Now well known among car and bike enthusiasts across the nation, Caffeine & Machine is as popular a place for groups of people to arrange to meet as it is for individuals to turn for a coffee, perhaps some food and to drool over the array of machinery that is sure to be parked up almost whenever you pay a visit. As is evidenced by the number of reports I have made, I’ve been many times, sometimes by myself. and sometimes with a group of friends. I’ve organised a number of meetings for Abarth Owners, all of which have proved popular and indeed many of the Abarth Regional Groups have also arranged to meet there on occasions when I was occupied elsewhere. But there are still people who have not been, and that was the catalyst behind this particular visit. Sam Cottenden, enthusiastic founder and President of Abarth Bedfordshire is one of those who had not managed to attend, and so she put forward the idea of a Friday evening meet to not just Abarth Bedfordshire but more widely across the community. I made plans to attend, and indeed arrived around 5:30pm, before the evening really got under way. Here is what I saw over the ensuing few hours.
When I arrived at the venue, there was already one Abarth parked up. I did not recognise whose car it might be from the plate, and indeed did not find out all evening, as the car was still there when I left. It should not really be a surprise, as it is rare to visit this location and there not be an Abarth or two on site. This was one of the recently released limited edition 595 Monster Eneergy Yahama cars. One of two limited production (or Collector Edition, as Abarth have called them) cars released in September of 2020, this was the cheaper of the pair.. It was inspired by the MotoGP superbike, while the more expensive Scorpioneoro that was released at the same time was designed, so we are told. Based on the 165 bhp Turismo and like the Scorpioneoro, this limited-edition car gets new Abarth sports seats, albeit with blue finishes and the ‘Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP’ logo on the head restraints. The blue lining contrasts with the black dashboard, while the numbered plate denoting the car’s special-edition status is placed on the central tunnel. Other features include the flat-bottomed steering wheel, sport button and the Record Monza exhaust with active valve. There’s a specially designed braking system, too, which complements the Koni rear suspension. That itself is fitted with Frequency Selective Damping (FSD) technology designed to improve the ride and handling characteristics of the car. 2000 were produced globally.
In due course the Abarths from the planned Abarth Bedfordshire meet did arrive. Sadly, only three of them, but the cars were all different. First of the arrivals were Graeme and Mandy Wear in the 124 Spider. Eagerly awaited, the 124 Spider went on sale in September 2016. A quick reminder as to what this car is: The Abarth 124 Spider was developed in parallel with the Fiat model. It does cost a lot more, and there are those who think you don’t get enough extra for your money, but those who have driven it will tell you otherwise. You certainly get more power. The 1.4 MultiAir turbo unit jumps up from 138bhp to 168bhp, while torque also increases by a modest 10Nm to 250Nm, which gives it a 0-62mph time of 6.8 seconds, which is half a second quicker than the 2.0-litre Mazda MX-5. The top speed is 143mph. It weighs just 1060kg meaning a power-to-weight ratio of 158bhp-per-tonne, and with the new Record Monza exhaust system it sounds great even at idle. 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. Many of the UK cars sport the ‘Heritage Look’ pack, which is a no-cost option. It brings a matt black bonnet and bootlid, plus red exterior trim detailing and has proved 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. Sales ceased during 2019, with around 1800 cars having been brought into the UK, so this is always going to be a rare car, and values are already increasing at a rate reflecting its desirability and the difficulty in finding one.
There were two more 500-based cars here, too. Oliver Colling’s car is a recently acquired car showing the latest version of what is now quite a long running model, though with so many changes and colour variants as well as different models produced the range has remained fresh and in demand.
Star for many of the Abarths present was that of Abarth Bedfordshire Founder and President, Sam Cottenden. During the life of the 500-based model there have been an almost bewildering array of limited edition cars, not all of which have been sold in the UK. One of the most special is the 695 Edizione Maserati. It was at the 2012 Geneva Show when Abarth first showed the 695C Edizione Maserati, a limited production version of the Abarth 500C convertible with the 1.4 Turbo T-Jet 16v engine rated at 180 hp, a 5-speed electrically operated manual Abarth Competizione gearbox with steering wheel controls, Maserati “Neptune” 17″ alloy wheels with performance tyres, Brembo 305 mm brake discs with fixed four-piston caliper and special shock absorbers, Record Modena variable back-pressure “dual mode” exhaust, Pontevecchio Bordeaux body colour, Xenon headlights with dipped and driving light functions, sand beige Poltrona Frau leather seats with containment strips featuring single-layer padding and the pista grey contrasting electro-welding, black leather steering wheel, aluminium pedal unit and sill plate, carbon fibre kick plate, boosted hi-fi audio system. Production was limited to 499 units, and around 20 of them came to the UK, all in the Pontevecchio Bordeaux colour. Some months a much smaller quantity of grey cars were produced, initially intended for sale in Asia, but such is the way with these things that several of these have subsequently been brought into the UK.
At more or less the opposite end of the motoring spectrum is this representative of the Continental GT Coupe, a car whose sales success has transformed the fortunes of its maker.
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.
Looking like a Porsche 356 Speedster of the 1950s, this is in fact a more recent car, known as the Chesil Speedster. The Chesil Motor Company, previously known as the Chesil and Tygan Motor Company, is a British manufacturer of automobiles. Peter Bailey founded the Chesil Motor Company in 1991 in Burton Bradstock in the county of Dorset . He took over a project from Street Beetle and started making automobiles and kits. The brand name is Chesil . Angus McCubbin and Jerry Baker managed the successor company Chesil from 2004 to 2007 . This was followed by Tygan Motor Company from Beaminster from 2007 to 2008, headed by Graham Lee. Since 2009 the company has operated again as Chesil Motor Company under the direction of Peter Bailey. A total of around 500 vehicles have been built so far. The first and best-selling model is the Speedster . This is the replica of the Porsche 356 as a Speedster. The 10 3 / 4 inch shortened chassis of the Volkswagen Beetle and an additional tubular frame made of steel form the base. A body made of glassfibre reinforced plastic is mounted on top. Since 2010, Chesil, in cooperation with Inrekor from the USA, has been offering a more modern chassis that can be equipped with more powerful engines.
A new Camaro debuted in early 1970 and this would run through to 1982 before replacement. Dubbed “Super Hugger”, the second-generation Camaro was developed without the rush of the first generation and benefitted from a greater budget justified by the success of the first generation. Although it was an all-new car, the basic mechanical layout of the new Camaro was familiar, engineered much like its predecessor with a unibody structure utilising a front subframe, A-arm and coil spring front suspension, and rear leaf springs. The chassis and suspension of the second generation were greatly refined in both performance and comfort; base models offered significant advances in sound-proofing, ride isolation, and road-holding. Extensive experience Chevrolet engineers had gained racing the first-generation led directly to advances in second-generation Camaro steering, braking, and balance. Although it began its run with a number of high-performance configurations, as the 1970s progressed, the Camaro grew less powerful, succumbing, like many production cars of the era, to the pressures of tightening emissions regulations and a fuel crisis. Detailed changes were made in every year of production and major styling changes were made in 1974 and 1978; 1981 was the final model year for the second-generation Camaro.
Launched at the 2015 Geneva Show, the 488GTB followed the lead set by the California T in bringing turbocharging into a modern-day, mid-engined V8 Ferrari supercar for the first time. The engine is completely new when compared with its V8 stablemate, not only in components but also in feel and character. It is a twin-turbocharged 3902cc unit whilst that in the California T is 3855cc. In the 488 GTB, it produces 660bhp at 8000rpm and 560lb ft at 3000rpm. Both outputs are significant increases over the normally aspirated 4.5-litre V8 used in the 562 bhp 458 Italia and 597 bhp 458 Speciale, and also greater than the car’s biggest rival, the McLaren 650S. The torque figure of the 488 GTB is such that it also exceeds the 509lb ft at 6000rpm of the normally aspirated V12 used in the range-topping Ferrari F12 Berlinetta. The mighty new engine in the 488 GTB drives the rear wheels through a revised seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox derived from the 458. It features a new ‘Variable Torque Management’ system which, Ferrari says, “unleashes the engine’s massive torque smoothly and powerfully right across the rev range”. The gear ratios are also tuned to “deliver incredibly progressive acceleration when the driver floors the throttle”. The 488 GTB can crack 0-62mph in just 3.0sec, 0-124mph in 8.4sec and reach a top speed of 205mph. Its 0-62mph and 0-124mph times match the McLaren 650S’s, but the Woking car’s top speed is slightly higher at 207mph. The engine also accounts for the ‘488’ element of the car’s name, because each of the engine’s eight cylinders is 488cc in capacity when rounded up. The GTB suffix, standing for Gran Turismo Berlinetta, is a hallmark of previous mid-engined V8 Ferraris such as the 308 GTB. Not only is the new turbo engine more potent than the 4.5-litre V8 from the 458 Italia, but it is also more economical. Combined fuel economy is rated at 24.8mpg, compared with 21.2mpg in the 458 Italia, and CO2 emissions are 260g/km – a 47g/km improvement. Ferrari’s HELE engine stop-start system features on the 488 GTB. Developments on the dynamic side include a second generation of the Side Slip Angle Control system, called SSC2. This allows the driver to oversteer without intruding, unless it detects a loss of control. The SSC2 now controls the active dampers, in addition to the F1-Trac traction control system and E-Diff electronic differential. Ferrari says the result is “more precise and less invasive, providing greater longitudinal acceleration out of corners” and flatter, more stable behaviour during “complex manoeuvres”. Learnings from the Ferrari XX programme have also been incorporated into the 488 GTB, something that Ferrari says allows all drivers and not just professionals, to make the most of its electronic and vehicle control systems. It also claims the 488 GTB is “the most responsive production model there is”, with responses comparable to a track car. The 488 GTB has lapped Ferrari’s Fiorano test track in 1min 23sec – two seconds faster than the 458 Italia, and half a second quicker than the 458 Speciale. The dimensions of the 488 GTB – it is 4568mm in length, 1952mm in width and 1213mm in height – closely match the 458 Italia from which it has evolved. Its dry weight is 1370kg when equipped with lightweight options – 40kg more than the McLaren 650S. The new look, styled at the Ferrari Styling Centre, features several new aerodynamic features that improve downforce and reduce drag. Most notable is the addition of active aerodynamics at the rear through a ‘blown’ rear spoiler, where air is channelled from the base of the glass engine cover under the spoiler. This contributes to the 50% increase in downforce over the 458 Italia. Also new is a double front spoiler, an aerodynamic underbody, a large air intake at the front that references the 308 GTB, a diffuser with active flaps, new positioning for the exhaust flaps and new-look lights. The interior has been redesigned to be made more usable, including new switchgear, air vents and instrument panel. The multi-function steering wheel remains, while the infotainment system gets a new interface and graphics. The Spider followed the closed coupe model six months later, and it soon became the bigger seller of the pair, as was the case with the 458 models.
Developed as the Tipo 175, the Coupe was introduced at the Brussels Motor Show in 1993. It is perhaps best remembered for its distinctive, angular design, with unique scalloped side panels. The body was designed by Chris Bangle from Centro Stile Fiat, while the interior was designed by Pininfarina, and the car media headlines in auto magazines during 1992 after several spy shots were taken revealing the car on test. On its launch in 1993, the Coupé was available with a four-cylinder, 2.0 litre 16V engine, in both turbo (190 PS) and normally aspirated (139 PS) versions. Both engines were later versions of Fiat’s twin-cam design and inherited from the Lancia Delta Integrale. 1996 brought in a 1.8 lire 131 PS 16V engine (not available in the UK), along with a 2.0-litre 5-cylinder 20V (147 PS), and a 5-cylinder 2.0-litre 20V turbo (220 PS). The turbocharged 16 and 20 valve versions were equipped with a very efficient Viscodrive limited-slip differential to counter the understeer that plagues most powerful front wheel drive cars. Additionally, the coupe featured independent suspension all round: at the front MacPherson struts and lower wishbones anchored to an auxiliary crossbeam, offset coil springs and anti-roll bar; at the rear, trailing arms mounted on an auxiliary subframe, coil springs and an anti-roll bar. The car was well received at launch, and the 5 cylinder engines just made it even better, with sales increasing slightly for a couple of years, but then they started to drop off, as Coupe models in general fell from favour. 1998 saw the release of the Limited Edition which featured red Brembo brake calipers at the front and standard red calipers at the back, a body kit, push-button start, six-speed gearbox, strut brace to make the chassis more rigid and Recaro seats with red leather inserts which offered better support than the standard 20VT seats. The LE was produced in Black, Red, Vinci Grey (metallic), Crono Grey and Steel Grey (metallic). The bodywork of the LE also benefited from titanium coloured insert around the light bezels and the wing mirrors. Each Limited Edition (‘LE’) Coupé was manufactured with a badge located by the rear-view mirror which contained that car’s unique number (it is rumored that Michael Schumacher was the original owner of LE No. 0001, however when the question was raised to him personally he confirmed he had owned one, but a red one, while LE No. 0001 is a Crono Grey one). Originally a spokesman from Fiat stated only approximately 300 Limited Editions would be built. The final number was much higher, perhaps as many as 1400. This angered many of the owners of the original 300 cars and almost certainly impacted residual values. The original number however was quoted by a Fiat UK spokesman, so probably that number only applied to the UK market. The numbered plaque on every Coupe features enough space for 4 numbers. In 1998 the 2.0-litre 5-cylinder 20V got a Variable Inlet System which brought the power to 154 PS. The 2.0-litre 5-cylinder 20V Turbo received a 6-speed gearbox and a large, satin gloss push starter button. In addition, the sills of the Turbo version were colour matched with the body paintwork. Fiat also released the 2.0 litre 5 cylinder Turbo ‘Plus’. This model came with an option kit that made it virtually identical to the LE, except for minor interior design changes and without the unique identification badge of the LE. In 2000 Fiat released another special version of the Fiat Coupé. Featuring the 1.8-litre engine, it was only available throughout mainland Europe and marketed as an elegant and affordable edition. Fiat also made changes throughout the rest of the range: new seats, side skirts and wheels for the 2.0-litre 20V model, ‘Plus’ edition wheels on turbo models and Fiat manufactured seats on the ‘Plus’ that were virtually identical to the original Plus Recaro seats with the addition of extra airbags. The 2.0-litre 20V Turbo model is capable of accelerating from 0–100 km/h (0 to 62 mph) in 6.5 seconds and 6.3 seconds for the 20v Turbo Plus, with a top speed of 240 km/h (149 mph) or 250 km/h (155 mph) with later 6-speed gearbox. When production finally stopped in September 2000, a total number of 72,762 units had been produced. There are still well over 1000 units in the UK, so this is a Fiat which has proved durable as well as good to drive, and to look at.
Well known now, thanks to a starring role in the Harry Potter films is the Anglia 105E, a model that Ford launched in October 1959. It was a basic car, even in the better selling De Luxe version, so it was not surprising that Ford introduced a more powerful and luxurious model from 1962, the 123E Anglia Super. It had a larger 1198 cc engine and other refinements. Towards the end of the run Ford experimented with two colours of metallic paint on the Anglia, “Blue Mink” and “Venetian Gold”. 250 were made in the Blue and 500 were made in the Gold. Anglia saloons were provided with various levels of trim. The base model was the Standard, and this sported no chromework, painted rear light surrounds, steel slatted grille and limited interior trim. The deluxe had a chrome side strip, chrome rear lights, glovebox lid, sun visor and full width chrome radiator grille while the top of the range, also seen here, was the Super, which had twin chrome side strips, contrasting coloured roof and side flash, plusher interior trim, together with the 1198 cc engine and a gearbox with synchromesh on first gear. There were several examples of the model brought back to popularity following a starring role in Harry Potter, in both saloon form, including one with the Touring Kit which saw the spare wheel mounted outside the car, as well as the estate and a rare van converted with side windows and rear seats added.
The Ford Escort RS Cosworth is a sports derivative and rally homologation special of the fifth generation European Ford Escort. It was designed to qualify as a Group A car for the World Rally Championship, in which it competed between 1993 and 1998. It was available as a road car from 1992–96 in very limited numbers. Ford developed the car around the chassis and mechanicals of its spiritual predecessor, the Sierra Cosworth to accommodate the larger Cosworth engine and transmission, whilst clothing it in Escort body panels to make it resemble the standard car. Designed under the guidance of Rod Mansfield and John Wheeler of Ford’s SVO department, the styling was carried out during 1989, a year before the standard Escort was launched, by Stephen Harper at MGA Developments in Coventry. The spoiler was added by Frank Stephenson, who originally proposed a three-deck piece. The body tooling was created by coachbuilders Karmann at their facility in Rheine, Germany, where the cars were manufactured. Changes were made to the engine management system and a new turbocharger was fitted. Permanent four wheel drive with a 34/66% front/rear split came courtesy of an uprated five speed gearbox as used in the Sierra Cosworth. Recaro sports seats came as a standard fitment. Later production models were available without the oversize tail spoiler although by far the majority were still ordered with it. Like its Sierra predecessor, they are commonly nicknamed “Cossie” by enthusiasts. The car’s top speed was 150 mph, which rivalled lower-end supercars including the Audi Quattro, BMW M3, Nissan 300ZX and Toyota Supra, and comfortably outperformed traditional “hot hatchbacks” like the Volkswagen Golf GTI. It was much faster than the 126 mph which the Escort RS2000 and earlier Escort RS Turbo were capable of. Two versions were produced. The initial 2,500 units were “homologation specials” used to get the FIA accreditation for entry into the World Rally Championship. They were fitted with a Garrett T3/T04B turbocharger. Among these initial units, a handful were badged as Motorsport versions, these lacked certain refinements such as a sunroof and sound deadening. The initial cars included features that, although they made the Cosworth a more effective car, did not enhance it as a road vehicle, and once the rules were satisfied Ford attempted to make the car less temperamental and easier to drive under normal conditions. The second generation, starting production from late 1994, were fitted with a Garrett T25 turbocharger, a smaller unit which reduced turbo lag and increased usability in everyday driving situations. With these later models, the ‘whale tail’ spoiler became a delete option. . The Escort Cosworth was a rare car, with 7,145 vehicles produced from the start of production on 19 February 1992 until the last car rolled out of the factory on 12 January 1996.
This is the first generation of Fiesta to bear the now legendary ST badging. The performance model of the fifth generation Fiesta, it includes a 2.0 L Duratec petrol engine rated at 150 PS in standard form, with a top speed of 129 mph (208 km/h). The Fiesta ST also features 17 in alloy wheels, disc brakes to all wheels, different front and rear bumpers, side skirts, body colour handles and bump strips, partial leather seats or an optional extra of heated full leather seats and a ST logo on the front seat backs and on the steering wheel. In Australia, the Fiesta ST was sold as the Fiesta XR4. To stay in line with all sports model Fords sold in Australia it received the ‘XR’ badging, instead of the ‘ST’ badging used in Europe. The vehicle was unveiled at the 2004 Geneva Motor Show.
Successive Fiesta ST generations were also well represented here, too.
The Mustang finally went on sale in the UK in right hand drive form in 2016 and it has proved deservedly popular, with the 5.0 GT selling in greater quantities than Ford had anticipated.
The Bullitt Mustang returned for the third time for the 2019-2020 model years. It was revealed on stage during the 2018 North American International Auto Show alongside the one of the original surviving vehicles from the 1968 film. Molly McQueen, Steve McQueen’s granddaughter was the presenter on stage. The s550 variant of the Bullitt was offered in either its signature Dark Highland Green or in Shadow Black paint and had unique exterior features such as: 19″ black Torq-Thrust style wheels, spoiler delete, removed badges and a chrome trim along its side windows and front grille. The faux gas cap was back as was the white cue ball style shifter knob. Performance-wise, the Bullitt came equipped with the Gen 3 Coyote V8 but with the intake manifold, throttle body and airbox from the Shelby GT350 that helped the engine to produce an additional 20 horsepower over the GT at 480. The engine was only offered with the MT-82 6-speed manual transmission. Lastly, the active-valve exhaust was tuned to produce a sound more reminiscent of the movie car. The car proved very popular.
There have been Honda Civic cars since 1973. in ten distinct generations, three of which were represented here. Oldest of them was this fourth generation car. In September 1987, a redesigned Civic was introduced with increased dimensions and a lower bonnet line, though the overall styling was similar to the range which it replaced t. A wide range of models and trim levels were offered for various markets around the world. The most notable of which was the Japanese market SiR (featuring the B16A DOHC VTEC engine). All U.S. models featured electronic fuel injection, but carburettor models were still available elsewhere. The fourth generation saw the introduction of a fully independent rear suspension across the entire model range. In addition, the Honda CRX continued to be part of the Civic family which included the HF, DX and Si model in the U.S.A / four door version called the Ballade was built, under agreement, by Mercedes-Benz South Africa / models were 1500 16V, 1600i 16V and 1600i 16V DOHC. The first 800 cars produced at the then brand new Honda plant in Alliston, Ontario, Canada were SE model cars. These Special Edition models included all white side molding that matched the white body and colour matched dual mirrors. In the body moulding was a wrap around blue stripe. Each car had interior upgrades as well as a chrome-tipped exhaust. In the UK the cars came as a three door hatch or four door saloon with the CRX coupe and Shuttle filling out the range. The car ran through to 1991 when the fifth generation car made its debut.
In 2001, Honda introduced the next generation of the Civic Type R as a unique 3-door hatchback to the UK market, which was manufactured in Swindon, England. This European Domestic Market Civic Type R featured a 200 PS 2.0-litre i-VTEC engine (K20A2) and the regular Type R treatment of seam welding, close-ratio 6-speed transmission and upgraded brakes, but did not include some of the other higher-end features, such as the helical LSD and red Recaro race-seats, that were standard on the EK9. However, Honda marketed a JDM (Japanese domestic market) version of the EP3 (which was exclusively manufactured in Swindon, UK and was shipped to Japan), which retained the highly renowned helical LSD similar to that of the EK9 and red Recaro race-seats. Other differences of the JDM model included a more track-oriented chassis/undercarriage settings as compared to the European model as well as a more powerful engine having a power output of 215 PS (designated K20A) had a fully balanced crankshaft assembly with the different intake manifold, exhaust manifold, higher-lift camshafts, higher-compression pistons, chrome-moly flywheel and ECU programming. All of the Japan-spec K20A Type R powertrains were built in Japan and shipped to the Swindon plant to be installed in the Japan-spec Type-R EP3. The JDM EP3 was also available in the traditional Type R Championship White while the EDM was not. The EDM has more relaxed gear ratios and some high rpm torque traded for low rpm torque compared to the JDM. In 2003, the EP3 was updated with many improvements – revised EPS with quicker steering, revised suspension settings, projector headlamps (JDM came equipped with halogens only while the EDM came with an option for HIDs with self-leveling motors), lighter clutch and flywheel assembly, etc. Based on Honda literature, this facelifted (FL) model was targeted at addressing customers’ and critics’ feedback such as understeer on the limit (due to the front MacPherson strut setup), numb steering response and lack of low-end torque. Mugen Motorsports developed an upgraded version of the JDM Civic Type R, with a sport exhaust system and engine tuning, special Mugen Grille, and anti-roll bars for pro racing activities. In 2003 Honda celebrated 30 years of the Civic badge by offering a special edition 30th Anniversary Civic Type R. This special edition features red bucket seats from Recaro, AIR CONDITIONING, privacy glass on the rear windows, a leather MOMO steering wheel, red interior carpet and door cards. The 30th Anniversary models in the UK were available in Nighthawk Black, Satin Silver and Milano Red. Only 300 of these models were produced, 100 in each colour. In 2005 towards the end of the EP3’s production run, Honda introduced the Civic Type R Premier edition which had Recaro Trendline seats (similar to those found in the Anniversary Edition, only in red and black rather than all red), a darker shade of fabric on the rear seat centre sections, a MOMO Steering Wheel, Red Carpet, Door Linings, “Type R” embossed into the front brake calipers and black privacy glass on the rear windows. Air conditioning was an option. They were available in Milano Red, Nighthawk Black, Cosmic Grey and Satin Silver. In 2004 Honda introduced the “C Package” option (¥330,000 JPY) to Japan’s Civic Type R line-up which included an additional colour, Satin Silver Metallic, HID lighting, rear privacy glass, automatic air conditioner and outside air temperature sensor. For the last production year (2005), the EP3 Type R was offered in Vivid Blue Pearl for the European Market. A total of 132 EP3’s, which were all left-hand drive, were produced in Vivid Blue Pearl.
The eighth generation was released in September 2005, for the 2006 model year. For the eighth generation, Honda split the model into two different platforms, one for sedan and coupe, and one for a hatchback designed primarily for the European market using a simpler rear suspension from the Honda Fit and more aggressive styling. As of 2006, a total of 16.5 million Civics had been sold worldwide, with 7.3 million of them in the United States. Although the North American and the home market model differ externally, they are mechanically identical. The hatchback is available as a three and five-door. Both Si and Type R trim levels continued although the Japanese and European Type R, while sharing the same engine size, are mechanically different. The European and international market Civic Type R is offered only as a three-door hatchback and uses a different chassis and internal layout (notably tank placement below the driver’s seat), which will serve as the base for the next European version of the Jazz. The rear suspension, formerly a double wishbone setup, was changed to a less complex torsion beam axle. The drive train is largely the same as the predecessor, offering 201 PS at 7,800 rpm and 193 Nm (142 lb/ft) of torque at 5,600 rpm, with 90 percent of peak torque is available from 2,500 rpm. The car is fitted with 225/40 R18 Y88 Bridgestone Potenza RE050A tyres, while optional 19-inch Rage alloys fitted with Yokohama Advan Sport 225/35 ZR19 88Y tyres were also available. The car has a kerb weight of 1,320 kg (2,910 lb). A number of different trims were offered. The Type R GT trim includes dual-zone climate control (Left:right independent), rain-sensing windscreen wipers, refrigerated glove box, automatic headlights with dusk sensor, front fog lights, power-folding wing mirrors, cruise control, front and rear curtain airbags. It is finished in the same four colours as the standard FN2, and a new colour called Deep Sapphire Blue Pearl added to the colours offered. As often, names and trims vary even within domain markets down to local ones, and a Heritage trim replaces the GT version in some of them, adding Xenon/HID lights to the mix. The Heritage’s infotainment system version adds Bluetooth telephone system and voice recognition DVD satellite navigation. A more radical trim dubbed Race differs from the Heritage by removing components (incl. HID, AC, fog lights, audio system, soundproofing, some airbags) to reduce weight as much as 40 kg (88 lb). Production for the European market ended in October 2010 due to the engine not meeting Euro V emissions regulations which came into effect in 2011. Over 12,000 Civic Type Rs were sold in the UK since January 2007, Honda continued to export the car to the Australian market into 2011. It was also exported to Japan and marketed as Civic Type-R EURO in a limited edition in fall 2010, following a successful run in November 2009. Top Gear Magazine awarded the European Civic Type R its ‘Hot Hatch of 2007’, praising the car’s controls and comparing it favourably as a driver’s car to its rivals, the Stig qualifying it as ‘an utter gem’. However the television show Top Gear later criticised the new FN2 Chassis version, due to the different suspension and added weight. Jeremy Clarkson said it “just doesn’t feel that quick” and that “all the poise and controllability that you used to get in the old car is just sort of… gone”.
The Aventador has been a huge success for Lamborghini. It was first seen at the 2011 Geneva Show, with the full name of Aventador LP700-4 Coupe, the numbers denoting the output of 700 bhp from the all-new V12 engine and the 4 meaning four wheel drive, something which has featured on every Aventador since. The launch price was £250,000 but even so within a month, Lamborghini had a year’s worth of orders, and within a year, 1000 had been built. In November 2012 a Roadster version arrived, which was very similar to the Coupe, but with a lift-out roof panel. A suite of mechanical changes came at this point, with a cylinder deactiviation technology helping to improve fuel consumption and cut emissions. To mark half a century of car production, in April 2013, the LP720-4 50th Anniversary was launched, with 100 units available. As well as the extra 20 bhp, these had a mildly redesigned nose and tail, special paintwork and unique interior trim. A Roadster version followed in December 2014, the LP 700-4 Pirelli Edition. This did not have the extra power, but did feature two tone paint, unique wheels and a transparent engine cover, with the engine bay finished in carbon fibre. Lamborghini turned up the wick in march 2015 with the LP750-4 SuperVeloce, or SV for short, which featured and extra 50 bhp and a 50 kg weight reduction largely thanks to the use of more carbon fibre. A Roadster version followed a few months later.
For a while it looked as if my Ghibli Hybrid would be the only Maserati on site, but during the evening an example of its SUV-relative, the Levante also arrived.
Now an established part of the McLaren range, the 570S along with its slightly cheaper and less powerful brother, the 540C, was revealed at the 2015 New York Auto Show, going on sale towards the end of that year. These were labelled as part of McLaren’s Sports Series. This mid-engine sportscar features the lightweight carbon fibre MonoCell II chassis, and a highly efficient 3.8-litre twin turbo V8 engine generating 562bhp and 443lb/ft of torque. Although the model has been conceived with a greater focus on day-to-day usability and refinement, it is still very much a pure McLaren, boasting a class-leading power-to-weight ratio of 434PS per tonne, and electrifying performance. The 570S Coupé accelerates from 0 to 100km/h in just 3.2 seconds, reaches 200km/h (124mph) in 9.5 seconds, and on to a top speed of 204mph. Pricing for the 570S Coupé started at £143,250, though like all cars of this type, that figure can quickly rise once you raid the options list.
In June 2018, McLaren unveiled the top-of-the-line sports series variant online. The car, called the 600LT is based on the 570S and is the third McLaren production car to receive the longtail treatment. Inspired by the 675LT and the F1 GTR Longtail, the body of the car has been extended by 73.7 mm (2.9 in). The car also features enhanced aerodynamic elements such as an extended front splitter and rear diffuser, new side sills, and an aero-enhancing fixed rear wing for increased downforce. McLaren claims that 23% parts on the 600LT are new as compared to the 570S. The carbon fibre monocoque utilised in the 600LT is modified and this combined with the extensive use of carbon fibre in the roof along with the cantrails and front wings, results in a weight saving of 96 kg (212 lb) over the 570S, with the total weight amounting to 1,247 kg (2,749 lb). Another distinguishing feature of the 600LT is the lightweight titanium exhaust system which is mounted on top of the rear of the car which harks back to its original application in the Senna. The interior features sports bucket seats from the P1 and Alcantara trim but can be optioned with the much lighter bucket seats found in the Senna. The 3.8-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine utilised in the 600LT is tuned to produce a maximum power output of 600 PS (592 bhp) (hence the 600 in the name) and 620 N⋅m (457 lb⋅ft) of torque, achieving a power-to-weight ratio of 479 PS per tonne. Performance figures and production numbers of the car remain unknown. Production of the 600LT started in October 2018. In January 2019, McLaren unveiled the convertible variant of the 600LT at the Detroit Auto Show. Due to the use of the same carbon monocoque as the other models in the 570S lineage the 600LT Spider required did not need any extra modifications to incorporate a folding hardtop roof. As a result, the Spider weighs 50 kg (110 lb) more than the coupé while maintaining the same performance statistics. The Spider has the same engine and aerodynamic components as the coupé and share the roof folding mechanism with the standard 570S Spider which can be operated at speeds upto 40 km/h (25 mph). The car can accelerate to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 2.9 seconds, to 200 km/h (124 mph) in 8.4 seconds (0.2 seconds more than the coupé) and can attain a top speed of 315 km/h (196 mph) with the roof retracted and 323 km/h (201 mph) with the roof closed. The car can achieve a dry weight of 1,297 kg (2,859 lb) when equipped with the MSO ClubSport package which includes the removal of air-conditioning and radio, titanium wheel nuts and the replacement of the standard seats with the carbon fibre seats from the Senna. The car has received rave reviews.
During the 1980s, a series of limited editions of the popular Mini appeared. This is one of them, called the Flame. Based on the Mini City, with its 998cc engine the car was launched in January 1989. They were all painted in Flame Red and had a white roof. There were chrome bumpers with a black grille centre, and coachlines with ‘Flame’ logo. Inside there was Black ‘Crayons’ fabric. The car featured full-width white wheeltrims and had a radio cassette. 1000 were produced.
The Mini was the model that refused to die, with sales continuing after the launch of the Metro in 1980, and gathering momentum again in the 1990s, thanks in no small part to interest from Japan and because Rover Group decided to produce some more Cooper models. The first series of Cooper cars had been discontinued in 1971, replaced by the cheaper to build 1275GT, but when a limited edition model was produced in 1990, complete with full endorsement from John Cooper, the model was a sell out almost overnight, which prompted the decision to make it a permanent addition to the range. A number of refinements were made during the 90s, with fuel injection adding more power, a front mounted radiator and more sound deadening making the car quieter and new seats adding more comfort and a new dash making the car look less spartan inside.
Designed by Benjamin Dimson in 1986, the 964 featured significant styling revisions over previous 911 models, most prominently the more integrated bumpers. The 964 was considered to be 85% new as compared to its predecessor. The first 964s available in 1989 were all wheel drive equipped “Carrera 4” models; Porsche added the rear wheel drive Carrera 2 variant to the range in 1990. Both variants were available as a coupe, Targa or Cabriolet. The 964 Carrera was the last generation sold with the traditional removable Targa roof until the 2011 991. A new naturally aspirated engine called the M64 was used for 964 models, with a flat-6 displacement of 3.6 litres. Porsche substantially revised the suspension, replacing torsion bars with coil springs and shock absorbers. Power steering and ABS brakes were added to the 911 for the first time; both were standard. The exterior bumpers and fog lamps became flush with the car for better aerodynamics. A new electric rear spoiler raised at speeds above 50 mph and lowered down flush with the rear engine lid at lower speeds. A revised interior featured standard dual airbags beginning in 1990 for all North American production cars. A new automatic climate control system provided improved heating and cooling. Revised instrumentation housed a large set of warning lights that were tied into the car’s central warning system, alerting the driver to a possible problem or malfunction. The 964 was sold until 1993 when its place was taken by the 993. 62,172 were built. The car was not particularly well regarded by enthusiasts, with most preferring its predecessor or successor, but latterly, it has found greater favour and values are firming.
The 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 0-60 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).
There were also examples of the smaller Porsche model family. This is a 981 generation Boxster, the third series of car to bear the name, all with a close resemblance to each other.
Much rumoured for some time, the Cayman GT4 was officially launched at the 2015 Geneva Show, positioned to sit between the Cayman GTS and the 911 GT3. By the time of the official unveiling, the car was supposedly sold out many times over, though more recently it has become apparent that at least some Porsche dealers have been holding onto cars claiming that the first purchaser changed their mind, and then offering them to those who did not get one of the allocation a year ago, at vastly inflated prices. If true, this is very sharp practice indeed, but seems to be the sort to tricks that are becoming increasingly common as enthusiasts are being fleeced in the name of extra profit. For a starting price of around £65,000 in the UK, the lucky customer would get a car which used used a stiffened and strengthened Cayman bodyshell as a starting point, but lowered by 30mm . Porsche say that in fitting as many GT parts as possible, they did not make it out of a Cayman GTS, but rather they produced an entry-level mid-engined GT3 car. That sounds like PR spin to me, as of course the car does use an awful lot of parts from the regular Cayman. However, plenty is changed, too. There is a reworked version of the Carrera S’s 3.8-litre flat six engine, producing 380bhp at 7400rpm and 310lb ft at 4750-6000rpm, hooked up to a modified version of the Cayman GTS’s six-speed manual gearbox. A PDK dual-clutch automatic was considered but rejected, meaning the Cayman GT4 is manual only. This is enough to mean that the 0-62mph sprint takes 4.4sec and the top speed is 183mph, with combined fuel economy of 27.4mpg and CO2 emissions rated at 238g/km. The front axle and suspension are borrowed from the 911 GT3 and the rear axle and forged aluminium double wishbone suspension are completely new. Dampers are taken from the 911 GT3. The electric steering system from the 911 GT3 does make it onto the Cayman GT4 but is given new software. Stopping power is provided by standard steel brakes, or optional carbon-ceramics from the 911 GT3. The forged 20in alloy wheels were new and are shod with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres. The rear 295/30 ZR20 tyres are bespoke, but the front 245/35 ZR20s were borrowed from the 911 GT3 as they were “a perfect match”. design-wise, the goal was to create a “zero lift car”, but thanks to the extensive aerodynamic and cooling package on the car – which includes a front splitter, a larger front grille and increased frontal air intakes, side air intakes, not one but two rear spoilers and a fully functional diffuser – the Cayman GT4 produces as much downforce at speed (100kg) as the 911 GT3. Every single part on the Cayman GT4 has a functional use. Other design features include “cool” black glass on the front and rear lights, blackened twin central exhausts and quality stitching on the twin lightweight bucket seats, taken from the 918 Spyder, as small details adding to that ‘want factor’.Despite all the extra equipment, the Cayman GT4 weighs no more than a Cayman GTS, tipping the scales at 1340kg dry. You could delete items such as the sat-nav and air-con to save weight, but few customers did, just as with the 911 GT3 RS were just 2% of buyers deleted the air-con. Inside, the steering wheel was new. The sports seats were trimmed in both leather and Alcantara. Standard equipment included bi-xenon headlights, a sports exhaust system, a Sport Chrono Package with dynamic engine mounts, the Porsche Torque Vectoring system, a mechanical limited-slip differential at the rear and the Porsche Stability Management system. On the options list were items such as carbonfibre-reinforced, plastic-backed seats for the two-seat interior. These weigh just 15kg each and were inspired by the 918 Spyder. A customised version of the Sport Chrono Package was offered, as is a Club Sport Package. Initially it was declared that production would be very limited, but Porsche soon relented and far more were built than had originally been declared.
Arriving with the Lamborghini was this Rolls Royce Dawn. Imposing for sure, with the matt finish making it seem almost menacing, which was perhaps the intention!
The third-generation MR2 was marketed as the Toyota MR-S in Japan, Toyota MR2 Spyder in the US, and the Toyota MR2 Roadster in Europe. Also known as the Midship Runabout-Sports, the newest MR2 took a different approach than its predecessor, most obviously becoming a convertible and receiving the ‘Spyder’ marketing nomenclature. The first prototype of MR-S appeared in 1997 at the Tokyo Motor Show. The MR2 Spyder chief engineer Harunori Shiratori said, “First, we wanted true driver enjoyment, blending good movement, low inertia and light weight. Then, a long wheelbase to achieve high stability and fresh new styling; a mid-engine design to create excellent handling and steering without the weight of the engine up front; a body structure as simple as possible to allow for easy customizing, and low cost to the consumer.” The only engine available for the ZZW30 was the all-aluminium alloy 1ZZ-FED, a 1.8 litre Inline-four engine. Like its predecessors, it used DOHC and 4 valves per cylinder. The intake camshaft timing was adjustable via the VVT-i system, which was introduced earlier on the 1998 MR2 in some markets. Unlike its predecessors, however, the engine was placed onto the car the other way round, with the exhaust manifold towards the rear of the car instead of towards the front. The maximum power of 138 bhp at 6,400 rpm and 126 lb/ft (171 Nm) of torque at 4,400 rpm was quite a drop from the previous generation, but thanks to the lightness of the car it could still move quite quickly, accelerating from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 6.8 to 8.7 seconds depending on the transmission option, the Sequential Manual being unable to launch and shift as quickly as the clutch operated manual. Curb weight is 996 kg (2,195 lb) for manual transmission models. In addition to the 5-speed manual transmission, a 6-speed manual or 5-speed Sequential Manual Transmission (SMT) was also available starting in 2002. The SMT was a standard feature in Australian market; however, air conditioning was optional. After 2003, a 6-speed SMT was an option. The SMT had no conventional H-pattern shift lever or clutch pedal. The driver could shift gears by tapping the shift lever forward or backward or by pressing steering-wheel mounted buttons. Clutch engagement is automatic, and the car will automatically shift to second and then first gear when stopping. Cruise control was never offered with the manual transmission, but was standard for SMT-equipped cars. The MR2 Spyder featured a heated glass rear window. A hard top was also available from Toyota in Japan and Europe. Production ended in 2007 and there was no direct successor.
The Yaris GR is a definite “car of the moment”, following its rave reception last autumn. Long waits are in store for those ordering the car at present, but clearly those who got in early have now received their cars and I am seeing more and more of them where enthusiasts are gathered. There was at least one here.
The Toyota Verossa (Japanese: トヨタ・ヴェロッサ) is a mid-size sedan produced by Toyota for the Japanese market, and was exclusive new to the Netz Store locations as the smaller companion sedan to the Aristo. The Verossa exceeded Japanese government dimension regulations concerning external dimensions and engine displacement, offering buyers a sedan that continued to offer a rear-wheel drive platform, opposite the 2001–2006 Camry with very similar dimensions and front-wheel drive platform. The advantage the Verossa offered over the Camry was the ability to offer four-wheel drive, which the Camry couldn’t do. The Verossa, introduced in June 2001, was launched with the Toyopet Store alternative called the Progrès and the Toyota Store Brevis. Toyota replaced the aging Mark II stablemates, the Chaser and Cresta which ended production together in 2000 with the Verossa, combining the sporting aspects of the Chaser with the luxury characteristics of the Cresta, in a vehicle that is smaller than the Crown. The Verossa was a larger version of the Altezza that debuted in 1998 and became a sales success, offering high performance and luxury with a six-cylinder engine and rear-wheel drive. The Verossa shared its “X”-chassis model code with its predecessors and also featured the rear-wheel drive layout. The “Verossa” name is coined from Italian words “vero”, meaning “truth” and “rosso”, meaning “red”. The Verossa’s production ceased in April 2004 due to poor sales.
Intended to compete directly with the Fiesta ST, Opel/Vauxhall had another go at a hot version of their supermini, with the result, badged Coras OPC in Opel guise and Corsa VXR as a Vauxhall, launching it in February 2015. Compared to the previous generation model, power output had increased by 15PS to 207PS (204 bhp) from 1.6 Turbo engine, with a maximum torque of 245 Nm (181 lb-ft) between 1900 and 5800 rpm. An overboost function increased torque to 280Nm (210 lb-ft) when needed. As a result, the Corsa OPC was able to sprint from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 6.8 seconds and to reach a maximum speed of 230 km/h (143 mph). The Corsa OPC featured a sports chassis with Frequency Selective Damping (FSD) technology, which enabled the damping forces to adapt to the frequency of the car to balance sportiness with comfort. The suspension was lowered by 10mm (0.39 in) compared to standard Corsa models, and the car also received an optimised steering system with more direct and precise reactions. OPC also worked on the brakes, adding 308mm discs on the front axle. Opel also offered the Corsa OPC Performance Package, which included a mechanical multi-disc differential lock made by Drexler, 18-inch wheels with Michelin tires, and an even more athletic chassis set up. The package also brought a Brembo high-performance braking system with 330mm braking discs on the front axle. Styling-wise, the Corsa OPC/VXR received more aggressive body kits with new bumpers, aluminium frames for the fog lights, a small scoop in the hood, a big roof spoiler, and twin-pipe Remus exhaust with a diffuser. Inside, the Recaro performance seats took centre stage, with other upgrades including the flat-bottomed leather steering wheel, OPC gear knob, and sports pedals, as well as OPC design instruments. Sales were disappointing and the car was quietly withdrawn after a couple of years, long before the rest of the fifth generation Corsa found a replacement.
Volkswagen began production of the Golf Mk4 R32 in 2002, for the 2003 model year. It was the world’s first production car with a dual-clutch gearbox (DSG) — available for the German market. Due to unexpected popularity, Volkswagen decided to sell the car in the United States and Australia as the 2004 model year Volkswagen R32. Billed as the pinnacle of the Golf IV platform, the R32 included every performance, safety, and luxury feature Volkswagen had to offer, including the all new 3,189 cc DOHC 4 valves per cylinder VR6 engine (ID codes: BFH/BML), which produced a rated motive power output of 241 PS (238 bhp) at 6,250 rpm and 320 Nm (236 lb/ft) at 2,800 rpm of torque. Further additions included Haldex Traction-based 4motion on-demand four-wheel drive system, a new six-speed manual transmission, independent rear suspension, Climatronic automatic climate control, sport seats from König with R32 badging, 18″ OZ Aristo alloy wheels (Ronal produced the wheels towards the end of production), Electronic Stability Programme, larger 334 mm (13.1 in) disc brakes with gloss blue painted calipers, sunroof (for the US), Xenon Headlamps (for Europa), and model-specific bodywork additions. Production ceased in 2005 to make way for the Mark V generation model.
There were a number of more recent sporting VW models here, too, with the previous generation Polo GTi and the smaller Up GTi being the ones which I photographed.
There were a pair of classic Volvo Estate models here. First up was a 740 Estate. Introduced in early 1984 (in the U.S. and Australia for the 1985 model year), the 740 arrived nearly two years after the luxurious 760. It was the lower-end version of the original 760, intended to be a mid-size car that offered more style, performance, and luxury than the 200 series. The ‘4’ in the middle of the Volvo model name had once signified a four-cylinder engine, but by the time of the introduction of the 740 it simply meant less luxurious equipment as four- and six-cylinder engines were fitted across both ranges. The 740 was available as a four-door sedan (sometimes referred to as the 744) and a five-door station wagon (also known as the 745). The station wagon premiered simultaneously at the 1985 Toronto and Chicago auto shows in early February 1985. The wagon was aimed squarely at the North American markets and only went on sale in Europe several months later, in the fall of 1985. For 1985, an intercooled version of the 2-litre turbo engine (B200ET) was introduced for markets such as Italy, where larger engines were heavily taxed. This unit produces 160 PS at 5500 rpm, ten horsepower more than the preceding non-intercooled B19ET variant, enough for a claimed 200 km/h (124 mph) top speed. Model year 1986 marked the worldwide introduction of the station wagon; other differences were limited to a new font for the “740” badging and new hubcap designs. First shown at the 1988 Geneva Motor Show with tentative specifications but only going on sale with the introduction of the 1989 model year cars, a 16-valve version of the larger B230 engine was introduced (B234). This model has nearly as much peak power as the turbo version and was Volvo’s first multi-valve engine. In 1990, the 740 received a minor facelift with new, smaller, composite headlamps and 780-style tail lights. In 1991, both the 740 and the newly introduced 940 received an updated dashboard, similar in appearance to the ones found in the 760. The 740 remained mostly unchanged for the 1992 model year, and sales ended in 1994. Production of the 740 ceased on October 2, 1992, though the engine, transmission, chassis, and other details continued in the Volvo 940 (introduced in September 1990), which was essentially identical to the 740 with the exception of the rear of the sedans. Aside from styling, 1990 also marked a number of mechanical improvements to the 740 series. The B200 and B230 motors received larger 13 mm (0.5 in) connecting rods. The 740 Turbo switched from the Garrett T3-series turbocharger to the Mitsubishi TD04 series, which offers quicker spool-up and better boost at low engine speeds, albeit at the expense of top-end performance. The electronic fuel injection system was upgraded from Bosch LH-Jetronic 2.2 to 2.4 (in 1988 for naturally aspirated cars, in 1990 for turbocharged cars). The newer fuel system offers onboard diagnostics, which are accessible from the engine compartment and require no special equipment. For 1992, the final model year for the 740, the mechanical engine cooling fan was replaced with an electric fan. Trim levels were 740, 740 GL, 740 GLE, 740 SE, 740 GLT and 740 Turbo, worldwide. Continental markets had some exceptions to this rule. The 740 Turbo 16V (most markets received the 2.3 litre eight-valve turbo engine) was sold mainly in Italy, but also in Portugal and Belgium, and used the 2-litre B204FT engine found also in the 780 for these same markets. The 740 Turbo 16V was equipped with the ECC from the 780 as standard. Late in 1991, Volvo offered a sedan and wagon badged the 740 SE, standing for “special equipment”. The 740 SE came in three colors; red, black, and white. Mechanically, the 740 SE was the same as a normal 740 Turbo, but with many features, such as a power sunroof and leather seats, as standard equipment. The SE also had a special factory color-keyed body kit, including front and rear bumpers, side skirts, and a spoiler for the sedan. The 740 SE, along with the 740 Turbo sedan, was discontinued for 1992.
The Volvo 940 is among the last in the long-running line of large rear-wheel drive cars from Volvo. Introduced in September 1990, the 940 was essentially a cosmetic reskin of the 740 aside from the completely redesigned rear from the C pillar back on the sedan. All drivetrains, and most options available in the 940 had been available in the 740, with the exception of the 780 Coupé. The 940 was more closely related to the 740 than the 760, sharing the same dashboard, drivetrain choices, and sheet metal from the A-pillar forward. In contrast, the 960 was an evolution of the 760. The 760 / 960 front sheet metal, independent rear suspension, dashboard, and other interior features were all exclusive to the two upscale models. The 940 estate, introduced in May 1991, was almost identical to its 740 estate predecessor. The engines options were carried over from the 740, with 8-valve 2-litre (B200) and 2.3-litre (B230) four cylinder gasoline engines, either naturally aspirated or turbocharged, as well as the familiar 2.4-litre Volkswagen six-cylinder diesel and turbodiesels being fitted. There were also 16-valve versions of the gasoline engines fitted on some 1991 and 1992 models (B204, B234, naturally aspirated). In 1994, petrol engine range was limited to 2.3 engines, but the 2.0 turbocharged remained available in some markets with tight tax limits, such as Italy, Belgium, and Portugal. A low-pressure turbocharged version of the B230, the B230FK, debuted in 1994 – maximum power was only up slightly over the B230FB, from 131 to 135 PS, but torque increased throughout the range and there was virtually no turbo lag due to the small size of the charger. The 155 PS turbocharged 2.0 was first presented in February 1991 originally intended for Italy and other such markets it was later also installed in the British market 940 SE. The most commonly found engines on 940s were the naturally aspirated B230FB/131PS (all markets but US), B230FD/115PS (mainly for the US market), the turbocharged B230FK/135PS, B230FT/165PS, B200FT/155PS (for some markets) and the D24TIC/122PS diesel engine. Engines were fitted with either a 5-speed (M47) or 4-speed+overdrive (M46) manual gearbox or an automatic transmission, either Aisin-Warner AW10/71/72 (3-speed+overdrive) or ZF 4HP22 (4-speed) for some B230FB (or E) and diesel engines. In 1995, the manual gearbox was replaced with a full 5-speed (M90), and the ZF was abandoned for gasoline engines and fitted only on diesels. The SE emblem denoted very different trim and engine levels in different countries. In Sweden, the 940 SE was an ordinary non-turbo 940 with some optional extras as standard, most notably painted mirrors and bumpers. In the UK it was a high trim level available with all engines (from 2.0 to 2.3 turbo). In Australia, the 940 SE was a high trim level with only the 2.3 Turbo B230FT with some extras as standard and featured, rather unusually, full painted bumpers. In Thailand the 940 SE was a Turbo (LPT) model with leather seats, ABS brakes and SRS Airbag. In the US, the 940 SE utilised the body from the 960 (different dashboard, firewall, hood, recessed windscreen wipers etc) with the four-cylinder B230FT engine, the 940 SE badge presumably chosen by Volvo in order to maintain the link between name and number of cylinders. From 1993 on, in Italy all 940 estates were badged “Polar” (engine B200F) or “Super Polar” (engine B200FT). Towards the end of the model cycle, certain countries (as Sweden, Germany and Switzerland) had a well equipped special series badged “Classic”. Production of the 940 series extended from 1990 to 5 February 1998.
Whilst this was not perhaps a vintage showing in terms of quantity of cars or for those rarities and oddities that so often comprise part of the car park, this was still a very pleasant evening. There were plenty of cars on site and they continued to arrive steadily throughout the evening so everytime I walked from one end of the site to the other there was something fresh to see and some more photos to take. A good part of the evening, of course, was spend sitting at one of the tables, enjoying a beer and one of the freshly cooked pizzas, chatting to my Abarth friends. By the time the light drizzle arrived, it was dusk and those who had longer journeys to undertake than me (I was staying locally overnight) had all set off, so I took my cue and departed, too having enjoyed a very pleasant evening. I look forward to my next visit to this iconic location.