It is perfectly possible to do two car events in one day if the venues are relatively close together. I know from previous experience, and an event that I organised for Abarth Owners Club that the British Motor Museum at Gaydon and Caffeine & Machine can easily be combined, as they are no more than 10 miles or 15 minutes apart. So when the MITCAR event, reported on separately, announced that it would be held at the Gaydon Museum, I decided that I could head over for a second car fix at Caffeine & Machine, even before a number of other Abarth owners and MITCAR attendees made the same decision and publicised their idea in the Group. Pre-booking is essential for weekend visits here, though in fact the site was not as full as it sometimes is, so a few people who made a last minute decision to come over were able to get in. Perhaps the rather damp weather had something to do with it. On arriving for the late afternoon booking period. I found there were already a number of cars already parked up, some of which I had seen earlier in the day and were Italian in brand, but there were plenty of others which were not. Sadly the rain did persist, which did take the edge off things somewhat, but not sufficient to have me running to the car and driving off-site, so here is what I saw during this particular visit:
Needless to say, a number of Abarth Owners decided to head over, as this is a popular location in the community and it is quite rare to come on site and not see another Abarth in the car parking somewhere. As had been the case at the MITCAR event, and as is usually the case, the Abarth presence was dominated by models from the 500 family, which is hardly a surprise as numerically there are far more of these than there are of the other recent model Abarths on our roads.
Oldest of the 500-based cars here was Lillian Griffiths (affectionately known and self-styled as “Gangsta Gran” with her Series 3 595. There are no easy recognition points between the very first of the Abarth 500s registered in the UK in early 2009, and the later Series 2 and 3 cars, so it takes a marque specialist to tell them apart, and even then that can be difficult, especially if the owners has changed anything, which quite often they have. Having used the legendary 695 badging from the 1960s on the Tributo cars, at the 2012 Geneva Show, Abarth dusted off the 595 name that had been used on the less powerful of the Nuova 500 based cars of the same generation, and created two new versions which we should think of as Series 2 cars, the 595 Turismo and Competizione, both of which could be bought in either closed or open top C guise, with either the 5 speed manual or robotised automated gearshifts. Both models had the 160 bhp engine as standard. Effectively they were a replacement for the Esseesse kit, and it meant that the cars were produced complete at the factory, rather than needing the dealer to undertake the upgrade (and the associated paperwork), though Abarth did not withdraw the Esseesse kits from the market for some while. Turismo, as the name suggests was aimed slightly less extreme in intent, featuring standard leather upholstery, upgraded dampers and climate control, Xenon headlights and Alutex interior details. The sportier Abarth 595 Competizione replaced the leather seats with Sabelt cloth sport seats and Alutex with aluminium, while adding p-cross-drilled brakes and the Record Monza dual-mode exhaust. Some new colours were introduced, and very soon one of those, Record Grey, frequently combined with a tan interior became one of the most popular choices. Lillian’s car is in the also popular colour known as Campovolo Grey, which has a historic link back to the very first Abarths of the late 40s when this paint, which had been used by the Italian Navy was all that was available.
What is known as the Series 4 version of the familiar 595 reached the markets in the middle of 2016. After rumours had circulated all winter following the launch of the facelifted Fiat 500 last year, Abarth finally unveiled the Series 4 at the end of May 2016. Initially, we were told that the cars would not be available in the UK until September, but that came forward somewhat, with dealers all receiving demo cars in June, and the first customers taking delivery in July. Three regular production versions of both the closed car and the open-topped C were initially available, all badged 595, and called Custom, Turismo and Competizione, as before, though numerous limited edition models have since appeared and in most case disappeared. The most significant changes with the Series 4 are visual, with a couple of new colours, including the much asked for Modena Yellow and a different red, called Abarth Red, which replaces both the non-metallic Officina and – slightly surprisingly – the tri-coat pearlescent Cordolo Red. as well as styling changes front and rear. The jury is still out on these, with many, me included, remaining to be convinced. At the front, the new air intake does apparently allow around 15 – 20 % more air in and out, which will be welcome, as these cars do generate quite a lot of heat under the bonnet. Competizione models for the UK retain the old style headlights, as they have Xenon lights as standard, whereas the Custom and Turismo cars have reshaped units. At the back, there are new light clusters and a new rear bumper and diffuser. Inside, the most notable change is the replacement of the Blue & Me system with a more modern uConnect Audio set up, which brings a new colour screen to the dash. Mechanically, there is an additional 5 bhp on the Custom (now 145) and Turismo (now 165 bhp) and the option of a Limited Slip Diff for the Competizione, which is likely to prove a popular option. Details of the interior trim have changed, with a filled-in glovebox like the US market cars have always had, and electric windows switches that are like the US ones, as well as a part Alcantara trim to the steering wheel in Competizione cars. These cars have now been on offer for five years and with Abarth sales on the rise, it was no surprise that they were particularly well represented here.
More recently, Abarth have produced the 695 Rivale, a celebration of Fiat’s partnership with Riva, which has already seen a special Riva version of the 500,. Described as being “the most sophisticated Abarth ever”, it is available either as a hatch or a cabriolet, with both of them featuring a two-tone Riva Sera Blue and Shark Grey paintwork. The Rivale is adorned with an aquamarine double stripe, satin chrome finish on the door handles and satin chrome moulding on the tailgate, various aesthetic elements inspired by the Riva 56 Rivale yachts and ‘695 Rivale’ logos, joined by Brembo Brakes, Koni suspension, and 17-inch Supersport alloy wheels. Enhancing the nautical theme the new 695 Rivale features either a carbon fibre or mahogany dashboard, black mats with blue inserts, blue leather seats and door panels, carbon fibre kick plates, special steering wheel wrapped in blue and black leather and with a mahogany badge, blue leather instrument panel cover, and mahogany gear lever knob and kick plate. These are joined by the standard Uconnect infotainment with a 7-inch display, which is compatible with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and there is also a hand-written numbered plate that can be customised with the mane of the customer’s yacht on request. Powering the 695 Rivale is the same 1.4-litre turbocharged engine that makes 180PS (177hp) and 184lb/ft of torque, that features in the 595 Competizione, allowing it to go from rest to 100km/h (62mph) in 6.7 seconds and up to a top speed of 225km/h (140mph). This is a regular model in the range, but confusingly, there is also the Abarth 695 Rivale 175 Anniversary, created to celebrate 175 years of the Riva brand. Just 350 of these were produced, half of them the hatch and the other half cabriolets. These featured 17-inch alloy wheels with a special pattern, celebratory badge on the outside, hand-crafted details such as the two-tone colour – blue and black hand-stitched leather seats with a celebratory logo stitched onto the headrest, carbon dashboard silk screen printed with special logo, numbered plate. Standard Rivale cars arrived in the UK in April 2018, and quite a few have been sold. They always attract lots of interest when they do appear.
The Punto Evo was launched at the 2010 Geneva Show, with the cars reaching UK buyers in the summer of that year, and it incorporated many of the changes which had been seen a few months earlier on the associated Fiat models, the visual alterations being the most obvious, with the car taking on the nose of the associated Fiat, but adapted to make it distinctively Abarth, new rear lights and new badging. There was more to it than this, though, as under the bonnet, the T-Jet unit was swapped for the 1.4 litre Multi-Air, coupled to a 6 speed gearbox, which meant that the car now had 165 bhp at its disposal. Eventually, Abarth offered an Esseesse kit for these cars, though these are exceedingly rare. For those in the know – which never seemed to be that many people – this was a really capable and desirable car, and the owners love them, lamenting the fact that the model had quite a short production life and has not been replaced. Part of the Punto Evo family is the SuperSport, usually identified by the distinctive black bonnet, though not all cars feature it. Just 199 of the SuperSport versions were built, of which around 120 are registered on UK roads. These cars had many of the options from the Punto Evo included as standard. Power came from the the 1.4-litre MultiAir turbo engine, tuned to produce 178bhp and 199lb ft of torque, up from 165 of the standard Punto Evo, giving the SuperSport a 0-62 time of 7.5 seconds and a top speed of over 132mph. To help put the power down, the SuperSport was fitted with wider 18″ wheels and optional Koni FSD dampers. Standard equipment included the Blue&Me infotainment system with steering wheel controls, automatic climate control and a popular option was the ‘Abarth Corsa by Sabelt’ sports leather seats. The SuperSport was available in the same colours as the regular Punto Evo, which means white, grey, black and red.
Completing the different models from the modern Abarth catalogue were a number of examples of 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. As well as plenty of the standard car, there were a number of examples of the GT.
The 156 GTA cars were launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September 2001. Named after the Alfa Romeo GTA from the 1960s, the letters GTA meaning Gran Turismo Alleggerita (English: lightened Grand Tourer). 2,973 berlinas and 1,678 Sportwagons were built until the GTA production stopped in October 2005 as the 156 gave way to the Alfa Romeo 159. The GTA came with the 3.2 litre Bussone V6 engine (The big Busso, so called after legendary Ferrari engineer Giuseppe Busso), the largest capacity version of the much loved V6 engine. With a 93 mm bore and a 78 mm stroke giving it a capacity of 3,179 cc, it generated 250 PS (247 hp) and 220 lb/ft of torque. After market Alfa Romeo specialist Autodelta produced performance versions up to 3.7 litres and 400 PS. The European Touring Car Championship winning 156 GTA was however running a 2.0 litre 4-cylinder 300 PS engine due to class regulations. The GTA variants were equipped with either a six-speed manual transmission or six-speed Selespeed (paddles in steering wheel, hydraulically operated robotised) gearbox, had a lowered and stiffened suspension, a distinctive body kit, wider rear arches and leather interior. The suspension was specifically made for the GTA by Fiat Research Centre and Fiat Auto Design and Development Department. Steering was also made faster, only 1.7 turns from lock to lock compared to 2.1 in normal models. The GTA had also larger brakes (Brembo), with 12″ front discs and 10.8″ at the rear. The front discs were later upgraded to 13 ” to cope with the performance potential. Even though the name suggests a light car, the GTA isn’t any lighter than other 156s, as it was actually 91 kilograms (201 lb) heavier than the 2.5 litre V6 engined version. The GTA did not get the Giugiaro designed facelift introduced to the 156 in 2002, but continued with the acclaimed Walter de Silva design to the very end of production.
From the current range were a couple of examples of the Giulia.
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.
The styling of the Audi TT began in the spring of 1994 at the Volkswagen Group Design Center in California. The TT was first shown as a concept car at the 1995 Frankfurt Motor Show. The design is credited to J Mays and Freeman Thomas, with Hartmut Warkuss, Peter Schreyer, Martin Smith and Romulus Rost contributing to the interior design. A previously unused laser beam welding adaptation, which enabled seamless design features on the first-generation TT, delayed its introduction. Audi did not initially offer any type of automatic transmission option for the TT. However, from 2003, a dual clutch six-speed Direct-Shift Gearbox (DSG) became available, with the United Kingdom TT variants becoming the world’s first user of a dual clutch transmission configured for a right-hand drive vehicle, although the outright world first for a road car equipped with a dual clutch transmission was claimed earlier by a Volkswagen Group platform-mate, the left hand drive Volkswagen Golf Mk4 R32. The Audi TT takes its name from the successful motor racing tradition of NSU in the British Isle of Man TT (Tourist Trophy) motorcycle race. NSU marque began competing at the Isle of Man TT in 1907 with the UK manager Martin Geiger finishing in fifth position in the single-cylinder race. The 1938 Isle of Man Lightweight TT race was won by Ewald Kluge with a 250 cc supercharged DKW motor-cycle and the DKW and NSU companies later merged into the company now known as Audi. The TT name has also been attributed to the phrase “Technology & Tradition”. The production model (internal designation Type 8N) was launched as a coupé in September 1998, followed by a roadster in August 1999. It is based on the Volkswagen Group A4 (PQ34) platform as used for the Volkswagen Golf Mk4, the original Audi A3, the Škoda Octavia, and others. The styling differed little from the concept, except for slightly reprofiled bumpers, and the addition of rear quarterlight windows behind the doors. Factory production commenced in October 1998. Early TT models received press coverage following a series of high-speed accidents and the related fatalities which occurred at speeds in excess of 112 mph (180 km/h) during abrupt lane changes or sharp turns. Both the coupé and roadster variants were recalled in late 1999/early 2000, to improve predictability of the car’s handling at very high speeds. Audi’s Electronic Stability Programme (ESP) or Anti Slip Regulation (ASR) and rear spoiler were added, along with modifications to the suspension system. All changes were incorporated into subsequent production. Mechanically, the TT shares an identical powertrain layout with its related Volkswagen Group-mates. The TT uses a transversely mounted internal combustion engine, with either front-wheel drive or ‘quattro four-wheel drive’ available as an option. It was first available with a 1.8-litre inline four-cylinder 20-valve turbocharged engine in two states of DIN-rated power outputs; 180 PS (178 bhp) and 225 PS (222 bhp). The engines share the same fundamental design, but the 225 PS version features a larger K04 turbocharger (180 PS version came with a smaller K03), an additional intercooler on the left side (complementing the existing right-side intercooler), larger 20mm wrist-pins, a dual tailpipe exhaust, intake manifold with inlet on driver’s side, and a few other internals – designed to accommodate the increase in turbo boost, from roughly 10 pounds per square inch (0.7 bar) peak, to 15 pounds per square inch (1.0 bar). Haldex Traction enabled four-wheel drive, ‘branded’ as “Quattro” was optional on the 180 engine, and standard on the more powerful 225 version. The original four-cylinder engine range was complemented with a 3,189 cc VR6 engine rated at 250 PS (247 bhp) and 320 Nm (236 lb/ft) of torque in early 2003, which came as standard with the quattro four-wheel-drive system. In July 2003, a new six-speed dual clutch transmission – dubbed the Direct-Shift Gearbox (DSG), which improves acceleration through much-reduced shift times, was offered, along with a stiffer suspension. The second generation TT was launched in 2006.
There were a few of RS-badged Audi models here, as is almost always the case, with the RS5 Sportback being the one to attract my camera.
There were a couple of examples 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.
Another car which had been at Gaydon earlier in the day was this fabulous early model 600, the Nuova 500’s larger brother. You don’t see these cars that often, as the model was deleted from the UK range in 1964 when it was replaced by the larger 850. These days the 600 is somewhat overshadowed by the smaller 500, but in its day this was probably the more significant car. Codenamed Progetto 100 (“Project 100”), the Fiat 600 mirrored the layout of the Volkswagen Beetle and Renault 4CV of its era. Aimed at being an economical but capable vehicle, its design parameters stipulated a weight of around 450 kg with the ability to carry 4 people and luggage plus a cruising speed of no less than 85 km/h. A total of 5 prototypes were built between 1952 and 1954, which all differed from one another. Chassis number 000001 with engine number 000002 is believed to be the sole remaining example. It was powered by an innovative single-cam V2-cylinder engine designed to simplify maintenance and did not feature a clutch pedal. At the official launch in 1955, FIAT engineer, Dante Giacosa declared that the aim had been to create something new, both in the interest of progress and simplification. This prototype, however, did not become the chosen design. When the car made it to production, with a launch at the 1955 Geneva Show, it was christened the 600. It had hydraulic drum brakes on all four wheels. Suspension was a unique single double-mounted leafspring—which acts as a stabiliser—between the front wheels coupled to gas-charged shock absorbers, and an independent coil-over-shock absorber setup coupled to semi-trailing arms at the rear. All 600 models had 3-synchro (no synchro on 1st) 4-speed transaxles. Unlike the Volkswagen Beetle or Fiat 500, the Fiat 600 was water-cooled with an ample cabin heater and, while cooling is generally adequate, for high-power modified versions a front-mounted radiator or oil cooler is needed to complement the rear-mounted radiator. All models of the 600 had generators with mechanical external regulators. The first cars had a 633 cc inline-four cylinder engine which max-ed out at 59 mph. Sales were brisk, as it was just the right size for a market still recovering from the war of the previous decade. A year after its debut, in 1956, a soft-top version was introduced, and it was followed by a six-seater variant—the Fiat 600 Multipla, the very definite precursor of current multi-purpose vehicles. By 1957, assembly started in Spain, where the car would go on to become a legend, and where you can still see large numbers of them certainly at classic car events. Production was also undertaken by Steyr Puch in Austria, and in Yugoslavia and Argentina. The millionth 600 was produced in February 1961, less than six years after the car’s launch, and at the time when the millionth car was produced, the manufacturer reported it was producing the car at the then remarkable rate of 1,000 a day. Italian production ceased in 1969, but the model continued to made in other countries, and a grand total of nearly 3 million examples were eventually made.
The squarer-styled Mark II Escort appeared in January 1975. The first production models had rolled off the production lines on 2 December 1974. Unlike the first Escort (which was developed by Ford of Britain), the second generation was developed jointly between the UK and Ford of Germany. Codenamed “Brenda” during its development, it used the same mechanical components as the Mark I. The 940 cc engine was still offered in Italy where the smaller engine attracted tax advantages, but in the other larger European markets in Europe it was unavailable. The estate and van versions used the same panelwork as the Mark I, but with the Mark II front end and interior. The car used a revised underbody, which had been introduced as a running change during the last six months production of the Mark I. Rear suspension still sat on leaf springs though some contemporaries such as the Hillman Avenger had moved on to coil springs. The car came in for criticism for its lack of oddments space, with a glove compartment only available on higher end models, and its stalk-mounted horn. The “L” and “GL” models (2-door, 4-door, estate) were in the mainstream private sector, the “Sport”, “RS Mexico”, and “RS2000” in the performance market, the “Ghia” (2-door, 4-door) for a hitherto untapped small car luxury market, and “base / Popular” models for the bottom end. Panel-van versions catered to the commercial sector. The 1598 cc engine in the 1975 1.6 Ghia produced 84 hp with 92 ft·lbft torque and weighed 955 kg (2105 lb). A cosmetic update was given in 1978 with L models gaining the square headlights (previously exclusive to the GL and Ghia variants) and there was an upgrade in interior and exterior specification for some models. Underneath a wider front track was given. In 1979 and 1980 three special edition Escorts were launched: the Linnet, Harrier and Goldcrest. Production ended in Britain in August 1980, other countries following soon after. Spotted here was a number of the RS2000.
Rather more recent was this latest generation Fiesta ST.
Most of the time it is performance Civic and Integra models from Honda’s current range and back catalogue that you see here, so it was refreshing to see the now rare Accord Type R here. For the sixth generation, Honda split the Accord into three separate models, designed for the Japanese, North American, and European markets. However, the wagon was discontinued in North America while the coupe was discontinued in Japan. This generation also spawned two distinctively branded performance versions for European and Japanese domestic markets, dubbed Type R and Euro R, respectively. On the origin of these models, it is rumoured that with the advent of the sixth generation Accord, “Honda UK were let loose to build a car that would compete with Subaru and Mitsubishi’s Evo. They came up with the Accord Type R, a lightened (around 1200 kg) track version with no sound deadening or luxuries”. Honda Japan followed suit in 2000, “took the Accord Type R and developed the Accord Euro R (hence the ‘Euro’pean tag)” which has a similar chassis, suspension that is interchangeable with European model, same engine (slightly detuned for European Type R), and nearly identical interior trim. Sold between 2000 and 2002, The Euro R included a “red top” variation of H22A engine producing 220 PS (217 bhp) at 7,200 rpm & 163 lb/ft (221 Nm) at 6,500 rpm, 5-speed T2W4 manual transmission with helical Torsen LSD, Recaro seats, leather-wrapped MOMO steering wheel, sports suspension, sports exhaust (including 4–2–1 stainless headers) and an aluminum-alloy gear shift knob. It was also fitted with a unique factory body kit that included flares and was available in some colours not available to other Accords (such as Milano Red). The Accord (sold at Honda Clio locations) and the Torneo (sold at Honda Verno and Primo locations) are the same car, aside from minor cosmetic differences in the exterior, most notably front of the car. The 2002 model was named the Euro-Rx. This model came with a few slight modifications from the 2000/2001 model. These included factory rear privacy glass, a titanium gear knob, optional Red-checker interior (original gold-checker) and bronze coloured alloy wheels. The high-stop spoiler also became standard on all models. Honda also addressed two common issues that had become apparent. The ECU was upgraded to resolve the issue of cold-starts causing hesitation on acceleration and the gearbox syncros were upgraded to a higher quality alloy to lengthen their lifespan. Sadly, there was no subsequent R model when the seventh generation car was launched.
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.
There was only one Maserati here: mine. Perhaps that should not be a surprise as there had only been a handful of the marque at the MITCAR event, though there are often other models parked up here as well.
The 911 continued to evolve throughout the 1960s and early 1970s, though changes initially were quite small. The SC appeared in the autumn of 1977, proving that any earlier plans there had been to replace the car with the front engined 924 and 928 had been shelved. The SC followed on from the Carrera 3.0 of 1967 and 1977. It had the same 3 litre engine, with a lower compression ratio and detuned to provide 180 PS . The “SC” designation was reintroduced by Porsche for the first time since the 356 SC. No Carrera versions were produced though the 930 Turbo remained at the top of the range. Porsche’s engineers felt that the weight of the extra luxury, safety and emissions equipment on these cars was blunting performance compared to the earlier, lighter cars with the same power output, so in non-US cars, power was increased to 188 PS for 1980, then finally to 204 PS. However, cars sold in the US market retained their lower-compression 180 PS engines throughout. This enabled them to be run on lower-octane fuel. In model year 1980, Porsche offered a Weissach special edition version of the 911 SC, named after the town in Germany where Porsche has their research centre. Designated M439, it was offered in two colours with the turbo whale tail & front chin spoiler, body colour-matched Fuchs alloy wheels and other convenience features as standard. 408 cars were built for North America. In 1982, a Ferry Porsche Edition was made and a total of 200 cars were sold with this cosmetic package. SCs sold in the UK could be specified with the Sport Group Package (UK) which added stiffer suspension, the rear spoiler, front rubber lip and black Fuchs wheels. In 1981 a Cabriolet concept car was shown at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Not only was the car a true convertible, but it also featured four-wheel drive, although this was dropped in the production version. The first 911 Cabriolet debuted in late 1982, as a 1983 model. This was Porsche’s first cabriolet since the 356 of the mid-1960s. It proved very popular with 4,214 sold in its introductory year, despite its premium price relative to the open-top targa. Cabriolet versions of the 911 have been offered ever since. 911 SC sales totalled 58,914 cars before the next iteration, the 3.2 Carrera, which was introduced for the 1984 model year. Coupe models outsold the Targa topped cars by a big margin.
Designed by Benjamin Dimson in 1986, the 964 featured significant styling revisions over previous 911 models, most prominently the more integrated bumpers. The 964 was considered to be 85% new as compared to its predecessor. The first 964s available in 1989 were all wheel drive equipped “Carrera 4” models; Porsche added the rear wheel drive Carrera 2 variant to the range in 1990. Both variants were available as a coupe, Targa or Cabriolet. The 964 Carrera was the last generation sold with the traditional removable Targa roof until the 2011 991. A new naturally aspirated engine called the M64 was used for 964 models, with a flat-6 displacement of 3.6 litres. Porsche substantially revised the suspension, replacing torsion bars with coil springs and shock absorbers. Power steering and ABS brakes were added to the 911 for the first time; both were standard. The exterior bumpers and fog lamps became flush with the car for better aerodynamics. A new electric rear spoiler raised at speeds above 50 mph and lowered down flush with the rear engine lid at lower speeds. A revised interior featured standard dual airbags beginning in 1990 for all North American production cars. A new automatic climate control system provided improved heating and cooling. Revised instrumentation housed a large set of warning lights that were tied into the car’s central warning system, alerting the driver to a possible problem or malfunction. The 964 was sold until 1993 when its place was taken by the 993. 62,172 were built. The car was not particularly well regarded by enthusiasts, with most preferring its predecessor or successor, but latterly, it has found greater favour and values are firming.
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 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
Whilst its precursor, the 924, had received largely positive reviews, it was criticised by many including Porsche enthusiasts for its Audi-sourced engine and although the Turbo model had increased performance, this model carried a high price, which caused Porsche to decide to develop the 924, as they had with generations of the 911. They re-worked the platform and a new all-alloy 2.5 litre inline-four engine, that was, in essence, half of the 928’s 5.0 litre V8, although very few parts were actually interchangeable. Not typical in luxury sports cars, the four-cylinder engine was chosen for fuel efficiency and size, because it had to be fitted from below on the Neckarsulm production line. To overcome roughness caused by the unbalanced secondary forces that are typical of four-cylinder engines, Porsche included two counter-rotating balance shafts running at twice engine speed. Invented in 1904 by British engineer Frederick Lanchester, and further developed and patented in 1975 by Mitsubishi Motors, balance shafts carry eccentric weights which produce inertial forces that balance out the unbalanced secondary forces, making a four-cylinder engine feel as smooth as a six-cylinder. The engine was factory-rated at 150 hp in its U.S. configuration. Revised bodywork with wider wheel arches, similar to that of the 924 Carrera GT, a fresh interior and upgrades to the braking and suspension systems rounded out the major changes and Porsche introduced the car as the 944 in 1982. It was slightly faster (despite having a poorer drag co-efficient than the 924), the 944 was better equipped and more refined than the 924; it had better handling and stopping power, and was more comfortable to drive. The factory-claimed 0-60 mph time of less than 9 seconds and a top speed of 130 mph which turned out to be somewhat pessimistic, In mid-1985, the 944 underwent its first significant changes. These included : a new dash and door panels, embedded radio antenna, upgraded alternator, increased oil sump capacity, new front and rear cast alloy control arms and semi-trailing arms, larger fuel tank, optional heated and powered seats, Porsche HiFi sound system, and revisions in the mounting of the transaxle to reduce noise and vibration. The “cookie cutter” style wheels used in the early 944s were upgraded to new “phone dial” style wheels (Fuchs wheels remained an option). 1985 model year cars incorporating these changes are sometimes referred to as “1985B”, “85.5” or “1985½” cars. For the 1987 model year, the 944 Motronic DME was updated, and newly incorporated anti-lock braking and air bags. Because of the ABS system, the wheel offset changed and Fuchs wheels were no longer an option. In early 1989 before the release of the 944S2, Porsche upgraded the 944 from the 2.5 to a 2.7 litre engine, with a rated 162 hp and a significant increase in torque. For the 1985 model year, Porsche introduced the 944 Turbo, known internally as the 951. This had a turbocharged and intercooled version of the standard car’s engine that produced 220 PS at 6000 rpm. In 1987, Car and Driver tested the 944 Turbo and achieved a 0-60 mph time of 5.9 seconds. The Turbo was the first car using a ceramic port liner to retain exhaust gas temperature and new forged pistons and was also the first vehicle to produce identical power output with or without a catalytic converter. The Turbo also featured several other changes, such as improved aerodynamics, notably an integrated front bumper. This featured the widest turn signals (indicators) fitted to any production car, a strengthened gearbox with a different final drive ratio, standard external oil coolers for both the engine and transmission, standard 16 inch wheels (optional forged Fuchs wheels), and a slightly stiffer suspension (progressive springs) to handle the extra weight. The Turbo’s front and rear brakes were borrowed from the Porsche 911, with Brembo 4-piston fixed calipers and 12-inch discs as ABS also came standard. Engine component revisions, more than thirty in all, were made to the 951 to compensate for increased internal loads and heat. Changes occurred for the 1987 model year. On the interior, the 1987 944 Turbo for North America became the first production car in the world to be equipped with driver and passenger side air bags as standard equipment. A low oil level light was added to the dash as well as a 180 mph (290 km/h) speedometer as opposed to the 170 mph speedometer on the 1986 model Turbos. Also included is the deletion of the transmission oil cooler, and a change in suspension control arms to reduce the car’s scrub radius. The engine remained the same M44/51 as in the 1986 model. In 1988, Porsche introduced the Turbo S. The 944 Turbo S had a more powerful engine (designation number M44/52) with 250 hp and 258 lb·ft torque (standard 944 Turbo 220 hp and 243 lb·ft. This higher output was achieved by using a larger K26-8 turbine housing and revised engine mapping which allowed maintaining maximum boost until 5800 rpm, compared to the standard 944 Turbo the boost would decrease from 1.75 bar at 3000 rpm to 1.52 bar at 5800 rpm. Top speed was factory rated at 162 mph. The 944 Turbo S’s suspension had the “M030” option consisting of Koni adjustable shocks front and rear, with ride height adjusting threaded collars on the front struts, progressive rate springs, larger hollow rear anti-roll/torsion bars, harder durometer suspension bushings, larger hollow anti-roll/torsion bars at the front, and chassis stiffening brackets in the front frame rails. The air conditioning dryer lines are routed so as to clear the front frame brace on the driver’s side. The 944 Turbo S wheels, known as the Club Sport design, were 16-inch Fuchs forged and flat-dished, similar to the Design 90 wheel. Wheel widths were 7 inches in the front, and 9 inches in the rear with 2.047 in offset; sizes of the Z-rated tyres were 225/50 in the front and 245/45 in the rear. The front and rear fender edges were rolled to accommodate the larger wheels. The manual transmission featured a higher friction clutch disc setup, an external cooler, and a limited slip differential with a 40% lockup setting. The Turbo S front brakes were borrowed from the Porsche 928 S4, with larger Brembo GT 4-piston fixed calipers and 12-inch discs; rear Brembo brakes remained the same as a standard Turbo. ABS also came standard. The 944 Turbo S interior featured power seats for both driver and passenger, where the majority of the factory-built Turbo S models sported a “Burgundy plaid” (Silver Rose edition) but other interior/exterior colours were available. A 10-speaker sound system and equalizer + amp was a common option with the Turbo S and S/SE prototypes. Only the earlier 1986, 250 bhp prototypes featured a “special wishes custom interior” options package. In 1989 and later production, the ‘S’ designation was dropped from the 944 Turbo S, and all 944 Turbos featured the Turbo S enhancements as standard, however the “M030” suspension and the Club Sport wheels were not part of that standard. The 944 Turbo S was the fastest production four cylinder car of its time. For the 1987 model year, the 944S “Super” was introduced, featuring a high performance normally aspirated, dual-overhead-cam 16-valve 190 PS version of the 2.5 litre engine (M44/40) featuring a self-adjusting timing belt tensioner. This marked the first use of four-valve-per-cylinder heads and DOHC in the 944 series, derived from the 928 S4 featuring a redesigned camshaft drive, a magnesium intake tract/passages, magnesium valve cover, larger capacity oil sump, and revised exhaust system. The alternator capacity was 115 amps. The wheel bearings were also strengthened and the brake servo action was made more powerful. Floating 944 calipers were standard, but the rear wheel brake circuit pressure regulator from the 944 turbo was used. Small ’16 Ventiler’ script badges were added on the sides in front of the body protection mouldings. Performance was quoted as 0 – 100 km/h in 6.5 seconds and a 144 mph top speed due to a 2857 lb weight. It also featured an improved programmed Bosch Digital Motronic 2 Computer/DME with dual knock sensors for improved fuel performance for the higher 10.9:1 compression ratio cylinder head. Like the 944 Turbo, the 944S received progressive springs for greater handling, Larger front and rear anti-roll bars, revised transmission and gearing to better suit the 2.5 litre DOHC higher 6800 rpm rev limit. Dual safety air bags, limited-slip differential, and ABS braking system were optional on the 944S. A Club Sport touring package (M637) was available as was the lightweight 16 inch CS/Sport Fuch 16×7 and 16×9 forged alloy wheels. This SC version car was raced in Canada, Europe and in the U.S. IMSA Firehawk Cup Series. Production was only during 1987 and 1988. It was superseded in 1989 by the ‘S2’ 944 edition. The 1987 944S power-to-weight ratio was such that it was able to accelerate from 0 to 62 mph in 6.5 seconds thus matching the acceleration of its newer larger displacement 3.0 litre 944 S2 sibling. In 1989 the 944S2 was introduced, powered by a 211 PS normally aspirated, dual-overhead-cam 16-valve 3.0 litre version of the 944S engine, the largest production 4-cylinder engine of its time. The 944S2 also received a revised transmission and gearing to better suit the 3.0 litre M44/41 powerplant. The 944S2 had the same rounded nose and a rear valance found on the Turbo model. This was the first example of the use of an integrated front bumper, where the fender and hood profiles would merge smoothly with the bumper, a design feature that has only now seen widespread adoption on the 1990 onward production cars. Performance was quoted as 0-60 mph in 6.0 seconds with a top speed of 240 km/h (150 mph) via manual transmission. A Club Sport touring package (M637) was also available. Dual air bags (left hand drive models), limited-slip differential and ABS were optional. Series 90 16-inch cast alloy wheels were standard equipment. In 1989, Porsche released the 944 S2 Cabriolet, a first for the 944 line that featured the cabriolet body built by ASC-American Sunroof Company at Weinsberg Germany. The first year of production included sixteen 944 S2 Cabriolet for the U.S. market. For the 1990 model year, Porsche produced 3,938 944 S2 Cabriolets for all markets including right-hand drive units for the United Kingdom, Australia and South Africa. This car was raced, including the British championship that was called the Porsche Motorsport Championship. Production was during 1989, 1990, and 1991. The 944 S2 power-to-weight ratio was such that it was able to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds. In February 1991, Porsche released the 944 Turbo Cabriolet, which combined the Turbo S’s 250 hp engine with the cabriolet body built by ASC-American Sunroof Company at Weinsberg Germany. Porsche initially announced that 600 would be made; ultimately 625 were built, 100 of which were right-hand drive for the United Kingdom, Japanese, Australian, and South African market. None were imported to the U.S. and The Americas. In early 1990, Porsche engineers began working on what they had intended to be the third evolution of the 944, the S3. As they progressed with the development process, they realised that so many parts were being changed that they had produced an almost entirely new vehicle. Porsche consequently shifted development from the 944 S/S2 to the car that would replace the 944 entirely, the 968. The 944’s final year of production was 1991. A grand total 163,192 cars in the 944 family were produced between 1982 and 1991. This made it the most successful car line in Porsche’s history until the introductions of the Boxster and 997 Carrera.
Porsche revealed the latest Boxster Spyder based on the 981 Boxster in April 2015 at the New York Auto Show. The styling of the car is similar to the previous generation Spyder, continuing the twin hump rear deck and manually operated canvas top. It also shares some styling with the Cayman GT4, using the same front and rear fascia. The engine is also shared with the Cayman GT4, a 3.8 litre flat-6, making this the largest and most powerful engine used in a Boxster with 385 bhp. It was the lightest Porsche, weighing 1,315 kilograms (2,899 lb). This was achieved through the use of aluminium doors and rear boot lid, a manually operated roof and unique lightweight 20 inch wheels. The air conditioning and audio system were also removed, although they can be added as no cost options. Braking is via larger brakes than used on the Boxster S, being 340mm front and 330mm rear units taken from the 911 Carrera S. Also shared with the GT4 is a limited slip differential combined with Porsche Torque Vectoring and features a 20mm lower ride height. Additionally it also borrows the steering rack from the 911 Turbo S along with the same reduced diameter GT steering wheel as used in both the GT3 and GT4. The Boxster Spyder was only available with a 6 speed manual transmission. The Spyder had a base price of US$82,100 and was only available as a 2016 model with a total worldwide production of 2400 units, with 850 destined for the US.
The Proton Satria GTi was launched in 1998 with a 138 bhp 1.8-litre Mitsubishi-sourced 4G93P engine (“P” for Proton), originally found in the Mitsubishi Lancer GSR, but here without the turbo and with an increase in compression to compensate. The Satria GTi was developed and re-engineered as a traditional hot hatch by Lotus in Hethel, England. The Satria GTi could sprint from 0 to 60 mph in 8.5 seconds, making it among the fastest Proton production models ever produced. A new body kit was also adopted for better aerodynamics. The Satria GTi also wore a ‘Handling by Lotus’ badge on the rear hatch. The engine and handling of the Satria GTi were progressively updated and revised between 1998 and 2005. The Mitsubishi version was produced from 1998 until mid-2002. The VDO (Siemens) version had been in production from mid-2002 until 2005 when Proton ceased production. The Proton Satria GTi launched in the United Kingdom in November 1999 with a £14,500 price tag. It was equipped with air-conditioning, ABS, dual front power windows, electric mirrors and Recaro seats. Proton sold 160 units of the Satria GTi within its first six months in the U.K. Richard Hammond had reviewed the Proton Satria GTi alongside the more established Peugeot 206 GTi. The Satria GTi received more praise and approval as a traditional hot hatch, despite costing £500 more than the 206 GTi.
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.
Needing little introduction, perhaps, is this car, a 2nd generation MR2. Toyota proved that the market for small affordable sports cars was far from dead when they launched the first generation MR2 in 1984. As was the trend at the time among Japanese manufacturers, models were replaced on quite a regular 4/5 year cycle, so it was little surprise when a second generation car appeared in 1989. However, this one would go on to be produced for 10 years, The overall design changed little in that time, but there were lots of small details that were refined during that time. The car was generally well received, with its “mini Ferrari” looks proving quite an attraction, as were the willing engines and the entertaining handling. There are not that many nice clean examples left now, though.
In 1986, Toyota produced a completely different duo of sports coupes. The Celica changed to front-wheel drive, while the Supra kept its rear-wheel-drive platform. The engine was updated to a more powerful 3.0 200 hp in-line 6. Although only available in naturally aspirated trim in 1986, a turbocharged version of the engine was introduced in the 1987 model year. The Supra was now related mechanically to the Toyota Soarer for the Japanese market. The third-generation Supra introduced a great deal of new technology. In 1986, options available for the Supra included 3-channel ABS and TEMS which gave the driver 2 settings which affected the damper rates; a third was automatically activated at WOT, hard braking, and high speed manoeuvering. HKS also made a “TEMS Controller” to hack the system and activate it on the fly, though the controllers are now nearly impossible to find. ACIS (Acoustic Control Induction System), a method of controlling air compression pulses inside the intake piping to increase power, was also a part of the 7M-GE’s technological arsenal. All models were fitted with double wishbone suspension front and rear. A targa top was offered in all years along with a metal power sliding sunroof. The car sold well, and it is estimated that around 241,500 examples were produced.
Although the weather, which had stayed obligingly dry during the earlier part of the day whilst at Gaydon, did its level best to spoil things here, with persistent rain for quite a while from arrival until after a lot of people had decided they had had enough, there was still enough interest here to mean that it felt very worthwhile to have added this location to the schedule of the day. As ever with this venue, you never quite know what you will see on site, which is probably the largest single reason to keep on returning. I certainly plan to do just that in the coming weeks.