3 L (1,308 cc). The 4-port standard RENESIS was rated at 191 bhp and was coupled with either a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmission. The 6-port high power RENESIS was only available with a six-speed manual transmission and was rated at 238 bhp. For the North American market, Mazda revised the reported output rating of the standard and high power RENESIS soon after launch to 189 bhp and 237 bhp, respectively.With exhaust ports now located in the side housing, the RENESIS boasted improved fuel efficiency and emissions rating over the 13B-REW employed by the preceding RX-7, thereby making it possible to be sold in North America. At launch, the RX-8 was available in various models in different markets around the world. The variations according to different markets are as follows: 6-speed manual with a claimed output of 232 bhp at 8,250 rpm and 159 lb⋅ft (216 Nm) of torque at 5,500 rpm with a 9,000 rpm (redline limited) (Sold in North America). This model was equivalent to the “Type S” trim in Japan; 5-speed manual with engine tuned to 189 bhp with the redline reduced to 7,500 rpm. This powertrain combination was not available in North America; 6-speed automatic with manual paddle shifting option (introduced in the U.S. for the 2006 model year, replacing the 4-speed automatic transmission of 2004–2005) with the engine rated at 212 bhp and 159 lb/ft (216 Nm) of torque with a redline at 7,500 rpm. This was the revised standard RENESIS, now with two extra intake ports like the high power version. The 2006 automatic RX-8 model also was given a second oil cooler, as was standard in the manual transmission model. Automatic versions all had lower output/lower rpm engines due to the lack of availability of a transmission that would be able to reliably cope with the engine’s high rpm limits. In 2003 Mazda announced a factory Mazdaspeed Version of the RX-8 exclusively in Japan. Based on the Type S and tuned by Mazda’s in-house division Mazdaspeed, the car included both mechanical, suspension, and aerodynamic improvements over the standard RX-8’s. Mazdaspeed RX-8’s were considered the highest performance model of the pre-facelift RX-8. Mechanical and suspension improvements included a new performance exhaust system, upgraded spark plugs, grounding kit, lightweight flywheel, re-balanced eccentric shaft, performance brake pads, stiffer anti roll bars, four point front strut tower brace, rear strut tower brace, as well as a set of height and damping force adjustable coil-overs. Mazdaspeed also redesigned the aerodynamics of the car, giving it a new front bumper, with enlarged venting and oil cooler ducting, as well as side skirts, rear under spoiler, and a rear wing. The Mazdaspeed RX-8 was offered in either Strato Blue Mica, or Sunlight Silver Metallic as exclusive colours. A total of 480 factory Mazdaspeed Version RX-8’s were built, and had a suggested retail price of JP¥3,650,000.00. Mazda also sold Mazdaspeed accessories worldwide through their dealerships. These accessories included both parts that weren’t equipped on factory Mazdaspeed RX-8’s as well as nearly all the parts equipped on the factory Mazdaspeed Version. This allowed standard RX-8’s to be upgraded to Mazdaspeed standards through dealerships around the world. In November 2008, Mazda improved the RX-8 body rigidity through the addition of structural reinforcements, by adding a trapezoidal shock tower brace and enhancing the local rigidity of the front suspension tower areas. The rear suspension geometry was revised for better handling, and the final-drive-gear ratio on manual transmission cars was shortened from 4.444 to 4.777 for improved off-the-line performance. While minimal, these changes gave the updated RX-8 increased acceleration and performance. Mazda engineers claimed that the 2nd generation RX-8 was (slightly) faster than the previous generation due to the lower gearing and improved suspension.[citation needed] The Renesis II engine iteration that was launched in the 2009 model year included a third oil injection port in each rotor housing to feed oil to the middle of the rotor facing, making this their first all-new EMOP (Electric Metering Oil Pump) with a total of 6 lubrication injectors, plus an all-new engine oil pump with higher pressure rating that requires specific oil filter rated for the higher pressure. New catalytic converter was used to reduce clogging that resulted in overheating exhaust stream forward of the catalytic converter and eventual rotor side seal failure, which was responsible for majority of RX-8 engine failures.[citation needed] Ignition coil packs, which suffer reduced performance over time and leads to unburnt fuel and oil that eventually clogs the catalytic converter, was not upgraded from series 1 RX-8. Due to higher usage cycle that is two to three times higher in Wankel compared to Otto cycle, ignition coil packs on RX-8 can degrade much sooner than Piston engines using similar hardware, and cause unburnt fuel to reach the catalytic converter, clogging it and cause engine overheating leading to side seal springs failure. The updated RX-8 also received design enhancements that were meant to freshen the styling and give the RX-8 a new look, without impairing the basic design theme. Refinements for the 2009 model year included a more aggressive restyled front and rear bumper as well as a new front fascia. The updated RX-8 also came with sporty, high-quality finish front and rear headlamps as well as larger exhaust pipes (now measuring 90 mm (3.5 in) across). The 2009 RX-8 also offered a new five-spoke wheel design featuring a symbolic and sporty design reminiscent of the rotary engine, with different arrangements for each wheel size. A rear spoiler was also added dependent on the trim level selected. There were three trims available to consumers from 2009 to 2012: Sport, Grand Touring, and R3. European production ended in 2010 when the car could no longer meet emissions standards.

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McLAREN

The MP4 12C was the first ever production car wholly designed and built by McLaren, and their first production road car produced since the McLaren F1, which ended production in 1998. McLaren started developing the car in 2007 and secretly purchased a Ferrari 360 to use as a test mule. The mule called MV1 was used to test the 3.8-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine. The car also featured side vents for additional cooling which were later incorporated in the final production model. Later in the year, the company purchased an Ultima GTR to test the braking system and suspension components, that mule was called the MV2. The space frame and body of that car were modified in order to accommodate the new components. Later another prototype was purchased which was another Ferrari 360 dubbed the MV3 which was used to test the exhaust system. McLaren then built two prototypes themselves called CP1 and CP2 incorporating the Carbon Monocell monocoque which were used for testing the heat management system and performance. The MP4-12C features a carbon fibre composite chassis, and is powered by a longitudinally-mounted Rear mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout McLaren M838T 3.8 litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine, developing approximately 600 PS (592 bhp) at 7500 rpm and around 600 N⋅m (443 lbf⋅ft) of torque at 5600 rpm. The car makes use of Formula 1-sourced technologies such as “brake steer”, where the inside rear wheel is braked during fast cornering to reduce understeer. Power is transmitted to the wheels through a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. The entire drivetrain is the first to be entirely designed and produced in house by McLaren. The chassis is based around a F1 style one-piece carbon fibre tub, called the Carbon MonoCell, weighing only 80 kg (176 lb). The MonoCell is made in a single pressing by using a set of patented processes, using Bi-Axial and Tri-Axial carbon fibre multi-axial fabrics produced by Formax UK Ltd. with the MonoCell manufactured by Carbo Tech in Salzburg, Austria. This has reduced the time required to produce a MonoCell from 3,000 hours for the F1 and 500 hours for the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren, to 4 hours for the MP4-12C. The McLaren MP4-12C utilizes a unique hydraulic configuration to suspend the vehicle as opposed to more traditional coil springs, dampers and anti-roll bars. What McLaren has called “ProActive Chassis Control,” the system consists of an array of high and low pressure valves interconnected from both left to right and front to back, and the typical anti-roll bars were omitted entirely. When high pressure meets high pressure under roll conditions, stiffness results; and subsequently when high pressure meets low under heave and warp, more give is allowed, ultimately providing a firmer, competent suspension setup in spirited driving, and a very plush, compliant and comfortable ride when moving at slower, constant speeds. The car has a conventional two side-by-side seating arrangement, unlike its predecessor the McLaren F1 which featured an irregular three seat formation (front centre, two behind either side). To make up for this however, the car’s central console is narrower than in other cars, seating the driver closer to the centre. Interior trim and materials can be specified in asymmetric configuration – known as “Driver Zone”. The final car was unveiled to the public on 9 September 2009 before the company’s launch in 2010. A convertible version of the car called the MP4-12C Spider, as added to the range in 2012. The name’s former prefix ‘MP4’ has been the chassis designation for all McLaren Formula 1 cars since 1981. ‘MP4′ stands for McLaren Project 4 as a result of the merger between Ron Dennis’ Project 4 organisation with McLaren. The ’12’ refers to McLaren’s internal Vehicle Performance Index through which it rates key performance criteria both for competitors and for its own cars. The criteria combine power, weight, emissions, and aerodynamic efficiency. The coalition of all these values delivers an overall performance index that has been used as a benchmark throughout the car’s development. The ‘C’ refers to Carbon, highlighting the application of carbon fibre technology to the future range of McLaren sports cars. At the end of 2012, the name of the MP4-12C was reduced to 12C – that name is usually used when referring to the coupe. The open-top version now being called the 12C Spider.

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MERCEDES-BENZ

You tend to get plenty of Mercedes models here. notably those with AMG badging, and it was a couple of C63 AMG cars which attracted my attention. These were the current generation W205 model and its predecessor, the W204 car.

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MOTOR BIKES

There are usually a few Bikes parked up here, but on this occasion there were rather more than that, with a wide variety of different machines on display.

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NISSAN

Still a current model, though no for much longer, is the 370Z, the two seater sports car that Nissan have produced for a decade now.

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PORSCHE

Looking very much like an early 911, this was in fact the 4 cylinder cheaper brother, the 912. Concerned that the considerable price increase of a Type 911 with “flat” six-cylinder powerplant over the Type 356 would cost the company sales and narrow brand appeal, in 1963 Porsche executives decided to introduce a new four-cylinder entry-level model. In 1963, Porsche assigned Dan Schwartz, later Chief Departmental Manager for Development, Mechanics, a project to oversee design and construction of a new horizontally-opposed four-cylinder engine for the car which was code-named 902, utilising components from the new 901 six-cylinder engine, that would produce higher performance than their 356SC engine, and be less costly and complex than their Carrera 2 engine. Another option explored by Claus von Rücker was to increase displacement of the 356 Type 616 engine to 1.8 litres, add Kugelfischer fuel injection, and modify both valve and cooling systems. Considering performance, cost, and scheduling, Porsche discontinued both of these design projects, and instead developed a third option, to tailor the 1.6 litre Type 616 engine to the 902. Before 911 production commenced in 1964, the Porsche Vehicle Research Department had set aside chassis numbers 13328, 13329, 13330, 13352, and 13386 through 13397 for research testing of the 902; research vehicle Serial Number 13394 is the oldest 902 known to exist today. In production form, the Type 912 combined a 911 chassis / bodyshell with the 1.6 litre four-cylinder, push-rod Type 616/36 engine, based upon the Type 616/16 engine used in the Type 356SC of 1964-1965. With a lower compression ratio and new Solex carburetors, the Type 616/36 engine produced five less horsepower than the 616/16, but delivered about the same maximum torque at 3,500 rpm versus 4,200 rpm for the 616/16. Compared to the 911, the resulting production Type 912 vehicle demonstrated superior weight distribution, handling, and range. To bring 912 pricing close to the 356, Porsche also deleted some features standard on the 911. As production of the 356 model concluded in 1965, on April 5, 1965 Porsche officially began production of the 912 coupé. Styling, performance, quality construction, reliability, and price made the 912 a very attractive buy to both new and old customers, and it substantially outsold the 911 during the first few years of production. Porsche produced nearly 30,000 912 coupé units and about 2500 912 Targa body style units (Porsche’s patented variation of a cabriolet) during a five-year manufacturing run. Production of the Targa, complete with removable roof and heavy transparent plastic rear windows openable with a zipper (later called ‘Version I’ by Porsche and the ‘soft-window Targa’ by enthusiasts), commenced in December 1966 as a 1967 model. In January 1968, Porsche also made available a Targa ‘Version II’ option (‘hard window Targa’) with fixed glass rear window, transforming the Targa into a coupé with removable roof. The Type 912 was also made in a special version for the German autobahn police (polizei); the 100,000th Porsche car was a 912 Targa for the police of Baden-Württemberg, the home state of Porsche. In the April 1967 edition, the Porsche factory’s Christophorus Magazine noted: “On 21 December 1966, Porsche celebrated a particularly proud anniversary. The 100,000th Porsche, a 912 Targa outfitted for the police, was delivered.” Porsche executives decided that after the 1969 model year, continuation of 912 production would not be viable, due to both internal and external factors. First, production facilities used for the 912 were reallocated to a new 914-6, a six-cylinder high performance version of the 914 Porsche-Volkswagen joint effort vehicle. Second, the 911 platform had returned to Porsche’s traditional three performance-level ladder, including a most powerful 911S, a fuel-injected 911E, and a base model 911T, with pricing largely in line with market expectations. Third, more stringent United States engine emission control regulations also had a bearing on the decision; Ferry Porsche stated “It would have taken some trouble to prepare the 912 for the new exhaust rules, and with the arrival of the 914 we would have had three different engines to keep current. That was too many.” Porsche had constructed more than 32,000 of the Type 912 from April 1965 to July 1969. For the 1970 model year the four-cylinder 914 superseded the 912 as Porsche’s entry-level model, which Porsche had thought would be less expensive for them to manufacture and sell than the 912. In practice, a deterioration in relationships between Porsche and Volkswagen – who had designed and planned to manufacture the 914 – severely curtailed the intended cost reduction, and 914 production was discontinued in early 1976. After a six-year absence, the 912 was re-introduced to North America as the 1976 model year 912E (internal factory designation 923) which shared the “G-Series” bodywork with the 911S. The “Prototyp” Museum collection in Hamburg, Germany includes a 912E pre-series vehicle constructed utilising a 911 Chassis No. 911 520 1617 and four-cylinder VW-Porsche 90HP 2.0 litre Type 4 similar to the late-model 2.0L 914/4. Once in production, the 912E was powered by an 86 bhp 2.0 litre Volkswagen air-cooled engine, refined with a new Bosch L-Jetronic fuel injection system. The 912E occupied the entry-level position left vacant by the discontinuation of the 914, while the new 924 – another Porsche-Volkswagen joint effort vehicle and the 914’s official replacement – was being finalised and put into production. During the production run of May 1975 to July 1976, Porsche manufactured nearly 2,100 of the 912E, targeted to the United States market.

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The 911 continued to evolve throughout the 1960s and early 1970s, though changes initially were quite small. The SC appeared in the autumn of 1977, proving that any earlier plans there had been to replace the car with the front engined 924 and 928 had been shelved. The SC followed on from the Carrera 3.0 of 1967 and 1977. It had the same 3 litre engine, with a lower compression ratio and detuned to provide 180 PS . The “SC” designation was reintroduced by Porsche for the first time since the 356 SC. No Carrera versions were produced though the 930 Turbo remained at the top of the range. Porsche’s engineers felt that the weight of the extra luxury, safety and emissions equipment on these cars was blunting performance compared to the earlier, lighter cars with the same power output, so in non-US cars, power was increased to 188 PS for 1980, then finally to 204 PS. However, cars sold in the US market retained their lower-compression 180 PS engines throughout. This enabled them to be run on lower-octane fuel. In model year 1980, Porsche offered a Weissach special edition version of the 911 SC, named after the town in Germany where Porsche has their research centre. Designated M439, it was offered in two colours with the turbo whale tail & front chin spoiler, body colour-matched Fuchs alloy wheels and other convenience features as standard. 408 cars were built for North America. In 1982, a Ferry Porsche Edition was made and a total of 200 cars were sold with this cosmetic package. SCs sold in the UK could be specified with the Sport Group Package (UK) which added stiffer suspension, the rear spoiler, front rubber lip and black Fuchs wheels. In 1981 a Cabriolet concept car was shown at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Not only was the car a true convertible, but it also featured four-wheel drive, although this was dropped in the production version. The first 911 Cabriolet debuted in late 1982, as a 1983 model. This was Porsche’s first cabriolet since the 356 of the mid-1960s. It proved very popular with 4,214 sold in its introductory year, despite its premium price relative to the open-top targa. Cabriolet versions of the 911 have been offered ever since. 911 SC sales totalled 58,914 cars before the next iteration, the 3.2 Carrera, which was introduced for the 1984 model year. Coupe models outsold the Targa topped cars by a big margin.

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The 991 introduced in 2012 is an entirely new platform, only the third since the original 911. Porsche revealed basic information on the new Carrera and Carrera S models on 23 August 2011. The Carrera is powered by a 350 hp 3.4-litre engine. The Carrera S features a 3.8-litre engine rated at 400 hp. A Power Kit (option X51) is available for the Carrera S, increasing power output to 430 hp. The new 991’s overall length grows by 56 mm (2.2 in) and wheelbase grows by 99 mm (3.9 in) (now 96.5 in.) Overhangs are trimmed and the rear axle moves rearward at roughly 76 mm (3 in) towards the engine (made possible by new 3-shaft transmissions whose output flanges are moved closer to the engine). There is a wider front track (51 mm (2 in) wider for the Carrera S). The design team for the 991 was headed by Michael Mauer. At the front, the new 991 has wide-set headlights that are more three-dimensional. The front fender peaks are a bit more prominent, and wedgy directionals now appear to float above the intakes for the twin coolant radiators. The stretched rear 3/4 view has changed the most, with a slightly more voluminous form and thin taillights capped with the protruding lip of the bodywork. The biggest and main change in the interior is the center console, inspired by the Carrera GT and adopted by the Panamera. The 991 is the first 911 to use a predominantly aluminium construction. This means that even though the car is larger than the outgoing model, it is still up to 50 kilograms (110 lb) lighter. The reduced weight and increased power means that both the Carrera and Carrera S are appreciably faster than the outgoing models. The 0–60 mph acceleration time for the manual transmission cars are 4.6 seconds for the Carrera and 4.3 seconds for the Carrera S. When equipped with the PDK transmission, the two 991 models can accelerate from 0–97 km/h in 4.4 seconds and 4.1 seconds. With the optional sports chrono package, available for the cars with the PDK transmission, the 991 Carrera can accelerate from 0–97 km/h in as little as 4.2 seconds and the Carrera S can do the same in 3.9 seconds. Apart from the reworked PDK transmission, the new 991 is also equipped with an industry-first 7-speed manual transmission. On vehicles produced in late 2012 (2013 model year) Rev Matching is available on the 7-speed manual transmission when equipped with the Sport Chrono package. Rev-Matching is a new feature with the manual transmission that blips the throttle during downshifts (if in Sport Plus mode). Also, the 7th gear cannot be engaged unless the car is already in 5th or 6th gear. One of Porsche’s primary objectives with the new model was to improve fuel economy as well as increase performance. In order to meet these objectives, Porsche introduced a number of new technologies in the 911. One of the most controversial of these is the introduction of electromechanical power steering instead of the previous hydraulic steering. This steering helps reduce fuel consumption, but some enthusiasts feel that the precise steering feedback for which the 911 is famous is reduced with the new system. The cars also feature an engine stop/start system that turns the engine off at red lights, as well as a coasting system that allows the engine to idle while maintaining speed on downhill gradients on highways. This allows for up to a 16% reduction in fuel consumption and emissions over the outgoing models. The new cars also have a number of technologies aimed at improving handling. The cars include a torque vectoring system (standard on the Carrera S and optional on the Carrera) which brakes the inner wheel of the car when going into turns. This helps the car to turn in quicker and with more precision. The cars also feature hydraulic engine mounts (which help reduce the inertia of the engine when going into turns) as part of the optional sports chrono package. Active suspension management is standard on the Carrera S and optional on the Carrera. This helps improve ride quality on straights while stiffening the suspension during aggressive driving. The new 991 is also equipped with a new feature called Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC). Porsche claims that this new feature alone has shaved 4 seconds off the standard car’s lap time around the Nürburgring. PDCC helps the car corner flat and is said to improve high-speed directional stability and outright lateral body control, but according to several reviews, the car is more prone to understeer when equipped with this new technology. In January 2013, Porsche introduced the all-wheel-drive variants of the Carrera models. The ‘4’ and ‘4S’ models are distinguishable by wider tyres, marginally wider rear body-work and a red-reflector strip that sits in between the tail-lights. In terms of technology, the 4 and 4S models are equipped with an all-new variable all-wheel-drive system that sends power to the front wheels only when needed, giving the driver a sense of being in a rear-wheel-drive 911. In May 2013, Porsche announced changes to the model year 2014 911 Turbo and Turbo S models, increasing their power to 513 hp on the ‘Turbo’, and 552 hp on the ‘Turbo S’, giving them a 0–97 km/h acceleration time of 3.2 and 2.9 seconds, respectively. A rear-wheel steering system has also been incorporated on the Turbo models that steers the rear wheels in the opposite direction at low speeds or the same direction at high speeds to improve handling. During low-speed manoeuvres, this has the virtual effect of shortening the wheelbase, while at high speeds, it is virtually extending the wheelbase for higher driving stability and agility. In January 2014, Porsche introduced the new model year 2015 Targa 4 and Targa 4S models. These new models come equipped with an all-new roof technology with the original Targa design, now with an all-electric cabriolet roof along with the B-pillar and the glass ‘dome’ at the rear. In September 2015, Porsche introduced the second generation of 991 Carrera models at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Both Carrera and Carrera S models break with previous tradition by featuring a 3.0-litre turbocharged 6-cylinder boxer engine, marking the first time that a forced induction engine has been fitted to the base models within the 911 range.

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Porsche unveiled the facelifted 991.2 GT3 at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show. Extensive changes were made to the engine allowing for a 9,000 rpm redline from the 4.0 litre flat-six engine derived from Porsche 911 GT3 R and Cup racing cars. The engine has a power output of 500 PS (493 bhp) and 460 Nm (339 lb/ft) of torque. Porsche’s focus was on reducing internal friction to improve throttle response. Compared to the 991.1, the rear spoiler is 0.8 inch taller and located farther back to be more effective resulting in a 20% increase in downforce. There is a new front spoiler and changes to the rear suspension along with larger ram air ducts. The car generates 154 kg (340 lb) of downforce at top speed. The 991.2 GT3 brought back the choice between a manual transmission or a PDK dual clutch transmission. Performance figures include a 0-60 mph acceleration time of 3.8 seconds (3.2 seconds for the PDK version) and a quarter mile time of 11.6 seconds. The GT3 can attain a top speed of 319 km/h (198 mph).

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Also featuring here were a number of examples of the smaller sports car in Porsche’s range, the 718 Boxster and Cayman.

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Much rumoured for some time, the Cayman GT4 was officially launched at the 2015 Geneva Show, positioned to sit between the Cayman GTS and the 911 GT3. By the time of the official unveiling, the car was supposedly sold out many times over, though more recently it has become apparent that at least some Porsche dealers have been holding onto cars claiming that the first purchaser changed their mind, and then offering them to those who did not get one of the allocation a year ago, at vastly inflated prices. If true, this is very sharp practice indeed, but seems to be the sort to tricks that are becoming increasingly common as enthusiasts are being fleeced in the name of extra profit. For a starting price of around £65,000 in the UK, the lucky customer would get a car which used used a stiffened and strengthened Cayman bodyshell as a starting point, but lowered by 30mm . Porsche say that in fitting as many GT parts as possible, they did not make it out of a Cayman GTS, but rather they produced an entry-level mid-engined GT3 car. That sounds like PR spin to me, as of course the car does use an awful lot of parts from the regular Cayman. However, plenty is changed, too. There is a reworked version of the Carrera S’s 3.8-litre flat six engine, producing 380bhp at 7400rpm and 310lb ft at 4750-6000rpm, hooked up to a modified version of the Cayman GTS’s six-speed manual gearbox. A PDK dual-clutch automatic was considered but rejected, meaning the Cayman GT4 is manual only. This is enough to mean that the 0-62mph sprint takes 4.4sec and the top speed is 183mph, with combined fuel economy of 27.4mpg and CO2 emissions rated at 238g/km. The front axle and suspension are borrowed from the 911 GT3 and the rear axle and forged aluminium double wishbone suspension are completely new. Dampers are taken from the 911 GT3. The electric steering system from the 911 GT3 does make it onto the Cayman GT4 but is given new software. Stopping power is provided by standard steel brakes, or optional carbon-ceramics from the 911 GT3. The forged 20in alloy wheels were new and are shod with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres. The rear 295/30 ZR20 tyres are bespoke, but the front 245/35 ZR20s were borrowed from the 911 GT3 as they were “a perfect match”. design-wise, the goal was to create a “zero lift car”, but thanks to the extensive aerodynamic and cooling package on the car – which includes a front splitter, a larger front grille and increased frontal air intakes, side air intakes, not one but two rear spoilers and a fully functional diffuser – the Cayman GT4 produces as much downforce at speed (100kg) as the 911 GT3. Every single part on the Cayman GT4 has a functional use. Other design features include “cool” black glass on the front and rear lights, blackened twin central exhausts and quality stitching on the twin lightweight bucket seats, taken from the 918 Spyder, as small details adding to that ‘want factor’.Despite all the extra equipment, the Cayman GT4 weighs no more than a Cayman GTS, tipping the scales at 1340kg dry. You could delete items such as the sat-nav and air-con to save weight, but few customers did, just as with the 911 GT3 RS were just 2% of buyers deleted the air-con. Inside, the steering wheel was new. The sports seats were trimmed in both leather and Alcantara. Standard equipment included bi-xenon headlights, a sports exhaust system, a Sport Chrono Package with dynamic engine mounts, the Porsche Torque Vectoring system, a mechanical limited-slip differential at the rear and the Porsche Stability Management system. On the options list were items such as carbonfibre-reinforced, plastic-backed seats for the two-seat interior. These weigh just 15kg each and were inspired by the 918 Spyder. A customised version of the Sport Chrono Package was offered, as is a Club Sport Package. Initially it was declared that production would be very limited, but Porsche soon relented and far more were built than had originally been declared.

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RENAULT

There were a number of sporting Renault models here, reflecting the popularity of the hot hatches that the firm has produced over the last twenty or so years. In 1999 Renault presented the first officially branded RenaultSport Clio, this was the third Clio produced by the RenaultSport division succeeding the Clio 16V and Clio Williams. This new Clio, the 172 was based on the 3 door Clio II shell however had numerous features over the standard car including wider arches, restyled bumpers, side skirts and 15-inch OZ F1 alloy wheels. Power was delivered by the F4R730 engine, a 2.0-litre 16-valve Inline 4 engine with a Variable valve timing (VVT) system via a dephaser on the intake camshaft pulley. The engine was a modified version of the F4R used in models such as the Laguna and Espace and was modified by Mecachrome to deliver a power output of 172 PS. Power was delivered to the wheels via a JC5-089 five-speed manual gearbox. The 172 also featured interior changes over the standard car including Half Leather, Half Alcantara seats embossed with the RenaultSport logo and the car also came standard with manually controlled Air Conditioning. A limited edition of the Phase 1 172 was produced and known as the Clio 172 Exclusive. This was limited to 172 units, all 172 of this “Exclusive” edition were 296 Scarab Green, featured BBS alloy wheels and a full leather interior as opposed to the half-leather half Alcantara seats featured in the standard car. In 2001 the interior and exterior of the Clio II were face-lifted, the Clio RS followed suit shortly after. This facelift of the Clio 172 included redesigned front and rear bumpers, the front bumper falling in line with the style of the face-lifted Clio II. The rear bumper was now less rounded and featured a strip of ABS plastic effectively splitting the bumper into two. The lights, bonnet and boot lid were also matched to the face-lifted Clio II. The interior was also changed to closer match that of the face-lifted Clio II, the seats were slightly revised however still featured the same Half Leather, Half Alcantara fabrics and the embossed RenaultSport logo. One new feature that the Phase 2 172 featured was automatic climate control as opposed to the manual air-conditioning featured in the Phase 1. The dashboard featured Silver interior trims and the steering wheel included a plastic insert featuring the RenaultSport logo. The gear shifter was changed from the metal ball featured on the Phase 1 to a Leather wrapped shifter with a silver coloured insert on the top. The Phase 2 172 also featured increased equipment including automatic Xenon headlights and headlight washers, Rain Sensing wipers a six-disc CD changer, and it also included side-impact airbags integrated into the seats. The 15-inch OZ F1 alloy wheels were also replaced with a 16-inch Alloy Wheel of Renault’s own design. The facelift of the 172 also brought about a number of changes to the engine of the car. A revised version of the F4R used, the F4R 736, this featured a revised cylinder head with the exhaust ports being approximately 30% smaller than those featured on the Phase 1 172. The airbox was also redesigned to be much more square than the original airbox. A revised version of the JC5 gearbox, the JC5-129 was introduced in this version of the Clio 172, which revised JC5 featured a shorter final drive to counter the increased weight of the face-lifted 172. The catalytic converter, which on the PH1 172 had been dual barrel was reduced to a single barrel and featured 2 lambda sensors, one before and one after the catalytic converter. The biggest change to the PH2 172 over the PH1 was the introduction of an electric throttle. This meant the Idle Control Valve of the PH1 was no longer required leading to a minor redesign of the intake manifold. In 2002 Renault released the 172 Cup, which bore the chassis code CB1N and was known by Renault as the “sport lightweight version”. The vast majority of cars were produced in D43 Mondial Blue (metallic) with a limited run of around 90 cars being produced in 640 Iceberg Silver (metallic). The Cup, originally built for Gr.N homologation of the Clio 172 was differentiated from the “non cup” 172 by its lack of many of the luxuries included in the regular car. Instead of the leather / Alcantara seats instead the same style seat was upholstered in a durable but low-cost fabric, the automatic Xenon headlights were replaced by manually controlled halogen units and the washer jets replaced with blanks. The rain sensing wipers and solar reflective coated windscreen were also omitted from the 172 Cup. However the car had features not before seen on a production version of the 172, which included lightweight 16-inch Speedline Turini alloy wheels, matte blue door strips, ABS plastic “Cup” front splitter and a restyled “Cup” rear spoiler. The dash strips which were silver on the regular car were painted to match the outside of the car. One of the main features of the 172 Cup was its significant weight saving, having a kerb weight of 1021 kg, making it the lightest of 172 versions produced. This was achieved by the removal of a majority of sound deadening from the car alongside thinner glass to reduce weight even further. One large difference was also the lack of air conditioning which was a standard fit component on the regular 172, which typically led to the cup producing more power due to the engine having less ancillaries to drive. This however was reintroduced as an optional extra later in the production run of the Cup. The 0–60 time of the 172 Cup was officially marketed by Renault as being 6.5 seconds; however AutoCar Magazine reportedly timed the 0–60 at 6.2 seconds which if this were the case would make the 172 Cup the second fastest road going Clio produced at the time of this article, second to only the V6. Many enthusiasts regard the 172 Cup as the last “hardcore” hot hatch due to its lack of anti-lock brakes; the car also featured modified suspension which gave it a wider track thanks to modified wishbones, the car also sat lower than standard and featured stiffer shocks and springs, the suspension geometry was revised to suit these components and to mean that the steering response was increased, this also lead to an increase in oversteer thanks to the lack of weight and revised geometry. Due to the lack of ABS the brake bias of the car was fixed by way of disconnecting the rear axle compensator, within the UK this often lead to the cars failing the MOT test, VOSA eventually issued an advisory to prevent this from happening. 2004 marked yet another refresh of the Clio II. The inserts of the headlights were changed from Black to Grey, new wheels styles were introduced and new colour options were added with others being dropped. The basic design of the car stayed the same with only minor changes. The Six-Disc CD changer was dropped as standard equipment however was still available as a cost option. This refresh marked the introduction of cruise control and Electronic Stability Program (ESP) as standard equipment. The Clio RS featured a lot more changes than the regular Clio. The engine was again revised and became the F4R 738. The difference between the F4R 738 and F4R 736 was a revised oil breather setup meaning the intake manifold found on a 172 would not fit a 182. Thanks to a number of other changes this engine produced 182 PS . This increase in power was thanks to the addition of a 4-2-1 Manifold and high flow 200 cell sports catalytic converter. The spare wheel well was removed and replaced with a flat floor to make way for the new dual exit exhaust featured on the 182. Minor revisions were made to the interior, the perforated texture of the Alcantara on the seats now featured white dots. The car also featured a new 8 spoke wheel design which came in Silver on a regular car and Anthracite on a “Cup Packed” car. The rarest optional extra available was the Carminat Sat-Nav which was fitted to very few cars. However, the unit wasn’t a popular option due to its high cost and rumoured poor performance compared to aftermarket options. The “Cup” Front Splitter and “Cup” Spoiler originally fitted to the 172 Cup made a reappearance as a cost option known as the Cup Style Pack. This was one of two cup packs available, the other being the Cup Chassis. This Cup Chassis pack included a strengthened hub with 60mm spacing on the strut bolt holes as opposed 54mm on non cup packed cars. The Cup Chassis also featured lowered suspension with stiffer shocks and springs and an anthracite version of the standard alloy wheels. The Clio 182 could also be ordered in a more race focused than ‘base’ RS model called “Cup Specification”, this was available in just two colours, J45 Racing Blue and D38 Inferno Orange, however came as Standard with the Cup Chassis and Cup Style Pack. The 182 Cup lacked the automatic Xenon headlights and headlight washer jets, climate control (rear footwell heater vents were also removed), illuminated sun visors, Solar Reflective Windscreen and Automatic Wipers. The leather / Alcantara seats were replaced with cloth items and the rear bench was downgraded to match. The engine cover and sill plates were removed and the steering wheel was downgraded to no longer include the RenaultSport Logo or rubber thumb grips. Carpet and headlining were downgraded to basic specification and even the documentation wallet was changed from faux leather to cloth. Sound deadening was removed from the 182 Cup, the horn was downgraded from a twin to single unit and the interior light no longer included a map reading function. Despite all of these reductions in specification the 182 Cup was still considerably heavier than the previous 172 Cup, meaning this version of the Clio II RS was considered one of the least desirable versions. The final version of the Clio 182 was known as the 182 Trophy. This version was based on the 182 Cup and featured the same strengthened hubs with 60 mm bolt spacing. Originally only 500 cars were to be produced for the UK market however an additional 50 were produced to be sold in Switzerland. At the time, believing there was no market for this version of the Clio, the Marketing Department of Renault France failed to order a 182 Trophy. The 182 Trophy included 16 Inch Speedline Turini Alloy wheels as seen on the 172 Cup, the Spoiler from the Clio 255 V6, Recaro Trendline seats and exclusive 727 Capsicum Red Paint with Trophy Decals lacquered onto the Side skirts. Each car had an individually numbered plaque on the base of the driver’s seat. The biggest difference however between the 182 Cup and 182 Trophy was the inclusion of Sachs Remote-Reservoir dampers. The basic principle of a Remote-Reservoir damper is that because there is a separate reservoir for the gas or oil which fills the shock they can either be of a reduced length or can house a longer rod, this means that the sizing of the shock can be optimised for the application in which it is being used. These changes definitely made a big difference to the 182 Trophy and have led to its being heralded as one of the best hot hatches of all time and it won Evo Magazine’s “People’s Performance Car of The Year” 2005, whilst also beating off rivals such as the Lamborghini Gallardo and other exotica in an Evo Magazine Group Test. AutoCar Magazine’s front cover from 5 July 2005 simply stated “World’s Greatest Hot Hatch”.

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Expectations were high for another class-leading sporty Clio when Renault debuted the third generation model in 2005, and enthusiasts were not disappointed when Renault premiered the car, which was called the Clio RS 197. The new Clio III drew technology from Formula One, including a rear diffuser and brake cooling side vents, they upgraded the engine, now to 194 bhp (197 PS). The car is heavier than its predecessor, but the acceleration figures are slightly improved due to a combination of more power, torque and the new six-speed gearbox with shorter gearing according to the official figures published on the Renaultsport website. The facelifted Clio III was further enhanced with the inclusion of a front splitter and the engine now produced 197 bhp (200 PS). This has been made possible by tweaks to the exhaust system, valve timing and ECU also stated to give a slight increase in fuel economy. Acceleration figures were slightly improved due to shorter gearing in 1, 2 and 3 and enhancements have been made to the cup chassis including making the steering rack more responsive. Cosmetic enhancements include the addition of larger tailpipes protruding slightly from the rear diffuser, i.d. coloured front bumper insert, wing mirror covers and rear diffuser and i.d. interior trim. Renault also introduced a new i.d. paint option of Alien Green. The 200 is highly regarded by EVO magazine, remaining their hot hatch of choice since 2009. “After the mild disappointment of the Clio 197, Renaultsport has got the Clio back to its very best, producing a cracking small hot hatch more than capable of chasing down supercars on eCOTY 2009 for a top five finish”. It was hailed by CAR Magazine as “the 911 GT3 of hot hatches” and remained CAR Magazine’s “Best in Class” since its release in 2009. Renault produced a significant number of limited edition variants during the model’s life cycle. Production ceased in 202 when the fourth generation was launched.

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A rather different sort of Renault is this Renault Clio V6 Renault Sport, to give the car its full and rather cumbersome name. This was a rear mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout hot hatch based on the Renault Clio launched in 2001, very much in the same style as the earlier mid-engined R5 Turbo models of the 1980s. Designed by Renault, the Phase 1 models were built by Tom Walkinshaw Racing and Phase 2 were designed and helped by Porsche and built by Renault Sport in Dieppe. The Clio V6 was based on the Clio Mk II, though it shared very few parts with that car. The 3.0 litre 60° V6 engine, sourced from the PSA group. It was the ES9J unit as used in the Peugeot 406, 407 and 607, and the Citroen C 5 and not the one that Renault used in the 3 litre Laguna engine, which had an PRV (Peugeot, Renault & Volvo) an earlier development 90° V based on a V8 that never was. For this car it was upgraded to around 227 bhp and placed in the middle of the vehicle where the more ordinary Clios have rear seats – making this car a two-seater hot hatch. In order to accommodate the radical change from front-engine, front-wheel drive hatchback to mid-engine, rear-wheel drive two-seater quasi-coupé, the car had to be extensively reworked structurally, leading to the Phase 1 version being some 300 kg (660 lb) heavier than the sportiest “regular” Clio, the 172 Cup. Due to this, even though the V6 model had significantly more power, it was not remarkably faster in a straight line accelerating to legal road speeds than the 172 Cup – accelerating to 60 mph in 6.2 seconds compared to the Cup’s 6.7 seconds – though its maximum speed was significantly higher at 146 mph compared to 138 mph. Opinions varied on the handling, but many found it very twitchy and the car soon a gained a reputation for breaking away with little warning. That was largely addressed by the Phase 2 cars which were launched in 2003. The front end took on the same sort of new design as had been applied to the regular models. The engine was upgraded, to make the Phase 2 Clio V6 the most powerful serial produced hot hatch in the world with 255 bhp exceeding the 247 bhp of the Alfa Romeo 147 GTA and the 222 bhp SEAT León Cupra R. Based on the Phase 1 engine, its extra performance was helped with assistance from Porsche and although the Phase 2 gained even more weight, the result was a a reduced 0–60 mph run at 5.9 seconds and a top speed of 153 mph. Though based on a utilitarian hatchback, the Clio V6 was not a practical family car. With an average fuel consumption of 24 mpg, this resulted in an empty fuel tank in just over 300 miles. The loss of the back seats and most of the boot space, due to the engine placement, resulted in a severe restriction in luggage space – there was only a small space in the front where the engine used to be, suitable for a holdall or week-end groceries, a small netted area behind the seats plus a small stash area under the tailgate. The enhanced steering made tight manoeuvring a little challenging, the turning circle being a rather awkward 13 m (42.7 ft) – around three car lengths – turning what might normally be a three-point turn into a five-point turn. Standard equipment in the car was good, this was not a stripped-out special, and it included rain sensing windscreen wipers, automatic headlights, air conditioning, and six speakers and CD changer. The Phase 2 Clio V6 retailed for £27,125 in the United Kingdom, until it was withdrawn from sale in 2005 coinciding with a facelift for the Clio range. The Phase 2 was received far more enthusiastically by the ever-critical UK press. These days there is no doubting the fact that this is a a modern classic.

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It did not take Renault long to add an RS version to their 3rd generation Megane range. debuting the car at the 2009 Geneva Show. This new Megane Renault Sport 250 included a 2.0litre twin-scroll turbo 4-cylinder F4Rt engine rated at 250 PS (247 bhp) at 5500 rpm and 340 Nm (251 lb/ft) at 3000 rpm with a 6-speed manual gearbox, Brembo front brakes, front splitter, extended sills and wheel arches, rear diffuser with central exhaust pipe, and 18-inch alloy wheels wearing 225/40R18 tyres. Aluminum pedals, a Renault Sport steering wheel with thumb grips, analog rev counter and sport seats with extra lateral support dress up the cabin. Other features include front LED daytime running lights and bi-xenon headlights. The 250 Cup variant contains a number of sharpened performance features including a stiffer chassis, track focused suspension, a limited slip differential and a slightly lighter gross weight. The Cup is differentiated visually with painted red brake calipers, instead of the silver calipers for the normal Sport. 18×8.25″ “Ax-l” alloy wheels are fitted with wider 235/40R18 tyres, while 19×8.25″ “Steev” wheels were available as an option with 235/35R19 tyres. In June 2011 Renault Sport revealed a limited edition 265 PS (261 bhp) version of the Mégane III called the Mégane R.S. Trophy. The Megane R.S. Trophy uses the same 2.0 four-cylinder as the standard 250 PS R.S. but thanks to modifications such as a new air intake and higher turbo pressure it gains an extra 15 hp, increasing the power output to 265 PS. It reaches 0–62 mph in six seconds flat and goes on to a top speed of 254 km/h (157 mph). It is recognizable thanks to model-specific decoration such as Trophy stickers on the doors, a new spoiler and specific 19″ rims with R.S. centre caps. It comes in a model-specific metallic yellow (Jaune Sirius) but is also available in more low-key colours such as white (Blanc Glacier), black (Noir Étoilé) and gray (Gris Cassiopée). Production was limited to 500 examples. In 2012, the Megane R.S. adopted the updated engine from the Trophy version with 265 PS (261 HP) and offers the same “Cup” and “Sport” versions like the previous 250 PS (247 HP) model. Changes include Piano Black interior highlights and wider LED daytime running lights with 6 LEDs per side rather than the 3 LEDs found in the RS250. The 18″ wheels were changed to a new design called “Tibor”, while the 19″ wheels carried over from the 250. Extreme Blue and Sport Yellow were dropped as colour options. In Australia, the Cup and Cup Trophée models were replaced with the Cup, Cup+ and Trophy+ with slightly more flexible specification levels.

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STUDEBAKER

Definitely one of those rarities that you get at this location, this is a Studebaker E-Series Truck. The E series Studebaker trucks are the original 1955 E series Studebaker trucks, sold in half-ton, 3/4-ton, and 1-, 1.5-, and 2-ton capacities, and the1956: 2E series; 1957-58: 3E series; 1959: 4E series; 1960: 5E series; 1961: 6E series; 1962: 7E series; and 1963-64: 8E series. Given these model-year designations, “E series” has come to mean all Studebaker trucks built between 1955 and the end of all vehicle production in the US in December 1963. Within each tonnage rating, these trucks were all fairly similar, since Studebaker was in dire financial straits during this entire period and invested virtually nothing to update its truck division products. For the 1956 and 1957-58 models, all Studebaker trucks were called Transtar. The most distinctive characteristic of Studebaker E-series trucks is the cab, which remained unchanged through the 1959 models. With only two changes – a one-piece windshield in 1954 (for the preceding 3R series) and a larger rear window in 1955 for the first E series – it was essentially the same cab as was introduced on the 2R series in mid-1948 as a 1949 model. The first E was available with three engines, the Champion 185 cu in (3.0 L) inline-six with 92 bhp, the Commander 246 cu in (4.0 L) six with 102 bhp, or the 224 cu in (3.7 L) Commander V8 with 140 bhp. The heavier 1½ and 2 ton models were available with the bigger 259 cu in (4.2 L) Commander V8, with 156 or 175 bhp respectively. The bigger engines gradually migrated into the lighter offerings over the years, with the six-cylinder models becoming ever less relevant. In 1957 Studebaker’s 289 cu in (4.7 L) found its way into the heavy duty 2-ton 3E40 and was sporadically available mostly at the top of the range. The 1956 2E received a new hood, with the “Studebaker” script now on a secondary chrome grille mounted up high. The front turn signals were also incorporated in the grille, beneath the headlights. 20,218 Studebaker 2E trucks were built in the 1956 model year. A new massive fibreglass grille appeared on the 1957-58 3E models, and was the last significant styling change made to these trucks. For the 1958 and 59 model years, a stripped-down, low-cost Studebaker truck, called the Scotsman, was produced in addition to the Transtars, in 1/2 and 3/4-ton ratings. To save money, it used a modified version of the 1949-53 grille and was spartan in almost every way. For unknown reasons, the Transtar name was dropped from the Studebaker truck line in 1959, though it reappeared in 1960 on the 1-, 1½-, and 2-ton models. For 1960, E-series trucks received their only major restyling. Called the Champ, the design used the front panels from the 1959–1960 Studebaker Lark passenger car and was available in 1/2-ton and 3/4-ton models. The 1/2, 3/4, and 1-ton trucks were generally available with both 6-cylinder and V8 engines (no six-cylinder engines were available in the 1-ton trucks after 1960). Larger trucks came with V8s only. Beginning with the 1962 7E models, a 130 hp 212 cu in (3.5 L) Detroit Diesel engine was also available in those of 1-ton or above capacity, and air brakes could be had on 2-ton models. A “96BBC” (meaning 96 inches from bumper to back of cab) was available in both gasoline- and diesel-powered models beginning in 1962. The short cab length was achieved by deleting the fibreglass grille, flattening the front of the hood, and applying a very distinctive flat nose below the hood. This model was produced in response to some state laws that restricted the overall length of tractor trailers, and thus permitted the use of longer trailers. In the last two model years a 97 hp 159 cu in (2.6 L) three-cylinder Detroit Diesel 3D-53 engine was offered in 1 and 1½-ton configurations (8E15 and 8E25). Production of these models were very low, although they continued to be available until the end in 1964. Four-wheel drive was available on 1/2 and 3/4-ton models beginning in 1957. Studebaker did not make the 4WD equipment themselves, but (in common with Chevrolet and GMC at the time) purchased the hardware from NAPCO (Northwestern Auto Parts Company).

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SUBARU

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.

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TOYOTA

This is the traditional LandCruiser, the long-lived J40, a series which ran from 1960 until 2001. Traditional body on frame SUVs, most 40 series Land Cruisers were built as 2-door models with slightly larger dimensions than the similar Jeep CJ. The model was available in short (J40/41/42), medium (J43/44/46) and long (J45/47) wheelbase versions, with petrol and diesel engines. Only minor changes were made during the vehicle’s production run which was in 1984 except for the Brazilian-built version which continued right up to 2001.

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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.

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TRIUMPH

Based on the chassis and mechanicals of the Triumph Herald, the Spitfire was conceived as a rival to the Austin-Healey Sprite and MG Midget, which were launched a year earlier. The Triumph soon found a strong following, with many preferring it to the BMC cars which in time would become in-house stablemates. Mark II models arrived in 1965 and a more comprehensive facelift in 1967 with the distinctive “bone in mouth” front grille necessitated by US bumper height regulations also brought changes, but it was with the Mark IV that the greatest number of alterations would come about. The Mark IV featured a completely re-designed cut-off rear end, giving a strong family resemblance to the Triumph Stag and Triumph 2000 models, both of which were also Michelotti-designed. The front end was also cleaned up, with a new bonnet pressing losing the weld lines on top of the wings from the older models, and the doors were given recessed handles and squared-off glass in the top rear corner. The interior was much improved: a proper full-width dashboard was provided, putting the instruments ahead of the driver rather than over the centre console. This was initially black plastic however was replaced with wood in 1973. An all-new hardtop was also available, with rear quarter-lights and a flatter rear screen. By far the most significant change, however, was to the rear suspension, which was de-cambered and redesigned to eliminate the unfortunate tendencies of the original swing-axle design. The Triumph GT6 and Triumph Vitesse had already been modified, and the result on all these cars was safe and progressive handling even at the limit. The 75 hp engine was now rated at 63 hp (for UK market employing the 9:1 compression ratio and twin SU HS2 carburettors; the less powerful North American version still used a single Zenith Stromberg carburettor and an 8.5:1 compression ratio) due to the German DIN system; the actual output was the same for the early Mark IV. However, it was slightly slower than the previous Mark III due to carrying more weight, and employing a taller 3.89:1 final drive as opposed to the earlier 4.11:1. The engine continued at 1296 cc, but in 1973 was modified with larger big-end bearings to rationalise production with the TR6 2.5 litre engines, which somewhat decreased its “revvy” nature; there was some detuning, to meet new emissions laws, which resulted in the new car being a little tamer. With the overall weight also increasing to 1,717 lb (779 kg) the performance dropped as a consequence, 0 to 60 mph now being achieved in 15.8 seconds and the top speed reducing to 90 mph. The overall fuel economy also dipped to 32mpg. The gearbox gained synchromesh on its bottom gear. The Mark IV went on sale in the UK at the end of 1970 with a base price of £735. In 1973 in the United States and Canada, and 1975 in the rest of the world, the 1500 engine was used to make the Spitfire 1500. Although in this final incarnation the engine was rather rougher and more prone to failure than the earlier units, torque was greatly increased by increasing the cylinder stroke to 87.5 mm (3.44 in), which made it much more drivable in traffic. While the rest of the world saw 1500s with the compression ratio reduced to 8.0:1, the American market model was fitted with a single Zenith-Stromberg carburettor and a compression ratio reduced to 7.5:1 to allow it to run on lower octane unleaded fuel, and after adding a catalytic converter and exhaust gas recirculating system, the engine only delivered 53 bhp with a slower 0–60 time of 16.3 seconds. The notable exception to this was the 1976 model year, where the compression ratio was raised to 9.1:1. This improvement was short-lived, however, as the ratio was again reduced to 7.5:1 for the remaining years of production. In the UK the 9:1 compression ratio, less restrictive emissions control equipment, and the Type HS2 SU carburettors now being replaced with larger Type HS4 models, led to the most powerful variant to date. The 1500 Spitfire now produced 71hp (DIN) at 5500 rpm, and produced 82 lb/ft of torque at 3000 rpm. Top speed was now at the magical 100 mph mark, and 0 to 60 mph was reached in 13.2 seconds. Fuel economy was reduced to 29mpg. Further improvements to the suspension followed with the 1500 included longer swing axles and a lowered spring mounting point for more negative camber and a wider rear track. The wider, lower stance gave an impressive skid pad result of 0.87g average. This put the Spitfire head and shoulders over its competition in handling. The American market Spitfire 1500 is easily identified by the big plastic over-riders and wing mounted reflectors on the front and back wings. The US specification models up to 1978 still had chrome bumpers, but on the 1979 and 1980 models these were replaced by black rubber bumpers with built-in over-riders. Chassis extensions were also fitted under the boot to support the bumpers. Detail improvements continued to be made throughout the life of the Mark IV, and included reclining seats with “chequered brushed nylon centre panels” and head restraints, introduced for domestic market cars early in 1977 along with a new set of column stalk operated minor controls (as fitted already in the TR7) replacing the old dashboard mounted knobs and switches. Also added for the model’s final years were a wood dash, hazard flashers and an electric screen washer, in place of the previous manual pump operated ones. Options such as the hard top, tonneau cover, map light and overdrive continued to be popular, but wire wheels ceased to be available. The 1980 model was the last and the heaviest of the entire run, weighing 1,875 lb (850.5 kg). Base prices for the 1980 model year was £3,631 in the UK. The last Spitfire, an Inca Yellow UK-market model with hardtop and overdrive, rolled off the assembly line at Canley in August 1980, shortly before the factory closed. It was never sold and is now displayed at the museum at Gaydon.

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TVR

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.

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The Tuscan was launched in 2000, by which time there had been a series of what we think of as the modern era TVRs produced for nearly a decade, the Cerbera, Griffith and Cerbera. The Tuscan did not replace any of them, but was intended to help with the company’s ambitious push further up market to become a sort of Blackpool-built alternative to Ferrari. It did not lack the styling for the task, and unlike the preceding models with their Rover V8 engines, the new car came with TVR’s own engine, a straight six unit of 3.6 litre capacity putting out 360 bhp. The Tuscan was intended to be the grand tourer of the range, perfectly practical for everyday use, though with only two seats, no ABS, no airbags and no traction control, it was a tough sell on wet days in a more safety conscious world, but at least there was a removable targa top roof panel for those days when the sun came out. The car may have lacked the rumble of a V8, but when pushed hard, the sound track from the engine was still pretty special, and the car was faster than the Cerbera, but sadly, the car proved less than reliable, which really started to harm TVR’s reputation, something which would ultimately prove to be its undoing.

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The T350 cars were made from 2002 to 2006. They were based on the TVR Tamora, and powered by TVR’s Speed Six engine in 3.6 litre form, producing 350 hp. The T350 was available in coupe and targa versions, the coupe version being known as the T350C, and the targa version the T350T. The T350 later formed the base of the TVR Sagaris. Function dominates form evident by the car’s aero-dynamic design which has been created for maximum downforce and minimal drag. The smooth frontal nose and the sharp rear cut tail allows the car to be aerodynamically efficient while reducing drag. The sloping rear line of the car ensures that the car generates minimum lift at high speeds. The car takes many components from the entry level Tamora such as the interior, multi-function display and analogue metres. The optional Sport package adds extra options in the multi-functional display such as lap-times, oil temperature and water temperature. The fastback design of the car gives the customer an advantage of increased boot space. The powerful Speed Six engine is a proven race winning unit and very responsive suiting the car’s aggressive character with a 0 – 100 km/h time of just 4.4 seconds.

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VAUXHALL

The original hot hatch Astra VXR was announced in January 2005, and went on sale in the summer of 2005. Based on the Vauxhall Astra Mark 5, it was fitted with a 2.0i turbo 16V engine (Z20LEH) producing 236 bhp. It could accelerate 0 to 62 mph (100 km/h) in 6.2 seconds and reach a top speed of 152 mph (245 km/h). Externally, it was different from the standard Astra with a central trapezoidal rear exhaust, 18″ six spoke alloy wheels with 225/40R18 tyres (optional 19″ ten spoke wheels), lowered and uprated suspension and VXR front fog lamps and other external styling including spoiler.

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VOLKSWAGEN

The fifth generation Golf GTI features a 2.0 litre turbocharged inline 4-cylinder petrol engine with Fuel Stratified Injection (FSI) direct-injection technology, which produces 200PS (197 bhp). It is available in both 3-door and 5-door hatchback body shapes, and comes with a choice of either 6-speed manual or a 6-speed Direct-Shift Gearbox (DSG) which greatly reduces shift time to only 8ms. The concept GTI was first shown to the public at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2003. The first production model was initially unveiled at the Mondial de l’Automobile in Paris in September 2004, and went on sale around the world shortly thereafter. At the Los Angeles Auto Show in January 2006, the GTI made its long-awaited North American debut in 3-door guise (a 5-door variant was eventually made available), where it is marketed solely under the ‘GTI’ moniker, with no reference to the Rabbit. The new GTI has a considerable price increase over the previous model, mainly due to the features mentioned above, and the fact that the exterior itself had not seen such a dramatic design change in years. The price is further raised because it is built in Germany, unlike the Mk4 some of which were built in Brazil. The innovative DSG transmission and the 200 PS (197 hp) TFSI engine all helped raise the retail price of the car. The Mk5 GTI was named 2007 Automobile of the Year by Automobile Magazine, in December 2006. This generation marked the only generation in Canada to have the GTI as a separate nameplate rather than a trim of the Golf. When Volkswagen announced the revival of the Golf in the US and Canada for the 2010 model year, Volkswagen reverted the GTI nameplate as a Golf trim, although the GTI remains a separate nameplate in the United States. Production ceased on introduction of the sixth generation model in 2008.

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There were a number of more recent performance-oriented VW mo dels with GTi bagding on them here, too, including the Polo GTi and the diminutive Up GTi.

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AND FINALLY

This immaculate looking Datsun Stanza was not to be seen at Caffeine & Machine, but a few miles away, parked up in the middle of Moreton in Marsh. It’s been a long time since I last saw one, so I had to find a parking place and wander back to have a closer look. The front-wheel drive Stanza was introduced in 1981 – the first middle-class Datsun to be of that configuration, and the first Japanese car in the category built to the principles which had been established in Europe for this class since a few years back. In Europe, front-wheel drive and a liftback design were becoming the norm in this segment, although more traditional Japanese buyers still preferred the rear-wheel drive Bluebird. It remained on sale in Britain until 1986, after which Nissan sold the first British-built Bluebird as its only product in this market sector. Nissan was previously building a smaller, front wheel drive car, beginning with the 1970 Nissan Cherry, and then reconfigured the Violet to front wheel drive. 3-door hatchback, 4-door saloon, and 5-door liftback models were produced. After 1982, Nissan tried to standardise the Stanza name in its export markets – in addition to phasing out the Datsun marque in favour of Nissan. In the United States the T11 Stanza with the CA20S engine replaced the 510 for the 1982 model year. In the United States, the Nissan Prairie was also sold as part of the range, renamed the Stanza Wagon. In 1984, Nissan changed the engine in the Stanza from the carburettor CA20S to the fuel-injected 2.0 L, straight-four CA20E. This car was 1981 Semperit Irish Car of the Year in Ireland. Japanese and some other export models were called “Stanza FX”, and were offered with 1.6 and 1.8 L engines. This version was sold in the United Kingdom and Europe as the Nissan Stanza; the range was “L” 1.6 L, “GL” 1.6 L, “SGL” 1.6 L and “SGL” 1.8 L. Some markets (such as Belgium, where it came fitted with the full SGL equipment) also received a 1.7-litre turbodiesel engine with 73 PS, beginning with the 1984 model year. European market cars were generally fitted with very long gearing, making the car one of the most fuel economic in its class. It was first sold in Britain from January 1982, alongside the similar-sized rear-wheel drive Bluebird saloons and estates, which later also switched to front-wheel drive. This meant that Nissan was in the position of offering traditional rear-wheel drive saloons and estates alongside similar-sized front-wheel drive cars including hatchbacks, as this market sector was in a period of transition in the early 1980s. Nissan-Datsun New Zealand occasionally imported later generation Violets and other models for evaluation, or imported a small production run if additional import licences became available (there was a trading scheme enabling importers to trade unused annual license allocations with each other). One highly specified, five-door, third generation, front-drive model with automatic transmission – and then-rare air conditioning – was imported for an international distributors’ conference held in NZ in 1981 and was later used by a company executive’s wife before being resold through the company’s own dealer network. There was also a small later shipment of cars for public sale (this time without a/c) but, as usual with low-volume imports of this type by Nissan and rivals, most were pre-sold before the ship docked. A number of Stanzas also arrived as used imports from Japan in the late 1980s. In Indonesia, the T11 Stanza 1.6 L was a popular car taxi in the mid-1980s. The facelifted Japanese models have an upright nose, similar to that of the Bluebird U11 series. The Stanza was available in Japan at Nissan Satio Store locations, while its badge engineered companion was sold as the Japanese: Violet Liberta five-door hatchback from 1981-1982, then replaced by the smaller Pulsar based Japanese: Liberta Villa three-door hatchback. The Violet Liberta was sold at Nissan Cherry Store locations but only as a five door hatchback. The Auster was a higher specification and sportier version of the Stanza for the Japanese domestic market, with the emphasis towards a younger demographic. The three-door hatchback Auster GT-ES was equipped with a five-speed manual transmission. Various trim packages were labeled, 1600 CS-X, Auster JX, GS-X Extra, and the 1800 GS-L Super Saloon. The Auster was exclusive to Nissan Prince Store locations, as a lower cost alternative to the Skyline, but was slightly larger than the Nissan Langley. The Stanza T11 series was the only time in the US market that a Nissan was rated more-reliable than the Toyota Camry, between 1983 and 1986, according to 1983-1986 Consumer Reports magazine. In early years, Toyota had major problems with the Camry’s mufflers. Since 1987, Nissan have again fallen behind to Toyota and Honda in reliability. The Stanza nameplate was discontinued in Europe after the 1986 model year, and rebadged as a “Bluebird.”

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As I had hoped, this proved to be a welcome stop-off point en route home after a most enjoyable weekend of other car events, and a reminder – not that any is needed – of just how popular this location remains. It seems that there is almost never-ending interest in a place where car and bike enthusiasts can meet, display their machines and enjoy food and drink, and every visit brings with an element of surprise as to just what (and indeed who) will be there. I have no doubt that it will not be long before I am back there.

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