I’ve been aware of an event called “Wheels on Wednesday” for some time. It takes place in Worcester, though I’d never found out quite where, and is one of those monthly mid-week evening events held in the summer months that takes advantage of the long hours of daylight. I was always curious to experience it for myself, but the diary just never worked, as I tended to be elsewhere in the country on the Wednesday evenings in question. And then came Covid and Lockdown, and with the reality of working from home, which is less than an hour away from Worcester. Of course Lockdown meant no events at all, even those held in a large open air space, but with restrictions easing from late Spring 2021, events such as this did start to take place again. Capitalising on the pent-up demand for gatherings, the organisers decided to add a second series of events at the same location to their 2021 schedule, which would take place on a Sunday morning, very much in the Breakfast Club format. Sundays are always a diary challenge in the summer months, with much else going on, but when the newly formed Abarth Three Counties Group decided to make a visit to this event their inaugural meeting, I resolved both to support them, and to go and check out this event and venue. The weather gods were particularly kind, with beautiful summer sunshine, which no doubt encouraged a good number of cars to attend. From among a large and eclectic gathering of cars, here are the ones which were attracted to my camera.
As I was attending with a group of Abarth Owners, we decided to meet up outside the venue and convoy in, to increase the likelihood of being able to park the cars together. In the end, there were two separate meeting points. The first group assembled at the Starbucks just off the M5 at Ashchurch. This is just 10 minutes from my mother’s house, where I had been staying overnight, so I declared that I would meet the first group of people there, which I duly did. With the Gloucestershire participants duly gathered, we set off in convoy onto the M5 and to our next rendez-vous point.
The second gathering place was at a Tesco site just a couple of miles off junction 7 of the M5. As this is not on the main road which constitutes the south Worcester ring road, I had no idea there even was a supermarket there (but took due note for future reference and use!). The Gloucestershire contingent were the first there, but soon we could hear, and then see additional Abarths arriving in what was still an almost empty car park. There were a few quizzical looks from non Abarth drivers who came along at the same time, as they could see this group of cars parked up and owners introducing themselves to each other. Come the designated departure time, we set off for the main event, which takes place in Spetchley Park, only a few miles away, and somewhere we could reach with the convoy more or less intact.
The vast majority of those Abarths cars here – and there were a few more beyond those of us who had convoyed in – were the 500-based models which have been on sale now since the end of 2008, following a launch at the Paris Show that year. Since that time there have been a number of detailed changes to the standard cars and a lot of limited editions. Those who really know the marque can spot most of them, but some are so subtle that unless there is a badge you can see, you will not ne quite sure which version you are looking at. It used to be relatively easy, when the model was first launched, as there was only one version as shipped ex works called the 500. It had a 135 bhp 1.4 litre turbo-charged engine coupled to a five speed manual gearbox, with 16″ alloys as standard, and the option of 17″ wheels, and a colour palette comprising of two whites (BossaNova White, the standard colour, or the pearlescent Funk White), Red (Pasadoble), Pale Grey (Campovolo) or Black. If you wanted more power – 160 bhp – then you could order an Esseesse kit, which came in a large wooden crate, containing new wheels, springs, an ECU upgrade, the Monza exhaust system and badging. It was dealer fitted and could be applied at any time within the first 12 months or 10,000 miles from registration. Needless to say, it proved popular. As were many of the optional extras, with stickers for the sides, a large scorpion for the bonnet and even a chequered pattern for the roof among the personalisation options offered. There was one example of an early model here.
Whilst a sliding glass sunroof (Skydome in Fiat/Abarth parlance) was an option from inception, fans of open air motoring had to wait until Geneva 2010 for the launch of the 500C models. For the first few months these cars only came with the robotised manual gearbox, which limited the appeal in the eyes of some, but they also introduced us to the “bi-colore”, a series of two tone cars, with upper and lower halves of the body painted in different colours. It took us a while to get used to this, as no other production road cars had been painted like this for some time, but now this is seen as yet another of those marque defining attributes, and (perhaps with the exception of the rarely seen Rally Beige and Officina Red combination that would come for 2014) in the eyes of many this distinctive look enhances the appeal of the cars still further.
Rumours started to circulate towards the end of 2014 that Abarth were going to upgrade the Competizione model, so as better to bridge the gap between the Turismo and the 190 bhp 695 Biposto that had been added to the range earlier in the year. It was Geneva 2015 when the result was finally shown to an expectant fan base. Most exciting news was that thanks to a bigger Garrett Turbo, the engine had been tweaked to 180 bhp, and with reduced CO2 emissions. A standard spec that included Koni Dampers, Brembo brakes, Xenon lights, Sabelt seats, Climate Control, parking sensors as well as other refinements that had been added like the TFT instrument display all proved very compelling, so not long after the first cars reached the UK in June of 2015, I found temptation too hard to resist, and as is well documented here, swapped my 2010 car for one of these. At the time I ordered it, Cordolo Red, a tri-coat pearlescent paint which shimmers in bright sunlight looked set to become one of the most popular colours of the lot, even though it is a cost option. Indeed, the Launch Edition models were all offered either in this colour or Scorpion Black, with black wheels. Surprisingly, the colour was not carried over to the Series 4 cars.
What is known as the Series 4 version of the familiar 595 reached the markets in the middle of 2016. After rumours had circulated all winter following the launch of the facelifted Fiat 500 last year, Abarth finally unveiled the Series 4 at the end of May 2016. Initially, we were told that the cars would not be available in the UK until September, but that came forward somewhat, with dealers all receiving demo cars in June, and the first customers taking delivery in July. Three regular production versions of both the closed car and the open-topped C were initially available, all badged 595, and called Custom, Turismo and Competizione, as before, though numerous limited edition models have since appeared and in most case disappeared. The most significant changes with the Series 4 are visual, with a couple of new colours, including the much asked for Modena Yellow and a different red, called Abarth Red, which replaces both the non-metallic Officina and – slightly surprisingly – the tri-coat pearlescent Cordolo Red. as well as styling changes front and rear. The jury is still out on these, with many, me included, remaining to be convinced. At the front, the new air intake does apparently allow around 15 – 20 % more air in and out, which will be welcome, as these cars do generate quite a lot of heat under the bonnet. Competizione models for the UK retain the old style headlights, as they have Xenon lights as standard, whereas the Custom and Turismo cars have reshaped units. At the back, there are new light clusters and a new rear bumper and diffuser. Inside, the most notable change is the replacement of the Blue & Me system with a more modern uConnect Audio set up, which brings a new colour screen to the dash. Mechanically, there is an additional 5 bhp on the Custom (now 145) and Turismo (now 165 bhp) and the option of a Limited Slip Diff for the Competizione, which is likely to prove a popular option. Details of the interior trim have changed, with a filled-in glovebox like the US market cars have always had, and electric windows switches that are like the US ones, as well as a part Alcantara trim to the steering wheel in Competizione cars. These cars have now been on offer for three years and with Abarth sales on the rise, it was no surprise that they were particularly well represented here.
Abarth announced two limited edition models in the autumn of 2020 and one of these was here, the 595 Scorpioneoro. Another model which takes its inspiration from a history which few in the Uk will be familiar with, there will be just 2000 units of this distinctive model available globally. The 595 Scorpioneoro was born to continue the legacy of the famous A112 Abarth “Gold Ring” of 1979, better known as the A112 Abarthj “Targa Oro”, of which only 150 models produced and, as with the new Abarth 595 Scorpioneoro, what made it so special were its stylistic details. These details included black livery, gold-coloured decorative line contouring the bodywork and the alloy wheels, also painted in the distinctive gold colour. This car is liveried in the same way, marked out by its black livery, decorative gold bodywork lining and gold-painted alloy wheels. It also boasts a matt black chessboard roof and grey finish on the door handles and mirror caps. And to mirror the ‘Gold Scorpion’ name, the car is adorned with gold scorpions on the bonnet and the wheel centres. Inside the cabin of this new exciting new model, you’ll be greeted with a black dashboard which is home to the new gold finished 500 logo. Leather detailing on the seats introduces the original “scorpionflage”. The seats are further embellished with dedicated stitching and personalised headrests with the word “Scorpioneoro”, the Italian flag and Abarth embroidered on them. An additional touch of exclusivity comes from the numbered, gold coloured plaque, available solely on this model. The Scorpioneoro also comes with Abarth’s top-of-the-range seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system, complete with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as a Beats Audio sound system. Mechanically, there is nothing new, as the car has the 165 bhp version of the familiar T-Jet engine and the other features you get in the regular production Trofeo cars.
No Abarth Punto models had joined us at the pre-meet, but there was one here, the heavily modified car belonging to Gavin Jenkins. He owns two Abarth Punto cars and this is not the one he usually brings to events, so when I saw it, I did not initially recognise it or know its owner, until I saw Gavin himself.
Completing the collection of Abarths was the 124 Spider. Eagerly awaited, the 124 Spider went on sale in September 2016. A quick reminder as to what this car is: The Abarth 124 Spider was developed in parallel with the Fiat model. It does cost a lot more, and there are those who think you don’t get enough extra for your money, but those who have driven it will tell you otherwise. You certainly get more power. The 1.4 MultiAir turbo unit jumps up from 138bhp to 168bhp, while torque also increases by a modest 10Nm to 250Nm, which gives it a 0-62mph time of 6.8 seconds, which is half a second quicker than the 2.0-litre Mazda MX-5. The top speed is 143mph. It weighs just 1060kg meaning a power-to-weight ratio of 158bhp-per-tonne, and with the new Record Monza exhaust system it sounds great even at idle, as the Abarth UK staff demonstrated many times during the evening. The Abarth version gets a stiffer suspension setup than the regular Fiat 124 Spider, with Bilstein dampers and beefed-up anti-roll bars. Bigger Brembo brakes also feature, with aluminium calipers. It can be had with a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission with paddles, and the latter gets a Sport mode for quicker shifts. The car seen here was sporting the ‘Heritage Look’ pack, which is a no-cost option. It brings a matt black bonnet and bootlid, plus red exterior trim detailing and is likely to be popular. The £29,565 starting price gets you standard equipment such as cruise control, climate control, Bluetooth, a DAB radio and satnav, plus Alcantara black and red (or pure black) seat trim. The automatic gearbox is a £2,035 extra, while an optional visibility pack brings LED DRLs, auto lights and wipers and rear parking sensors. Production of the car ceased in 2019 after around 1800 had been imported to the UK, so this is always going to be quite a rare car.
There were a number of Cobra-style cars here. Original Cobra models from the early 60s are rare, but there are plenty of replica cars that have been produced since then, as well as the various continuation series that AC themselves have made, so the car is quite a common sight at events like this and indeed there were several of them here.
Rather than replacing the 916 Series GTV with a single model, Alfa elected to produce two successors. The more commodious of the two, the GT, was the first to appear, making its debut in March 2003 at the Geneva Motor Show. ,The other 916 series replacement cars were the Brera and Spider models, and this is what was to be seen here. Visually similar to the 159 models at the front, the Brera and Spider boasted unique styling from the A pillars rearwards. They were offered with the same range of engines as the 159, and thanks to that strong, but rather heavy platform on which they were built, even the 3.2 litre V6 cars were more Grand Tourer than rapid sports car. Pininfarina was responsible for both models. The Brera was first to market, in 2005, with the Spider following in 2006. Production of both ceased in late 2010, by which time 12,488 units of the Spider and 21,786 units of the Brera had been built. It will be very surprising if these do not attain classic status, and the consequent rise in values, though that has not happened yet.
Replacement for the much loved 156 was the 159. The Alfa Romeo 159 had a troubled development, being designed in the midst of the Fiat-General Motors joint venture which was terminated in 2005. Originally, the 159 was intended to use GM’s Epsilon platform; however, late during its development it was changed to the GM/Fiat Premium platform. The Premium platform was more refined and expensive, being intended for E-segment executive cars such as an Alfa Romeo 166 successor but that never materialised, so Alfa Romeo attempted to recoup some of the platform development costs with the 159. General Motors originally planned Cadillac, Buick and Saab models for this platform but ending up discarded them over cost concerns. Unfortunately, the 159’s late transition to what was fundamentally made as an E-segment platform resulted in the 159 having excessive weight, a problem shared by its sisters, the Alfa Romeo Brera coupe and Spider convertible. The 159 was designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro in collaboration with the Centro Stile Alfa Romeo. The nose featured a traditional Alfa Romeo V-shaped grille and bonnet, and cylindrical head light clusters. Similar to its coupé counterpart, front of the car was influenced by the Giugiaro designed 2002 Brera Concept. Several exterior design cues were intended to make the car appear larger, supposedly to appeal to potential buyers in the United States; however, the 159 was never exported to that region. The interior featured styling treatments familiar from earlier cars, including the 156, such as deeply recessed instruments which are angled towards the driver. Alfa Romeo intended for the 159 to compete more directly with BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi by using higher quality interior materials; however, it has been said that Alfa Romeo misjudged their brand’s positioning relative to the more well-known German luxury automakers. Several levels of trim were available, depending on market. Four trim levels: Progression, Distinctive, Exclusive and Turismo Internazionale (TI) featured across Europe. In the UK there were three levels of trim: Turismo, Lusso and Turismo Internazionale (TI). A Sportwagon variant was introduced at the Geneva Motor Show in 2006. The 159’s size made it considerably more comfortable than the 156 due to its larger, roomy interior. However, the considerable growth in dimensions deterred many 156 owners from considering the 159 as a direct replacement model, and something seemed to be lost in the character of the new car. Initially offered with a choice of 1.9 and 2,2 litre 4 cylinder and 3.2 litre V6 petrol engines and 1.9 and 2.4 litre diesel units, and an optional four wheel drive system. An automatic gearbox option for the 2.4 JTDM diesel model was also launched in late 2006, and later extended to other versions. In 2007 a four-wheel drive diesel model was released and the 2.4-litre diesel engines’ power output increased to 210 hp, with a newly reintroduced TI trim level also available as an option. For model year 2008 the mechanics and interiors of the 159 were further developed. The 3.2 litre V6 model was offered in front wheel drive configuration, achieving a top speed of 160 mph. All model variants came with Alfa’s electronic “Q2” limited slip differential. As a result of newly introduced aluminium components, a 45 kilograms (99 lb) weight reduction was achieved. For 2009, Alfa introduced a new turbocharged petrol engine badged as “TBi”. This 1742 cc unit had direct injection and variable valve timing in both inlet and exhaust cams. This new engine had 200 PS (197 hp) and would eventually replace the GM-derived 2.2 and 1.9 JTS units.In 2010, all petrol engines except for the 1750 TBi were retired, ending the use of General Motors-based engines in the 159. The only remaining diesel engines were the 136 PS and 170 PS 2.0 JTDm engines. In 2011, the 159 was powered only by diesel engines. In the UK, Alfa Romeo stopped taking orders for the 159 on 8 July 2011. Production for all markets ceased at the end of 2011, after 240,000 had been built.
Also here, from the current range, was an example of the much-rated Giulia Quadrifoglio.
There were large numbers of recent Audi models here, as you might expect, with a good mix of S and RS models. The only selected by camera is this example of the latest S4 saloon.
BMW’s most recent supercar is the futuristic i8, and there were examples of both this and the recently added Roadster version here. The Roadster was launched at the 2017 Los Angeles Show in December, and it is only now that the first right hand drive cars are reaching the UK, three years after the first of the closed coupe models went on sale. For the Roadster, the basic parameters are the same as the Coupe: plug-in hybrid powertrain, housed an aluminium chassis with a carbon-fibre monotub. But the battery boasts a higher capacity, and the hybrid powertrain more muscle to take the i8 even further (and faster). The 1.5-litre turbocharged three-cylinder engine now produces 231 bhp (up from 228), and the electric motor 143 hp (up from 131 hp) for a combined output of 374 hp to rocket the i8 coupe from a standstill to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds, and the roadster in 4.4 as they rocket towards their electronically limited top speed of 155 mph. With a battery pack upgraded from 20 Ah to 34 Ah and from 7.1 kWh to 11.6, it’ll also travel on electric power alone at speeds of up to 65 mph (instead of just 43 mph) – or 75 mph in eDrive mode. All-electric range is up to 34 miles (for the coupe, 33 for the convertible) on the ambitious New European Driving Cycle. The key new thing in the Roadster is the folding soft-top. Aside from the slight performance penalty, it does mean sacrificing the rear seats, but with the inherent rigidity of the carbon cell, chopping the roof off nets only a 132-pound weight penalty for a curb weight quoted at 3,516 lbs. That roof, incidentally, can raise and lower in just 15 seconds at speeds of up to 31 mph, folding into a compact Z-shaped vertical stack. The suspension’s been retuned for the roadster too, and new wheels for both versions reduce unsprung weight. These changes have been applied to the Coupe as well.
The Bond Bug was built from 1970 to 1974. Following the purchase of Bond Cars Ltd., Reliant commissioned Tom Karen of Ogle Design to design a fun car. The Bond Bug was based on chief engineer John Crosthwaite’s newly designed chassis and some Reliant Regal running gear. The original concept was explored by chopping down a production Regal vehicle, the rear of the car being shortened to end over the rear axle. The engine is the front-mounted 700 cc (later uprated to 750 cc) Reliant light-alloy four-cylinder unit, developed from the Austin 7, and which protruded into the passenger cabin. At launch 29 bhp was claimed for the less expensive 700 and 700E models. The more up-market 700ES incorporates a redesigned cylinder head which permitted the compression ratio to be increased from 7.35:1 to 8.4:1. This provided a power increase to 31 bhp as well as improved torque for the then range-topping 700ES. The Bond Bug 700ES also offers more supportive seats as well as more padding over the engine cowl, twin mudflaps, an ashtray, a rubber front bumper and a spare wheel. The car enjoyed an upbeat launch, at which Reliant’s Ray Wiggin stated: “The fact it has three wheels is quite incidental. It’s a new form of transport. So now, in fact, we think it’s going to appeal to a much wider section of the market than we originally envisaged.” The Bug was available in a bright orange tangerine colour, although six white Bugs were produced for a Rothmans cigarette promotion – one of which was also used in an advertisement for Cape Fruit. Only three Rothmans bugs are known to exist. In contrast to the image of three-wheeled Reliants as being slow, the Bond Bug was capable of 76 mph, in excess of the UK 70 mph national speed limit, and comparable to small saloon cars such as the basic 850 cc Mini (72 mph) and the Hillman Imp (80 mph). However, it could not match the speed of the Mini Cooper S (96 mph) or larger saloons such as the Ford Cortina Mark III (104 mph). The Bond Bug was sold as being fun to drive, with the low seating position giving a similar exaggerated impression of speed as in a go-kart, while the actual speed was similar to that reached by high performance cars only a few years earlier (indeed, earlier versions of the Lotus 7 had a top speed of 76 mph/122 km/h right up until 1968, and their trim level, e.g. side curtains instead of windows, was also similar). The Bug was, however, no cheaper than more practical cars. It cost £629, while a basic 850 cc Mini, a four-seater much faster round corners but with considerably inferior acceleration, cost £620. Production ceased in 1974, after 2270 had been built. The car’s fame was helped by a distinctive Corgi Toys die-cast toy car, and it has a dedicated following today.
The Buick Wildcat was a full-sized automobile that was produced by Buick from 1962 to 1970. It took its name from a fibreglass-bodied 1953 concept car. The second generation model debuted for the 1965 model year. In 1966 a one-year-only Wildcat “Gran Sport Performance Group” package could be ordered by selecting the “A8/Y48” option. Two engine choices were available. The single carb 425 CID/340 hp V8 was included in the base package price with a 360 hp (268 kW) dual-carb set-up available at extra cost. Initially, this 20 hp upgrade remained a dealer-installed carb-intake modification bolted to stock MT-coded engines but eventually these “Super Wildcats” could also be obtained direct from the factory with MZ-coded engines. Rounding out both the base and Super GS packages were dual exhaust, heavy-duty suspension, posi-traction and updated rear quarter-panel “GS” badging in the new, initials-only format employed on all post-1965 Gran Sports. A total of 1,244 Wildcat GSs were built by Buick during the model year. Of those, 242 were convertibles and the rest were hardtops. A mere 22 (consisting of an unknown mix of both body styles) were Super Wildcats. A styling appearance cue was adopted from the popular 1963 Buick Riviera, where the beltline arched up over the rear wheels, a modification of an older styling element called the “Sweepspear,” with later vehicles installing a rub strip along the entire side of the vehicle tapering down as it reached the rear bumper. The year 1967 brought a new engine to the Wildcat line (along with the Riviera and Electra 225) – a 430-cubic-inch V8 with four-barrel carburettor and 360 hp rating that featured larger valves for better breathing than the previous 401/425 Nailhead design that dated back to Buick’s first V8, in 1953. It had a 10.25:1 compression ratio and a four-barrel carburettor, with maximum power reached at 5000 rpm and 475 lb/ft (644 Nm) of torque at 3200 rpm – all SAE gross values. The 430 was relatively short-lived as it was only offered through the 1969 model year. For 1970, the 430 was superseded by the largest Buick V8 engine ever – a 455-cubic-inch engine that was basically a bored version of the previous engine with the same large-valve design, a horsepower rating of 370, and torque rating of more than 500 pounds. 1967 and 1968 saw the addition of new federally mandated safety equipment that provided better occupant protection in collisions, and accident avoidance features as well. Like other full-size U.S. cars of the late 1960s, the Buicks became bigger, plusher, and less economical. The Wildcat was offered only in Custom trim for its final year of 1970. It was superseded by the Buick Centurion for 1971.The 1965–1970 GM B platform is the fourth-best selling automobile platform in history after the Volkswagen Beetle, Ford Model T and the Lada Riva.
This Fleetwood Eldorado was from the last generation before the cars got a bit smaller. This body style was produced from 1971 through to 1976. With 64.3 inches front shoulder room (62.1 inches on Cadillac) and 63.4 inches rear shoulder room (64.0 inches on Cadillac) the new for 1971 full-sized GM cars set a record for interior width that would not be matched by any car until the full-size GM rear-wheel-drive models of the early to mid-1990s. The styling of the new Cadillacs bore a strong resemblance to the models they replaced, but there were differences. Pairs of individually housed squarish headlamps were set wider apart. The V-shaped grille had an eggcrate style insert and was protected by massive vertical guards framing a rectangular license plate indentation. A wide bonnet with full-length windsplints, a prominent centre crease and hidden windshield wipers was seen. A Cadillac crest decorated the nose and new indicator lamps appeared atop each front fender. A horizontal beltline moulding ran from behind the front wheel housing, almost to the rear stopping where an elliptical bulge in the body came to a point and where thin rectangular side markers were placed above and below the chrome strip. The rear wheel openings were again housed in fender skirts. Tail lamps were of the same type as before but were no longer divided by a chrome bar. Long horizontal back-up lamps were set in the bumper, on either side of a deeply recessed license plate housing. De Villes were set apart visually by thin bright metal rocker panel steps and signature script on the front fenders bearing the series name. The bottoms of the rear fenders were decorated with a bright metal beauty panel that was wider than the rocker panel strips and blended into the moulding running along the bottom of the fender skirt. The standard engine remained the 472, still rated at 375 SAE gross hp and 365 lb/ft of torque. Detailed styling changes were made every year throughout the 5 year production run, with energy absorbing bumpers appearing in 1973, a year in which sales set a new record at 216,243. 1974 saw the introduction of the optional “Air Cushion Restraint System”. Known today as airbags, this option provided protection for front seat occupants in the case of a frontal collision. One bag was located in the steering wheel, the other in the dashboard in front of the front seat passenger. The glove box was replaced with a lockable storage compartment under the dashboard. The option was unpopular and was discontinued after the 1976 model year.
The reborn Camaro finally went on sale in 2009, having been shown at a number of US Auto Shows for a couple of years before that. It proved popular outselling its biggest rival, the Ford Muatang. Chevrolet put a toe in the water in trying to sell the cars in the UK through a single dealer and only with left hand drive. Not many were sold, which was hardly a surprise, though a good number more have come here since as personal imports. This is the SS version with a potent V8 engine – a car I loved when I first drove one.
Among my favourite cars of all time are the Fiat Dino Coupe and Spider and I was pleased to see a Spider here. They came about because of Enzo Ferrari’s need to homologate a V6 engine for Formula 2 racing cars. In 1965 the Commission Sportive Internationale de la FIA had drawn up new rules, to be enacted for the 1967 season. F2 engines were required to have no more than six cylinders, and to be derived from a production engine, from a road car homologated in the GT class and produced in at least 500 examples within 12 months. Since a small manufacturer like Ferrari did not possess the production capacity to reach such quotas, an agreement was signed with Fiat and made public on 1 March 1965: Fiat would produce the 500 engines needed for the homologation, to be installed in a yet unspecified GT car. The Fiat Dino was introduced as a 2-seater Spider at the Turin Motor Show in October 1966; a 2+2 Coupé version, built on a 270 mm (10.6 in) longer wheelbase, bowed a few months later at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1967. The two bodies showed very different lines, as they had been designed and were manufactured for Fiat by two different coachbuilders: the Spider by Pininfarina, and the Coupé by Bertone—where it had been sketched out by Giorgetto Giugiaro. Curiously the Spider type approval identified it as a 2+1 seater. The Spider had poorer interior trim than the Coupé, below par for its class: the dashboard was covered in vinyl, the metal-spoke steering wheel had a plastic rim, and the interior switchgear was derived from cheaper Fiat models. After a few months this issue was addressed, and Spiders produced after February 1967 had a wood-rimmed steering wheel as well as a wood trim on the dashboard like the sister Coupé car had since the beginning. Option lists for both models were limited to radio, metallic paint, leather upholstery, and for the Spider a vinyl-covered hardtop with roll-bar style stainless steel trim. The car was offered with an all-aluminium DOHC 2.0 litre V6, coupled to a 5-speed manual transmission. The same 2.0-litre engine was used in mid-engined, Ferrari-built Dino 206 GT, which was introduced in pre-production form at the 1967 Turin Motor Show and went on sale in 1968. Fiat quoted 160 PS (158 hp) for the Fiat Dino, while in 1967 Ferrari—presenting the first prototype of the Dino 206 GT—claimed 180 hp despite both engines were made by Fiat workers in Turin on the same production line, without any discrimination as to their destination. Jean-Pierre Gabriel in “Les Ferraris de Turin” notes that, “La declaration de Ferrari ne reposait sur aucun fondament technique”—Ferrari’s statement had no technical basis. The real reason for this difference was a mistake in between quotes made in SAE and BHP power output. In 1969, both Ferrari and Fiat introduced new 2.4-litre Dino models. The Fiat Dino 2400 premiered in October 1969 at the Turin Motor show; besides the larger engine, another notable improvements was independent rear suspension. The V6 now put out 180 PS, and used a cast iron instead of the previous light alloy engine block; the same engine was installed on the Dino 246 GT, Ferrari’s evolution of the 206. Whereas the original Dino was equipped with a rigid axle suspended by leaf springs and 4 shock absorbers, 2.4-litre cars used a coil-sprung independent rear suspension with 2 shock absorbers derived from the Fiat 130. Rather than engine power and absolute speed, the most important consequence of the larger displacement was a marked increase in torque, available at lower engine speeds; the Dino 2400 had much better pickup, and it was found more usable, even in city traffic. Other modifications went on to improve the car’s drivability and safety: larger diameter clutch, new dogleg ZF gearbox with revised gear ratios, wider section 205/70VR -14 tyres, and up-sized brake discs and callipers. Cosmetic changes were comparatively minor. Both models were now badged “Dino 2400”. On the coupé the previous silver honeycomb grille with the round Fiat logo on its centre had been replaced by a new black grille and a bonnet badge. A host of details were changed from chrome to matte black, namely part of the wheels, the vents on the front wings and the cabin ventilation outlets—the latter moved from next the side windows to the rear window. At the rear there were different tail lights. The spider also sported a new grille with two horizontal chrome bars, 5-bolts instead of knock-off wheels, as well as a new bumpers with rubber strips. Inside only the coupé received an entirely redesigned dashboard and new cloth seats, with optional leather seat upholstery; front seat headrests were standard on the coupé and optional on the spider. Spider and coupé bodies were produced respectively by Pininfarina and Bertone. 2.0-litre and early 2.4-litre cars were assembled by Fiat in Rivalta di Torino. Starting from December 1969 the Fiat Dino was assembled in Maranello on Ferrari’s production line, alongside the 246 GT. Between 1966 and 1969 there were 3,670 2.0-litre coupés and 1,163 2.0-litre spiders made; with only 420 built, the 2400 Spider is the rarest of the Fiat’s Dinos. Of the total 7,803 Fiat Dino produced, 74% were the popular coupés and only 26% were spiders. Spiders are worth big money now – good ones are over £100k – which means that the car is way beyond my means, but every time I see one, I go weak at the knees. To my eyes, it is one of the best looking cars ever made.
The 124 Spider of 2016 proved to be a rather short-lived addition to the range, and a car which probably lived somewhat in the shadow of the Abarth versions, even though roughly equal numbers of Fiat and Abarth models were sold before production ceased in 2019.
The squarer-styled Mark II Escort appeared in January 1975. The first production models had rolled off the production lines on 2 December 1974. Unlike the first Escort (which was developed by Ford of Britain), the second generation was developed jointly between the UK and Ford of Germany. Codenamed “Brenda” during its development, it used the same mechanical components as the Mark I. The 940 cc engine was still offered in Italy where the smaller engine attracted tax advantages, but in the other larger European markets in Europe it was unavailable. The estate and van versions used the same panelwork as the Mark I, but with the Mark II front end and interior. The car used a revised underbody, which had been introduced as a running change during the last six months production of the Mark I. Rear suspension still sat on leaf springs though some contemporaries such as the Hillman Avenger had moved on to coil springs. The car came in for criticism for its lack of oddments space, with a glove compartment only available on higher end models, and its stalk-mounted horn. The “L” and “GL” models (2-door, 4-door, estate) were in the mainstream private sector, the “Sport”, “RS Mexico”, and “RS2000” in the performance market, the “Ghia” (2-door, 4-door) for a hitherto untapped small car luxury market, and “base / Popular” models for the bottom end. Panel-van versions catered to the commercial sector. The 1598 cc engine in the 1975 1.6 Ghia produced 84 hp with 92 ft·lbft torque and weighed 955 kg (2105 lb). A cosmetic update was given in 1978 with L models gaining the square headlights (previously exclusive to the GL and Ghia variants) and there was an upgrade in interior and exterior specification for some models. Underneath a wider front track was given. In 1979 and 1980 three special edition Escorts were launched: the Linnet, Harrier and Goldcrest. Production ended in Britain in August 1980, other countries following soon after. Spotted here was a 1600 Sport model.
Referred to internally as “Project Carla”, and although little more than a substantial update of the Capri II, it was often referred to as the Mk III. The first cars were available in March 1978, but failed to halt a terminal decline in sales. The concept of a heavily facelifted Capri II was shown at the 1976 Geneva show: a Capri II with a front very similar to the Escort RS2000 (with four headlamps and black slatted grille), and with a rear spoiler, essentially previewed the model some time before launch. The new styling cues, most notably the black “Aeroflow” grille (first used on the Mk I Fiesta) and the “sawtooth” rear lamp lenses echoed the new design language being introduced at that time by Ford of Europe’s chief stylist Uwe Bahnsen across the entire range. Similar styling elements were subsequently introduced in the 1979 Cortina 80, 1980 Escort Mk III and the 1981 Granada Mk IIb. In addition, the Mk III featured improved aerodynamics, leading to improved performance and economy over the Mk II and the trademark quad headlamps were introduced. At launch the existing engine and transmission combinations of the Capri II were carried over, with the 3.0 S model regarded as the most desirable model although the softer, more luxurious Ghia derivative with automatic, rather than manual transmission, was the bigger seller of the two V6-engined models. Ford began to focus their attention on the UK Capri market as sales declined, realising the car had something of a cult following there. Unlike sales of the contemporary 4-door Cortina, Capri sales in Britain were to private buyers who would demand less discounts than fleet buyers allowing higher margins with the coupé. Ford tried to maintain interest in 1977 with Ford Rallye Sport, Series X, “X Pack” options from the performance oriented RS parts range. Although expensive and slow selling these proved that the press would enthusiastically cover more developed Capris with higher performance. In early 1982, the Essex 3.0 V6 which had been the range topper since September 1969 was dropped, while a new sporty version debuted at the Geneva Motor Show, called the 2.8 Injection. The new model was the first regular model since the RS2600 to use fuel injection. Power rose to a claimed 160 PS, even though tests showed the real figure was closer to 150 PS, giving a top speed of 210 km/h (130 mph), but the car still had a standard four-speed gearbox. The Capri 2.8 Injection breathed new life into the range and kept the car in production 2–3 years longer than Ford had planned. The four-speed gearbox was replaced with a five-speed unit early on – at the same time Ford swapped the dated looking chequered seats for more luxurious looking velour trim. A more substantial upgrade was introduced in 1984 with the Capri Injection Special. This development used half leather seating and included a limited slip differential. Externally the car could be easily distinguished by seven spoke RS wheels (without the customary “RS” logo since this was not an RS vehicle) and colour-coded grille and headlamp surrounds. At the same time the 2.0 Capri was rationalised to one model, the 2.0 S, which simultaneously adopted a mildly modified suspension from the Capri Injection. The 1.6 model was also reduced to a single model, the 1.6 LS. The car was finally deleted at the end of 1986, 1.9 million cars having been made over 18 years, and having been sold only in the UK for the final months of production.
This is an Escort RS2000. The Escort Mark V (and Mark III Orion saloon) arrived in September 1990 with an all-new bodyshell and a simplified torsion beam rear suspension (instead of the Mark III’s fully independent layout). Initially the 1.3 L HCS, 1.4 L and 1.6 L CVH petrol and 1.8 L diesel units were carried over from the old model. This model however was poorly received by the motoring press, and was panned by journalists for its mediocre driving dynamics and unremarkable styling. The engines which had been carried over from the previous generation largely unmodified were also heavily criticised for their poor refinement. The car was universally panned for its overall mediocrity. Stung by the criticism, Ford immediately set up in improving things. In early 1992, an all new Zetec 16-valve engine was launched bringing improved driveability, while also marking the return of the XR3i which was available with two versions of the 1.8 L Zetec engine. The 150 PS RS2000 also appeared in the autumn of 1991 with a 16v version of the Sierra’s I4 2.0 L engine and also improved ride and handling meaning that this version of the Escort finally delivered on the road. Specifications, however, were also higher than before. The Escort was now available with items such as power steering, electric windows, central locking, electronic antilock brakes, and air conditioning. Ford facelifted the Escort and Orion in September 1992, giving the revised cars a new grille, bonnet and, in the Escort convertible and hatchback’s case, a new rear end. A new 1.6 L 16-valve 90 bhp Zetec engine was introduced, replacing the previous CVH. Fuel injection was now standard on all petrol models, and Ford introduced a four-wheel-drive variant of the RS2000, offering much improved handling over its front-wheel-drive cousins. A first for the Escort also saw the introduction of all disc brakes on all four wheels as standard on all RS2000 and XR3i models. Also new for 1993 were 1.3 L and 1.4 L CFi petrol engines and 1.8 L diesel engines. In September 1993, the Orion name was retired, with the saloon taking on the Escort badge. The XR3i was discontinued several months later, at the beginning of 1994. The crash structure of the Escort and Orion was also improved for the 1993 model year as part of the facelift, featuring side impact bars, a reinforced safety cage, improved crumple zones and front seat-belt pretensioners and for the 1994 model year airbags were added to the Escort range. This Escort was the first European Ford after the Mondeo to feature an airbag; shortly afterwards a driver’s airbag became standard across the whole Ford range, with many other models having a passenger airbag as at least optional equipment. Production ended in 1995, although stocks including the Escort, Escort L, Ghia and Si continued through 1996 and finished in 1997.
Beginning Summer 2012 (UK)/late 2012 in the US, Ford offered a new performance-oriented hot hatch Focus ST, as first revealed at the 2010 Paris Motor Show and then at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show when more details were announced, including the availability of an estate(wagon) version for European markets, and the possibility of a sports sedan version for North American markets. The ST features a new, more aggressive exterior design, including a redesigned front bumper with larger air intakes and grille, larger rear wing, wider side sills, center-exit exhaust, and alloy wheels. Inside, the car receives a trio of additional gauges mounted in the dashboard, faux-carbon fiber trim, and sport seats with body-coloured inserts and stitching. The car will be offered three trim options: ST1, ST2, and ST3; the same three options that were available with the MkII ST. Differences between the US and European models besides the lack of the wagon model outside Europe and Federally-required amber side reflectors are limited to paint and trim: Euro ST1s get all-cloth Recaro seats while U.S.-spec ST1s use the same seats as the 2012 SE Sport Package; Red seat accents on the Recaro seats are not available on American ST2s; Euro ST3s feature a leather Recaro rear seat setup; The rear headrests are different in each market; Red is the only exterior colour included in the base price in Europe while yellow is the only extra-cost colour in the U.S.; The optional MyFord Touch system that is fitted to ST2/ST3 models in the U.S. is not offered in Europe; The North American ST utilizes a full-size spare tire while the Euro ST features a mini spare or fix-a-flat setup, depending on what audio system is fitted; The Euro ST offers further options (some grouped in option packages) compared to the North American models including: red brake calipers (standard on all ST trim levels in U.S.), pop-out door guards, heated windshield, lane departure system, and active speed limiter; Headlight washers are fitted to the Euro ST3; Only the ST3 model in the United States features the handbrake, armrest, and cup holder design from the Focus Titanium, while all Euro and Canadian Focus STs have that setup; The Euro Focus ST features a height-adjustable front passenger seat. The ST used a 252 bhp and 366 Nm (270 lb/ft) version of the 4-cylinder 2.0L EcoBoost engine, a gain of 25 bhp above the previous Focus ST which used a larger 2.5L 5-cylinder engine. It is resultantly estimated that the ST will reach 100 km/h (62 mph) in 6.1 seconds, while its top speed will be 248 kilometres per hour (154 mph). Compared to the previous ST, the new model has the same 0 to 100 km/h time and has a 2 mph higher top speed. Another significant improvement is weight; the new car is 30 kg (66 lb) lighter than its 5-cylinder powered predecessor. For the 2015 model year, the ST continued to use the 252 hp 2.0L EcoBoost with a 6-speed manual gearbox in ST1, ST2 and ST3 trims for the European and US markets, and the single ST trim in the Australian market. Updates were made to the front and rear fascias to coincide with the changes implemented in the standard Focus, including the lights, grille, and rear diffuser. The availability of 5-door hatchback and estate (wagon) body styles remained unchanged. For the European markets, a 2.0L TDCi Duratorq Diesel engine was available for the ST with a 6-speed PowerShift automatic gearbox to rival the likes of the Volkswagen Golf GTD and the SEAT León FR. The 2.0L Duratorq’s rated output is 182 bhp, and 300 lb/ft (407 Nm) of torque in the ST. Pricing and badging is the same for petrol and diesel models. The car was phased out in 2018 when the next generation Focus arrived.
Ford played much the same guessing game about whether there would be an RS version of the third generation car as they had done with the earlier versions. Production of the regular cars started in late 2010, but it was not until the 2015 Geneva Motor Show before the production ready MKIII Ford Focus RS was unveiled. It came packing the turbocharged 2.3-litre inline-four engine found in the Mustang EcoBoost. In the Focus RS, the engine itself produces 350 hp. Power is sent to all four wheels via Ford’s all-new Torque-Vectoring All-Wheel-Drive system with a rear drive unit designed by GKN, as well as upgraded suspension and brakes. As well as that, the new Focus RS will be fitted with Drive Modes – including an industry-first Drift Mode that allows controlled oversteer drifts – and Launch Control. The RS will boast a model specific aerodynamic package that helps to differentiate it from other Focus models. The RS is capable of accelerating to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 4.7 seconds. Sales finally started in mid 2016, with long waiting lists having been created, though Ford did eventually catch up with expanded production levels allowing them to meet the demand.
Also here was the current fourth generation ST Focus. With no RS version in plan, this is the most sporting of the latest Focus model.
This beautifully presented vehicle is a 1941 Ford COE (cab over engine) truck. Ford introduced their first COE in 1938. It provided for a shorter overall length with a given-size utility body — which in this case was pretty short to begin with. The COE design evolved very gradually over the next few years, before an all-new truck range was introduced in 1946.
The 1960 Galaxie introduced all-new design with less ornamentation. A new body style was the Starliner, featuring a huge, curving rear observation window on a pillarless, hardtop bodyshell. The thin, sloping rear roof pillar featured three “star” emblems that served as the Galaxie signature badge for all 1960 – 62 models. The formal roofed 2-door hardtop was not available this year, but the roofline was used for the Galaxie 2-door pillared sedan, complete with chromed window frames. It had been the most popular body style in the line for 1959, and sales dropped off sharply. Contrary to Ford’s tradition of pie-plate round taillights, the 1960 featured “half-moon” lenses turned downward. The “A” pillar now swept forward instead of backward, making entering and exiting the car more convenient. For 1961, the bodywork was redone again, although the underpinnings were the same as for 1960. This time, the tailfins were almost gone; the small blade-like fins capped smaller versions of 1959’s “pie-plate” round taillamps once again. Performance was beginning to be a selling point, and the 1961 Galaxie offered a new 390 CID (6.4 L) version of Ford’s FE series pushrod V8, which was available with either a four-barrel carburettor or, for higher performance, three two-barrel carburettors. The latter was rated at 401 hp (gross). The 352 was downgraded in favor of the 390; it was equipped with a 2-barrel carburettor and single exhaust. The Starliner was again offered this year, and Ford promoted this model with luxury and power equipment, but it was dropped at the end of the year, as the re-introduced square-roof hardtop coupe, the Galaxie Club Victoria, took the bulk of sales. For 1962, the Galaxie name was applied to all of Ford’s full size models, as the Fairlane name was moved to a new intermediate model and Custom was temporarily retired. New top-line Galaxie 500 (two-door sedan and hardtop, four-door sedan and hardtop, and “Sunliner” convertible) models offered plusher interiors, more chrome trim outside, and a few additional luxury items over and above what was standard on the plainer Galaxie models. Base Galaxie models were available in two- and four-door sedans as well as the plain Ranch Wagon. In an effort to stimulate mid-season sales, Ford introduced a group of sporty cars along with a “Lively Ones” marketing campaign. These models featured the bucket seats and console that were popularized by the Chevrolet Corvair Monza, and included a Fairlane 500 Sports Coupe, and a Falcon Futura. The full-size line was available with new bucket-seats-and-console “Lively One,” the Galaxie 500/XL (two-door hardtop and convertible). Ford stated in its sales literature that XL stood for “Xtra Lively.” The 223 cu in (3.7 l) “Mileage Maker” 6-cylinder was the base engine. The 292 cu in (4.8 l) V8 was standard on the 500/XL. The XL had sportier trim inside and out. This model was Ford’s response to Chevrolet’s Super Sport option for the big Impala, which was introduced the previous year and saw a significant rise in sales for 1962. A 406 cu in (7 l) engine was available in single four-barrel or triple-carbureted “six-barrel” form. Tailfins were gone, giving the 1962 models a more rounded, softer rear end look. Taillights were set lower into the rear panel and were partially sunken into the newly sculpted rear bumper. Outside, XL models got a thicker body side chrome spear, along with a new “Galaxie 500XL” emblem on each rear fender (including the convertible, where this badge replaced the “Sunliner” script). An oval version of the Galaxie “star” emblem replaced Ford crests on the roof sail panels on hardtops. Front fenders shapes were the same as 1961; a slightly modified flat-face grille featured a large “star”emblem in its centre for all 500 and higher-priced Galaxie models. The 1962 models were overweight by comparison to the Super Duty Pontiacs with their aluminum body panels and larger-displacement engines. Therefore, late in the production run, Ford’s Experimental Garage was ordered to reduce the weight of the Galaxie. It produced 11 “lightweight Galaxies”, making use of fiberglass panels, as well as aluminium bumpers, fender aprons, and brackets; the result was a Galaxie weighing in at under 3,400 lb (1,542 kg). The base 2-door Club Sedan was 3,499 lb (1,587 kg). It was an improvement. The 1963 model was essentially unchanged save for some freshening and added trim; windshields were reshaped and a four-door hardtop 500/XL was added. A lower, fastback roofline was added mid-year to improve looks and make the big cars more competitive on the NASCAR tracks with less drag and reduced aerodynamic lift at high speed. This 1963½ model, the industry’s first official “½ year” model, was called the “sports hardtop” or “fastback” (it shared this feature with the for 1963½ Falcon). Galaxie buyers showed their preference as the new sports hardtop models handily outsold the “boxtop” square-roof models. The sports hardtop was available in both Galaxie 500, and Galaxie 500/XL trim. Mercury also received the new roofline (under the Marauder badge) in Monterey, Montclair, and Park Lane models. This year, a no-frills big Ford, priced around $100.00 below the base Galaxie sedans, was offered, badged as the Ford 300. It was offered for 1963 only, and was replaced by the Custom series in 1964. The “Swing-away” steering wheel became optional. The Fairlane’s newly enlarged “Challenger” V8 engine of 260 cu in (4.3 l) replaced the Y-block 292 cu in (4.8 l) as the entry level V8. Later in the year, the 260 was replaced with an enlarged version displacing 289 cubic inches. At the beginning of the 1963 model run, the 292 Y-block V8 was replaced as the base V8 engine with the Fairlane’s new small block 260. The 260 proved under-powered for the heavy full size Ford and was replaced midyear (coincident with the introduction of the 63 and 1/2 models) with the 289 V8. The 289 was then the largest of the “small block series” that was first used (221 cubic inch version) in the 1962 Fairlane. The 260 was offered on the Falcon Sprint and later, in mid 1964, in the early version of the 1965 Mustang. By 1965 model introduction (in the fall of 1964), the 260 (which had disappointing performance in all versions including the Sprint and Mustang) was replaced by the 289 in all models. Ford continued to offer the FE series 352 in the 1963 full size, as well as 3 versions of the 390 V8 (regular, high performance, and police). Five different transmissions were offered for 1963. A 3-speed manual column shift was standard on all models except the 406 V8, which required the heavier duty Borg-Warner 4-speed manual. A three speed manual with overdrive was optional, but rarely ordered. The two-speed Ford-O-Matic was common with the 6-cylinder and small block V-8s, while the majority of big blocks (352 and 390) were ordered with the 3-speed Cruise-O-Matic automatic transmission. The availability of several different rear end ratios, along with 5 transmissions, and 8 different engines, led to a huge number of different driveline combinations for 1963. The most produced combination for the Galaxie and Galaxie 500 was the 352 V8, with Cruise-O-Matic and the 3.0 rear end ratio. Ford’s “Club,” “Town,” and “Victoria” monikers for body styles were retired in 1963, replaced by generic labels, “2-door”,”4-door”, and “Hardtop.” Partway through this year and in limited quantities, a new 427 replaced the 406 for racing applications. It was intended to meet NHRA and NASCAR 7-liter maximum engine size rules. This engine was rated at a 425 hp with 2 x 4 barrel Holley carburettors and a solid lifter camshaft. Ford also made available aluminum cylinder heads as a dealer option. The 1963½ was still overweight, however. To be competitive in drag racing Ford produced 212 (around 170 from Ford Norfolk, about 20 from Ford Los Angeles) lightweight versions of the “R” code 427, in the Galaxie 500 Sport Special Tudor Fastback.Available only in Corinthian White with red vinyl interior, and with a list price of about US$4,200 (when a base Ford 300 went for US$2,324, and XL Fastback was US$3,268), these cars came stock with Borg-Warner T-10 four-speed, 4.11:1 rear axle, heavy-duty suspension and brakes, and were fitted with a fiberglass hood (a flat piece at first, late in 1963 the popular blister hood also used on the Thunderbolt), trunk, front fenders, and fender aprons, as well as aluminum bumpers and mounting brackets, transmission cases, and bellhousing. Hood springs, heater, trunk lining and mat, spare wheel and tire (and mounting bracket), trunk lid torsion bar, jack, lug wrench, one horn (of the stock two), armrests, rear ashtrays, courtesy lights, and dome light were removed to reduce weight. The first 20 cars had functional fiberglass doors, which shaved 25 lb (11 kg); these were deleted because of Ford’s concern for safety if used on the highway. The cars had all sound-deadening material removed, lightweight seats and floormats, and no options. They were not factory equipped with cold-air induction, as the Thunderbolt would be. In addition, they were built on the 45 lb (20 kg)-lighter Ford 300 chassis, originally intended for a smaller-displacement V8. In all, the 427s were 375 lb (170 kg) lighter than before (425 lb (193 kg) with the fiberglass doors). The first two lightweight Galaxies, using 289 cu in (5 l) bodies, were assembled at Wayne, Michigan, late in January 1963, to be tested at the 1963 Winternats. They were delivered to Tasca Ford (East Providence, Rhode Island) and Bob Ford (Dearborn, Michigan). Bill Lawton’s Tasca Galaxie turned the best performance, with a 12.50 pass at 116.60 mph (187.65 km/h). It was not enough against the 1963 Chevrolet Impala Z-11s in Limited Production/Stock, however. Three more were assembled from parts and tested at Ford’s Experimental Garage in Dearborn. One of the next two, the last Winternationals test cars, was prepared by Bill Stroppe in Long Beach, California, for Les Ritchey; it was featured in the July 1963 issue of Hot Rod. For all their efforts, Ford discovered the Galaxies were still too heavy, and the project was abandoned. Some of these cars competed in England, Australia and South Africa after being modified by Holman and Moody who fitted them with disc brakes and other circuit racing components. Jack Sears won the 1963 British Saloon Car Championship driving Galaxies and Cortinas and the racing Galaxies were also driven by Sir Jack Brabham, Graham Hill and other notable drivers of the period. The heavy Galaxies suffered from persistent brake failure that led to a number of crashes, and in late 1963 started using the 12-inch disc brakes from the Ford GT40 program. By this time the Lotus Cortinas were being developed and the big Galaxie became uncompetitive. Model year 1964 was the fourth and final year of this body style. Interior trim was altered, and the exterior featured a more sculpted look which was actually designed to make the car more aerodynamic for NASCAR. The formal-roof “boxtop” style was no longer available, all non-wagon models now featuring the “fastback” roof design that was the runaway best-seller in 1963. The base 300 was replaced by a line of Custom and Custom 500 models. The 289 continued as the base V8 and was standard in the XL series. XL models got new thin-shell bucket seats with chrome trim. Federal regulations now required lap-style safety belts for both front outboard occupants. The ignition switch was moved from the left side of the steering column, to the right, but otherwise the attractive instrument panel remained unchanged from ’63. The 1964 XL two-door hardtop became the best seller of any XL produced in any year. The 427 cu in (7.0 l) engine was used in 50 lightweight fibreglass-equipped cars for drag racing. These competed in North America but were still too heavy and Ford introduced the lightweight Fairlane Thunderbolt. The Ford Country Squire station wagon, while wearing “Country Squire” badging, was actually part of the Galaxie 500 line. Some Country Squires had “Galaxie 500” badging on the glovebox indicating the series name. These station wagons featured the same trims as Galaxie 500s, and were a step up from the base-model Country Sedan.
For the 1965 model year, Ford introduced an all-new design for its full-size model range. To further expand its flagship Galaxie 500 series, the 500 LTD was introduced. Sharing top billing within the Galaxie series with the performance 500XL, the 500 LTD was designed as a luxury-oriented vehicle, offering many features of more expensive vehicles under the lower price of the Ford nameplate. In contrast with other full size Ford models, the LTD featured a luxurious, plush cloth interior with woodgrain accents, along with contoured seats and door panels. In line with Cadillac and Imperial (and its own Lincoln-Mercury offerings), the LTD offered features and options such as power windows, power driver’s seat, power brakes, power steering, air conditioning, and a full or half-vinyl top (called a landau or brougham interchangeably by the same manufacturers). Ford offered the Galaxie 500 LTD in two body styles: a two-door hardtop and a four-door hardtop. The launch of the LTD would lead to several responses from other American manufacturers. As a mid-year introduction, Chevrolet introduced the Caprice (its closest rival), with 1966 bringing the AMC Ambassador DPL, Plymouth Fury VIP, and Dodge Monaco. As with the LTD, all of these model lines were full-size sedans/hardtops offered with higher-trim features and content. For 1966, the Galaxie name was dropped from the LTD, making it a nameplate in its own right. Along with the rest of the Galaxie line, the LTD received a minor exterior revision, including a split grille. Front disc brakes became an option. For 1967, the LTD underwent several changes, with a four-door pillared sedan joining the model range. To comply with federally-mandated safety regulations, the LTD received a padded steering wheel, non-protruding instrument panel knobs, a dual-circuit brake master cylinder, four-way hazard flashers, and front outboard shoulder belt mounting points. While the roofline of the four-door hardtop saw minor styling revisions, the two-door hardtop saw extensive changes, giving it a formal profile. The front seats saw a new option, Twin Comfort Lounge Seats (a 50/50 split bench seat). In various forms, the configuration would be adopted by American automakers into the early 2000s. For the first time, the LTD was produced with a direct Lincoln-Mercury counterpart, as Mercury introduced the Marquis two-door hardtop. Serving largely as a preview of the upcoming major redesign, the 1968 LTD adopted several minor revisions of its own. The 1965-1967 LTD was repackaged as the optional LTD Brougham trim, with a newly base LTD slotted between the Brougham and Galaxie 500. For the first time, the LTD badge was added to the wood-trimmed Country Squire station wagon (as part of the distinct Ford station wagon series, it did not fully adopt the LTD name until 1969). While the two-door hardtop saw slight changes to its roofline, four-door hardtops were restyled to more closely match their two-door counterparts, with the rear doors receiving more curves to their greenhouse design. The vertically-stacked headlamps introduced in 1965 were replaced by a hidden headlamps; shared with Lincoln-Mercury, the configuration would be a design feature denoting the top-trim LTD for the next decade. The hidden-headlamp system was operated by engine vacuum; if the system were to fail, the headlamp doors retracted up to ensure the headlamps were visible. The model year also saw further changes to comply with safety regulations. Along with the addition of side marker lights and reflectors, the parking lights illuminated with the headlights; front outboard shoulder belts were fitted to cars built effective January 1, 1968. The padded steering wheel was replaced, following the addition of an energy-absorbing steering column. A new model arrived for the 1971 model year.
Long an icon of the various US police forces was the legendary Crown Vic. Few remain in service now, production having ceased in 2012, but many of these cars, with huge mileages under their wheels have survived and a few, like this one, have come over to the UK.
Final Ford here was an example of the latest Mustang, the first generation of this long-running model that has been sold new here in right hand drive form. It has proved more popular than many predicted with the GT 5.0 litre version taking a large proportion of the sales.
This is a Prelude from the fifth and final generation. Introduced on 7 November 1996, the fifth generation retained a front wheel drive layout with an independent front suspension and 63/37 weight distribution. Most fifth-generation Honda Preludes came with 16-inch alloy wheels with all-season 205/50 R16 87V tyres, featured the 11.1″ front brakes like the ’96 VTEC model, and most Preludes also received a five-lug hub (not the four-lug wheel hub of older models). The Prelude was only available in three models for Canada and two models for the US (the Base and Type SH). All models came with 16-inch alloy wheels and 200HP (203 PS). The 2.0i and JDM Si trims came with 195/60 R15 steel wheel, and the JDM Xi came with 14″ steel wheels. Unlike the North American market Preludes, JDM Preludes came with rear windscreen wipers, except for the Xi. The fifth-generation Prelude marked a return to the more square bodystyle of the third generation (1987–1991), in an attempt to curb slumping sales of the fourth-generation bodystyle. All models and trim packages stayed within the BB-chassis code (BB5-BB9) and housed either an H-series or F-Series engine. There was a mild mid-cycle update in 1999 but it was not enough to rescue the dramatically reduced sales and the car was phased out in 2001 with no successor.
Honda debuted the third generation Integra model in 1993 in Japan at Honda Verno locations. It had an unusual four headlight front end design which was dubbed “spider eyes” by some enthusiasts. Standard power (in Japan) from the B18B engine increased to 142 bhp. In the U.S., the B18B1 produced slightly less power due to a lower compression ratio (emissions related). The top model was known in Japan as “Si”, and it was powered by a B18C engine with a power of 176 bhp VTEC. The four headlight front end design, or “spider eye” headlights, proved controversial in Japan, so all JDM Integras were given a minor facelift in 1995 with more conventional elongated flat headlights and a revised front bumper. The top model was relabelled as the Integra SiR. This generation Integra was generally not available in Europe, although some markets such as Greece did receive this model. Those cars were fitted with a 104 bhp version of the 1590 cc ZC engine. From 1998 onward, non-JDM Integras (including Type R models) received a facelift to the front bumper which moved the embossed “INTEGRA” label to below the left headlights, eliminated the horizontal strut across the radiator grille and reshaped the headlight housing, turn signal housing and lower bumper. Dealer-installed options for the third generation Integra included: security system, 15″ alloy wheels, trunk mat, splash guards, fog lights, rear wing spoiler, sunroof (Hatchback only), CD changer, leather seats, leather shift knob and leather steering wheel. USDM trim levels were as follows: RS: Regular Sport was available in both hatchback and sedan. There was no sedan available in 1998. Model dropped in 1999. Equipped with the B18B1 DOHC engine putting out 140 hp and 127 lb/ft (172 Nm) of torque. In 1997, power ratings dropped to 138 hp and 124 lb⋅ft (168 N⋅m) of torque due to U.S. emissions regulations. Standard features were a cassette player, rear window defroster, and tilt steering wheel. Cassette player replaced with CD player in 1997. The RS models as well as Type Rs did not come with sunroofs as an option, while the LS, SE, GS, and GS-R sub-models did; LS: Luxury Sport, was available in both Hatchback and sedan a leather wrapped steering wheel and shift knob; SE: Special Edition, was available in both hatchback and sedan starting from 1995. The trim was only available in 1995 and 1996 model years until they were changed to be named the GS in 1997. From the LS, it added leather seats, alloy wheels on all years, and a rear wing spoiler (optional); GS: Grand Sport, was available in both hatchback and sedan starting from 1991. Same standard features as the SE. Including a rear spoiler; GS-R: Grand Sport Racing, was available in both hatchback and sedan. Equipped with the B18C1 DOHC VTEC engine outputting 170 hp and 128 lb/ft (174 Nm) of torque. Same standard features as the GS minus the leather seats. However, leather seats ended up becoming a standard feature on the GS-R starting in 1999. An automatic transmission is an option in certain markets for this car. In 1995, Honda introduced the Integra Type R to the Japanese domestic market. The Type R came standard with a 197 bhp, 195 bhp USDM, 187 hp UK factory-tuned variant of the B18C engine. Equipped with a close ratio 5-speed manual transmission and a Helical LSD, the DC2 Integra Type R had significantly improved performance and handling relative to the GS-R/Si/SiR-G Integra. These were the result of extensive changes, including a strengthened chassis with extra spot welds and thicker metal around the rear shock towers and lower subframe, weight reduction (reduced sound insulation, 10% thinner windscreen, lighter wheels), more power, rev limiter set at 8,600 rpm JDM (8,500 rpm USDM, 8,700 rpm UKDM), hand built engine featuring hand-polished and ported intake ports, high compression pistons, undercut valves and revised intake and exhaust systems, and suspension upgrades. The result was a capable sports hatchback which was acclaimed by motoring journalists worldwide. The JDM version was significantly lighter than the SiR Integra (The 96–97 spec model could delete the air bags, A/C, rear wiper, radio, center console, clock, P/S and ABS), However, there is only a 33 lb (15 kg) net weight difference between the USDM Integra Type R and the Integra GS-R because the extra metal and cross bracing in the Type R negate much of the 98 lb of weight reductions. The DC2 Type R was the only Type R ever sold in North America with the Acura badge. For the European, Australian and New Zealand market the DC2 was sold as a Honda with the four headlight front end design. The JDM DC2 Type R received significant upgrades in 1998 and is known as the ’98 Spec R. Some of the main changes were a redesigned rear bumper, 16-inch wheel with 215/45R16 tyres, 5-lug nut wheel hubs and bigger brakes. Gear ratios for the final drive were higher, making 1st to 3rd gears closer, while 4th and 5th were longer to maintain the ’96 Spec cruising comfort. The engine power remained the same, but use of a new 4–1 long tube header brought torque lower down to 6,200 rpm. A final revision of the JDM DC2 Type R known as the ’00 Spec R included a revised intake camshaft, and more finely balanced drive shafts. A final trim version offered in mid-2000 onwards for the JDM market (known as the “Type Rx”) came factory fitted with motorized folding mirrors, dashboard clock, blue-hue carbon trim interiors, and an audio system as part of the standard package. it also included a hash pocket in the centre console. In Japan, the Integra is revered as one of the best sports cars of the ’90s. On Japanese car review show “Best Motoring” the Integra Type R punched well above its weight competing with fastest 4WD Turbo cars of the time, the Nissan Skyline GTR and WRX STI. It has been acclaimed by motoring journalists worldwide, including Evo magazine, which named the Type R ‘the greatest front-wheel-drive performance car ever’, and TheAutoChannel.com, which similarly called it ‘the best handling front-wheel drive car ever’. The Integra Type R is considered a modern classic and prices have steadily risen. An original Type R can sell for twice its dealership price with a low mileage example reaching US$63,800 at auction in 2018.
The fourth generation Integra was introduced in Japan on April 13, 2001 and produced from July 2001 to July 2006. For North America (United States and Canada), it was introduced as the Acura RSX in accordance with Acura’s new alphabetical naming scheme. It also had an entirely new engine, the K-series. The Integra came in two models in the United States, the RSX and the RSX Type-S boasting the K20A2 engine from 2002 to 2004, while the 2005 and 2006 RSX-S came with a K20Z1. The RSX was sold as a Honda Integra in Japan and Australia, markets where Acura did not exist. In March 2006, Honda announced that the Integra would be discontinued in June after its final 300 cars were sold, due to the shrinkage of the coupe market. The reaction of the consumers towards the discontinuation, however, forced Honda to extend production until July 2006 and produce 150 more Integras. The Acura RSX was discontinued as well, as the RSX did not fit within the confines of Acura’s re-structured market strategy. This left the Acura TSX as Acura’s entry-level vehicle. Also, the introduction of the similarly powerful and less expensive 2006 model-year Honda Civic Si was there to fill in the gap left by the RSX. The DC5 Type R (Japanese market only) comes standard with a K20A 220 hp 2.0 litre DOHC i-VTEC four-cylinder engine. The “i” in i-VTEC stands for intelligent VTEC, which employs VTC (Variable Timing Control) to advance or retard the intake cam timing within a 50 degree range. The Integra Type R comes equipped with Recaro seats, four-piston Brembo front brakes, a close ratio six-speed manual transmission, a limited-slip differential, variable back-pressure exhaust system, and a stiffer suspension.
The S2000 was first alluded to at the 1995 Tokyo Motor Show, with the Honda Sport Study Model (SSM) concept car, a rear-wheel-drive roadster powered by a 2.0 litre inline 4-cylinder engine and featuring a rigid ‘high X-bone frame’ which Honda claimed improved the vehicle’s rigidity and collision safety. The concept car was constructed with aluminium body panels and featured a 50:50 weight distribution. The SSM appeared at many automotive shows for several years afterwards, hinting at the possibility of a production version, which Honda finally announced in 1999. It featured a front mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout with power being delivered by a 1,997 cc inline 4-cylinder DOHC-VTEC engine. The engine produced outputs of 237–247 hp, and 153–161 lb/ft depending on the target market., and it was mated to a six-speed manual transmission and Torsen limited slip differential. The S2000 achieved what Honda claimed as “the world’s top level, high performance 4-cylinder naturally aspirated engine”. Features included independent double wishbone suspension, electrically assisted steering and integrated roll hoops. The compact and lightweight engine, mounted entirely behind the front axle, allowed the S2000 to achieve a 50:50 front/rear weight distribution and lower rotational inertia. An electrically powered vinyl top with internal cloth lining was standard, with an aluminium hardtop available as an optional extra. Although the S2000 changed little visually during its production run, there were some alterations, especially in 2004, at which point production of the S2000 moved to Suzuka. The facelifted car introduced 17 in wheels and Bridgestone RE-050 tyres along with a retuned suspension to reduce oversteer. The spring rates and shock absorber damping were altered and the suspension geometry modified to improve stability by reducing toe-in changes under cornering loads. The subframe has also received a revision in design to achieve a high rigidity. In the gearbox the brass synchronisers were replaced with carbon fibre. In addition, cosmetic changes were made to the exterior with new front and rear bumpers, revised headlight assemblies, new LED tail-lights, and oval-tipped exhausts. Although all the cosmetic, suspension and most drivetrain upgrades were included on the Japanese and European S2000s, they retained the 2.0l F20C engine and remained designated as an AP1. A number of special editions were made, such as the more track-oriented Club Racer version offered in the US in 2007/8 and the Type S for Japan in 2008/9. The UK received a GT for 2009, which featured a removable hard-top and an outside temperature gauge. The S2000 Ultimate Edition (continental Europe) and GT Edition 100 (UK) were limited versions of the S2000 released to commemorate the end of production. Both included Grand Prix White body colour, removable hard top, graphite-coloured alloy wheels, red leather interior with red colouring for stitching on the gear lever gaiter. The Ultimate Edition was unveiled at the 2009 Geneva Motor Show and went on sale in March 2009. The GT Edition 100 was a limited run of 100 units released for the UK market. In addition to the Ultimate Edition’s specification, it featured a black S2000 badge and a numbered plaque on the kick-plate indicating which vehicle in the series it was. The car was never replaced, as Honda decided to head off in the same direction as Toyota, producing a series of very dull appliance-like cars that focused on low emissions and dependability but of no appeal to the sort of enthusiast who bought (and probably kept!) an S2000.
Final Honda of note was this, the current generation and highly rated Civic Type R
Few would have guessed that the XJS would run for over 20 years, but eventually it came time for its replacement, and the car charged with so doing was the XK8. Development began in 1992, with design work having starting earlier, in late 1991. By October 1992 a design was chosen and later frozen for production in 1993. Prototypes were built from December 1993 after the X100 was given formal approval and design patents were filed in June 1994. Development concluded in 1996, at which point the car was launched. The first-generation XK series shares its platform with the Aston Martin DB7, and both cars are derived from the Jaguar XJS, though the platform has been extensively changed. One of the revisions is the use of the second generation of Jaguar’s independent rear suspension unit, taken from the XJ40. The XK8 was available in coupé or convertible body styles and with the then new 4.0-litre Jaguar AJ-V8 engine. In 1998 the XKR was introduced with a supercharged version of the engine. 2003 the engines were replaced by the 4.2-litre AJ34 engines in both the normally aspirated and supercharged versions. Equipment levels were generous and there was a high standard of fit and finish. Both models came with all-leather interior, burl walnut trim, and side airbags. Jeremy Clarkson, during a Top Gear test-drive, likened the interior of the original XK8 to sitting inside Blenheim Palace. The model ran for 10 years before being replaced by the X150.
There was also an example of the latest Jaguar sports car, the F Type, seen here in Cabriolet guise.
Introduced in 1967, the Elan +2 had a longer wheelbase and two rear seats and so was intended for those Lotus customers who needed space to carry (small) people in the back, without sacrificing the same basic principles which made the Elan so appealing. A fast and agile sport coupe, a number of different engines were fitted over the years, with the later models having 130 bhp and a 5 speed gearbox at their disposal, which gave a top speed of 120 mph and 0–60 acceleration of 7.9 seconds and 0-100 mph 21.8 seconds. 5,200 Elans +2 were made, with production ceasing in 1975. Fewer than 1,200 of these cars remain on the roads today. Their relative rarity, beautiful lines, impressive performance and practicality are the main factors for the rising interest on these cars among collectors.
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.
Designed by brothers Dennis and Peter Adams, this well-known car caused something of a sensation when it was shown at the 1964 Racing Car Show. Known as the Marcos 1800, it had a glassfibre body, with a wooden chassis and was offered for sale fully built or in kit form. This was to be the design that would become familiar to sports car enthusiasts for more than 30 years, even though the original plywood chassis would later be replaced by a steel chassis and the futuristic scalloped dashboard also vanished after a few years. The plywood chassis was glued together from 386 separate pieces and was not only light and strong, but also required a minimum up front investment to construct. The extremely low Marcos required a nearly supine driving position and fixed seats, mounted lower than the floor of the car. In return, the entire pedal set could be moved fore and aft with a knob on the dashboard. If this proved not to be enough Marcos also offered optional booster pillows. This setup, with the fixed seats, remained until the end of Marcos production in late 2007. The original Marcos 1800 had a two-spoke steering wheel and a novel dash with a prominent centre console, a rather expensive design which did not survive onto the Ford-engined cars. The entire nose portion, of a long and tapered design, was hinged at the front and was held down by latches behind the front wheelwells. It used the cast-iron four-cylinder 96 hp Volvo 1778 cc B18 unit with overdrive gearbox from the Volvo P1800S enough for a 116 mph top speed and a 0-60 mph time of 8.2 seconds. Successful in competition, the rather expensive 1800 sold very slowly, and after the first 33 cars the de Dion rear suspension was replaced by a live Ford axle. The price was dropped from ₤1500 to ₤1340, but it was not enough to make the car profitable. Cars were stockpiling in 1966, and after 106 (or 99) had been built, the 1800 was replaced by the Ford-engined 1500. Normally fitted with a four-speed manual transmission a five-speed one was also available, allowing for a higher top speed. According to some sources, a few of the last cars built had the 2 litre Volvo B20 engine fitted, as did some of the racing cars. The 1800 is the only Marcos that is eligible for historic racing and as such is considerably more valuable today than later models. In 1966 the GT was changed to a pushrod inline-four Ford Kent engine of 1500 cc, in order to lower costs as the 1800 had been rather too expensive to market. The complex dash was also replaced with a flat polished wood unit, which was soon downgraded further yet to a mass-produced “wood-effect” one. Power and performance were both down on the 1800, but sales increased considerably. To hide the fact that a common Ford engine was used, Marsh replaced the rocker covers with Marcos ones and switched from Weber to Stromberg carburettors. An overbored Lawrencetune 1650 cc version was made available in 1967 (32 built) to ameliorate the power shortage, for the Marcos 1650 GT. The 1650 also had bigger disc brakes and a standard Webasto sunroof, but proved somewhat less than reliable It and the 1500 were both replaced by Ford’s new Crossflow four not much later, in late 1967. The 1600 proved to be the most popular model yet, with 192 cars built until early 1969. Weight was 740 kg (1,631 lb) and disc brakes up front were standard, although power assist was an optional extra. Production ended in October 1969 as the new steel chassis was not well suited for the crossflow engine. A new model, the 2 litre, appeared at the January 1969 London Show with the engine changed to the Ford Essex V4 engine from the Ford Corsair – while a V6 engine had already appeared at the top of the lineup in 1968. Also in 1969, the plywood chassis was gradually replaced by a square section steel one, which shortened production time and saved on cost. These steel framed cars required a lower sill panel and have reshaped rear bumpers, as well as some subtle interior differences. The wooden chassis had also begun to meet a certain amount of resistance from buyers. There seem to have been no V4-engined wooden cars made, although there is a few months overlap between the introduction dates. The V4 received most of the same standard and optional equipment (except the overdrive) and the same central bonnet bulge as did the V6 models; very few of the Marcos 2 litres still have their V4 engines, as a V6 swap is a rather quick job and makes for a much faster car than the original’s 85 hp. It was not exactly a success story, 78 2 litres were most likely built, although numbers as low as 40 have also been mentioned. New at the October 1968 London Show was the more powerful Marcos 3 litre. Fitted with the double-carb Ford Essex V6 engine and transmission from the Ford Zodiac, production beginning in January 1969. Max power was 140 bhp and aside from the badging, this car is most easily recognised by the large, central bonnet bulge necessary to clear the larger engine. The 3 litre had a four-speed manual with a Laycock-de-Normanville Overdrive for the third and fourth gears fitted. In December 1969 a twin-carburetted 3-litre Volvo B30 straight-six became available (initially only for the US), and in 1971 eleven or twelve cars were fitted with the 150 bhp Triumph 2.5-litre straight-six. These were called the Marcos 2½ litre. As the bonnet was a close fit over the various larger engines, this resulted in a corresponding variation in the bonnet design as regards changes designed to clear engine air intakes, often the only external sign of the type of engine fitted. All inline-sixes required a rather angular bulge right of centre on the bonnet to clear the carburettors. Around this time, some V6 cars begun sporting single rectangular headlights (not on US-market cars), borrowed from the Vauxhall Viva HB. Later in 1969 the six-cylinder cars, as with their four-cylinder counterparts, received the new steel chassis. Either 100 or 119 of the wood-chassied V6 cars were built. The Ford V6 version achieved over 120 mph on test and the Volvo-engined model was not far behind it, but the heavy cast-iron engines increased nose-heaviness in comparison to the four-cylinder variants. With US sales going strong, Marcos production was up to three per week and they had to invest in a bigger space in 1969. Cars for the North Americas market had Volvo’s inline-six cylinder, 3 litre engines with a standard Borg-Warner Type 35 automatic transmissions. They sat on tubular steel space frames, have a higher ride height, and no headlight covers – all of this was in order to get US road certification. Air conditioning was also listed as an option by New York-based importers Marcos International Inc. Delays and problems with the federalised cars were beginning to mount. In 1970, 27 exported cars were impounded by US Customs for supposedly not meeting federal law, causing Marcos to withdraw entirely from the US market. Together with the development costs of the Mantis and the introduction of VAT on kit cars on the horizon, Marcos had to close its doors for what turned out to be the first time. About sixty US market cars were built, some of which were brought back after the US market dried up in 1970 and converted to RHD for sale in the home market. Production of the Volvo 3 litre continued for the rest of the world, with these cars fitted with a four-speed manual transmission. Either 80 or 172 of the Volvo I6-engined Marcos were built until early 1972, with the final one destined to become the last Marcos built for the next ten years. After Marcos had run out of money the company was sold to Hebron & Medlock Bath Engineering in mid-1971. They themselves had to call in the receivers only six months later. The Rob Walker Garage Group bought the factory only to sell off everything, including some finished cars such as all six Mark 2 1600s built. Jem Marsh bought up spares and other parts at the liquidation sale and proceeded to run a company servicing existing Marcos, until he resumed production of Marcos kits in 1981. The original GT continued to be built until 1989 or 1990, being developed into its altered Mantula form. This was further developed into more powerful and aggressively-styled designs, culminating in the 1994 LM600 (which competed in the 1995 Le Mans 24-hour race).
Now an established part of the McLaren range, the 570S along with its slightly cheaper and less powerful brother, the 540C, was revealed at the 2015 New York Auto Show, going on sale towards the end of that year. These were labelled as part of McLaren’s Sports Series. This mid-engine sportscar features the lightweight carbon fibre MonoCell II chassis, and a highly efficient 3.8-litre twin turbo V8 engine generating 562bhp and 443lb/ft of torque. Although the model has been conceived with a greater focus on day-to-day usability and refinement, it is still very much a pure McLaren, boasting a class-leading power-to-weight ratio of 434PS per tonne, and electrifying performance. The 570S Coupé accelerates from 0 to 100km/h in just 3.2 seconds, reaches 200km/h (124mph) in 9.5 seconds, and on to a top speed of 204mph. Pricing for the 570S Coupé started at £143,250, though like all cars of this type, that figure can quickly rise once you raid the options list.
The MGA replaced the long running T Series sports cars and presented a complete styling break from MG’s earlier sports cars. Announced on 26 September 1955, the car was officially launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show. A total of 101,081 units were sold through the end of production in July 1962, the vast majority of the 58.750 cars made were exported. Only 5869 cars were sold on the home market, the lowest percentage of any British car. It was replaced by the MGB. The MGA design dates back to 1951, when MG designer Syd Enever created a streamlined body for George Philips’ TD Le Mans car. The problem with this car was the high seating position of the driver because of the limitations of using the TD chassis. A new chassis was designed with the side members further apart and the floor attached to the bottom rather than the top of the frame sections. A prototype was built and shown to the BMC chairman Leonard Lord. He turned down the idea of producing the new car as he had just signed a deal with Donald Healey to produce Austin-Healey cars two weeks before. Falling sales of the traditional MG models caused a change of heart, and the car, initially to be called the UA-series, was brought back. As it was so different from the older MG models it was called the MGA, the “first of a new line” to quote the contemporary advertising. There was also a new engine available, therefore the car did not have the originally intended XPAG unit but was fitted with the BMC corporate B-Series type allowing a lower bonnet line. The MGA convertible had no exterior door handles, however the coupe did. It was a body-on-frame design and used the straight-4 1489cc “B series” engine from the MG Magnette saloon driving the rear wheels through a 4-speed gearbox. Suspension was independent with coil springs and wishbones at the front and a rigid axle with semi-elliptic springs at the rear. Steering was by rack and pinion. The car was available with either wire-spoked or steel-disc road wheels. The 1489 cc engine fitted with twin H4 type SU Carburettors produced 68 hp at first, but was soon uprated to 72 hp. Lockheed hydraulic drum brakes were used on all wheels. A high-performance Twin-Cam model was added for 1958. It used a high-compression (9.9:1 later 8.3:1) DOHC aluminium cylinder head version of the B-Series engine producing 108 hp. Due to detonation problems, a 100 bhp low-compression version was introduced later. Four-wheel disc brakes by Dunlop were fitted, along with Dunlop peg drive knock-off steel wheels similar to wheels used on racing Jaguars, unique to the Twin-Cam and “DeLuxe” MGA 1600 and 1600 MkII roadsters. These wheels and chassis upgrades were used on a small number of the “DeLuxe” models built after Twin-Cam production came to a halt. Aside from the wheels, the only outside identifier was a “Twin-Cam” logo near the vent aside the bonnet. A careful look at the rear wheel vents would also reveal another feature unique to Twin-Cam and DeLuxe: those 4 wheel Dunlop disc brakes . The temperamental engine was notorious for warranty problems during the course of production, and sales dropped quickly. The engine suffered from detonation and burnt oil. Most of the problems with the Twin-Cam engine were rectified with the low-compression version, but by then the damage had been done. Many restored Twin-Cams are running more reliably today than they ever did during production. The Twin-Cam was dropped in 1960 after 2,111 had been produced. Production ended in April 1960, but had slowed to a trickle long before. In May 1959 the standard cars also received an updated engine, now at 1588 cc producing 79.5 bhp . At the front disc brakes were fitted, but drums remained in the rear. Externally the car was very similar to the 1500 with differences including: amber or white (depending on market) front turn indicators shared with white parking lamps, separate stop/tail and turn lamps in the rear, and 1600 badging on the boot and the cowl. 31,501 of these were produced in less than three years. A number of 1600 De Luxe versions were produced with leftover special wheels and four-wheel disc brakes of the departed Twin-Cam, or using complete modified Twincam chassis left redundant by the discontinuance of that model. Seventy roadsters and 12 coupés were built. The engine size was increased again to 1622 cc by increasing the bore from 75.4 mm to 76.2 mm for the 1961 Mark II MGA. The cylinder head was also revised with larger valves and re-engineered combustion chambers. Horsepower increased to 90 bhp. It also had a higher ratio 4:1 rear axle, which made for more relaxed high-speed driving. An inset grille and Morris Mini tail lamps appearing horizontally below the deck lid were the most obvious visual changes. 8,198 Mark II roadsters and 521 coupés were built. As with the 1600 De Luxe, there were also some Mark II De Luxe versions; 290 roadsters and 23 coupés were produced.
As one of Britain’s most popular classic cars, it was no surprise to find several examples of the MGB here, with cars from throughout the model’s long life, both in Roadster and MGB GT guise, as well as one of the short-lived V8 engined cars. Launched in October 1962, this car was produced for the next 18 years and it went on to become Britain’s best selling sports car. When first announced, the MGB was an innovative, modern design, with a monocoque structure instead of the traditional body-on-frame construction used on both the MGA and MG T-types and the MGB’s rival, the Triumph TR series, though components such as the brakes and suspension were developments of the earlier 1955 MGA and the B-Series engine had its origins back in 1947. The lightweight design reduced manufacturing costs while adding to overall vehicle strength, and with a 95hp 3-bearing 1798cc engine under the bonnet, performance was quite respectable with a 0–60 mph time of just over 11 seconds. The car was rather more civilised than its predecessor, with wind-up windows now fitted as standard, and a comfortable driver’s compartment offered plenty of legroom. The roadster was the first of the MGB range to be produced. The body was a pure two-seater but a small rear seat was a rare option at one point. By making better use of space the MGB was able to offer more passenger and luggage accommodation than the earlier MGA while being 3 inches shorter overall. The suspension was also softer, giving a smoother ride, and the larger engine gave a slightly higher top speed. The four-speed gearbox was an uprated version of the one used in the MGA with an optional (electrically activated) overdrive transmission. A five-bearing engine was introduced in 1964 and a number of other modifications crept into the specification. In late 1967, sufficient changes were introduced for the factory to define a Mark II model. Alterations included synchromesh on all 4 gears with revised ratios, an optional Borg-Warner automatic gearbox, a new rear axle, and an alternator in place of the dynamo with a change to a negative earth system. To accommodate the new gearboxes there were significant changes to the sheet metal in the floorpan, and a new flat-topped transmission tunnel. US market cars got a new safety padded dashboard, but the steel item continued for the rest of the world. Rostyle wheels were introduced to replace the previous pressed steel versions in 1969 and reclining seats were standardised. 1970 also saw a new front grille, recessed, in black aluminium. The more traditional-looking polished grille returned in 1973 with a black “honeycomb” insert. Further changes in 1972 were to the interior with a new fascia. To meet impact regulations, in late 1974, the chrome bumpers were replaced with new, steel-reinforced black rubber bumpers, the one at the front incorporating the grille area as well, giving a major restyling to the B’s nose, and a matching rear bumper completed the change. New US headlight height regulations also meant that the headlamps were now too low. Rather than redesign the front of the car, British Leyland raised the car’s suspension by 1-inch. This, in combination with the new, far heavier bumpers resulted in significantly poorer handling. For the 1975 model year only, the front anti-roll bar was deleted as a cost-saving measure (though still available as an option). The damage done by the British Leyland response to US legislation was partially alleviated by revisions to the suspension geometry in 1977, when a rear anti-roll bar was made standard equipment on all models. US emissions regulations also reduced horsepower. In March 1979 British Leyland started the production of black painted limited edition MGB roadsters for the US market, meant for a total of 500 examples, but due to a high demand, production ended with 6682 examples. The United Kingdom received bronze painted roadsters and a silver GT model limited editions. The production run of home market limited edition MGBs was split between 421 roadsters and 579 GTs. Meanwhile, the fixed-roof MGB GT had been introduced in October 1965, and production continued until 1980, although export to the US ceased in 1974. The MGB GT sported a ground-breaking greenhouse designed by Pininfarina and launched the sporty “hatchback” style. By combining the sloping rear window with the rear deck lid, the B GT offered the utility of a station wagon while retaining the style and shape of a coupe. This new configuration was a 2+2 design with a right-angled rear bench seat and far more luggage space than in the roadster. Relatively few components differed, although the MGB GT did receive different suspension springs and anti-roll bars and a different windscreen which was more easily and inexpensively serviceable. Although acceleration of the GT was slightly slower than that of the roadster, owing to its increased weight, top speed improved by 5 mph to 105 mph because of better aerodynamics. 523,826 examples of the MGB of all model types were built, and although many of these were initially sold new in North America, a lot have been repatriated here. There were several Roadsters and MGB GT.
There were a number of examples of the Morgan here, an evergreen British sports car which is made only a few miles away from here at Malvern Link.
This is the Morris Eight, which was produced from 1935 to 1948, inspired by the sales popularity of the similarly shaped Ford Model Y. The success of the car enabled Morris to regain its position as Britain’s largest motor manufacturer. The Eight was powered by a Morris UB series 918 cc four-cylinder side-valve engine with three bearing crankshaft and single SU carburettor with maximum power of 23.5 bhp. The gearbox was a three-speed unit with synchromesh on the top two speeds and Lockheed hydraulic brakes were fitted. Coil ignition was used in a Lucas electrical system powered by a 6 volt battery and third brush dynamo. The body which was either a saloon or open tourer was mounted on a separate channel section chassis with a 7 feet 6 inches wheelbase. The tourer could reach 58 mph and return 45 mpg; the saloons were a little slower. The chrome-plated radiator shell and honeycomb grille were dummies disguising the real one hidden behind. In September 1934 the bare chassis was offered for £95. For buyers of complete cars prices ranged from £118 for the basic two-seater to £142 for the four door saloon with “sunshine” roof and leather seats. Bumpers and indicators were £2 10 shillings (£2.50) extra. Compared with the similarly priced, but much lighter and longer established Austin 7, the 1934/35 Morris Eight was well equipped. The driver was provided with a full set of instruments including a speedometer with a built in odometer, oil pressure and fuel level gauges and an ammeter. The more modern design of the Morris was reflected in the superior performance of its hydraulically operated 8 inch drum brakes. The Morris also scored over its Ford rival by incorporating an electric windscreen wiper rather than the more old-fashioned vacuum powered equivalent, while its relatively wide 45 inch track aided directional stability on corners. The series I designation was used from June 1935 in line with other Morris models, cars made before this are known as pre-series although the official Morris Motors designation was by the model year even though they were introduced in October 1934. Of the 164,102 cars produced approximately 24,000 were tourers.
Perhaps the most unusual car of the event was this fabulous Datsun Cherry Coupe. Originally, before combining with Nissan Motors, the Prince Motor Company plan of development was to mass-produce a front-engine, front-wheel drive car. Subsequent to the Prince and Nissan merger of 1966, the Cherry was released in 1970 as Nissan’s first front-wheel drive car instead. In Asian markets there was also a “Cherry Cab” cabover truck model (C20), which was closely related to the Nissan Sunny — it was also marketed as the “Sunny Cab”. In Europe, the A10-engined E10 Cherry was called Datsun 100A (the Datsun brand being used in place of Nissan in the European market at that time) or Datsun 120A (A12, but this engine was only available with the coupé body style or as a semi-automatic version of the ordinary car available in 1978). The names “Cherry” and “Datsun 1000” were also used in advertising, however the Datsun 1000 name was associated with the early Nissan Sunny and Nissan Bluebird. The Cherry was introduced in Japan at a specially established dealership sales channel called Nissan Cherry Shop, whereas the Sunny was sold at Nissan Satio Shop, and the Bluebird was sold at the Nissan Bluebird Shop. As the Cherry F-II successor flagged in the market, the somewhat smaller E10 Cherry continued to be sold up until 1977 in many places. With the launch of the Cherry in 1971, Datsun’s prominence in the UK market grew. In the early 1970s, as the British auto-industry faltered, Datsun led the charge of Japanese auto-manufacturers rapidly gaining market share in the UK. Britain’s Motor magazine polled readers about their cars, including, in February 1973, those who owned E10 Cherrys. The question given greatest prominence was the final one which asked whether or not respondents would buy another car of the same model: 76 percent of Cherry owning respondents answered “yes”, which was the top score for this question achieved by any model to date, and beat even the 66 percent “yes” score given by owners of the previous leader, the Volkswagen Beetle, at the time well known in the UK for its owners’ brand loyalty. These cars are now very rare in the UK. This particular example is in fact a JDM import and is the even rarer Cherry Coupé 1200X-1 R with “fender flares”, a variant which debuted in March 1973.
The very first generation of the 240SX can be divided into two distinct versions, both having the sporting advantage of rear wheel drive standard. Each of these variants came in two distinct body styles: hatchback, which was offered in both base and SE trim, LE trim, and coupe, which was offered in base, XE, LE and SE. Both styles shared the same front bodywork as the Japanese-market Nissan 180SX, featuring the sloping front with pop-up headlights. This bodywork distinguishes the coupe model from its Japanese-market counterpart, the Silvia, which featured fixed headlights. Both styles in all markets share the same chassis, and with few exceptions, most components and features are identical. The 240SX is a popular car in the sport of drifting due to its long wheelbase, low cost, ample power, light weight, well balanced chassis and abundant after-market support. 1989 and 1990 models are powered by a naturally aspirated 140 bhp, 152 lb/ft (206 Nm) 2,389 cc SOHC KA24E engine with 3 valves per cylinder (instead of the turbo-charged and intercooled 1.8-litre DOHC CA18DET offered in Japan and Europe in the 180SX and Silvia). Four-wheel disc brakes were standard, with antilock brakes available as an option on the SE. Both models were offered with either a 4-speed automatic or 5-speed manual transmission. “Coupes” offered a Heads-up display (HUD) with a digital speedometer as part of the optional Power Convenience Group. The 240SX received some updates in 1991. The matte silver, teardrop wheels were replaced by polished aluminium 7-spoke wheels that had better brake cooling properties but more drag. The nose was smoothed out by getting rid of the non-functional slots and gave back the aerodynamic efficiencies lost by the wheels. This gave the car an overhaul that included a minor update of the exterior and a new cylinder head. A new “LE” hatchback trim package was added that included leather interior. The SOHC KA24E was replaced by the DOHC KA24DE, now with 4 valves per cylinder, rated at 155 bhp at 5,600 rpm and 160 lb/ft (217 Nm) at 4,400 rpm of torque. An optional sports package including ABS, a limited slip differential, and Nissan’s HICAS four wheel steering was now available on hatchback models. The S13 was known for sharp steering and handling (thanks to front MacPherson struts and a rear multilink suspension) and relatively light weight (2700 lb) but was regarded in the automotive press as being underpowered. The engine, while durable and relatively torquey, was a heavy iron-block truck unit that produced meagre power for its relatively large size. It was only modestly improved by the change to the DOHC version in 1991. Furthermore, despite the modest power output, relatively low vehicle weight, and good aerodynamics, gas mileage was mediocre. These engines are the primary difference between the North American 240SX and the world-market Silvia/180SX/200SX. The KA24DE did not come turbocharged while the SR20DET did. The U.S. version was regarded as a highly capable sports car that only needed a better engine. Other differences include a standard limited slip differential on overseas and Canadian models, available digital climate control in Japan, and manual seat belts standard in Japan and Canada vs. automatic restraint seatbelts in America. In 1992, a convertible was added to the lineup and was exclusive to the North American market. These vehicles began life in Japan as coupes and were later modified in the California facilities of American Specialty Cars (ASC). For the 1994 model year, the only available 240SX was a Special Edition convertible equipped with an automatic transmission. The US 240SX convertible differed from the Japanese market version, in that the Japanese market model had a power top cover boot, whereas the US market model had manually installed boot cover once the top is down. It was also produced in Japan, rather than by ASC. A replacement model was launched in the autumn of 1994.
It is quite surprising to realise that the Figaro is now more than 25 years old. This well-known retro-styled fixed-profile convertible was manufactured for just one year, 1991, and originally marketed solely in Japan at their Nissan Cherry Stores. The Figaro was introduced at the 1989 Tokyo Motor Show under the slogan “Back to the Future”. The name references the title character in the play The Marriage of Figaro by Pierre Beaumarchais. Based on the Nissan Micra, the Figaro was built at Aichi Machine Industry, a special projects group which Nissan would later call “Pike Factory,” which also produced three other niche automobiles: the Be-1, Pao and S-Cargo. As a fixed-profile convertible, the upper side elements of the Figaro’s bodywork remain fixed, while its fabric soft top retracts to provide a less fully open experience than a typical convertible. The fixed-profile concept is seen on other convertibles, including the Citroën 2CV and the 1957 Fiat 500. The Figaro was marketed in four colours representing the four seasons: Topaz Mist (Autumn), Emerald Green (Spring), Pale Aqua (Summer) and Lapis Grey (Winter). Few, reportedly 2,000, were marketed in Topaz Mist. The Figaro was equipped with leather seats, air conditioning, CD player and a fixed-profile slide-back open roof. 8000 were originally available with an additional 12,000 added to production numbers to meet demand. Prospective purchasers entered a lottery to purchase a Figaro. Limited edition cars came with passenger side baskets and cup holders. A surprising number of them have been imported to the UK in recent years.
There were also a couple of examples of the current range, both of them long-lived model designs, the 370Z and the more brutal GT-R.
There were two distinct generations of Manta, the car that Opel conceived to compete against the Ford Capri. The second, the Manta B, in Opel speak lasted far longer than the first. It was launched in August 1975. This two-door “three-box” car was mechanically based directly on the then newly redesigned Opel Ascona, but the overall design was influenced by the 1975 Chevrolet Monza. The Manta had more “sporty” styling, including a droop-snoot nose not seen on the Ascona, which was similar to the UK equivalent, the Cavalier Mk1. Engines were available ranging from the small 1.2-litre OHV engine, the 1.6-litre CIH and the 1.9-litre CIH. Also in 1976 the GT/E engine from the Manta A series was adapted into the Manta B programme spawning the GT/E Manta B series. In 1979 the GT/E had the engine replaced with the new 2.0 litre CIH and with a new designed Bosch L injection system. Power output was now 108 hp. The 1.9-litre engine gave way to the 2.0 litre S engine which was aspirated by a Varajet II carburettor. This engine was the most used engine by Opel at the time, and was to be found in several Opel Rekord cars. In 1978, a three-door hatchback version appeared to complement the existing two-door booted car. This shape was also not unique, being available on the Vauxhall Cavalier Sports Hatch variant. Both Manta versions received a facelift in 1982, which included a plastic front spoiler, sideskirts for the GT/E and GSi models, a small wing at the rear and quadruple air intakes on the grille. Also the 1.2-, 1.6- and 1.9-litre engines were discontinued and replaced by the 1.3-litre OHC engine, the 1.8-litre OHC and the 2.0-litre S and E CIH engines (although the 75 PS 1.9N continued to be available in a few markets). The GT/E was renamed and was called the GSi from 1983 (except in the UK where the GT/E name continued). Production of the Manta continued well after the equivalent Ascona and Cavalier were replaced by a front-wheel-drive model “Ascona C”. The Vauxhall Cavalier Mk1 Sportshatch and Coupe did not continue past 1981, and there were no coupe versions the MK2 Cavalier range. In 1982 the 1.8-litre Opel Family II engine from the Ascona C was fitted in the Manta B (replacing the CIH unit) making a more economical Manta B to drive. It could run 14 km per litre and use unleaded fuel. The 1.8 was very popular and was in production for 5 years (1982–1987). The 2.0S models where discontinued in 1984 and only the GSi was available with the “large” engine (GT/E in the UK). In 1986 Opel released the last Manta B model the Exclusive (1987 in the UK), giving it all of the best in equipment. Recaro seats with red cloth, grey leather like interior and the full bodypack known from the i200 models. This consisted of twin round headlights in a plastic cover, front spoiler and rear lower spoiler from Irmscher, sideskirts and the known 3 split rear spoiler of the Manta 400 (producing 80 kg (176 lb) of weight on the rear at 200 km/h). In the UK, the Exclusive GT/E models were available in colours such as Dolphin Grey with matching dark grey cloth seats with red piping. These also had the quad headlights, front spoiler but a rear bumper which housed the number plate, coupled with a black plastic strip between the rear light clusters. The rear spoiler was similar to the standard GT/E. Opel finally ceased the production of the Manta B in 1988, only producing the GSi version after 1986 (it was sold as the GT/E in the UK). Its successor, the Calibra – sold as a Vauxhall in Britain, and as an Opel everywhere else – was launched in 1989.
From a distance, this looks like a three-wheeler Morgan, but get up close and you realise it is not. It is a product of the Pembleton Motor Company, who offer two different models. The Pembleton is a single donor (Citroën 2CV) kit car designed and marketed by Phil Gregory and can have either three or four wheels. The original trike was designed, built and on the road in three weeks. It looks rather like a Morgan trike from the 1920s and 30s but does not attempt to be a replica. Every car is personalised by the builder and no two cars are exactly the same. A Pembleton is constructed on a space frame chassis unlike a Lomax or Burton which use the original Citroën 2CV chassis. The gearbox, steering, brakes, front suspension, half or all of the rear suspension, wiring loom, electrical parts and lots of other parts come from a Citroën 2CV donor. The front suspension geometry is modified to improve the roadholding of the vehicle. The engine can be from a 2CV but people have installed BMW and Moto Guzzi engines for more performance and appearance.All of the body is hand made out of aluminium either using precut panels or cut from sheet from patterns. This includes flooring, bulkheads and front wings. There are no compound curves apart from the nose cowl which is copper, made from the top of a domestic hot water tank. Seats are made to fold forward to give access to the boot area. In their own words: “The Pembleton V-Sport is a vintage styled 3 wheeler cycle car unlike any other you will find on the road. With an unparalleled weight of just 298KG, and an incredibly smooth and adjustable ride, paired with modern engineering and technology, results in a true vintage feel without any reliability worries. A polished, handcrafted aluminium body with paint options available too means there is nothing quite like the V-Sport.”
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.
Designed by Benjamin Dimson in 1986, the 964 featured significant styling revisions over previous 911 models, most prominently the more integrated bumpers. The 964 was considered to be 85% new as compared to its predecessor. The first 964s available in 1989 were all wheel drive equipped “Carrera 4” models; Porsche added the rear wheel drive Carrera 2 variant to the range in 1990. Both variants were available as a coupe, Targa or Cabriolet. The 964 Carrera was the last generation sold with the traditional removable Targa roof until the 2011 991. A new naturally aspirated engine called the M64 was used for 964 models, with a flat-6 displacement of 3.6 litres. Porsche substantially revised the suspension, replacing torsion bars with coil springs and shock absorbers. Power steering and ABS brakes were added to the 911 for the first time; both were standard. The exterior bumpers and fog lamps became flush with the car for better aerodynamics. A new electric rear spoiler raised at speeds above 50 mph and lowered down flush with the rear engine lid at lower speeds. A revised interior featured standard dual airbags beginning in 1990 for all North American production cars. A new automatic climate control system provided improved heating and cooling. Revised instrumentation housed a large set of warning lights that were tied into the car’s central warning system, alerting the driver to a possible problem or malfunction. The 964 was sold until 1993 when its place was taken by the 993. 62,172 were built. The car was not particularly well regarded by enthusiasts, with most preferring its predecessor or successor, but latterly, it has found greater favour and values are firming.
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
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 0-97 km/h (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).
The latest version of the 911 is code-named the 992 and the first of these cars hit the streets in early 2019 following a premier at the 2018 Los Angeles Show. As is usually the case with Porsche, it takes some time for the full range to be announced, so even now it is still building up with the GT3 variants having only just arrived here. The car seen here was a 911 Carrera.
The commercially very significant Boxster was also represented here. Grant Larson’s design, inspired by the 356 Cabriolet, Speedster, and 550 Spyder, stimulated a commercial turnaround for Porsche. Through consultation with Toyota. Porsche began widely sharing parts among models and slashed costs. By October 1991 following a visit to the Tokyo Motor Show, Porsche in dire straits, began to devise solutions to succeed the poor selling 928 and incoming 968 (a heavy update of the 944). In February 1992, Porsche began development of a successor to the 928 (mildly updated for 1992) and recently released 968. By June 1992, out of 4 proposals based on dual collaboration between the 986 and 996 (993 successor) design teams, a proposal by Grant Larson and Pinky Lai was chosen by Harm Lagaay. In August 1992, a decision was made to develop the concept into a show vehicle, in time for the 1993 North American International Auto Show. After garnering widespread acclaim from the press and public upon presentation of the Boxster Concept in January 1993, the final production 986 production exterior design by Larson was frozen in March 1993. However, by the second half of 1993, difficulties arose with fitment of some components, resulting in lengthening of the hood and requiring another design freeze by fourth quarter of that year. Prototypes in 968 bodies were built to test the mid-engine power train of the 986 by the end of 1993, with proper prototypes surfacing in 1994. Pilot production began in the second half of 1995, ahead of series production in mid-1996. The Boxster was released ahead of the 996. The 986 Boxster had the same bonnet, front wings, headlights, interior and engine architecture as the 996. All 986 and 987 Boxsters use the M96, a water-cooled, horizontally opposed (“flat”), six-cylinder engine. It was Porsche’s first water-cooled non-front engine. In the Boxster, it is placed in a mid-engine layout, while in the 911, the classic rear-engine layout was used. The mid-engine layout provides a low center of gravity, a near-perfect weight distribution, and neutral handling. The engines had a number of failures, resulting in cracked or slipped cylinder liners, which were resolved by a minor redesign and better control of the casting process in late 1999. A failure for these early engines was a spate of porous engine blocks, as the manufacturer had difficulty in the casting process. In addition to causing problems with coolant and oil systems mingling fluids, it also resulted in Porsche’s decision to repair faulty engines by boring out the cast sleeves on the cylinders where defects were noted in production and inserting new sleeves rather than scrapping the engine block. Normally, the cylinder walls are cast at the same time as the rest of the engine, this being the reason for adopting the casting technology. The model received a minor facelift in 2002. The plastic rear window was replaced by a smaller glass window. The interior received a glove compartment, new electro-mechanical hood and trunk release mechanism (with an electronic emergency release in the fuse box panel) and an updated steering wheel. Porsche installed a reworked exhaust pipe and air intake. In addition, the front headlight’s amber indicators were replaced with clear indicators. The rear light cluster was also changed with translucent grey turn signals replacing the amber ones. The side marker lights on the front wings were changed as well from amber to clear, except on American market cars where they remained amber. The bumpers were also changed slightly for a more defined, chiselled appearance, and new wheel designs were made available. The second generation of the Boxster debuted at the 2004 Paris Motor Show
Porsche revealed the latest Boxster Spyder based on the 981 Boxster in April 2015 at the New York Auto Show. The styling of the car is similar to the previous generation Spyder, continuing the twin hump rear deck and manually operated canvas top. It also shares some styling with the Cayman GT4, using the same front and rear fascia. The engine is also shared with the Cayman GT4, a 3.8 litre flat-6, making this the largest and most powerful engine used in a Boxster with 385 bhp. It was the lightest Porsche, weighing 1,315 kilograms (2,899 lb). This was achieved through the use of aluminium doors and rear boot lid, a manually operated roof and unique lightweight 20 inch wheels. The air conditioning and audio system were also removed, although they can be added as no cost options. Braking is via larger brakes than used on the Boxster S, being 340mm front and 330mm rear units taken from the 911 Carrera S. Also shared with the GT4 is a limited slip differential combined with Porsche Torque Vectoring and features a 20mm lower ride height. Additionally it also borrows the steering rack from the 911 Turbo S along with the same reduced diameter GT steering wheel as used in both the GT3 and GT4. The Boxster Spyder was only available with a 6 speed manual transmission. The Spyder had a base price of US$82,100 and was only available as a 2016 model with a total worldwide production of 2400 units, with 850 destined for the US.
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.
Looking very imposing and majestic was this Dawn, the open-topped model in Rolls-Royce’s current range.
When news of Project YY, a new mid-sized car started to filter out, another joint Honda-Rover development, it was assumed that once again each would adopt their own body style. Honda was first to market, by some months, with their Concerto, and when the Rover 200 Series as the new 5 door hatch models were called, were then revealed in the autumn of 1989, there was much disappointment expressed that it seemed that Rover had merely changed the details of lights, bumpers and grille, as well putting their own touches to the interior. They had also put their brand new K Series 1.4 litre engine under the bonnet, though, and once the press and then the public got to drive the new car, any thoughts that this might be another dull Japanese car were dispelled, as it was evident that this was a cracking new car in every respect. Only high prices counted against it, but look past that, and the choice between a Rover 214 with a 92 bhp engine and sweet five speed gearbox and a quality interior, or a Ford Escort 1.4 saddled with the rough and crude 75 1.4 litre CVH engine and a decidedly mass-market feeling interior pointed in the Rover’s favour every time. The 216 model retained a Honda engine, but with 125 bhp, this was unbelievably rapid for the class. The 4 door saloon version, the 400, followed a few months later, and then Rover added their own unique 3 door body style, as well as the option of a 2 litre model for a hot hatch to rival the Golf GTi and 309 GTi. Coupe, Cabrio and 400 Tourer versions followed soon after, giving a comprehensive range which was a clear class leader. I had a 414 Si from January 1992 for three years, during which time I put over 100,000 miles on the clock, the highest mileage I had covered to date, and I thought the car was absolutely brilliant. It would have been even better with power steering, probably, but this was an era when you needed to go up a size or two to find this feature as standard.
Don’t stress if you’ve never even heard of a Silurian: you’re not alone, there is only one and you can be forgiven for not having come across it before. Built by Mike Phillips, the owner of well-respected MGP Restorations (best known for their work with Bentleys, Bugattis and pre-war BMWs), the Silurian was the outcome of a plan to build a top-quality child’s petrol-powered car. Plans were drawn up, however once the project was costed, it soon became apparent that it would be easier and cheaper to build a full-sized machine. It was decided from the outset to name the new car the Silurian. A keen local historian, Phillips had a particular interest in the Silures, an ancient race who lived in the hills around what is now Monmouth, Brecon and Glamorgan. Fiercely independent, they spent much time harassing the invading Romans in around 48BC, building a reputation for resilience, toughness and extreme determination. It was thought that the Silurian could be commercialised and sold as either a complete running vehicle or a kit of parts for an enthusiastic owner to assemble. Once work commenced on the prototype, it was soon realised that the bespoke nature of the build and its complex construction would make it impossible to sell as a kit and discussions with various overseas manufacturing companies about production also came to nothing due to the economics of the project. The marketability and overall appeal of the finished product was never in doubt. The Silurian uses a bespoke ladder chassis with cruciform tubular cross bracing making for a very stout affair. Independent suspension was attached from a 1978 Jaguar XJ6 3.4 donor car, giving an overall wheelbase of 10’ 6”. The engine and manual gearbox were also taken from the donor Jaguar, a unit which looks particularly appropriate with its polished cam covers and twin SU carburettors under the long bonnet. The 210bhp engine and tall gearing from the gearbox give around 25mph/1,000 revs which gives plenty of performance and relaxed high speed cruising. The powerful disc brakes inspire confidence and it retains the Jaguar power steering which is quite disconcerting on first acquaintance, as looking through the narrow screen, one instinctively expects to have to haul on the steering wheel as a corner rushes towards you. Most one-off builds fail at the bodywork stage, with unfortunate proportions brought about through general ignorance or compromises due to wheel size or suspension system constraints. Not so the Silurian. Mike Phillips’ experience with pre-war restorations, including his own Lagonda with its elegant T7 coachwork, had taught him a thing or two. Lesson one is not to mount a radiator forward of the centre line of the front axle. A general loss of elegance and sporting lines was seen in the late ‘30s as radiators crept forwards to give more space at the rear for luggage. Lesson two is to make sure that the bonnet line of a car dips an inch or so down towards the radiator – not necessarily visible to the naked eye, but an optical trick that prevents a car having a ‘broken back’ look. Lesson three is to make the bonnet sufficiently long so that the driver sits at least half way back along the length of the chassis – long bonnet, big engine! Lesson four is to fit wheels of an appropriate size, making sure that they fully fill the wheel arches and that the wings hide the independent front suspension if it is being used. Lesson five is to give careful thought to the choice of bodywork materials, long experience showing that aluminium over a wood frame is nearly always the most successful formula. Happily, the Silurian encompasses all of these lessons, the elegantly proportioned body being constructed around a stiff tubular steel frame which is encased in laminated plywood carefully shaped by eye. This has been skilfully panelled in 18swg aluminium. The end result looks like a cross between a Lagonda and a Vanden Plas tourer – you can’t say fairer than that! Trimmed in top quality leather and fitted with a mohair hood and sidescreens, the doors close with a reassuring ‘clunk’ and thanks to its softly sprung modern suspension and steel frame, the ride is remarkably rattle and squeak free. The imposing chrome radiator shell has more than a hint of Bentley or early Jensen about it and the impressive Lucas P100s are definitely ‘King of the Road’. Completed by the late 1980s, this wonderful looking tourer has led a busy life, attending over 1,000 weddings according to a magazine article that accompanies the car. In no way to be classed as a kit car, the Silurian is a one-off bespoke machine, hand-made by an expert with long experience of the coachbuilder’s art. The Jaguar running gear means that it is reliable, refined and rapid, the power steering and disc brakes contributing greatly to the friendly usability of the car.
The Yaris GR is a definite “car of the moment”, following its rave reception last autumn. Long waits are in store for those ordering the car at present, but clearly those who got in early have now received their cars and I am seeing more and more of them where enthusiasts are gathered. There were several here.
Successor to the TR3a, and code named “Zest” during development, the TR4 was based on the chassis and drivetrain of the previous TR sports cars, but with a modern Michelotti styled body. The TR 4 engine was carried over from the earlier TR2/3 models, but the displacement was increased from 1991cc to 2138 cc by increasing the bore size. Gradual improvements in the manifolds and cylinder head allowed for some improvements culminating in the TR4A model. The 1991 cc engine became a no-cost option for those cars destined to race in the under-two-litre classes of the day. Some cars were fitted with vane-type superchargers, as the three main bearing engine was liable to crankshaft failure if revved beyond 6,500 rpm; superchargers allowed a TR4 to produce much more horse-power and torque at relatively modest revolutions. The standard engine produced 105 bhp but, supercharged and otherwise performance-tuned, a 2.2-litre I4 version could produce in excess of 200 bhp at the flywheel. The TR4, in common with its predecessors, was fitted with a wet-sleeve engine, so that for competition use the engine’s cubic capacity could be changed by swapping the cylinder liners and pistons, allowing a competitor to race under different capacity rules (i.e. below or above 2 litres for example). Other key improvements over the TR3 included a wider track front and rear, slightly larger standard engine displacement, full synchromesh on all forward gears, and rack and pinion steering. In addition, the optional Laycock de Normanville electrically operated overdrive Laycock Overdrive could now be selected for 2nd and 3rd gear as well as 4th, effectively providing the TR4 with a seven-speed manual close ratio gearbox. The TR4 was originally fitted with 15×4.5″ disc wheels. Optional 48-lace wire wheels could be ordered painted the same colour as the car’s bodywork (rare), stove-enamelled (matte silver with chrome spinners, most common) or in matte or polished chrome finishes (originally rare, but now more commonly fitted). The most typical tyre originally fitted was 590-15 bias ply or optional radial tires. In the US at one point, American Racing alloy (magnesium and aluminium) wheels were offered as an option, in 15×5.5″ or 15×6″ size. Tyres were a problem for original owners who opted for 60-spoke wire wheels, as the correct size radial-ply tyre for the factory rims was 155-15, an odd-sized tyre at the time only available from Michelin at considerable expense. Some original TR4 sales literature says the original radial size was 165-15. The much more common 185-15 radials were too wide to be fitted safely. As a result, many owners had new and wider rims fitted and their wheels re-laced. The new TR4 body style did away with the classical cutaway door design of the previous TRs to allow for wind-down windows (in place of less convenient side-curtains), and the angular rear allowed a boot with considerable capacity for a sports car. Advanced features included the use of adjustable fascia ventilation, and the option of a unique hard top that consisted of a fixed glass rear window (called a backlight) with an integral rollbar and a detachable, steel centre panel (aluminium for the first 500 units). This was the first such roof system on a production car and preceded by 5 years the Porsche 911/912 Targa, which has since become a generic name for this style of top. On the TR4 the rigid roof panel was replaceable with an easily folded and stowed vinyl insert and supporting frame called a Surrey Top. The entire hard top assembly is often mistakenly referred to as a Surrey Top. In original factory parts catalogues the rigid top and backlight assembly is listed as the Hard Top kit. The vinyl insert and frame are offered separately as a Surrey Top. Features such as wind-down windows were seen as a necessary step forward to meet competition and achieve good sales in the important US market, where the vast majority of TR4s were eventually sold. Dealers had concerns that buyers might not fully appreciate the new amenities, therefore a special short run of TR3As (commonly called TR3Bs) was produced in 1961 and ’62. The TR4 proved very successful and continued the rugged, “hairy-chested” image that the previous TRs had enjoyed. 40,253 cars were built during production years. Most were sold new to the US, but plenty have returned, and it is estimated that there are not far short of 900 examples of the model in the UK at present.
By the mid 1960s, money was tight, so when it came to replacing the TR4 and TR5 models, Triumph were forced into trying to minimise the costs of the redesign, which meant that they kept the central section of the old car, but came up with new bodywork with the front and back ends were squared off, reportedly based on a consultancy contract involving Karmann. The resulting design, which did look modern when it was unveiled in January 1969 has what is referred to as a Kamm tail, which was very common during 1970s era of cars and a feature on most Triumphs of the era. All TR6 models featured inline six-cylinder engines. For the US market the engine was carburetted, as had been the case for the US-only TR250 engine. Like the TR5, the TR6 was fuel-injected for other world markets including the United Kingdom, hence the TR6PI (petrol-injection) designation. The Lucas mechanical fuel injection system helped the home-market TR6 produce 150 bhp at model introduction. Later, the non-US TR6 variant was detuned to 125 bhp for it to be easier to drive, while the US variant continued to be carburetted with a mere 104 hp. Sadly, the Lucas injection system proved somewhat troublesome, somewhat denting the appeal of the car. The TR6 featured a four-speed manual transmission. An optional overdrive unit was a desirable feature because it gave drivers close gearing for aggressive driving with an electrically switched overdrive which could operate on second, third, and fourth gears on early models and third and fourth on later models because of constant gearbox failures in second at high revs. Both provided “long legs” for open motorways. TR6 also featured semi-trailing arm independent rear suspension, rack and pinion steering, 15-inch wheels and tyres, pile carpet on floors and boot, bucket seats, and a full complement of instrumentation. Braking was accomplished by disc brakes at the front and drum brakes at the rear. A factory steel hardtop was optional, requiring two people to fit it. TR6 construction was fundamentally old-fashioned: the body was bolted onto a frame instead of the two being integrated into a unibody structure; the TR6 dashboard was wooden (plywood with veneer). Other factory options included a rear anti-roll bar and a limited-slip differential. Some say that the car is one of Leyland’s best achievements, but a number of issues were present and remain because of poor design. As well as the fuel injection problems, other issues include a low level radiator top-up bottle and a poor hand-brake. As is the case with other cars of the era, the TR6 can suffer from rust issues, although surviving examples tend to be well-cared for. The TR6 can be prone to overheating. Many owners fit an aftermarket electric radiator fan to supplement or replace the original engine-driven fan. Also the Leyland factory option of an oil cooler existed. Despite the reliability woes, the car proved popular, selling in greater quantity than any previous TR, with 94,619 of them produced before production ended in mid 1976. Of these, 86,249 were exported and only 8,370 were sold in the UK. A significant number have since been re-imported, as there are nearly 3000 of these much loved classics on the road and a further 1300 on SORN, helped by the fact that parts and services to support ownership of a TR6 are readily available and a number of classic car owners’ clubs cater for the model.
Final sports Triumph model here was the Stag, always a popular classic. Envisioned as a luxury sports car, this car was designed to compete directly with the Mercedes-Benz SL. It started as a styling experiment, cut and shaped from a 1963–4 Triumph 2000 pre-production saloon, which had also been styled by Michelotti, and loaned to him by Harry Webster, Director of Engineering at Triumph. Their agreement was that if Webster liked the design, Triumph could use the prototype as the basis of a new Triumph model. Harry Webster, who was a long time friend of Giovanni Michelotti, whom he called “Micho”, loved the design and took the prototype back to England. The end result, a two-door drop head (convertible), had little in common with the styling of its progenitor 2000, but retained the suspension and drive line. Triumph liked the Michelotti design so much that they propagated the styling lines of the Stag into the new Mark 2 2000/2500 saloon and estate. The initial Stag design was based around the saloon’s 2.5-litre six cylinder engine, but Harry Webster intended the Stag, large saloons and estate cars to use a new Triumph-designed overhead cam 2.5-litre fuel injected V8. Under the direction of Harry Webster’s successor, Spen King in 1968, the new Triumph OHC 2.5 PI V8 was enlarged to 2997 cc to increase torque. To meet emission standards in the USA, a key target market, the troublesome mechanical fuel injection was dropped in favour of dual Zenith-Stromberg 175 CDSE carburettors. A key aim of Triumph’s engineering strategy at the time was to create a family of engines of different size around a common crankshaft. This would enable the production of power plants of capacity between 1.5 and 4 litres, sharing many parts, and hence offering economies of manufacturing scale and of mechanic training. A number of iterations of this design went into production, notably a slant four-cylinder engine used in the later Triumph Dolomite and Triumph TR7, and a variant manufactured by StanPart that was initially used in the Saab 99. The Stag’s V8 was the first of these engines into production. Sometimes described as two four-cylinder engines Siamesed together, it is more correct to say that the later four-cylinder versions were half a Stag engine. It has sometimes been alleged that Triumph were instructed to use the proven all-aluminium Rover V8, originally designed by Buick, but claimed that it would not fit. Although there was a factory attempt by Triumph to fit a Rover engine, which was pronounced unsuccessful, the decision to go with the Triumph V8 was probably driven more by the wider engineering strategy and by the fact that the Buick’s different weight and torque characteristics would have entailed substantial re-engineering of the Stag when it was almost ready to go on sale. Furthermore Rover, also owned by British Leyland, could not necessarily have supplied the numbers of V8 engines to match the anticipated production of the Stag anyway. As in the Triumph 2000 model line, unitary construction was employed, as was fully independent suspension – MacPherson struts in front, semi-trailing arms at the rear. Braking was by front disc and rear drum brakes, while steering was power-assisted rack and pinion. Although other bodystyles were envisaged, these never made production, so all Stags were four-seater convertible coupés. For structural rigidity – and to meet new American rollover standards of the time – the Stag required a B-pillar “roll bar” hoop connected to the windscreen frame by a T-bar. A removable hardtop was a popular factory option for the early Stags, and was later supplied as a standard fitment. The car was launched one year late in 1970, to a warm welcome at the various international auto shows. Sadly, it rapidly acquired a reputation for mechanical unreliability, usually in the form of overheating. These problems arose from a variety of causes, all of which are now well understood, and for which solutions have been identified, but at the time, they really hurt the reputation and hence sales of the car. They ranged from late changes to the engine which gave rise to design features that were questionable from an engineering perspective, the choice of materials which necessitated the use of antifreeze all year round, the engine’s use of long, simplex roller link chains, which would first stretch and then often fail inside fewer than 25,000 miles; the arrangement of the cylinder head fixing studs, half of which were vertical and the other half at an angle causing sideways forces which caused premature failure of the cylinder head gaskets. and poor quality production from a plant troubled with industrial unrest and poor quality control. At the time, British Leyland never provided a budget sufficient to correct the few design shortcomings of the Triumph 3.0 litre OHC V8, and the dealers did not help matters. The Stag was always a relatively rare car. British Leyland had around 2,500 UK dealers when the Stag was on sale and a total of around 19,000 were sold in the UK. Thus the average dealer sold only seven or eight Stags during the car’s whole production run, or roughly one car per year. This meant that few dealers saw defective Stags often enough to recognise and diagnose the cause of the various problems. Many owners simply replaced the engine altogether, often with the Rover V8, Ford Essex V6, or even the Triumph 6-cylinder engine around which the car was originally designed. Perhaps thanks to such a reputation for its unreliable engine, only 25,877 cars were produced between 1970 and 1977. Of this number, 6780 were export models, of which 2871 went to the United States. The majority of cars were fitted with a Borg-Warner 3-speed automatic transmission. The other choice was a derivative of the ancient Triumph TR2 gearbox which had been modified and improved over the years for use in the TR series of sports cars. Other than the choice of transmissions there were very few factory-installed options. On early cars buyers could choose to have the car fitted with just the soft-top, just the hard-top (with the hood storage compartment empty) or with both. Later cars were supplied with both roofs. Three wheel styles were offered. The standard fitments were steel wheels with Rostyle “tin-plate” trims. Five-spoke alloy wheels were an option, as were a set of traditional steel spoke wheels with “knock-off”‘ hubcaps. The latter were more commonly found on Stags sold in North America on Federal Specification vehicles. Electric windows, power steering and power-assisted brakes were standard. Options included air conditioning, a luggage rack, uprated Koni shock absorbers, floor mats and Lucas Square Eight fog lamps, and a range of after-market products, most of which were dealer installed as optional accessories could also be fitted. Rather unusually for a 4-seat touring car, the accessory list included a sump protector plate that was never produced. This was probably included as a slightly “gimmicky” tribute to Triumph’s rallying successes. Nowadays, the Stag is seen in a very different light, with lots of very enthusiastic and knowledgeable owners who enjoy the good points of this attractive looking car and who revel in the fact that the market has not yet boosted prices into the unaffordable category, as one day will surely happen.
The 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.
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.
The Cavalier was a critical model for Vauxhall, who had been trailing Ford and BL in the sales charts in the all important home market for some time. Much of the reason for that is because they lacked a car to compete directly against the market-leading Ford Cortina, their rival, the Vauxhall Victor having grown in size with every model update marking it more of a Granada competitor, a size up. The Cortina class was crucial, as the United Kingdom tax system meant that sales to company car fleets comprised a larger proportion of the overall market – especially for middle-weight saloons – than elsewhere in Europe. It was dominated by the Cortina, which regularly achieved over 10% of the total market and yet when Cortina Mk II had been replaced by the Ford Cortina Mk III in 1970, in the eyes of the all important company car fleet managers, the newer Cortina never quite matched the earlier car for reliability, notably in respect of problems with its cable clutch and with camshaft wear in the 1.6 and 2.0 litre ohc units. With alternatives in a market which only really wanted “British” cars, and traditionally engineered ones at that, limited to the Morris Marina, there was a clear need for some competition, which meant that the market should have been particularly receptive to Vauxhall’s new Cortina challenger. There was a slight problem that the new car was actually made in Belgium, but that objection was pushed to one side by many when they saw this smartly styled car. Launched with a choice of 1596 and 1,896 cc engines, the Cavalier was a restyled version of the second generation German Opel Ascona, offered as a two and four-door saloon, and with a two-door booted coupé body, withe coupe only available with the larger engine, The Ascona/Cavalier was built on what GM called the U-car platform. Whilst the Cavalier was originally intended to have its own bodywork, it ended up with the front of an Opel Manta B model and the rearend of an Opel Ascona B model, to keep costs down. A different nose, designed by Wayne Cherry, was the only obvious styling feature to set the Vauxhall apart. Although van, pick-up and estate versions were also on the drawing board, these never made production and nor did the prototype that was built using the 2.3 litre Vauxhall Slant-4 engine, planned for use in a high performance variant, which meant that the larger engined Cavaliers were exclusively powered by the Opel CIH engine. The Cavalier did not replace the larger Victor, which remained in production until 1978, as the VX1800/VX2000, With growing demand, and also a desire to answer the “but it is not British built” objection, Vauxhall started to produce the Cavalier in the UK, with the first Cavalier to be assembled at Vauxhall’s Luton plant being driven off the production line by Eric Fountain, Vauxhall’s manufacturing director, on 26 August 1977, after which the 1256 cc version, assembled at Luton and using engine and transmission already familiar to Viva 1300 owners, broadened the range. At that stage the 1584 cc Cavalier and the 1897 cc which had joined it were still being imported from Belgium, but in due course these, too, started to emerge from the Luton production plant. The range was revised in 1978, when the 1.9 litre engine was enlarged to 2 litres and a few weeks later, a three-door hatchback known as the Sports hatch (also seen on the Manta) was added to the range. Apart from minor updates, that was it until the model was replaced in the autumn of 1981 by the new front wheel drive J-car, but there was a new trim added to the range in 1980, the LS, and there was a rare survivor of that on show here. The original Cavalier was a relatively strong seller in Britain, even though it never quite matched the runaway sales success of the Ford Cortina, or even the sales figures attained by British Leyland’s Morris Marina (which sold well throughout the 1970s despite an adverse reputation) but it at least managed to help Vauxhall regain lost ground in a market sector where it had declined during the first half of the 1970s as Victor sales slumped. Nearly 250,000 were sold but there are few survivors of any type of the Mark 1, so it was nice to see this one here.
Needing no introduction, even though it is over 40 years since European sales ceased was this “Beetle” 1300.
Conceived as a replacement for the popular Beetle Cabrio, and at the time unique in the market place, a convertible version of the Golf was presented to Volkswagen’s management by coachbuilder Wilhelm Karmann GmbH as early as 1976. This early prototype lacked the roll-over bar of the later version, and had a flat body line in the rear, where the soft top folded down below the sill level. The production version of the convertible Golf was designated Type 155. In Europe and Canada it was called the Golf Cabriolet, while in the United States it was sold as the Rabbit Convertible until 1985, when it was also renamed “Cabriolet”. The Cabriolet was sold from 1980 to 1993. It had a reinforced body, a transverse roll-over bar, and a high level of trim. From stamping to final assembly the Mk1 Cabriolet was built entirely at the Karmann factory. Volkswagen supplied engines, suspension, and interior trim for Karmann to install. The tops, of vinyl or cloth, were heavily insulated, with a heated glass rear window. The top was raised and lowered manually until 1991, when it became electrically operated. The body of the Cabriolet did not change through the entire production run except for a larger fuel tank. It kept the pre-1980 style of rear lamp clusters. A space saver spare wheel was fitted from the outset, including 1978 pre-production models, unlike the saloon which did not adopt this until 1984. All Cabriolets from 1988 on left the factory fitted with a “Clipper” bodykit that featured smooth body-coloured bumpers, wheel-arch extensions, and side skirts. Prior to the 1984 model year the highest standard specification Cabriolet was the GLI, which was essentially a GTI in all but name. It was only in late 1983 with the introduction of the 1984 model that an officially badged GTI version of the cabriolet finally became available.
The second-generation Volkswagen Golf (also known as the Typ 19E until the 1991 model year, and Typ 1G thereafter) was launched in Europe at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September 1983, with sales beginning in its homeland and most other left-hand drive markets soon after. It debuted in March 1984 on the right-hand drive British market, and it was introduced as a 1985 model in the United States. It featured a larger bodyshell, and a wider range of engine options, including a GTD turbodiesel (in Euro markets, later using the 1.6 “umwelt” (ECO) diesel engine), a DOHC 1781 cc 16-valve version of the straight-four GTI (as well as the tried and tested 1781cc 8v GTI), the supercharged 8v “G60” with front- and four-wheel drive options, and a racing homologated variant of this, the “Rallye Golf”. This model was intended to be sold in the United States as well (badged as “Rallye GTI”), and prototypes were made, but it did not come to be. The original Golf had been one of the few front-wheel drive hatchbacks on sale when launched in 1974, but within a decade almost all mainstream manufacturers had launched a Golf-like family hatchback. Ford had switched to front-wheel drive hatchback format for its MK3 Escort in 1980, soon after General Motors had adapted that concept for its latest Opel Kadett (Vauxhall Astra in Britain). Austin Rover (formerly British Leyland) did not enter the small family hatchback market until the launch of its Maestro at the beginning of 1983, although it had launched its larger Maxi hatchback as long ago as 1969 and in 1976 had taken the then unusual step of launching a hatchback bodystyle on a luxury car (the Rover SD1). Peugeot would not launch its first Golf-sized hatchback (the 309) until late 1985, but it had taken ownership of Chrysler’s European division (which it renamed Talbot) in 1978, just after the launch of the Chrysler/Simca Horizon hatchback. However, the likes of Fiat, Renault and Volvo had all entered the small family hatchback market by the end of the 1970s. The hatchback bodystyle had also become popular on cars produced outside Europe, particularly on Japanese models. In 1985, British motoring magazine What Car? awarded the Golf Mk2 1985 “Car of the Year”, even though it had actually been launched on the UK market early in the previous year. It sold well in Britain, peaking at more than 50,000 sales a year by the end of the decade. However, the Golf was overshadowed in the 1984 European Car of the Year contest, finishing third but being heavily outscored by the victorious Fiat Uno and runner-up Peugeot 205, which were similar in size to Volkswagen’s smaller Polo. During the life of the Golf MK2, there were a number of external style revisions. Notable changes to the looks of the Golf MK2 included the removal of quarterlight windows in the front doors, and the introduction of larger grille slats with the August 1987 facelift. The most notable was the introduction of so-called “Big Bumpers”, which were introduced in the European market with an August 1989 facelift. They were available in the United States from August 1989 as well, as part of the “Wolfsburg Edition” package. They were not standardized until January 1990. This Golf was marketed for the first time with that name in the United States and Canada. The Rabbit name used on the Mk1 was meant to give a car a cuddly image, but with the 1980s redesign of the car, Carl Hahn, the former Volkswagen of America president who was now chairman of the whole company, dictated that Volkswagen model names be standardized globally. James Fuller, head of the Volkswagen brand in North America, concurred in using the Golf name to stress the car’s Teutonic character. The GTI body kit became available on a non-injection Golf and was sold as the “Driver” trim level in Europe. While the GTI remained a trim level in the Golf lineup in Europe, in some markets, it was (and continues to be) marketed as a separate model line. Volkswagen also produced their model in Yugoslavia, in a factory at Vogošća near Sarajevo, called Tvornica Automobila Sarajevo – TAS. The MK2 was produced from June 5, 1985 with a yearly production of 25,000 units until the outbreak of war in 1992. This model was produced only for the six Yugoslav republics, with a rear badge J, JX (which stands for less equipment than C and CL), C and CL and TAS badge on the front grille and Sarajevo city logo instead side blinkers. Engines were 1.3 (carburetor), 1.6 petrol and 1.6 diesel. The Golf Mk2 was available as a 3- and 5-door hatchback. The 2-door and 4-door sedan variants of the Golf Mk2 were marketed under the Volkswagen Jetta name. No cabriolet version was developed from the Mk2; instead, the Mk1-based convertible continued to be produced, with minor changes. Trim levels included base, C, CL and GL and initially a range-topping Carat model (until 1986), later a GT (in 1987) version was also on offer. In North America, there was only a base model until 1986, in 1987 a GL and GT model, in 1988–1989, there were all three, and in 1990 until the end of its run there was again only a GL. The GTI model existed from 1985–1987, and again from 1990–1992, and the GTI 16v existed from 1987–1992. In Japan the range consisted of catalysed Ci/CLi/GLi models all sharing the same 1.6 or later 1.8 liter fuel-injected inline-four engines. In the course of the years, a host of “limited edition” models appeared on various markets, distinguished by cosmetic changes and/or an enriched features list. Generally, these were option packages on top of a base “model” (CL, GL, etc.). Also in some countries it could be found trim level TX (Austria) and JX (Yugoslavia). The base engine was initially the 1.3 option as used in the first generation Golf, accompanied by 1.6- and 1.8-litre petrol fours and 1.6-litre naturally aspirated or turbocharged diesel engines. In January 1984 a new base engine was introduced, a 1.05 litre inline-four mainly available in Italy and Greece. In North America, all Golf Mk2s had 1.8-liter petrol or 1.6 diesel engines (the GTI, while not a Golf model in North America, also had a 2.0-litre model). The MK2 was the last version of the Golf to feature carburettor petrol engines, as all versions of the MK3 came with fuel injection from its launch, to meet requirements that all new cars sold in the EEC after 1992 must be fitted with a catalytic converter or fuel injection. The MK2 Golf remained in production until the launch of the MK3 model in August 1991. Continental sales began that autumn, but the MK3 did not take over from the MK2 on the right-hand drive British market until February 1992.
Something most people could not immediately identify was this. I only knew what it was, as I had seen it at Chateau Impney a couple of years ago It is a Volvo Cross Country C303,, the base model of a range of military vehicles produced by Volvo. The car was developed in the late 60s based on the successful L-3314 series and went into production in 1974. This version was produced both as a 4×4 and a 6×6. An 8×8 was planned but dropped. Engines were the B30 (B20 in the prototypes) from Volvo’s civilian cars. The C3 series feature portal axles with locking differentials resulting in very high ground-clearance (similar to the Unimog) and outstanding performance offroad. The cars are narrow to make it possible to navigate between trees and on narrow forest roads. They were also sold to civilian customers for rescue services, electricity companies etc. and private use. In the Swedish army the vehicles are designated “Terrängbil xx” (or “Tgb” for short) where “xx” is a number defining the type of vehicle. In the 1983 Paris-Dakar rally a Volvo C303 won the class for trucks under 10 tonnes. A total of 8,718 vehicles of the C3 series were made. Roughly 75% of these went into military service, with the remaining sold to civilian contracts. It was used by the Malaysian Army c. 1970–1990, the Royal Malaysian Police, and civilian users like Telekom Malaysia c. 1980s.
The Peerless was a British car made by Peerless Cars Ltd. of Slough, Berkshire, between 1957 and 1960, when the company failed. The company was resurrected by one of the original founders, Bernie Rodger, as Bernard Roger Developments BRD Ltd and marketed as the Warwick from a base in Colnbrook, Buckinghamshire, between 1960 and 1962. The prototype of this British-built sports saloon, which was alloy bodied and initially named the Warwick, was designed by Bernie Rodger for company founders John Gordon and James Byrnes. The car had been renamed the Peerless GT by the time series production started in 1957. It featured Triumph TR3 running gear in a tubular space frame with de Dion tube rear suspension clothed in attractive fibreglass 4-seater bodywork. While the car had good performance it was expensive to produce and the overall fit and finish was not as good as that of similarly priced models from mainstream manufacturers. The Phase II version had an improved body largely moulded in one piece. About 325 were made. A works car was entered in the 1958 24 Hours of Le Mans, finishing 16th. Production ceased in 1960 after about 325 examples had been produced. Bernie Rodger restarted production of the car as the Warwick, a much-improved version of the original Peerless GT car with minor cosmetic changes such as a one-piece forward-hinged front end, a stiffer space-frame chassis and a revised dashboard. Although it was produced from 1960–1962, only about 40 cars are thought to have been built. A car was tested by the British magazine The Motor in 1961 and was found to have a top speed of 105.3 mph (169.5 km/h) and could accelerate from 0-60 mph in 12.6 seconds. A fuel consumption of 32 mpg‑. The test car cost £1666 including taxes. Two prototypes of a successor car, the 3.5 Litre or GT350, were made in 1961 and featured the light alloy Buick V8 engine that was later taken up by Rover. John Gordon, together with Jim Keeble (who had previously inserted a Buick V-8 engine into a Peerless), subsequently used the Peerless space-frame as the basis for a Chevrolet-powered car with Giugiaro-designed, Bertone-built bodywork, initially shown in 1960 as the Gordon GT, and which eventually reached production in 1964 as the Gordon-Keeble.
I very much enjoyed this event. The venue is massive with plenty of space for something even bigger (I took due note, as we will need somewhere of this size for Abarth Festival 2022!) and it is easy to get to, being located only a couple of minutes off the M5. The variety of cars that attended made it entertaining for the entire morning, and I only left as the majority of cars had already gone and it was clear that the organisers needed to clear the site and I needed to head off to Shelsley Walsh for the second day of the Classic Nostalgia event, which will be reported on separately. For sure I will be back for other of these “Wheels on Wednesday” not just on a Sunday, but also to try out the mid-week evening event after which it is named.