Like most venues, the restarting of events following the relaxation of the Covid-19 restrictions at the iconic Shelsley Walsh site in Worcestershire has been on a gradual and somewhat cautious basis. Even though everything associated with events held there, with the exception of the catering and the toilets is outside, it was not possible simply to switch everything back on as if nothing had happened. Permission from the various authorities was required, and they had to be satisfied that all the requisite things were in place to make an event as Covid-safe as was possible, and that generally entailed limiting the number of people who could attend, as well as a strict requirement to book in advance. So that meant that when it came to restarting the popular monthly Breakfast Club meets, Shelsley initially had to limit them to MAC members. By July 2021, though, it was possible to accommodate a larger number of people and so tickets were offered to anyone who cared to buy one, until the event sold out. Usually, this event does, but the date for the July 2021 event coincided with the Final of the Euro 2020 Championship, and, as every venue hosting something that day would find out, this did mean that fewer people wanted to go out, even though a Breakfast Club would be over long before the kick-off for the big game. The organisers of this event decided to enter into the spirit of the day by declaring an “ltaly vs England” theme, and encouraged people with cars from either of those nations to attend. Not hard for me, as both my cars are Italian, and as I was driving back from an event in the north east the previous day, Shelsley was the perfect stopping off point for me. Here is what I found:
Although none of the various Abarth Groups had arranged an event at this Breakfast Club, I was still rather expecting to find some Abarths here, and sure enough there were. Just a couple and I did not recognise either of them. First one I came across was this 595 Competizione, an example of what is known as the Series 4 version of the familiar 595 which first 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.
Second Abarth here was this 124 Spider, and I don’t know who this one belongs to, either. 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. .
Original AC Cobra cars are rare machines indeed, especially in this country. But there are plenty of cars around with the same style as those 60s icons. Since the late 1980s onwards, various companies have built what are known in the hobby as “Continuation Cars”. Autokraft manufactured an AC 289 continuation car called the Autokraft Mk IV, basically a Mk III with a 4.95-litre (302 cu in) Ford V8 and Borg Warner T5 Transmission. The Mk IV also received an independent suspension. In 1986, Autokraft (as a joint venture with Ford joining in 1987) purchased AC Cars, and produced the AC Mk IV Cobra, with a 186 kW (250 hp; 253 PS) at 4,200 rpm, 4,942 ccFord V8, which provided a top speed of 134 mph (215 km/h) and 0–62 mph (0–100 km/h) in 5.2 seconds At the 1990 Geneva Salon the Lightweight version was presented: weight was down to 1,070 kg (2,360 lb) (compared to 1,190 kg or 2,620 lb) and power was up to 370 bhp at 5,750 rpm thanks to alloy heads, a Holley four-barrel carburettor, and no catalytic converter. While the Lightweight did not meet US federal regulations, the Mk IV did, and 480 cars of all versions were built until 1996.. Shelby authorized continuations of the original AC-built Cobra series. Produced in Las Vegas, Nevada, these cars retain the general style and appearance of their original 1960s ancestors, but are fitted with modern amenities. The initial version for continuation was a 427 S/C model which was represented in the CSX4000 series. This was meant to continue where the last 427 S/C production left off, at approximately serial number CSX3360 in the 1960s. The initial CSX4000 series cars were completed from the chassis built by McCluskey Ltd as well as other new parts and reconditioned Ford engines. Given the value of the vehicle many “extra” cars have appeared over the years, even some sharing the same chassis number. Gradually as the vintage parts supply ran low, newly constructed frames and body panels were obtained from a variety of suppliers. The production of chassis numbers CSX4001 to CSX4999 took roughly 20 years and many different business relationships to complete. In 2009, CSX4999 was produced, concluding the 4000 series. Production has continued with the CSX6000 serial numbers, featuring “coil over” suspension. The 289 FIA “leaf spring” race version of the car is reproduced as CSX7000, and the original “slab side” leaf spring street car is the CSX8000 series. The Daytona Coupe is reproduced as the CSX 9000 series. To date most continuations are produced in fiberglass, with some ordering cars with aluminium or carbon-fibre bodywork. In 2004, at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Ford unveiled a concept for a modernized AC Cobra. The Ford Shelby Cobra Concept was a continuation of Ford’s effort to bring back the retro sports cars that had been successful in the 1960s, including the Ford GT40 and the fifth generation Ford Mustang. In 2014, Shelby American announced a limited edition production of 50 cars for the 50th anniversary of the original 427 Shelby Cobra.During the continuation period, Kirkham Motorsports were contracted by Shelby to produce rolling Cobra body/chassis units but this did not end amicably. Pete Brock said in a Hot Rod magazine interview “Like the Kirkhams, even when they were supplying most of Shelby’s Cobra parts. Shelby would go to them and say he would buy their entire year’s worth of production and sign a contract. They called me and asked if they should do it and I said, “As long as you get the money up front, but if you let a car out the door, you’ll lose money.” Shelby paid that way for two years and then finally [Kirkhams] got a great big order and Shelby’s truck driver said he forgot to bring the check. He went back with a bunch of cars on the transporter and Shelby told them he wasn’t going to pay them—that they owed it to him. That almost put [Kirkhams] out of business.”
The Alfa range of the 1960s was somewhat complex, as cars evolved and new ranges overlapped. This Giulia Spider is a case in point, as this had in fact started out as part of the 750/101 series of the Giulietta range. A couple of the family were later rebadged as a Giulia. The more commonly seen of the pair is the lovely Giulia Spider 1600. Alfa had followed up the 1950 launch of the 1900 Berlina with a smaller model, the Giulietta. Known as the Type 750 and later 101 Series, the Giulietta evolved into a family of models. The first to be introduced was the Giulietta Sprint 2+2 coupé at the 1954 Turin Motor Show. Designed by Franco Scaglione at Bertone, it was produced at the coachbuilder’s Grugliasco plant near Turin. A year later, at the Turin Motor Show in April 1955, the Sprint was joined by the 4-door saloon Berlina. In mid 1955, the open two-seat Giulietta Spider, featuring convertible bodywork by Pininfarina, and it was one of these achingly pretty cars that was to be seen here. Alfa replaced the Giulietta with the Giulia in 1962, but as the Coupe and Spider were not ready, the Giulietta based models were kept in production, and renamed as Giulia. They gained a larger 1600cc engine, and this meant that the bonnet need to be raised a little to accommodate the new unit, so the easy recognition beyond Giulietta and Giulia Spiders is whether there is a flat bonnet or one with a slight hump and a vent in it.
From the 105 series was this 1750 GTV. The first car was called the Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GT, and was revealed at a press event held at the then newly opened Arese plant on 9 September 1963, and displayed later the same month at the Frankfurt Motor Show. In its original form the Bertone body is known as scalino (step) or “step front”, because of the leading edge of the engine compartment lid which sat 1/4 an inch above the nose of the car. The Giulia Sprint GT can be distinguished from the later models by a number of features including: Exterior badging: Alfa Romeo logo on the front grille, a chrome script reading “Giulia Sprint GT” on the boot lid, and rectangular “Disegno di Bertone” badges aft of the front wheel arches; flat, chrome grille in plain, wide rectangular mesh without additional chrome bars; single-piece chrome bumpers; no overriders. Inside the cabin the padded vinyl dashboard was characterised by a concave horizontal fascia, finished in grey anti-glare crackle-effect paint. Four round instruments were inset in the fascia in front of the driver. The steering wheel was non-dished, with three aluminium spokes, a thin bakelite rim and a centre horn button. Vinyl-covered seats with cloth centres and a fully carpeted floor were standard, while leather upholstery was an extra-cost option. After initially marketing it as a four-seater, Alfa Romeo soon changed its definition of the car to a more realistic 2+2. The Giulia Sprint GT was fitted with the 1,570 cc version of Alfa Romeo’s all-aluminium twin cam inline four (78 mm bore × 82 mm stroke), which had first debuted on the 1962 Giulia Berlina. Breathing through two twin-choke Weber 40 DCOE 4 carburettors, on the Sprint GT this engine produced 105 hp at 6,000 rpm. Like all subsequent models, the Sprint GT was equipped with an all-synchromesh 5-speed manual transmission. The braking system comprised four Dunlop disc brakes and a vacuum servo. The rear brakes featured an unusual arrangement with the slave cylinders mounted on the axle tubes, operating the calipers by a system of levers and cranks. According to Alfa Romeo the car could reach a top speed of “over 180 km/h (112 mph)”. In total 21,902 Giulia Sprint GT were produced from 1963 to 1965, when the model was superseded by the Giulia Sprint GT Veloce. Of these 2,274 were right hand drive: 1,354 cars fully finished in Arese, and 920 shipped in complete knock-down kit form for foreign assembly. For 1966, the Giulia Sprint GT was replaced by the Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GT Veloce, which was very similar but featuring a number of improvements: a revised engine—slightly more powerful and with more torque—better interior fittings and changes to the exterior trim. Alongside the brand new 1750 Spider Veloce which shared its updated engine the Sprint GT Veloce was introduced at the 36th Geneva Motor Show in March 1966, and then tested by the international specialist press in Gardone on the Garda Lake. Production had began in 1965 and ended in 1968. The Giulia Sprint GT Veloce can be most easily distinguished from other models by the following features: badging as per Giulia Sprint GT, with the addition of round enamel badges on the C-pillar—a green Quadrifoglio (four-leaf clover) on an ivory background—and a chrome “Veloce” script on the tail panel; black mesh grille with three horizontal chrome bars; the grille heart has 7 bars instead of 6; stainless steel bumpers, as opposed to the chromed mild steel bumpers on the Giulia Sprint GT. The bumpers are the same shape, but are made in two pieces (front) and three pieces (rear) with small covers hiding the joining rivets. Inside the main changes from the Giulia Sprint GT were imitation wood dashboard fascia instead of the previous anti-glare grey finish, front seats revised to a mild “bucket” design, and a dished three aluminium spoke steering wheel, with a black rim and horn buttons through the spokes. The Veloce’s type 00536 engine, identical to the Spider 1600 Duetto’s, featured modifications compared to the Giulia Sprint GT’s type 00502—such as larger diameter exhaust valves. As a result it produced 108 hp at 6,000 rpm, an increase of 3 hp over the previous model, and significantly more torque. The top speed now exceeded 185 km/h (115 mph). Early Giulia Sprint GT Veloces featured the same Dunlop disc brake system as the Giulia Sprint GT, while later cars substituted ATE disc brakes as pioneered on the GT 1300 Junior in 1966. The ATE brakes featured an handbrake system entirely separate from the pedal brakes, using drum brakes incorporated in the rear disc castings. Though the Sprint GT Veloce’s replacement—the 1750 GT Veloce—was introduced in 1967, production continued throughout the year and thirty final cars were completed in 1968. By then total Giulia Sprint GT Veloce production amounted to 14,240 examples. 1,407 of these were right hand drive cars, and 332 right hand drive complete knock-down kits. The 1750 GT Veloce (also known as 1750 GTV) appeared in 1967 along with the 1750 Berlina sedan and 1750 Spider. The same type of engine was used to power all three versions; this rationalisation was a first for Alfa Romeo. The 1750 GTV replaced the Giulia Sprint GT Veloce and introduced many updates and modifications. Most significantly, the engine capacity was increased to 1779 cc displacement. Peak power from the engine was increased to 120 hp at 5500 rpm. The stroke was lengthened from 82 to 88.5 mm over the 1600 engine, and a reduced rev limit from 7000 rpm to 6000 rpm. Maximum torque was increased to 137 lb·ft at 3000 rpm. A higher ratio final drive was fitted (10/41 instead of 9/41) but the same gearbox ratios were retained. The result was that, on paper, the car had only slightly improved performance compared to the Giulia Sprint GT Veloce, but on the road it was much more flexible to drive and it was easier to maintain higher average speeds for fast touring. For the United States market, the 1779 cc engine was fitted with a fuel injection system made by Alfa Romeo subsidiary SPICA, to meet emission control laws that were coming into effect at the time. Fuel injection was also featured on Canadian market cars after 1971. Carburettors were retained for other markets. The chassis was also significantly modified. Tyre size went to 165/14 from 155/15 and wheel size to 5 1/2J x 14 instead of 5J x 15, giving a wider section and slightly smaller rolling diameter. The suspension geometry was also revised, and an anti-roll bar was fitted to the rear suspension. ATE disc brakes were fitted from the outset, but with bigger front discs and calipers than the ones fitted to GT 1300 Juniors and late Giulia Sprint GT Veloces. The changes resulted in significant improvements to the handling and braking, which once again made it easier for the driver to maintain high average speeds for fast touring. The 1750 GTV also departed significantly from the earlier cars externally. New nose styling eliminated the “stepped” bonnet of the Giulia Sprint GT, GTC, GTA and early GT 1300 Juniors and incorporated four headlamps. For the 1971 model year, United States market 1750 GTV’s also featured larger rear light clusters (there were no 1970 model year Alfas on the US market). Besides the chrome “1750” badge on the bootlid, there was also a round Alfa Romeo badge. Similar Quadrofoglio badges to those on the Giulia Sprint GT Veloce were fitted on C pillars, but the Quadrofoglio was coloured gold instead of green. The car also adopted the higher rear wheelarches first seen on the GT 1300 Junior. The interior was also much modified over that of earlier cars. There was a new dashboard with large speedometer and tachometer instruments in twin binnacles closer to the driver’s line of sight. The instruments were mounted at a more conventional angle, avoiding the reflections caused by the upward angled flat dash of earlier cars. Conversely, auxiliary instruments were moved to angled bezels in the centre console, further from the driver’s line of sight than before. The new seats introduced adjustable headrests which merged with the top of the seat when fully down. The window winder levers, the door release levers and the quarterlight vent knobs were also restyled. The remote release for the boot lid, located on the inside of the door opening on the B-post just under the door lock striker, was moved from the right hand side of the car to the left hand side. The location of this item was always independent of whether the car was left hand drive or right hand drive. Early (Series 1) 1750 GTV’s featured the same bumpers as the Giulia Sprint GT Veloce, with the front bumper modified to mount the indicator / sidelight units on the top of its corners, or under the bumper on US market cars. The Series 2 1750 GTV of 1970 introduced other mechanical changes, including a dual circuit braking system (split front and rear, with separate servos). The brake and clutch pedals on left hand drive cars were also of an improved pendant design, instead of the earlier floor-hinged type. On right hand drive cars the floor-hinged pedals were retained, as there was no space for the pedal box behind the carburettors. Externally, the series 2 1750 GTV is identified by new, slimmer bumpers with front and rear overriders. The combined front indicator and sidelight units were now mounted to the front panel instead of the front bumper, except again on the 1971-72 US/Canadian market cars. The interior was slightly modified, with the seats retaining the same basic outline but following a simpler design. 44,269 1750 GTVs were made before their replacement came along. That car was the 2000GTV. Introduced in 1971, together with the 2000 Berlina sedan and 2000 Spider, the 2 litre cars were replacements for the 1750 range. The engine displacement was increased to 1962 cc. Oil and radiator capacities remained unchanged. The North American market cars had fuel injection, but everyone else retained carburettors. Officially, both versions generated the same power, 130 hp at 5500 rpm. The interior trim was changed, with the most notable differences being the introduction of a separate instrument cluster, instead of the gauges installed in the dash panel in earlier cars. Externally the 2000 GTV is most easily distinguished by its grille with horizontal chrome bars, featuring protruding blocks forming the familiar Alfa heart in outline, smaller hubcaps with exposed wheel nuts, optional aluminium alloy wheels of the same size as the standard 5. 1/2J × 14 steel items, styled to the “turbina” design first seen on the alloy wheels of the Alfa Romeo Montreal, and the larger rear light clusters first fitted to United States market 1750 GTV’s were standard for all markets. From 1974 on, the 105 Series coupé models were rationalised and these external features became common to post-1974 GT 1300 Junior and GT 1600 Junior models, with only few distinguishing features marking the difference between models. 37,459 2000 GTVs were made before production ended and these days they are very sought after with prices having sky-rocketed in recent years.
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.
The current Giulietta arrived in 2010 as a much awaited replacement for the 147. Spy photos had suggested that the car was going to look very like Fiat’s ill-fated Bravo, but the reality was that it had a style all of its own. A range of very efficient petrol and diesel engines were among the most emissions-efficient in their class at the time, and a 250 bhp Quadrifoglio version at the top of the range made sure there was something for the man who wanted a rapid, but quite subtle hatch. The car has enjoyed reasonable success in the UK, and the car has certainly found favour among Alfa enthusiasts, so it was not a surprise to see one here.
The DB2/4 was the first new post-war Aston, and the first car to adopt the now legendary DB naming convention, reflecting the fact that in 1947 David Brown had bought the Aston Martin and Lagonda companies and incorporated them as Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd. Lagonda’s 2.6 litre dual overhead cam, straight-six engine, more powerful than the pushrod 1.9 litre unit in the Aston Martin 2-Litre Sports, was the main objective in Brown’s acquisition of the company. W. O. Bentley had supervised the engine’s design, which was largely by William (Willie) Watson, an engineer with the pre-war Invicta company who had collaborated on Lagonda’s pre-war V12 and also designed the short-lived post-war version. Work then started on producing a new car, which was called the DB2. This new model would utilise a version of the Lagonda engine in a shortened version of the tube-frame chassis designed by Claude Hill for the Aston Martin 2-Litre Sports, with a fastback coupé body designed by Frank Feeley. Three pre-production cars were entered for the 1949 24 Hours of Le Mans. One, which would become the development car for the production DB2, had the Lagonda straight-6, while the four-cylinder Aston Martin 2-litre unit powered the other two. After six laps the Lagonda-powered car, driven by Leslie Johnson, retired with overheating caused by failure of the water pump. One of the 2-litre cars was in 4th place and running without brakes when it crashed two hours short of the finish, fatally injuring driver Pierre Maréchal. The other finished 7th, crewed by Arthur Jones and Nick Haines. A month later, the larger-engined car, driven by Leslie Johnson and Charles Brackenbury, finished 3rd in the Spa 24-hour race, where one of the 2-litre cars was driven to 5th by Nick Haines and Lance Macklin. For 1950 all three factory team cars were equipped with the Lagonda engine. At the 1950 Le Mans race the one driven by George Abecassis and Lance Macklin finished 5th, with Brackenbury and Reg Parnell bringing another home 6th, which won Aston Martin 1st and 2nd in the 3-litre class. Across the Atlantic, Briggs Cunningham drove his DB2 to 2nd in its class at the inaugural Sebring race meeting in December 1950. The factory team cars continued racing in Europe throughout 1951, including at Le Mans, where Macklin and Eric Thompson took 3rd overall, with Abecassis and Brian Shawe-Taylor 5th. David Brown soon embarked on a series of Aston Martins designed specifically for competition use, starting with the DB3. Meanwhile, the production DB2 debuted at the New York Auto Show in April 1950 and continued in production until April 1953, by which time 411 had been made. The first 49 had a chrome-framed front grille in three separate parts, and large rectangular cooling vents in the front wings. Subsequent cars had a one-piece grille with horizontal chrome slats, and no side vents. The single-piece bonnet was hinged at the front. At the rear of the fixed-head coupé (FHC) a small top-hinged lid gave access to the spare wheel, and luggage space was behind the front seats, accessible only from inside the car. Later in 1950, a Drophead Coupé (DHC) variant was introduced. At least 102 were built. In April 1950, an engine with larger carburettors, inlet camshaft the same as the exhaust (for increased duration), and higher compression ratio pistons (8.16:1) was made available. Aston Martin’s first Vantage upgrade option offered 125 hp. Initially the higher compression ratio made the engine unsuitable for the British market, as the postwar austerity measures of the early 1950s restricted UK vehicles to 72 octane “Pool petrol”. The first DB2 Vantage, LML 50/21, was delivered to, and raced by, Briggs Cunningham in the United States. A revised version of the DB2 was launched in 1953, called the DB2/4. It was available as a 2+2 hatchback, marketed as a Saloon, as a Drophead Coupé (DHC) and as a 2-seat Fixed Head Coupe. A small number of Bertone bodied spiders were commissioned by private buyers. A further update in 1957 created the Mark III, and this was produced until the launch of the DB4 in 1958.
Following the unveiling of the AMV8 Vantage concept car in 2003 at the North American International Auto Show designed by Henrik Fisker, the production version, known as the V8 Vantage was introduced at the Geneva Motor Show in 2005. The two seat, two-door coupé had a bonded aluminium structure for strength and lightness. The 172.5 inch (4.38 m) long car featured a hatchback-style tailgate for practicality, with a large luggage shelf behind the seats. In addition to the coupé, a convertible, known as the V8 Vantage Roadster, was introduced later in that year. The V8 Vantage was initially powered by a 4.3 litre quad-cam 32-valve V8 which produced 380 bhp at 7,300 rpm and 409 Nm (302 lb/ft) at 5,000 rpm. However, models produced after 2008 had a 4.7-litre V8 with 420 bhp and 470 Nm (347 lbft) of torque. Though based loosely on Jaguar’s AJ-V8 engine architecture, this engine was unique to Aston Martin and featured race-style dry-sump lubrication, which enabled it to be mounted low in the chassis for an improved centre of gravity. The cylinder block and heads, crankshaft, connecting rods, pistons, camshafts, inlet and exhaust manifolds, lubrication system and engine management were all designed in house by Aston Martin and the engine was assembled by hand at the AM facility in Cologne, Germany, which also built the V12 engine for the DB9 and Vanquish. The engine was front mid-mounted with a rear-mounted transaxle, giving a 49/51 front/rear weight distribution. Slotted Brembo brakes were also standard. The original V8 Vantage could accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds before topping out at 175 mph. In 2008, Aston Martin introduced an aftermarket dealer approved upgrade package for power and handling of the 4.3-litre variants that maintained the warranty with the company. The power upgrade was called the V8 Vantage Power Upgrade, creating a more potent version of the Aston Martin 4.3-litre V8 engine with an increase in peak power of 20 bhp to 400 bhp while peak torque increased by 10 Nm to 420 Nm (310 lb/ft). This consists of the fitting of the following revised components; manifold assembly (painted Crackle Black), valved air box, right and left hand side vacuum hose assemblies, engine bay fuse box link lead (ECU to fuse box), throttle body to manifold gasket, intake manifold gasket, fuel injector to manifold seal and a manifold badge. The V8 Vantage had a retail price of GB£79,000, US$110,000, or €104,000 in 2006, Aston Martin planned to build up to 3,000 per year. Included was a 6-speed manual transmission and leather-upholstery for the seats, dash board, steering-wheel, and shift-knob. A new 6-speed sequential manual transmission, similar to those produced by Ferrari and Lamborghini, called Sportshift was introduced later as an option. An open-topped model was added to the range in 2006 and then in the quest for more power a V12 Vantage joined the range not long after.
Follow on to the DB7 was the DB9 (there has never been a car called DB8 – supposedly because people might have assumed this meant a V8 engine), and there was a nice example here. The Aston Martin DB9, designed by Marek Reichmann and Hendrik Fisker, was first shown by Aston Martin at the 2003 Frankfurt Auto Show, in coupe form. It was widely praised for the beauty of its lines. This was the first model to be built at Aston Martin’s Gaydon facility. It was built on the VH platform, which would become the basis for all subsequent Aston models. The Aston Martin DB9 was initially launched equipped with a 6.0 litre V12 engine, originally taken from the V12 Vanquish. The engine produced 420 lbf·ft of torque at 5,000 rpm and a maximum power of 444 hp at 6,000 rpm, allowing the DB9 to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds and a top speed of 299 km/h (186 mph). The engine largely sits behind the front-axle line to improve weight distribution. Changes to the engine for the 2013 model year increased the power to 503 hp and torque to 457 lb-ft, decreasing the 0 to 60 mph time to 4.50 seconds and with a new top speed is 295 km/h (183 mph). The DB9 was available with either a six-speed conventional manual gearbox from Graziano or a six-speed ZF automatic gearbox featuring paddle-operated semi-automatic mode. The gearbox is rear-mounted and is driven by a carbon-fibre tail shaft inside a cast aluminium torque tube. The DB9 was the first Aston Martin model to be designed and developed on Ford’s aluminium VH (vertical/horizontal) platform. The body structure is composed of aluminium and composites melded together by mechanically fixed self-piercing rivets and robotic assisted adhesive bonding techniques. The bonded aluminium structure is claimed to possess more than double the torsional rigidity of its predecessor’s, despite being 25 percent lighter. The DB9 also contains anti-roll bars and double wishbone suspension, supported by coil springs. To keep the back-end in control under heavy acceleration or braking, the rear suspension has additional anti-squat and anti-lift technology. Later versions of the car also features three modes for the tuning: normal, for every-day use, sport, for more precise movement at the cost of ride comfort, and track, which furthers the effects of the sport setting. The Aston Martin DB9 Volante, the convertible version of the DB9 coupe, followed a few months later. The chassis, though stiffer, uses the same base VH platform. To protect occupants from rollovers, the Volante has strengthened windscreen pillars and added two pop-up hoops behind the rear seats. The hoops cannot be disabled and will break the car’s rear window if deployed. In an effort to improve the Volante’s ride while cruising, Aston Martin have softened the springs and lightened the anti-roll bars in the Volante, leading to a gentler suspension. The retractable roof of the Volante is made of folding fabric and takes 17 seconds to be put up or down. The Volante weighs 59 kilograms (130 pounds) more than the coupe. The coupe and Volante both share the same semi-automatic and automatic gearboxes and engine. The car was limited to 266 km/h (165 mph) to retain the integrity of the roof. Like the coupe, the original Volante has 420 lb·ft of torque at 5,000 rpm and a maximum power of 450 hp at 6,000 rpm. The 0 to 60 mph slowed to 4.9 seconds due to the additional weight. The DB9 was facelifted in July 2008, which mainly amounted to an increase in engine power, to 476 hp and a redesigned centre console. Externally, the DB9 remained virtually unchanged. For the 2013 model year revision, Aston made minor changes to the bodywork by adapting designs from the Virage, including enlarging the recessed headlight clusters with bi-xenon lights and LED daytime strips, widening the front splitter, updating the grille and side heat extractors, updating the LED rear lights with clear lenses and integrating a new rear spoiler with the boot lid. .On newer models, like the coupe’s, the Volante’s horsepower and torque increased to 517 PS (510 hp) and 457 lb·ft respectively. As a finale for the model, a more powerful DB9 was released in 2015, called the DB9 GT. This had 540 bhp and 457 lb-ft of torque at 5500 rpm, giving a 0 to 60mph time of 4.4 seconds and 0 to 100mph in 10.2 seconds, with the standing quarter mile dispatched in 12.8 to 12.9 seconds and a top speed of 183mph. Production of the DB9 ended in 2016 being replaced by its successor, the DB11.
Still well-regarded over 35 years since its launch is the Quattro, a legend which transformed rallying and brought the idea of four wheel drive as a performance benefit to the market. The idea for a high-performance four-wheel-drive car was proposed by Audi’s chassis engineer, Jörg Bensinger, in 1977, when he found that the Volkswagen Iltis could outperform any other vehicle in snow, no matter how powerful. Bensinger’s idea was to start developing an Audi 80 variant in co-operation with Walter Treser, Director of Pre-Development.. Following an unveiling on 1st March 1980, Audi released the original Quattro to European customers in late 1980, with the car featuring Audi’s quattro permanent four-wheel drive system (hence its name), and the first to mate four-wheel drive with a turbocharged engine. The original engine was the 2,144 cc in-line-5-cylinder 10 valve SOHC, with a turbocharger and intercooler. It produced 197 bhp propelling the Quattro from 0 to 100 km/h in 7.1 seconds, and reaching a top speed of over 220 km/h (137 mph). The engine was eventually modified to a 2,226 cc inline-5 10 valve, still producing 197 bhp, but with peak torque lower in the rev-range. In 1989, it was then changed to a 2,226 cc inline-5 20v DOHC setup producing 217 bhp, now with a top speed of 230 km/h (143 mph) Audi Quattros are referred to among owners and enthusiasts by their engine codes, to differentiate between the earlier and later versions: the earliest 2144 cc 10v being the “WR” engine, the 2226 cc 10v being the “MB” engine, and the later 20v being the “RR” engine. Hence, Quattro models may be referred to as either the WR Quattro, MB Quattro, and RR or “20v” Quattro, respectively. Quattro car production was 11,452 vehicles over the period 1980–1991, and through this 11 year production span, despite some touch-ups, there were no major changes in the visual design of the vehicle. For the 1983 model year, the dash was switched from an analogue instrument cluster, to a green digital LCD electronic instrument cluster. This was later changed in 1988 to an orange LCD electronic instrument cluster. The interior was redesigned in 1984, and featured a whole new dash layout, new steering wheel design, and new centre console design, the switches around the instrument panel were also redesigned at this time. In 1985 the dash changed slightly with harder foam and lost a diagonal stripe, the dash switches were varied slightly and the diff lock pull knob gave way to a two-position turning knob with volt and oil temp digital readouts. External styling received very little modification during its production run. Originally, the car had a flat fronted grille featuring four separate headlamp lenses, one for each of the low and high beam units. This was altered for the 1983 model year, and replaced with combined units featuring a single lens, but housing twin reflectors. This was changed again, for the 1985 model year, in what has become known as the ‘facelift model’ and included such alterations as a new sloping front grille, headlights, and trim and badging changes. Max speed was 124 mph. The RR 20v Quattro also featured a new three spoke steering wheel design, leather covering for door arm rests, gloveboxes, centre console and door pockets. There was also a full length leather-wrapped centre console running all the way to the rear seats. The 20v was also the first Ur-Q to have “quattro” script interior with partial leather seats. The floor on the drivers side had a bulge due to dual catalytic exhaust setup. The different models may be distinguished by the emblems on their boot lids: the WR had a vinyl ‘quattro’ decal or a brushed aluminium effect plastic emblem, the MB had chrome plated ‘audi’, ‘audi rings’ and ‘quattro’ emblems, whilst the RR had only chrome plated ‘audi rings’. The rear suspension was altered early on with geometry changes and removal of the rear anti-roll bar to reduce a tendency for lift-off oversteer. For the 1984 facelift, the wheel size went from 6×15-inch with 205/60-15 tyres to 8×15-inch wheels with 215/50-15 tyres. At the same time the suspension was lowered 20 mm with slightly stiffer springs for improved handling. For 1987, the Torsen centre differential was used for the first time, replacing the manual centre differential lock. The last original Audi Quattro was produced on 17 May 1991, more than two years after the first models of the new Audi Coupe range (based on the 1986 Audi 80) had been produced.
The Audi R8, based on the Audi Le Mans quattro concept car (designed by Frank Lamberty and Julian Hoenig) first appeared at the 2003 International Geneva Motor Show and the 2003 Frankfurt International Motor Show. The R8 road car was officially launched at the Paris Auto Show on 30 September 2006. There was some confusion with the name, which the car shares with the 24 Hours of Le Mans winning R8 Le Mans Prototype (LMP). Initial models included the R8 4.2 FSI coupé (with a V8 engine) and R8 5.2 FSI coupé (with a V10 engine). Convertible models, called the Spyder by the manufacturer, were introduced in 2008, followed by the high-performance GT model introduced in 2011. The Motorsport variants of the R8 were also subsequently introduced from 2008 onwards. An all-electric version called the e-Tron started development but would only reach production stage when the second generation model would be introduced. 6-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Jacky Ickx described the R8 as “the best handling road car today” and the car was well received by everyone who drove it. The car received a facelift in 2012 and a new model called the V10 Plus was now added to the range. Production of the Type 42 ended in August 2015.
Among the latest Audi models to attract my camera were the RS5 and closely related RS4 Avant. Subtle these cars no longer are.
I had no idea what this was, but guessed it might be an Austin Seven Special. Some research with Google after the event revealed that the Austin bit is correct but with a quoted engine of 1120cc, it is not Seven based but the larger Ten. It was first registered in October 2020 but the donor parts would seem to go back to 1928.
There was a nice example of the “Big Healey” here, one of Britain’s most popular classics. Donald Healey had been producing a range of expensive sports cars from the 1940s, cars such as the Silverstone, the Abbott and the Farnham. For the 1952 London Motor Show, he produced a new design, which was called the Healey Hundred, based on Austin A90 mechanicals, which he intended to produce in-house at his small car company in Warwick. It was one of the stars of the 1952 Show, and it so impressed Leonard Lord, the Managing Director of Austin, who was looking for a replacement to the unsuccessful A90. that Lord struck a deal with Healey on the spot, to build it in quantity. Bodies made by Jensen Motors would be given Austin mechanical components at Austin’s Longbridge factory. The car was renamed the Austin-Healey 100, in reference to the fact that the car had a top speed of 100 mph. Production got under way in 1953, with Austin-Healey 100s being finished at Austin’s Longbridge plant alongside the A90 and based on fully trimmed and painted body/chassis units produced by Jensen in West Bromwich—in an arrangement the two companies previously had explored with the Austin A40 Sports. By early 1956, production was running at 200 cars a month, 150 of which were being sold in California. Between 1953 and 1956, 14,634 Austin-Healey 100s were produced, the vast majority of them, as was the case for most cars in this post war era, going for export. The car was replaced by an updated model in 1956, called the 100-6. It had a longer wheelbase, redesigned bodywork with an oval shaped grille, a fixed windscreen and two occasional seats added (which in 1958 became an option with the introduction of the two-seat BN6 produced in parallel with the 2+2 BN4), and the engine was replaced by one based on the six-cylinder BMC C-Series engine. In 1959, the engine capacity was increased from 2.6 to 2.9 litres and the car renamed the Austin-Healey 3000. Both 2-seat and 2+2 variants were offered. It continued in this form until production ceased in late 1967. The Big Healey, as the car became known after the 1958 launch of the much smaller Austin-Healey Sprite, is a popular classic now. You come across the 3000 models more frequently than the 100s, as they accounted for more than 60% of all Big Healey production.
Beauford is a British family run automobile company based in Biddulph, Stoke on Trent. The cars are supplied in kit form and are therefore highly customisable. Beauford are founding members of S.T.A.T.U.S. (Specialist Transport Advisory and Testing Utility Society). Originally based in Upholland, Lancashire the company later moved to Stoke on Trent. The first cars were made in 1985 and used a Mini bodyshell as the passenger compartment later replaced by a glass fibre moulding. The company has supplied over 1,500 kits. The Beauford Tourer is designed to look like a vintage car. At the front is a long bonnet with flowing wings at either side to give the appearance of a 1930s Style Grand Tourer luxury car. There are both 2 door and 4 door versions. Cars come in both open and closed bodies. With detachable hard top or convertible soft top there are also half soft-top versions. Because of the classic look of the vehicles the cars have become popular as wedding transport. They are suited to Rover V8 engines, and the M119 5 litre Mercedes Benz engine with over 300 BHP and high torque. The shell of the body is made of Glass Reinforced Plastic (GRP), and the bonnet and panels are alloys. The body is mounted on a ladder chassis. The vehicles have a long wheel base of 3.2 m (126″). A variety of power units can be fitted to the kit, including Ford, Nissan and Rover. The suspension, steering, pedal box and master cylinder can be sourced from the Ford Sierra. The manufacturer provides multiple choice in body parts such as windscreens and lights, meaning there are many unique vehicles in circulation.
The Mark VI was announced in May 1946, and produced from 1946 to 1952 it was also both the first car from Rolls-Royce with all-steel coachwork and the first complete car assembled and finished at their factory. These very expensive cars were a genuine success, long-term their weakness lay in the inferior steels forced on them by government’s post-war controls. The chassis continued to be supplied to independent coachbuilders. Four-door Saloon, two-door saloon and drophead coupe models with bodies by external companies were listed by Bentley along with the Bentley-bodied saloon. This shorter wheelbase chassis and engine was a variant of the Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith of 1946 and, with the same standard steel body and a larger boot became the cautiously introduced Silver Dawn of 1949. The same extended-boot modification was made to the Mark VI body in 1952 and the result became known as the R type Bentley.
Also here was the modern Continental GT Coupe, the car which has massively increased Bentley sales in the past couple of decades.
Oldest of the legendary M3 cars was this fabulous E30 M3. Produced initially purely as a homologation special, the car achieved far greater levels of interest than ever imagined, and the rest, as they say, is history. Based on the 1986 model year E30 3 Series, the car was initially available with the 2 door body and was later offered as a convertible bodies. The E30 M3 used the BMW S14 engine. The first iteration of the road car engine produced 195 PS with a catalytic converter and 200 PS without a catalytic converter in September 1989 power was increased to 215 PS with a catalytic converter. The “Evolution” model (also called “EVO2”) produced 220 PS. Other Evolution model changes included larger wheels (16 X 7.5 inches), thinner rear and side window glass, a lighter bootlid, a deeper front splitter and additional rear spoiler. Later the “Sport Evolution” model production run of 600 (sometimes referred as “EVO3”) increased engine displacement to 2.5 litres and produced 238 PS. Sport Evolution models have enlarged front bumper openings and an adjustable multi-position front splitter and rear wing. Brake cooling ducts were installed in place of front foglights. An additional 786 convertibles were also produced. The E30 M3 differed from the rest of the E30 line-up in many other ways. Although using the same basic unit-body shell as the standard E30, the M3 was equipped with 12 different and unique body panels for the purposes of improving aerodynamics, as well as “box flared” wheel-arches in the front and rear to accommodate a wider track with wider and taller wheels and tyres. The only exterior body panels the standard model 3 Series and the M3 shared were the bonnet, roof panel, sunroof, and door panels. The E30 M3 differed from the standard E30 by having a 5×120 wheel bolt pattern. The E30 M3 had increased caster angle through major front suspension changes. The M3 had specific solid rubber offset control arm bushings. It used aluminium control arms and the front strut tubes were changed to a design similar (bolt on kingpins and swaybar mounted to strut tube) to the E28 5 Series. This included carrying over the 5 series front wheel bearings and brake caliper bolt spacing. The rear suspension was a carry over from the E30. The E30 M3 had special front and rear brake calipers and rotors. It also has a special brake master cylinder. The E30 M3 had one of two Getrag 265 5-speed gearboxes. US models received an overdrive transmission while European models were outfitted with a dogleg version, with first gear being down and to the left, and fifth gear being a direct 1:1 ratio. Rear differentials installed included a 4.10:1 final-drive ratio for US models. European versions were equipped with a 3.15:1 final drive ratio. All versions were clutch-type limited-slip differentials with 25% lockup. To keep the car competitive in racing following year-to-year homologation rules changes, homologation specials were produced. These include the Evo 1, Evo 2, and Sport Evolution, some of which featured less weight, improved aerodynamics, taller front wheel arches (Sport Evolution; to further facilitate 18-inch wheels in DTM), brake ducting, and more power. Other limited-production models (based on evolution models but featuring special paintwork and/or unique interior schemes commemorating championship wins) include the Europa, Ravaglia, Cecotto, and Europameister. Production of the original E30 M3 ended in early 1992.
The M2 was first revealed in Need for Speed: No Limits on November 2015, before later premiering at the North American International Auto Show in January 2016. Production commenced in October 2015 and is only available as a rear-wheel drive coupé. The M2 is powered by the turbocharged 3.0-litre N55B30T0 straight-six engine producing 365 bhp at 6,500 rpm and 465 Nm (343 lb/ft) between 1,450–4,750 rpm, while an overboost function temporarily increases torque to 500 N⋅m (369 lb⋅ft). The M2 features pistons from the F80 M3 and F82 M4, and has lighter aluminium front and rear suspension components resulting in a 5 kg (11 lb) weight reduction. The M2 is available with a 6-speed manual or with a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission which features a ‘Smokey Burnout’ mode. 0-100 km/h acceleration times are 4.5 seconds manual transmission models and 4.3 seconds for models equipped with the 7-speed dual clutch transmission. Top speed is limited to 250 km/h (155 mph) but can be extended to 270 km/h (168 mph) with the optional M Driver’s package. The M2 Competition was introduced at the 2018 Beijing Auto Show and succeeded the standard M2 Coupé. Production began in July 2018. The M2 Competition uses the high performance S55 engine which is a variant of the 3.0-litre twin turbocharged straight six engine found in the F80 M3 and F82 M4. The engine features a redesigned oil supply system and modified cooling system from the BMW M4 with the Competition Package, and also features a gasoline particulate filter in certain European Union countries to reduce emissions. Compared to the standard M2, the S55 produces an additional 40 bhp and 85 Nm (63 lb/ft), resulting in a larger and more sustained power output of 405 bhp between 5,370–7,200 rpm, and 550 Nm (406 lb/ft) at 2,350–5,230 rpm. The 0-100 km/h acceleration time is 4.4 seconds for six-speed manual transmission models, and 4.2 seconds for models with the 7-speed dual clutch transmission. Top speed is electronically limited to 250 km/h (155 mph), but the M Driver’s package can extend the limit to 280 km/h (174 mph) which is 10 km/h (6 mph) further than in the M2. The M2 Competition also has a carbon-fibre reinforced plastic strut bar, enlarged kidney grilles, and larger brake discs of 400 mm (15.7 in) in the front axle and 380 mm (15.0 in) in the rear axle. Because of the new engine and cooling system, the M2 Competition is 55 kg (121 lb) heavier than the standard M2 at 1,550 kg (3,417 lb) for manual transmission models and 1,575 kg (3,472 lb) for dual-clutch transmission models. It remains in production.
The Caterham story is one of continual development, a four decade process of honing Colin Chapman’s original design, which is now 60 years old. Since 1973, when Graham Nearn’s Caterham cars took over the rights and manufacture of the fly-weight sportscars, it’s grown more power, better engines, more sophistication in both suspension and powertrains, as well – in some cases – as more space inside and certainly more creature comforts, all while preserving the original character. Caterham completed 42 of the heavier and not that well thought of Series 4 cars before deciding to concentrate on the classic Series 3 design, with a simple space frame chassis clothed in aluminium and glassfibre. At the time of the S3, the power unit was from Ford, with the Crossflow unit developing 84 bhp in GT form with a twin choke carburettor, though twin Webers were never far away. Sevens had started out with Ford side valve power, before the 948cc BMC A Series unit found its way into the car, followed by Ford’s new 1340cc and 1498cc engines, before the head redesign put the intake and the exhaust on opposite sides. When Ford discontinued the Kent engine in 1976, it caused something of a difficulty for Caterham, as this also meant the end of the Twin Cam and the BDR engines, of which Caterham had bought 500 in preceding years, and whilst the final pushrod engines came from South Africa, eventually the supply ran out and a new supplier was needed. At first the firm turned to Vauxhall’s 2 litre unit for the higher powered cars but when the found out that Rover were developing a new and sophisticated twin cam engine, which turned out to be the K Series unit, a deal was struck and the first K Series engined Caterhams appeared in 1991, once the multi-point injection version was available (the single point would have required a bonnet bulge which Caterham did not want). To get round the relative lack of torque, Caterham developed their own close ratio 6 speed gearbox which was lighter than the Ford unit they had been using, and which could cope with larger capacity and more powerful K Series units as Rover made them available. Caterham continued to develop the car throughout the 90s, starting to make their own steering racks among other changes. By the time the K Series and the 240 bhp Vauxhall engines in the HPC car came along, the interior had become plusher with a long cockpit option and a wider variant, the SV. There were now proper bucket seats instead of those with a plywood backrest and in 1996 the handbrake moved from under the dash to the transmission tunnel. This required extra tubing in the chassis, which made it 80% stiffer. The front suspension had gained a proper top wishbone and separate anti-roll bar, but the biggest change came with the adoption of de Dion rear suspension. The move was occasioned by a need to keep the rear wheels linked and parallel to each other, yet still as simple as possible, though the engineers harboured a desire for a fully independent rear end, which finally came about with the CSR version in 2004. This change improved the ride massively on bumpy roads and makes the car feel more planted. The collapse of Rover in 2005 meant the end for the K Series, so there was a switch back to Ford power, using the Sigma engine, which happily fits under the bonnet – something that few modern engines do as they are now often simply too tall. Adding more power is a law of diminishing returns with a Caterham, thanks to the aerodynamics, though there are now an array of different power outputs offered, but the most recent change was a new entry level model, which uses a 660cc Suzuki turbo triple, with a live axle and a similar power to weight ratio to the classic single carb Ford powered models of 30 years ago. However, these days you can get carpets, leather seats and full weather gear if you upgrade to an S pack. Caterham plan to continue to develop the car for as long as they can. To date they have built around 16,000 examples, and it is said that were you to gather 100 models together, you would not find two the same, even though, colour apart, many cars look very similar at a quick glance. The one seen here is a very recent car, produced as a limited edition car to mark the 60th anniversary of the Lotus Seven, with a “back to basics” look to it.
The SP250 “Dart” was quite unlike any previous Daimler model, the marque having a history of producing a series of luxurious saloon and open topped models. But by the mid 1950s, the once proud Coventry marque was in trouble, with a range of cars which were expensive and just not selling. New models were seen as a potential way of changing things around, so shortly after being appointed Managing Director of BSA’s Automotive Division in 1956, Edward Turner was asked to design a saloon car powered by a new V8 engine. The engine drawings were finalised by March 1958 but the saloon prototype, project number DN250, was not available for examination by the committee formed in 1958 to report on the feasibility of the V8 cars. The committee’s evaluation centred on the prototypes being tested at the time, which were for the SP250 sports car project. according to the feasibility study conducted by the committee, the SP250 would generate a profit of more than £700,000 based on a projection of 1,500 cars being sold in the first year of production and 3,000 cars per year for the second and third years of production. Two-thirds of the sales of the car were expected to be in the United States. The study also determined that the body should be made from fibreglass, with shorter time to the beginning of production, tooling costs of £16,000 as opposed to £120,000 for steel bodies, and lower cost to change the styling. That meant that the car was able to be launched at the 1959 New York Show, christened the Daimler Dart. Chrysler, whose Dodge division owned the trademark for the “Dart” model name, ordered Daimler to change the name under threat of legal action. With little time to come up with a new name, Daimler used the project number, SP250, as the model number. The car certainly looked quite unlike previous Daimlers, but whether that was a good thing is less clear as the SP250 won “The Ugliest Car” via vote at that 1959 show. That was not the only problem with the car, either. The original version, later called the A-spec, could reach a speed of 120 mph, but the chassis, a “14-gauge ladder frame with cruciform bracing” based on the Triumph TR3, flexed so much that doors occasionally came open, marring its reputation. The car featured the smaller of the two hemi-head V8 engines which Edward Turner had designed. 2547cc in capacity, it was a V8, iron block, OHV unit, with a single central camshaft operated valves through short pushrods with double heavy-duty valve springs, aluminium alloy hemispherical cylinder heads, and twin SU carburettors which meant it put out 140 bhp.The manual gearbox, the first of the type used by Daimler since they started using the pre-selector type across their range in the 1930s,, was reverse-engineered from the Standard gearbox used in the Triumph TR3A. Early examples of the car were not particularly reliable. Sales were slow, initially, and Daimlers problems were compounded when, not long after they had been acquired by Jaguar, an in-house rival in the form of the E Type arrived on the scene. New bosses at Jaguar did not kill off the SP250, though, but they were immediately concerned about the chassis flex. They brought out the B-spec. version with extra outriggers on the chassis and a strengthening hoop between the A-posts. There were also other detail improvements, including an adjustable steering column. Bumpers had originally been an optional extra. With the basic specification not including full bumpers, the A-spec. cars have two short, chromium-plated ‘whiskers’ on the body on either side of the front grille and two short, vertical bumpers, or “overriders” at the rear, which were not included if the rear bumper was optioned. B-spec. and the later C-spec. cars do not have the ‘whiskers’ that A-spec. have and some do not have the optional front bumper, so there is very little front protection for these cars. A planned Coupe version of the car, the DP250 never got beyond the prototype phase, and Ogle Design’s proposal for a Coupe version was not taken up, the styling for that concept ending up forming the Reliant Scimitar GT. The SP250 ended production in 1964. Just 2,654 SP250s were produced in five years of production, far short of the projection of 3,000 per year by the second year of production. Jaguar did built a prototype replacement under project number SP252 with a neater body style but decided not to proceed with production, as they figured that the cost to build the SP252 would have been greater than that of Jaguar’s popular and more expensive E-Type, thereby creating internal competition from a product with no practical profit margin and with uncertain market acceptance. These days, surviving SP250s are viewed rather more positively than they were when new, and a certain Quentin Willson is particularly enthusiastic about them.
The original Viper was intended to be a performance sports car. The project was started in 1988 at Chrysler’s Advanced Design Studios, when then-president Bob Lutz suggested to Tom Gale that the company should consider the production of a modern Cobra. A clay model was created months later, and the car later appeared as a concept in 1989 at the North American International Auto Show. Chief engineer Roy Sjoberg was then directed to develop the car after public reactions of the initial concept were highly positive. “Team Viper” was later formed with 85 engineers selected by Sjoberg, and development of the car began in March 1989, with full completion in February 1990. It was later introduced in 1991 at the Indianapolis 500 of that year with a pre-production car driven by Carroll Shelby, being forced to replace the Dodge Stealth because of complaints coming from the United Automobile Workers. It later went on sale as the Dodge Viper RT/10 Roadster in January 1992. The Viper lacks modern driver aids such as traction control and anti-lock brakes. The car also has no exterior-mounted door handles or key locks, and instead, entry is done by unzipping a vinyl window to reach the interior door release handle (when the canvas/hard top is in place). No air conditioning was installed on the car (the option for A/C was added in later 1994 models). There were also no airbags for weight reduction. The roof was made from canvas, and the windows were made from vinyl and used zippers to open and close. Despite these lack of features, the car still had some features in order for it to be tolerable as a daily driving car, such as manually-adjustable seats with lumbar support, an AM/FM stereo player, a clock, and carpeting. Later models of the Viper allowed the option for a lightweight fibreglass hard top to replace the standard canvas soft top. Lamborghini, who was owned by Chrysler Corporation at the time, assisted with the design of the aluminium-alloy V10 engine for the car, with the design based on Chrysler’s LA engine. Dick Winkles, the chief power engineer, was a major contributor on the engine project, and had spent time in Italy for the purpose of the engine’s development. The engine generated a maximum power output of 400 hp at 4,600 rpm and 465 lb/ft (630 Nm) and 3,600 rpm, and weighed 323 kg (712 lb). Fuel economy rated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency to be 12 mpg‑US (14 mpg‑imp) during city driving and 20 mpg‑US (24 mpg‑imp) on the highway, all made possible due to long gearing. The Dodge Viper has a curb weight of 1,490 kg (3,285 lb), with the body’s tubular steel frame and resin-transfer moulding fibreglass panels. The car is able to accelerate from 0–60 mph in 4.6 seconds, 0–100 mph in 9.2 seconds, completes a quarter mile in 12.6 seconds at the speed of 113.8 mph and has a maximum speed of 165 mph (266 km/h). Its large tyres allowed the car to average 0.96 lateral g in corners, which placed it among the best performance cars of its day, however, the car proved tricky for the unskilled drivers. The SRI was replaced by the updated SRII after a series of updates in 1995.
The Dino 308 GT4 was introduced at the Paris Motor Show in 1973. It only gained the “Prancing Horse” badge in May 1976, which replaced the Dino badges on the front, wheels, rear panel and the steering wheel. This has caused major confusion over the years by owners, enthusiasts and judges. During the energy crisis at that time many prospective owners were hesitant to buy such an expensive automobile not badged “Ferrari” being confused at the significance of the Dino name. The GT4 was a groundbreaking model for Ferrari in several ways: it was the first production Ferrari to feature the mid-engined V8 layout that would become the bulk of the company’s business in the succeeding decades, and was the first production Ferrari with Bertone (rather than Pininfarina) designed bodywork. Pininfarina was upset by the decision to give cross-town rival Bertone the design, considering all they had done for Ferrari. The styling featured angular lines entirely different from its curvaceous 2-seater brother, the Dino 246, and was controversial at the time. Some journalists compared it to the Bertone-designed Lancia Stratos and Lamborghini Urraco, also penned by Marcello Gandini. From the cockpit the driver sees only the road. It has perfect 360 degree visibility, no blind spots, upright and comfortable seating position, a real boot, a back seat for soft luggage, and very easy engine access. Enzo Ferrari himself took a major role in its design, even having a mock-up made where he could sit in the car to test different steering, pedals and cockpit seating positioning. The chassis was a tubular spaceframe based on the Dino 246, but was stretched for a 115.2 in wheelbase to make room for the second row of seats. The suspension was fully independent, with double wishbones, anti-roll bars, coaxial telescopic shock absorbers and coil springs on both axles. Niki Lauda helped set up the chassis. The 2927 cc V8 was mounted transversally integrally joined with the 5-speed transaxle gearbox. The engine had an aluminium alloy block and heads, 16-valves and dual overhead camshafts driven by toothed belts; it produced 255 hp in the European version and 240 hp in the American. The induction system used four Weber 40 DCNF carburettors. The GT4 was replaced by the Mondial 8 in 1980 after a production run of 2,826 308s and 840 208s.
Top of the Ferrari range from the mid 70s for 10 years was the Berlinetta Boxer, object of many a small child’s intense desire, as I can attest from my own childhood! Production of the Berlinetta Boxer was a major step for Enzo Ferrari. He felt that a mid-engined road car would be too difficult for his buyers to handle, and it took many years for his engineers to convince him to adopt the layout. This attitude began to change as the marque lost its racing dominance in the late 1950s to mid-engined competitors. The mid-engined 6- and 8-cylinder Dino racing cars were the result, and Ferrari later allowed for the production Dino road cars to use the layout as well. The company also moved its V12 engines to the rear with its P and LM racing cars, but the Daytona was launched with its engine in front. It was not until 1970 that a mid-engined 12-cylinder road car would appear. The first “Boxer” was the 365 GT4 BB shown at the 1971 Turin Motor Show. Designed to rival the Lamborghini Miura and the newly developed Lamborghini Countach, it was finally released for sale in 1973 at the Paris Motor Show. 387 were built, of which 88 were right-hand drive (of which 58 were for the UK market), making it the rarest of all Berlinetta Boxers. The Pininfarina-designed body followed the P6 show car with popup headlights. Though it shared its numerical designation with the Daytona, the Boxer was radically different. It was a mid-engined car like the Dino, and the now flat-12 engine was mounted longitudinally rather than transversely. Although referred to as a Boxer, the 180° V12 was not a true boxer engine, but rather a flat engine. It had 380 hp, slightly more than the Daytona. The 365 GT4 BB was updated as the BB 512 in 1976, resurrecting the name of the earlier Ferrari 512 racer. The name 512 referred to the car’s 5 litre, 12 cylinder engine; a deviation from Ferrari’s established practice of naming 12-cylinder road cars (as the 365 BB) after their cylinder displacement. The engine was enlarged to 4943.04 cc, with an increased compression ratio of 9.2:1. Power was slightly down to 360 hp, while a dual plate clutch handled the added torque and eased the pedal effort. Dry sump lubrication prevented oil starvation in hard cornering. The chassis remained unaltered, but wider rear tires (in place of the 365’s equally sized on all four corners) meant the rear track grew 63 mm. External differentiators included a new chin spoiler upfront, incorporated in the bumper. A NACA duct on the side provided cooling for the exhaust system. At the rear there were now twin tail lights and exhaust pipes each side, instead of triple units as on the 365 GT4 BB. 929 BB 512 models were produced. The Bosch K-Jetronic CIS fuel injected BB 512i introduced in 1981 was the last of the series. The fuel injected motor produced cleaner emissions and offered a better balance of performance and daily-driver temperament. External differentiators from the BB 512 besides badging include a change to metric sized wheels and the Michelin TRX metric tyre system, small white running lights in the nose, and red rear fog lamps outboard of the exhaust pipes in the rear valance. 1,007 BB 512i models were produced. The car seen here sported a Koenig-modified body. Koenig’s package of upgrades for the 512BB/BBi was a great success with some 50-or-so cars being built by the factory or fitted with kits by their owners. The Koenig changes included different pistons, camshaft and exhaust system which meant that their 512BBi produced 450bhp, up from the standard car’s 340 bhp. Some cars had more than this, thanks to the addition of twin turbochargers, which boosted power to 650 bhp. This meant that the 512BBi, already no slouch, was elevated to the forefront of contemporary supercars, performance figures of 100km/h in 4.3 seconds and a top speed of 330km/h being claimed. This is some 48km/h faster than the standard car and comparable with the performance of the later Ferrari F40, though the latter made do with ‘only’ 478bhp. To cope with extra power, the gearbox was strengthened and fitted with an additional oil cooler. With a top speed higher than the take-off velocity of many light aircraft, the Koenig-tuned 512BBi needed all the downforce it could get, which came courtesy of a specially developed body kit. Made of polyester, the latter consisted of a new front bumper incorporating brake cooling ducts; a rear spoiler; body side skirts; smaller rear view mirrors; and roof-mounted intakes for the turbochargers. In addition, the rear wheelarches were extended to cover magnesium wheels shod with Pirelli P Zero 345/55VR15 tyres, while the front tyres were reduced in size to 225/50VR15 (stock is 240/55VR15 all round). Stiffer road springs and shock absorbers were fitted but the ride height was left standard. The brake discs and callipers were up-rated and adjustable brake bias incorporated into the system. The original owner was not tempted by Koenig’s extensive range of upgrades for the interior, which was left standard. Koenig is no longer in the performance conversion business, though it still manufactures parts and accessories for Ferraris.
An all new design, the 458 Italia was first officially unveiled at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show. Once more, Ferrari advised that the model incorporated technologies developed from the company’s experience in Formula 1. The body computer system was developed by Magneti Marelli Automotive Lighting. The 458 came with a 4,499 cc V8 engine of the “Ferrari/Maserati” F136 engine family, producing 570 PS ( 562 hp) at 9,000 rpm and 540 N·m (398 lb/ft) at 6,000 rpm with 80% torque available at 3,250 rpm. The engine featured direct fuel injection, a first for Ferrari mid-engine setups in its road cars. The only transmission available was a dual-clutch 7-speed Getrag gearbox, in a different state of tune shared with the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG. There was no traditional manual option, making this the fourth road-car after the Enzo, Challenge Stradale and 430 Scuderia not to be offered with Ferrari’s classic gated manual. The car’s suspension featured double wishbones at the front and a multi-link setup at the rear, coupled with E-Diff and F1-Trac traction control systems, designed to improve the car’s cornering and longitudinal acceleration by 32% when compared with its predecessors. The brakes included a prefill function whereby the pistons in the calipers move the pads into contact with the discs on lift off to minimise delay in the brakes being applied. This combined with the ABS and standard Carbon Ceramic brakes caused a reduction in stopping distance from 100–0 km/h to 32.5 metres. Ferrari’s official 0–100 km/h (62 mph) acceleration time was quoted as 2.9–3.0 seconds with a top speed of 340 km/h (210 mph). In keeping with Ferrari tradition the body was designed by Pininfarina under the leadership of Donato Coco, the Ferrari design director. The interior design of Ferrari 458 Italia was designed by Bertrand Rapatel, a French automobile designer. The car’s exterior styling and features were designed for aerodynamic efficiency, producing a downforce of 140 kg (309 lb) at 200 km/h. In particular, the front grille features deformable winglets that lower at high speeds, in order to offer reduced drag. The car’s interior was designed using input from former Ferrari Formula 1 driver Michael Schumacher; in a layout common to racing cars, the new steering wheel incorporates many controls normally located on the dashboard or on stalks, such as turning signals or high beams. At launch the car was widely praised as being pretty much near perfect in every regard. It did lack a fresh air version, though, but that was addressed with the launch of the 458 Spider at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show. This convertible variant of the 458 Italia featured an aluminium retractable hardtop which, according to Ferrari, weighs 25 kilograms (55 lb) less than a soft roof such as the one found on the Ferrari F430 Spider, and can be opened in 14 seconds The engine cover was redesigned to accommodate the retractable roof system. It had the same 0–100 km/h time as the hard-top but a lower top speed of 199 mph. It quickly became the better seller of the two versions.
In 2016, Ford released the Fiesta ST200 limited edition in Europe. On the outside, it featured bespoke grey paint as the only colour available, and unique 17-inch black alloy wheels. Inside, it featured Recaro bucket seats and illuminated tread plates as standard. Power and torque were both increased. As the name suggests, power was up to 200 PS, while torque was boosted to 290 Nm (214 lb/ft). The chassis remained the same, but torque vectoring (powered by braking the inside wheels rather than an active differential) helped to reduce understeer whilst cornering. As a result of the increase in power and also to a shorter final drive ratio, 0–62 mph (0–100 km/h) was reduced to 6.7 seconds.
In 2005 Ford unveiled a hot hatch version of the Mk 2 Focus. Called Focus ST, and available in either three or five-door hatchback variant, the car uses the Volvo Modular engine, a turbocharged 2.5 L 5-cylinder engine producing 225 bhp. Ford however rebadged it as the Ford Duratec ST, applied variable valve timing to both camshafts, applied a lighter flywheel and performed a throttle recalibration. The Ford Focus Mk 2 ST is also known as the XR5 Turbo in the Australian and New Zealand market, but is sold as a five-door hatchback only. In 2008 Ford, in conjunction with Mountune Racing, unveiled a power upgrade kit which raises the power output to 260 bhp the kit consists of: a K&N panel filter, larger intercooler and a re-map. Although the platform is the same, no saloon version was ever released. Sales ceased when the third generation Focus was released in 2011.
Ford played much the same guessing game about whether there would be an RS version of the third generation Focus 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.
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.
The Series 1 E Type was introduced, initially for export only, in March 1961. The domestic market launch came four months later in July 1961. The cars at this time used the triple SU carburetted 3.8-litre six-cylinder Jaguar XK6 engine from the XK150S. Earlier built cars utilised external bonnet latches which required a tool to open and had a flat floor design. These cars are rare and more valuable. After that, the floors were dished to provide more leg room and the twin bonnet latches moved to inside the car. The 3.8-litre engine was increased to 4,235 cc in October 1964. The 4.2-litre engine produced the same power as the 3.8-litre (265 bhp) and same top speed (150 mph), but increased torque approximately 10% from 240 to 283 lb/ft. Acceleration remained pretty much the same and 0 to 60 mph times were around 6.4 seconds for both engines, but maximum power was now reached at 5,400 rpm instead of 5,500 rpm on the 3.8-litre. That all meant better throttle response for drivers that did not want to shift down gears. The 4.2-litre’s block was completely redesigned, made longer to accommodate 5 mm (0.20 in) larger bores, and the crankshaft modified to use newer bearings. Other engine upgrades included a new alternator/generator and an electric cooling fan for the radiator. Autocar road tested a UK spec E-Type 4.2 fixed head coupé in May 1965. The maximum speed was 153 mph, the 0–60 mph time was 7.6 seconds and the 1⁄4 mile from a standing start took 15.1 seconds. They summarised it as “In its 4.2 guise the E-Type is a fast car (the fastest we have ever tested) and offers just about the easiest way to travel quickly by road.”. Motor magazine road tested a UK spec E-Type 4.2 fixed head coupé in Oct 1964. The maximum speed was 150 mph, the 0–60 mph time was 7 seconds and the 1⁄4 mile time was 14.9 seconds. They summarised it as “The new 4.2 supersedes the early 3.8 as the fastest car Motor has tested. The absurd ease which 100 mph can be exceeded in a 1⁄4 mile never failed to astonish. 3,000 miles (4,828 km) of testing confirms that this is still one of the world’s outstanding cars”. All E-Types featured independent coil spring rear suspension designed and developed by R J Knight with torsion bar front ends, and four wheel disc brakes, in-board at the rear, all were power-assisted. The Coventry engineers spared nothing with regards to high automotive technology in braking. Like several British car builders of the middle and late 1950s, the four-wheel disc brakes were also used in that era by Austin-Healey, MG,putting the British far ahead of Ferrari, Maserati, Alfa Romeo, Porsche, and Mercedes-Benz. Even Lanchester tried an abortive attempt to use copper disc brakes in 1902. Jaguar was one of the first vehicle manufacturers to equip production cars with 4 wheel disc brakes as standard from the XK150 in 1958. The Series 1 (except for late 1967 models) can be recognised by glass-covered headlights (up to 1967), small “mouth” opening at the front, signal lights and tail-lights above bumpers and exhaust tips under the number plate in the rear. 3.8-litre cars have leather-upholstered bucket seats, an aluminium-trimmed centre instrument panel and console (changed to vinyl and leather in 1963), and a Moss four-speed gearbox that lacks synchromesh for first gear (“Moss box”) on all except very last cars. 4.2-litre cars have more comfortable seats, improved brakes and electrical systems, and,obviously, an all-synchromesh Jaguar designed four-speed gearbox. 4.2-litre cars also have a badge on the boot proclaiming “Jaguar 4.2 Litre E-Type” (3.8 cars have a simple “Jaguar” badge). Optional extras included chrome spoked wheels and a detachable hard top for the OTS. When leaving the factory the car was originally fitted with Dunlop 6.40 × 15-inch RS5 tyres on 15 × 5K wire wheels (with the rear fitting 15 × 5K½ wheels supplied with 6.50 X15 Dunlop Racing R5 tyres in mind of competition). Later Series One cars were fitted with Dunlop 185 – 15 SP41 or 185 VR 15 Pirelli Cinturato as radial ply tyres. A 2+2 version of the fastback coupé was added in 1966. The 2+2 offered the option of an automatic transmission. The body is 9 in (229 mm) longer and the roof angles are different. The roadster and the non 2+2 FHC (Fixed Head Coupé) remained as two-seaters. Less widely known, right at the end of Series 1 production, but prior to the transitional “Series 1½” referred to below, a small number of Series 1 cars were produced with open headlights. These Series 1 cars had their headlights modified by removing the covers and altering the scoops they sit in, but these Series 1 headlights differ in several respects from those later used in the Series 1½ (or 1.5), the main being they are shorter at 143 mm from the Series 1½ at 160 mm. Production dates on these machines vary but in right-hand drive form production has been verified as late as July 1968. They are not “rare” in the sense of the build of the twelve lightweights, but they are certainly uncommon; they were not produced until January 1967 and given the foregoing information that they were produced as late as July 1968, it appears that there must have been an overlap with the Series 1.5 production, which began in August 1967 as model year 1968 models. These calendar year/model year Series 1 E-Types are identical to other 4.2-litre Series 1 examples in every respect except for the open headlights; all other component areas, including the exterior, the interior, and the engine compartment are the same, with the same three SU carburettors, polished aluminium cam covers, center dash toggle switches, etc. Following the Series 1 there was a transitional series of cars built in 1967–68 as model year 1968 cars, unofficially called “Series 1½.” Due to American pressure the new features were not just open headlights, but also different switches (black rocker switches as opposed to the Series 1 toggle switches), de-tuning for emissions (using two Zenith-Stromberg carburettors instead of the original three SUs) for US models, ribbed cam covers painted black except for the top brushed aluminium ribbing, bonnet frames on the OTS that have two bows, and other changes. Series 1½ cars also have twin cooling fans and adjustable seat backs. The biggest change between 1961–1967 Series 1 E-Types and the 1968 Series 1.5 was the reduction in the number of carburettors from 3 to just 2 (North America), resulting in a loss in horsepower. Series 2 features were gradually introduced into the Series 1, creating the unofficial Series 1½ cars, but always with the Series 1 body style. A United States federal safety law affecting 1968 model year cars sold in the US was the reason for the lack of headlight covers and change in dash switch design in the “Series 1.5” of 1968. An often overlooked change, one that is often “modified back” to the older style, is the wheel knock-off “nut.” US safety law for 1968 models also forbade the winged-spinner knockoff, and any 1968 model year sold in the US (or earlier German delivery cars) should have a hexagonal knockoff nut, to be hammered on and off with the assistance of a special “socket” included with the car from the factory. This hexagonal nut carried on into the later Series 2 and 3. The engine configuration of the US Series 1.5s was the same as is found in the Series 2. An open 3.8-litre car, actually the first such production car to be completed, was tested by the British magazine Motor in 1961 and had a top speed of 149.1 mph and could accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 7.1 seconds. A fuel consumption of 21.3 mpg was recorded. The test car cost £2,097 including taxes.The cars submitted for road test by the motoring journals of the time (1961) such as Motor, Autocar and Autosport magazines were prepared by the Jaguar works. This work entailed engine balancing and subtle tuning work such as gas-flowing checking the cylinder heads but otherwise production built engines. Both of the well-known 1961 road test cars: the E-Type coupé Reg. No. 9600 HP and E-Type Convertible Reg. No. 77 RW, were fitted with Dunlop Racing Tyres on test, which had a larger rolling diameter and lower drag coefficient. This goes some way to explaining the 150 mph (240 km/h) maximum speeds that were obtained under ideal test conditions. The maximum safe rev limit for standard 6-cylinder 3.8-litre E-Type engines is 5,500 rpm. The later 4.2-Litre units had a red marking on the rev counter from just 5,000 rpm. Both 3.8 test cars may have approached 6,000 rpm in top gear when on road test, depending on final drive ratio. Production numbers were as follows: 15,490 of the 3.8s, 17,320 of the 4.2s and 10,930 of the 2+2s. And by body style there were 15,442 of the FHC, 17,378 of the OTS and 5,500 of the 2+2, making a total of 38,419 of the Series 1 car.
The Series 2 introduced a number of design changes, largely due to U.S. National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration mandates. The most distinctive exterior feature is the absence of the glass headlight covers, which affected several other imported cars, such as the Citroën DS, as well. Unlike other cars, this step was applied worldwide for the E-Type. Other hallmarks of Series 2 cars are a wrap-around rear bumper, larger front indicators and tail lights re-positioned below the bumpers, and an enlarged grille and twin electric fans to aid cooling. Additional U.S.-inspired changes included a steering lock which moved the ignition switch to the steering column, replacing the dashboard mounted ignition and push button starter, the symmetrical array of metal toggle switches replaced with plastic rockers, and a collapsible steering column to absorb impact in the event of an accident. New seats allowed the fitment of head restraints, as required by U.S. law beginning in 1969. The engine is easily identified visually by the change from smooth polished cam covers to a more industrial “ribbed” appearance. It was de-tuned in the US with twin two-barrel Strombergs replacing three SUs. Combined with larger valve clearances horsepower was reduced from 265 to 246 and torque from 283 to 263. Air conditioning and power steering were available as factory options. Production totalled 13,490 of all types, with 4885 of the FHC, 5,326 of the 2+2 and 8,628 of the OTS model.
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.
Final Jaguar here was the current sports car, the F Type.
The Lagonda 16/80 was a sports touring car introduced by Lagonda in 1932, replacing the company’s 4-cylinder 2-litre model. The first part of its name referred to its Fiscal horsepower rating of 16 (actually 15.7). Under naming conventions common at the time, the second number in its name might have referred to the car’s bhp. However, actual power output fell a long way short of 80 bhp, leading one well informed owner to suggest that it may have referred to the car’s claimed top speed of 80 mph. The car was unusual in being the only Lagonda to be offered with a Crossley engine. However, each engine purchased was stripped down by Lagonda, checked and rebuilt according to their own specifications before becoming the heart of a 16/80. Also, unlike its usual configuration when used in Crossley’s own vehicles, it was fitted with twin HV3 type SU carburettors. In 1933 the option of a E.N.V preselector gear-box became available. When new the car was guaranteed for nine years. However, a condition of the guarantee was that it be returned to the manufacturers every three years for a thorough overhaul and update, which would have been provided only at considerable cost. The car was dropped by Lagonda, shortly before the firm’s dramatic rescue from financial collapse by Alan Good, at the end of in 1934. According to the Lagonda Club, 261 were made.
Replacing Lamborghini’s sales leader and most produced car, the Gallardo, the Huracán made its auto show debut at the March 2014 Geneva Auto Show, and was released in the second quarter of 2014. The name of the Huracan LP 610-4 comes from the fact that this car has 610 metric horsepower and 4 wheel drive. Huracán (huracán being the Spanish word for hurricane) is inspired by a Spanish fighting bull. Continuing the tradition of using names from historical Spanish fighting bulls, Huracán was a bull known for its courage that fought in 1879. Also Huracan is the Mayan god of wind, storm and fire. Changes from the Gallardo included full LED illumination, a 12.3 inch full-colour TFT instrument panel, Fine Nappa leather and Alcantara interior upholstery, redesigned dashboard and central tunnel, Iniezione Diretta Stratificata (IDS, essentially an adapted version of parent Audi’s Fuel Stratified Injection) direct and indirect gasoline injections, engine Stop & Start technology, EU6 emissions regulation compliance, Lamborghini Doppia Frizione (LDF) 7-speed dual-clutch transmission with 3 modes (STRADA, SPORT and CORSA), 20 inch wheels, carbon-ceramic brake system, optional Lamborghini Dynamic Steering variable steering system and MagneRide electromagnetic damper control. In early 2015, the Huracán appeared on Top Gear. It got a neutral review from Richard Hammond who said that it was too tame to be a “proper Lamborghini.” However, it got around the Top Gear test track in 1:15.8 which is faster than any other Lamborghini to go around the track to date, including the Aventador. Now it has been available in the UK for several years, there are now quite a few on our roads, so it was no surprise to find the model here.
Lancia replaced the long-running Appia with a new model in 1963, the Fulvia. Like the larger Flavia which had been shown 3 years earlier, it came with front wheel drive, and a host of exquisite engineering which ensure that even though it was expensive, it was actually not profitable for its maker, and was a direct contribution to the marque’s bankruptcy and take over by Fiat in 1969. It was not long before the initial Berlina saloon model was joined by a Coupe. First seen in 1965. the Coupe proved to be the longest lived of all Fulvia variants, surviving until 1976 when it was effectively replaced by the 1300cc version of the Beta Coupe. Before that, it had undergone a steady program of updates, with more powerful engines, including a capacity increase from the initial 1200cc of the narrow angle V4 to 1300 and then later 1600cc, and the car was developed into a successful rally machine for the late 60s. The Sport Zagato version was designed by Ercole Spada at Zagato and was intended to be the more sporting model of the range. It was also considerably more expensive. Early cars had an unusual side hinged bonnet, but this was changed on the Series 2 models which were launched in 1970, and which also switched to all-steel bodies. Seen here was an HF Coupe.
The original Elan was introduced in 1962 as a roadster, although an optional hardtop was offered in 1963 and a coupé version appeared in 1965, and there were examples of all of these here. The two-seat Lotus Elan replaced the elegant, but unreliable and expensive to produce Lotus Elite. It was the first Lotus road car to use a steel backbone chassis with a fibreglass body. At 1,600 lb (726 kg), the Elan embodied the Colin Chapman minimum weight design philosophy. Initial versions of the Elan were also available as a kit to be assembled by the customer. The Elan was technologically advanced with a DOHC 1557 cc engine, 4-wheel disc brakes, rack and pinion steering, and 4-wheel independent suspension. Gordon Murray, who designed the spectacular McLaren F1 supercar, reportedly said that his only disappointment with the McLaren F1 was that he couldn’t give it the perfect steering of the Lotus Elan. This generation of the two-seater Elan was famously driven by the character Emma Peel on the 1960s British television series The Avengers. The “Lotus TwinCam” engine was based on Ford Kent Pre-Crossflow 4-cylinder 1498 cc engine, with a Harry Mundy-designed 2 valve alloy chain-driven twin-cam head. The rights to this design was later purchased by Ford, who renamed it to “Lotus-Ford Twin Cam”. It would go on to be used in a number of Ford and Lotus production and racing models. Seen here was an example of the Drophead.
First mid-engined road-going Lotus was the Europa. The concept originated during 1963 with drawings by Ron Hickman, director of Lotus Engineering (Designer of the original Lotus Elan, as well as inventor of the Black and Decker Workmate), for a bid on the Ford GT40 project. That contract went to Lola Cars as Colin Chapman wanted to call the car a Lotus and Henry Ford II insisted it would be called Ford. Chapman chose to use Hickman’s aerodynamic design which had a drag coefficient of Cd 0.29 for the basis for the Europa production model. The car was originally intended to succeed the Lotus 7. Volkswagen owned the rights to the Europa name in Germany so cars for sale in Germany were badged Europe rather than Europa. The original Europa used Lotus founder Colin Chapman’s minimalist steel backbone chassis that was first used in the Lotus Elan, while also relying on its fibreglass moulded body for structural strength. The four-wheel independent suspension was typical of Chapman’s thinking. The rear suspension was a modified Chapman strut, as used for Chapman’s earlier Formula racing car designs. Owing to the rubber suspension bushes used to isolate engine vibration from the car body, the true Chapman strut’s use of the drive shaft as the lower locating link could not be followed whilst still giving the precise track and handling desired. The forward radius arms were increased in size and rigidity, to act as a semi-wishbone. A careful compromise between engine mounting bush isolation and handling was required, culminating eventually in a sandwich bush that was flexible against shear but stiff in compression and tension. The car’s handling prompted automotive writers to describe the Europa as the nearest thing to a Formula car for the road. Aside from the doors, bonnet, and boot, the body was moulded as a single unit of fibreglass. The first cars has Renault 1470cc engines, and suffered from a number of quality issues as well as limited visibility. An S2, released in 1968 brought improvements to the build quality, but Lotus knew that the Renault engine was not powerful enough for what they thought the car could achieve on track and on the road, so the Europa underwent another update in 1971 when the Type 74 Europa Twin Cam was made available to the public, with a 105 bhp 1557cc Lotus-Ford Twin Cam engine and a re-designed bodyshell to improve rearward visibility. Initially with the same gearbox as the earlier cars, once the supply had been exhausted in 1972 a new stronger Renault four-speed gearbox was introduced. Mike Kimberley, who rose to become chief executive of Group Lotus, then a new engineer at Lotus, was appointed Chief Engineer of the Europa TC project. 1,580 cars were shipped as Europa “Twin Cam” before Lotus switched to a 126 bhp “Big Valve” version of the engine. The big valve “Europa Special” version was aspirated by Dell’Orto carburettors version of the same engine; in addition it also offered a new Renault five-speed (Type 365) gearbox option. It weighed 740 kg (1631 lb), Motor magazine famously tested a UK Special to a top speed of 123 mph, did 0–60 mph in 6.6 seconds, and ran the 1/4 mile in 14.9 sec. This at a time when all road tests were carried out with both a driver and passenger, with only the driver on board the 0–60 mph time would have been well under 6 seconds, a phenomenal performance for the period. Introduced in September 1972 the first 100 big valve cars were badged and painted to honour the just won Team Lotus’ 1972 F1 World Championship title with John Player Special as sponsors, all with five-speed gearbox, these were all black with gold pin stripe matching the livery of the GP cars – plus a numbered JPS dash board badge, becoming the first ever John Player Special commemorative motor vehicles. The “Special” name and colour scheme was planned to be dropped after the first 200 cars, reverting to the Twin Cam name, but such was the reaction to the new car that the name and pin stripe scheme remained until the end of Europa Production although colours other than black were made available. In the end only the numbered plaque distinguishing the first 100 JPS cars from other black Europa Specials. According to Lotus sources, no Special left the factory with “numbered JPS badges” or “JPS stickers” – these were added by the American importer & weren’t official done by Lotus. There were no “badged” cars sold in the UK, Australia, etc, just in the USA. In total 4710 Type 74s were produced of which 3130 were “Specials”.
Known internally as the Type 89, the Excel, built from 1982 to 1992, was a development of the earlier Lotus Eclat, which itself was based on the Type 75 Elite. Although a promising design, the Elite and Eclat had suffered from numerous quality control issues which were difficult for owners to accept given the price of the cars. The Excel was a concerted effort to address these, and it stood every chance of so doing, as it took advantage of the relationship with Toyota. This had started when Toyota engaged Lotus to assist with engineering work on the Supra. During this period, Toyota then became a major shareholder in Lotus. Part of the deal between the two included the use of many Toyota mechanical components in Lotus’ cars. The original Excel (aka the Eclat Excel) used the W58 manual transmission, driveshafts, rear differential, 14×7 in alloy wheels, and door handles from the Supra Mk II, which was made from 1982 to 1986. The engine was the familiar all-aluminium, DOHC 2.2 litre Lotus 912 Slant Four which was also used in the Lotus Esprit S3. During its lifetime, the Excel received two major upgrades. With the introduction of the Excel SE which had a 180 bhp engine vs the standard 160 bhp car in October 1985, the bumpers, wing and interior was changed, including a new dashboard. In October 1986 the Excel SA with automatic gearbox was introduced. Further facelifts in 1989 saw Citroën-derived mirrors, as featured on the Esprit, and 15 inch OZ alloy wheels to a similar pattern as the Esprit’s. According to Lotus records, only 1 Excel was manufactured to USA specification. The lack of release in the USA was due to the high emission regulations (which would hinder the car’s performance), and poor sales of the car in Europe.
In 1987, a new version of the mid-engined Esprit was unveiled, incorporating rounder styling cues given by designer Peter Stevens (who later designed the McLaren F1). A new Lotus patented process was introduced to create the new body, called the VARI (Vacuum Assisted Resin Injection) process, which offered more advantages than the previous hand laid process. Kevlar reinforcement was added to the roof and sides for roll-over protection, resulting in an increase of the Esprit’s torsional rigidity by 22 percent. Giugiaro is said to have liked the restyling, claiming it was perhaps too close to his original design. The Stevens styled cars retained the mechanical components of the previous High Compression Esprit and Turbo Esprit, but introduced a stronger Renault transaxle, which necessitated a move to outboard rear brakes. However, the MY 1988 North American Esprit Turbo kept its Citroën SM type transaxle and the Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection system used in the previous model year. The car’s Type 910 engine retained 215 bhp and 220 lb·ft, but decreased its zero to sixty from 5.6 seconds to a varied time between 5.4 – 5.1 seconds and a top speed of over 150 mph. The exterior style changes were accompanied by a redesign of the interior, allowing a little more space for the occupants. The Stevens styled Esprit is often known by its project code of X180. In 1989, the Esprit was again improved with the GM multi-port, electronic fuel injection system and the addition of a water to air intercooler, which Lotus has named the Chargecooler, producing the SE (Special Equipment). This inline-four engine was known as the Type 910S. Horsepower was pushed up to 264 with 280 available on overboost and zero to sixty miles per hour times reduced to 4.7 seconds with a top speed of over 160 mph. Several modifications were made to the body kit as well, like side skirts which are parallel to the body, five air ducts in the front air dam, wing mirrors from the Citroën CX and the addition of a rear wing. Along with the SE, Lotus produced the little seen Esprit S, a midrange turbocharged car offering fewer appointments and 228 hp, as well as the standard turbo still offering 215 hp . The N/A and lower-powered turbo were cancelled after 1990, and the S in 1991. Another unusual variant was a two-litre “tax special” developed for the Italian market, fitted with an intercooled and turbocharged version of a new 1,994 cc version of the venerable 900-series four-cylinder engine. Equipped with SE trim, this appeared in December 1991 and produced 243 PS at 6,250 rpm. Beginning in the autumn of 1996, this engine became available in other markets as well. The Esprit was a popular and successful addition to the American IMSA Bridgestone Supercar Championship and as a result Lotus produced the SE-based X180R, with horsepower bumped to 300 and with racing appointments. The Sport 300 was a derivative of the X180R sold in Europe, which included many modifications. These are known as the fastest of the four-cylinder Esprits and among the most desirable. In 1993, another exterior and interior revamp of the car resulted in the S4 which was the first model to include power steering. The exterior redesign was done by Julian Thompson, which included a smaller rear spoiler placed halfway up the rear decklid. Other major changes were to the front and rear bumpers, side skirts and valence panels. New five spoke alloy wheels were also included in the redesign. The S4 retained the same horsepower as the SE at 264 hp.The S4 was succeeded in 1994 by the S4s (S4 sport), which upped power to 300 bhp and 290 lb·ft of torque, improving all-around performance while retaining the comfort of the previous version. Top speed was increased to 168 mph, skidpad increased to 0.91g, an increased slalom of 61.7 mph and a 0-60 mph time of 4.6 seconds. Although the engine kept its 2.2-litre capacity, many modifications were added to improve engine performance. Some of the changes were enlarged inlet ports, cylinder head modifications, a re-calibrated ECM and a revised turbocharger. The most visible external styling changes was the addition of a larger rear wing taken from the Sport 300. In 1996 the Esprit V8 used Lotus’ self-developed all-aluminium, twin-turbocharged (Garrett T25/60 turbos) 90-degree V-8, Code-named Type 918, in front of the same Renault transmission as before with no Chargecooler. Derek Bell developed an uprated gearbox that overcame a lot of the gearbox problems with a much thicker single piece input shaft. The Type 918 engine was detuned from a potential 500 bhp to 350 bhp to prevent gearbox damage due to the fragility of the Renault UN-1 transmission. In period tests, zero to sixty miles per hour came in at 4.4 seconds and top speeds of over 175 mph were achieved. Produced alongside V8 models was the GT3, a turbocharged four-cylinder car with the type 920 2.0 litre chargecooled and turbocharged engine which had been used only in Italian market cars previously. In 1998 the V8 range was split into SE and GT specifications, both cars with a much changed interior configuration, both offering similar performance with the SE being the more luxurious of the two. The ultimate incarnation of the Esprit came in 1999 with the Sport 350. Only 50 were made, each offering 350 horsepower (per the name) and various engine, chassis and braking improvements, like the addition of AP Racing brakes, stiffer springs and a revised ECU. Several visual changes were made as well, including the addition of a large carbon fibre rear wing on aluminium uprights in place of the standard fibreglass rear wing. By this time the Esprit could reach 60 mph in 4.3 seconds as well as reaching 0-100 mph in less than 10 seconds, and weighed 1,300 kg (2,866 lb) as a result of many modifications. Thereafter, Lotus made little development aside from minor cosmetic changes including a switch to four round tail lights for the 2002 model year. Esprit production ceased in February 2004 after a 28 year production run. A total of 10,675 Esprits were produced.
The first Exige was launched in 2000 and was effectively a closed coupe version of the Elise. It was fitted with a naturally aspirated 1.8 litre Rover K Series Inline-four engine in VHPD (Very High Performance Derivative) tune. It produces 177 bhp at 7,800 rpm in standard form. There was also a “track spec” version with 192 bhp available. The car has a five-speed manual gearbox, and a claimed top speed of 219 km/h (136 mph). 0–60 mph was achieved in 4.7 seconds and 0–100 km/h (62 mph) in 4.9 seconds. The first Exige used the round, less aggressive headlights of the first generation Elise, although the Elise was updated soon after the introduction of the Exige. The Series 1 was built until 2002, and 604 examples were made. It was not replaced until the Series 2 of 2004.
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.
At the Frankfurt 2011 Show, the 2012 version of the Exige S was announced. It features a supercharged 3.5 litre V6 engine (from the Evora S) rated at 345 hp. In 2013, a roadster version was introduced with only minor changes to the design for the removable top. The engine and performance were virtually unchanged from the coupe. To accommodate the V6 engine, the new model is approximately 25 cm (9.8 inches) longer and 5 cm (2.0 in) wider (exterior bodywise) than the model with the inline-four engine, being 4,052 mm (159.5 inches) long, 1,802 mm (70.9 in) wide (not counting the mirrors) and 1,153 mm (45.4 in) tall. The drag coefficient is 0.433. Since that time there have been a bewildering array of different versions and you need to be a real marque expert to tell them all apart. The policy has worked, though, as sales have remained steady whilst Lotus try to amass the finances to develop any all new models. The Exige V6 Cup is a track oriented version of the Exige S while the Exige CupR is the track-only version of Exige V6 Cup. The Exige V6 Cup is offered for sale in the United States as a track only car. If purchased, US Lotus Dealers will only provide a bill of sale instead of a title. The vehicles were unveiled at the 2013 Autosport International motor show. Limited to 50 examples, the Lotus Exige 360 Cup was revealed on 14 August 2015. The car is powered by a 3.5-liter supercharged Toyota V6 delivering 355 hp. The Lotus Exige Sport 380 is a track focused and more powerful version of the Lotus Exige lineup. It was unveiled on 23 November 2016. Lotus’ CEO, Jean-Marc Gales describes it as, “The Exige Sport 380 is so good, that it is no longer the best in class, it’s now in a class of its own”, and it fulfills this statement by taking on some of the powerful and expensive super cars both on the track and the streets. The 3.5-litre, super-charged V6 engine is now uprated and produces 375 hp and 410 Nm (302 lb/ft) of torque with a 6500 rpm red line achieved by revised supercharger and ECU. It can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds and has a top speed of 178 mph (286 km/h). The interior is also stripped out and features necessary driver aids. The Exige Sport 380 weighs 1,076 kg (2,372 lb), thanks to the extensive use of carbon fibre on the exterior as well as the interior, the application of polycarbonate windows instead of traditional glass windows and a newly designed rear transom panel which features two rear lights instead of four.The Lotus Exige Cup 380 is a more hardcore variant of the Exige Sport 380. Performance of the car remains the same as the Sport 380 but it features more aero components and a larger rear wing to produce more downforce at high speeds. The Exige Cup 380 generates 200 kg (441 lb) of downforce at its maximum speed of 175 mph (282 km/h); the top speed is reduced due to excess downforce and more drag. It features a more stripped out interior in order to save weight and other light weight carbon fiber components, Lotus states a lowest possible dry weight of only 1,057 kg (2,330 lb). On 9 November 2017, Lotus unveiled the most powerful version of the Exige to date called the Exige Cup 430, producing 430 PS (424 hp) and using the Evora GT430’s powertrain, modified to fit in the smaller Exige. The car body can produce 220 kg (485 lb) of downforce. The Cup 430 is 19 kg (42 lb) lighter than the Sport 380 due to the use of carbon fibre in body panels and interior and a titanium exhaust. The gearbox allows quicker gearshifts than the previous model. The Cup 430 is not offered with an automatic gearbox. The Lotus Exige Cup 430 is capable of covering the Hethel circuit in 1 minute 24.8 seconds – the fastest production car to lap the circuit – 1.2 seconds faster than the road going Lotus 3-Eleven.
A third Series Elise was debuted in 2010 and the car has undergone almost constant enhancements ever since, with power outputs boosted considerably on the way. Revealed in November 2015, the Lotus Elise Sport and Sport 220 joined the two-seater sports car’s line-up, with the two models replacing the outgoing Elise and Elise S. The models mark a return for the ‘Sport’ name to a Lotus, with the badge last appearing on the Lotus Esprit. The two cars get a weight reduction of 10kg, with the Elise Sport now down to 866kg and the Sport 220 now 914kg. The reduced weight doesn’t improve performance but it does bring a marginal boost in claimed economy, with the Sport now managing 45.0mpg the Sport 220 improving to 37.5mpg. The changes are marginal enough that the CO2 emissions remain unchanged. Both cars also come with lightweight sports seats, which are available with optional tartan trim that harks back to the 1970s Esprit S1. Other visual upgrades and options include lightweight silver or black cast wheels, which are 16 inch at the front and 17 inch at the rear. Optional lightweight wheels can shave another 5kg off the car’s weight. A black rear diffuser is standard, along with a choice of 10 different colors. Other options include a hard roof, air conditioning, cruise control and an upgraded Clarion stereo system. The engines remained unchanged. The Sport comes with a 1.6-litre petrol engine with 134 bhp and 160 Nm (118 lb/ft) of torque. It can go 0-62mph in 6.5 seconds, and has a top speed of 127mph. The Sport 220’s 1.8-litre engine can develop 217 bhp (220 PS) and 250 Nm (184 lb/ft) of torque. It can go 0-62mph in 4.6 seconds and has a 145mph of top speed. Both come with a six-speed manual transmission. The pricing has also been trimmed, with the Elise Sport model starting at £29,900 and the Elise Sport 220 priced at £36,500. Both cars will go on sale from December 2015 in Europe and the rest of the world from January 2016. At the 2016 Geneva Motor Show, Lotus revealed the high performance version of the Elise called the Cup 250. The Cup 250 is a more track focused and hardcore version of the standard Elise. It has a 1.8 litre supercharged Toyota 2ZR-FE Inline-4 engine with a 6-speed Toyota EC60 manual gearbox with sport ratios, developing 243 bhp at 7200 rpm, giving a 0-60 mph time of 3.9 seconds and a Top speed of 154 mph. In October 2017, Lotus unveiled a hardcore version of the Elise called the Elise Cup 260. It is inspired by the two hardcore variants of the Evora and Exige line up, the Sport 380 and the GT430 respectively. It features the double taillight units and rear wing from the Exige Sport 380 and the Lotus 3-Eleven respectively. Power has also been uprated and is now 250 hp thanks to a revised supercharger. Other changes include increased top speed, acceleration, low weight and high downforce due to added aero elements. Performance was marginally improved over the 220 version. In March 2017, Lotus announced the special edition ‘Sprint’ models of the Elise. For the Elise Sprint, Lotus used several weight-saving techniques to cut the car’s weight down to 798 kg (1,759 lb). To achieve the 40 kg (88 lb) weight saving, some body parts are made in carbon, as well as the seats. The backlight glass is made of polycarbonate, and the lightweight battery is a Lithium-ion model. Wheels are the usual size, but forged instead of cast alloy. The Sprint can be had with either a 1.6-litre naturally aspirated engine, or a 1.8-litre supercharged engine, available for the Sprint 220 version. The former has a 0–60 mph of 5.9 seconds, while the Sprint 220 can accelerate from 0–60 mph in 4.1 seconds. Dampers are uprated, as on the Elise Cup models. On 9 February 2021, Lotus unveiled two final editions line-up models of Elise on online platforms. Opening the range is the Elise Sport 240 Final Edition, which sees the existing Sport 220’s 1.8-litre supercharged four-cylinder engine uprated to develop 240 bhp and 244 Nm (180 lb/ft), permitting a zero to 100km/h time of 4.5 seconds. When fully specified with weight-saving options – namely carbon-fibre sill and engine covers, a lithium-ion starter battery and a polycarbonate rear window – the Sport 240 is the lightest car on offer, tipping the scales in at just 898kg. A set of 10-spoke forged alloy wheels fill the arches, measuring 16 inches in diameter up front and 17 inches at the rear, wrapped in Yokohama Y105 tyres. Lotus claims the new wheels are 0.5kg lighter than the examples fitted to the outgoing Sport 220. The Elise Cup 250 Final Edition features a variant of the Sport 240’s 1.8-litre four-cylinder, now tuned to produce 245 bhp and 244 Nm (180 lb/ft). Lotus claims a 4.3-second 0-100km/h sprint time. This model gets an optimised aerodynamic package allowing for 155kg of downforce at its top speed of 248km/h, along with 10-spoke M Sport forged alloy wheels, Yokohama A052 tyres, Bilstein dampers and adjustable anti-roll bars. A lightweight lithium-ion battery and polycarbonate rear window are also fitted as standard for increased weight saving, and, in top spec layout, the car weighs 931kg.
Lotus dusted off the Europa name for a new car In 2005, based on the Elise, which was officially introduced at the 2006 Geneva Motor Show. Lotus Europa S production commenced in July 2006 and continued to 2010. The engine was a 2.0 litre turbo delivering 197 bhp at 5,400 rpm, with a maximum torque of 272 N·m (201 lb·ft) at 5,400 rpm, delivering 0-60 mph in 5.6 seconds and a maximum speed of 143 mph. Lotus did not export the Europa S to the USA, but despite this, the American manufacturer Dodge developed an electric vehicle based on the Europa, known as the Dodge Circuit, which it planned to bring to the US market by 2010, but the project was cancelled in May 2009. The Europa SE was unveiled at the Geneva International Motor Show on 5 March 2008. The Europa was an upgraded model with more comfort in mind, intended to bring in more customers. The Europa S motor was modified to bring power to 222 bhp and torque to 300 N·m (221 lb·ft). Neither version was a success, though and the Europa was discontinued in 2010 after a short model life.
Developed under the project name Project Eagle, this car was launched as the Evora on 22 July 2008 at the British International Motor Show. The Evora is based on the first all-new vehicle platform from Lotus Cars since the introduction of the Lotus Elise in 1995 (the Exige, introduced in 2000, and the 2006 Europa S are both derivatives of the Elise. Evora was planned to be the first vehicle of three to be built on the same platform and was the first product of a five-year plan started in 2006 to expand the Lotus line-up beyond its track-specialised offerings, with the aim of making Evora a somewhat of a more practical road car that would appeal to the mainstream. As such it is a larger car than recent Lotus models Elise and its derivatives (Exige, Europa S, etc.), with an unladen weight of 1,383 kg (3,049 lb). It is currently the only Lotus model with a 2+2 configuration, although it is also offered in a two-seater configuration, referred to as the “Plus Zero” option. It is also the only 2+2 mid engined coupé on sale. The interior is larger to allow taller persons of 6’5″ to fit. The cooled boot behind the engine is large enough to fit a set of golf clubs, although Lotus Design Head Russell Carr denies that this was intentional. Lotus intends Evora to compete with different market sectors including the Porsche Cayman. The name “Evora” keeps the Lotus tradition of beginning model names with an “E”. The name is derived from the words evolution, vogue, and aura. and it of course sounds similar to Évora, which is the name of a Portuguese city and UNESCO World Heritage Site. Sales started in summer 2009, with an annual target of 2000 cars per year, with prices between £45,000 and just over £50,000. and in America from the beginning of 2010. The Evora received several accolades at its launch from the British motoring press, including: Britain’s Best Driver’s Car 2009 from Autocar and Car of the Year 2009, from Evo. Sales, however, were far from target, as the car was seen as too costly. A more powerful Evora S was launched in 2010 with a supercharged equipped 3.5-litre V6. A facelifted and more powerful Evora 400 model was unveiled at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show.
Sole Maserati present was my Ghibli, which was parked up in the line of Italian cars facing off to the Brits. It seemed to generate plenty of interest even with a Ferrari parked next to it.
By 1955, Mercedes-Benz Technical Director Prof. Fritz Nallinger and his team held no illusions regarding the 190 SL’s lack of performance, while the high price tag of the legendary 300 SL supercar kept it elusive for all but the most affluent buyers. Thus Mercedes-Benz started evolving the 190 SL on a new platform, model code W127, with a fuel-injected 2.2 litre M127 inline-six engine, internally denoted as 220SL. Encouraged by positive test results, Nallinger proposed that the 220SL be placed in the Mercedes-Benz program, with production commencing in July 1957. However, while technical difficulties kept postponing the production start of the W127, the emerging new S-Class W112 platform introduced novel body manufacturing technology altogether. So in 1960, Nallinger eventually proposed to develop a completely new 220SL design, based on the “fintail” W 111 sedan platform with its chassis shortened by 11.8 in, and technology from the W112. This led to the W113 platform, with an improved fuel-injected 2.3 litre M127 inline-six engine and the distinctive “pagoda” hardtop roof, designated as 230 SL. The 230 SL made its debut at the prestigious Geneva Motor Show in March 1963, where Nallinger introduced it as follows: “It was our aim to create a very safe and fast sports car with high performance, which despite its sports characteristics, provides a very high degree of travelling comfort”. The W113 was the first sports car with a “safety body,” based on Bela Barényi’s extensive work on vehicle safety: It had a rigid passenger cell and designated crumple zones with impact-absorbing front and rear sections built into the vehicle structure. The interior was “rounded,” with all hard corners and edges removed, as in the W111 sedan. Production of the 230 SL commenced in June 1963 and ended on 5 January 1967. Its chassis was based on the W 111 sedan platform, with a reduced wheelbase by 11.8 in, recirculating ball steering (with optional power steering), double wishbone front suspension and an independent single-joint, low-pivot swing rear-axle with transverse compensator spring. The dual-circuit brake system had front disc brakes and power-assisted rear drum brakes. The 230 SL was offered with a 4-speed manual transmission, or an optional, very responsive fluid coupled (no torque converter) 4-speed automatic transmission, which was popular for US models. From May 1966, the ZF S5-20 5-speed manual transmission was available as an additional option, which was particularly popular in Italy. The 2,308 cc M127.II inline-six engine with 150 hp and 145 lb/ft torque was based on Mercedes-Benz’ venerable M180 inline-six with four main bearings and mechanical Bosch multi-port fuel injection. Mercedes-Benz made a number of modifications to boost its power, including increasing displacement from 2,197 cc, and using a completely new cylinder head with a higher compression ratio (9.3 vs. 8.7), enlarged valves and a modified camshaft. A fuel injection pump with six plungers instead of two was fitted, which allowed placing the nozzles in the cylinder head and “shooting” the fuel through the intake manifold and open valves directly into the combustion chambers. An optional oil-water heat exchanger was also available. Of the 19,831 230 SLs produced, less than a quarter were sold in the US. Looking identical, the 250 SL was introduced at the 1967 Geneva Motor Show. Production had already commenced in December 1966 and ended in January 1968. The short one-year production run makes the 250 SL the rarest of the W113 series cars. The 250 SL retained the stiffer suspension and sportier feel of the early SLs, but provided improved agility with a new engine and rear disc brakes. Range also improved with increased fuel tank capacity from 65 litres to 82. Like its predecessor, the 250 SL was offered with a 4-speed automatic transmission, and 4-speed or ZF 5-speed manual transmissions. For the first time, an optional limited slip differential was also available. The main change was the use of the 2,496 cc M129.II engine with a larger stroke, increased valve ports, and seven main bearings instead of four. The nominal maximum power remained unchanged at 150 hp, but torque improved from 145 lb/ft to 159 lb/ft. Resiliency also improved with a new cooling water tank (“round top”) with increased capacity and a standard oil-water heat exchanger. The 250 SL also marked the introduction of a 2+2 body style, the so-called “California Coupé”, which had only the removable hardtop and no soft-top: a small fold-down rear bench seat replaced the soft-top well between passenger compartment and boot. It is estimated that only 10% of the 250SLs that were brought into America were California Coupes. Of the 5,196 250 SLs produced, more than a third were sold in the US.The 280 SL was introduced in December 1967 and continued in production through 23 February 1971, when the W 113 was replaced by its successor, the entirely new and substantially heavier R107 350 SL. The main change was an upgrade to the 2,778 cc M130 engine with 170 hp and 180 lb/ft, which finally gave the W 113 adequate power. The performance improvement was achieved by increasing bore by 4.5 mm (0.2 in), which stretched the limits of the M180 block, and required pairwise cylinder casts without cooling water passages. This mandated an oil-cooler, which was fitted vertically next to the radiator. Each engine was now bench-tested for two hours prior to being fitted, so their power specification was guaranteed at last. The M130 marked the final evolution of Mercedes-Benz’ venerable SOHC M180 inline-six, before it was superseded by the entirely new DOHC M110 inline-six introduced with R107 1974 European 280 SL models. For some time, it was also used in the W 109 300 S-Class, where it retired the expensive 3 liter M189 alloy inline-six. Over the years, the W 113 evolved from a sports car into a comfortable grand tourer, and US models were by then usually equipped with the 4-speed automatic transmission and air conditioning. Manual transmission models came with the standard 4-speed or the optional ZF 5-speed, which was ordered only 882 times and thus is a highly sought-after original option today. In Europe, manual transmissions without air conditioning were still the predominant choice. Of the 23,885 280 SLs produced, more than half were sold in the US.
Mercedes-Benz introduced the W123 four-door versions on 29 January 1976. While there were some technical similarities to their predecessors, the new models were larger in wheelbase and exterior dimensions. The styling was also updated, although stylistic links with the W114 / W115 were maintained. Initially, all models except 280/280E featured quad unequal-size round headlights and the latter large rectangular units. When facelifted, these units became standard across the range. All W115 engines were carried over, with the 3-litre 5-cylinder diesel model being renamed from “240D 3.0” to “300D” (as it had already been called before in North American markets). The only new engine was the 250’s 2,525 cc inline-six (Type M123, a short-stroke version of the 2.8-litre six Type M110) that replaced the old 2,496 cc Type M114 “six”. In the spring of 1976, a Coupé version was introduced on a shorter wheelbase than the saloon (106.7 in versus 110.0 in). This W123C/CE was available as a 230C (later 230CE) and as a 280C/CE in most markets; in North America there were additional 300CD versions with naturally aspirated, later turbocharged 3-litre diesel engines. In North America, buyers favoured diesel engines for upmarket cars, while CAFE legislation meant that Mercedes-Benz North America had to lower their corporate average fuel economy. This led to the introduction of a few diesel models only sold in the United States. It is a tribute to the car’s instant popularity – and possibly to the caution built into the production schedules – that nine months after its introduction, a black market had developed in Germany for Mercedes-Benz W123s available for immediate delivery. Customers willing to order new cars from their local authorised dealer for the recommended list price faced waiting times in excess of twelve months. Meanwhile, models that were barely used and were available almost immediately commanded a premium over the new price of around DM 5,000. From August 1976, long-wheelbase versions (134.8 in) were produced. These were available as 7/8 seater saloons with works bodies or as a chassis with complete front body clip, the latter serving as the base for ambulance and hearse bodies by external suppliers like Binz or Miesen. These “Lang” versions could be ordered as 240D, 300D and 250 models. At the Frankfurt Auto Show in September, 1977 the W123T estate was introduced; the T in the model designation stood for “Touring and Transport”. All engines derivative except “200TD” were available in the range. T production began in March, 1978 in Mercedes’ Bremen factory. It was the first factory-built Mercedes-Benz estate, previous estates had been custom-built by external coachbuilders, such as Binz. In early 1979, the diesel models’ power output was increased; power rose from 54 hp to 59 hp in the 200D, from 64 hp to 71 hp in the 240D and from 79 hp to 87 hp in the 300D; at the same time, the 220D went out of production. The first Mercedes turbo diesel production W123 appeared in September, 1981. This was the 300 TD Turbodiesel, available with automatic transmission only. In most markets, the turbocharged 5-cylinder 3-litre diesel engine (Type OM617.95) was offered only in the T body style, while in North America it was also available in saloon and coupé guises. June 1980 saw the introduction of new four-cylinder petrol engines (Type M102). A new 2-litre four with shorter stroke replaced the old M115, a fuel-injected 2.3-litre version of this engine (in 230E/TE/CE) the old carburettor 230. Both engines were more powerful than their predecessors. In 1980/81, the carburettor 280 versions went out of production; the fuel-injected 280E continued to be offered. In September 1982, all models received a mild facelift. The rectangular headlights, previously fitted only to the 280/280E, were standardised across the board, as was power steering. Since February 1982, an optional five-speed manual transmission was available in all models (except the automatic-only 300 turbodiesel). W123 production ended in January, 1986 with 63 final T-models rolling out. Most popular single models were the 240D (455,000 built), the 230E (442,000 built), and the 200D (378,000 built). The W123 introduced innovations including ABS (optional from August, 1980), a retractable steering column and an airbag for the driver (optional from 1982). Power (vacuum servo) assisted disc brakes were standard on all W123s. Available options included MB-Tex (Mercedes-Benz Texturized Punctured Vinyl) upholstery or velour or leather upholstery, interior wood trim, passenger side exterior mirror (standard on T models), 5-speed manual transmission (European market only), 4-speed automatic transmission (standard in turbodiesel models), power windows with rear-seat switch cut-outs, vacuum powered central locking, rear-facing extra seats (estate only), Standheizung (prestart timer-controlled engine heating), self-locking differential, sun roof, air conditioning, climate control, “Alpine” horn (selectable quieter horn), headlamp wipers (European market only), Tempomat (cruise control), power steering (standard after 1982/08), seat heating, catalytic converter (available from 1984 for California only, from fall (autumn) 1984 also in Germany for the 230E of which one thousand were built). These days, the cars are very popular “youngtimer” classics, with all models highly rated.
In 1995, the C-Class received its first genuine performance model, the C 36 AMG, to counter the new six-cylinder BMW M3. Developed with AMG, the tuning house that had now become a subsidiary of Daimler-Benz, it had racing-tuned suspension (lowered by 25 mm (1 in)) and in the USA, a four-speed automatic gearbox, followed by a standard five-speed automatic gearbox. The 3.6 L engine had a general output of 276 bhp at 5750 rpm and 385 Nm (284 lb/ft) at 4000 rpm. AMG later conceded that since the engine was hand-assembled, power outputs could vary slightly from 276 bhp to 287 bhp. The C36 AMG accelerates to 60 mph from a stop in 5.8 seconds and top speed was electronically limited to 250 km/h (155 mph). Unlimited Top Speed was recorded at 272 km/h (169 mph). Only a total of 5200 C36 AMGs were produced. In late 1997 AMG released a new flagship for the C-Class, the C 43 AMG, powered by a 4.3 L V8, which could now achieve 306 bhp at 5850 rpm, with a torque of 410 Nm (302 lb/ft) at 3250 rpm. Unlike the C36, which was in fact a “ready-to-sell” C280 disassembled for tuning at the AMG factory, the C43 was the first AMG car to be completely assembled at the Mercedes factory after the acquisition of AMG by Daimler-Benz in 1998. The C43 AMG can achieve a 0–100 km/h (0–60 mph) time in 5.7 seconds for the saloon version and 5.9 seconds for the estate. The C43 was the first C-Class to be equipped with a Mercedes-Benz V8 engine. Two versions exist: a saloon (chassis W202.033) and estate also called the “T version” (chassis W202.093). The overall body of the C43 AMG estate version has many similarities with the C36 AMG, except for the front and rear bumpers as well as the side body, both of which were re-designed. The black engine cover with the chrome AMG and Mercedes-Benz star logos is also very typical from that period in this market segment. Some differences have been reported between the 1998 and the 2000 version such as the ECU software on the 2000 version that seems to provide better gearbox performances and longer life to the gearbox. The 2000 model also gives the ability to power tilt the steering wheel and manually shift with a tiptronic shift gate for all W202’s, and AMG stamped letters on the brake calipers (C43 only). The car was manufactured for a little more than two years – from the end of 1997 to the spring of 2000 for a total of 4,200 units 20% of which are estates and 80% saloons, with only 25 C 43 vehicles of the 2000 model year imported to the US. The C43 is powered by a tuned version of the 4.3-litre M113 V8 engine originally found on the W210 E 430 model. After modifications this engine delivers 302 bhp at 5,850 rpm, up to 410 N⋅m (302 lb⋅ft) of torque at 3,250 rpm-5,000 rpm (taken at the crank) and up to 241 hp at 6,320 rpm measured at the wheels. According to Mercedes-Benz, the car can reach 155.5 mph , with electronic speed limitation and 168 mph (270 km/h) without. Transmission is an AMG-modified version of the five-speed automatic gearbox (722.6) found on 1998–2000 R129 SL 500. Main modifications were made in order to achieve a crisper and better adapted gearbox to higher-rpm upshifts. Also the braking system has been taken from the W210 E 55 AMG.
The second generation Mercedes-Benz SLK, internally designated model R171, is a two-passenger, front-engine, rear-drive, retractable hardtop roadster, unveiled at the 74th Geneva International Motor Show—and manufactured and marketed for model years 2004–2010. Currently in its third generation and manufactured at Mercedes’ Bremen plant, the SLK nameplate designates Sportlich (sporty), Leicht (light), and Kurz (compact). The R171 features a number of revisions compared to its predecessor, the R170: a 30mm longer wheelbase, increased length (72mm) and width (65mm), 40% increased use of high strength steel, seven-speed automatic transmission, adaptive two-stage airbags, head/thorax sidebags and a revised roof mechanism (marketed as the Vario roof) deployable in 22 seconds (previously 25 seconds) with a rotary-pivoting rear window enabling a more compact folded roof stack and trunk storage increased by 63 litres with the roof retracted. Optional features include remote operation of the retractable hardtop as well as an innovative forced air, neck-level heating system integral to the headrests, marketed as Airscarf. The fully galvanized bodywork, which features 19 percent improvement in static bending and 46 percent improvement in torsional strength with the roof down, also features a 3% improvement in aerodynamic efficiency, with a Cd value of 0.32. The design has been aerodynamically optimised to minimise interior draughts with the top retracted and includes a fabric windblocker which can be pulled up over the two roll-over bars. Mercedes marketed the R171’s tapering front end styling by designer Steve Mattin as “Formula One-inspired”. In 2008, the SLK reached sales of 500,000. The R171 SLK were the last series that a manual transmission was available in a 6 Cylinder Mercedes-Benz Convertible. The successor to the R171, R172, only offered manual transmission in their 4-cylinder vehicles. The car seen here was the top spec SLK55 AMG.
There were plenty more recent open-topped Mercedes here with a mixture of the recent SLK and the larger SL models.
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.
In advance of the all-new MX5 rival that was still some way off production, MG decided to re-enter the open topped sports car market in 1992 when they launched the MGR V8, which combined new body panels with the standard MGB body shell to create an updated MGB model. The suspension was only slightly updated, sharing the leaf spring rear of the MGB. The boot lid and doors were shared with the original car, as were the rear drum brakes. The engine was the 3.9-litre version of the aluminium Rover V8, similar to the one previously used in the MGB GT V8. A limited-slip differential was also fitted. The interior featured veneered burr elm woodwork and Connolly Leather. The engine produced 190 bhp at 4,750 rpm, achieving 0–60 mph in 5.9 seconds, which was fast but largely due to the rear drum brakes and rear leaf springs, the RV8 was not popular with road testers at the time. A large proportion of the limited production went to Japan – 1579 of the 2000 produced. Only 330 RV8s were sold initially in the UK, but several hundred (possibly as many as 700) of these cars were re-imported back to the UK and also Australia between 2000–2010 with a peak number of 485 registered at the DVLA in the UK.
Issigonis’ friend John Cooper, owner of the Cooper Car Company and designer and builder of Formula One cars, saw the potential of the Mini for competition. Issigonis was initially reluctant to see the Mini in the role of a performance car, but after John Cooper appealed to BMC management, the two men collaborated to create the Mini Cooper. The Austin Mini Cooper and Morris Mini Cooper debuted in September 1961. The 848 cc engine from the Morris Mini-Minor was given a longer stroke to increase capacity to 997 cc increasing power from 34 to 55 bhp. The car featured a race-tuned engine, twin SU carburettors, a closer-ratio gearbox and front disc brakes, uncommon at the time in a small car. One thousand units of this version were commissioned by management, intended for and designed to meet the homologation rules of Group 2 rally racing. The 997 cc engine was replaced by a shorter stroke 998 cc unit in 1964. In 1962, Rhodesian John Love became the first non-British racing driver to win the British Saloon Car Championship driving a Mini Cooper. A more powerful Mini Cooper, dubbed the “S”, was developed in tandem and released in 1963. Featuring a 1071 cc engine with a 70.61 mm bore and nitrided steel crankshaft and strengthened bottom end to allow further tuning; and larger servo-assisted disc brakes, 4,030 Cooper S cars were produced and sold until the model was updated in August 1964. Cooper also produced two S models specifically for circuit racing in the under 1,000 cc and under 1,300 cc classes respectively, rated at 970 cc and a 1,275 cc both had a 70.61 mm bore and both were also offered to the public. The smaller-engine model was not well received, and only 963 had been built when the model was discontinued in 1965. The 1,275 cc Cooper S models continued in production until 1971. Sales of the Mini Cooper were: 64,000 Mark I Coopers with 997 cc or 998 cc engines; 19,000 Mark I Cooper S with 970 cc, 1,071 cc or 1,275 cc engines; 16,000 Mark II Coopers with 998 cc engines; 6,300 Mark II Cooper S with 1,275 cc engines. There were no Mark III Coopers and 1,570 Mark III Cooper S.
This is the latest MINI GP, which made its debut in the autumn of 2019, the brand’s fastest street-legal car ever and the most powerful in the subcompact hatchback class. Packing a 301 bhp and 332 lb-ft (450 Nm) of torque, 2.0-litre TwinPower Turbo four, it has the ability to make your neck stiff in a fraction of a second. Nought to 62 mph (0-100 km/h) is dealt with in 5.2 seconds and the ungoverned top speed is 165 mph (265 km/h). Power is sent to the front wheels via an 8-speed Steptronic transmission with integrated differential lock. Peel away the bad-boy body kit and you will see lots of similarities to the regular Cooper S JCW. Nonetheless, the added parts contribute to the theatrical presence of the car and include CFRP fender flares that extend to the front and rear bumpers, as well as a huge roof-mounted wing, restyled diffuser that incorporates the central-mounted exhaust pipes, GP badging on the grille and tailgate, red accents and 18-inch alloy wheels shod in 225/35 Hankook tyres. Moreover, the ‘2020’ number applied to the front wheel arch panel is individual to each car, as it symbolises the production number and was applied using a newly developed paint transfer process. The JCW GP is strictly a two-seater, as MINI has dropped the back seat to make room for the roll cage. At the front, it has bucket seats with contrast stitching and GP badge underneath the integrated headrests, red seatbelts, another custom ‘GPXXXX’ logo incorporated into the dashboard on the passenger side and 12 o’clock mark on the meaty steering wheel, with 3D printed paddle shifters. More GP logos are found throughout the interior and the gear selector boasts double red stripes. The equipment list is generous and includes an infotainment system, digital instrument dials and dual-zone climate control, alongside the usual fancy lighting and trim. Production is limited to 3,000 units worldwide, and all of them will be put together at the company’s plant in Oxford, UK. The first examples were delivered in March 2020, following a rather luke warm set of reviews from the motoring press, who did not enthuse much about it, unlike their response to lesser MINI models. It is consequently a rare sighting.
This is a Lancer Evo VI, of the type which was produced between January 1999 and February 2001. Based on the Lancer saloon, the Evo kept pace with changes to that model, so the Evo IV, seen in 1996 had been a new model compared to the first three Evo generations. Evo IV, V and VI were all broadly similar with detailed changes coming with each new iteration. The Evolution VI’s changes mainly focused on cooling and engine durability. It received a larger intercooler, larger oil cooler, and new pistons, along with a titanium-aluminide turbine wheel for the RS model, which was a first in a production car. The Evolution VI received new bodywork yet again, with the most easily noticeable change being within the front bumper where the huge fog lights were reduced in size and moved to the corners for better airflow. A new model was added to the GSR and RS lineup; known as the RS2, it was an RS with a few of the GSR’s options. Another limited-edition RS was known as the RS Sprint, an RS tuned by Ralliart in the UK to be lighter and more powerful with 330 hp. Yet another special edition Evolution VI was released in December 1999: the Tommi Mäkinen Edition, named after Finnish rally driver Tommi Mäkinen who had won Mitsubishi four WRC drivers championships. It featured a different front bumper, Red/Black Recaro seats (with embossed T. Mäkinen logo), 17″ Enkei white wheels, a leather Momo steering wheel and shift knob, a titanium turbine that spooled up more quickly, front upper strut brace, lowered ride height (with tarmac stages in mind), and a quicker steering ratio. Amongst other colours, the Evo VI came in either red (Tommi Mäkinen Edition only), white, blue, black or silver with optional special decals, replicating Tommi Mäkinen’s rally car’s colour scheme. This car is also sometimes referred to as an Evolution 6½, Evolution 6.5, or TME for short. There were two “standard” models. The RS – “rally sport” had a close-ratio 5-speed, minimal interior, rally suspension, Rear 1.5 Way LSD as opposed to AYC, (Shortened close-ratio 5-speed transmission, Optional Enkei Wheels, Optional Recaro Seats, Optional Air Conditioner, Optional Brembo brakes, Optional power windows). The GSR came with a 5-speed, gauge pack, AYC (Active Yaw Control), Anti-Lock Braking System, Recaro front bucket and rear seat, auto air-conditioner, double-din audio, power windows, Brembo brakes. The Tommi Mäkinen Edition Models also came in RS and GSR guise. The RS was the same as the standard RS with close-ratio 5-speed, lowered ride height, Tommi Mäkinen Edition front bumper, and titanium turbine (same option with standard RS) and the GSR was the same as the standard GSR with lowered ride height, Tommi Mäkinen Edition front bumper, Red/Black Recaro seats (with embossed T. Mäkinen logo), 17″ Enkei white wheels and titanium turbine. These cars were fearsomely expensive to run, and as such, you don’t see them very often any more. One of them belongs to Lance Litherland, who acquired it to replace his much loved Abarth Punto Scorpione and he did indeed confirm that this one needs rather more looking after than his always immaculate.
Oldest Morgan here was a “Flat Rad”, the name given to the first of the 4-wheeled cars, produced from 1935. and more correctly called the 4-4. The first cars had the sliding pillar suspension of the three-wheeler plus an underslung live rear axle sitting over Z-section cross-section chassis side rails, carried in leaf springs. The first cars had a 34 bhp 1122 Coventry Climax four cylinder engine, a crossflow with overhead inlet and side exhaust valves. In competition form it had a slightly smaller capacity of 1098cc and it put out a healthy 50 – 60 bhp. The car enjoyed considerable success with a lightened car winning the Tourist Trophy in 1937 on handicap and in 1938 if finished second in class at Le mans. In 1939, Morgan changed to the 1267 cc overhead valve Standard Special engine which was both lighter and more powerful. Post was the name was changed to Plus 4 and in 1950 the engine was replaced by the much larger 2088cc 68 bhp Standard engine from the Vanguard and the body was revised to be slightly wider and roomier. The bodies were made of steel over a wooden frame. three different styles were offered: a two seater, a four seat tourer and a drophead coupe. This last was more sophisticated with a fixed windscreen frame sliding windows and a three position hood. The first of the cowled radiator cars arrived in 1953.
Also here were a couple of examples of the classic Morgan style, the long-running Plus 4.
No surprise to see the evergreen Morris Minor here as this is a very popular classic. The Minor was conceived in 1941. Although the Nuffield Organization was heavily involved in war work and there was a governmental ban on civilian car production, Morris Motors’ vice chairman, Miles Thomas, wanted to prepare the ground for new products to be launched as soon as the war was over. Vic Oak, the company’s chief engineer, had already brought to Thomas’ attention a promising junior engineer, Alec Issigonis, who had been employed at Morris since 1935 and specialised in suspension design but he had frequently impressed Oak with his advanced ideas about car design in general. Issigonis had come to Oak’s particular attention with his work on the new Morris Ten, which was in development during 1936/7. This was the first Morris to use unitary construction and was conceived with independent front suspension. Issigonis designed a coil-sprung wishbone system which was later dropped on cost grounds. Although the design would later be used on the MG Y-type and many other post-war MGs the Morris Ten entered production with a front beam axle. Despite his brief being to focus on the Ten’s suspension Issigonis had also drawn up a rack and pinion steering system for the car. Like his suspension design this was not adopted but would resurface in the post-war years on the MG Y-type, but these ideas proved that he was the perfect candidate to lead the design work on a new advanced small car. With virtually all resources required for the war effort, Thomas nonetheless approved the development of a new small family car that would replace the Morris Eight. Although Oak (and Morris’ technical director, Sidney Smith) were in overall charge of the project it was Issigonis who was ultimately responsible for the design, working with only two other draughtsmen. Thomas named the project ‘Mosquito’ and ensured that it remained as secret as possible, both from the Ministry of Supply and from company founder William Morris (now Lord Nuffield), who was still chairman of Morris Motors and, it was widely expected, would not look favourably on Issigonis’ radical ideas. Issigonis’ overall concept was to produce a practical, economical and affordable car for the general public that would equal, if not surpass, the convenience and design quality of a more expensive car. In later years he summed up his approach to the Minor; that he wanted to design an economy car that “the average man would take pleasure in owning, rather than feeling of it as something he’d been sentenced to” and “people who drive small cars are the same size as those who drive large cars and they should not be expected to put up with claustrophobic interiors.” Issigonis wanted the car to be as spacious as possible for its size and comfortable to drive for inexperienced motorists. Just as he would with the Mini ten years later, he designed the Mosquito with excellent roadholding and accurate, quick steering not with any pretence of making a sports car, but to make it safe and easy to drive by all. As work proceeded, there were plenty of battle to overcome, to get Issigonis’ ideas approved, and not all of them were. The production car, called the Minor was launched at the British Motor Show at Earls Court in London on October 27, 1948. At the same show Morris also launched the new Morris Oxford and Morris Six models, plus Wolseley variants of both cars, which were scaled-up versions of the new Minor, incorporating all the same features and designed with Issigonis’ input under Vic Oak’s supervision. Thus Issigonis’ ideas and design principles underpinned the complete post-war Morris and Wolseley car ranges. The original Minor MM series was produced from 1948 until 1953. It included a pair of four-seat saloons, two-door and (from 1950) a four-door, and a convertible four-seat Tourer. The front torsion bar suspension was shared with the larger Morris Oxford MO, as was the almost-unibody construction. Although the Minor was originally designed to accept a flat-4 engine, late in the development stage it was replaced by a 918 cc side-valve inline-four engine, little changed from that fitted in the 1935 Morris 8, and producing 27.5 hp and 39 lbf·ft of torque. This little engine pushed the Minor to just 64 mph but delivered 40 mpg. Brakes were four-wheel drums. Early cars had a painted section in the centre of the bumpers to cover the widening of the production car from the prototypes. This widening of 4 inches is also visible in the creases in the bonnet. Exports to the United States began in 1949 with the headlamps removed from within the grille surround to be mounted higher on the wings to meet local safety requirements. In 1950 a four-door version was released, initially available only for export, and featuring from the start the headlamps faired into the wings rather than set lower down on either side of the grille. The raised headlight position became standard on all Minors in time for 1951. From the start, the Minor had semaphore-type turn indicators, and subsequent Minor versions persisted with these until 1961 An Autocar magazine road test in 1950 reported that these were “not of the usual self-cancelling type, but incorporate[d] a time-basis return mechanism in a switch below the facia, in front of the driver”. It was all too easy for a passenger hurriedly emerging from the front passenger seat to collide with and snap off a tardy indicator “flipper” that was still sticking out of the B-pillar, having not yet been safely returned by the time-basis return mechanism to its folded position. Another innovation towards the end of 1950 was a water pump (replacing a gravity dependent system), which permitted the manufacturer to offer an interior heater “as optional equipment”. When production of the first series ended, just over a quarter of a million had been sold, 30 per cent of them the convertible Tourer model. In 1952, the Minor line was updated with an Austin-designed 803 cc overhead valve A-series engine, replacing the original side-valve unit. The engine had been designed for the Minor’s main competition, the Austin A30, but became available as Austin and Morris were merged into the British Motor Corporation. The new engine felt stronger, though all measurements were smaller than the old. The 52 second drive to 60 mph was still calm, with 63 mph as the top speed. Fuel consumption also rose to 36 mpg. An estate version was introduced in 1952, known as the Traveller (a Morris naming tradition for estates, also seen on the Mini). The Traveller featured an external structural ash (wood) frame for the rear bodywork, with two side-hinged rear doors. The frame was varnished rather than painted and a highly visible feature of the body style. Commercial models, marketed as the Morris Quarter Ton Van and Pick-up were added in May 1953. Rear bodies of the van versions were all steel. The 4-seat convertible and saloon variants continued as well. The car was again updated in 1956 when the engine was increased in capacity to 948 cc. The two-piece split windscreen was replaced with a curved one-piece one and the rear window was enlarged. In 1961 the semaphore-style trafficators were replaced by the flashing direction indicators, these were US-style red at the rear (using the same bulb filament as the brake lamp) and white at the front (using a second brighter filament in the parking lamp bulb) which was legal in the UK and many export markets at the time (such as New Zealand). An upmarket car based on the Minor floorpan using the larger BMC B-Series engine was sold as the Riley One-Point-Five/Wolseley 1500 beginning in 1957: versions of this Wolseley/Riley variant were also produced by BMC Australia as the Morris Major and the Austin Lancer. In December 1960 the Morris Minor became the first British car to sell more than 1,000,000 units. To commemorate the achievement, a limited edition of 350 two-door Minor saloons (one for each UK Morris dealership) was produced with distinctive lilac paintwork and a white interior. Also the badge name on the side of the bonnet was modified to read “Minor 1,000,000” instead of the standard “Minor 1000”. The millionth Minor was donated to the National Union of Journalists, who planned to use it as a prize in a competition in aid of the union’s Widow and Orphan Fund. The company, at the same time, presented a celebratory Minor to London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children, but this car was constructed of cake. The final major upgrades to the Minor were made in 1962. Although the name Minor 1000 was retained, the changes were sufficient for the new model to be given its own ADO development number. A larger version of the existing A-Series engine had been developed in conjunction with cylinder head specialist Harry Weslake for the then new ADO16 Austin/Morris 1100 range. This new engine used a taller block than did the 948 cc unit, with increased bore and stroke bringing total capacity up to 1,098 cc. Although fuel consumption suffered moderately at 38 mpg, the Minor’s top speed increased to 77 mph with noticeable improvements in low-end torque, giving an altogether more responsive drive. Other changes included a modified dashboard layout with toggle switches, textured steel instrument binnacle, and larger convex glove box covers. A different heater completed the interior upgrade, whilst the larger combined front side/indicator light units, common to many BMC vehicles of the time, were fitted to the front wings. These now included a separate bulb and amber lens for indicators while larger tail lamp units also included amber rear flashers. During the life of the Minor 1000 model, production declined. The last Convertible/Tourer was manufactured on 18 August 1969, and the saloon models were discontinued the following year. Production of the more practical Traveller and commercial versions ceased in 1972, although examples of all models were still theoretically available from dealers with a surplus of unsold cars for a short time afterwards. 1,619,857 Minors of all variants were ultimately sold and to be seen here was a Tourer.
Like its predecessor, the R33 GT-R was the most extreme version of a range of Skyline cars, which in R33 guise were launched in 1993 and would go on to be produced for 6 years. The previous R32 model was a well proven build but the R32 wasn’t without faults and suffered with uplift and balance issues. Along with that, Nissan was as other Japanese companies were under strict restrictions on power gains. So Nissan had to combat all these areas so the sophisticated strength Programme was made. Nissan increased the width by about one inch on the R33 to the R32 and made it about 4 inches longer. This gave the R33 a longer wheelbase overall and lower stance mixed with new technology now from the computer aerodynamic age. Each line on the R33 was intended to give the car ultimate aerodynamics with wider gaps in the bumper and angles of air movement which allowed better cooling, in addition to the fuel tank lifted; the battery moved to the boot/trunk. Rigidity points were added mixed with improvements on the Attessa and Hicas all now offered the R33 with the best aerodynamics, balance, and handling. Nissan engineers also found other ways to reduce weight, even by a few grams. This includes: Hollowing out the side door beams. Using high tensile steel on body panels. Reduction in sound deadening materials. Super HICAS becoming electric. Hollowing out of rear stabiliser bar. Use of high tensile springs front and rear. Shrinking the ABS actuator. Light aluminium wheels with higher rigidity The front and rear axles were made of aluminium (as in the BNR32) but also so were engine mount insulators and brackets New plastics were used for : fuel tank, head lamps, super high strength “PP” bumpers, air cleaner, changing the headlining material, changing material of rear spoiler. All this put together meant we saw an improved time against the R32 of 21 seconds faster around the Nurburgring and 23 seconds faster in V spec trim. Still making the R33 the fastest skyline around the Nurburgring. The BCNR33 GT-R version also had the same RB26DETT engine that the BNR32 was equipped with, although torque had been improved, due to changes in the turbo compressor aerodynamics, turbo dump pipe, and intercooler. The turbo core changed from a sleeve bearing to a ball bearing, but the turbine itself remained ceramic, except on N1 turbos (steel turbine, sleeve bearing). From the R33 onward, all GT-Rs received Brembo brakes. In 1995 the GT-R received an improved version of the RB26DETT, the ATTESA-ETS four-wheel-drive system, and Super HICAS 4-wheel steering. A limited edition model was created in 1996, called the NISMO 400R, that produced 400 hp from a road-tuned version of Nissan’s Le Mans engine. A stronger six-speed Getrag gearbox was used. An R33 GT-R driven by Dirk Schoysman lapped the Nordschleife in less than 8 minutes. The Skyline GT-R R33 is reported to be the first production car to break 8 minutes, at 7 minutes and 59 seconds. Other manufacturers had caught up since the R32 was released, and the R33 never dominated motorsport to the extent of the R32. The R33 saw victory in the JGTC GT500 dominating the class and taking victory each year until its final racing year in which it was finally beaten by the Mclaren F1 GTR. The R33 saw huge favour in the tuning world with it being a popular model on the Wangan and top tuning companies building heavily tuned version from Top Secret ran by Smokey Nagata to Jun etc. and later by companies like Sumo. HKS GT-R would hold a drag series record for several years in there drag series making a record win of 7.671-second pass at Sendai Hi-Land Raceway with Tetsuya Kawasaki behind the wheel and taking it to be the World’s fastest AWD car.
As well as the still current R35 generation GT-R, also to be seen here was the 370Z sports car.
The first generation Opel GT debuted as a styling exercise in 1965 at the Paris and Frankfurt motor shows. The production vehicle used mechanical components from the contemporary Opel Kadett B and two-door hard top bodywork by French contractor Brissonneau & Lotz. The styling of the GT was often cited as similar to the 1968 Chevrolet Corvette which went on sale in September 1967. The Opel GT was equipped with a base 1.1 L OHV inline-four engine, which produced 67 hp (SAE) at 6,000 rpm. However, most buyers chose an optional 1.9 L camshaft in head engine, which produced 102 hp (SAE) at 5200 to 5400 rpm. Some of the early 1968 models also came with a slightly higher compression “H” code cylinder head. In 1971, due to emissions regulations, Opel reduced the compression ratio of the 1.9 L engine used in the US and output fell to 83 hp (SAE). There was also a GT/J model, which was a less expensive version of the 1900-engined GT which was sold only in Europe. Standard transmission was a manual four-speed. A three-speed automatic was available with the 1.9 L engine.The Opel GT uses a steel unibody and a conventional front-engined, rear-wheel drive layout. The engine is mounted far back in the chassis to improve weight distribution. Front suspension consists of upper A-arms and a lower transverse leaf spring. A live axle and coil springs are used in the rear. The power-assisted braking system uses discs in the front, drums in the rear. Steering is unassisted. One unusual feature of the Opel GT is the operation of the pop-up headlights. They are manually operated, by way of a large lever along the centre console next to the gearlever. Unlike most pop-up headlights, they both rotate in the same direction (counterclockwise from inside the car) about a longitudinal axis. One standard joke about GT owners was that you can easily spot them due to the heavy muscles on their right arm built up by using the lever to pop up the headlights. Designed by Opel stylist Erhard Schnell, the GT is a fastback, that has neither an externally accessible trunk nor a conventional hatchback. There is a parcel shelf behind the seats that can only be accessed through the main doors. Behind the parcel shelf is a fold-up panel that conceals a spare tyre and jack. The interior of the GT is surprisingly large for a car of its size, owing to its original design process in which the exterior metal was sculpted around an interior model. Headroom and legroom are sufficient for those over 6 feet (1.83 m) tall. During 1968 to 1973, a total of 103,463 cars were sold. The most collectible GTs are probably the first few hundred cars hand-assembled in 1968 and the 1968–1970 models with the 1.1 L engine, which totalled 3,573 cars. Of the later cars, 10,760 were the cheaper model (GT/J), which lacked nearly all chrome parts and offered fewer standard features. In some markets, items like a limited slip differential, front and rear anti-sway bars, heated rear window, and engine bay light were standard, although most cars were shipped without them. In North America, the GT was sold at Buick dealerships. Reasons for ending production were the need to redesign the car to remain competitive with up-and-coming sports models, such as the Datsun 240Z, as well as the termination of Brissonneau and Lotz’ bodybuilding contract. Unusually for the period, here was no Vauxhall equivalent model to the GT sold in the United Kingdom.
The front-wheel drive Opel Corsa was first launched in September 1982. It went on sale first in France, Italy, and Spain – markets where small cars represented from 34 to 43 percent of sales.Built-in Zaragoza, Spain, the first Corsas were three-door hatchback and two-door saloon models, with four-door and five-door versions arriving in 1984. In certain markets, commercial “van” models were also sold, with or without rear windows depending on local requirements. In mainland Europe, the saloon versions were known as the “Corsa TR” until May 1985 and received an egg-crate grille rather than the four slits used on hatchbacks. The saloons were intended to appeal to customers of the Opel Kadett C and its sister the Vauxhall Chevette who still desired a traditional 3-box sedan shape – but it did not sell particularly well in most of Europe but were popular in Spain and Portugal, among other markets. While only taking ten percent of French Corsa sales during the car’s first half-year, the TR represented half of all Corsas sold in Spain. The basic trim level was called just the Corsa, which was followed by the Corsa Luxus, Corsa Berlina, and the sporty Corsa SR. The SR receives a spoiler which surrounds the rear window, alloy wheels, checkered sport seats, and a somewhat more powerful 70 PS engine. Six years later, the Corsa received a facelift, which included a new front fascia and some other minor changes. The models were called LS, GL, GLS, and GT. The Corsa A was known in the United Kingdom market as the Vauxhall Nova (as it was considered that Corsa sounded too much like “coarser”), where it was launched in April 1983, following a seven-month-long union dispute due to British workers being angry about the car not being built there, in contrast to the rival Ford Fiesta, Austin Metro and Talbot Samba. In addition, there was also a dispute about the disparity of import tariffs, as while cars exported from Spain to the European Community were subject to tariffs of only 4.4 per cent, those exported in the other direction were subject to tariffs as high as 36.7 per cent. Power first came from 1.0 L 45 hp, 1.2 L 55 hp, and 1.3 L 70 hp petrol engines. (The first engines were all equipped with carburettors; fuel injection came later, but never for the 1.0.) The engines were based on the well proven Family I design, except for the 1.0 L and early 1.2 L engines, which were based on the OHV unit from the Kadett C. There was also an Isuzu-built, 67 PS 1.5 L turbo diesel engine available, which was also used in the Isuzu Gemini at around the same time. The diesel, along with the sporty GSi, joined the line up at the Frankfurt Motor Show in May 1987. The engines and most of the mechanical componentry were derived from those used in the Astra/Kadett. In September 1987 the Corsa received a light facelift, with a new grille that was now the same on hatchbacks and sedans, an updated interior, and other slight changes. For the 1989 model year, the 1.3 was bored out to 1.4 liters. Power remained the same, although torque increased. A rare “Sport” model was produced in 1985 to homologate for the sub 1,300 cc class of Group A for the British Rally Championship. These Sport models were white and came with unique vinyl decals, a 13SB engine with twin Weber 40 DCOE carburettors, an optional bespoke camshaft, a replacement rear silencer, and few luxuries. This gave 93 hp and a top speed of 112 mph (180 km/h) with a 0–60 mph time of 8.9 seconds. These are by far the rarest models (500 produced) and thus acquire a high market price if one does become available. A 1.6 L multi point fuel-injected engine with 101 PS at 5600 rpm (98 PS in the catalysed version) and capable of 186 km/h (116 mph) was added to the Corsa/Nova at the 1987 Frankfurt Motor Show, giving decent performance and being badged as a GSi (“Nova GTE” in pre-facelift models in the United Kingdom, later models were all called GSi). The GSi’s engine mapping had been carried out by Opel tuning specialists Irmscher. A model with the 82 PS 1.4 L multi-point fuel-injected engine, which was otherwise mechanically identical to the GSi, also became available as the Nova SRi in the United Kingdom. In January 1988, a turbocharged version of the Isuzu diesel engine was introduced, with power increased to 67 PS. The design was freshened in September 1990, with new bumpers, headlights, grille, and interior, but it was clearly recognisable as a gentle makeover of an early 1980s design when it had to compete with the latest two all-new superminis in Europe – the Peugeot 106 and the Renault Clio. The second generation Corsa was presented in the spring of 1993.
Before the 205, Peugeot was considered the most conservative of France’s “big three” car manufacturers, producing large saloons such as the 504 and 505, although it had entered the modern supermini market in 1973 with the Peugeot 104. The genesis of the 205 lay within Peugeot’s takeover in 1978 of Chrysler’s European divisions Simca and the former Rootes Group, which had the necessary expertise in making small cars including the Simca 1100 in France and Hillman Imp in Britain. It was around this time that Peugeot began to work on the development of a new supermini for the 1980s. It was launched on 24 February 1983, and was launched in right-hand drive form for the UK market in September that year. Shortly after its launch, it was narrowly pipped to the European Car of the Year award by the similar sized Fiat Uno, but ultimately (according to the award organizers) it would enjoy a better image and a longer high market demand than its Italian competitor. It was one of five important small cars to be launched onto the European market within a year of each other: the other four were the Uno, the second generation Ford Fiesta, the original Opel Corsa (sold as the Vauxhall Nova on the British market) and the original Nissan Micra. Its launch also closely followed that of the Austin Metro and Volkswagen Polo Mk2. The styling of the 205 is often thought to be a Pininfarina design, although Gerard Welter claims that it is an in-house design; Pininfarina only styled the Cabriolet. It is often credited as the car that turned Peugeot’s fortunes around. The fully independent suspension used the now standard PSA Peugeot Citroën layout that had debuted in the Peugeot 305 estate. A key ingredient of the success of the 205, it hadMacPherson struts at the front and trailing arms with torsion bars at the rear. The rear suspension was very compact, designed to minimise suspension intrusion into the boot, giving a wide flat loadspace, while providing excellent ride and handling. Early 205s used the X petrol engine [n 1] from the older Peugeot 104, although these were later (1987–1988) replaced with the newer XU and TU-series engines, which were of PSA design. Engines ranged in displacement from 954 cc to 1905 cc, in carburettor or fuel injected versions. The diesel models employed the PSA XUD engine, lifted from the Citroën BX which was introduced in September 1982. These engines had a capacity of 1769 cc (XUD7) and 1905 cc (XUD9) and are closely related to the XU5 and XU9 petrol engines in the BX16 and BX19 of the time. The diesel engines were world-beating and so petrol-like that many buyers were won over by petrol car performance combined with diesel economy. For instance, the 205 GRD (1.8 Diesel, 59 bhp, 78 lb/ft (105.8 Nm)) was as fast as, yet smoother than, the 205 GR (1.4 Petrol, 59 bhp, 78 lb/ft (105.8 Nm)), due to the engine developing peak torque at much lower rpm, while using much less fuel. There were various versions intended for commercial use, such as the two-seater XA-series. There was also the “205 Multi”, a tall-bodied special version on XA or XE-basis built by independent coachbuilders like Gruau and Durisotti. Gruau called their XA-based two-seater version the “VU”, while the five-seat XE-based version was called the “VP”. Durisotti began building the 205 Multi in 1986; it was called the “205 Multi New Look”. The 205 was an instant hit, and its styling was echoed in every Peugeot model that was to follow. The exterior styling was never facelifted or significantly altered in its 15-year production run. There was a dashboard redesign for the 1988 model year, and in late 1990 the 205 received new door design and cards, clear front indicators, new ‘smoked’ rear light clusters, single point petrol injection and catalytic converters were introduced, to meet the new 1992 pollution limits. These updates came at a crucial time, as 1990 also saw the arrival of a completely new French competitor, the Renault Clio, while the Rover Metro and Volkswagen Polo were also heavily updated, and Ford had already replaced its Fiesta with a third generation model. Still, the 205 was still widely regarded in the motoring press as the benchmark car in this sector by 1990. At the beginning of 1993, Peugeot launched the 306, which officially replaced the 309; the arrival of this car also diminished the 205’s role (and its sales figures) in the Peugeot range, as had the arrival of the smaller 106 in September 1991 – although the final demise of the 205 was still some years away. The engines were continuously updated, with the new TU engines introduced in 1988. In 1991, the 205 dTurbo was launched with a powerful turbocharged version of the 1,769 cc xud diesel engine. After several years of gradually declining sales, the Peugeot 205 was discontinued in the United Kingdom in 1996. The Peugeot 205 was still offered in the “Sacré Numéro” and “Génération” models until the end of the production in 1998. The last models were GLD 1.8 configuration and were sold in Argentina. Most of the later European versions were only sold in France. Due to the pressure from the market, with buyers wanting a Peugeot supermini in the mould of the 205 again, the company finally built a direct replacement in the 206, which was launched in 1998. 5,278,050 Peugeot 205s have been sold, and a significant percentage of them were still in circulation as of 2009. By 2014, there were still as many as 14,000 on the road in the United Kingdom, compared to the peak high of 374,773 in 1994. With potentially as many 400,000 sales in the UK, it became the best selling car ever sold by Peugeot in the UK – although its success was emulated a few years later by the larger 306 and later by the 206. It also helped boost the popularity of the Peugeot brand there, and was at least a factor in Peugeot’s decision to phase out the Talbot brand in the mid 1980s when launching new models to be built at the former Rootes Group plant near Coventry and the former Simca plant at Poissy.
The debut of the second-generation Firebird, for the 1970 model year was delayed until February 26, 1970, because of tooling and engineering problems; thus, its popular designation as a 1970½ model, while leftover 1969s were listed in early Pontiac literature without a model-year identification. This generation of Firebirds were available in coupe form only; after the 1969 model year, convertibles were not available until 1989. Replacing the “Coke bottle” styling was a more “swoopy” body style, while still retaining some traditional elements. The top of the rear window line going almost straight down to the lip of the trunk lid, a look that was to epitomise F-body styling for the longest period during the Firebird’s lifetime. The new design was initially characterized by a large B-pillar, until 1975 when the rear window was enlarged. There were two Ram Air 400 cu in (6.6 L) engines for 1970: the 335 hp L74 Ram Air 400 (366 hp in GTO) and the 345 hp LS1 Ram Air IV (370 hp in the GTO) that were carried over from 1969. The difference between the GTO and Firebird engines was that the secondary carburettor’s throttle linkage had a restrictor which prevented the rear barrels from opening completely, adjusting the linkage could allow full carburetor operation resulting in identical engine performance. For the 1970 and 1971 model years, all Firebirds equipped with radios had the antennae mounted “in-glass” in the windshield. The Pontiac 455 cu in (7.5 L) engine first became available in the second generation Firebird in 1971. The 455 engine was available in the L75 325 hp version and the LS5 335 hp HO version, which was the standard, and only engine option, for the Trans Am. The HO engine also included Ram Air IV. During a 1972 strike, the Firebird (and the similar F-body Camaro) were nearly dropped. Again the 455 HO was the only engine available for the Trans Am. Starting in 1972, and continuing until 1977, the Firebird was only produced at the Norwood, Ohio, facility. In 1973, the Trans Am added two new colors to the Cameo White, Buccaneer Red and Brewster Green. Of the colours, the Buccaneer Red cars seemed to be very popular with the public. Other exterior upgrades included the updated more modern nose bird and the new, soon to be iconic, hood bird option was the “RPO WW7 Hood Decal”, which was a $55 option exclusive to Trans Am. The “Trans Am” decals were a bit larger than previous versions, and shared the same accent colour schemes as the hood bird. Inside the 1973, Trans Am the standard interior equipment was almost the same as prior years. The new “Horse Collar” optional custom interior featured new seat coverings and door panels. The custom interior is well liked by the public as sporty and luxurious. Interior colours were limited to Black, White, Burgundy and Saddle but interestingly you could special order orange, red and blue carpet to any of the interiors colours. The 1973 Trans Am also had to meet the new safety and emissions requirements for 1973. There were now extra steel reinforcements in the bumper and core to support the fender. All Pontiac motors now had to be fitted with new EGR system, which delayed the SD-455 Program until late into production year. The 1973 Trans Am engine displaced 455 cubic inches, the base L75 and Super Duty LS2 option. The engines might have offered the same displacement, but that is where the similarity ended. The base 455 produced 40 fewer horsepower than the round port Super Duty 455. Horsepower for the base L75 455 was rated at [email protected] rpm and 370 lb/ft @2800 rpm. Pontiac removed the H.O. designation from the base engine, and simply decaled the now nonfunctional shaker with “455”. The “all hand assembled” LS2 SD455 engine has so many difference than the base L75 that it would take up multiple paragraphs, so there are multiple page articles dedicated to these changes. Horsepower for the specially ordered LS2 SD-455 was rated at [email protected] rpm and 395 lb/ft @3600 rpm. Pontiac engineer’s shaker decal was called the “SD-455.” The 1973 Trans Am introduced “Radial Tuned Suspension” to the automotive world. When ordered, it included the 15” radial tires. Radial Tuned Suspensions with radial tires delivered a much more comfortable ride, while providing outstanding cornering grip. Radial tires where just coming onto the market and Pontiac’s Engineering department fully utilized the RTS option on future Trans Am. The 1973 Trans Am production was up over previous years, the L75 455 production had 3130 Automatics and 1420 Manuals. The Special Ordered $550 Option LS2 SD-455 production had 180 Automatics and 72 Manuals. The 1973 Trans Am has been consider by many as a pinnacle Trans Am offering SD power, great colour combinations, better that ever handling, refined exterior and interior styling and of course that outrageous hood bird. In 1973 and 1974, a special version of the 455, called the “Super Duty 455” (SD-455), was offered. The SD-455 consisted of a strengthened cylinder block that included four-bolt main bearings and added material in various locations for improved strength. Original plans called for a forged crankshaft, although actual production SD455s received nodular iron crankshafts with minor enhancements. Forged rods and forged aluminum pistons were specified, as were unique high-flow cylinder heads. The 480737 code cam (identical grind to the RAIV “041” cam) was originally specified for the SD455 engine and was fitted into the “pre-production” test cars (source: former Pontiac special projects engineer McCully), one of which was tested by both Hot Rod and Car and Driver magazines. However, actual production cars were fitted with the milder 493323 cam and 1.5:1 rocker ratios, due to the ever-tightening emissions standards of the era. This cam and rocker combination, combined with a low compression ratio of 8.4:1 advertised (7.9:1 actual) yielded 290 SAE net horsepower. Production SD455 cars did not have functional hood scoops, while the “pre-production” test cars did. McCully verified that no production SD455s released to the public were fitted with the 480737 cam. When asked about the compromises for the production SD455 engine, McCully responded, “Compression, camshaft, jetting, and vacuum advance”. He followed by stating that he would have preferred a compression ratio of 10.25:1, a camshaft with 041 valve timing, slightly richer carburetor jetting, and as much vacuum advance as the engine would tolerate. However, that proved to be impossible due to the emissions regulations of the era. Curb weights rose dramatically in the 1974 model year because of the implementation of 5 mph (8.0 km/h) telescoping bumpers and various other crash- and safety-related structural enhancements; SD455 Trans Ams weighed in at 3,850 lb (1,746 kg) in their first year of production (1974 model year; actually 1973). The 1974 models featured a redesigned “shovel-nose” front end and new wide “slotted” taillights. The model would continue with annual revisions right through to 1981.
Among the rarest (in the UK) Porsche designs to be seen here was this 914, a model born of a joint need that Porsche had for a replacement for the 912, and Volkswagen’s desire for a new range-topping sports coupe to replace the Karmann Ghia. At the time, the majority of Volkswagen’s developmental work was handled by Porsche, part of a setup that dated back to Porsche’s founding; Volkswagen needed to contract out one last project to Porsche to fulfill the contract, and decided to make this that project. Ferdinand Piëch, who was in charge of research and development at Porsche, was put in charge of the 914 project. Originally intending to sell the vehicle with a flat four-cylinder engine as a Volkswagen and with a flat six-cylinder engine as a Porsche, Porsche decided during development that having Volkswagen and Porsche models sharing the same body would be risky for business in the American market, and convinced Volkswagen to allow them to sell both versions as Porsches in North America. On March 1, 1968, the first 914 prototype was presented. However, development became complicated after the death of Volkswagen’s chairman, Heinz Nordhoff, on April 12, 1968. His successor, Kurt Lotz, was not connected with the Porsche dynasty and the verbal agreement between Volkswagen and Porsche fell apart. In Lotz’s opinion, Volkswagen had all rights to the model, and no incentive to share it with Porsche if they would not share in tooling expenses. With this decision, the price and marketing concept for the 914 had failed before series production had begun. As a result, the price of the chassis went up considerably, and the 914/6 ended up costing only a bit less than the 911T, Porsche’s next lowest price car. The 914/6 sold quite poorly while the much less expensive 914/4 became Porsche’s top seller during its model run, outselling the Porsche 911 by a wide margin with over 118,000 units sold worldwide. Volkswagen versions originally featured an 80 PS fuel-injected 1.7 L flat-4 engine based on the Volkswagen air-cooled engine. Porsche’s 914/6 variant featured a carburettor 110 PS 2.0 litre flat-6 engine from the 1969 911T, placed amidships in front of a version of the 1969 911’s “901” gearbox configured for a mid-engine car. Karmann manufactured the rolling chassis at their plant, completing Volkswagen production in-house or delivering versions to Porsche for their final assembly. 914/6 models used lower gear ratios and high brake gearing in order to try to overcome the greater weight of the 6 cylinder engine along with higher power output. Suspension, brakes, and handling were otherwise the same. A Volkswagen-Porsche joint venture, Volkswagen of America, handled export to the U.S., where both versions were badged and sold as Porsches, except in California, where they were sold in Volkswagen dealerships. The four-cylinder cars were sold as Volkswagen-Porsches at European Volkswagen dealerships. Slow sales and rising costs prompted Porsche to discontinue the 914/6 variant in 1972 after producing 3,351 of them; its place in the lineup was filled by a variant powered by a new 100 PS 2.0 litre, fuel-injected version of Volkswagen’s Type 4 engine in 1973. For 1974, the 1.7 L engine was replaced by a 85 PS 1.8 litre, and the new Bosch L-Jetronic fuel injection system was added to American units to help with emissions control. 914 production ended in 1976. The 2.0 litre flat-4 engine continued to be used in the 912E, which provided an entry-level model until the 924 was introduced.
The 911 traces its roots to sketches drawn by Ferdinand “Butzi” Porsche in 1959. The Porsche 911 was developed as a more powerful, larger and a more comfortable replacement for the 356, the company’s first model. The new car made its public debut at the 1963 Frankfurt Motor Show. The car was developed with the proof-of-concept twin-fan Type 745 flat-six engine, but the car presented at the auto show had a non-operational mockup of the single-fan 901 engine, receiving a working unit in February 1964. It originally was designated as the “Porsche 901” (901 being its internal project number). A total of 82 cars were built as which were badges as 901s. However, French automobile manufacturer Peugeot protested on the grounds that in France it had exclusive rights to car names formed by three numbers with a zero in the middle. Instead of selling the new model with a different name in France, Porsche changed the name to 911. Internally, the cars’ part numbers carried on the prefix 901 for years. Production began in September 1964, with the first 911s exported to the US in February 1965. The first models of the 911 had a rear-mounted 130 hp Type 901/01 flat-6 engine, in the “boxer” configuration like the 356, the engine is air-cooled and displaces 1,991 cc as compared to the 356’s four-cylinder, 1,582 cc unit. The car had four seats although the rear seats were small, thus it is usually called a 2+2 rather than a four-seater (the 356 was also a 2+2). A four or five-speed “Type 901” manual transmission was available. The styling was largely penned by Ferdinand “Butzi” Porsche, son of Ferdinand “Ferry” Porsche. Butzi Porsche initially came up with a notchback design with proper space for seating two rear passengers but Ferry Porsche insisted that the 356’s successor was to use its fastback styling. 7 prototypes were built based on Butzi Porsche’s original design and were internally called the Porsche 754 T7. Erwin Komenda, the leader of the Porsche car body construction department who initially objected, was also involved later in the design. In 1966, Porsche introduced the more powerful 911S with Type 901/02 engine having a power output of 160 PS. Forged aluminum alloy wheels from Fuchsfelge, with a 5-spoke design, were offered for the first time. In motorsport at the same time, the engine was developed into the Type 901/20 and was installed in the mid-engine 904 and 906 with an increased power output of 210 PS, as well as fuel injected Type 901/21 installed in later variants of the 906 and 910 with a power output of 220 PS. In August 1967, the A series went into production with dual brake circuits and widened (5.5J-15) wheels still fitted with Pirelli Cinturato 165HR15 CA67 tyres. and the previously standard gasoline-burning heater became optional. The Targa version was introduced. The Targa had a stainless steel-clad roll bar, as automakers believed that proposed rollover safety requirements by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) would make it difficult for fully open convertibles to meet regulations for sale in the US, an important market for the 911. The name “Targa” came from the Targa Florio sports car road race in Sicily, Italy in which Porsche had several victories until 1973. The last win in the subsequently discontinued event was scored with a 911 Carrera RS against prototypes entered by Ferrari and Alfa Romeo. The road going Targa was equipped with a removable roof panel and a removable plastic rear window (although a fixed glass version was offered from 1968). The 110 PS 911T was also launched in 1967 with Type 901/03 engine. The 130 PS model was renamed the 911L with Type 901/06 engine and ventilated front disc brakes. The brakes had been introduced on the previous 911S. The 911R with 901/22 engine had a limited production (20 in all), as this was a lightweight racing version with thin fibreglass reinforced plastic doors, a magnesium crankcase, twin overhead camshafts, and a power output of 210 PS. A clutchless semi-automatic Sportomatic model, composed of a torque converter, an automatic clutch, and the four-speed transmission was added in Autumn 1967. It was cancelled after the 1980 model year partly because of the elimination of a forward gear to make it a three-speed. The B series went into production in August 1968, replacing the 911L model with 911E with fuel injection. It remained in production until July 1969. The 911E gained 185/70VR15 Pirelli Cinturato CN36. and 6J-15 wheels. The C series was introduced in August 1969 with an enlarged 2.2-litre engine. The wheelbase for all 911 and 912 models was increased from 2,211–2,268 mm (87.0–89.3 in), to help as a remedy to the car’s nervous handling at the limit. The overall length of the car did not change, but the rear wheels were relocated further back. Fuel injection arrived for the 911S (901/10 engine) and for a new middle model, 911E (901/09 engine). The D series was produced from Aug. 1970 to July 1971. The 2.2-litre 911E (C and D series) had lower power output of the 911/01 engine (155 PS) compared to the 911S’s Type 911/02 (180 PS, but 911E was quicker in acceleration up to 160 km/h. The E series for 1972–1973 model years (August 1971 to July 1972 production) consisted of the same models, but with a new, larger 2,341 cc engine. This is known as the “2.4 L” engine, despite its displacement being closer to 2.3 litres. The 911E (Type 911/52 engine) and 911S (Type 911/53) used Bosch mechanical fuel injection (MFI) in all markets. For 1972 the 911T (Type 911/57) was carbureted, except in the US and some Asian markets where the 911T also came with (MFI) mechanical fuel injection (Type 911/51 engine) with power increase over European models (130 hp) to 140 hp commonly known as a 911T/E. With power and torque increase, the 2.4-litre cars also got a newer, stronger transmission, identified by its Porsche type number 915. Derived from the transmission in the 908 race car, the 915 did away with the 901 transmission’s “dog-leg” style first gear arrangement, opting for a traditional H pattern with first gear up to the left, second gear underneath first, etc. The E series had the unusual oil filler behind the right side door, with the dry sump oil tank relocated from behind the right rear wheel to the front of it in an attempt to move the center of gravity slightly forward for better handling. An extra oil filler/inspection flap was located on the rear wing, for this reason it became known as an “Oil Klapper”, “Ölklappe” or “Vierte Tür (4th door)”. The F series (August 1972 to July 1973 production) moved the oil tank back to the original behind-the-wheel location. This change was in response to complaints that gas-station attendants often filled gasoline into the oil tank. In January 1973, US 911Ts were switched to the new K-Jetronic CIS (Continuous Fuel Injection) system from Bosch on Type 911/91 engine. 911S models also gained a small spoiler under the front bumper to improve high-speed stability. The cars weighed 1,050 kg (2,310 lb). The 911 ST was produced in small numbers for racing (the production run for the ST lasted from 1970 to 1971). The cars were available with engines of either 1,987 cc or 2,404 cc, having a power output of 270 PS at 8,000 rpm. Weight was down to 960 kg (2,120 lb). The cars had success at the Daytona 6 Hours, the Sebring 12 Hours, the 1000 km Nürburgring, and the Targa Florio. The G Series cars, with revised bodies and larger impact-absorbing bumpers arrived in the autumn of 1973 and would continue in production with few visual changes but plenty of mechanical ones for a further 16 years.
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.
Replacing the 964, the 993 models were first seen in October 1993, with production starting a few weeks later. Its arrival marked the end of air-cooled 911 models. The 993 was much improved over, and quite different from its predecessor. According to Porsche, every part of the car was designed from the ground up, including the engine and only 20% of its parts were carried over from the previous generation. Porsche refers to the 993 as “a significant advance, not just from a technical, but also a visual perspective.” Porsche’s engineers devised a new light-alloy subframe with coil and wishbone suspension (an all new multi-link system), putting behind the previous lift-off oversteer and making significant progress with the engine and handling, creating a more civilised car overall providing an improved driving experience. The 993 was also the first 911 to receive a six speed transmission. The 993 had several variants, as its predecessors, varying in body style, engines, drivetrains and included equipment. Power was increased by the addition of the VarioRam system, which added additional power, particularly in the mid-ranges, and also resulted in more throttle noise at higher revs; as a consequence, resulted in a 15% increase in power over its predecessor. The external design of the Porsche 993, penned by English designer Tony Hatter, retained the basic body shell architecture of the 964 and other earlier 911 models, but with revised exterior panels, with much more flared wheel arches, a smoother front and rear bumper design, an enlarged retractable rear wing and teardrop mirrors. A major change was the implementation of all alloy multi-link rear suspension attached to an alloy sub frame, a completely new design derived from the 989, a four-door sedan which never went into production. The system later continued in the 993’s successor, the 996, and required the widening of the rear wheel arches, which gave better stability. The new suspension improved handling, making it more direct, more stable, and helping to reduce the tendency to oversteer if the throttle was lifted during hard cornering, a trait of earlier 911s. It also reduced interior noise and improved ride quality. The 993 was the first generation of the 911 to have a 6-speed manual transmission included as standard; its predecessors had 4 or 5-speed transmissions. In virtually every situation, it was possible to keep the engine at its best torque range above 4,500 rpm. The Carrera, Carrera S, Cabriolet and Targa models (rear wheel drive) were available with a “Tiptronic” 4-speed automatic transmission, first introduced in the 964. From the 1995 model year, Porsche offered the Tiptronic S with additional steering wheel mounted controls and refined software for smoother, quicker shifts. Since the 993’s introduction, the Tiptronic is capable of recognising climbs and descents. The Tiptronic equipped cars suffer as compared to the manual transmission equipped cars in both acceleration and also top speed, but the differences are not much notable. Tiptronic cars also suffered a 55 lb (25 kg) increase in weight. The 993’s optional all wheel drive system was refined over that of the 964. Porsche departed from the 964’s setup consisting of three differentials and revised the system based on the layout from its 959 flagship, replacing the centre differential with a viscous coupling unit. In conjunction with the 993’s redesigned suspension, this system improved handling characteristics in inclement weather and still retained the stability offered by all wheel drive without having to suffer as many compromises as the previous all-wheel-drive system. Its simpler layout also reduced weight, though the four wheel drive Carrera 4 weighs 111 lb (50 kg) more than its rear wheel drive counterpart (at 3,131 lb (1,420 kg) vs. 3,020 lb (1,370 kg)). Other improvements over the 964 include a new dual-flow exhaust system, larger brakes with drilled discs, and a revised power steering. A full range of models arrived before the arrival of the 996 generation in 1998.
During the 1990s, Porsche was facing financial troubles and rumours of a proposed takeover were being spread. The signature air-cooled flat-6 of the 911 was reaching the limits of its potential as made evident by the 993. Stricter emissions regulations world wide further forced Porsche to think of a replacement of the air-cooled unit. In order to improve manufacturing processes, Porsche took the aid of leading Japanese car manufacturer Toyota whose consultants would assist in the overhaul of the Zuffenhausen manufacturing facility introducing mass production techniques which would allow Porsche to carry out production processes more efficiently. Porsche had realised that in order to keep the 911 in production, it would need radical changes. This led to the development of the 996. The sharing of development between the new 911 and the entry level Boxster model allowed Porsche to save development costs. This move also resulted in interchangeable parts between the two models bringing down maintenance costs. The Porsche 996 was a new design developed by Pinky Lai under Porsche design chief Harm Lagaay from 1992 to 1994; it was the first 911 that was completely redesigned, and carried over little from its predecessor as Porsche wanted the design team to design a 911 for the next millennium. Featuring an all new body work, interior, and the first water-cooled engine, the 996 replaced the 993 from which only the front suspension, rear multi-link suspension, and a 6-speed manual transmission were retained in revised form. The 996 had a drag coefficient of Cd=0.30 resulting from hours spent in the wind tunnel. The 996 is 185 mm (7 in) longer and 40 mm (2 in) wider than its predecessor. It is also 45% stiffer courtesy of a chassis formed from high-strength steel. Additionally, it is 50 kg (110 lb) lighter despite having additional radiators and coolant. All of the M96 engines offered in the 996 (except for the variants fitted to the Turbo and GT2/GT3 models) are susceptible to the Porsche Intermediate Shaft Bearing issue which can potentially cause serious engine failure if not addressed via a retrofit. The 996 was initially available in a coupé or a cabriolet (Convertible) bodystyle with rear-wheel drive, and later with four-wheel drive, utilising a 3.4 litre flat-6 engine generating a maximum power output of 296 bhp. The 996 had the same front end as the entry-level Boxster. After requests from the Carrera owners about their premium cars looking like a “lower priced car that looked just like theirs did”, Porsche redesigned the headlamps of the Carrera in 2002 similar to the high performance Turbo’s headlamps. The design for the initial “fried egg” shaped headlamps could be traced back to the 1997 911 GT1 race car. In 2000, Porsche introduced the 996 Turbo, equipped with a four-wheel-drive system and a 3.6-litre, twin-turbocharged and intercooled flat-six engine generating a maximum power output of 420 bhp, making the car capable of accelerating from 0–60 mph in 4.2 seconds. An X50 option which included larger turbochargers and intercoolers along with revised engine control software became available from the factory in 2002, increasing power output to 451 bhp. In 2005, Porsche introduced the Turbo S, which had the X50 option included as standard equipment, with the formerly optional Carbon fibre-reinforced Silicon Carbide (C/SiC) composite ceramic brakes (PCCB) also included as standard. In 2000, power output on the base Carrera model was increased to 300 bhp. 2001 marked the final year of production for the base Carrera 4 Coupé in narrow body format. In 2002, the standard Carrera models underwent the above-mentioned facelift. In addition, engine capacity was also increased to 3.6-litres across the range, yielding gains of 15 bhp for the naturally aspirated models. 2002 also marked the start of the production of the 996 based Targa model, with a sliding glass “green house” roof system as introduced on its predecessor. It also features a rear glass hatch which gave the driver access to the storage compartment. Also in 2002, the Carrera 4S model was first introduced.
The 996 was replaced with the 997 in 2005. It retains the 996’s basic profile, with an even lower 0.28 drag coefficient, but draws on the 993 for detailing. In addition, the new headlights revert to the original bug-eye design from the teardrop scheme of the 996. Its interior is also similarly revised, with strong links to the earlier 911 interiors while at the same time looking fresh and modern. The 997 shares less than a third of its parts with the outgoing 996, but is still technically similar to it. Initially, two versions of the 997 were introduced— the rear-wheel-drive Carrera and Carrera S. While the base 997 Carrera had a power output of 321 hp from its 3.6 L Flat 6, a more powerful 3.8 L 350 hp Flat 6 powers the Carrera S. Besides a more powerful engine, the Carrera S also comes standard with 19 inch “Lobster Fork” style wheels, more powerful and larger brakes (with red calipers), lowered suspension with PASM (Porsche Active Suspension Management: dynamically adjustable dampers), Xenon headlamps, and a sports steering wheel. In late 2005, Porsche introduced the all-wheel-drive versions to the 997 lineup. Carrera 4 models (both Carrera 4 and Carrera 4S) were announced as 2006 models. Both Carrera 4 models are wider than their rear-wheel-drive counterparts by 1.76 inches (32 mm) to cover wider rear tyres. The 0–100 km/h (62 mph) acceleration time for the Carrera 4S with the 350 hp engine equipped with a manual transmission was reported at 4.8 seconds. The 0–100 km/h (62 mph) acceleration for the Carrera S with the 350 hp was noted to be as fast as 4.2 seconds in a Motor Trend comparison, and Road & Track has timed it at 3.8 seconds. The 997 lineup includes both 2- and 4-wheel-drive variants, named Carrera and Carrera 4 respectively. The Targas (4 and 4S), released in November 2006, are 4-wheel-drive versions that divide the difference between the coupés and the cabriolets with their dual, sliding glass tops. The 997 received a larger air intake in the front bumper, new headlights, new rear taillights, new clean-sheet design direct fuel injection engines, and the introduction of a dual-clutch gearbox called PDK for the 2009 model year. They were also equipped with Bluetooth support. The change to the 7th generation (991) took place in the middle of the 2012 model year. A 2012 Porsche 911 can either be a 997 or a 991, depending on the month of the production.
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 RS version of the 991 GT3 was launched at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show, and featured in first drive articles in the press a few weeks later, with cars reaching the UK in the summer and another series of universally positive articles duly appearing. It had very big shoes to fill, as the 997 GT3 RS model was rated by everyone lucky enough to get behind the wheel, where the combination of extra power and reduced weight made it even better to drive than the standard non-RS version of the car. A slightly different approach was taken here, with the result weighing just 10kg less than the GT3. It is based on the extra wide body of the 991 Turbo. Compared to the 991 GT3, the front wings are now equipped with louvres above the wheels and the rear wings now include Turbo-like intakes, rather than an intake below the rear wing. The roof is made from magnesium a bonnet, whilst the front wings, rear deck and rear spoiler all in carbonfibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP), the rear apron is in a new polyurethane-carbonfibre polymer and polycarbonate glazing is used for the side and rear windows. The wider body allows the RS’s axle tracks to grow, to the point where the rear track is some 72mm wider than that of a standard 3.4-litre Carrera and the tyres are the widest yet to be fitted to a road-going 911. A long-throw crankshaft made of extra-pure tempered steel delivers the 4mm of added piston stroke necessary to take the GT3’s 3.8-litre flat six out to 3996cc . The engine also uses a new induction system, breathing through the lateral air intakes of the Turbo’s body rather than through the rear deck cover like every other 911. This gives more ram-air effect for the engine and makes more power available at high speeds. It results in an output of 500 bhp and 339 lb/ft of torque. A titanium exhaust also saves weight. The suspension has been updated and retuned, with more rigid ball-jointed mountings and helper springs fitted at the rear, while Porsche’s optional carbon-ceramic brakes get a new outer friction layer. Which is to say nothing of the RS’s biggest advancement over any other 911: downforce. The rear wing makes up to 220kg of it, while the front spoiler and body profile generates up to 110kg. In both respects, that’s double the downforce of the old 997 GT3 RS 4.0. The transmission is PDK only. The result is a 0-62 mph time of just 3.3 seconds, some 0.6 seconds quicker than the 997 GT3 RS 4.0 and 0-124 mph (0-200kmh) in 10.9 seconds. The 991 GT3 RS also comes with functions such as declutching by “paddle neutral” — comparable to pressing the clutch with a conventional manual gearbox –- and Pit Speed limiter button. As with the 991 GT3, there is rear-axle steering and Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus with fully variable rear axle differential lock. The Nürburgring Nordschleife time is 7 minutes and 20 seconds. The interior includes full bucket seats (based on the carbon seats of the 918 Spyder), carbon-fibre inserts, lightweight door handles and the Club Sport Package as standard (a bolted-on roll cage behind the front seats, preparation for a battery master switch, and a six-point safety harness for the driver and fire extinguisher with mounting bracket). Needless to say, the car was an instant sell out, even at a starting price of £131,296.
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
Subsequent generations of the Boxster were well represented here, too with both the 987 and 981 type cars parked up.
One of the oldest cars of the morning, and one attracting a lot of interest was this immaculate looking 4CV. There seem to be several different accounts surrounding the conception of the car, one being that it was originally conceived and designed covertly by Renault engineers during the World War II German occupation of France, when the manufacturer was under strict orders to design and produce only commercial and military vehicles, in defiance of the direction of the boss, Louis Renault, whereas another version says that in 1940, he had directed his engineering team to “make him a car like the Germans’. Regardless, the truth is that work did go on during the war, with the occupying Germans who were keeping a watch on the company turning a blind eye to what came to be known as Project 106E. Certainly those working on the project were looking closely at the Volkswagen and their new car had a similar overall architecture to that, while recalling the modern designs of the fashionable front-engined passenger cars produced in Detroit during the earlier 1940s. The first prototype had only two doors and was completed in 1942, and two more prototypes were produced in the following three years. An important part of the 4CV’s success was due to the new methodologies used in its manufacture, pioneered by Pierre Bézier, who had begun his 42-year tenure at Renault as a tool setter, moving up to tool designer and then becoming head of the Tool Design Office. As Director of Production Engineering in 1949, he designed the transfer lines (or transfer machines) producing most of the mechanical parts for the 4CV. The transfer machines were high-performance work tools designed to machine engine blocks. While imprisoned during World War II, Bézier developed and improved on the automatic machine principle, introduced before the war by GM. The new transfer station with multiple workstations and electromagnetic heads (antecedents to robots), enabled different operations on a single part to be consecutively performed by transferring the part from one station to another. The 4CV was ultimately presented to the public and media at the 1946 Paris Motor Show and went on sale a year later. Volume production was said to have commenced at the company’s Billancourt plant a few weeks before the Paris Motor Show of October 1947, although the cars were in very short supply for the next year or so. Renault’s advertising highlighted the hundreds of machine-tools installed and processes adopted for the assembly of the first high volume car to be produced since the war, boasting that the little car was now no longer a prototype but a reality. On the 4CV’s launch, it was nicknamed “La motte de beurre” (the lump of butter); this was due to the combination of its shape and the fact that early deliveries all used surplus paint from the German Army vehicles of Rommel’s Afrika Korps, which were a sand-yellow colour. Later it was known affectionately as the “quatre pattes”, “four paws”.The 4CV was initially powered by a 760 cc rear-mounted four-cylinder engine coupled to a three-speed manual transmission. In 1950, the 760 cc unit was replaced by a 747 cc version of the “Ventoux” engine producing 17 hp. Despite an initial period of uncertainty and poor sales due to the ravaged state of the French economy, the 4CV had sold 37,000 units by mid-1949 and was the most popular car in France. Across the Rhine 1,760 4CVs were sold in West Germany in 1950, accounting for 23% of that country’s imported cars, and ranking second only to the Fiat 500 on the list. The car remained in production for more than another decade. Claimed power output increased subsequently to 21 hp as increased fuel octanes allowed for higher compression ratios, which along with the relatively low weight of the car (620 kg) enabled the manufacturers to report a 0–90 km/h (0–56 mph) time of 38 seconds and a top speed barely under 100 km/h (62 mph) The engine was notable also for its elasticity, the second and top gear both being usable for speeds between 5 and 100 km/h (3 and 62 mph); the absence of synchromesh on first gear would presumably have discouraged use of the bottom gear except when starting from rest. The rear mounting of the engine meant that the steering could be highly geared while remaining relatively light; in the early cars, only 2¼ turns were needed from lock to lock. The unusually direct steering no doubt delighted some keen drivers, but road tests of the time nonetheless included warnings to take great care with the car’s handling on wet roads. In due course, the manufacturers switched from one extreme to the other, and on later cars 4½ turns were needed to turn the steering wheel from lock to lock. Early in 1953, Renault launched a stripped-down version of the 4CV bereft of anything which might be considered a luxury. Tyre width was reduced, and the dummy grille was removed from the front of the car along with the chrome headlamp surrounds. The seats were simplified and the number of bars incorporated in the steering wheel reduced from three to two. The only colour offered was grey. The car achieved its objective of retailing for less than 400,000 Francs. With the Dauphine already at an advanced stage of development it may have made sense to try and expand the 4CV’s own market coverage downwards in order to open up a clearer gap between the two models which would be produced in parallel for several years, but reaction to the down-market 4 CV, branded as the “Renault 4CV Service”, must have disappointed Renault as this version disappeared from the Renault showrooms after less than a year. The poor sales performance may have been linked to the growing popularity of the Citroën 2CV: although at this stage powered by an engine of just 375 cc and offering sclerotic performance, the 2CV was bigger than the Renault and in 1952 came with a starting price of just 341,870 francs The 4CV’s direct replacement was the Dauphine, launched in 1956, but the 4CV in fact remained in production until 1961. The 4CV was replaced by the Renault 4 which used the same engine as the 4CV and sold for a similar price.
There were a number of sporting Renault models here, reflecting the popularity of the hot hatches that the firm has produced over the last twenty or so years. In 1999 Renault presented the first officially branded RenaultSport Clio, this was the third Clio produced by the RenaultSport division succeeding the Clio 16V and Clio Williams. This new Clio, the 172 was based on the 3 door Clio II shell however had numerous features over the standard car including wider arches, restyled bumpers, side skirts and 15-inch OZ F1 alloy wheels. Power was delivered by the F4R730 engine, a 2.0-litre 16-valve Inline 4 engine with a Variable valve timing (VVT) system via a dephaser on the intake camshaft pulley. The engine was a modified version of the F4R used in models such as the Laguna and Espace and was modified by Mecachrome to deliver a power output of 172 PS. Power was delivered to the wheels via a JC5-089 five-speed manual gearbox. The 172 also featured interior changes over the standard car including Half Leather, Half Alcantara seats embossed with the RenaultSport logo and the car also came standard with manually controlled Air Conditioning. A limited edition of the Phase 1 172 was produced and known as the Clio 172 Exclusive. This was limited to 172 units, all 172 of this “Exclusive” edition were 296 Scarab Green, featured BBS alloy wheels and a full leather interior as opposed to the half-leather half Alcantara seats featured in the standard car. In 2001 the interior and exterior of the Clio II were face-lifted, the Clio RS followed suit shortly after. This facelift of the Clio 172 included redesigned front and rear bumpers, the front bumper falling in line with the style of the face-lifted Clio II. The rear bumper was now less rounded and featured a strip of ABS plastic effectively splitting the bumper into two. The lights, bonnet and boot lid were also matched to the face-lifted Clio II. The interior was also changed to closer match that of the face-lifted Clio II, the seats were slightly revised however still featured the same Half Leather, Half Alcantara fabrics and the embossed RenaultSport logo. One new feature that the Phase 2 172 featured was automatic climate control as opposed to the manual air-conditioning featured in the Phase 1. The dashboard featured Silver interior trims and the steering wheel included a plastic insert featuring the RenaultSport logo. The gear shifter was changed from the metal ball featured on the Phase 1 to a Leather wrapped shifter with a silver coloured insert on the top. The Phase 2 172 also featured increased equipment including automatic Xenon headlights and headlight washers, Rain Sensing wipers a six-disc CD changer, and it also included side-impact airbags integrated into the seats. The 15-inch OZ F1 alloy wheels were also replaced with a 16-inch Alloy Wheel of Renault’s own design. The facelift of the 172 also brought about a number of changes to the engine of the car. A revised version of the F4R used, the F4R 736, this featured a revised cylinder head with the exhaust ports being approximately 30% smaller than those featured on the Phase 1 172. The airbox was also redesigned to be much more square than the original airbox. A revised version of the JC5 gearbox, the JC5-129 was introduced in this version of the Clio 172, which revised JC5 featured a shorter final drive to counter the increased weight of the face-lifted 172. The catalytic converter, which on the PH1 172 had been dual barrel was reduced to a single barrel and featured 2 lambda sensors, one before and one after the catalytic converter. The biggest change to the PH2 172 over the PH1 was the introduction of an electric throttle. This meant the Idle Control Valve of the PH1 was no longer required leading to a minor redesign of the intake manifold. In 2002 Renault released the 172 Cup, which bore the chassis code CB1N and was known by Renault as the “sport lightweight version”. The vast majority of cars were produced in D43 Mondial Blue (metallic) with a limited run of around 90 cars being produced in 640 Iceberg Silver (metallic). The Cup, originally built for Gr.N homologation of the Clio 172 was differentiated from the “non cup” 172 by its lack of many of the luxuries included in the regular car. Instead of the leather / Alcantara seats instead the same style seat was upholstered in a durable but low-cost fabric, the automatic Xenon headlights were replaced by manually controlled halogen units and the washer jets replaced with blanks. The rain sensing wipers and solar reflective coated windscreen were also omitted from the 172 Cup. However the car had features not before seen on a production version of the 172, which included lightweight 16-inch Speedline Turini alloy wheels, matte blue door strips, ABS plastic “Cup” front splitter and a restyled “Cup” rear spoiler. The dash strips which were silver on the regular car were painted to match the outside of the car. One of the main features of the 172 Cup was its significant weight saving, having a kerb weight of 1021 kg, making it the lightest of 172 versions produced. This was achieved by the removal of a majority of sound deadening from the car alongside thinner glass to reduce weight even further. One large difference was also the lack of air conditioning which was a standard fit component on the regular 172, which typically led to the cup producing more power due to the engine having less ancillaries to drive. This however was reintroduced as an optional extra later in the production run of the Cup. The 0–60 time of the 172 Cup was officially marketed by Renault as being 6.5 seconds; however AutoCar Magazine reportedly timed the 0–60 at 6.2 seconds which if this were the case would make the 172 Cup the second fastest road going Clio produced at the time of this article, second to only the V6. Many enthusiasts regard the 172 Cup as the last “hardcore” hot hatch due to its lack of anti-lock brakes; the car also featured modified suspension which gave it a wider track thanks to modified wishbones, the car also sat lower than standard and featured stiffer shocks and springs, the suspension geometry was revised to suit these components and to mean that the steering response was increased, this also lead to an increase in oversteer thanks to the lack of weight and revised geometry. Due to the lack of ABS the brake bias of the car was fixed by way of disconnecting the rear axle compensator, within the UK this often lead to the cars failing the MOT test, VOSA eventually issued an advisory to prevent this from happening. 2004 marked yet another refresh of the Clio II. The inserts of the headlights were changed from Black to Grey, new wheels styles were introduced and new colour options were added with others being dropped. The basic design of the car stayed the same with only minor changes. The Six-Disc CD changer was dropped as standard equipment however was still available as a cost option. This refresh marked the introduction of cruise control and Electronic Stability Program (ESP) as standard equipment. The Clio RS featured a lot more changes than the regular Clio. The engine was again revised and became the F4R 738. The difference between the F4R 738 and F4R 736 was a revised oil breather setup meaning the intake manifold found on a 172 would not fit a 182. Thanks to a number of other changes this engine produced 182 PS . This increase in power was thanks to the addition of a 4-2-1 Manifold and high flow 200 cell sports catalytic converter. The spare wheel well was removed and replaced with a flat floor to make way for the new dual exit exhaust featured on the 182. Minor revisions were made to the interior, the perforated texture of the Alcantara on the seats now featured white dots. The car also featured a new 8 spoke wheel design which came in Silver on a regular car and Anthracite on a “Cup Packed” car. The rarest optional extra available was the Carminat Sat-Nav which was fitted to very few cars. However, the unit wasn’t a popular option due to its high cost and rumoured poor performance compared to aftermarket options. The “Cup” Front Splitter and “Cup” Spoiler originally fitted to the 172 Cup made a reappearance as a cost option known as the Cup Style Pack. This was one of two cup packs available, the other being the Cup Chassis. This Cup Chassis pack included a strengthened hub with 60mm spacing on the strut bolt holes as opposed 54mm on non cup packed cars. The Cup Chassis also featured lowered suspension with stiffer shocks and springs and an anthracite version of the standard alloy wheels. The Clio 182 could also be ordered in a more race focused than ‘base’ RS model called “Cup Specification”, this was available in just two colours, J45 Racing Blue and D38 Inferno Orange, however came as Standard with the Cup Chassis and Cup Style Pack. The 182 Cup lacked the automatic Xenon headlights and headlight washer jets, climate control (rear footwell heater vents were also removed), illuminated sun visors, Solar Reflective Windscreen and Automatic Wipers. The leather / Alcantara seats were replaced with cloth items and the rear bench was downgraded to match. The engine cover and sill plates were removed and the steering wheel was downgraded to no longer include the RenaultSport Logo or rubber thumb grips. Carpet and headlining were downgraded to basic specification and even the documentation wallet was changed from faux leather to cloth. Sound deadening was removed from the 182 Cup, the horn was downgraded from a twin to single unit and the interior light no longer included a map reading function. Despite all of these reductions in specification the 182 Cup was still considerably heavier than the previous 172 Cup, meaning this version of the Clio II RS was considered one of the least desirable versions. The final version of the Clio 182 was known as the 182 Trophy. This version was based on the 182 Cup and featured the same strengthened hubs with 60 mm bolt spacing. Originally only 500 cars were to be produced for the UK market however an additional 50 were produced to be sold in Switzerland. At the time, believing there was no market for this version of the Clio, the Marketing Department of Renault France failed to order a 182 Trophy. The 182 Trophy included 16 Inch Speedline Turini Alloy wheels as seen on the 172 Cup, the Spoiler from the Clio 255 V6, Recaro Trendline seats and exclusive 727 Capsicum Red Paint with Trophy Decals lacquered onto the Side skirts. Each car had an individually numbered plaque on the base of the driver’s seat. The biggest difference however between the 182 Cup and 182 Trophy was the inclusion of Sachs Remote-Reservoir dampers. The basic principle of a Remote-Reservoir damper is that because there is a separate reservoir for the gas or oil which fills the shock they can either be of a reduced length or can house a longer rod, this means that the sizing of the shock can be optimised for the application in which it is being used. These changes definitely made a big difference to the 182 Trophy and have led to its being heralded as one of the best hot hatches of all time and it won Evo Magazine’s “People’s Performance Car of The Year” 2005, whilst also beating off rivals such as the Lamborghini Gallardo and other exotica in an Evo Magazine Group Test. AutoCar Magazine’s front cover from 5 July 2005 simply stated “World’s Greatest Hot Hatch”.
Expectations were high for another class-leading sporty Clio when Renault debuted the third generation model in 2005, and enthusiasts were not disappointed when Renault premiered the car, which was called the Clio RS 197. The new Clio III drew technology from Formula One, including a rear diffuser and brake cooling side vents, they upgraded the engine, now to 194 bhp (197 PS). The car is heavier than its predecessor, but the acceleration figures are slightly improved due to a combination of more power, torque and the new six-speed gearbox with shorter gearing according to the official figures published on the Renaultsport website. The facelifted Clio III was further enhanced with the inclusion of a front splitter and the engine now produced 197 bhp (200 PS). This has been made possible by tweaks to the exhaust system, valve timing and ECU also stated to give a slight increase in fuel economy. Acceleration figures were slightly improved due to shorter gearing in 1, 2 and 3 and enhancements have been made to the cup chassis including making the steering rack more responsive. Cosmetic enhancements include the addition of larger tailpipes protruding slightly from the rear diffuser, i.d. coloured front bumper insert, wing mirror covers and rear diffuser and i.d. interior trim. Renault also introduced a new i.d. paint option of Alien Green. The 200 is highly regarded by EVO magazine, remaining their hot hatch of choice since 2009. “After the mild disappointment of the Clio 197, Renaultsport has got the Clio back to its very best, producing a cracking small hot hatch more than capable of chasing down supercars on eCOTY 2009 for a top five finish”. It was hailed by CAR Magazine as “the 911 GT3 of hot hatches” and remained CAR Magazine’s “Best in Class” since its release in 2009. Renault produced a significant number of limited edition variants during the model’s life cycle. Production ceased in 202 when the fourth generation was launched.
It did not take Renault long to add an RS version to their 3rd generation Megane range. debuting the car at the 2009 Geneva Show. This new Megane Renault Sport 250 included a 2.0litre twin-scroll turbo 4-cylinder F4Rt engine rated at 250 PS (247 bhp) at 5500 rpm and 340 Nm (251 lb/ft) at 3000 rpm with a 6-speed manual gearbox, Brembo front brakes, front splitter, extended sills and wheel arches, rear diffuser with central exhaust pipe, and 18-inch alloy wheels wearing 225/40R18 tyres. Aluminum pedals, a Renault Sport steering wheel with thumb grips, analog rev counter and sport seats with extra lateral support dress up the cabin. Other features include front LED daytime running lights and bi-xenon headlights. The 250 Cup variant contains a number of sharpened performance features including a stiffer chassis, track focused suspension, a limited slip differential and a slightly lighter gross weight. The Cup is differentiated visually with painted red brake calipers, instead of the silver calipers for the normal Sport. 18×8.25″ “Ax-l” alloy wheels are fitted with wider 235/40R18 tyres, while 19×8.25″ “Steev” wheels were available as an option with 235/35R19 tyres. In June 2011 Renault Sport revealed a limited edition 265 PS (261 bhp) version of the Mégane III called the Mégane R.S. Trophy. The Megane R.S. Trophy uses the same 2.0 four-cylinder as the standard 250 PS R.S. but thanks to modifications such as a new air intake and higher turbo pressure it gains an extra 15 hp, increasing the power output to 265 PS. It reaches 0–62 mph in six seconds flat and goes on to a top speed of 254 km/h (157 mph). It is recognizable thanks to model-specific decoration such as Trophy stickers on the doors, a new spoiler and specific 19″ rims with R.S. centre caps. It comes in a model-specific metallic yellow (Jaune Sirius) but is also available in more low-key colours such as white (Blanc Glacier), black (Noir Étoilé) and gray (Gris Cassiopée). Production was limited to 500 examples. In 2012, the Megane R.S. adopted the updated engine from the Trophy version with 265 PS (261 HP) and offers the same “Cup” and “Sport” versions like the previous 250 PS (247 HP) model. Changes include Piano Black interior highlights and wider LED daytime running lights with 6 LEDs per side rather than the 3 LEDs found in the RS250. The 18″ wheels were changed to a new design called “Tibor”, while the 19″ wheels carried over from the 250. Extreme Blue and Sport Yellow were dropped as colour options. In Australia, the Cup and Cup Trophée models were replaced with the Cup, Cup+ and Trophy+ with slightly more flexible specification levels.
Subaru introduced the “New Age” Impreza, the second generation car, to Japan in August 2000, and it arrived in Europe towards the end of that year. Larger in size compared to the previous iteration, the sedan increased its width by 40 millimetres (1.6 in), while the wagon notably increased by just 5 millimetres (0.2 in)—placing the two variants in different Japanese classification categories. The coupe body style from the first generation did not reappear for the new series, and the off-road appearance package that included contrasting-coloured bumpers did carry over forward. Marketed as a separate model line, this North America-only variant was, as before, badged the Outback Sport. Naturally aspirated flat-four (boxer) engines comprised the 1.5-litre EJ15, the 1.6-litre EJ16, the 2.0-litre EJ20, and the 2.5-litre EJ25. Turbocharged versions of the 2.0- and 2.5-litre engines were offered in the WRX and WRX STI models. STI models featured a more powerful 2.0-litre (2.5-litre outside of the Japanese market) turbocharged engine. WRX models featured a 2.0-litre turbocharged boxer engine until 2005, after which they switched to the 2.5-litre turbocharged engine. As with the first generation, the turbocharged STI variants were available in numerous specifications with a myriad of limited edition variants sold. The bug-eyed styling was not well received, and Subaru had two further attempts at the front end, neither of which was entirely successful, either, but enthusiasts were happy to overlook the gawky looks because the way the car drove. Subaru issued yearly updates to the STI, tweaking cosmetics and equipment levels, and also improving performance and handling. The car was replaced in 2007 by the third generation Impreza, widely regarded as inferior in many ways to this version.
Something of a rarity was this Suzuki Alto. The first generation (SS30V/40V), was introduced in Japan in May 1979, is a three-door cargo version of the Fronte passenger car, equipped with a folding rear seat. Front suspension comprised coils struts, with leaf springs at the back. The steering was of the recirculating ball type, and four-wheel drums were used. On introduction, the Alto received the T5B two-stroke 539 cc (SS30) three-cylinder engine, producing 28 PS at 5500 rpm. The Alto was a “micro sensation” when introduced, largely due to its rock bottom price of ¥470,000 (circa $1,900 in 1979, at a time when the cheapest Ford Pinto cost $4,999 in the US). This low price was made possible by a number of Japanese special concessions for commercial vehicles: most notably, the engine was subject to less stringent emissions rules and did not require expensive twin catalysts. Two fewer doors provided another saving, as did the exemption from commodity tax. The Alto’s success changed the kei-car market, and other producers such as Subaru (with the “Family Rex”) quickly followed suit with cut-price “commercial” vehicles that were really intended for private use. Suzuki was unable to keep up with demand the first few years, particularly in the home market. The Alto helped Suzuki move into seventh place in Japanese production for cars and trucks. In the last full year of production for this generation, it was still by far the best selling Kei car, with the Alto outselling the Fronte at a rate of about five to two. In May 1980, a fully automatic two-speed option was added to the Alto SS30. In January 1981, the F5A four-stroke 543 cc from the Fronte was also made available for the Alto; although it only had a single-barrel carburettor, it too put out 28 PS but at 6,000 rpm. Torque was considerably lower, however, down from 52 to 41 Nm; 38 to 30 lb/ft). 1981 saw also the year that it became available in the United Kingdom, as Suzuki began selling cars there that year. In export markets, the Alto name was used for the passenger car versions (chassis codes with trailing letter “S”) as well as on commercials (ending in “V”), while the van was marketed as the “Suzuki Hatch” in Australia. The four-doors were not proper hatchbacks, only featuring an opening rear window. Export cars were also available with twelve-inch wheels, unlike the domestic versions which only used ten-inch units until the introduction of the 4WD version in October 1983. The 4WD “Snow Liner” thus gained an extra 2.5 cm (1 in) of ground clearance. Most export Altos were passenger car versions (which used the “Fronte” badge in the Japanese domestic markets), and usually received the 796 cc F8B engine and the SS80 chassis code. The 800 had better performance, and due to the higher possible gearing it saw an improved gas mileage as well – by about ten percent according to Suzuki. The SS80 was also built in New Zealand, by South Pacific Suzuki Assemblers at a rate of six per day. It was introduced in New Zealand in March 1980. While Suzuki held on to the two-stroke engine concept for a half decade longer than any of its Japanese competitors, eventually market pressures and ever tightening emissions regulations spelled its end in the Alto by September 1981. The Jimny, however, did use the same 539 cc engine (called LJ50 in the Jimny) as late as 1987.
Launched in 1955, the TR3 was an evolution of the TR2 and not a brand new model. It was powered by a 1991 cc straight-4 OHV engine initially producing 95 bhp, an increase of 5 hp over the TR2 thanks to the larger SU-H6 carburettors fitted. This was later increased to 100 bhp at 5000 rpm by the addition of a “high port” cylinder head and enlarged manifold. The four-speed manual gearbox could be supplemented by an overdrive unit on the top three ratios, electrically operated and controlled by a switch on the dashboard. In 1956 the front brakes were changed from drums to discs, the TR3 thus becoming the first British series production car to be so fitted. The TR3 was updated in 1957, with various changes of which the full width radiator grille is the easiest recognition point and the facelifted model is commonly referred to as the Triumph “TR3A”, though unlike the later TR4 series, where the “A” suffix was adopted, the cars were not badged as such and the “TR3A” name was not used officially, Other updates included exterior door handles, a lockable boot handle and the car came with a full tool kit as standard (this was an option on the TR3). The total production run of the “TR3A” was 58,236. This makes it the third best-selling TR after the TR6 and TR7. The TR3A was so successful that the original panel moulds eventually wore out and had to be replaced. In 1959 a slightly modified version came out that had raised stampings under the bonnet and boot hinges and under the door handles, as well as a redesigned rear floor section. In addition, the windscreen was attached with bolts rather than the Dzus connectors used on the early “A” models. Partly because it was produced for less time, the original TR3 sold 13,377 examples, of which 1286 were sold within the UK; the rest being exported mainly to the USA.
Envisioned as a luxury sports car, the Stag 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.
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.
VW launched the second generation Golf in August of 1983, nearly 9 years after production of the first model to bear the name had begun. This time, a GTi version was included in the product plans from the start, and the new GTi was announced in May 1984. Like the regular Golf 2, it was almost 7″ longer than the Mark 1, with 3″ extra in the wheelbase and a 2″ wider track. It was also 10% heavier, but with significantly improved aerodynamics, resulting from attention to detail which included integrated gutters and flush glass as well as more rounded styling, the cd fell from 0.42 to 0.34. Initially it was powered by the same 1781cc fuel injected engine, but there were all round disc brakes and longer suspension travel improved the ride. Competitors came snapping at its heels, though, so after 2/5 years, VW responded by giving the car 24% more power, achieved by doubling the number of valves to 16. Lower stiffer suspension and bigger front brakes were also fitted, all of which restored the Golf GTi 16V to the top of the Hot Hatch pile. For most people that is, though the 8v car retained a following thanks to its broader torque spread. This less powerful car changed from a mechanical K-Jetronic injection system to a new Digifant electronic set up in 1987 at which point the front quarterlights were deleted, and a digital instrument pack became an option on the 16v car. Power steering became standard in late 1990 and the 8v gained the interior from the 16v model. Production ran through to February 1992, by which time the Mark 3 GTi was waiting in the wings. over 600,000 were built over an 8 year period, around 10% of all Mark 2 Golf production.
More recent VW models here included the Polo GTi and the latest eighth generation Golf GTi.
On the basis of the cars present, there can be no doubt that England outnumbered Italy and by quite some margin, though as we all know now, this was no portent of what would ensure later in the day at Wembley! Regardless of that but of fun, the reality is that this was a Shelsley Breakfast Club back to the same level of interest as it had been pre-pandemic, with a wide variety of cars on display and with cars coming and going all morning, a great way to spend a few hours before heading home. There are further Breakfast Clubs in 2021, but they all seem to clash with other events I plan to attend, so it may be 2022 before I get to attend again, but for sure, as soon as the diary permits, I will be doing so.