The monthly Breakfast Club meets at the Haynes Museum in Sparkford, just off the A303 in rural Somerset quickly became very popular and soon the organisers faced the same sort of challenge as has happened to so many other events: a lack of space. And attendees tried to get around this by turning up ever earlier in the hope of getting a prized place in front of the museum, as opposed to be asked to park around the side of the site. Certainly when I last visited, which was in June 2019, cars were crammed into every surfaced area of the site, and it looked as if a rethink was going to be called for. The enforced break during Covid lockdown restrictions gave the site that chance, and a decision was taken to create a very sizeable new surfaced parking area to the side of the museum, which would easily accommodate a few hundred cars – perfect for a large-scale event such as the Breakfast Clubs. And when the events were able to resume, in common with just about every other event in the country, the move to pre-purchased tickets made it easier to control numbers of display cars attending. I’ve always enjoyed the Breakfast Clubs at this venue, but have struggled to get to many as they tend to clash with other things going on, but finally I spotted a gap in my schedule for the November 2021 meet, and was delighted to find that a combination of the South West Abarth Group (SWAG) and B.A.D. Abarth South Coast had decided to make this an event in their respective schedules, so by going along I would be far from the only Abarth present. Indeed these Groups had suggested to the venue that they might want to have an Italian Cars theme for that month – every recent Breakfast Club has had a theme with cars that comply with it invited to park in the Paddock area rather than the general lines of cars – but sadly in their enthusiasm, Haynes decided to bring the theme forward to October when the Abarths were all elsewhere! They had very few Italian cares there on that occasion, it would seem, whereas he fixed that in November, with a huge showing. It was not all about Abarths, though, as this report evidences:
As we were not part of the them, then to stand a chance of getting the Abarths parked together, we would need to convoy into the event, so a meeting was arranged at the nearby Sparkford Services, which is just off the A303 junction. From 8am onwards Abarth after Abarth arrived, with owners familiar and people I’d not met before congregating, and chatting happily as part of the Abarth family that we all belong to as owners. All told we had 22 cars, which was a bit of a challenge in space terms as we assembled. There was ample time to take lots of photos here before heading off back to the Museum site.
The vast majority of cars here were the 500-based models which have been on sale now since the end of 2008, following a launch at the Paris Show that year. Since that time there have been a number of detailed changes to the standard cars and a lot of limited editions. Those who really know the marque can spot most of them, but some are so subtle that unless there is a badge you can see, you will not ne quite sure which version you are looking at. It used to be relatively easy, when the model was first launched, as there was only one version as shipped ex works called the 500. It had a 135 bhp 1.4 litre turbo-charged engine coupled to a five speed manual gearbox, with 16″ alloys as standard, and the option of 17″ wheels, and a colour palette comprising of two whites (BossaNova White, the standard colour, or the pearlescent Funk White), Red (Pasadoble), Pale Grey (Campovolo) or Black. If you wanted more power – 160 bhp – then you could order an Esseesse kit, which came in a large wooden crate, containing new wheels, springs, an ECU upgrade, the Monza exhaust system and badging. It was dealer fitted and could be applied at any time within the first 12 months or 10,000 miles from registration. Needless to say, it proved popular. As were many of the optional extras, with stickers for the sides, a large scorpion for the bonnet and even a chequered pattern for the roof among the personalisation options offered. Several of the original style of cars were here.
Whilst a sliding glass sunroof (Skydome in Fiat/Abarth parlance) was an option from inception, fans of open air motoring had to wait until Geneva 2010 for the launch of the 500C models, with a roll-back roof which provided the best of open-topped motoring and yet still with the rigidity of the regular body style. For the first few months these cars only came with the robotised manual gearbox, which limited the appeal in the eyes of some, but they also introduced us to the “bi-colore”, a series of two tone cars, with upper and lower halves of the body painted in different colours. It took us a while to get used to this, as no other production road cars had been painted like this for some time, but now this is seen as yet another of those marque defining attributes, and (perhaps with the exception of the rarely seen Rally Beige and Officina Red combination that would come for 2014) in the eyes of many this distinctive look enhances the appeal of the cars still further.
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. There were several examples of this popular colour here and there is no denying that this combination suits the Abarth shape very well.
Rumours started to circulate towards the end of 2014 that Abarth were going to upgrade the Competizione model, so as better to bridge the gap between the Turismo and the 190 bhp 695 Biposto that had been added to the range earlier in the year. It was Geneva 2015 when the result was finally shown to an expectant fan base. Most exciting news was that thanks to a bigger Garrett Turbo, the engine had been tweaked to 180 bhp, and with reduced CO2 emissions. A standard spec that included Koni Dampers, Brembo brakes, Xenon lights, Sabelt seats, Climate Control, parking sensors as well as other refinements that had been added like the TFT instrument display all proved very compelling, so not long after the first cars reached the UK in June of 2015, I found temptation too hard to resist, and as is well documented here, swapped my 2010 car for one of these. At the time I ordered it, Cordolo Red, a tri-coat pearlescent paint which shimmers in bright sunlight looked set to become one of the most popular colours of the lot, even though it is a cost option. Indeed, the Launch Edition models were all offered either in this colour or Scorpion Black, with black wheels. Surprisingly, the colour was not carried over to the Series 4 cars.
A new colour was announced with the new Competizione cars, called Podium Blue, but it was not going to be immediately available, and there were no accurate representations of exactly what shade it would be. Rumours circulated on Abarth forums and Facebook Groups all summer, with lots of guessing and no real facts, although we had been assured that it was not the same as the Abu Dhabi Blue that had featured on a very small number of 695 Tributo Ferrari models in 2011. It was October 2016 when the first cars reached the UK and those who had taken the gamble could see for themselves whether they had got it right. Common consent is this is a stunning colour. A rich blue, it changes shade in different lights. I think it looks fantastic. It has proved very popular and remains on offer to this day.
What is known as the Series 4 version of the familiar 595 reached the markets in the middle of 2016. After rumours had circulated all winter following the launch of the facelifted Fiat 500 last year, Abarth finally unveiled the Series 4 at the end of May 2016. Initially, we were told that the cars would not be available in the UK until September, but that came forward somewhat, with dealers all receiving demo cars in June, and the first customers taking delivery in July. Three regular production versions of both the closed car and the open-topped C were initially available, all badged 595, and called Custom, Turismo and Competizione, as before, though numerous limited edition models have since appeared and in most case disappeared. The most significant changes with the Series 4 are visual, with a couple of new colours, including the much asked for Modena Yellow and a different red, called Abarth Red, which replaces both the non-metallic Officina and – slightly surprisingly – the tri-coat pearlescent Cordolo Red. as well as styling changes front and rear. The jury is still out on these, with many, me included, remaining to be convinced. At the front, the new air intake does apparently allow around 15 – 20 % more air in and out, which will be welcome, as these cars do generate quite a lot of heat under the bonnet. Competizione models for the UK retain the old style headlights, as they have Xenon lights as standard, whereas the Custom and Turismo cars have reshaped units. At the back, there are new light clusters and a new rear bumper and diffuser. Inside, the most notable change is the replacement of the Blue & Me system with a more modern uConnect Audio set up, which brings a new colour screen to the dash. Mechanically, there is an additional 5 bhp on the Custom (now 145) and Turismo (now 165 bhp) and the option of a Limited Slip Diff for the Competizione, which is likely to prove a popular option. Details of the interior trim have changed, with a filled-in glovebox like the US market cars have always had, and electric windows switches that are like the US ones, as well as a part Alcantara trim to the steering wheel in Competizione cars. These cars have now been on offer for three years and with Abarth sales on the rise, it was no surprise that they were particularly well represented here.
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 Abarth Grande Punto debuted at the 2007 Frankfurt IAA Show, going on sale in the UK in late summer of 2008. Offering 155 bhp from its 1.4 litre T-Jet engine, coupled to a six speed gearbox, and riding on 45 profile 17″ alloys, the standard car got rave reviews from the journalists when they first tried it, and they were even more impressed by the changes wrought by the optional Esseesse kit. This increased power to 177 bhp, brought 18″ OZ lower profile wheels, whilst new springs lowered the ride height by 15-20mm, and high-performance front brake pads and cross-drilled front disc brakes helped the car to stop more quickly. The most distinctive feature of the car were the white alloy wheels, though, as owners found, keeping these clean is not a job for the uncommitted, and many have a second set of wheels that they use for grubbier conditions. Despite the positive press at launch, the car entered a very competitive sector of the market, and the combination of being relatively unknown, a limited number of dealers and the existence of established rivals from Renault and others meant that this always remained a left-field choice. The owners loved them, though, and they still do. The oldest cars have now had their 10th birthdays, and some have amassed relatively big mileages, but they are still a car for the cognoscenti.
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.
Genuine AC Cobra are rare beasts, as not that many were produced, but for the last as long as anyone can remember, there have all manner of replica and officially sanctioned continuation type cars produced, so there are pretty decent numbers of cars around that bear the legendary shape of this raw sports car.
Perhaps my favourite car of the whole event was this fabulous Alfa 164. I love these cars with my affection stemming from the fact that I had the pleasure of driving one for 4 years and 160,000 miles and to this day, it is the car I regret parting with more than any other of the fleet that I have owned over the years. When I bought mine, Alfa were selling a very small number of cars per month in the UK, so they were never that common, and sadly, survival rates are very low. Most people who know anything about the history of the 164 will be aware that this is one of the four so-called Type 4 cars, a joint venture involving Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Lancia and Saab. In 1978 these four marques agreed to each develop an executive saloon based on a shared platform to compete against the likes of the Ford Granada and Opel Rekord (Vauxhall Carlton) as well as more premium saloons by BMW and Mercedes-Benz in the form of the 5-Series and E-Class, respectively. Alfa’s Project 164 started life as Project 154 and was completed in 1981, then still under Alfa Romeo. A year later, that project morphed into the 164 based on the Type Four platform. This new model was designed by Enrico Fumia of Pininfarina, with a wedge shape that afforded it a leading drag coefficient of Cd=0.30. The design would later influence the rest of the Alfa Romeo range starting in 1990 with the major redesign of the 33 and culminating with the 155, and Pininfarina also adapted it (much to the maker’s chagrin) for the 1987 Peugeot 405 and the 1989 Peugeot 605 saloons. Initial testing of the 164’s dynamic elements (engine and drivetrain) began in 1984, where mules based on the then contemporary Giulietta were used. In 1985, the first pre-production 164’s were put through their paces on the road. Heavily disguised, with many false panels and even a false nose design (borrowing heavily from the then equally undeveloped 155), sporting 4 round headlamps, these vehicle mules served to test the 164 for the gruelling 1 million kilometre static and road testing demanded of the design. In 1986 and 1987, the first 150 164’s were given their pre-production testing. In terms of engineering demands, these exceeded every Alfa before, and by quite a substantial margin. In Morocco, desert testing saw 5 grey 164 Twinsparks and V6’s undergo the equivalent of the Paris-Dakar rally. Road conditions varied from good tarmac to off-road conditions, and accelerometers confirmed the superiority of the 164 in terms of passenger comfort. This data was cross-confirmed in the engineering laboratory with a sophisticated dummy in the driver’s seat, with accelerometers both in its seat, and in its ears to mimic that of the semi-circular canals of the ear. The Twinspark and the V6 underwent handling trials at Arese. The Twinspark displayed very mature driving manners at the limit, with minimal skid. The V6 displayed a 25% increase in at-the-limit skid, a natural consequence of its greater nose weight. ABS testing confirmed that the Twinspark has superior braking to the V6. Brake linings of the 164’s were run at maximum braking until they literally glowed with heat, and displayed no deviation in form. The 164 was the first Alfa to feature slotted double-walled disc brakes. At no point were the discs drilled to release excess heat, the original design being demonstrated to be excellent. Sound production was tested in an anechoic chamber, the car being subjected to stress and road noise testing, with instruments and with live subjects at the wheel, on a specially designed rig. Electromagnetic stability of the complex electronic system was also tested, in an anechoic chamber equipped with EM emitters (radar). The 164 engines were run to destruction, the Twinspark proving to be the most robust, and with the longest possible engine life. The V6 displayed only 10% shorter overall engine life. All this testing meant that by the time the production car, called the 164 was unveiled at the 1987 Frankfurt Motor Show – the last model to be developed while the Alfa Romeo was still a fully independent company, even though the launch was a few months after the takeover by Fiat – that the car was far more thoroughly developed and tested than any Alfa preceding it. There were plenty of innovations in the build, too, thanks to the extensive use of galvanised steel for the frame and various body panels for the first time in the brand’s history. Moreover, the car featured advanced electronics thanks to the most complex wiring harness fitted to any Alfa Romeo. For example: it had three onboard computers (one for air conditioning, one for instrumentation, and one for the engine management); air conditioning and instrument functions shared a multiple-mode coded Zilog Z80-class microcontroller for dashboard functioning). The instrumentation included a full range of gauges including an advanced check-panel.. The car was a sensation at launch. For a start, it looked fantastic thanks to Enrico Fumia of Pininfarina’ design. The first 1:1 scale model of the car had been produced in 1982 and design cues had been publicly revealed on the Alfa Romeo Vivace concept car, which was exhibited at the 1986 Turin Motorshow that went on to influence the design of the Alfa Romeo GTV and Spider (916 series) launched in 1993, but the result was distinctive and elegant and very different from any of its rivals, or indeed any of the other Tipo 4 cars. The 164 became the first Alfa to benefit from extensive use of computer aided design, used to calculate structural stresses that resulted in a very rigid but still relatively lightweight chassis. Although sharing the same platform as that of the Lancia Thema, Fiat Croma and Saab 9000, by virtue of the fact that it was the last of the four to enter production, it featured unique front suspension geometry and the most distinctive styling of the lot. In fact, for example, the other cars all shared identical side door panels. Though still voluminous, the 164 had the tightest aperture to the boot, which had a 510-Litre capacity. The interior was spacious and modern, available with standard velour seating or leather trim depending on the model. Its dashboard continued the avantgarde design of the exterior with a centre dashboard that was dominated by a large number of seemingly identical buttons arranged in rows. Air-direction within the ventilation system was controlled by a pair of servomechanisms, which were constructed using notoriously fragile plastic gears that were prone to failure. Depending on the model, the 164 could feature automatic climate control and electronically controlled damping suspension – the latter, for example, in the sports-oriented Quadrifoglio Verde (“Green Cloverleaf “) and 164S models. This suspension actively reduced damping in response to conditions to provide a dynamic compromise between road holding and comfort. At launch, the original 164 range comprised three models: a 148 bhp 2.0 Twin Spark, the 192 bhp 3.0i V6 12-valve and a 2.5 Turbodiesel (badged “TD”). It took a year before the first cars reached the UK and the first eighteen months saw only the 3 litre model offered. The bigger selling 2.0 TS arrived in the simmer of 1990, just before the range was expanded by the 4-cylinder 2.0i Turbo, the sports-oriented 3.0i V6 Quadrifoglio Verde (badged “QV” or “S”) and North American export versions that included the luxury-oriented 164 L (“L” for Lusso) and the 164 S (in essence, the “QV”). Apart from minor running production upgrades, the next change came in 1993 with the launch of the 164 Super. Key differences on the outside consisted of larger bumpers with chrome trimmings added to the upper edge and revised headlights with a slimmer profile. Inside, there were revised instruments and a centre console that featured more delineated switchgear. The range was now also bolstered by a 3.0 V6 24V with a 24-valve engine upgrade and the 3.0 V6 Quadrifoglio 4 (badged “Q4”), which was the most powerful and sole all wheel drive variant built. Production ended in late 1997, with a gap of nearly two years before the replacement model would go on sale.
First seen as a concept at the 2011 Geneva Show, the production 4C Competizione model did not debut for a further 2 years. Production got underway later that year at the Maserati plant in Modena, and the first deliveries were late in 2013. Production was originally pegged at 1000 cars a year and a total of just 3500, which encouraged many speculators to put their name down in the hope of making a sizeable profit on selling their cars on. That plan backfired, and in the early months, there were lots of cars for sale for greater than list price. Press reaction to the car has been mixed, with everyone loving the looks, but most of them feeling that the driving experience is not as they would want. Owners generally disagree – as is so often the case! For sure, it has no radio, and no carpets and no luggage space to speak of, but you know that when you buy it. It won’t be the car everyone, but if you can live with these limitations, you are sure to enjoy it. Indeed, all owners I have ever spoken to do love their car. I know I would if I could find space (and funds!) for one in my garage!
The DB6 was launched in 1965 as a replacement for the DB5 which had run since 1963. The wheelbase was now 4″ longer than before, resulting in an extensive restyle with a more raked windscreen, raised roofline and reshaped rear quarter windows. Opening front quarter lights made a reappearance, but the major change was at the rear where a Kamm tail with spoiler improved the aerodynamics, greatly enhancing stability at high speeds. “The tail lip halves the aerodynamic lift around maximum speed and brings in its train greater headroom and more luggage space”, declared Motor magazine, concluding that the DB6 was one of the finest sports cars it had tested. Famed employee, Tadek Marek, designed the six cylinder engine, which had been enlarged to 3,995cc for the preceding DB5 and remained unchanged. Power output on triple SU carburettors was 282bhp, rising to 325bhp in Vantage specification. Premiered at the 1965 London Motor Show, the DB6 Volante marked the first occasion the evocative ‘Volante’ name had been applied to a soft-top Aston Martin. After 37 Volante convertibles had been completed on the DB5 short wheelbase chassis, the model adopted the longer DB6 chassis in October 1966. A mere 140 DB6 based Volantes were manufactured, and of these only 29 were specified with the more powerful Vantage engine.
Representing the longest lived design in Aston Martin’s history were a number of DBS and V8 cars. By the mid 1960s, Aston Martin’s customers had been clamouring for an eight-cylinder car, so Aston Martin designed a larger car. The engine was not ready, however, so in 1967 the company released the DBS with the straight-six Vantage engine from the DB6. Two years later, Tadek Marek’s V8 was ready, and Aston released the DBS V8. Though the body and name was shared with the six-cylinder DBS, the V8 sold for much more. The body was a modern reinterpretation of the traditional Aston Martin look, with a squared-off grille and four headlights (though some consider the styling derivative of the early Ford Mustang). Distinguishing features of the V8 model are the larger front air dam and lack of wire wheels, though some six-cylinder DBS cars also used the V8’s alloy wheels. The tail lights were taken from the Hillman Hunter. A road test report of the time noted that the car had gained 250 lb in weight with the fitting of the V8 in place of the previously used six-cylinder unit, despite the manufacturer’s assurance that the engine weighed only 30 lb more than the older straight-six. Other contributions to the weight gain included heavier ventilated brake discs, air conditioning, fatter tyres, a new and stronger ZF gearbox as well as some extra bodywork beneath the front bumper. Marek’s V8 engine displaced 5,340 cc and used Bosch fuel injection. Output was not officially released, but estimates centre around 315 hp. The DBS V8 could hit 60 mph in 5.9 seconds and had a top speed of nearly 160 mph. 402 DBS V8s were built. In April 1972, the DBS V8 became just the Aston Martin V8 as the six-cylinder DBS was dropped, leaving just this car and the six-cylinder Vantage in production. The V8 became known as the AM V8, a model retroactively referred to as the Series 2 V8 to separate it from later models. Visual differences included twin quartz headlights and a mesh grille, a front design which was to last until the end of production in 1989. AM V8 cars, produced from May 1972 through July 1973, used a similar engine to the DBS V8, albeit with Bosch fuel injection rather than the earlier carburettors. Just 288 Series 2 cars were built. Although David Brown had left the company, he had overseen development of this model. The first 34 cars still carried leftover “DBS V8” badging. The car switched back to Weber carburettors for the Series 3 in 1973, ostensibly to help the car pass new stricter emissions standards in California but most likely because Aston Martin was unable to make the Bosch fuel injection system work correctly. These cars are distinguished by a taller bonnet scoop to accommodate four twin-choke (two-barrel) Weber carbs. The car produced 310 hp and could reach 60 mph in 6.1 seconds with an automatic transmission or 5.7 with a manual. Performance suffered with emissions regulations, falling to 288 hp in 1976. The next year, a more powerful “Stage 1” engine with new camshafts and exhaust brought it up to 305 hp. Production of Series 3 cars lasted from 1973 through October 1978, but was halted for all of 1975. 967 examples were produced in this time. While earlier V8 cars have louvers cut into the little panel mounted beneath the rear windshield, the Series 3 and later cars instead have a small lip at the bottom of this panel, just ahead of the leading edge of the bootlid. The “Oscar India” specification was introduced in October 1978 at the Birmingham International Motor Show. Visually, the former scoop on the bonnet gave way to a closed “power bulge”, while a spoiler was integrated into the tail. Most Oscar India cars were equipped with a Chrysler “Torqueflite” three-speed automatic transmission, with wood trim fitted for the first time since the DB2/4 of the 1950s. Just 352 Oscar India models were built from 1978 through 1985. The power of the now de-smogged engines kept dropping on American market cars, down to a low of 245 hp in the early eighties. The convertible “Volante” was introduced in June 1978, but featured the Series 4 bonnet a few months before the coupé received the Oscar India update. The Volante Series 1 weighs 70 kg (155 lb) more than the coupé, due to the necessity of reinforcing the frame. US market cars received much larger bumpers beginning with the 1980 model year, adding weight and somewhat marring the car’s lines. Owners of US-specified cars often modify them to have the slimmer European bumpers. By 1981, the success of the Volante meant that the coupé model was only built on individual demand. The fuel-injected Series 5 cars were introduced in January 1986 at the New York International Auto Show. The compact Weber/Marelli system no longer needed the space of the previous carburettors, so the bonnet bulge was virtually eliminated. 405 Series 5 cars were built before production ceased in 1989. The Volante Series 2 received the same changes; 216 were built.
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.
Following the unveiling of the AMV8 Vantage concept car in 2003 at the North American International Auto Show designed by Henrik Fisker, the production version, known as the V8 Vantage was introduced at the Geneva Motor Show in 2005. The two seat, two-door coupé had a bonded aluminium structure for strength and lightness. The 172.5 inch (4.38 m) long car featured a hatchback-style tailgate for practicality, with a large luggage shelf behind the seats. In addition to the coupé, a convertible, known as the V8 Vantage Roadster, was introduced later in that year. The V8 Vantage was initially powered by a 4.3 litre quad-cam 32-valve V8 which produced 380 bhp at 7,300 rpm and 409 Nm (302 lb/ft) at 5,000 rpm. However, models produced after 2008 had a 4.7-litre V8 with 420 bhp and 470 Nm (347 lbft) of torque. Though based loosely on Jaguar’s AJ-V8 engine architecture, this engine was unique to Aston Martin and featured race-style dry-sump lubrication, which enabled it to be mounted low in the chassis for an improved centre of gravity. The cylinder block and heads, crankshaft, connecting rods, pistons, camshafts, inlet and exhaust manifolds, lubrication system and engine management were all designed in house by Aston Martin and the engine was assembled by hand at the AM facility in Cologne, Germany, which also built the V12 engine for the DB9 and Vanquish. The engine was front mid-mounted with a rear-mounted transaxle, giving a 49/51 front/rear weight distribution. Slotted Brembo brakes were also standard. The original V8 Vantage could accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds before topping out at 175 mph. In 2008, Aston Martin introduced an aftermarket dealer approved upgrade package for power and handling of the 4.3-litre variants that maintained the warranty with the company. The power upgrade was called the V8 Vantage Power Upgrade, creating a more potent version of the Aston Martin 4.3-litre V8 engine with an increase in peak power of 20 bhp to 400 bhp while peak torque increased by 10 Nm to 420 Nm (310 lb/ft). This consists of the fitting of the following revised components; manifold assembly (painted Crackle Black), valved air box, right and left hand side vacuum hose assemblies, engine bay fuse box link lead (ECU to fuse box), throttle body to manifold gasket, intake manifold gasket, fuel injector to manifold seal and a manifold badge. The V8 Vantage had a retail price of GB£79,000, US$110,000, or €104,000 in 2006, Aston Martin planned to build up to 3,000 per year. Included was a 6-speed manual transmission and leather-upholstery for the seats, dash board, steering-wheel, and shift-knob. A new 6-speed sequential manual transmission, similar to those produced by Ferrari and Lamborghini, called Sportshift was introduced later as an option. An open-topped model was added to the range in 2006 and then in the quest for more power a V12 Vantage joined the range not long after.
The B5 generation RS4 was a rather special car. This dates from an era when Audi only produced one RS model at a time, meaning that the variant had quite a short production life. Introduced by Audi in late 1999, for main production and sale from 2000, this was effectively the successor to the Porsche / quattro GmbH joint venture-developed Audi RS2 Avant that was sold in the mid 1990s. Like its RS2 predecessor, it was available only as an Avant. Although related to the Audi B5 S4, many of the outer body panels were altered, with wider front and rear wheel arches, to allow for the wider axle track on the RS 4. With unique front and rear bumpers and side sills, and the rear spoiler from the S4 Avant, the aerodynamic modifications achieved a drag coefficient of Cd 0.34 and a very purposeful look, especially when finished in a sober colour such as the two examples seen here. It was the mechanical changes, though, which had the huge difference. The engine was developed from the 2.7 litre V6 ‘biturbo’ used in the B5 S4, and retained the same 2,671 cc capacity, but much was changed. Developed and manufactured in the UK by Cosworth Technology, it featured enlarged intake and smaller exhaust ports on the two Cosworth cast aluminium alloy cylinder heads, two parallel BorgWarner turbochargers, two larger side-mounted intercoolers, dished piston crowns, stronger connecting rods, larger intake ducting, enlarged exhaust system, and a re-calibrated engine management system. The modifications increased the engine’s output from 265 bhp to 375 bhp at 7,000 rpm, and with 325 lb/f·ft of torque. The engine was controlled by a Bosch Motronic ME 7.1 electronic engine control unit (ECU), using a Bosch ‘E-Gas’ electronic drive by wire throttle. The engine had multipoint sequential fuel injection, a MAF, six individual single-spark coils and NGK longlife spark plugs. The engine oil was cooled by a dual oil:water cooler and an oil:air cooler. There was a 6 speed manual transmission and Audi’s Torsen-based quattro system. Even with a kerb weight of 1,620 kilograms (3,571 lb), the RS 4’s powerful engine gave it the performance of a sports car. 100 km/h could be reached from rest in 4.9 seconds, 160 km/h in 11.3 seconds, and 200 km/hin 17.0 seconds. Top speed was electronically limited to 262 km/h(162.8 mph) Audi produced 6,030 units between 1999 and 2001. Many have suggested that these B5 generation Audis are a future classic and maybe that time is now here. Perhaps I should have hung onto mine?
“A British car to beat the world”. So read the billboards when the Austin Metro was revealed in October 1980. We had waited a long time for this car. There were many false starts, with thoughts first turning to how to replace the Mini going back to the late 1960s, but for various reasons, every effort had been cancelled. Fortunately, that extended to the ADO88 prototype which got to quite an advanced state of development in 1978, but which received less than favourable feedback at customer clinics. A hasty redesign was conducted. Despite carrying over the A Series engines, albeit in modified A+ guise, as BL had nothing else suitable and no money to develop an alternative, and that meant the 4 speed in-sump gearbox came with it, the little Metro was an immediate hit. It looked good, with pert, modern styling, and was practical with a large hatchback, and some innovative ideas on how to maximise the use of space. This was a roomy car that Britain could indeed be proud of. That a young lady who came to prominence in the months following launch, the future Princess Diana, could be seen driving around in one probably helped still further. Five models were available at launch: 1.0, 1.0L, the economy-oriented 1.0 HLE, 1.3S and 1.3 HLS, and the cars were available in a wide range of bright and attractive colours, including a greater percentage of metallic paints than were typically offered to buyers of cars in this class. My parents bought a 1.0L in the summer of 1983, as a replacement for our Mini, and the car was a massive improvement in just about every respect. Unlike previous BL cars, this model was not dogged with build quality and reliability issues, though, sadly it did have the same propensity to rust as they had done, but it took several years before that would become obvious. Before that happened, the range was expanded with the introduction of cheaper a model using AP’s clever 4 speed Automatic gearbox, cheaper City and City X models, a top spec Vanden Plas and then the sporting MG version. There was a 1.3 HLE model here, in the post 1984 facelift which saw the introduction of 5 door models as well as cosmetic and equipment changes across the range.
The BMW E30 is the second generation of BMW 3 Series, which was produced from 1982 to 1994 and replaced the E21 3 Series, and was the car which really saw the popularity of the 3 Series increase dramatically. . Development of the E30 3 Series began in July 1976, with styling being developed under chief designer Claus Luthe with exterior styling led by Boyke Boyer. In 1978, the final design was approved, with design freeze (cubing process) being completed in 1979. BMW’s launch film for the E30 shows the design process including Computer-aided design (CAD), crash testing and wind-tunnel testing. The car was released at the end of November 1982. Externally, the E30’s appearance is very similar to twin headlight versions of its E21 predecessor, however there are various detail changes in styling to the E30. Major differences to the E21 include the interior and a revised suspension, the latter to reduce the oversteer for which the E21 was criticised. At launch, the car had a 2 door style like its predecessor and just four engines, all of them petrol: the 316 and 318 four cylinder units and the 320 and 323i 6 cylinders. This last was soon upgraded to a 2.5 litre unit. Diesel models were added during the 80s and there was an all-wheel drive 325iX option for continental European markets. In addition to the 2 door saloon and Baur convertible body styles of its E21 predecessors, the E30 became available by early 1984 as a four-door sedan and later a five-door station wagon (marketed as “Touring”). The Touring body style began life as a prototype built by BMW engineer Max Reisböck in his friend’s garage in 1984 and began production in 1987. The factory convertible version began production in 1985, with the Baur convertible conversions remaining available alongside it. Following the launch of the E36 3 Series in 1990, the E30 began to be phased out.
Introduced in 1998 at the Geneva Motor Show, the E39 generation of the M5 was the first M5 to use a V8 engine, resulting in an increase in power output to 400 PS. It is also the first M5 to use aluminium front suspension components and a multi-link rear suspension. Production began in October 1998. Unlike its predecessors, the M5 was produced on the same assembly line as the regular 5 Series models at the Dingolfing factory in Germany. The official performance figures are 0–97 km/h (60 mph) acceleration time of 4.8 seconds and an electronically limited top speed of 250 km/h (155 mph) In testing, an unrestricted M5 reached a top speed in excess of 300 km/h (186 mph). The E39 M5 recorded a Nurburgring lap time of 8:20. The M5 received the September 2000 facelift at the same time as the standard E39 models. Changes included halogen “corona rings” in headlights (often called “Angel Eyes”), LED tail-lights and various interior upgrades. The mechanical specification was unchanged. For the subsequent two model years, changes were limited to the addition of new exterior colours (from September 2001) and the upgrade to a DVD-based navigation system (from September 2002).Production of a “Touring” E39 M5 model was evaluated by BMW, and at least one prototype was developed (in Titanium Silver with a Black Exclusive leather interior). However the Touring did not reach production, due to financial considerations. Production totalled to 20,482 cars from 1999 to 2003.
The M3 version of the E46 3 Series was produced in coupé and convertible body styles. The E46 M3 is powered by the S54 straight-six engine and has a 0-100 km/h (62 mph) acceleration time of 5.1 seconds for the coupe, with either the manual or SMG-II transmission. The skid pad cornering results are 0.89 g for the coupe and 0.81 g for the convertible.The top speed is electronically limited to 250 km/h (155 mph). The available transmissions were a Getrag 420G 6-speed manual transmission or a SMG-II 6-speed automated manual transmission, which was based on the Getrag 420G. The SMG-II used an electrohydraulically actuated clutch and gearshifts could be selected via the gear knob or paddles mounted on the steering wheel. The SMG-II was praised for its fast shift times and racetrack performance, but some people found its shifts to be delayed and lurching in stop-start traffic. In 2005, a special edition was introduced which used several parts from the CSL. This model was called the M3 Competition Package (ZCP) in the United States and mainland Europe, and the M3 CS in the United Kingdom. Compared to the regular M3, the Competition Package includes: 19-inch BBS alloy wheels- 19″x 8″ at the front and 19″x 9.5″ at the rear; Stiffer springs (which were carried over to the regular M3 from 12/04); Faster ratio steering rack of 14.5:1 (compared with the regular M3’s ratio of 15.4:1) as per the CSL; Steering wheel from the CSL; M-track mode for the electronic stability control, as per the CSL; The CSL’s larger front brake discs (but with the regular M3 front calipers) and rear brake calipers with larger pistons; Alcantara steering wheel and handbrake covers; The engine, gearbox and other drivetrain components are the same as the standard M3. Total production of the E46 M3 was 56,133 coupes and 29,633 convertibles. The cars were assembled at the BMW Regensburg factory in Germany and production was from September 2000 until August 2006, production totalled 85,766.
Also here was the Z4. This has been offered in three different generations, of which this is the first, consisting of the BMW E85 (roadster version) and BMW E86 (coupe version) sports cars. The E85/E86 generation was produced from 2002 to 2008. The E85/E86 replaced the Z3 and is the third model in the BMW Z Series. Initial models were in the roadster (E85) body style, with the coupé (E86) body style being added in 2006. As per the Z3, the E85/E86 was manufactured solely in Greer, South Carolina. The E85 was designed by Danish BMW-designer Anders Warming from mid-1998 to the summer of 1999. The coupe models were designed by Tomasz Sycha. The E85 designs were frozen on March 1, 2000. The Z4 was introduced at the Paris Motor Show in 2002, and North American models went on sale in November of the same year (as the 2003 model year). European sales began in March 2003. The Z4 Roadster was launched in 2002 with the 2.5i and 3.0i six-cylinder models. Transmission choices were a five-speed manual, six-speed manual, five-speed automatic and a six-speed SMG-II automated manual transmission. A four-cylinder model, the Z4 2.0i Roadster, was introduced for the European market in May 2005. The drag coefficient is maximum of Cd=0.35. BMW unveiled a concept coupé version of the Z4 at the 2005 Frankfurt Motor Show The design of the Z4 and Z4 coupé has variously been ascribed to Anders Warming, Chris Bangle, the controversial former BMW Head of Design, and Adrian van Hooydonk, former BMW chief designer, and BMW designer Tomasz Sycha. The design was approved in Summer of 2004 and frozen in December 2004. The company announced in 2005 that the two-door coupé would be available for production including the return of the M Coupé. The production car was introduced at the New York Auto Show in April 2006 and was available for sale in late May 2006. Thanks to its hatch design, the Z4 Coupé offers 10.1 cu ft (0.29 m3) of trunk space, compared with 8.5 cu ft (0.24 m3) for the roadster. The Coupe’s fixed roof increases torsional rigidity, resulting in a stiffness of 32,000 N⋅m (24,000 lb⋅ft) per degree of body twist on the coupe (compared to 14,500 N⋅m (10,700 lb⋅ft) per degree on the roadster), which improves turn-in and overall handling response. The roof has a “double-bubble” contour which serves as an aerodynamic aid and offers more headroom than the roadster with the soft top closed. The Coupé has a sleek fastback rear window that slopes down to an integrated spoiler which is shaped to deliver downforce to the rear axle at high-speed. The model range for the Coupé was more limited than the roadster, and consisted of the six-cylinder 3.0si and Z4 M model only. Transmission choices were a 6-speed manual and a 6-speed automatic with shift paddles mounted on the steering column. In February 2009, the BMW Z4 (E89) began production as the successor to the E85/E86.
There was a more recent M3 here, from the E90 generation.
The M2 was first revealed in Need for Speed: No Limits on November 2015, before later premiering at the North American International Auto Show in January 2016. Production commenced in October 2015 and is only available as a rear-wheel drive coupé. The M2 is powered by the turbocharged 3.0-litre N55B30T0 straight-six engine producing 365 bhp at 6,500 rpm and 465 Nm (343 lb/ft) between 1,450–4,750 rpm, while an overboost function temporarily increases torque to 500 N⋅m (369 lb⋅ft). The M2 features pistons from the F80 M3 and F82 M4, and has lighter aluminium front and rear suspension components resulting in a 5 kg (11 lb) weight reduction. The M2 is available with a 6-speed manual or with a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission which features a ‘Smokey Burnout’ mode. 0-100 km/h acceleration times are 4.5 seconds manual transmission models and 4.3 seconds for models equipped with the 7-speed dual clutch transmission. Top speed is limited to 250 km/h (155 mph) but can be extended to 270 km/h (168 mph) with the optional M Driver’s package. The M2 Competition was introduced at the 2018 Beijing Auto Show and succeeded the standard M2 Coupé. Production began in July 2018. The M2 Competition uses the high performance S55 engine which is a variant of the 3.0-litre twin turbocharged straight six engine found in the F80 M3 and F82 M4. The engine features a redesigned oil supply system and modified cooling system from the BMW M4 with the Competition Package, and also features a gasoline particulate filter in certain European Union countries to reduce emissions. Compared to the standard M2, the S55 produces an additional 40 bhp and 85 Nm (63 lb/ft), resulting in a larger and more sustained power output of 405 bhp between 5,370–7,200 rpm, and 550 Nm (406 lb/ft) at 2,350–5,230 rpm. The 0-100 km/h acceleration time is 4.4 seconds for six-speed manual transmission models, and 4.2 seconds for models with the 7-speed dual clutch transmission. Top speed is electronically limited to 250 km/h (155 mph), but the M Driver’s package can extend the limit to 280 km/h (174 mph) which is 10 km/h (6 mph) further than in the M2. The M2 Competition also has a carbon-fibre reinforced plastic strut bar, enlarged kidney grilles, and larger brake discs of 400 mm (15.7 in) in the front axle and 380 mm (15.0 in) in the rear axle. Because of the new engine and cooling system, the M2 Competition is 55 kg (121 lb) heavier than the standard M2 at 1,550 kg (3,417 lb) for manual transmission models and 1,575 kg (3,472 lb) for dual-clutch transmission models. It remains in production.
The C5 Corvette was redesigned from the ground up after sales from the previous generation began to decline. Production of the C5 Corvette actually began in 1996 but quality/manufacturing issues saw its release to the public in mass delayed until 1997, and continuing through the 2004 model year. The C5 was a completely new design that featured many new concepts and manufacturing breakthroughs that would be carried forward to the C6 & C7. It had a top speed of 176 mph (283 km/h) and was judged by the automotive press as a breakthrough with vastly improved dynamics in nearly every area over the previous C4 design. Innovations included a 0.29 drag coefficient, near 50/50 weight distribution, active handling (the first stability control for a Corvette). It also weighed less than the C4. It was the first time the platform was badge engineered as the Cadillac XLR with limited sales. An all new LS1 aluminium engine (Gen III small block) featured individual ignition coils for each cylinder, and aluminium block and pistons. It was initially rated at 345 bhp and 350 lb/ft (470 Nm), but was increased to 350 bhp in the 2001 edition. The new engine, combined with the new body, was able to achieve up to 28 mpg on the highway. For its first year, the C5 was available only as a coupe, although the new platform was designed from the ground up to be a convertible, which returned in 1998, followed by the fixed-roof coupe (FRC) in 1999. One concept for the FRC was for it to be a stripped-down model with a possible V6 engine (nicknamed in-house as the “Billy Bob”). By 2000, FRC plans laid the groundwork for the return in 2001 of the Z06, an RPO option not seen since Zora’s 1963 race-ready Corvette. The Z06 model replaced the FRC model as the highest performance C5 Corvette. Instead of a heavier double-overhead cam engine like the ZR-1 of the C4 generation, the Z06 used an LS6, a 385 bhp derivative of the standard LS1 engine. Using the much more rigid fixed roof design allowed the Z06 unprecedented handling thanks to upgraded brakes and less body flex. Those characteristics, along with the use of materials such as a titanium exhaust system and a carbon fiber hood in the 2004 model year, led to further weight savings and performance gains for the C5 Z06. The LS6 was later upgraded to 405 bhp for 2002–2004. Although the Z06’s rated power output equal to that of the C4 ZR-1, the improved rigidity, suspension, brakes, and reduced weight of the C5 produced a car quicker than C4 ZR-1. A sixth generation model arrived for the 2005 model year.
Davrian cars were built by Davrian Developments at 65 North Street, Clapham in London, England, from 1965 to 1976, in Tregaron, Dyfed, Wales from 1976 to 1980 and Lampeter, Dyfed, from 1980 to 1983. Adrian Evans (d. 1992), a structural engineer and the car’s designer, built a series of cars called Davrian from 1965, based on components from the Hillman Imp, including the front and rear suspension, the 875 or 998 cc aluminium alloy Hillman Imp engine which was Coventry Climax-based and the Imp transaxle. In 1967, the design had settled to a 2-seat glass fibre monocoque coupé, officially called the Davrian Imp and series production started with a company being formed called Davrian Developments. The cars were sold in kit form. Over time, a variety of power units were offered including the Mini-engined Davrian Demon (mid-mounted), Volkswagen Beetle Type 1 (rear-mounted), Renault (rear-mounted), and Ford Fiesta (mid-mounted). The car weighed in at 8 long cwt (900 lb; 410 kg). Over the years, a series of improvements led the cars to go through Marks 1 to 8. They proved very popular in amateur hands as rally and circuit racing cars. In 1980, the Mk8 was offered as a complete car called the Davrian Dragon. This was mid-engined and used Ford Fiesta components and engine. The company was insufficiently capitalised for this operation, and went into receivership in 1983. This car was subsequently relaunched as the Corry and the earlier more basic versions continued being made in the same premises but under new ownership as the Darrian.
The 3700 GT was the most popular version in the evolution of the Barreiros Dodges. Barreiros was a spanish car manufacturer that produced several iterations of the Dodge Dart in Spain from the mid 60’s through to the late 70’s to great success. Offering more power, reliability and a higher standard of interior finish than any of the other European rivals of the time the big American designs proved popular in Spain at the time. This car was converted to a hearse and has spend most of its life in Spain, with one owner.
The GTC4Lusso is a successor to the Ferrari FF. Like its predecessor, the GTC4Lusso is a 3-door shooting-brake with an all-wheel drive drivetrain, and is powered by a front-mid mounted V12 engine. The GTC4Lusso’s 6,262 cc Ferrari F140 65° V12 engine is rated at 690 PS at 8,000 rpm and 697 Nm (514 lb/ft) of torque at 5,750rpm. The increase in output of the engine is due to the compression ratio raised to 13.5:1. Ferrari claims a top speed of 335 km/h (208 mph), unchanged from the FF, and a 0–100 km/h (0–62 mph) acceleration time of 3.4 seconds. The car uses an improved version (called the 4RM Evo) of Ferrari’s patented four-wheel drive system introduced on the FF, integrated with four-wheel steering into the system. Collectively, the system is called 4RM-S. The GTC4Lusso was unveiled at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show. A second version joined the range, unveiled at the 2016 Paris Motor Show. This was the GTC4Lusso T, a rear wheel drive only version of the GTC4Lusso powered by a V8 engine with lesser displacement, though the 4WS four-wheel steering system from its V12 variant is retained. The GTC4Lusso T comes with a 3,855 cc Ferrari F154 twin turbocharged V8 engine rated at 610 PS at 7,500 rpm and 760 Nm (561lb/ft) of torque at 3,000–5,250 rpm. According to the manufacturer the car can attain a top speed of over 320 km/h (199 mph) and accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h (0 to 62 mph) in 3.5 seconds. The rear features Ferrari’s signature Quad Circular Rear Lights (last seen on the F430) and the interior contains a Dual Cockpit Concept Design, separating the Driver Cockpit and the Passenger Cockpit by a central divider. The front of the car has a single grille that provides all the necessary cooling.
Developed towards the end of the 1960s, the Fiat 127 was launched as a two-door saloon in April 1971. A three-door hatchback, using an identical body profile but with a full-depth rear door and folding rear seat, was launched the following year; this would prove to be the most popular version of the 127. This was Fiat’s first supermini-sized hatchback, along with a state-of-the-art transverse-engine/front-wheel-drive layout, with the transmission mounted on the end of the engine, both design ideas had been fully trialled since 1964, by Fiat’s Autobianchi subsidiary with the Autobianchi Primula and 1969 Autobianchi A112 and A111 – although these models were not as widely exported as the 127 was. The larger Fiat 128, launched in 1969, was the first Fiat badged car to use the same transverse powertrain layout. The 127 used, as the A112, a shrunken version of the 128 platform and the rugged Fiat OHV 100 series 903 cc engine, that had powered the Autobianchi and, with various cylinder capacities, earlier generations of Fiat cars. The 127 also featured a unique transverse leaf spring suspension at the rear. Safety was another area of innovation – the 127 included an articulated steering column and crumple zones for progressive deformation under impact. The car was one of the first of the modern superminis, and won praise for its utilisation of space (80 percent of the floor space was available for passengers and luggage) as well as its road-holding. It was launched a year before the comparable Renault 5, and before the end of the 1970s most mass market European manufacturers were producing similar cars, notable examples being the Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Polo, while General Motors added a three-door hatchback to the Opel Kadett range, which was reworked for British production and sold as the Vauxhall Chevette. The 127 was also one of the more popular imported cars on the UK market, peaking at more than 20,000 sales in 1978. It was also the first car fitted with an all-polypropylene bumper on steel support. The 127 was an instant success, winning the European Car of the Year award for 1972, and quickly became one of the best-selling cars in Europe for several years. It was the third Fiat in six years to receive this accolade. In June 1974, slightly over three years after the model’s introduction, Fiat reported that the one millionth 127 had been completed at the Mirafiori plant in Turin, after just over three years in production. The (in its time) hugely successful Fiat 600 had taken seven years to reach that same milestone. The Series 1 car changed little during its lifetime. However, in May 1973 saloons became available in both standard and deluxe versions. In 1975 the 127 Special variant was released which featured a restyled front grille and detail changes to the interior. The deluxe version was differentiated by its reclining front seats and opening hinged rear side windows as standard equipment. During the next couple of years the Fiat 850, which had initially been marketed alongside the 127, was withdrawn from most markets. The Series 2 version of the 127 debuted in May 1977. It featured a restyled front and rear, a new dashboard (although almost identical in layout to that of the Series 1), larger rear side windows (using rear quarter pressings derived from those used on the Brazil market Fiat 147) and the option of the 1049 cc engine – uniquely for the 127 this was the five-bearing OHC “Brazil” 124 series engine from the 147 rather than the Fiat OHC unit from the 128. The tailgate was extended and now reached nearly to the rear bumper, addressing complaints about the high lip over which luggage had to be lifted for loading into the earlier 127 hatchbacks. A short-lived Series 3 came early in 1982, but when the Uno followed it just a year later, the car was deleted from most European markets.
Follow on to the Cinquecento was the Seicento, and that was represented here by the Sporting version, debuting in 1997. It did not differ much from its predecessor, retaining the same engines, chassis and general dimensions, although it did gain a minor 9 cm in length (total length of 3.34 m). At launch, the Seicento was available with three trim levels; a basic ‘S’ with black bumpers and spartan equipment and initially the 899 cc 39 PS FIAT 100 series engine; an ‘SX’ model, a slight upgrade over the ‘S’ with colour-coded bumpers, electric windows, central locking and a sunroof – which was also available as a ‘Citymatic’ with a clutchless manual gearchange – and a ‘Sporting’ with the larger FIAT FIRE series 1108 cc 55 PS engine, 20 mm (0.8 in) lower suspension and anti-roll bars added. Cosmetically, this version gained 13″ alloy wheels, sports seats. An Abarth styling kit was also available with a body kit with optional Abarth 14″ wheels a close-ratio gearbox, sill kick plates, embroidered headrests, leather gear stick and steering wheel, colour highlighted trim in the bumpers, side skirts and a spoiler also available. Both the sporting and the Abarths were available with ABS, air-conditioning and power steering but due to cost not very many owners took up the options. In 1999, the FIRE engine was used in the special ‘Suite’ version, which came with air-conditioning. A special edition ‘Soleil’ model was available in some markets, which was based on the ‘SX’ model but came with a full-length electrically-folding fabric roof. In 2001, after the update, all cars were given clear indicator lenses, with the Sporting model getting a restyled bodykit. Power steering was still an option, in lower end Seicentos. A ‘Michael Schumacher’ edition of the Sporting, with ABS and the Abarth styling kit, was also launched at this time to celebrate the Ferrari driver’s Formula One success, This model was almost identical to the Abarth kit with the exception of chrome gear stick surrounds and Michael’s signature on the boot lid and side skirt. A limited edition plate and number was also on the passenger door. In 2004, the model was withdrawn from the UK market, and production of RHD models ceased, following the arrival of the new and more practical Panda. The LHD model was facelifted, gaining a new design for the wheel rims and the introduction of the new Fiat logo to the rear. In 2005, the name Seicento was replaced by 600 (on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the first edition, in 1955) together with some changes in the front and in versions donations: now the name Fiat is written on the seats. The new versions now were named “Class” and “50 anniversary”, thus reminding the strict relationship between this model and the previous one. Production continued until 2010 by which time over 1.33 million units had been built.
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.
Production of the Capri began on 14 December 1968 in Ford’s Dagenham plant in the UK and on 16 December 1968 at the Cologne plant in West Germany, before its unveiling in January 1969 at the Brussels Motor Show, and sales starting the following month. The intention was to reproduce in Europe the success Ford had had with the North American Ford Mustang; to produce a European pony car. It was mechanically based on the Cortina and built in Europe at the Dagenham and Halewood plants in the United Kingdom, the Genk plant in Belgium, and the Saarlouis and Cologne plants in Germany. The car was named Colt during its development stage, but Ford was unable to use the name, as it was trademarked by Mitsubishi. Although a fastback coupé, Ford wanted the Capri Mk I to be affordable for a broad spectrum of potential buyers. To help achieve that, it was available with a variety of engines. The British and German factories produced different line-ups. The continental model used the Ford Taunus V4 engine in 1.3, 1.5 and 1.7 litre displacements, while the British versions were powered by the Ford Kent straight-four in 1.3 and 1.6 litre forms. The Ford Essex V4 engine 2.0 litre (British built) and Cologne V6 2.0 litre (German built) served as initial range-toppers. At the end of the year, new sports versions were added: the 2300 GT in Germany, using a double-barrel carburettor with 125 PS, and in September 1969 the 3000 GT in the UK, with the Essex V6, capable of 138 hp. Under the new body, the running gear was very similar to the 1966 Cortina. The rear suspension employed a live axle supported on leaf springs with short radius rods. MacPherson struts were featured at the front in combination with rack and pinion steering which employed a steering column that would collapse in response to a collision. The initial reception of the car was broadly favourable.The range continued to be broadened, with another 3.0 variant, the Capri 3000E introduced from the British plant in March 1970, offering “more luxurious interior trim”. Sales in other global markets got underway with the Capri reaching Australia in May 1969 and in April 1970 it was released in the North American and South African markets. These versions all used the underpowered Kent 1.6 engine although a Pinto straight-four 2.0 litre replaced it in some markets in 1971. The Capri proved highly successful, with 400,000 cars sold in its first two years. Ford revised it in 1972. It received new and more comfortable suspension, enlarged tail-lights and new seats. Larger headlamps with separate indicators were also fitted, with quad headlamps now featured on the 3000GXL model. The Kent engines were replaced by the Ford Pinto engine and the previously UK-only 3000 GT joined the German line-up. In the UK the 2.0 litre V4 remained in use. In 1973, the Capri saw the highest sales total it would ever attain, at 233,000 vehicles: the 1,000,000th Capri, an RS 2600, was completed on 29 August. A replacement model, the Capri II was launched in February 1974.
The squarer-styled Mark II Escort appeared in January 1975. The first production models had rolled off the production lines on 2 December 1974. Unlike the first Escort (which was developed by Ford of Britain), the second generation was developed jointly between the UK and Ford of Germany. Codenamed “Brenda” during its development, it used the same mechanical components as the Mark I. The 940 cc engine was still offered in Italy where the smaller engine attracted tax advantages, but in the other larger European markets in Europe it was unavailable. The estate and van versions used the same panelwork as the Mark I, but with the Mark II front end and interior. The car used a revised underbody, which had been introduced as a running change during the last six months production of the Mark I. Rear suspension still sat on leaf springs though some contemporaries such as the Hillman Avenger had moved on to coil springs. The car came in for criticism for its lack of oddments space, with a glove compartment only available on higher end models, and its stalk-mounted horn. The “L” and “GL” models (2-door, 4-door, estate) were in the mainstream private sector, the “Sport”, “RS Mexico”, and “RS2000” in the performance market, the “Ghia” (2-door, 4-door) for a hitherto untapped small car luxury market, and “base / Popular” models for the bottom end. Panel-van versions catered to the commercial sector. The 1598 cc engine in the 1975 1.6 Ghia produced 84 hp with 92 ft·lbft torque and weighed 955 kg (2105 lb). A cosmetic update was given in 1978 with L models gaining the square headlights (previously exclusive to the GL and Ghia variants) and there was an upgrade in interior and exterior specification for some models. Underneath a wider front track was given. In 1979 and 1980 three special edition Escorts were launched: the Linnet, Harrier and Goldcrest. Production ended in Britain in August 1980, other countries following soon after. Spotted here was a 1600 Sport.
The Sierra RS Cosworth model. a very sporting version of Ford’s upper-medium sized family car, was built by Ford Europe from 1986 to 1992, the result of a Ford Motorsport project with the purpose of producing an outright winner for Group A racing in Europe. The project was defined in the spring of 1983 by Stuart Turner, then recently appointed head of Ford Motorsport in Europe, who had realised right away that Ford was no longer competitive in this area. Turner got in touch with Walter Hayes, at the time the vice-president of public relations at Ford, to get support for the project. Hayes had earlier been the driving force behind the development of the Ford GT40 that won Le Mans in 1966, and the Cosworth DFV engine that brought Ford 154 victories and 12 world championships in Formula One during the 1960s and 1970s. Hayes found the project very appealing and promised his full support. Turner then invited Ken Kohrs, vice-president of development, to visit Ford’s longtime partner, the automotive company Cosworth, where they were presented a project developed on Cosworth’s own initiative, the YAA engine. This was a twin cam, 16-valve engine based on Ford’s own T88 engine block, better known as the Pinto. This prototype proved an almost ideal basis for the engine Turner needed to power his Group A winner. Therefore, an official request for a turbocharged version (designated Cosworth YBB) capable of 180 HP on the street and 300 HP in race trim, was placed. Cosworth answered positively, but they put up two conditions: the engine would produce not less than 204 HP in the street version, and Ford had to accept no fewer than 15,000 engines. Turner’s project would only need about 5,000 engines, but Ford nevertheless accepted the conditions. The extra 10,000 engines would later become one of the reasons Ford also chose to develop a four door, second generation Sierra RS Cosworth. To find a suitable gearbox proved more challenging. The Borg-Warner T5, also used in the Ford Mustang, was chosen, but the higher revving nature of the Sierra caused some problems. Eventually Borg-Warner had to set up a dedicated production line for the gearboxes to be used in the Sierra RS Cosworth. Many of the suspension differences between the standard Sierra and the Cosworth attributed their development to what was learned from racing the turbocharged Jack Roush IMSA Merkur XR4Ti in America and Andy Rouse’s successful campaign of the 1985 British Saloon Car Championship. Much of Ford’s external documentation for customer race preparation indicated “developed for the XR4Ti” when describing parts that were Sierra Cosworth specific. Roush’s suspension and aerodynamics engineering for the IMSA cars was excellent feedback for Ford. Some production parts from the XR4Ti made their way into the Cosworth such as the speedometer with integral boost gauge and the motorsport 909 chassis stiffening plates. In April 1983, Turner’s team decided on the recently launched Sierra as a basis for their project. The Sierra filled the requirements for rear wheel drive and decent aerodynamic drag. A racing version could also help to improve the unfortunate, and somewhat undeserved, reputation that Sierra had earned since the introduction in 1982. Lothar Pinske, responsible for the car’s bodywork, demanded carte blanche when it came to appearance in order to make the car stable at high speed. Experience had shown that the Sierra hatchback body generated significant aerodynamic lift even at relatively moderate speed. After extensive wind tunnel testing and test runs at the Nardò circuit in Italy, a prototype was presented to the project management. This was based on an XR4i body with provisional body modifications in fibreglass and aluminium. The car’s appearance raised little enthusiasm. The large rear wing caused particular reluctance. Pinske insisted however that the modifications were necessary to make the project successful. The rear wing was essential to retain ground contact at 300 km/h, the opening between the headlights was needed to feed air to the intercooler and the wheel arch extensions had to be there to house wheels 10” wide on the racing version. Eventually, the Ford designers agreed to try to make a production version based on the prototype. In 1984, Walter Hayes paid visits to many European Ford dealers in order to survey the sales potential for the Sierra RS Cosworth. A requirement for participation in Group A was that 5,000 cars were built and sold. The feedback was not encouraging. The dealers estimated they could sell approximately 1,500 cars. Hayes did not give up, however, and continued his passionate internal marketing of the project. As prototypes started to emerge, dealers were invited to test drive sessions, and this increased the enthusiasm for the new car. In addition, Ford took some radical measures to reduce the price on the car. As an example, the car was only offered in three exterior colours (black, white and moonstone blue) and one interior colour (grey). There were also just two equipment options: with or without central locking and electric window lifts. The Sierra RS Cosworth was first presented to the public at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1985, with plans to release it for sale in September and closing production of the 5,000 cars in the summer of 1986. In practice, it was launched in July 1986. 5545 were manufactured in total of which 500 were sent to Tickford for conversion to the Sierra three-door RS500 Cosworth. The vehicles were manufactured in right hand drive only, and were made in Ford’s Genk factory in Belgium. Exactly 500 RS500s were produced, all of them RHD for sale in the UK only – the biggest market for this kind of Ford car. It was originally intended that all 500 would be black, but in practice 56 white and 52 moonstone blue cars were produced.To broaden the sales appeal, the second generation model was based on the 4 door Sierra Sapphire body. It was launched in 1988, and was assembled in Genk, Belgium, with the UK-built Ford-Cosworth YBB engine. Cylinder heads on this car were early spec 2wd heads and also the “later” 2wd head which had some improvements which made their way to the 4X4 head. Suspension was essentially the same with some minor changes in geometry to suit a less aggressive driving style and favour ride over handling. Spindles, wheel offset and other changes were responsible for this effect. Approximately 13,140 examples were produced during 1988-1989 and were the most numerous and lightest of all Sierra Cosworth models. Specifically the LHD models which saved weight with a lesser trim level such as manual rear windows and no air conditioning. In the UK, the RHD 1988-1989 Sierra Sapphire RS Cosworth is badged as such with a small “Sapphire” badge on the rear door window trims. All 1988-1989 LHD models are badged and registered as a Sierra RS Cosworth with no Sapphire nomenclature at all. “Sapphire” being viewed as a Ghia trim level that saw power rear windows, air conditioning and other minor options. Enthusiasts of the marque are mindful of this and will describe the LHD cars by their body shell configuration, 3 door or 4 door. As the Sapphire Cosworth was based on a different shell to the original three-door Cosworth, along with its more discreet rear wing, recorded a drag co-efficient of 0.33, it registered slightly better performance figures, with a top speed of 150 mph and 0-60 of 6.1 seconds, compared to the original Cosworth. In January 1990, the third generation Sierra RS Cosworth was launched, this time with four wheel drive. As early as 1987, Mike Moreton and Ford Motorsport had been talking about a four wheel drive Sierra RS Cosworth that could make Ford competitive in the World Rally Championship. The Ferguson MT75 gearbox that was considered an essential part of the project wasn’t available until late 1989 however. Ford Motorsport’s desire for a 3-door “Motorsport Special” equivalent to the original Sierra RS Cosworth was not embraced. The more discreet 4-door version was considered to have a better market potential. It was therefore decided that the new car should be a natural development of the second generation, to be launched in conjunction with the face lift scheduled for the entire Sierra line in 1990. The waiting time gave Ford Motorsport a good opportunity to conduct extensive testing and demand improvements. One example was the return of the bonnet louvres. According to Ford’s own publicity material, 80% of the engine parts were also modified. The improved engine was designated YBJ for cars without a catalyst and YBG for cars with a catalyst. The latter had the red valve cover replaced by a green one, to emphasise the environmental friendliness. Four wheel drive and an increasing amount of equipment had raised the weight by 100 kg, and the power was therefore increased to just about compensate for this. The Sierra RS Cosworth 4×4 received, if possible, an even more flattering response than its predecessors and production continued until the end of 1992, when the Sierra was replaced by the Mondeo. The replacement for the Sierra RS Cosworth was not a Mondeo however, but the Escort RS Cosworth. This was to some extent a Sierra RS Cosworth clad in an “Escort-like” body. The car went on sale in May 1992, more than a year after the first pre-production examples were shown to the public, and was homologated for Group A rally in December, just as the Sierra RS Cosworth was retired. It continued in production until 1996. The Sierra and Sapphire Cosworths were undoubted performance bargains when new, but they also gained a reputation both for suffering a lot of accidents in the hands of the unskilled and also for being among the most frequently stole cars of their generation. These days, though, there are some lovely and treasured examples around and indeed you are far more likely to see a Cosworth version of the Sierra than one of the volume selling models, though in fact there was a late model hatch here.
Getting rare now is the Mondeo ST220. This was the most sporting version of the second generation Mondeo, replacing the ST200 from the last model series. This was available in Liftback, Estate and Saloon form. The ST220 produced 226 bhp from the newly developed 3.0-litre V6 engine, which made it capable of 0 to 62 mph (100 km/h) in 7.4 seconds, and on to a maximum speed of 155 mph (249 km/h). There was also a ST TDCi, a sports version of the regular diesel. This, available in all forms, had a 2.2-litre 4-cyl diesel engine, developing 153 bhp. It accelerated from 0 to 62 mph (100 km/h) in 8.2 seconds, and had a maximum speed of 140 mph (230 km/h). Production ceased in 2007 when the third generation Mondeo was announced. There was no direct replacement.
In 2005 Ford unveiled a hot hatch version of the Mk 2 Focus. Called Focus ST, and available in either three or five-door hatchback variant, the car uses the Volvo Modular engine, a turbocharged 2.5 L 5-cylinder engine producing 225 bhp. Ford however rebadged it as the Ford Duratec ST, applied variable valve timing to both camshafts, applied a lighter flywheel and performed a throttle recalibration. The Ford Focus Mk 2 ST is also known as the XR5 Turbo in the Australian and New Zealand market, but is sold as a five-door hatchback only. In 2008 Ford, in conjunction with Mountune Racing, unveiled a power upgrade kit which raises the power output to 260 bhp the kit consists of: a K&N panel filter, larger intercooler and a re-map. Although the platform is the same, no saloon version was ever released. Sales ceased when the third generation Focus was released in 2011.
Official imports of the Mustang finally started in 2015 and the car has proved popular, so it was no surprise to find a couple of them here.
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.
Sitting below the Hunter in the Hillman range of the 1970s was the Avenger, a conventionally engineered small saloon that competed with the Ford Escort and Vauxhall Viva. 1250 and 1500cc models from launch were upgraded to 1300 and 1600cc in the autumn of 1973 and these garnered the majority of sales, but they are not the cars that have survived in the greatest numbers. The ones that you most often see now are the Tiger models. Named to evoke memories of the Sunbeam Tiger, the Avenger Tiger concept began as a publicity exercise. Avenger Super (four-door) cars were modified by the Chrysler Competitions Centre under Des O’ Dell and the Tiger model was launched in March 1972. Modifications included the 1500 GT engine with an improved cylinder head with enlarged valves, twin Weber carburettors and a compression ratio of 9.4:1. The engine now developed 92.5 bhp at 6,100 rpm. The suspension was also uprated, whilst brakes, rear axle, and gearbox are directly from the GT. The cars were all painted in a distinctive yellow called Sundance and they featured a bonnet bulge, whilst a rear spoiler and side stripes were standard, set off with “Avenger Tiger” lettering on the rear quarters. They are also distinguished by the fact that have rectangular headlights. Road test figures demonstrated a 0–60 mph time of 8.9 seconds and a top speed of 108 mph, which beat the rival Ford Escort Mexico, but fuel consumption was heavy. All Avenger Tigers were assembled by the Chrysler Competitions Centre and production figures are vague but around 200 of the initial Mark 1 seems likely. In October 1972, Chrysler unveiled the more “productionised” Mark 2 Tiger. The Avenger GL bodyshell with four round headlights was used. Mechanically identical to the earlier cars, the bonnet bulge was lost although the bonnet turned matt black, and there were changes to wheels and seats. These cars went on sale at £1,350. Production was around 400. These were available in a bright red colour called Wardance as well as the earlier Sundance, both with black detailing.
Introduced at the 1965 Tokyo Motor Show, the S800 would replace the successful Honda S600 as the company’s image car and would compete with the Austin-Healey Sprite, MG Midget, Triumph Spitfire and Fiat 850 Spider. Like the S600, it was available as either a coupe or roadster and continued the advanced technology of its predecessors. The 791 cc straight-4 engine produced 70 hp at 8000 rpm, thus making this Honda’s first 100 mph automobile, but still allowing for 35 mpg. In April 1967 the car was described as the fastest production 1-litre car in the world thanks to its high revving engine (up to 10,000 rpm) and the manufacturer’s history of manufacturing powerful relatively low capacity motor-cycle engines. Early examples continued to use the chain drive and independent suspension in the rear. 752 roadsters and 242 coupés were then produced. After that Honda switched to a conventional drive-shaft, live axle rear end with four radius rods and a Panhard rod. 604 roadsters and 69 coupes were built with this setup before disc brakes replaced the front drums. In 1967, the S800 became available in Britain. By this time the model had the more conventional drive layout as stated above, with predictable handling and a firm ride. It was also cheaper than the Mini Cooper and Triumph Spitfire, in Britain. In February 1968, the S800M (aka S800MK2) was introduced with flush mounted interior door handles, side marker lights outside, dual-circuit brakes, lean burn carburetion under the bonnet and safety glass. These changes were made for the American market, but the car was never exported to the UK.
The Honda CR-X was completely redesigned by late 1987 for the 1988 model year. The wheelbase increased 4 in (102 mm) overall, length increased by 3.2 in (81 mm) and width is nearly 2 in (51 mm) wider from the previous model. The suspension was completely redesigned. Honda abandoned the original torsion bar in the front and beam axle and trailing link in the rear to a 4-wheel double-wishbone suspension. The larger design and revised suspension brought improvements in handling as well passenger and cargo space versus the previous generation. The CR-X received a mild refresh for the 1990 model year. The VTEC equipped models also received a makeover, with updated bumpers, lights, hood, brakes, suspension and dashboard design amongst other features. Additionally, some of these design changes were added to the concurrent non-VTEC models. One of the options for the Japanese Domestic Market (JDM) CR-X was a glass roof, a fixed glass panel which stretched from the top of the windshield to the top of the hatch opening. Relatively common in Japan, these are sought-after models in other markets. A rather different looking third generation model was launched in late 1991.
On 9 April 1987, the third-generation Prelude was released in the Japanese domestic market and released later that year worldwide, being a 1988 model in North America. Featuring evolutionary styling from its predecessor, it shared design cues from the Honda NSX that would be introduced later in 1990. The Prelude featured innovative features for its time such as a 0.34 drag coefficient, roof pillars made of high-strength metal and its signature feature, the available option of the world’s first mechanical four wheel steering system available in a mass-production passenger car. Honda had expected 30% of buyers to plump for four-wheel-steering, but the car was a runaway success in the home market and 80% of buyers did in the first year. The third-generation Prelude was exclusively powered by variants of the Honda B20A engine, a base carbureted version with a SOHC 12-valve valvetrain, or a DOHC variant with Honda’s PGM-FI fuel injection and 16 valves. The engine was tilted backwards by 18 degrees, which made it possible to make the hood 30 mm (1.2 in) lower than on the previous generation. It was well received by judges of the European Car of the Year accolade for 1988, finished third in a contest where the Peugeot 405 was the runaway winner and the Citroën AX came second. This was one of the best performances by a Japanese built or branded car until the Nissan Micra won the award five years later. The facelift third-generation Prelude was revealed in Japan on 21 November 1989. The front and rear bumpers were revised on the new Prelude. The rear front bumper and rear tail lights featured clear indicators and a revised parking light design. Many of the interior parts were also revised, including the dash bezel, the door handle and window switches. The Japanese version of the Si with the B20A was rated 140 PS with the JDM engine and was rated for 37 mpg. A fourth generation model arrived in late 1991.
This is an Accord Coupe. For the first time in the model’s history, Honda developed two distinct versions of the Accord when the fifth-generation model was launched in the Fall of 1993; one version for the European market and one for the North American and Japanese market. Honda and the Rover Group created the European Accord and the Rover 600, a reflection of the past success they had with the Honda Legend and the Rover 800. This generation Accord was also sold in Japan as the Isuzu Aska, while some Isuzu products were sold as Honda products there also. At its introduction in 1993, it won the Car of the Year Japan Award for the second time. The fifth-generation North American Accord was launched on 9 September 1993, for the 1994 model year and was based on the new ‘CD’ chassis. Larger than its predecessor, primarily to better suit the requirements of the North American market, the new model grew in width but shrunk in length, leaving it classified as a mid-size car in North America. It thus became too wide to fit within the favorable tax bracket in Japan, where its role was to be partially taken over by the slightly narrower second-generation Honda Ascot (sold at Honda Primo Japanese dealerships) and Honda Rafaga (sold at Honda Verno). Previous generations of the Accord sold in Japan were limited to a width dimension of 1,695 mm (67 in) while international models were slightly wider, however, this generation no longer complied. The engines offered with the Accord also exceeded the maximum limit of 2000cc to remain in the favorable “compact” tax bracket. The installation of a 2.0-litre engine in Japanese models made buyers liable for more annual road tax over the smaller 1.8-litre engine, which affected sales. Development began in September 1989, along with the design process in June 1990. The final design was selected by an early date of 18 December 1990 and frozen by mid-1991. Design inconsistencies in early 1992, caused several alterations to be made until April 1992, when a secondary design freeze took place, ahead of scheduled 1993 production. Design patents were later filed in the United States on 16 December 1992 for the “CD”. Production later began at Marysville assembly on 24 August 1993. Honda of Japan marketed four different size engines in the Japanese-spec Accord sedan: 1.8, 2.0, 2.2 VTEC and 2.2 DOHC VTEC. The Japanese-spec Accord models were marketed as the following: EF, EX, 2.0EX, 2.0EXL, 2.2VTE, 2.2VTL, 2.2VTS and SiR. All Accord versions were sold at Honda Clio locations in Japan. The DX, LX and EX models remained the American trim lines, while Canada retained the LX, EX and EX-R. The 5-speed manual transmission remained mostly unchanged, while the 4-speed automatic noted for its hard shifts, now included Honda’s “Grade-Logic” shift program, which would prevent “gear-hunting” by holding the current gear while driving on a sloped incline. All Accord models received a more ergonomic interior with standard safety features such as dual airbags and reinforced side-impact beams. Exclusive to the EX was the F22B1 SOHC VTEC version of previous-generation 2.2-liter 4-cylinder (making 145 hp up from 140 hp on the previous generation EX), anti-lock brakes (now an option for the LX), 4-wheel disc brakes, 15-inch alloy wheels, and a rear stabilizer bar. Leather was an option in the EX trim with leather-equipped models now being referred to as EX-L. DX and LX models came equipped similarly to the previous generation and were fitted with a revised version of the previous generation’s 2.2-liter non-VTEC 4-cylinder engine. This F22B2 engine was rated at 130 hp up from 125 hp of the previous generation. The Accord was again named Motor Trend Import Car of the Year for 1994. The Accord coupe as in the previous generation looked almost exactly like the sedan and was the last generation of the Accord to offer a wagon variant in North America until the introduction of the Accord Crosstour in 2009. In 1994, the 1995 Accord debuted a V6 engine, the 2.7 L C27 borrowed from the first-generation Acura Legend, in the U.S. market. The V6 was offered in both the LX and EX versions of the sedan, LX models being referred to as LX-V6 and EX models as EX-V6. EX-V6 models came equipped similarly to the EX-L with leather seats being the only option in the EX-V6. The addition of the taller C27 engine required substantial alterations to the CD platform, with V6 models sporting a redesigned engine layout, taller front fenders, and a different hood than I4 models; however, these differences are difficult to spot without both models parked side by side. Both versions of the V6 received a dual-outlet exhaust, a 4-speed automatic transmission, 15-inch machined aluminum-alloy wheels on the EX-V6, and 15-inch steel wheels with full covers on the LX-V6, and a slightly updated front grille (which would be later used in all 96–97 Accords). The Accord saw very few other changes for 1995 with the exception of a few different exterior and interior colour combinations. In 1995, the Accord underwent the usual mid-generation facelift for 1996. More rounded bumpers, a slightly modified front fascia (which was originally exclusive in the V6 models in 1995) with new signal lights and rear taillamps gave the Accord a softer look. All Hondas now complied with the federal government’s requirement of OBD II engine diagnostics though all three engine choices remained the same. In order to increase the Accord’s competitiveness against its rivals in different international markets, Honda CEO Nobuhiko Kawamoto decided on one basic platform for the sixth-generation Accord, but with different bodies and proportions for local markets. In the U.S., the 1996 model lineup included the 25th Anniversary Edition, a model positioned between the DX and LX. The Special Edition trim package was introduced. For the 1997 model year, Honda released the “Special Edition” version of the Accord (not to be confused with the SE). It was offered in three colors: Heather Mist Metallic, San Marino Red, and Dark Currant Pearl. The Special Edition received a factory-installed security system with keyless entry, single-disc CD player, body-coloured side moulding, distinctive alloy wheels, and a sunroof. It was offered in automatic transmission only and was fitted with the same engine as the LX. Acclaimed for its handling, the 1996 Accord has been known as one of the best-handling Japanese mid-sized sedans of all time, posting impressive lateral g figures of up to .89 g’s. In New Zealand, the fifth-generation Accord was assembled at Honda’s manufacturing site in Nelson and was released in March 1994. It was available in LXi, EXi and EXi-S trim levels. A facelift was released in December 1995, which coincided with the release of VTEC engines in the upper-spec models. Trim levels were LXi, VTi, and VTi-S. These were the first NZ-market Accords to have airbags – two in the VTi-S, one in the VTi. U.S.- and Japan-built coupe and wagon models of this generation were shipped to Europe with both left and right-hand-drive but there was no V6 option.
The S2000 was first alluded to at the 1995 Tokyo Motor Show, with the Honda Sport Study Model (SSM) concept car, a rear-wheel-drive roadster powered by a 2.0 litre inline 4-cylinder engine and featuring a rigid ‘high X-bone frame’ which Honda claimed improved the vehicle’s rigidity and collision safety. The concept car was constructed with aluminium body panels and featured a 50:50 weight distribution. The SSM appeared at many automotive shows for several years afterwards, hinting at the possibility of a production version, which Honda finally announced in 1999. It featured a front mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout with power being delivered by a 1,997 cc inline 4-cylinder DOHC-VTEC engine. The engine produced outputs of 237–247 hp, and 153–161 lb/ft depending on the target market., and it was mated to a six-speed manual transmission and Torsen limited slip differential. The S2000 achieved what Honda claimed as “the world’s top level, high performance 4-cylinder naturally aspirated engine”. Features included independent double wishbone suspension, electrically assisted steering and integrated roll hoops. The compact and lightweight engine, mounted entirely behind the front axle, allowed the S2000 to achieve a 50:50 front/rear weight distribution and lower rotational inertia. An electrically powered vinyl top with internal cloth lining was standard, with an aluminium hardtop available as an optional extra. Although the S2000 changed little visually during its production run, there were some alterations, especially in 2004, at which point production of the S2000 moved to Suzuka. The facelifted car introduced 17 in wheels and Bridgestone RE-050 tyres along with a retuned suspension to reduce oversteer. The spring rates and shock absorber damping were altered and the suspension geometry modified to improve stability by reducing toe-in changes under cornering loads. The subframe has also received a revision in design to achieve a high rigidity. In the gearbox the brass synchronisers were replaced with carbon fibre. In addition, cosmetic changes were made to the exterior with new front and rear bumpers, revised headlight assemblies, new LED tail-lights, and oval-tipped exhausts. Although all the cosmetic, suspension and most drivetrain upgrades were included on the Japanese and European S2000s, they retained the 2.0l F20C engine and remained designated as an AP1. A number of special editions were made, such as the more track-oriented Club Racer version offered in the US in 2007/8 and the Type S for Japan in 2008/9. The UK received a GT for 2009, which featured a removable hard-top and an outside temperature gauge. The S2000 Ultimate Edition (continental Europe) and GT Edition 100 (UK) were limited versions of the S2000 released to commemorate the end of production. Both included Grand Prix White body colour, removable hard top, graphite-coloured alloy wheels, red leather interior with red colouring for stitching on the gear lever gaiter. The Ultimate Edition was unveiled at the 2009 Geneva Motor Show and went on sale in March 2009. The GT Edition 100 was a limited run of 100 units released for the UK market. In addition to the Ultimate Edition’s specification, it featured a black S2000 badge and a numbered plaque on the kick-plate indicating which vehicle in the series it was. The car was never replaced, as Honda decided to head off in the same direction as Toyota, producing a series of very dull appliance-like cars that focused on low emissions and dependability but of no appeal to the sort of enthusiast who bought (and probably kept!) an S2000.
The Honda Stepwgn (stylised as STEPWGN, pronounced “step wagon”) is a minivan produced by Honda since 1996. It is designed with a higher cabin, in contrast to the Odyssey and also the Stream respectively. Additionally, it can accommodate eight people, instead of seven in the Odyssey and Stream. For its first two generations the car had one door on the driver’s side and two doors on the passenger’s side. There have been five generations and this is from the third model series. Honda announced the third generation Stepwgn on 26 May 2005 and it featured a much more aerodynamic design.. Unlike the previous generations, which only featured sliding doors on one side, the third generation featured sliding doors on both sides, in order to compete with other minivans such as the Nissan Serena and Toyota Estima. Although the size of the car was shrunk, interior accommodation space remained unchanged thanks to a new low-platform chassis which also improved the handling of the vehicle. The overall length had also been shortened, although the platform retains the Civic-based design and employs a thin plastic fuel tank in order to provide a low floor, which was covered in fake wood. The Stepwgn was available with a double wishbone-type suspension with an FF axle or a de-Dion style suspension (4WD models). Japanese models went on sale in May 2005 at Honda automobile dealers. The fourth generation model arrived in 2009.
In December 2007, Acura announced plans to launch a NSX successor by 2010, based on the styling of the front V10-engined Acura ASCC (Advanced Sports Car Concept). Despite prototypes being tested for production, just a year later, Honda announced that plans had been cancelled due to poor economic conditions. Instead, in March 2010, Honda unveiled the HSV-010 GT for participation in the Japanese SuperGT Championship. This car never reached production as a street-legal car. Reports that Honda was again developing a successor to the NSX remerged in April 2011. By December 2011, Honda officially announced a second generation NSX concept, which was unveiled the following month at the 2012 North American International Auto Show as the Acura NSX Concept. The production model was displayed three years later at the 2015 North American International Auto Show, for sale in 2016. Although the original name was retained, this time it was defined as “New Sports eXperience”. Unlike the first generation NSX which was manufactured in Japan, the new NSX was designed and engineered in Marysville, Ohio, at Honda’s plant, led by chief engineer Ted Klaus. The new NSX has a hybrid electric powertrain, with a 3.5 L twin-turbocharged V6 engine and three electric motors, two of which form part of the “SH-AWD” all wheel drive drivetrain, altogether capable of close to 600 hp. The transmission is a 9-speed dual-clutch automatic. Its body utilizes a space frame design—which is made from aluminium, ultra-high-strength steel, and other rigid and lightweight materials, some of which are the world’s first applications. The first production vehicle with VIN #001 was auctioned off by Barrett Jackson on 29 January 2016. NASCAR team owner Rick Hendrick won the auction with a bid for US$1,200,000. The entire bid was donated to the charities Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation and Camp Southern Ground. The first NSX rolled off the line in Ohio on 27 May 2016. Hendrick was there to drive it off. The first sales of the new NSX were registered in the second half of 2016
The i30N was launched a couple of years ago, to critical acclaim from the motoring press and motoring enthusiasts, so it was perhaps not a surprise to see one here.
Jaguar stunned the world with the XK120 that was the star of the Earls Court Motor Show in 1948. Seen in open two seater form, the car was a testbed and show car for the new Jaguar XK engine. The display car was the first prototype, chassis number 670001. It looked almost identical to the production cars except that the straight outer pillars of its windscreen would be curved on the production version. The roadster caused a sensation, which persuaded Jaguar founder and design boss William Lyons to put it into production. Beginning in 1948, the first 242 cars wore wood-framed open 2-seater bodies with aluminium panels. Production switched to the 112 lb heavier all-steel in early 1950. The “120” in the name referred to the aluminium car’s 120 mph top speed, which was faster with the windscreen removed. This made it the world’s fastest production car at the time of its launch. Indeed, on 30 May 1949, on the empty Ostend-Jabbeke motorway in Belgium, a prototype XK120 timed by the officials of the Royal Automobile Club of Belgium achieved an average of runs in opposing directions of 132.6 mph with the windscreen replaced by just one small aeroscreen and a catalogued alternative top gear ratio, and 135 mph with a passenger-side tonneau cover in place. In 1950 and 1951, at a banked oval track in France, XK120 roadsters averaged over 100 mph for 24 hours and over 130 mph for an hour, and in 1952 a fixed-head coupé took numerous world records for speed and distance when it averaged 100 mph for a week. Roadsters were also successful in racing and rallying. The first production roadster, chassis number 670003, was delivered to Clark Gable in 1949. The XK120 was ultimately available in two open versions, first as an open 2-seater described in the US market as the roadster (and designated OTS, for open two-seater, in America), and from 1953 as a drophead coupé (DHC); as well as a closed, or fixed head coupé (FHC) from 1951. A smaller-engined version with 2-litres and 4 cylinders, intended for the UK market, was cancelled prior to production.
The E-Type Series 3 was introduced in 1971, with a new 5.3 L Jaguar V12 engine, uprated brakes and standard power steering. Optionally an automatic transmission, wire wheels and air conditioning were available. The V12 was equipped with four Zenith carburettors, and as introduced produced a claimed 272 bhp, more torque, and a 0–60 mph acceleration of less than seven seconds. The short wheelbase FHC body style was discontinued, with the Series 3 available only as a convertible and 2+2 coupé. The newly used longer wheelbase now offered significantly more room in all directions. The Series 3 is easily identifiable by the large cross-slatted front grille, flared wheel arches, wider tyres, four exhaust tips and a badge on the rear that proclaims it to be a V12. The first published road test of the series 3 was in Jaguar Driver, the club magazine of the Jaguar Drivers’ Club, the only owners club to be officially sanctioned by Sir William Lyons and Jaguar themselves. The road test of a car provided by Jaguar was published ahead of all the national and international magazines. Cars for the US market were fitted with large projecting rubber bumper over-riders (in 1973 these were on front, in 1974 both front and rear) to meet local 5 mph impact regulations, but those on European models were considerably smaller. US models also have side indicator repeats on the front wings. There were also a very limited number of six-cylinder Series 3 E-Types built. These were featured in the initial sales procedure but the lack of demand stopped their production. The V12 Open Two Seater and V12 2+2 were factory fitted with Dunlop E70VR − 15-inch tyres on 15 × 6K wire or solid wheels. The final production E-Type OTS Roadster was built in June 1974. Total production was 15,290.
Now over 35 years old is the elegant XJC. First shown in September 1973, at the same time as the Series 2 versions of the Jaguar XJ6/12 and related Daimler models, it soon became clear that this version was not ready for production, with problems surrounding the window sealing. The economic troubles unfolding in the western world at this time seem to have reduced further any sense of urgency about producing and selling the cars, so it was a further two years before XJ Coupés finally started to appear in Jaguar showrooms. The Coupé was based on the short-wheelbase version of the XJ. The elongated doors were made out of a lengthened standard XJ front door, with the weld seams clearly visible under the interior panels where two front door shells were grafted together with a single outer skin. Even with the delay, these cars suffered from water leaks and wind noise. All coupes came with a vinyl roof as standard. Since the coupe lacked B-pillars, the roof flexed enough that the paint used by Jaguar at the time would develop cracks. More modern paints do not suffer such problems, so whenever a coupe is repainted it is viable to remove the vinyl. Today many XJ-Cs no longer have their vinyl roof, also removing the threat of roof rust. Some owners also modified their XJ-C by changing to Series III bumpers. This lifted the front indicators from under the bumper and provided built in rear fog lights. Both six and twelve-cylinder models were offered, along with Daimler badged versions. However, the delayed introduction, the labour-intensive work required by the modified saloon body, the higher price than the four-door car, and the focus on the new XJ-S all contributed to a short production run of just two years. 6,505 of the 4.2 and 1,873 of the V12 Jaguar models were made, along with 1677 Daimler Sovereign and 477 Double Six models, making a total of 10,426. Nowadays, the cars are much respected for their elegant design.
The “X300” model was the first XJ produced entirely under Ford ownership, and can be considered an evolution of the outgoing XJ40 generation. Like all previous XJ generations, it featured the Jaguar independent rear suspension arrangement. The design of the X300 placed emphasis on improved build quality, improved reliability, and a return to traditional Jaguar styling elements. At the car’s launch in October 1994 at the Paris Motor Show, Jaguar marketing material made use of the phrase “New Series XJ” to describe the X300 models. The X300 series represented the result of a £200 million facilities renewal program by Ford. which included the introduction of state-of-the-art automated body welding robots manufactured by Nissan. Aesthetically, the X300 received several updates in the design refresh led by Geoff Lawson in 1991. The mostly flat bonnet of the XJ40 was replaced with a fluted, curvaceous design that accentuated the four separate round headlamps. Rear wings were reshaped to accommodate the new wrap-around rear light clusters. Also, the separate black-rubber bumper bar of the XJ40 were replaced with a fully integrated body-coloured bumper. The interior of the X300 was similar to that found in the XJ40, with some revisions. The seats were updated to have a more rounded profile, wood trim was updated with bevelled edges, and the steering wheel was redesigned. Jaguar’s V12 engine and AJ6 inline-six (AJ16) engine were both available in various X300 models, although they received significant updates. Both engines were fitted with distributorless electronic engine management systems. The Jaguar X308 first appeared in 1997 and was produced until 2003. It was an evolution of the outgoing X300 platform, and the exterior styling is nearly identical between the two generations, though there are quite a few detailed differences if you know what to look for. The major change was the under the bonnet. Having discontinued production of both the AJ16 inline-six and V12 engines, Jaguar offered only its newly designed V8 engine (named the AJ-V8.) It was available in either 3.2 or 4.0 litre forms, although certain markets, such as the United States, only received cars powered by the 4.0 litre version. The 4.0 litre version was also supercharged in certain models. Equipment levels were notably more generous than had previously been the case.
The second generation of the XK debuted in 2005 at the Frankfurt Motor Show in Germany, styled by Jaguar’s chief designer Ian Callum. The X150’s grille was designed to recall the 1961 E-Type. The XK is an evolution of the Advanced Lightweight Coupé (ALC) introduced at the 2005 North American International Auto Show. The XK features a bonded and riveted aluminium chassis shared with the XJ and body panels, both a first for a Jaguar grand tourer. Compared to the XK (X100), the XK (X150) is 61.0 mm (2.4 in) wider and is 162.6 mm (6.4 in) longer. It is also 91 kg (200 lb) lighter resulting in performance and fuel consumption improvements. Unlike the X100, the X150 has no wood trim on the interior offered as standard equipment. The interior featured steering column mounted shift paddles. A more powerful XKR version having a supercharged variant of the engine was introduced in 2007. The XK received a facelift in 2009, with minor alterations to front and rear lights and bumper designs, together with the introduction of a new 5.0-litre V8 for both the naturally aspirated XK and the supercharged XKR. The interior also received some changes, in particular the introduction of the XF style rotary gear selector mated to the new ZF automatic transmission. The XK received a second and more minor facelift in 2011 with new front bumper and light design, which was presented at the New York Auto Show. A higher performance variant of the XKR, the XKR-S, was introduced at the Geneva Motor Show in 2012. The XKR-S gained an additional 40 bhp over the XKR bringing the 0-60 mph acceleration time down to 4.4 seconds and the top speed up to 300 km/h (186 mph). A convertible version of the XKR-S was introduced in 2012. Production of the XK ended in July 2014 without a replacement model.
Completing the array of Jaguar models was the current sports car, the F Type.
With the demise of the Austin-Healey 3000, Donald Healey opened discussions with Jensen Motors, who had built the bodies for Healey’s Austin-Healey cars. The largest Austin Healey Car Dealer in the US, Kjell Qvale was also keen to find a replacement to the Austin-Healey 3000 then became a major shareholder of Jensen, making Donald Healey the chairman. The Jensen-Healey was designed in a joint venture by Donald Healey, his son Geoffrey, and Jensen Motors. Hugo Poole did the styling of the body, the front and back of which were later modified by William Towns to take advantage of the low profile engine and to allow cars for the U.S. market to be fitted with bumpers to meet increasing US regulations. The unitary body understructure was designed by Barry Bilbie, who had been responsible for the Austin-Healey 100, 100-6 and 3000 as well as the Sprite. It was designed to be cheap to repair, with bolt-on panels, to reduce insurance premiums. Launched in 1972 as a fast luxurious and competent convertible sports car, it was positioned in the market between the Triumph TR6 and the Jaguar E-Type. The 50/50 weight balance due to the all alloy Lotus engine led to universal praise as having excellent handling. It all looked very promising, but it was the engine which was the car’s undoing. Various engines had been tried out in the prototype stage including Vauxhall, Ford and BMW units. The Vauxhall 2.3 litre engine met United States emission requirements but did not meet the power target of 130 hp. A German Ford V6 was considered but industrial action crippled supply. BMW could not supply an engine in the volumes needed. Colin Chapman of Lotus offered, and Jensen accepted his company’s new 1973 cc Lotus 907 engine, a two-litre, dual overhead cam, 16 valve all-alloy powerplant. This multi-valve engine is the first to be mass-produced on an assembly line. This setup put out approximately 144 bhp, topping out at 119 mph and accelerating from zero to 60 mph in 8.1 seconds. The problem was that it was a brand new engine, and Lotus were effectively using Jensen-Healey to complete the development. There were numerous issues early on, which meant that warranty claims rocketed and then sales stalled, so whilst this soon became the best selling Jensen of all time, it also helped seal the fate of the company. In total 10,503 (10 prototypes, 3,347 Mk.1 and 7,146 Mk.2) were produced by Jensen Motors Ltd. A related fastback, the Jensen GT, was introduced in 1975. Values are surprisingly low these days, which is a shame, as the problems are long since ironed out, and the resulting car looks good and goes well.
Replacing Lamborghini’s sales leader and most produced car, the Gallardo, the Huracán made its auto show debut at the March 2014 Geneva Auto Show, and was released in the second quarter of 2014. The name of the Huracan LP 610-4 comes from the fact that this car has 610 metric horsepower and 4 wheel drive. Huracán (huracán being the Spanish word for hurricane) is inspired by a Spanish fighting bull. Continuing the tradition of using names from historical Spanish fighting bulls, Huracán was a bull known for its courage that fought in 1879. Also Huracan is the Mayan god of wind, storm and fire. Changes from the Gallardo included full LED illumination, a 12.3 inch full-colour TFT instrument panel, Fine Nappa leather and Alcantara interior upholstery, redesigned dashboard and central tunnel, Iniezione Diretta Stratificata (IDS, essentially an adapted version of parent Audi’s Fuel Stratified Injection) direct and indirect gasoline injections, engine Stop & Start technology, EU6 emissions regulation compliance, Lamborghini Doppia Frizione (LDF) 7-speed dual-clutch transmission with 3 modes (STRADA, SPORT and CORSA), 20 inch wheels, carbon-ceramic brake system, optional Lamborghini Dynamic Steering variable steering system and MagneRide electromagnetic damper control. In early 2015, the Huracán appeared on Top Gear. It got a neutral review from Richard Hammond who said that it was too tame to be a “proper Lamborghini.” However, it got around the Top Gear test track in 1:15.8 which is faster than any other Lamborghini to go around the track to date, including the Aventador. Now it has been available in the UK for some a couple of years, there are now quite a few on our roads, so it was no surprise to find the model here.
The Rover Company had been experimenting with a larger model than the Land Rover Series as far back as 1951, when the Rover P4-based two-wheel-drive “Road Rover” project was developed by Gordon Bashford. This was shelved in 1958, and the idea lay dormant until 1966, when engineers Spen King and Bashford set to work on a new model. In 1967, the first Range Rover prototype was built (number plate SYE 157F), with the classic Range Rover shape clearly discernible, but with a different front grille and headlight configuration. The design of the Range Rover was finalised in 1969. Twenty-six Velar engineering development vehicles were built between 1969 and 1970 and were road registered with the number plates YVB151H through to YVB177H. Though being chassis no. 3, the vehicle YVB 153H is believed to have been the first off the production line as a vehicle in that colour was urgently required for marketing. The Velar name was derived from the Italian “velare” meaning to veil or to cover. Range Rover development engineer Geoff Miller used the name as a decoy for registering pre-production Range Rovers. The Velar company was registered in London and produced 40 pre-production vehicles that were built between 1967 and 1970. Most of these Velar pre-production vehicles are accounted for and have survived into preservation, and one of them was presented here. These models fetch very strong money when sold, between £60 -80,000 for the handful that have appeared for sale in the last couple of years. The production Range Rover was launched in 1970, and it was produced until 1994, undergoing quite a transition into a luxury product en route. Early models are currently the most prized ones.
The silver Italdesign concept that eventually became the Esprit was unveiled at the Turin Motor Show in 1972 as a concept car, and was a development of a stretched Lotus Europa chassis. It was among the first of designer Giorgetto Giugiaro’s polygonal “folded paper” designs. Originally, the name Kiwi was proposed, but in keeping with the Lotus tradition of having all car model names start with the letter “E”, the name became Esprit. The production Esprit was launched in October 1975 at the Paris Auto Show, and went into production in June 1976, replacing the Europa in the Lotus model lineup. These first cars eventually became known as S1 Esprits. With a steel backbone chassis and a fibreglass body, the Esprit was powered by the Lotus 907 4-cylinder engine, as previously used in the Jensen Healey. This engine displaced 2.0 litre, produced 160 bhp in European trim 140 bhp in US/Federal trim, and was mounted longitudinally behind the passengers, as in its predecessor. The transaxle gearbox was a 5-speed manual unit, previously used in the Citroën SM and Maserati Merak; it featured inboard rear brakes, as was racing practice at the time. The Series 1 embodied Lotus’ performance through light weight mantra, weighing less than 1,000 kg (2,205 lb). The original Esprit was lauded for its handling and is said to have the best steering of any Esprit. However, it was generally regarded as lacking power, especially in markets such as the United States where the engine was down-rated for emissions purposes. Lotus’ claim of 0-60 mph in 6.8 seconds and a top speed of 138 mph may be thought of as optimistic – actual road test times indicated 0-60 mph in 8 seconds and a top speed of around 133 mph. The S1 Esprit can be distinguished from later Esprits by a shovel-style front air dam, Fiat X1/9 tail lights, lack of body-side ducting, and Wolfrace alloy wheels. Inside the car, the most obvious indication of an S1 Esprit is a one-piece instrument cluster with green-faced Veglia gauges. The car gained fame through its appearance in the James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) where a fictionally-modified version was featured in a long action sequence. Bond’s Esprit car is first chased on road, by a motorcycle, then by another car, and then a helicopter, then converts into a submarine for an undersea battle. A series of improvements made to the Esprit during its initial run culminated in the S2 Esprit, which was introduced in 1978. The most obvious of these changes are intake and cooling duct “ears” located behind the rear quarter window, tail lights from the Rover SD1, and an integrated front spoiler. S2 Esprits also used 14-inch Speedline alloy wheels designed specifically for Lotus. Other changes included relocating the battery from above the right side fuel tank (under the rear quarter window) to the rear of the car, adding an access door to the engine cover, as well as replacing the instrument cluster made by Veglia with individual gauges made by Smiths and using different style of switches on the dashboard. During this era, a special edition car was released to commemorate Lotus’s racing victories and their victory in the 1978 F1 World Championship. Sharing the black and gold colour scheme of Lotus’ then F1 sponsor, John Player & Sons, these cars are commonly known as the John Player Special (JPS) Esprits. The “JPS” Esprit has the same mechanicals as the regular two-litre S2. According to Lotus themselves a limited series of 300 was built, but most likely the total was considerably lower.Lotus’ records of production figures are notoriously vague, but best estimates suggest that 149 JPS Esprits were produced. The S2.2 was produced as a stop-gap model from May 1980, almost identical to the S2 but with an enlarged (2.2 litre) type 912 engine used. This kept horsepower the same, but bumped up torque from 140 lb·ft to 160 lb·ft. Importantly, the S2.2 also introduced the use of a galvanised chassis, although it did not benefit from the succeeding S3’s chassis improvements. These cars are extremely rare even among Esprits: according to Lotus themselves, only 88 were produced in its thirteen-month production span. In 1980 the first factory turbocharged Esprit was launched. Initially, this was another special edition model commemorating F1 ties and reflecting current sponsorship, this time in the blue, red and chrome livery of Essex Petroleum, and is therefore known as the Essex Esprit. The new turbocharged dry-sump type 910 engine produced 210 hp and 200 lb·ft of torque. 0-60 mph could be achieved in 6.1 seconds, with a top speed of 150 mph. These performance improvements were coupled to a redesign and strengthening of the chassis and rear suspension, where an upper link was added to alleviate strain on the driveshafts, along with brake improvements. The Essex cars introduced a Giugiaro-designed aerodynamic body kit with a rear lip spoiler, prominent louvered rear hatch, more substantial bumpers, a deeper front airdam, and air ducts in the sills just ahead of the rear wheels, which were 15″ Compomotive three piece items. Internally, scarlet leather, combined with a roof-mounted Panasonic stereo, made for a dramatic environment. 45 Essex Esprits were built, interspersed and followed by a number of non Essex-liveried but otherwise identical specification dry-sump turbo cars. Two Essex-spec Turbo Esprits – one in white and the other in copper – were featured in the James Bond film For Your Eyes Only (1981), although these were scripted as the same vehicle – the white one was destroyed by an anti-burglar explosion system in Spain, while the copper red one was a “rebuild” of the original (actually a joke between Bond and Q in the latter’s laboratory), and was fully functional (the copper exterior paint colour for the replacement car was chosen to make the car stand out more in filming against the snowy background of Cortina, Italy, the only locale in which it appears). By the close of 1980, Lotus was effectively building three different models of Esprit, with distinct chassis designs and body moulds – the Domestic S2.2, the Export S2.2, and the dry-sump Turbo Esprit. Introduced in April 1981, the Turbo Esprit and S3 Esprits marked a necessary consolidation: both new models had a common chassis, inheriting much of the configuration of the Essex cars, whilst body production was based on a single common set of moulds. The S3 continued to use the 2.2 litre type 912 engine of the S2.2, whilst the Turbo Esprit reverted to a less complex wet-sump lubrication system, retaining the power and torque outputs of its dry-sump predecessor. The interior for both cars was revised and featured new trim; combined with changes to the body moulds this resulted in more headroom and an enlarged footwell. Externally, the Turbo Esprit retained the full aerodynamic body kit of the Essex cars, and featured prominent ‘turbo esprit’ decals on the nose and sides; the S3 gained the more substantial bumpers, yet retained the simpler sill line and glazed rear hatch of the S2.2 body style. Both models were supplied with 15″ BBS alloy wheels. For the 1985 model year, the S3 and Turbo underwent some slight alterations to the bodywork and to the front suspension. In April 1986, the final incarnations of the Giugiaro-styled Esprit were announced, with raised engine compression giving rise to the ‘HC’ moniker. This increased the output of the naturally aspirated engine to 172 hp and 160 lb·ft for the Esprit HC, and to 215 hp and 220 lb·ft for the Turbo Esprit HC, with the increased torque available at a lower rpm. For markets with stringent emissions requirements (mainly the United States), Lotus introduced the HCi variant, teaming the higher compression engine with Bosch KE-Jetronic fuel injection and a catalytic converter- the first fuel-injected Esprits. This engine had the same peak power as the carburettor version, but at a somewhat higher engine speed, and torque dropped to 202 lb·ft. Among the cars seen here was one of the rare JPS limited edition cars.
Still acclaimed as one of the best-looking saloons ever produced is this car, the fifth generation Quattroporte, a couple of which were on show. Around 25,000 of these cars were made between 2004 and 2012, making it the second best selling Maserati of all time, beaten only by the cheaper BiTurbo of the 1980s. The Tipo M139 was unveiled to the world at the Frankfurt Motor Show on 9 September 2003, with production starting in 2004. Exterior and interior design was done by Pininfarina, and the result was widely acclaimed to be one of the best looking saloons not just of its time, but ever, an opinion many would not disagree with even now. Built on an entirely new platform, it was 50 cm (19.7 in) longer than its predecessor and sat on a 40 cm (15.7 in) longer wheelbase. The same architecture would later underpin the GranTurismo and GranCabrio coupés and convertibles. Initially it was powered by an evolution of the naturally aspirated dry sump 4.2-litre V8 engine, mounted on the Maserati Coupé, with an improved output of 400 PS . Due to its greater weight compared to the Coupé and Spyder, the 0-62 mph (0–100 km/h) time for the Quattroporte was 5.2 seconds and the top speed 171 mph (275 km/h). Initially offered in only one configuration, equipped with the DuoSelect transmission, the gearbox was the weak point of the car, receiving most of the criticism from the press reviews. Maserati increased the range at the 2005 Frankfurt Motor Show, with the launch of the Executive GT and Sport GT trim levels. The Executive GT came equipped with a wood-rimmed steering wheel, an alcantara suede interior roof lining, ventilated, adaptive, massaging rear seats, rear air conditioning controls, veneered retractable rear tables, and curtain shades on the rear windows. The exterior was distinguished by 19 inch eight-spoke ball-polished wheels and chrome mesh front and side grilles. The Quattroporte Sport GT variant offered several performance upgrades: faster shifting transmission and firmer Skyhook suspensions thanks to new software calibrations, seven-spoke 20 inch wheels with low-profile tyres, cross-drilled brake rotors and braided brake lines. Model-specific exterior trim included dark mesh front and side grilles and red accents to the Trident badges, as on vintage racing Maseratis. Inside there were aluminium pedals, a sport steering wheel and carbon fibre in place of the standard wood inserts. A new automatic transmission was presented at the 2007 Detroit Motor Show, marketed as the Maserati Quattroporte Automatica. As all three trim levels were offered in both DuoSelect and Automatica versions, the lineup grew to six models. The Quattroporte Sport GT S was introduced at the 2007 Frankfurt Motor Show. Taking further the Sport GT’s focus on handling, this version employed Bilstein single-rate dampers in place of the Skyhook adaptive system. Other changes from the Sport GT comprised a lowered ride height and 10 mm wider 295/30 rear tyres, front Brembo iron/aluminium dual-cast brake rotors and red-painted six piston callipers. The cabin was upholstered in mixed alcantara and leather, with carbon fibre accents; outside the door handles were painted in body colour, while the exterior trim, the 20 inch wheels and the exhaust pipes were finished in a “dark chrome” shade. After Images of a facelifted Quattroporte appeared on the Internet in January 2008; the car made its official début at the 2008 Geneva Motor Show. Overseen by Pininfarina, the facelift brought redesigned bumpers, side sills and side mirrors, a convex front grille with vertical bars instead of horizontal, new headlights and tail lights with directional bi-xenon main beams and LED turn signals. Inside there was a new navigation and entertainment system. All Quattroporte models now used the ZF automatic transmission, the DuoSelect being discontinued. The 4.2-litre Quattroporte now came equipped with single-rate damping comfort-tuned suspension and 18 inch wheels. Debuting alongside it was the Quattroporte S, powered by a wet-sump 4.7-litre V8, the same engine of the Maserati GranTurismo S, with a maximum power of 424 bhp and maximum torque of 361 lb·ft. In conjunction with the engine, the braking system was upgraded to cross-drilled discs on both axles and dual-cast 360 mm rotors with six piston callipers at the front. Skyhook active damping suspension and 19 inch V-spoke wheels were standard. Trim differences from the 4.2-litre cars were limited to a chrome instead of titanium-coloured front grille. The Quattroporte Sport GT S was premièred at the North American International Auto Show in January 2009. Its 4.7-litre V8 produced 440 PS (434 hp), ten more than the Quattroporte S, thanks to revised intake and to a sport exhaust system with electronically actuated bypass valves. Other mechanical changes were to the suspensions, where as on the first Sport GT S single-rate dampers took place of the Skyhook system, ride height was further lowered and stiffer springs were adopted. The exterior was distinguished by a specific front grille with convex vertical bars, black headlight bezels, red accents to the Trident badges, the absence of chrome window trim, body colour door handles and black double oval exhaust pipes instead of the four round ones found on other Quattroporte models. Inside veneers were replaced by “Titan Tex” composite material and the cabin was upholstered in mixed Alcantara and leather. This means that there are quite a number of different versions among the 25,256 units produced, with the early DuoSelect cars being the most numerous.
Now an established part of the McLaren range, the 570S along with its slightly cheaper and less powerful brother, the 540C, was revealed at the 2015 New York Auto Show, going on sale towards the end of that year. These were labelled as part of McLaren’s Sports Series. This mid-engine sportscar features the lightweight carbon fibre MonoCell II chassis, and a highly efficient 3.8-litre twin turbo V8 engine generating 562bhp and 443lb/ft of torque. Although the model has been conceived with a greater focus on day-to-day usability and refinement, it is still very much a pure McLaren, boasting a class-leading power-to-weight ratio of 434PS per tonne, and electrifying performance. The 570S Coupé accelerates from 0 to 100km/h in just 3.2 seconds, reaches 200km/h (124mph) in 9.5 seconds, and on to a top speed of 204mph. Pricing for the 570S Coupé started at £143,250, though like all cars of this type, that figure can quickly rise once you raid the options list.
The 720S – a complete replacement for the 650S – was a star of the 2017 Geneva Show, and it was clear on looking at it, that the Woking firm really is increasingly a serious threat to Ferrari’s supercar supremacy, even before learning that total sales in just five years of production had passed 10,000 units. The 720S was presented as the firm’s new core model and the first of 15 new-generation McLarens, half of which will be hybrids, promised by 2022 under CEO Mike Flewitt’s ambitious Track 22 development plan. The 720S obeys all existing McLaren design rules. It is a two-seat supercar based on an all-carbonfibre tub, with aluminium space frames carrying the front and rear suspension, and it is powered by a twin turbo V8. However, within that envelope, it has been redesigned and updated in every detail. The exterior introduces a new ‘double skin’ door construction that eliminates the need for the prominent side air scoops previously thought essential in supercar design, while the engine grows to 4.0 litres, up from 3.8-litres, and now produces 710bhp. McLaren has further developed its carbonfibre chassis tub and upper structure, taking lessons from previous models, including the P1. Now dubbed Monocage II, the structure is cited as the key to the 720S’s 1283kg dry weight, which undercuts all competitors and beats that of its predecessor by 18kg. Monocage II’s stiffness has allowed McLaren’s designers to give the 720S remarkably thin A-pillars, a deep windscreen, B-pillars set well back and slim, glazed C-pillars, all of which contribute to first-class all-round visibility for the driver. The body panels are made either of carbonfibre or superformed aluminium, and their novel shape plays a key role in the 720S’s impressive aerodynamic performance. Low down at the front there are anti-lift aero blades reminiscent of those on the P1, while ultra-compact LED headlights fit into frontal ‘eye sockets’ that allow room for vents to feed the air conditioning and oil cooler. The body sides incorporate channels, formed by two skins and flowing past the dihedral doors, so cooling air can be directed along the body into the engine bay, uninterrupted by turbulence and resulting in a 15% improvement in cooling airflow. On the outer, lower part of the doors, there are F1-inspired blades that direct air away from the front wheel arches, assisting downforce and cutting drag. A big under-body diffuser at the rear sweeps up from the 720S’s flat floor almost to its rear wing, where the two elements frame the ultra-thin LED tail-lights. Because the top of the 720S’s engine is a remarkable 120mm lower than that of the 650S, the car also has a low, teardrop-shaped engine cover that allows an uninterrupted flow of air over the roof to the hydraulically actuated rear wing, which has a DRS drag reduction setting for optimal straight-line performance, an Aero setting for downforce in corners and a Brake setting (which sets the wing a steep 56deg from the horizontal) to increase drag and improve chassis balance under heavy braking. The result, says McLaren, is that the wing has 30% more downforce and its aero efficiency (the ratio of downforce to drag) is doubled. McLaren claims “new heights of performance” from its expanded turbo V8, now re-engineered for a capacity of 3994cc, thanks to a 3.6mm lengthening of its stroke. The engine also has lighter pistons and conrods and a stiffer, lightened crank, plus twin-scroll turbochargers with faster-spooling turbines, capable of spinning at 145,000rpm, and electronically controlled wastegates. In total, 41% of the engine’s components are new. A cast aluminium air intake system, visible through the mesh engine cover, feeds extra air to the more potent engine that now uses two injectors per cylinder. But rather than simply pumping in more fuel, the improved injection system gives more accurate metering, which helps to cut CO2 emissions by around 10%, to a class-leading 249g/km. Combined economy falls by a similar percentage to 26.4mpg. The 720S’s peak output of 710bhp is produced at 7000rpm, while maximum torque of 568lb ft is delivered at 5500rpm. The engine, longitudinally mounted behind the occupants, drives as before through a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox mounted end-on to the engine, but McLaren says further refinement of its control software brings smoother gearchanges at low speeds and faster, sharper shifts at higher speeds. The launch control has also been improved, and as before, there are three driving modes — Comfort, Sport and Track — that govern both engine and dynamics. The chassis weight savings, allied to other reductions in mass, including 2kg from the brakes, 3kg from the electrics and 1.5kg from the airboxes, contribute as much to the 720S’s enhanced performance as its 11% power increase. The power-to-weight ratio is now 553bhp per tonne (up 15%) and, according to McLaren, beats the best in the segment. As a result, McLaren claims a “crushing” 0-60mph time of just 2.8sec, 0-124mph in 7.8sec and a top speed of 212mph. The 720S will also dispatch a standing quarter-mile in 10.3sec, representing a blistering performance for a pure road car. To accompany the performance, the 720S has a carefully engineered engine note which can be further enhanced with an optional, louder, sports exhaust system. Despite its performance potential, McLaren is adamant that its new car is as easily handled by ordinary drivers as it is by experts, with throttle response calibrated to provide “the optimum blend of immediate reaction and progressive comfort”. Although only five years old, McLaren’s all-independent system of front and rear double wishbones has been completely re-engineered, both to allow wheel geometry changes and, thanks to a redesign of the uprights and wishbones, to cut unsprung mass by 16kg. The 720S has an updated version of the Proactive chassis control electronics used by the 650S. The system features hydraulically interlinked dampers at each corner that remove the need for anti-roll bars, but the big improvement for the 720S’s system, which is dubbed PCCII, results from new software developed during a six-year collaboration with the University of Cambridge and using sophisticated information gathered by 12 new sensors and accelerometers. The result is even better contact between the tyres and the road surface. The system can assess conditions and adjust the suspension every five milliseconds. It also includes a Variable Drift function, which allows you to slide the car without losing control, and McLaren Brake Steer, pioneered in F1, which enhances agility in corners and traction out of them by braking separate wheels. McLaren engineers have retained electro-hydraulic steering for the 720S, despite rivals’ adoption of electric only systems, because they still feel it gives superior “clarity of feel”. Brakes are large, ventilated carbon-ceramic discs and the tyres are specially developed Pirelli P Zeros, 245/35 ZR19s at the front (up from the 650S’s 235s) and 305/30 ZR20s at the rear. McLaren claims a 6% increase in mechanical grip, which is about the same advantage as fitting track-focused Pirelli Corsas to a 650S. Although the 720S closely follows the outgoing 650S in its major dimensions, there are differences between them. The thin pillars, the depth of the windscreen and the all-round glass give a commanding view to all points that modern supercar drivers will find surprising. The redesigned interior surfaces have been ‘pushed away’ from the occupants as much as possible, to further enhance the feeling of space. Unlock the door and various instrument and courtesy lights go through a welcome sequence as the mirrors unfold. Opening the door also triggers an elaborate sequence on the upright TFT screen which changes its configuration according to driving mode. The driver can also ‘declutter’ the instruments, for example when on a track, via a special Slim mode. There’s a central 8.0in infotainment screen on the centre console, with ventilation settings carried along the bottom. The layout of switches, most of which are machined from aluminium, is simple. Standard cabin trim and seats are plush but, as with previous models, colour and trim material upgrades are available. McLaren has already begun taking orders, with the first cars due to be delivered in May. The entry price in the UK was £207,900. All 400 units of the Launch Edition version were sold even before the general public saw the car though many of these then hit the pre-owned market quite quickly, traded in once owners could take delivery of a car in the spec that they really wanted. McLaren’s goal is to sell around 1200 – 1500 720S models a year.
This one comes from the W108 family. The car’s predecessor, the Mercedes-Benz W111 (produced 1959–1971) helped Daimler develop greater sales and achieve economy of scale production. Whereas in the 1950s, Mercedes-Benz was producing the coachwork 300 S and 300 SLs and all but hand-built 300 Adenauers alongside conveyor assembled Pontons (190, 190SL and 220) etc., the fintail (German: Heckflosse) family united the entire Mercedes-Benz range of vehicles onto one automobile platform, reducing production time and costs. However, the design fashion of the early 1960s changed. For example, the tail fins, originally intended to improve aerodynamic stability, died out within a few years as a fashion accessory. By the time the 2-door coupé and cabriolet W111s were launched, the fins lost their chrome trim and sharp appearance, the arrival of the W113 Pagoda in 1963 saw them further buried into the boot’s contour, and finally disappeared on the W100 600 in 1964. The upgrade of the W111 began under the leadership of designer Paul Bracq in 1961 and ended in 1963. Although the fins’ departure was the most visible change, the W108 compared to the W111 had a lower body waist line that increased the window area, (the windscreen was 17 percent larger than W111). The cars had a lower ride (a decrease by 60 mm) and wider doors (+15 mm). The result was a visibly new car with a more sleek appearance and an open and spacious interior. The suspension system featured a reinforced rear axle with hydropneumatic compensating spring. The car sat on larger wheels (14”) and had disc brakes on front and rear. The W109 was identical to the W108, but featured an extended wheelbase of 115 mm (4.5 in) and self-levelling air suspension. This was seen as a successor to the W112 300SEL that was originally intended as an interim car between the 300 “Adenauer” (W189) and the 600 (W100) limousines. However, its success as “premium flagship” convinced Daimler to add an LWB car to the model range. From that moment on, all future S-Class models would feature a LWB line. Although the W108 succeeded the W111 as a premium range full-size car, it did not replace it. Production of the W111 continued, however the 230S was now downgraded to the mid-range series, the Mercedes-Benz W110, and marketed as a flagship of that family until their production ceased in 1968. The W108 is popular with collectors and the most desirable models to collect are the early floor shift models with the classic round gear knob and the 300 SEL’s. The car was premièred at the Frankfurt Auto Show in 1965. The initial model lineup consisted of three W108s: 250S, 250SE, and 300SE, as well as a sole W109, the 300SEL. Engines for the new car were carried over from the previous generation, but enlarged and refined. The 250S was the entry-level vehicle fitted with a 2496 cm³ Straight-six M108 engine, with two dual downdraft carburettors, delivering 130 bhp at 5400 rpm which accelerated the car to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 13 seconds (14 on automatic transmission) and gave a top speed of 182 km/h (177 on auto). The 250SE featured an identical straight-six, but with a six-plunger fuel injection (designated M129) with performance improved to 150 bhp at 5500 rpm, which decreased 0-100 acceleration by one second and increased top speed by 11 km/h (7 mph) for both manual and automatic versions. Both the 300SE and 300SEL came with the M189 2996 cm³ engine, originally developed for the Adenauers. It had a modern six-plunger pump that adjusted automatically to accelerator pedal pressure, engine speed, atmospheric pressure, and cooling water temperature, to deliver the proper mixture depending on driving conditions. Producing 170 bhp at 5,400 rpm the cars could accelerate to 200 km/h (195 km/h with automatic transmission) and reach 100 km/h (62 mph) in 12 seconds. The cylinder capacity of the three litre Mercedes engine was unchanged since 1951. From 1965 to 1967, fewer than 3,000 W109s were produced. However, approximately 130,000 of the less powerful 250 S/SE models were built during the first two years of the W108/109’s existence. By 1967 the fuel consumption of the 3 litre unit in this application was becoming increasingly uncompetitive.
With prices of the classic Pagoda model having risen to unaffordable for most people attention has started to switch to it successor, the R107 SL range, which had a long production life, being the second longest single series ever produced by the automaker, after the G-Class. The R107 and C107 took the chassis components of the mid-size Mercedes-Benz W114 model and mated them initially to the M116 and M117 V8 engines used in the W108, W109 and W111 series. The SL variant was a 2-seat convertible/roadster with standard soft top and optional hardtop and optional folding seats for the rear bench. The SLC (C107) derivative was a 2-door hardtop coupe with normal rear seats. The SLC is commonly referred to as an ‘SL coupe’, and this was the first time that Mercedes-Benz had based a coupe on an SL roadster platform rather than on a saloon, replacing the former saloon-based 280/300 SE coupé in Mercedes lineup. The SLC was replaced earlier than the SL, with the model run ending in 1981, with a much larger model, the 380 SEC and 500SEC based on the new S class. Volume production of the first R107 car, the 350 SL, started in April 1971 alongside the last of the W113 cars; the 350 SLC followed in October. The early 1971 350SL are very rare and were available with an optional 4 speed fluid coupling automatic gearbox. In addition, the rare 1971 cars were fitted with Bosch electronic fuel injection. Sales in North America began in 1972, and cars wore the name 350 SL, but had a larger 4.5L V8 with 3 speed auto (and were renamed 450 SL for model year 1973); the big V8 became available on other markets with the official introduction of the 450 SL/SLC on non-North American markets in March 1973. US cars sold from 1972 through 1975 used the Bosch D Jetronic fuel injection system, an early electronic engine management system. From July 1974 both SL and SLC could also be ordered with a fuel-injected 2.8L straight-6 as 280 SL and SLC. US models sold from 1976 through 1979 used the Bosch K Jetronic system, an entirely mechanical fuel injection system. All US models used the 4.5 litre engine, and were called 450 SL/SLC. In September 1977 the 450 SLC 5.0 joined the line. This was a homologation version of the big coupé, featuring a new all-aluminium five-litre V8, aluminium alloy bonnet and boot-lid, and a black rubber rear spoiler, along with a small front-lip spoiler. The 450SLC 5.0 was produced in order to homologate the SLC for the 1978 World Rally Championship. Starting in 1980, the 350, 450 and 450 SLC 5.0 models (like the 350 and 450 SL) were discontinued in 1980 with the introduction of the 380 and 500 SLC in March 1980. At the same time, the cars received a very mild makeover; the 3-speed automatic was replaced by a four-speed unit, returning to where the R107 started in 1971 with the optional 4 speed automatic 350SL. The 280, 380 and 500 SLC were discontinued in 1981 with the introduction of the W126 series 380 and 500 SEC coupes. A total of 62,888 SLCs had been manufactured over a ten-year period of which just 1,636 were the 450 SLC-5.0 and 1,133 were the 500 SLC. Both these models are sought by collectors today. With the exception of the SL65 AMG Black Series, the SLC remains the only fixed roof Mercedes-Benz coupe based on a roadster rather than a sedan. Following the discontinuation of the SLC in September 1981, the 107 series continued initially as the 280, 380 and 500 SL. At this time, the V8 engines were re-tuned for greater efficiency, lost a few hp and consumed less fuel- this largely due to substantially higher (numerically lower) axle ratios that went from 3.27:1 to 2.47:1 for the 380 SL and from 2.72:1 to 2.27:1 for the 500 SL. From September 1985 the 280 SL was replaced by a new 300 SL, and the 380 SL by a 420 SL; the 500 SL continued and a 560 SL was introduced for certain extra-European markets, notably the USA, Australia and Japan. Also in 1985, the Bosch KE Jetronic was fitted. The KE Jetronic system varied from the earlier, all mechanical system by the introduction of a more modern engine management “computer”, which controlled idle speed, fuel rate, and air/fuel mixture. The final car of the 18 years running 107 series was a 500 SL painted Signal red, built on August 4, 1989; it currently resides in the Mercedes-Benz museum in Stuttgart.
It is quite sobering to realise that the W201 is now almost a 40 year old design. Mercedes spent over £600 million researching and developing the 190 and subsequently said it was ‘massively over-engineered’. It marked a new venture for Mercedes-Benz, finally giving it a new smaller model to compete with the likes of the BMW 3 Series. The W201-based 190 was introduced in November 1982, and was sold in right-hand drive for the UK market from September 1983. Local red tape in Bremen (which produced commercial vehicles at the time) prevented Daimler-Benz from building the 190 there, so production was started in Sindelfingen at a capacity of just 140,000 units per year. Eventually after just the first year, Bremen was cleared for production of the 190, replacing its commercial vehicle lines, and there the 190 was built with the first running modifications since release. Initially there were just two models, the 190 and 190 E. Each was fitted with an M102 1,997 cc displacement engine. The 190 was fitted with an M102.921 90 hp engine and the 190 E fitted with an M102.962 122 hp engine. In September 1983, the 190 E 2.3 (2,299 cc) was released for the North American market only (although a 190 E 2.3 appeared in other countries later), fitted with a 113 hp M102.961 engine. This reduction in power was due to the emissions standards in the North American market at the time. The intake manifold, camshaft, and fuel injection system were refined in 1984, and the engine produced 122 hp. The carburettor 190 was revised in 1984 as well, increasing its horsepower rating to 105 hp. 1984 also saw the arrival of the 2.3-16 “Cosworth.” In 1985, the 190 E 2.3 now came fitted with the M102.985 engine, producing 130 hp until it was revised in 1987 to use Bosch KE3-Jetronic Injection, a different ignition system, and a higher compression ratio, producing 136 hp. 1987 marked the arrival of the first inline-six equipped 190, the 190 E 2.6. Fitted with the M103.940 engine, the 190 E 2.6 provided 160 hp with a catalyst and 164 hp without. In the North American market, the 190 E 2.6 was sold until 1993, the end of the W201 chassis’s production. From 1992-1993 the 2.6 was available as a special “Sportline” model, with an upgraded suspension and interior. The 190 E 2.3 was sold until 1988, then went on a brief hiatus until it was sold again from 1991 until 1993. The W201 190 D is known for its extreme reliability and ruggedness with many examples doing more than 500,000 miles without any major work. The 190 D was available in three different engines. The 2.0 was the baseline, and was never marketed in North America. The 2.2, with the same power as the 2.0, was introduced in September 1983. It was only available in model years 1984 and 1985, and only in the USA and Canada. The 2.5 was available in the late 80’s and early 90’s. The 2.5 Turbo, while sold in mainland Europe, but not the UK for many years, was available to American buyers only in 1987 and is now somewhat of a collectors item. The exterior of the 2.5 Turbo is different from other models in that it has fender vents in the front passenger side wing for the turbo to breathe. Although the early cars were very basic and not very powerful, they sold strongly, and things only got better as the model evolved, with the result that over 1.8 million had been produced by the time the W202 model arrived in 2002 to replace it.
In 1995, the C-Class received its first genuine performance model, the C 36 AMG, to counter the new six-cylinder BMW M3. Developed with AMG, the tuning house that had now become a subsidiary of Daimler-Benz, it had racing-tuned suspension (lowered by 25 mm (1 in)) and in the USA, a four-speed automatic gearbox, followed by a standard five-speed automatic gearbox. The 3.6 L engine had a general output of 276 bhp at 5750 rpm and 385 Nm (284 lb/ft) at 4000 rpm. AMG later conceded that since the engine was hand-assembled, power outputs could vary slightly from 276 bhp to 287 bhp. The C36 AMG accelerates to 60 mph from a stop in 5.8 seconds and top speed was electronically limited to 250 km/h (155 mph). Unlimited Top Speed was recorded at 272 km/h (169 mph). Only a total of 5200 C36 AMGs were produced. In late 1997 AMG released a new flagship for the C-Class, the C 43 AMG, powered by a 4.3 L V8, which could now achieve 306 bhp at 5850 rpm, with a torque of 410 Nm (302 lb/ft) at 3250 rpm. Unlike the C36, which was in fact a “ready-to-sell” C280 disassembled for tuning at the AMG factory, the C43 was the first AMG car to be completely assembled at the Mercedes factory after the acquisition of AMG by Daimler-Benz in 1998. The C43 AMG can achieve a 0–100 km/h (0–60 mph) time in 5.7 seconds for the saloon version and 5.9 seconds for the estate. The C43 was the first C-Class to be equipped with a Mercedes-Benz V8 engine. Two versions exist: a saloon (chassis W202.033) and estate also called the “T version” (chassis W202.093). The overall body of the C43 AMG estate version has many similarities with the C36 AMG, except for the front and rear bumpers as well as the side body, both of which were re-designed. The black engine cover with the chrome AMG and Mercedes-Benz star logos is also very typical from that period in this market segment. Some differences have been reported between the 1998 and the 2000 version such as the ECU software on the 2000 version that seems to provide better gearbox performances and longer life to the gearbox. The 2000 model also gives the ability to power tilt the steering wheel and manually shift with a tiptronic shift gate for all W202’s, and AMG stamped letters on the brake calipers (C43 only). The car was manufactured for a little more than two years – from the end of 1997 to the spring of 2000 for a total of 4,200 units 20% of which are estates and 80% saloons, with only 25 C 43 vehicles of the 2000 model year imported to the US. The C43 is powered by a tuned version of the 4.3-litre M113 V8 engine originally found on the W210 E 430 model. After modifications this engine delivers 302 bhp at 5,850 rpm, up to 410 N⋅m (302 lb⋅ft) of torque at 3,250 rpm-5,000 rpm (taken at the crank) and up to 241 hp at 6,320 rpm measured at the wheels. According to Mercedes-Benz, the car can reach 155.5 mph , with electronic speed limitation and 168 mph (270 km/h) without. Transmission is an AMG-modified version of the five-speed automatic gearbox (722.6) found on 1998–2000 R129 SL 500. Main modifications were made in order to achieve a crisper and better adapted gearbox to higher-rpm upshifts. Also the braking system has been taken from the W210 E 55 AMG.
As one of Britain’s most popular classic cars, it was no surprise to find several examples of the MGB here, with cars from throughout the model’s long life, both in Roadster and MGB GT guise, as well as one of the short-lived V8 engined cars. Launched in October 1962, this car was produced for the next 18 years and it went on to become Britain’s best selling sports car. When first announced, the MGB was an innovative, modern design, with a monocoque structure instead of the traditional body-on-frame construction used on both the MGA and MG T-types and the MGB’s rival, the Triumph TR series, though components such as the brakes and suspension were developments of the earlier 1955 MGA and the B-Series engine had its origins back in 1947. The lightweight design reduced manufacturing costs while adding to overall vehicle strength, and with a 95hp 3-bearing 1798cc engine under the bonnet, performance was quite respectable with a 0–60 mph time of just over 11 seconds. The car was rather more civilised than its predecessor, with wind-up windows now fitted as standard, and a comfortable driver’s compartment offered plenty of legroom. The roadster was the first of the MGB range to be produced. The body was a pure two-seater but a small rear seat was a rare option at one point. By making better use of space the MGB was able to offer more passenger and luggage accommodation than the earlier MGA while being 3 inches shorter overall. The suspension was also softer, giving a smoother ride, and the larger engine gave a slightly higher top speed. The four-speed gearbox was an uprated version of the one used in the MGA with an optional (electrically activated) overdrive transmission. A five-bearing engine was introduced in 1964 and a number of other modifications crept into the specification. In late 1967, sufficient changes were introduced for the factory to define a Mark II model. Alterations included synchromesh on all 4 gears with revised ratios, an optional Borg-Warner automatic gearbox, a new rear axle, and an alternator in place of the dynamo with a change to a negative earth system. To accommodate the new gearboxes there were significant changes to the sheet metal in the floorpan, and a new flat-topped transmission tunnel. US market cars got a new safety padded dashboard, but the steel item continued for the rest of the world. Rostyle wheels were introduced to replace the previous pressed steel versions in 1969 and reclining seats were standardised. 1970 also saw a new front grille, recessed, in black aluminium. The more traditional-looking polished grille returned in 1973 with a black “honeycomb” insert. Further changes in 1972 were to the interior with a new fascia. To meet impact regulations, in late 1974, the chrome bumpers were replaced with new, steel-reinforced black rubber bumpers, the one at the front incorporating the grille area as well, giving a major restyling to the B’s nose, and a matching rear bumper completed the change. New US headlight height regulations also meant that the headlamps were now too low. Rather than redesign the front of the car, British Leyland raised the car’s suspension by 1-inch. This, in combination with the new, far heavier bumpers resulted in significantly poorer handling. For the 1975 model year only, the front anti-roll bar was deleted as a cost-saving measure (though still available as an option). The damage done by the British Leyland response to US legislation was partially alleviated by revisions to the suspension geometry in 1977, when a rear anti-roll bar was made standard equipment on all models. US emissions regulations also reduced horsepower. In March 1979 British Leyland started the production of black painted limited edition MGB roadsters for the US market, meant for a total of 500 examples, but due to a high demand, production ended with 6682 examples. The United Kingdom received bronze painted roadsters and a silver GT model limited editions. The production run of home market limited edition MGBs was split between 421 roadsters and 579 GTs. Meanwhile, the fixed-roof MGB GT had been introduced in October 1965, and production continued until 1980, although export to the US ceased in 1974. The MGB GT sported a ground-breaking greenhouse designed by Pininfarina and launched the sporty “hatchback” style. By combining the sloping rear window with the rear deck lid, the B GT offered the utility of a station wagon while retaining the style and shape of a coupe. This new configuration was a 2+2 design with a right-angled rear bench seat and far more luggage space than in the roadster. Relatively few components differed, although the MGB GT did receive different suspension springs and anti-roll bars and a different windscreen which was more easily and inexpensively serviceable. Although acceleration of the GT was slightly slower than that of the roadster, owing to its increased weight, top speed improved by 5 mph to 105 mph because of better aerodynamics. 523,826 examples of the MGB of all model types were built, and although many of these were initially sold new in North America, a lot have been repatriated here. There were several Roadsters and MGB GT.
MG re-entered the sports car market in 1995 with the launch of the MGF Two versions of this mid-engined and affordable rival to the Mazda MX5 were offered: both of which used the 1.8 litre K-Series 16-valve engine. The cheaper of the two put out 118 hp and the more costly VVC model (by dint of its variable valve control) had 143 hp. Rover Special Projects had overseen the development of the F’s design and before finalising the styling bought-in outside contractors to determine the most appropriate mechanical configuration for the new car. Steve Harper of MGA Developments produced the initial design concept in January 1991 (inspired by the Jaguar XJR-15 and the Ferrari 250LM), before Rover’s in house design team refined the concept under the leadership of Gerry McGovern. The MGF used the Hydragas suspension, a system employing interconnected fluid and gas displacers, which gave the car a surprisingly compliant ride and which could be tuned to provide excellent handling characteristics. The MG F quickly shot to the top of the affordable sports car charts in Britain and remained there until the introduction of the MG TF in 2002. The MG F underwent a facelift in Autumn of 1999 which gave the car a revised interior as well as styling tweaks and fresh alloy wheels designs. There was also the introduction of a base 1.6 version and a more powerful 160 hp variant called the Trophy 160, which had a 0-60 mph time of 6.9 seconds. It was only produced for a limited time. An automatic version with a CVT called the Steptronic was also introduced. A comprehensive update in 2002 resulted in the MG TF, named after the MG TF Midget of the 1950s. Based upon the MG F platform but heavily redesigned and re-engineered, the most significant mechanical changes were the abandonment of Hydragas suspension in favour of conventional coil springs, the new design of the air-induction system that along with new camshafts produces more power than in MG F engines, and the torsional stiffness of the body increased by 20%. Various cosmetic changes included a revised grille, redesigned front headlights, bumpers, side air-intake grills and changes to the rear boot,. The car continued to sell well. Production was suspended when MG-Rover went out of business, but resumed again in 2007 when Nanjing built a number more.
Less than a year after the Rover 25 was launched, BMW sold the Rover Group to the Phoenix consortium for a token £10. By the summer of 2001, the newly named MG Rover Group introduced a sporty version of the Rover 25: the MG ZR. It had modified interior and exterior styling, as well as sports suspension, to give the car the look of a “hot” hatchback. The largest engine in the range was the 1.8 VVC 160 PS unit, which had a top speed of 130 mph . It was frequently Britain’s best-selling “hot hatch”. By 2004, the age of the Rover 25 / MG ZR’s interior design in particular was showing, so MG Rover gave the cars an exterior restyle to make them look more modern. The majority of changes however were focussed on the interior, which featured a completely new layout and fascia design. Production of both cars was suspended in April 2005 when the company went into administration. In March 2005 the 25 won the “Bargain of the Year Award” at the prestigious Auto Express Used Car Honours: “The compact hatchback was recognised by the judges for the availability and affordability that help make five-year old examples an attractive purchase proposition.”
Without doubt, the rarest version of the classic Issigonis-designed Mini is the Pickup, as seen here. Introduced in 1961, at the same time as the Van, whose longer platform this version shared, there was an open-top rear cargo area and a drop down tailgate. The factory specified the weight of the Pick-up as less than 1,500 lb (680 kg) with a full 6 gallon tank of fuel. As with the Van, the Pick-up had stamped metal slots for airflow into the engine compartment. The Pickup was basic, although the factory brochure described a “fully equipped Mini Pick-up is also available which includes a recirculatory heater.” Passenger-side sun visor, seat belts, laminated windscreen, tilt tubes and cover were also available at extra cost. Equipment levels improved gradually over time. Like the van, the Pick-up was renamed as the Mini 95 in 1978. Production ceased in 1983 by which time 58,179 Mini Pick-up models had been built, barely 10% of the number of Vans made.
The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII appeared in 2003 this time sporting 17″ grey Enkei wheels, Brembo brakes and Bilstein shocks to handle traction and a 5-speed manual gearbox with 280 PS. Originally a one off model, sales were so successful in the U.S. that by 2005 it was available in four trims: the standard GSR model in Japan, the RS, 5-speed gearbox, and standard wheels (lacking excess components, such as interior map lights, power windows/doors, and radio), the SSL (with a sunroof, trunk mounted subwoofer, and leather seats) All of which had chrome head and taillight housings, and the MR, which came with a revised front limited-slip differential, aluminium MR shift knob, handbrake with carbon fibre handle, 17 inch BBS wheels, aluminum roof, and a 6-speed manual gearbox. The new Evolution Mr also sported Black housing taillights and headlights. The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII MR used slick-response Bilstein shocks for improved handling. The aluminium roof panel and other reductions in body weight have lowered the centre of gravity to produce more natural roll characteristics. Detail improvements have also been made to Mitsubishi’s own electronic four-wheel drive, to the ACD 5 + Super AYC 6 traction control, and to the Sports ABS systems. The Lancer Evolution VIII displayed at the 2003 Tokyo Motor Show took the MR designation traditionally reserved for Mitsubishi Motors high-performance models (first used for the Galant GTO). Other parts on the MR include BBS alloy wheels, the aforementioned Bilstein shocks, and an aluminium roof. In the United Kingdom, many special Evolutions were introduced, including the 260, FQ300, FQ320, FQ340, and FQ400 variants. They came with 260, 305, 325, 345, and 405 hp. The FQ-400, sold through Ralliart UK, produced 411 PS at 6,400 rpm and maximum torque of 481 Nm (355 lb/ft) at 5,500 rpm, from its 1,997 cc 4G63 inline-four engine, the result of special modifications by United Kingdom tuning firms Rampage Tuning, Owen Developments, and Flow Race Engines. At 202.8 hp per litre, it has one of the highest specific outputs per litre of any road car engine. With a curb weight of 1,450 kg (3,197 lb), it achieves 0–60 mph in 3.5 seconds, 0–100 mph (161 km/h) in 9.1 seconds, 1⁄4 mile (402 m) in 12.1 seconds at 117 mph (188 km/h), and a top speed of 175 mph (282 km/h) while costing £48,000. BBC’s television series Top Gear demonstrated that the stock FQ-400 could keep up with a Lamborghini Murciélago around a test track. The Stig recorded a Top Gear Power Lap Time of 1 minute and 24.8 seconds (damp track), 1.1 seconds slower than the Murciélago’s time of 1 minute 23.7 seconds (dry track). In a similar test conducted by Evo magazine, the Evolution was able to lap the Bedford Autodrome faster than an Audi RS4 and a Porsche 911 Carrera 4S. The Lancer Evolution VIII was also the first Evolution to be sold in the United States of America, spurred by the success of the Subaru Impreza WRX which had been released there just the year prior. The Evolution VIII found its true competition in the Subaru Impreza WRX STI model the same year as the Evolution VIII’s US introduction. With its 2.0 litre, 271 hp engine, the 2003 Evolution VIII was capable of achieving a 0–100 km/h (62 mph) time of 5.1 seconds. However, the internal components for the American versions were largely stripped-down versions of the specifications for the Japanese Lancer Evolution VIII. No US-spec Evolution model prior to the Evo X has active yaw control, including the 2006 Evolution IX. The American 2003 and 2004 GSRs are without the helical limited-slip front differential and 6-speed manual transmission. The 2004 US spec RS models, however, do have a front helical limited-slip differential. All 2003, 2004 and 2005 RS and GSR models have the Japanese Evolution VII’s 5-speed transmission. The MR edition was introduced to the US in 2005, with ACD and the only model with a 6-speed transmission. The 2005 US spec RS and GSR have the ACD standard, and the front helical limited-slip differential is now standard on all models. The boost, timing, and tuning are also significantly lower than its Japanese counterpart, allowing it to adhere to the strict emissions regulations of the United States. Starting in 2005, the US model Evos were also fitted with a 5500 rpm limit on launching in 1st gear to protect the drivetrain. Most Evolution VIIIs have a carbon fibre rear spoiler with matching body-colour endplates. Furthermore, the US versions of the Lancer Evolution VIII 2003–2005 were given bulkier rear bumpers than their Japanese counterparts to accommodate US safety laws in the form of the metal rear crash bar. All Evos have lightweight aluminum front fenders and hoods. The basic RS Edition does not come with power windows, locks, or mirrors, an audio system, rear wing, sound deadening material, map lamps or an anti-lock braking system. All Evo VIII RS models sold in the US have an air conditioning system. The 2005 MR/RS editions came with an aluminium roof. Additionally, Evolution VIII MR Editions come equipped with a 6-speed transmission, Bilstein shocks, optional graphite grey color (unique to the Evolution VIII MR), optional BBS wheels and an optional vortex generator. The MR Edition also received engine updates and reliability changes, the engine updates include larger turbo diameter mouth, updated cam profiles, lighter balance shafts and changed from single wastegate solenoid to dual solenoid. Exterior changes included HID headlights, updated tail lights, and MR rear badging. Interior updates included black suede Recaro seats with higher side bolsters, carbon look dash trim, and MR badging on center console. Mechanical changes saw S-AWC rear diff changes, a larger oil cooler core, ion coated piston rings, reinforced cylinder head and 5 layer head gasket compared to the 3 layer. The car seen here is an Evo VIII MR FQ 340.
Mitsubishi introduced the Lancer Evolution IX in Japan on March 3, 2005, and exhibited the car at the Geneva Motor Show for the European market the same day. The North American markets saw the model exhibited at the New York International Auto Show the following month. The 2.0 litre 4G63 Inline-four engine has MIVEC technology (variable valve timing), and a revised turbocharger design boosting official power output at the crankshaft to 291 PS ( 287 hp) and torque to 392 Nm (289 lb/ft). There were a number of different models offered, with increasing amounts of power. These were named and packaged different in different markets. In the United Kingdom, the Evolution IX used a model scheme based on the car’s horsepower. There were initially three models available: the FQ-300, FQ-320 and FQ-340 each with around 300, 320 and 340 PS (296, 316 and 335 bhp), respectively. An FQ-360 model was subsequently released as a successor to the Evolution VIII FQ-400. While the new FQ-360 produced 371 PS (366 bhp) at 6,887 rpm (less horsepower than its predecessor), although it had more torque at 492 Nm (363 lb/ft) at 3,200 rpm. All four models were designed to run on super unleaded petrol only. The MR FQ-360 was also released in limited numbers (only 200) in the last year of production. The FQ-300, 320, 340 came with a 6-speed, Bilstein monotube shocks, AYC (Active Yaw Control), and ran on super unleaded petrol only. The FQ-360 had a 6-speed, Bilstein monotube shocks, AYC (Active Yaw Control), Ralliart Sports Meter Kit, carbon front splitter, Speedline alloy wheels, super unleaded petrol only. The MR FQ-360 had a new turbo with titanium aluminium alloy turbo fins, Speedline Turini alloy wheels, Privacy Glass, lowered Eibach coil springs (10 mm (0.39 in) at the front/ 5 mm (0.20 in) at the rear), IX MR interior, super unleaded petrol only. The cars were not cheap to buy, but it was the running costs that were the real challenge, with very high servicing costs, and intervals as low as every 3000 miles. Enthusiasts soon found that they simply could not afford to run the cars when they were new.
After the ever softer evolution of the Z car, Nissan reversed the trend with the Z31 model, known as the 300ZX, introduced in late 1983. Designed by Kazumasu Takagi and his team of developers, the 300ZX had improved aerodynamics and increased power when compared to its predecessor, with a drag coefficient of 0.30. It was powered by Japan’s first mass-produced V6 engine instead of an inline 6. According to Nissan, the V6 engine was supposed to re-create the spirit of the original Fairlady 240Z. The Z31 generation featured five engine options, including a pair of 2 litre V6 units which were never available in Europe. Cars sold in the UK all had the 3.0 litre V6 unit. which made 240 hp in turbo form due to a better camshaft profile, also known outside of Europe as the Nismo camshafts. All European turbocharged models received a different front lower spoiler as well, with 84-86 models being unique and 87-89 production having the same spoiler as the USDM 1988 “SS” model. The Z31 body was slightly restyled in 1986 with the addition of side skirts, flared fenders, and sixteen inch wheels (turbo models only). Many black plastic trim pieces were also painted to match the body colour, and the bonnet scoop was removed. The car was given a final makeover in 1987 that included more aerodynamic bumpers, fog lamps within the front air dam, and 9004 bulb-based headlamps that replaced the outdated sealed beam headlights. The 300ZX-titled reflector in the rear was updated to a narrow set of tail lights running the entire width of the car and an LED third brake light on top of the rear hatch. The Z31 continued selling until 1989, more than any other Z-Car at the time. Over 70,000 units were sold in 1985. Cars produced from 1984-1985 are referred to as “Zenki” models, while cars produced from 1987-1989 are known as “Kouki” models. The 1986 models are a special due to sharing some major features from both. They are sometimes referred to as “Chuki” models, but are usually grouped with the Zenki models because of the head and tail lights.
The second generation Nissan Primera was launched in the end of 1995 in Japan, and in the autumn of 1996 in Europe. Unique in its class, new Primera featured multi link beam rear suspension with multi-link front suspension. As before, in Europe the Primera was sold with 1.6 L and 2.0 L petrol engines and a 2.0 L diesel, with hatchback, saloon and estate bodystyles. While the estate was now based on the Primera’s platform, it was assigned a model code of WP11. In Japan, the Primera was initially offered with the SR18DE, SR20DE and SR20VE engines, and initially only as a sedan; these models (including the British-built UK GT models for sale in Japan) were slightly narrower at 1,695 mm (66.7 in) to remain within the Japanese compact class tax bracket, and was Nissan’s car for the Supertouring era of Japanese Touring Car Championship, although it failed to recapture the title or Skyline GT-R’s dominant glory of the Group A era. The hatchback assembled in the United Kingdom was available only with the SR20DE engine and automatic transmission and began production from November 1997, a captive import known as the Primera UK GT. Estate began production from September 1997. Alongside the original Primera, the Nissan Primera Camino was launched as a badge engineered model for different dealer networks. The models for Japan also introduced a CVT automatic transmission during the P11 series, including a six-speed tiptronic version in the M6 G-V and Autech edition wagons and Te-V saloon. The Te-V was equipped with SR20VE and CVT M6 transmissions only. Nissan continued selling the Primera in the United States as the Infiniti G20 from 1998 until 2002, when it was replaced by a rebadged version of the Nissan Skyline V35 as the Infiniti G35. The G20 used the same grille and rear lamp alterations from the Primera Camino. In 1998, Nissan New Zealand released a limited edition Primera SMX with association with Steve Millen (Stillen Sports Parts). Features include cross drilled brakes, Eibach springs and a more aggressive body kit. There were a total of 26 (including the prototype numbered 000) made in five colour choices (the prototype was the only white one made). This was because until 1998 (due to lifting of import tariffs on cars) Nissan had an automotive assembly operation in New Zealand, and for a short time between 1997 and 1998 the P11 Primera was assembled in Wiri, Auckland. The Primera won the British Touring Car Championship manufacturer’s and team titles thanks to RML in 1998 and 1999 with backing from the factory, as well as the Independents’ Cup in 1999 and 2000. To celebrate the two victories in 1998, Nissan UK released a limited edition of 400 GTSE models, with 16″ AZEV alloy wheels, two tone “flip” ChromaFlair “Mystic” green paint, following the special theme to the interior which featured full leather seating with green piping seats, steering wheel and a Momo gearknob. To celebrate the 1999 “clean sweep”, they released a limited edition GTLE model with 16″ multi spoke Enkei alloy wheels, a full leather interior with silver piping, a Momo gearknob and a colour choice of Flame Red, Kuro Black, Starburst Silver, and Nordic Blue. In August 1999, Nissan gave the Primera a facelift, giving it a more modern front end with clear style headlamps featuring projector units, instead of the traditional Fresnel lens type. Nissan also introduced their “corporate identity” front, with the “flying wing” grille. The new code name for this model was “P11-144”. Along with the exterior changes, improved specification levels were present; with the entry level models such as the “S” featuring automatic climate control, driver, passenger, and side airbags. Further up the model range, other features were seen such as xenon headlamps. A new “lean burn” 1.8 L petrol engine, the QG18DE was added to the range. This facelift was not generally applied outside Europe and was not available in Japan when Nissan “formalized” the fronts of other Primeras and Caminos instead, bringing them into line with the look of the American model of Infiniti. Production ended in June 2002
This is an S15-generation Silvia, a car not sold new in the UK, though its predecessors had been, under the name 240SX. New in 1999, the engine of the S15 now boasting 250 PS (247 bhp) at 6,400 rpm and 275 Nm; 203 lb/ft at 4,800 rpm of torque from its SR20DET Inline-four engine, thanks to a ball bearing turbocharger upgrade, as well as improved engine management system. The non-turbo SR20DE produced 165 PS. The S15 Silvia included aggressive styling inside and out, updating the previous Silvia styling in-line with modern car design trends. The body dimensions were reduced from the previous generation so that it would comply with Japanese Government compact class, which had an effect on sales of the previous model. The S15 Silvia model lineup was initially simplified to just the Spec-S and Spec-R, both models offering an “Aero” variant with a large rear wing and side skirts/valances. This generation of the Silvia was only sold in Japan, Australia and New Zealand but was available as a grey import in most other countries. In Australia and New Zealand the car was sold as the Nissan 200SX. Within the Australian domestic market (AUDM), the S15 sold in 2 trim levels as noted above; Spec-S and Spec-R – however both models featured the SR20DET motor, albeit slightly detuned from the JDM spec cars. Nissan S15s were never officially sold with the naturally aspirated SR20DE engine in Australia or New Zealand. These two models were available at Nissan showrooms until the Nissan 200SX GT was introduced in 2002, the last year of production for the S15. Main differences here were namely the wheels being finished in a silver shadow chrome, chrome interior door handles, chrome gear selector surround, “sports” metal pedal set and an updated larger rear wing. As of August 2002, Nissan stopped producing the S platform with the S15-series Nissan Silvia being the final variant. Production of the Silvia ended amidst Nissan’s efforts to reduce its myriad of platforms. The S15 Silvia was therefore the last car to hold the Silvia badge. Nissan’s worldwide sports car platform is now the FM platform, which underpins the current Fairlady Z (the 350/370Z outside Japan), as well as the 2001–present Nissan Skyline (the Infiniti G35/37 in North America).
Like its predecessor, the R33 GT-R was the most extreme version of a range of Skyline cars, which in R33 guise were launched in 1993 and would go on to be produced for 6 years. The previous R32 model was a well proven build but the R32 wasn’t without faults and suffered with uplift and balance issues. Along with that, Nissan was as other Japanese companies were under strict restrictions on power gains. So Nissan had to combat all these areas so the sophisticated strength Programme was made. Nissan increased the width by about one inch on the R33 to the R32 and made it about 4 inches longer. This gave the R33 a longer wheelbase overall and lower stance mixed with new technology now from the computer aerodynamic age. Each line on the R33 was intended to give the car ultimate aerodynamics with wider gaps in the bumper and angles of air movement which allowed better cooling, in addition to the fuel tank lifted; the battery moved to the boot/trunk. Rigidity points were added mixed with improvements on the Attessa and Hicas all now offered the R33 with the best aerodynamics, balance, and handling. Nissan engineers also found other ways to reduce weight, even by a few grams. This includes: Hollowing out the side door beams. Using high tensile steel on body panels. Reduction in sound deadening materials. Super HICAS becoming electric. Hollowing out of rear stabiliser bar. Use of high tensile springs front and rear. Shrinking the ABS actuator. Light aluminium wheels with higher rigidity The front and rear axles were made of aluminium (as in the BNR32) but also so were engine mount insulators and brackets New plastics were used for : fuel tank, head lamps, super high strength “PP” bumpers, air cleaner, changing the headlining material, changing material of rear spoiler. All this put together meant we saw an improved time against the R32 of 21 seconds faster around the Nurburgring and 23 seconds faster in V spec trim. Still making the R33 the fastest skyline around the Nurburgring. The BCNR33 GT-R version also had the same RB26DETT engine that the BNR32 was equipped with, although torque had been improved, due to changes in the turbo compressor aerodynamics, turbo dump pipe, and intercooler. The turbo core changed from a sleeve bearing to a ball bearing, but the turbine itself remained ceramic, except on N1 turbos (steel turbine, sleeve bearing). From the R33 onward, all GT-Rs received Brembo brakes. In 1995 the GT-R received an improved version of the RB26DETT, the ATTESA-ETS four-wheel-drive system, and Super HICAS 4-wheel steering. A limited edition model was created in 1996, called the NISMO 400R, that produced 400 hp from a road-tuned version of Nissan’s Le Mans engine. A stronger six-speed Getrag gearbox was used. An R33 GT-R driven by Dirk Schoysman lapped the Nordschleife in less than 8 minutes. The Skyline GT-R R33 is reported to be the first production car to break 8 minutes, at 7 minutes and 59 seconds. Other manufacturers had caught up since the R32 was released, and the R33 never dominated motorsport to the extent of the R32. The R33 saw victory in the JGTC GT500 dominating the class and taking victory each year until its final racing year in which it was finally beaten by the Mclaren F1 GTR. The R33 saw huge favour in the tuning world with it being a popular model on the Wangan and top tuning companies building heavily tuned version from Top Secret ran by Smokey Nagata to Jun etc. and later by companies like Sumo. HKS GT-R would hold a drag series record for several years in there drag series making a record win of 7.671-second pass at Sendai Hi-Land Raceway with Tetsuya Kawasaki behind the wheel and taking it to be the World’s fastest AWD car.
There was also an example of the still current R35 generation model.
The first generation Opel GT debuted as a styling exercise in 1965 at the Paris and Frankfurt motor shows. The production vehicle used mechanical components from the contemporary Opel Kadett B and two-door hard top bodywork by French contractor Brissonneau & Lotz. The styling of the GT was often cited as similar to the 1968 Chevrolet Corvette which went on sale in September 1967. The Opel GT was equipped with a base 1.1 L OHV inline-four engine, which produced 67 hp (SAE) at 6,000 rpm. However, most buyers chose an optional 1.9 L camshaft in head engine, which produced 102 hp (SAE) at 5200 to 5400 rpm. Some of the early 1968 models also came with a slightly higher compression “H” code cylinder head. In 1971, due to emissions regulations, Opel reduced the compression ratio of the 1.9 L engine used in the US and output fell to 83 hp (SAE). There was also a GT/J model, which was a less expensive version of the 1900-engined GT which was sold only in Europe. Standard transmission was a manual four-speed. A three-speed automatic was available with the 1.9 L engine.The Opel GT uses a steel unibody and a conventional front-engined, rear-wheel drive layout. The engine is mounted far back in the chassis to improve weight distribution. Front suspension consists of upper A-arms and a lower transverse leaf spring. A live axle and coil springs are used in the rear. The power-assisted braking system uses discs in the front, drums in the rear. Steering is unassisted. One unusual feature of the Opel GT is the operation of the pop-up headlights. They are manually operated, by way of a large lever along the centre console next to the gearlever. Unlike most pop-up headlights, they both rotate in the same direction (counterclockwise from inside the car) about a longitudinal axis. One standard joke about GT owners was that you can easily spot them due to the heavy muscles on their right arm built up by using the lever to pop up the headlights. Designed by Opel stylist Erhard Schnell, the GT is a fastback, that has neither an externally accessible trunk nor a conventional hatchback. There is a parcel shelf behind the seats that can only be accessed through the main doors. Behind the parcel shelf is a fold-up panel that conceals a spare tyre and jack. The interior of the GT is surprisingly large for a car of its size, owing to its original design process in which the exterior metal was sculpted around an interior model. Headroom and legroom are sufficient for those over 6 feet (1.83 m) tall. During 1968 to 1973, a total of 103,463 cars were sold. The most collectible GTs are probably the first few hundred cars hand-assembled in 1968 and the 1968–1970 models with the 1.1 L engine, which totalled 3,573 cars. Of the later cars, 10,760 were the cheaper model (GT/J), which lacked nearly all chrome parts and offered fewer standard features. In some markets, items like a limited slip differential, front and rear anti-sway bars, heated rear window, and engine bay light were standard, although most cars were shipped without them. In North America, the GT was sold at Buick dealerships. Reasons for ending production were the need to redesign the car to remain competitive with up-and-coming sports models, such as the Datsun 240Z, as well as the termination of Brissonneau and Lotz’ bodybuilding contract. Unusually for the period, here was no Vauxhall equivalent model to the GT sold in the United Kingdom.
Mindful of the success of the Golf GTi, in the class above, and how a small car with good handling could take more power, as the Mini Cooper had proved, Peugeot came up with the GTi in early 1984. The first models had a 1.6 litre XU5J engine, producing 105 PS, which was uprated in 1987 with a cylinder head with larger valves thus becoming XU5JA, which took the power output up to 115 bhp. Visually the car retained the good looks of the 3 door version of the regular models, but it featured plastic wheel arch extensions and trim, beefier front and rear bumper valances and judicious use of red badging and trim. The shell also underwent some minor changes, including larger wheel arches (to suit the larger wheels , and the suspension was redesigned and sat lower on the GTI with stiffer springs, different wishbones and a drop-linked anti-roll bar. Red was a dominant colour inside. The car was an instant hit. At the end of 1986, Peugeot followed up with a more potent model, the 1.9 GTi, whose XU9JA engine produced 128 PS. Internally the engine of this car and the 1.6 model are very similar, the main differences on 1.9 litre versions being the longer stroke, oil cooler, and some parts of the fuel injection system. The shorter stroke 1.6 litre engine is famed for being revvy and eager, while the 1.9 litre feels lazier and torquier. Outside the engine bay the main differences between the 1.6 GTi and the 1.9 GTi are half-leather seats on the 1.9 GTi vs. cloth seats and disc brakes all-round (1.9 GTi) vs. discs at the front and drum brakes at the back; as well as the 14-inch Speedline SL201 wheels on the 1.6 GTi vs. 15 inch Speedline SL299 alloys on the 1.9 GTi. The 205 is still often treated as a benchmark in group car tests of the newest GTI models or equivalent. Peugeot itself has never truly recreated this success in future GTI models, although they came very close with the highly regarded GTI-6 variant of the Peugeot 306.
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.
During the 1990s, Porsche was facing financial troubles and rumours of a proposed takeover were being spread. The signature air-cooled flat-6 of the 911 was reaching the limits of its potential as made evident by the 993. Stricter emissions regulations world wide further forced Porsche to think of a replacement of the air-cooled unit. In order to improve manufacturing processes, Porsche took the aid of leading Japanese car manufacturer Toyota whose consultants would assist in the overhaul of the Zuffenhausen manufacturing facility introducing mass production techniques which would allow Porsche to carry out production processes more efficiently. Porsche had realised that in order to keep the 911 in production, it would need radical changes. This led to the development of the 996. The sharing of development between the new 911 and the entry level Boxster model allowed Porsche to save development costs. This move also resulted in interchangeable parts between the two models bringing down maintenance costs. The Porsche 996 was a new design developed by Pinky Lai under Porsche design chief Harm Lagaay from 1992 to 1994; it was the first 911 that was completely redesigned, and carried over little from its predecessor as Porsche wanted the design team to design a 911 for the next millennium. Featuring an all new body work, interior, and the first water-cooled engine, the 996 replaced the 993 from which only the front suspension, rear multi-link suspension, and a 6-speed manual transmission were retained in revised form. The 996 had a drag coefficient of Cd=0.30 resulting from hours spent in the wind tunnel. The 996 is 185 mm (7 in) longer and 40 mm (2 in) wider than its predecessor. It is also 45% stiffer courtesy of a chassis formed from high-strength steel. Additionally, it is 50 kg (110 lb) lighter despite having additional radiators and coolant. All of the M96 engines offered in the 996 (except for the variants fitted to the Turbo and GT2/GT3 models) are susceptible to the Porsche Intermediate Shaft Bearing issue which can potentially cause serious engine failure if not addressed via a retrofit. The 996 was initially available in a coupé or a cabriolet (Convertible) bodystyle with rear-wheel drive, and later with four-wheel drive, utilising a 3.4 litre flat-6 engine generating a maximum power output of 296 bhp. The 996 had the same front end as the entry-level Boxster. After requests from the Carrera owners about their premium cars looking like a “lower priced car that looked just like theirs did”, Porsche redesigned the headlamps of the Carrera in 2002 similar to the high performance Turbo’s headlamps. The design for the initial “fried egg” shaped headlamps could be traced back to the 1997 911 GT1 race car. In 2000, Porsche introduced the 996 Turbo, equipped with a four-wheel-drive system and a 3.6-litre, twin-turbocharged and intercooled flat-six engine generating a maximum power output of 420 bhp, making the car capable of accelerating from 0–60 mph in 4.2 seconds. An X50 option which included larger turbochargers and intercoolers along with revised engine control software became available from the factory in 2002, increasing power output to 451 bhp. In 2005, Porsche introduced the Turbo S, which had the X50 option included as standard equipment, with the formerly optional Carbon fibre-reinforced Silicon Carbide (C/SiC) composite ceramic brakes (PCCB) also included as standard. In 2000, power output on the base Carrera model was increased to 300 bhp. 2001 marked the final year of production for the base Carrera 4 Coupé in narrow body format. In 2002, the standard Carrera models underwent the above-mentioned facelift. In addition, engine capacity was also increased to 3.6-litres across the range, yielding gains of 15 bhp for the naturally aspirated models. 2002 also marked the start of the production of the 996 based Targa model, with a sliding glass “green house” roof system as introduced on its predecessor. It also features a rear glass hatch which gave the driver access to the storage compartment. Also in 2002, the Carrera 4S model was first introduced.
The 996 was replaced with the 997 in 2005. It retains the 996’s basic profile, with an even lower 0.28 drag coefficient, but draws on the 993 for detailing. In addition, the new headlights revert to the original bug-eye design from the teardrop scheme of the 996. Its interior is also similarly revised, with strong links to the earlier 911 interiors while at the same time looking fresh and modern. The 997 shares less than a third of its parts with the outgoing 996, but is still technically similar to it. Initially, two versions of the 997 were introduced— the rear-wheel-drive Carrera and Carrera S. While the base 997 Carrera had a power output of 321 hp from its 3.6 L Flat 6, a more powerful 3.8 L 350 hp Flat 6 powers the Carrera S. Besides a more powerful engine, the Carrera S also comes standard with 19 inch “Lobster Fork” style wheels, more powerful and larger brakes (with red calipers), lowered suspension with PASM (Porsche Active Suspension Management: dynamically adjustable dampers), Xenon headlamps, and a sports steering wheel. In late 2005, Porsche introduced the all-wheel-drive versions to the 997 lineup. Carrera 4 models (both Carrera 4 and Carrera 4S) were announced as 2006 models. Both Carrera 4 models are wider than their rear-wheel-drive counterparts by 1.76 inches (32 mm) to cover wider rear tyres. The 0–100 km/h (62 mph) acceleration time for the Carrera 4S with the 350 hp engine equipped with a manual transmission was reported at 4.8 seconds. The 0–100 km/h (62 mph) acceleration for the Carrera S with the 350 hp was noted to be as fast as 4.2 seconds in a Motor Trend comparison, and Road & Track has timed it at 3.8 seconds. The 997 lineup includes both 2- and 4-wheel-drive variants, named Carrera and Carrera 4 respectively. The Targas (4 and 4S), released in November 2006, are 4-wheel-drive versions that divide the difference between the coupés and the cabriolets with their dual, sliding glass tops. The 997 received a larger air intake in the front bumper, new headlights, new rear taillights, new clean-sheet design direct fuel injection engines, and the introduction of a dual-clutch gearbox called PDK for the 2009 model year. They were also equipped with Bluetooth support. The change to the 7th generation (991) took place in the middle of the 2012 model year. A 2012 Porsche 911 can either be a 997 or a 991, depending on the month of the production.
The RS version of the 991 GT3 was launched at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show, and featured in first drive articles in the press a few weeks later, with cars reaching the UK in the summer and another series of universally positive articles duly appearing. It had very big shoes to fill, as the 997 GT3 RS model was rated by everyone lucky enough to get behind the wheel, where the combination of extra power and reduced weight made it even better to drive than the standard non-RS version of the car. A slightly different approach was taken here, with the result weighing just 10kg less than the GT3. It is based on the extra wide body of the 991 Turbo. Compared to the 991 GT3, the front wings are now equipped with louvres above the wheels and the rear wings now include Turbo-like intakes, rather than an intake below the rear wing. The roof is made from magnesium a bonnet, whilst the front wings, rear deck and rear spoiler all in carbonfibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP), the rear apron is in a new polyurethane-carbonfibre polymer and polycarbonate glazing is used for the side and rear windows. The wider body allows the RS’s axle tracks to grow, to the point where the rear track is some 72mm wider than that of a standard 3.4-litre Carrera and the tyres are the widest yet to be fitted to a road-going 911. A long-throw crankshaft made of extra-pure tempered steel delivers the 4mm of added piston stroke necessary to take the GT3’s 3.8-litre flat six out to 3996cc . The engine also uses a new induction system, breathing through the lateral air intakes of the Turbo’s body rather than through the rear deck cover like every other 911. This gives more ram-air effect for the engine and makes more power available at high speeds. It results in an output of 500 bhp and 339 lb/ft of torque. A titanium exhaust also saves weight. The suspension has been updated and retuned, with more rigid ball-jointed mountings and helper springs fitted at the rear, while Porsche’s optional carbon-ceramic brakes get a new outer friction layer. Which is to say nothing of the RS’s biggest advancement over any other 911: downforce. The rear wing makes up to 220kg of it, while the front spoiler and body profile generates up to 110kg. In both respects, that’s double the downforce of the old 997 GT3 RS 4.0. The transmission is PDK only. The result is a 0-62 mph time of just 3.3 seconds, some 0.6 seconds quicker than the 997 GT3 RS 4.0 and 0-124 mph (0-200kmh) in 10.9 seconds. The 991 GT3 RS also comes with functions such as declutching by “paddle neutral” — comparable to pressing the clutch with a conventional manual gearbox –- and Pit Speed limiter button. As with the 991 GT3, there is rear-axle steering and Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus with fully variable rear axle differential lock. The Nürburgring Nordschleife time is 7 minutes and 20 seconds. The interior includes full bucket seats (based on the carbon seats of the 918 Spyder), carbon-fibre inserts, lightweight door handles and the Club Sport Package as standard (a bolted-on roll cage behind the front seats, preparation for a battery master switch, and a six-point safety harness for the driver and fire extinguisher with mounting bracket). Needless to say, the car was an instant sell out, even at a starting price of £131,296.
The 924 was originally another joint project of Volkswagen and Porsche created by the Vertriebsgesellschaft (VG), the joint sales and marketing company funded by Porsche and VW to market and sell sports cars, For Volkswagen, it was intended to be that company’s flagship coupé sports car and was dubbed “Project 425” during its development. For Porsche, it was to be its entry-level sports car replacing the 914. At the time, Volkswagen lacked a significant internal research and design division for developing sports cars; further, Porsche had been doing the bulk of the company’s development work anyway, per a deal that went back to the 1940s. In keeping with this history, Porsche was contracted to develop a new sporting vehicle with the caveat that this vehicle must work with an existing VW/Audi inline-four engine. Porsche chose a rear-wheel drive layout and a rear-mounted transaxle for the design to help provide 48/52 front/rear weight distribution; this slight rear weight bias aided both traction and brake balance. The 1973 oil crisis, a series of automobile-related regulatory changes enacted during the 1970s and a change of directors at Volkswagen made the case for a Volkswagen sports car less striking and the 425 project was put on hold. After serious deliberation at VW, the project was scrapped entirely after a decision was made to move forward with the cheaper, more practical, Golf-based Scirocco model instead. Porsche, which needed a model to replace the 914, made a deal with Volkswagen leadership to buy the design back. The deal specified that the car would be built at the ex-NSU factory in Neckarsulm located north of the Porsche headquarters in Stuttgart, Volkswagen becoming the subcontractor. Hence, Volkswagen employees would do the actual production line work (supervised by Porsche’s own production specialists) and that Porsche would own the design. It became one of Porsche’s best-selling models, and the relative cheapness of building the car made it both profitable and fairly easy for Porsche to finance. The original design used an Audi-sourced four-speed manual transmission from a front wheel drive car but now placed and used as a rear transaxle. It was mated to VW’s EA831 2.0 litre 4 cylinder engine, subsequently used in the Audi 100 and the Volkswagen LT van (common belief is that ‘the engine originated in the LT van’, but it first appeared in the Audi car and in 924 form has a Porsche-designed cylinder head). The 924 engine used Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection, producing 125 bhp in European cars, but a rather paltry 95 bhp for the US market models, though this was improved to 110 hp in mid-1977 with the introduction of a catalytic converter, which reduced the need for power-robbing smog equipment. The four-speed manual was the only transmission available for the initial 1976 model, later this was replaced by a five-speed dog-leg unit. An Audi three-speed automatic was offered starting with the 1977.5 model. In 1980 the five-speed transmission was changed to a conventional H-pattern, with reverse now on the right beneath fifth gear. Porsche made small improvements to the 924 each model year between 1977 and 1985, but nothing major was changed on non-turbo cars. Porsche soon recognised the need for a higher-performance version of the 924 that could bridge the gap between the basic 924s and the 911s. Having already found the benefits of turbochargers on several race cars and the 1975 911 turbo, Porsche chose to use this technology for the 924, eventually introducing the 924 turbo as a 1978 model. Porsche started with the same Audi-sourced VW EA831 2.0 litre engine, designed an all new cylinder head (which was hand assembled at Stuttgart), dropped the compression to 7.5:1 and engineered a KKK K-26 turbocharger for it. With 10 psi boost, output increased to 170 hp. The 924 turbo’s engine assembly weighed about 65 lb more, so front spring rates and anti-roll bars were revised. Weight distribution was now 49/51 compared to the original 924 figure of 48/52 front to rear. In order to help make the car more functional, as well as to distinguish it from the naturally aspirated version, Porsche added an NACA duct in the bonnet and air intakes in the badge panel in the nose, 15-inch spoke-style alloy wheels, four-wheel disc brakes with five-stud hubs and a five-speed transmission. Forged 16-inch flat wheels of the style used on the 928 were optional, but fitment specification was that of the 911 which the 924 shared wheel offsets with. Internally, Porsche called it the “931” (left hand drive) and “932” (right hand drive). The turbocharged VW EA831 engine allowed the 924’s performance to come surprisingly close to that of the 911 SC (180 bhp), thanks in part to a lighter curb weight, but it also brought reliability problems.This was in part due to the fact that the general public did not know how to operate, or care for, what is by today’s standards a primitive turbo setup. A turbocharger cooled only by engine oil led to short component life and turbo-related seal and seat problems. To fix the problems, Porsche released a revised 924 turbo series 2 (although badging still read “924 turbo”) in 1979. By using a smaller turbocharger running at increased boost, slightly higher compression of 8:1 and an improved fuel injection system with DITC ignition triggered by the flywheel, reliability improved and power rose to 177 hp. In 1984, VW decided to stop manufacturing the engine blocks used in the 2.0 litre 924, leaving Porsche with a predicament. The 924 was considerably cheaper than its 944 stablemate, and dropping the model left Porsche without an affordable entry-level option. The decision was made to equip the narrower bodied 924 with a slightly detuned version of the 944’s 163 bhp 2.5 litre straight four, upgrading the suspension but retaining the 924’s early interior. The result was 1986’s 150 bhp 924S. In 1988, the 924S’ final year of production, power increased to 160 bhp matching that of the previous year’s Le Mans spec cars and the base model 944, itself detuned by 3 bhp. This was achieved using different pistons which raised the S’ compression ratio from 9.7:1 to 10.2:1, the knock-on effect being an increase in the octane rating, up from 91 RON to 95. This made the 924S slightly faster than the base 944 due to its lighter weight and more aerodynamic body. With unfavourable exchange rates in the late 1980s, Porsche decided to focus its efforts on its more upmarket models, dropping the 924S for 1989 and the base 944 later that same year.
The 968 was launched in 1992, renamed from the 944, as so little of the outgoing S2 remained unaltered. In addition to the numerous mechanical upgrades, the new model also received significantly evolved styling both inside and out, with a more modern, streamlined look and more standard luxury than on the 944. Production was moved from the Audi plant in Neckarsulm to Porsche’s own factory in Zuffenhausen. The 968 was powered by an updated version of the 944’s straight-four engine, now displacing 3.0 L with 104 mm bore, 88 mm stroke and producing 240 PS. Changes to the 968’s powertrain also included the addition of Porsche’s then-new VarioCam variable valve timing system, newly optimized induction and exhaust systems, a dual-mass flywheel, and updated engine management electronics among other more minor revisions. The 968’s engine was the second-largest four-cylinder ever offered in a production car up to that time. A new 6-speed manual transmission replaced the 944’s old 5-speed, and Porsche’s dual-mode Tiptronic automatic became an available option. Both the VarioCam timing system and Tiptronic transmission were very recent developments for Porsche. The Tiptronic transmission had debuted for the first time ever only 3 years prior to the debut of the 968, on the 1989 Type 964 911. The VarioCam timing system was first introduced on the 968 and would later become a feature of the Type 993 air-cooled six-cylinder engine. The 968’s styling was an evolution on that of the outgoing 944, itself styled evolutionarily from the earlier 924, but elements were borrowed from the more expensive 928 model in an attempt to create a “family resemblance” between models, and the swooping headlamp design, inspired by those of the 959, previewed similar units found later on the Type 993 911. Along with the new styling, the 968 featured numerous small equipment and detail upgrades, including a Fuba roof-mounted antenna, updated single lens tail lamps, “Cup” style 16″ alloy wheels, a wider selection of interior and exterior colours, and a slightly updated “B” pillar and rear quarter window to accommodate adhesive installation to replace the older rubber gasket installation. Because some parts are interchangeable between the 968, 944 and 924, some enthusiasts purchase those parts from Porsche parts warehouses as “upgrades” for their older models. Like the 944, the 968 was sold as both a coupe and a convertible. Much of the 968’s chassis was carried over from the 944 S2, which in itself shared many components with the 944 Turbo. Borrowed components include the Brembo-sourced four-piston brake calipers on all four wheels, aluminium semi-trailing arms and aluminium front A-arms, used in a Macpherson strut arrangement. The steel unibody structure was also very similar to that of the previous models. Porsche maintained that 80% of the car was new. From 1993 through 1995, Porsche offered a lighter-weight “Club Sport” version of the 968 designed for enthusiasts seeking increased track performance. Much of the 968’s luxury-oriented equipment was removed or taken off the options list; less sound deadening material was used, electrical windows were replaced with crank-driven units, upgraded stereo systems, A/C and sunroof were still optional as on the standard Coupe and Convertible models. In addition, Porsche installed manually adjustable lightweight Recaro racing seats rather than the standard power-operated leather buckets (also manufactured by Recaro), a revised suspension system optimised and lowered by 20 mm for possible track use, 17-inch wheels rather than the 16-inch and wider tyres, 225 front and 255 rears rather than 205 and 225 respectively. The four-spoke airbag steering wheel was replaced with a thicker-rimmed three-spoke steering wheel with no airbag, heated washer jets were replaced with non heated, vanity covers in the engine bay were deleted, as was the rear wiper. The Club Sport has no rear seats, unlike the 2+2 Coupé. Club Sports were only available in Grand Prix White, black, Speed yellow, Guards red, Riviera blue or Maritime blue. Seat backs were colour-coded to the body. Club Sport decals were standard in either black, red or white but there was a ‘delete’ option. All Club Sports had black interiors with the 944 S2 door cards. Due to the reduction in the number of electrical items the wiring loom was reduced in complexity which saved weight and also the battery was replaced with a smaller one, again reducing weight. With the no frills approach meaning less weight, as well as the optimising of the suspension, Porsche could focus media attention on the Club Sport variants fast road and track abilities. This helped to slightly bolster the flagging sales figures in the mid-1990s. The Club Sport variant achieved a ‘Performance Car Of The Year’ award in 1993 from Performance Car magazine in the UK. Club Sport models were only officially available in the UK, Europe, Japan & Australia, although “grey market” cars found their way elsewhere. The declared weight of the 968 CS is 1320 kg, ~100 kg lighter than the regular 968. Acceleration from standstill to 100 km/h is 6.3 seconds and a top speed is 260 km/h (160 mph). A UK-only version called “968 Sport”, was offered in 1994 and 1995, and was essentially a Club Sport model (and was produced on the same production line with similar chassis numbers) with electric windows, electric release boot, central locking, cloth comfort seats (different from both the standard and the Club Sport). With the added electrics the larger wiring loom was used. The Sport Variant also got back the two rear seats, again in the cloth material specific to the Sport. At £29,975, the 968 Sport was priced £5,500 lower than the standard 968, but had most of the latter’s desirable “luxuries” and consequently outsold it by a large margin (306 of the 968 Sport models compared to 40 standard 968 coupés). In 1993, Porsche Motorsports at Weissach briefly produced a turbocharged 968 Turbo S, a fairly odd naming choice for Porsche which usually reserves the added “S” moniker for models that have been tuned for more power over a “lesser” counterpart, such as with the 911 Turbo. The 968 Turbo S shared the same body and interior as the Club Sport and visually can be identified by the NACA bonnet hood scoops, adjustable rear wing and deeper front spoiler. Powered by a large 8 valve SOHC cylinder head (944 Turbo S) with 3.0 Litre 944S2 style engine block. Tests conducted in 1993 produced a 0 to 60 mph of 4.7 seconds and a top speed of 282 km/h (175 mph), performance comparable to the much newer Type 996 911. It generated 305 bhp at 5600 rpm with a maximum torque of 370 lb/ft) at 3000rpm. Only 16 were produced in total and only for sale in mainland Europe. Between 1992 and 1994, Porsche Motorsports Research and Development built and provided a full “Race” version (stripped out 968 Turbo S) for Porsche’s customer race teams. The 968 Turbo RS was available in two variations; a 337 bhp version using the K27 turbocharger from the Turbo S, which was built to the German ADAC GT specification (ballast added to bring the car up to the 1350 kg minimum weight limit), and an international spec version which used a KKK L41 turbocharger producing 350 bhp and was reduced to 1212 kg in weight. Only 4 were ever produced ; 1 Guards Red, 1 Speed Yellow, 1 Black and 1 White. These are the rarest 968s ever produced.
The commercially very significant Boxster was also represented here. Grant Larson’s design, inspired by the 356 Cabriolet, Speedster, and 550 Spyder, stimulated a commercial turnaround for Porsche. Through consultation with Toyota. Porsche began widely sharing parts among models and slashed costs. By October 1991 following a visit to the Tokyo Motor Show, Porsche in dire straits, began to devise solutions to succeed the poor selling 928 and incoming 968 (a heavy update of the 944). In February 1992, Porsche began development of a successor to the 928 (mildly updated for 1992) and recently released 968. By June 1992, out of 4 proposals based on dual collaboration between the 986 and 996 (993 successor) design teams, a proposal by Grant Larson and Pinky Lai was chosen by Harm Lagaay. In August 1992, a decision was made to develop the concept into a show vehicle, in time for the 1993 North American International Auto Show. After garnering widespread acclaim from the press and public upon presentation of the Boxster Concept in January 1993, the final production 986 production exterior design by Larson was frozen in March 1993. However, by the second half of 1993, difficulties arose with fitment of some components, resulting in lengthening of the hood and requiring another design freeze by fourth quarter of that year. Prototypes in 968 bodies were built to test the mid-engine power train of the 986 by the end of 1993, with proper prototypes surfacing in 1994. Pilot production began in the second half of 1995, ahead of series production in mid-1996. The Boxster was released ahead of the 996. The 986 Boxster had the same bonnet, front wings, headlights, interior and engine architecture as the 996. All 986 and 987 Boxsters use the M96, a water-cooled, horizontally opposed (“flat”), six-cylinder engine. It was Porsche’s first water-cooled non-front engine. In the Boxster, it is placed in a mid-engine layout, while in the 911, the classic rear-engine layout was used. The mid-engine layout provides a low center of gravity, a near-perfect weight distribution, and neutral handling. The engines had a number of failures, resulting in cracked or slipped cylinder liners, which were resolved by a minor redesign and better control of the casting process in late 1999. A failure for these early engines was a spate of porous engine blocks, as the manufacturer had difficulty in the casting process. In addition to causing problems with coolant and oil systems mingling fluids, it also resulted in Porsche’s decision to repair faulty engines by boring out the cast sleeves on the cylinders where defects were noted in production and inserting new sleeves rather than scrapping the engine block. Normally, the cylinder walls are cast at the same time as the rest of the engine, this being the reason for adopting the casting technology. The model received a minor facelift in 2002. The plastic rear window was replaced by a smaller glass window. The interior received a glove compartment, new electro-mechanical hood and trunk release mechanism (with an electronic emergency release in the fuse box panel) and an updated steering wheel. Porsche installed a reworked exhaust pipe and air intake. In addition, the front headlight’s amber indicators were replaced with clear indicators. The rear light cluster was also changed with translucent grey turn signals replacing the amber ones. The side marker lights on the front wings were changed as well from amber to clear, except on American market cars where they remained amber. The bumpers were also changed slightly for a more defined, chiselled appearance, and new wheel designs were made available. The second generation of the Boxster debuted at the 2004 Paris Motor Show
There were also an example of the latest generation Cayman as well as the earlier 987 generation car.
Proof, perhaps, that once a car becomes old and rare enough, it will generate interest no matter how prosaic it was considered when new, comes from the amount of attention being paid to this Proton Saga, one of only a handful left in the UK. The concept of a ‘Malaysian car’ was conceived in 1979 by Mahathir Mohamad, then the Minister of Trade and Industry. Mahathir actively encouraged the development of heavy industries in Malaysia as part of a long term vision for self-sufficiency and progress. The automotive industry in Malaysia was established in the late 1960s. Six automobile assembly plants were set up to assemble cars with complete knock-down (CKD) kits imported from various car companies from Europe, America, Japan and Australia. However, inadequate economies of scale and local content regulations drove up prices of new cars in Malaysia over the course of the 1970s, with most if not all locally assembled CKD models generally costing more to produce than an equivalent CBU import. By the dawn of the 1980s, the Malaysian government concluded that direct involvement was necessary to reverse losses and spur future industrial growth. Mahathir Mohamad became the fourth Prime Minister of Malaysia in July 1981. The National Car Project was approved in 1982, with the objective of accelerating technology transfer, increasing and rationalising local content, and involving more Malay entrepreneurs in the then largely ethnic Chinese dominated Malaysian automotive industry. Mahathir had invited Mitsubishi Motors to participate in the National Car Project. The decision to collaborate with a Japanese car company was part of Mahathir’s ‘Look East Policy’. By January 1983, Mitsubishi had prepared two prototypes in Japan, codenamed LM41 and LM44. On 7 May 1983, Perusahaan Otomobil Nasional (Proton) was established. HICOM held a 70% stake in Proton, while Mitsubishi Motors and Mitsubishi Corporation held 15% each. The Proton Saga was launched on 9 July 1985. It is based on the 1983 Mitsubishi Lancer Fiore platform, and powered by the 1.3-litre 4G13 Orion II engine. The first known Proton Saga to roll off the production line in Shah Alam is preserved at the Muzium Negara as a symbol of the beginning of the Malaysian automotive industry. The Saga became a national symbol of Malaysia. Mahathir drove a prototype Proton Saga fitted with a 2.0-litre Mitsubishi Sirius 4G63 engine and a Jalur Gemilang across the Penang Bridge during its opening ceremony on 14 September 1985. Initially, Saga supplies were low, with just 700 vehicles produced in time for the launch. The cars sold quickly, and Proton was unable to meet public demand. However, by mid-1986, the Saga had captured a 64% domestic market share in the Below 1600cc segment. Proton first ventured into export markets in 1986, with Bangladesh receiving the Proton Saga on 26 December 1986, followed by New Zealand, Brunei, Malta and Sri Lanka in 1987. The 10,000th Saga was also produced in 1986. Proton attempted to sell the Saga in the United States as early as 1986 with the help of American automotive entrepreneur Malcolm Bricklin. Mahathir had been impressed by Bricklin, who was advised to work with Proton on orders from the former U.S. Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, who had previously taught Mahathir at Harvard University Soon after the first Sagas were imported into the United States, Bricklin revealed that he had not gained approval from the authorities. This resulted in the termination of all investments between the involved parties and proved a major financial loss for Proton. In January 1987, the Proton Saga 1.5-litre saloon was introduced. It was powered by the 1.5-litre 4G15 engine, but remained largely unchanged exterior-wise to the 1985 Saga. Later in October 1987, a hatchback variant called the Proton Saga Aeroback was launched. It shared the same 1.5 L engine found in the saloon variant, but featured a redesigned rear end which is unique to Proton. 1987 also witnessed the production of the 50,000th Saga. The Proton Saga Magma was introduced in mid-1987, offering mild mechanical and cosmetic upgrades. The Magma suffix denotes the updated engine, and the Magma-powered Saga can be differentiated from the original Orion II-powered models by its slightly different front grille design and the inclusion of bumper protector mouldings. Additionally, the first Saga models with automatic transmissions were made available in 1987. The Proton Saga made its European debut on 11 March 1988 with its launch in Ireland. Both saloon and hatchback models were made available at a cost of between £8,999 and £10,799. Proton managed to launch the Saga in Ireland before the United Kingdom as only minimal changes and modifications were necessary to pass Irish automotive and safety regulations. Additionally, the Irish automotive market was small at around 50,000 units a year at that period, as opposed to the much larger U.K. market at 2 million units. Proton launched the Saga in several small Commonwealth countries while they prepared for their large scale launch in the U.K. with over 100 dealers. In October 1988, the Proton Saga made its English debut at the 1988 British International Motorshow, where it won three Prestigious Awards (two gold medals and one silver) for quality coachwork and ergonomics. The Saga was also voted among the Top 10 best cars at the show. 1988 witnessed Proton’s entry into the Jamaican market, along with the 100,000th Saga produced. On 16 March 1989, Proton officially launched the Saga saloon and hatchback duo in the United Kingdom. The saloon models were renamed Proton 1.3 and Proton 1.5 respectively according to their engine displacement in addition to a suffix such as S.E. or G.L. which denoted trim levels. The U.K.-market models also differed slightly from their Malaysian counterparts. All U.K.-market models were equipped with the original Mitsubishi Lancer Fiore dashboard and rear reflector lamps to pass U.K. safety regulations. Britain also received many limited edition models such as the Proton Puma, Lynx, Emerald, Prism and SE Le Mans, which featured higher trim levels and unique equipment. Proton advertised their models with the slogan “Japanese Technology, Malaysian Style” in the United Kingdom. Proton later set the record for the ‘Fastest selling make of new car ever to enter the United Kingdom’, exceeding their 12-month sales target within 6 months. Prior to its launch, the Saga underwent a strict homologation process to be allowed entry and sale in the U.K. market. The process included various quality, safety and emissions tests and over 400 modifications where necessary, as well as a 1,000 mile-trial on British roads and weather conditions. The Saga also went on sale in Singapore in October 1989. On 12 August 1990, the Proton Saga Megavalve was launched in Malaysia. The Megavalve nameplate represents the third engine update after the Orion (1985–1987) and Magma (1987–1990). The Megavalve engines feature 12-valves or three valves per cylinder, which is an upgrade over the older 8-valve engines. The four additional valves made the new Megavalve engines between 11% and 15% more powerful than the previous Magma plants. The Megavalve engine was produced in both 1.3-litre and 1.5-litre configurations and both were fitted with carburettors. In addition to the updated engines, the Proton Saga Megavalve was also fitted with a new front grille, wrap-around bumper protector moulding and two new exterior colours, namely maroon and green, as well as several minor changes on the interior. The 1.5S model also received new full wheel covers, and Proton reintroduced the Saga Aeroback 1.5I model due to popular demand. Safety standards were also raised with the inclusion of rear seat belts and a third brake light as standard equipment. The Proton Saga Megavalve ranged from RM28,000 to RM36,000, or an increment of RM2,000 over the previous Proton Saga Magma range. A unique limousine version of the Proton Saga was also produced. It is 25 percent longer than the regular Saga saloon, and features a built-in freezer, in-car entertainment system and a television. The 200,000th Saga rolled off the production line on 16 May 1990. Proton launched the facelifted Proton 12-Valve in the United Kingdom on 10 January 1991. The power output from the 1.3 L engine was upped to 77 bhp and the 1.5 L offered 85 bhp. On 22 September 1991, the Proton Saga won two gold awards at the British International Motorshow for the second time. The Saga was also launched in Malawi in December 1991. By then Proton had managed to export 40,151 units, of which 33,291 were to the United Kingdom, with 3,699, 1,160 and 847 to Singapore, Ireland and New Zealand respectively. The 300,000th Saga was also produced in 1991, and locally manufactured Saga parts rose to 69% after the opening of the Engine and Transmission Factory in Shah Alam. A facelifted version was launched in August 1992, and in this guise the car was produced until 2003, though UK market sales dwindled quite sharply in the mid 90s, that initial success proving to be relatively short lived.
Following the success of the Scimitar GT Coupe, Reliant looked as to how to evolve the car and Tom Karen of Ogle was asked to submit some body designs based on the Ogle Design GTS estate car experiment for a new four seater Scimitar, the SE5 Reliant Scimitar. Managing Director Ray Wiggin, Chief Engineer John Crosthwaite and fibreglass body expert Ken Wood went to Ogle’s in Letchworth to look at a couple of mock-up body designs for the new SE5. Wiggin told Wood to go ahead and do a proper master. The SE5 was conceived and ready for the 1968 Motor Show in under 12 months. For the SE5 John Crosthwaite and his team designed a completely different longer chassis frame, revised and improved suspension, new and relocated fuel tank, a rollover bar, new cooling system, spare wheel mounted in the nose to give increased rear space and a 17 1⁄4 gallon) fuel tank. When designing the chassis Crosthwaite worked closely with Ogle body stylist Peter Bailey to modify and refine the prototype. The SE5 came with the same 3.0 litre Ford Essex engine used in the SE4a/b. This gave the SE5 a claimed top speed of over 120 mph. A Borg-Warner automatic transmission was added as an option in 1970 and by 1971, overdrive on the 4-speed manual was offered. In 1972 several improvements were included in the upgrade to SE5A, including a boost in power. The extra 7 hp and maximum engine speed raised performance quite a bit and the GTE was now capable of 0-60 mph in 8.5 seconds and top speed was raised to 121 mph. The SE5’s flat dashboard also gave way to a curved and moulded plastic one. The 5a can be recognised from a 5 at the rear by the reverse lamps which are below the bumper on the earlier model and are incorporated into the rear clusters on the later version (these were also carried over onto the SE6 and later). 4311 SE5s were produced. It was an instant success; GT production was cut down and the proportion of GTEs to GTs being built was four-to-one. Reliant increased their volume by 20 per cent in the first year. The 5A model sold more than any other Scimitar, with 5105 manufactured. Princess Anne was given a manual overdrive SE5 as a joint 20th birthday present and Christmas present in November 1970 by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh. It was Air Force blue in colour with a grey leather interior and registered 1420 H in recognition of her position as Colonel-in-Chief of the 14th/20th Hussars. Princess Anne subsequently owned eight other GTEs.
More of a luxury model than the SE5, the SE6 series Scimitar GT, launched in October 1975, was aimed more at the executive market. These models were two-door sports estates, again with the Ford V6 3.0 litre engine as used in the 5a with 135 bhp,: the wheelbase was increased by 4 inches and the track by 3 inches making the cars correspondingly longer and wider than their predecessors. The extra length was used to improve rear-seat legroom and access which enhanced the car’s credentials as a ‘genuine’ four-seater. The SE6 was replaced by the SE6A in late 1976. 543 SE6 models were produced. The SE6A displayed a number of changes, including Lockheed brakes and suspension revisions. An easy way to spot a 6A from a 6 is the change to orange from red reflectors on the rear extractor vents, and the 3 vertical grooves in the front bumper (in front of the wheelarches) were removed. 3877 SE6As were made – making it the most popular version of all the SE6 shape. Ford stopped making the “Essex” engine for the Capri by 1981, and production stopped completely in 1988 so one of the major differences with the SE6B was the engine. The German-built Ford “Cologne” 2.8 litre V6 was used instead (thus the chassis on the 6B differs from the 6/6A at the front) and provided similar power but rather less torque at low revs. The final drive ratio was lowered from 3.31:1 to 3.54:1 to compensate. All SE6Bs (and the SE8) were equipped with the quite troublesome Pierburg/Solex carburettored engines (many owners have changed to the Weber 38DGAS from the Essex engine) and although the battery was moved from the 6/6A position to allow for injection equipment to be fitted, none ever left the factory so fitted. Some late versions (around 1983 on) came with the galvanised chassis as standard but the exact numbers and chassis details are vague. Introduced at the 1980 Geneva Motor Show, only 437 SE6Bs were manufactured. Production ceased by 1986. But that was not the end of the story. After production at Reliant ceased, Middlebridge Scimitar Ltd. acquired the manufacturing rights to the Scimitar GTE and GTC in June 1987. This company, based in Beeston, Nottingham, produced a 2.9 litre version of the GTE with many modifications and modernisations (over 450) including electronic fuel injection and a five-speed Ford T9 gearbox.(with the Ford A4LD 4 speed auto as an option). The fifth Middlebridge Scimitar built was delivered to HRH The Princess Anne. Only 78 Scimitars (all but 3 cars in RHD) were ever produced by Middlebridge before the company went into receivership in 1990. One GTC was made, using a LHD body from Reliant which was converted by Middlebridge to RHD but the car was never completed and eventually the body and chassis were separated and sold off to new owners. The production rights were subsequently acquired by Graham Walker Ltd., which as of 2014 built Scimitars to order
The SS1 was a brave effort, but which never delivered on the potential of the concept. When word leaked out in the early 1980s, that Reliant was developing a small two seater sports car, everyone got rather excited. But the result was something of a disappointment, with rather gawky lines penned and not that much driving fun thanks to the (cheap to acquire) Ford CVH engines under the bonnet. Whilst the upgrade to the 1800cc turbo Nissan engine addressed the relative lack of go, the real problem was that a low volume manufacturer could not compete against one of the automotive giants and one of these, Toyota, launched a mid-engined rival even before the Reliant could establish itself in the market. Although production soldiered on for 10 years, rather than building 2000 cars a year, as the Tamworth maker had planned, only around this number were made in a 10 year period.
In 1989, Reliant revived the Robin name, producing a new and totally revamped Robin featuring a new fibreglass body featuring a hatchback, with later an estate and van joining the range. The Rialto continued in production alongside the new Robin until 1998 as purely a cheaper model in saloon, estate and van models also. Later on in production, the Robin received new, 12 inch wheels, improved brakes (from the original mini) and an improved interior with new dials and interior trim. Reliant also started offering an unleaded engine (shown by having a green rocker cover) which features hardened exhaust valve seats. As well as this, the new models joined the range with the LX, SLX, BRG, and Royale models. Royale and BRG models were top of the range and cost over £9,000. New colours such as metallic silver, British racing green, royal blue and nightfire red were used, along with a range of retro-style optional extras such as minilite alloy wheels and jaguar custom seat patterns, which then became available on all Robin models. The Robin received another facelift in 1999, with the design executed by Andy Plumb, chief designer at Reliant at that time. This final version was launched boasting the biggest changes since the original launch, with completely new panels and Vauxhall Corsa front lamps. It was the first Robin to be designed with the use of a computer. An electric and a diesel version along with a pickup variant were conceptualised, but never made. A hatchback van was manufactured. In 2000, it was announced the final Reliant Robin would be built after 65 limited editions were made. It was named the “Reliant Robin 65” and had a very high specification. All 65s had gold metallic paint, red and grey leather seats, red carpets, walnut dashboards, white dials, minilite alloy wheels, premium stereo systems, electronic ignitions and gold plaques on the dashboards which were individually numbered and bore the original owner’s engraved name. The selling price was £10,000. The last Reliant Robin produced was given away by The Sun newspaper in a Valentine’s Day competition in 2001.
Eighteen months after the debut of the second generation R5, the “supercinq” as it is sometimes known, Renault produced their response to Peugeot’s 205 GTi, the R5 GT Turbo. Many were convinced that this was a better car, though it did have a reputation for unreliability and hot starting was quite an issue with fuel vaporising in the carburettor as the engine cooled. It used a modified four cylinder, eight-valve Cléon 1,397 cc engine, a pushrod unit dating back to the 1962 original (in 1,108 cc form). It was turbocharged with an air-cooled Garrett T2 turbocharger. Weighing a mere 850 kg (1,874 lb), and producing 113 hp, the GT Turbo had an excellent power-to-weight ratio, permitting it to accelerate from a standstill to 60 mph in 7.5 seconds. To differentiate it from the standard 5, it came with blocky plastic side skirts. Unfortunately, turbo lag was an issue, along with poor hot starting, and it was considered rather difficult to control. The same engine was used, with similar issues, in the Renault 9 and 11 Turbos. In 1987, the facelifted Phase II was launched. Major changes in the Phase II version included installing watercooling to the turbocharger, aiding the Phase I’s oil-cooled setup, which extended the life of the turbo. It also received a new ignition system which permitted it to rev 500 rpm higher. These changes boosted engine output up to over 118 hp. Externally, the car was revamped, with changes (including new bumpers and arches) that reduced the car’s drag coefficient from 0.36 to 0.35. Giving the Phase II a 0–100 km/h time of 7.5 secs. In 1989 the GT Turbo received a new interior, and in 1990 the special edition Raider model (available only in metallic blue, with different interior and wheels) was launched. In late 1991 the Renault 5 GT Turbo was discontinued, superseded by the Clio 16v and the Clio Williams. Survival rate of the R5 GT Turbo is low and few cars are particularly original, so this was nice one to behold.
The A110 was introduced as an evolution of the A108. Like other road-going Alpines, the 1961 A110 used many Renault parts – including engines. But while the preceding A108 was designed around Dauphine components, the A110 was updated to use R8 parts. Unlike the A108, which was available first as a cabriolet and only later as a coupé, the A110 was delivered first with “Berlinetta” bodywork and then as a cabriolet. The main visible difference with the A108 coupé was a restyling of the rear body to fit the larger engine, which gave the car a more aggressive look. Like the A108, the A110 featured a steel backbone chassis with fibreglass body. The A110 was originally available with 1.1 litre R8 Major or R8 Gordini engines. The Gordini engine delivered 95 hp at 6,500 rpm. The A110 achieved most of its fame in the early 1970s as a victorious rally car. After winning several rallies in France in the late 1960s with iron-cast R8 Gordini engines the car was fitted with the aluminium-block Renault 16 TS engine. With two dual-chamber Weber 45 carburettors, the TS engine delivered 125 hp at 6,000 rpm. This allowed the production 1600S to reach a top speed of 210 km/h (130 mph). The longer wheelbase 2+2 Alpine GT4, originally considered a version of the A108, was updated with A110 engines and mechanicals, now being marketed as the “A110 GT4”. The car reached international fame during the 1970–1972 seasons when it participated in the newly created International Championship for Manufacturers, winning several events around Europe and being considered one of the strongest rally cars of its time. Notable performances from the car included victory in the 1971 Monte Carlo Rally with Swedish driver Ove Andersson. With the buy-out of Alpine by Renault complete, the International Championship was replaced by the World Rally Championship for 1973, at which time Renault elected to compete with the A110. With a team featuring Bernard Darniche, Jean-Pierre Nicolas and Jean-Luc Thérier as permanent drivers and “guest stars” like Jean-Claude Andruet (who won the 1973 Monte Carlo Rally) the A110 won most races where the works team was entered, making Alpine the first World Rally Champion. Later competition-spec A110s received engines of up to 1.8 litres. As well as being built at Alpine’s Dieppe factory, A110 models were constructed by various other vehicle manufacturers around the world. The Alpine A110 was produced in Mexico under the name “Dinalpin”, from 1965 to 1974, by Diesel Nacional (DINA), which also produced Renault vehicles. The Alpine A110 was also produced in Bulgaria under the name “Bulgaralpine”, from 1967 to 1969, by a cooperative formed between SPC Metalhim and ETO Bulet, whose collaboration also resulted in the production of the Bulgarrenault. In 1974 the mid-engined Lancia Stratos, the first car designed from scratch for rally racing, was operational and homologated. At the same time, it was obvious that the tail-engined A110 had begun reaching the end of its development. The adoption of fuel injection brought no performance increase. On some cars, a DOHC 16-valve head was fitted to the engine, but it proved unreliable. Chassis modification, like the use of an A310 double wishbone rear suspension, homologated with the A110 1600SC, also failed to increase performance. On the international stage, the Stratos proved to be the “ultimate weapon”, making the A110, as well as many other rally cars, soon obsolete. The A110 is still seen in events such as the Rallye Monte-Carlo Historique and there was a nice example here.
The new A110 has been on sale for a couple of years now, and whilst total sales have levelled off once the initial demand was satisfied, there are often examples of the car at enthusiast events like this and so the only surprise perhaps is the fact that there was only one example here.
The Rolls-Royce 20/25 was built from 1929 through 1936 with 3,827 examples delivered. It would go on to become the company’s most popular design prior to the Second World War. It was initially built on a 128.7-inch chassis and later offered on a long chassis of 131.9 inches, introduced in 1931. Later examples of the Rolls-Royce 20/25 models featured a four-speed fully-synchronised gearbox and a centralised chassis lubrication system. Powering the 20/25 was a 3.7-litre inline, overhead-valve six-cylinder engine with a cast-iron block. It has a separate aluminium crankcase with a seven-main bearing crankshaft with vibration damper and a detachable cast-iron cylinder head. It was lubricated by a pressurised system that also fed the rocker shaft and timing gears. They had an engine-driven water pump with fan which cooled the engine, and a thermostatically-controlled system open and closed the radiator shutters as required. Ignition was by independent coil, a centrifugal-advance distributor, and a backup magneto. The engine was fed fuel via a single-jet carburettor. The estimated horsepower produced was 65, though the company never publicly advertised such numbers, only stating it was ‘adequate.’ Every engine was run by the company on a dynamometer in order to ensure reliability. The transmission with its single dry-plate clutch was bolted to the rear of the engine block. The floor shift was located to the right of the driver’s seat. The cars were given four-wheel, servo-assisted drum brakes and a full-floating type rear axle. Once the chassis was built and tested by the factory, it was sent to a coach-builder selected by the customer to receive coachwork. A body was either installed from inventory or constructed and finished to the buyer’s specific wishes. This is a 1932 car with a Hooper body.
When new, the Silver Shadow was considered a big car, but looking at this one, it does not seem quite so massive any more.The Silver Shadow was produced from 1965 to 1976, and the Silver Shadow II from 1977 to 1980. Initially, the model was planned to be called “Silver Mist”, a natural progression from its predecessor Silver Cloud. The name was changed to “Silver Shadow” after realising that “Mist” is the German word for manure, rubbish, or dirt. The design was a major departure from its predecessor, the Silver Cloud; although several styling cues from the Silver Cloud were modified and preserved, as the automobile had sold well. The John Polwhele Blatchley design was the firm’s first single bow model. The original Shadow was 3 1⁄2 inches narrower and 7 inches shorter than the car it replaced, but nevertheless managed to offer increased passenger and luggage space thanks to more efficient packaging made possible by unitary construction. Aside from a more modern appearance and construction, the Silver Shadow introduced many new features such as disc rather than drum brakes, and independent rear suspension, rather than the outdated live axle design of previous cars. The Shadow featured a 172 hp 6.2 litre V8 from 1965 to 1969, and a 189 hp 6.75 ltire V8 from 1970 to 1980. Both powerplants were coupled to a General Motors-sourced Turbo Hydramatic 400 automatic gearbox, except on pre-1970 right-hand-drive models, which used the same 4-speed automatic gearbox as the Silver Cloud (also sourced from General Motors, the Hydramatic). The car’s most innovative feature was a high-pressure hydropneumatic suspension system licensed from Citroën, with dual-circuit braking and hydraulic self-levelling suspension. At first, both the front and rear of the car were controlled by the levelling system; the front levelling was deleted in 1969 as it had been determined that the rear levelling did almost all the work. Rolls-Royce achieved a high degree of ride quality with this arrangement. In 1977, the model was renamed the Silver Shadow II in recognition of several major changes, most notably rack and pinion steering; modifications to the front suspension improved handling markedly. Externally, the bumpers were changed from chrome to alloy and rubber starting with the late 1976 Silver Shadows. These new energy absorbing bumpers had been used in the United States since 1974, as a response to tightening safety standards there. Nonetheless, the bumpers on cars sold outside of North America were still solidly mounted and protruded 2 in less. Also now made standard across the board was the deletion of the small grilles mounted beneath the headlamps. Outside of North America, where tall kerbs and the like demanded more ground clearance, a front skirt was also fitted to the Silver Shadow II and its sister cars. In 1979 75 Silver Shadow II cars were specially fitted to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the company with the original red “RR” badges front and rear, pewter/silver paint, grey leather with red piping, scarlet red carpets, and a silver commemorative placard on the inside of the glove box door. 33 75th anniversary cars were designated for and shipped to the North American market. 8425 examples of the Shadow II were made, which, when added to the total of over 16,000 of the first generation cars made this the biggest selling Rolls Royce of all time.
Whilst the 3 litre P5 model may have been thought of as a replacement for the top end of the long running P4 Rovers, it was really this car, the P6 model, first seen in October 1963 which was its true successor. Very different from the long-running 60/75/80/90/95/100/105/110 models, this car took some of its inspiration, it is claimed, from the Citroen DS as well as lessons learned from Rover’s Jet Turbine program of the 1950s and early 60s. It was a “clean sheet” design, carrying nothing over, and was advanced for the time with a de Dion tube suspension at the rear, four-wheel disc brakes (inboard on the rear), and a fully synchromesh transmission. The unibody design featured non-stressed panels bolted to a unit frame. The de Dion set-up was unique in that the “tube” was in two parts that could telescope, thereby avoiding the need for sliding splines in the drive shafts, with consequent stiction under drive or braking torque, while still keeping the wheels vertical and parallel in relation to the body. The Rover 2000 won industry awards for safety when it was introduced and included a carefully designed “safety” interior. One innovative feature was the prism of glass on the top of the front side lights. This allowed the driver to see the front corner of the car in low light conditions, and also confirmed that they were operative. One unique feature of the Rover 2000 was the design of the front suspension system, in which a bell crank (an L-shaped rotating bracket trailing the upper hub carrier joint) conveyed the vertical motion of the wheel to a fore-and-aft-horizontally mounted spring fastened to the rear wall of the engine compartment. A single hydraulically damped arm was mounted on the firewall for the steering. The front suspension was designed to allow as much width for the engine compartment as possible so that Rover’s Gas Turbine engine could be fitted. In the event, the engine was never used for the production vehicle, but the engine compartment width helped the accommodation of the V8 engine adopted years after the car’s initial launch for the 2000. The luggage compartment was limited in terms of usable space, because of the “base unit” construction, complex rear suspension and, in series II vehicles, the battery location. Lack of luggage space (and hence the need to re-locate the spare tyre) led to innovative options for spare tyre provision including boot lid mountings and optional Dunlop Denovo run-flat technology. The car’s primary competitor on the domestic UK market was the Triumph 2000, also released in October 1963, just one week after the Rover, and in continental Europe, it contended in the same sector as the Citroen DS which, like the initial Rover offering, was offered only with a four-cylinder engine – a deficiency which in the Rover was resolved, four years after its launch, when Rover’s compact V8 was engineered to fit into the engine bay. The Rover 2000 interior was not as spacious as those of its Triumph and Citroen rivals, especially in the back, where its sculpted two-person rear seat implied that Rover customers wishing to accommodate three in the back of a Rover should opt for the larger and older Rover 3 Litre. The first P6 used a 1,978 cc engine designed specifically for the car, which put out around 104 bhp. That was not enough to live up to the sports saloon ambitions, so Rover later developed a twin SU carburettor version with a re-designed top end and marketed the revised specification vehicles as the 2000 TC. The 2000 TC was launched in March 1966 for export markets in North America and continental Europe, relenting and making it available to UK buyers later that year. This engine generated around 124 bhp. The standard specification engines continued in production in vehicles designated as 2000 SC models. These featured the original single SU. More performance was to come. Rover saw Buick’s compact 3528 cc V8 unit that they had been looking at developing as the means of differentiating the P6 from its chief rival, the Triumph 2000. They purchased the rights to the innovative aluminium engine, and, once improved for production by Rover’s own engineers, it became an instant hit. The Rover V8 engine, as it became known, outlived its original host, the P5B, by more than thirty years. The 3500 was introduced in April 1968, one year after the Rover company was purchased by Triumph’s owner, Leyland and continued to be offered until 1977. The light metal V8 engine weighed the same as the four-cylinder unit of the Rover 2000, and the more powerful car’s maximum speed of 114 mph as well as its 10.5-second acceleration time from 0–60 mph were considered impressive, and usefully faster than most of the cars with which, on the UK market, the car competed on price and specifications. It was necessary to modify the under-bonnet space to squeeze the V8 engine into the P6 engine bay: the front suspension cross-member had to be relocated forward, while a more visible change was an extra air intake beneath the front bumper to accommodate the larger radiator. There was no longer space under the bonnet for the car’s battery, which in the 3500 retreated to a position on the right side of the boot. Nevertheless, the overall length and width of the body were unchanged when compared with the smaller-engined original P6. Having invested heavily in the car’s engine and running gear, the manufacturer left most other aspects of the car unchanged. However, the new Rover 3500 could be readily distinguished from the 2000 thanks to various prominent V8 badges on the outside and beneath the radio. The 3500 was also delivered with a black vinyl covering on the C-pillar, although this decoration later appeared also on four-cylinder cars. A 3-speed Borg Warner 35 automatic was the only transmission until the 1971 addition of a four-speed manual 3500S model, fitted with a modified version of the gearbox used in the 2000/2200. The letter “S” did not denote “Sport”, it was chosen because it stood for something specific on those cars: “Synchromesh”. However it is important to note that the 3500S was noticeably quicker than the automatic version of this car with a 0-60mph time of 9 seconds, compared with 10.1 for the standard car. Moreover, due to the fuel-guzzling nature of automatic gearboxes of this era, the manual car’s official cycle was 24mpg compared to the automatic’s 22mpg. The Series II, or Mark II as it was actually named by Rover, was launched in 1970. All variants carried the battery in the boot and had new exterior fixtures such as a plastic front air intake (to replace the alloy version), new bonnet pressings (with V8 blips even for the 4-cylinder-engined cars) and new rear lights. The interior of the 3500 and 2000TC versions was updated with new instrumentation with circular gauges and rotary switches. The old-style instrumentation with a linear speedometer and toggle switches continued on the 2000SC versions. The final changes to the P6 came in the autumn of 1973 when the 2200 SC and 2200 TC replaced the 2000 SC and TC. These cars used an enlarged 2,205 cc version of the 2000 engine, which increased power outputs to 98 and 115 bhp respectively as well as offering improved torque. The P6 was replaced by the SD1 Rover, a completely different sort of car indeed, after 322,302 cars had been built. Seen here was an late model 3500S, a very aspirational car in its day.
Compared with its predecessor, the Saab 93, the 96 featured greater and more easily accessible storage space and larger rear window. The front end was lengthened for 1965 models, in preparation for a new engine, and the radiator was placed ahead of the engine, rather than above and behind, a leftover from the thermosiphon cooling days. Both front and rear windows were enlarged slightly for 1968 models. The Saab 96 had a longitudinally mounted engine layout. As first designed, it had an 841 cc displacement, 38 PS three-cylinder Saab two-stroke engine. By 1965 this was increased to 40 PS. An optional 52 PS version of the engine, with triple carburettors and oil injection, was used in the Sport and Monte Carlo models. The additional power was obtained from a modified cylinder head and filled crankshaft counterweights offering higher overall compression ratio. For 1966 models, the standard 96 841 cc engine, using pre-mix oil, appeared with a three throat Solex carburettor in which the centre carburettor handled start, idle, and low speed functions, increasing the power to 42 PS. The same carburettor had been used in the Monte Carlo and Sport models. A common throttle shaft minimized carburettor synchronization problems.
The model continued to evolve, with frequent changes made to the styling details and trim. Mechanically the most significant alteration came in 1967 when the traditional two stroke in-house engine was replaced by Ford’s V4 unit that was also used in German Ford Taunus cars, a four-stroke 1498 cc V4 unit, originally developed for the 1962 Ford Taunus 15M. Saab’s project to source a four-stroke engine was dubbed ‘Operation Kajsa’. The two-stroke option was offered until 1968. Four-stroke engines had been tested before, between 1962 and 1964 Kjell Knutsson and Ingvar Andersson under Rolf Mellde tested three different engines: a 45 hp Lloyd Arabella 897cc; a 33 hp BMC A-Series 848cc engine and a Lancia Appia engine of 1089cc and 48 hp. However Rolf Mellde’s view that Saab needed to switch to a four-stroke engine was stopped higher up by CEO Tryggve Holm. Mellde then went behind the back of Holm and made contact with Marc Wallenberg, son of Marcus Wallenberg, Saab’s major stockholder. The coup succeeded and testing could begin. The tested engines were Volvo B18, Ford V4, Triumph 1300, Lancia V4 engine, Opel, Volkswagen and Hillman Imp. Whilst the Volvo unit proved the most reliable, the Ford V4 was not far behind and was significantly easier to fit into the engine bay of the 96. The testing was done in secrecy. Rolf Mellde took a leave of absence and said he was going to run his father’s paint shop. In reality he went to Desenzano in northern Italy with a 96V4 prototype for testing. With five months to go before production only seven people knew about the new engine. To maintain secrecy they rented a house west of Kristinehamn. To keep purchases of V4 specific parts secret they started the company Maskinverktyg AB. The ordinary purchase department at Saab was oblivious to what was going on, something that caused an incident when Rune Ahlberg cancelled the orders for cables for the two-stroke engine and the purchase department called the supplier and sharply told them to keep their deliveries. In the last week of July, just before the summer holidays, information about the new engine was released to further people and they were informed that full-scale production would start in four weeks. To keep secrecy, 40 of the ordinary staff were told to report to work to fix a problem with the disc brakes. Just prior to the official introduction, a journalist noticed a lorry loaded with 96s with V4 stickers on the front bumpers. The ordinary V4 engines produced between 1967 and 1976 had 65 hp. For the 1976 model, known as the 96L, power was reduced to 62 hp due to new Swedish emission regulations. However, the 1977-1980 models had 68 hp due to a two-stage Solex 32TDID carburettor. The V4 96 managed 0–100 km/h in 16 seconds. The car was tough, and although by the 1970s it was old fashioned in many respects, but it had plenty of fans, who only started to desert the model as the decade ran its course.
The Saab 95 is a seven-seater, two-door station wagon which was produced by Saab from 1959 to 1978. Initially it was based on the Saab 93 sedan, but the model’s development throughout the years followed closely that of the Saab 96 after the 93 was taken off the market in 1960. It was introduced in 1959, but because only 40 were made in 1959, production is often said to have started in 1960. The first engine was an 841 cc three-cylinder two-stroke, but from 1967 onward, it became available with the same four-stroke Ford Taunus V4 engine as used in the Saab 96, the Saab Sonett V4 and Sonett III, and the German Ford Taunus. It had a four-speed manual transmission. There was a small handle on the firewall that, when pushed, put the car into a “freewheeling” mode. This allowed the driver to coast downhill without seizing the two-stroke engine, but when power was needed the transmission would engage and the driver could power the car up hill again. As the 95 received the four-speed gearbox before the 96 (that still had the old three-speed unit) it was also used for rallying. In the US, the Saab 95 received the larger 1.7 litre V4 for the 1971 model year, as a response to tighter emissions regulations. The compression ratio was lowered to 8.0:1, meaning that the power remained 73 hp. The Saab 95/96 remained on sale in the United States until 1973. A rear-facing folding seat was dropped with the 1976 model year, making the car a regular five-seater. Production ended in 1978 (when only 470 examples were built). A total of 110,527 were made.
The Saab 900 is a mid-sized automobile which was produced by Saab from 1978 until 1998 in two generations. The first generation from 1978 to 1993 is known as the “classic” or “OG”, and the 2nd generation from 1994 to 1998 is known as the “new generation”. The “classic” or “OG” Saab 900 was based on the Saab 99 chassis, though with a longer front end to meet U.S. frontal crash regulations. The 900 was produced in 2- and 4-door sedan, and 3- and 5-door hatchback configurations and, from 1986, as a cabriolet (convertible) model. There were single- and twin-Zenith carburettor, fuel injected, and turbocharged engines, including both Full Pressure Turbo (FPT), and, in European models during the early 1990s, Low Pressure Turbos (LPT). The Saab 900 is a front-engine, front-wheel-drive mid-size car with a longitudinally mounted, 45-degree slanted, inline four-cylinder engine, double wishbone front suspension and beam-axle rear suspension. It was originally introduced on 12 May 1978, for the 1979 model year. Sales commenced in the fall of 1978. Like its predecessor the 99, the 900 contained a number of unusual design features that distinguish it from most other cars. First, the B-engine, that was installed “backwards”, with power delivered from the crank at the front of the car. Second, the transmission, technically a transaxle, bolted directly to the bottom of the engine to form the oil pan (albeit with separate oil lubrication). Thus, power from the crank would be delivered out of the engine at the front, then transferred down and back to the transmission below, via a set of chain-driven primary gears. In similar fashion, Mini’s also had their gearbox mounted directly below the engine; however, the Mini gearbox and engine shared the same oil, whereas the Saab 900 (and 99) gearboxes contained a separate sump for engine oil. Refined over several decades of two-digit Saab models, the 900’s double wishbone suspension design provided excellent handling and road feel. The rear suspension comprised a typical beam axle design, stabilized with a Panhard rod. However, the attachment points between the axle and chassis made up an unusual configuration that, in essence, consists of two Watt’s linkages at either end of the axle: A lower control arm attaches the axle to the bottom of the vehicle, while an upper link attaches at the top but faces towards the rear, unlike a typical four-link design with both lower and upper links facing forward. Early models did not have sway bars; they began appearing on certain models in 1985, and, in U.S. and possibly other markets, became standard on all trim levels by the late 1980s. The sway bars decreased body roll, but at the expense of some ride comfort and when driven aggressively, increased inside wheel spin. The front and rear bars’ diameters were unchanged throughout the model’s run. The 900 utilized a deeply curved front windshield, providing the best driver visibility, calling attention to the marque’s aircraft legacy. Also underscoring their aircraft lineage, the 900’s dashboard was curved to enable easy reach of all controls and featured gauges lit up from the front. Saab engineers placed all controls and gauges in the dashboard according to their frequency of use and/or importance so that the driver need only divert his gaze from the road for the shortest possible time and by the smallest angle. This is why, for example, the oft-used radio is placed so high in the dashboard. In keeping with the paradigm of its predecessor, the 99 model, the 900 employed a door design unique in automotive manufacturing, with an undercutting sweep to meet the undercarriage, forming a tight, solid unit when the door was closed. This feature also eliminated the stoop in the cabin at the footing of the door, as seen in automobiles of other manufacturers, thereby preventing water and debris from collecting and possibly entering the cabin or initiating corrosion, as well as enabling passengers to enter and exit the cabin without need to step over several inches of ledge. The 900 underwent minor cosmetic design changes for 1987, including restyled front-end and bumpers that went from a vertical to a more sloped design; sheet metal body parts were unchanged. Being a small car factory, for economic reasons, Saab kept the basic undercarriage more or less unchanged throughout the 900’s production run. The Saab 900 could be ordered with different options. One highly sought-after option was called the Aero or, as it was known in the U.S. “Special Performance Group” (SPG). The Aero/SPG incorporated (depending on the market and model year) a body skirt; a sport-suspension (1987+) that included shorter, stiffer springs, stiffer shocks, and sway bars; leather seats; premium stereo; and air conditioning. Each of these features could, of course, be ordered independently from Saab’s Accessories Catalog for fitment to standard models. Another desirable UK option at this time was the fitment of very distinctive Minilite alloy wheels. Initially these had the words ‘Minilite’ and ‘Saab’ cast in raised lettering (later Saabs had a remarkably similar copy but made by Ronal). Power output varied by model year and market, but 900S and 900 Turbo models produced from 1985 and onward were fitted with a 16-valve engine, while the basic 900 kept the earlier 8-valve engine. A 1989 Saab 900 SPG, owned by Peter Gilbert of Wisconsin, was driven over a million miles before being donated to The Wisconsin Automotive Museum. Peter Gilbert claimed a million miles out of the turbocharging unit in addition to the engine itself. Saab gave Mr Gilbert a Saab 9-5 Aero. The typical Saab windshield shape is visible. The 1979 900 was available in three versions of the B-engine: The GL had the single-carb 100 PS engine, the GLs had twin carburettors for 108 PS, the EMS and GLE had Bosch jetronic fuel injection for 118 PS and the 900 Turbo produced 145 PS. The only bodywork originally available was the three or five-door hatchback style, which was seen as more modern at the time. The EMS was only available with three doors while the automatic-equipped GLE was only offered with five. Saab’s model years were generally introduced in August/September of the preceding year. The Turbo had a different grille from the naturally aspirated models, which received a design with a hexagonal central element. For the 1980 model year, all versions received the sleeker turbo-style grille. The 1980 900 also received larger taillights rather than the earlier 99 units, as well as lower, adjustable headrests up front. 1980 was also the first year for a five-speed gearbox, originally only available in the EMS and the Turbo. The four-door 900 sedan was introduced in Geneva 1980, as a result of dealer pressure. This introduction corresponded with the phase-out of the old Saab B engine in favor of the lighter Saab H engine. With the introduction of the H-engine, Saab simplified the model designation on the international markets outside Scandinavia: GL for the model with the single carburettor, GLs for the models with the twin carburettor engine, GLi as designation for the models with fuel injection without turbo, and correspondingly “Turbo” for the top models with the corresponding engine. The GLE was now offered only as a better equipped four-door Sedan. Model designations in the USA becoming just 900 for the base model and 900S for the models with 8V i. The EMS designation was dropped. In the early 1980s, most 900s were produced in Trollhättan. However, coinciding with the introduction of the 9000, more of the 900 production took place elsewhere. The Valmet plant in Finland, referenced below under the 900c, also produced regular 900s, a total of 238,898 examples. The plant in Arlöv (now closed), near Malmö, also produced some 900s. For 1981 all models except for the GL three-door received a considerable boost in equipment, as well as broader side trims, larger luggage compartments and fuel tanks. The spare tire was moved to underneath the floor, rather than standing upright in the luggage compartment. A big change for 1982 was the introduction of Saab’s Automatic Performance Control (APC), a.k.a. boost controller for the Turbo models. The APC employed a knock sensor, allowing the engine to use different grades of gasoline without engine damage. Another new feature that year was the introduction of central locking doors (on the GLE and Turbo). The long-wheelbase 900 CD was also introduced. Asbestos-free brakes were introduced in 1983, an industry first. The front pads were semi-metallic while the rears were made from silica. The GLE model gained a new central console, while the decor strips on the bumpers of all models were made wider (necessitating wider trim pieces on the flanks as well). A new luxury package was made available on Turbo cars. Model year 1984 saw the introduction of the 16-valve DOHC B202 engine in Europe. With a turbocharger and intercooler, it could produce 175 hp in the Turbo 16 model (less for catalyst-equipped engines). The Turbo 16 Aero [designated SPG, Special Performance Group in North American Markets] had a body kit allowing the car to reach 210 km/h (130 mph). A different grille and three-spoke steering wheel appeared across all models. The connection between the side strips and the bumpers was changed, Turbo hatchbacks received a black trim piece between the taillights, and the GLi began replacing the twin-carburetted GLs. At the 1983 Frankfurt Motor Show a two-door sedan was shown; it went on sale in January 1984, initially only as a GLi. The two-door sedan was only ever built at the Valmet plant in Finland. The dual-carb model (and “GL” nomenclature) was gone for 1985. Now, the base 900 had the single-carburetor engine, while the 900i added fuel injection. Two turbocharged models were offered: The 900 Turbo had the 8-valve engine, while the Turbo 16 (also Aero) had the 16-valve intercooled unit. Wheel trims (naturally aspirated cars) and alloys (turbos) were redesigned, and the Turbos also received chromed grilles. The 8-valve turbo received an intercooler for 1986, bringing up power to 155 PS, while the 16-valve cars had hydraulic engine mounts. The eight-valve Turbo was also available as a two-door. Side marker lights at the rear of the front fenders were also added, while the 900i gained new interior fabrics. The new Saab-Scania badge was introduced, placed in the steering wheel, on the bonnet, and on the bootlid. 1986 also marked the introduction of the 16-valve 900i 16 and 900 convertible, both only for North America initially. A new grille, headlights, front sidelights and so-called “integrated” bumpers freshened the 900’s look for 1987, though the sheet metal was largely unchanged. Several common parts for the 900 and 9000 were introduced for 1988 model year, including brakes and wheel hubs. This also meant that Saab finally abandoned the use of parking brakes which acted on the front wheels. Power steering was added on the 900i. The base 900, available with two or four doors, kept the pre-facelift appearance for 1987. Also new was the carburetted 900c. The Aero model received slightly bigger fender extensions so as to accommodate larger wheels, while the window trim was blacked out on all models. For 1988 catalyzed models of all fuel injected engines became available to European buyers, all with cruise control as standard to further help lower emissions. A water and oil cooled turbocharger (replacing the older oil-cooled unit) was also introduced to improve the unit’s durability. In each of the seasons 1987 and 1988, there was a special ‘one-make’ race series, in the UK, called the Saab Turbo Mobil Challenge, sponsored by Saab Great Britain and Mobil. It was run by the BARC. The eight-valve engines were phased out in 1989 and 1990, with the turbo versions having been removed in North American markets by the end of 1984; North American 900S models received the non-turbo 16-valve engine for 1986. A non-turbo 16-valve engine replaced the 8-valve FI unit in the 900i (900S in North America) as well, while the carbureted engines were dropped. In Europe the eight-valve Turbo dropped out with the 1989 model year, with the limited production 900 T8 Special built to celebrate this. 805 were built for Sweden, featuring Aero trim and equipment. The 900i 16 arrived in Europe, with 128 PS. Anti-lock brakes were introduced as well, and were standard on Turbo models. High-mounted rear brake lights appeared during 1988, and power of the catalyzed Turbo 16 Aero jumped from 160 to 175 PS. Larger pinion bearings were fitted to manual gearboxes for 1989 to improve their strength and reliability. For 1990 eight-valve engine were taken out of production while a low pressure turbo engine with 145 PS was available in European markets. ABS brakes and driver’s side airbags were standardized for all North American market cars beginning with the 1990 model year. In the spring of 1990 the naturally aspirated 900i 16 Cabriolet was added. A 2.1 litre engine was introduced for 1991. This engine was available in the United States until the end of the original 900, but in most of Europe, this engine was replaced a year later with the earlier B202 because of tax regulations in many European countries for engines with a displacement of more than 2000 cc. Front seats from the 9000 were standard from 1991 on and electronically adjustable ones were available as an option. Airbags became available as an option in Europe as well, while there was also an Aero version of the Cabriolet. The Saab 900 no longer offered the mesh wheels. There was also a change in the door locks, which carried over to the 900NG.For 1992 there were mostly equipment adjustments, with ABS brakes finding their way into most of the lineup everywhere. 1993 brought no changes, and “classic” 900 production ended on 26 March 1993, with a new GM2900 platform-based 900 entering production shortly afterwards. The final classic convertibles were still sold as 1994 models, with the Special Edition commanding top dollar in the resale market even today. In all, 908,817 Saab 900s were built, including 48,888 convertibles.
The first Sunbeam to bear the Alpine name was an open-topped version of the Sunbeam-Talbot 90 sports saloon, named after the model’s success in rallying, especially the Monte Carlo rally, launched in 1953. Kenneth Howes and Jeff Crompton were tasked with doing a complete redesign in 1956, with the goal of producing a dedicated sports car aimed principally at the US market to compete with the MGs and Triumphs that were very popular. Ken Howes contributed some 80 per cent of the overall design work, which bears more than incidental resemblance to the early Ford Thunderbird, hardly a surprise, as Howe had worked at Ford before joining Rootes. The Alpine was produced in four subsequent revisions until 1968. Total production numbered around 70,000. Production stopped shortly after the Chrysler takeover of the Rootes Group. Styled by the Loewy Studios for the Rootes Group, the “Series” Alpine started production in late 1959. One of the original prototypes still survives and was raced by British Touring car champion Bernard Unett. The car made extensive use of components from other Rootes Group vehicles and was built on a modified floorpan from the Hillman Husky estate car. The Series I used a 1,494 cc engine with dual downdraft carburettors, a soft top that could be hidden by special integral covers and the first available wind-up side windows offered in a British sports car of that time. The running gear came mainly from the Sunbeam Rapier, but with front disc brakes replacing the saloon car’s drums. An overdrive unit and wire wheels were optional. The suspension was independent at the front using coil springs and at the rear had a live axle and semi-elliptic springing. The Girling-manufactured brakes used 9.5 in discs at the front and 9 in drums at the rear. An open car with overdrive was tested by The Motor in 1959. It had a top speed of 99.5 mph and could accelerate from 0–60 mph in 13.6 seconds. A fuel consumption of 31.4 mpg was recorded. The test car cost £1031 including taxes. 11,904 examples of the series I were produced. The Series II of 1962 featured an enlarged 1,592 cc engine producing 80 bhp and revised rear suspension, but there were few other changes. When it was replaced in 1963, 19,956 had been made. The Series III was produced in open and removable hardtop versions. On the hardtop version the top could be removed and the soft-top was stored behind the small rear seat; also the 1592 cc engine was less powerful. To provide more room in the boot, twin fuel tanks in the rear wings were fitted. Quarter light were fitted to the windows. Between 1963 and 1964, 5863 were made. For the Series IV, made in 1964 and 1965, there was no longer a lower-output engine option; the convertible and hardtop versions shared the same 82 bhp engine with single Solex carburettor. A new rear styling was introduced with the fins largely removed. Automatic transmission with floor-mounted control became an option, but was unpopular. From autumn 1964 a new manual gearbox with synchromesh on first gear was adopted in line with its use in other Rootes cars. A total of 12,406 were made. The final version was the Series V, produced between 1965–68 which had the new five-bearing 1,725 cc engine with twin Zenith-Stromberg semi-downdraught carburettors producing 93 bhp. There was no longer an automatic transmission option. 19,122 were made.
The MR2 derived from a 1976 Toyota design project with the goal of a car which would be enjoyable to drive, yet still provide good fuel economy – not necessarily a sports car. Design work began in 1979 when Akio Yoshida from Toyota’s testing department started to evaluate alternatives for engine placement and drive method, finalising a mid-transverse engine placement. Toyota called the 1981 prototype SA-X. From its original design, the car evolved into a sports car, and further prototypes were tested both in Japan and in the US. Significant testing was performed on race circuits including Willow Springs, where former Formula One driver Dan Gurney tested the car. All three generations were in compliance with Japanese government regulations concerning exterior dimensions and engine displacement. The MR2 appeared around the same time as the Honda CR-X, the Nissan EXA, the VW Scirocco from Europe, and the Pontiac Fiero and Ford EXP from North America. Toyota debuted its SV-3 concept car in October 1983 at the Tokyo Motor Show, gathering press and audience publicity. The car was scheduled for a Japanese launch in the second quarter of 1984 under the name MR2. Toyota introduced the first-generation MR2 in 1984, designating it the model code “W10”. When fitted with the 1.5-litre 3A engine, it was known as the “AW10”. Likewise, the 1.6-litre 4A version is identified by the “AW11” code. The MR2’s suspension and handling were designed by Toyota with the help of Lotus engineer Roger Becker. Toyota’s cooperation with Lotus during the prototype phase can be seen in the AW11, and it owes much to Lotus’s sports cars of the 1960s and 1970s. Toyota’s active suspension technology, called TEMS, was not installed. With five structural bulkheads, the MR2 was quite heavy for a two-seater of its size. Toyota employed the naturally aspirated 4A-GE 1,587 cc inline-four engine, a DOHC four-valve-per-cylinder motor, borrowed from the E80 series Corolla. This engine was also equipped with Denso electronic port fuel injection and T-VIS variable intake geometry, giving the engine a maximum power output of 112 hp in the US, 128 hp in the UK, 116 or 124 PS (114 or 122 hp) in Europe (with or without catalytic converter), 118 hp in Australia and 130 PS (128 hp) in Japan. Japanese models were later detuned to 120 PS (118 hp). A five-speed manual transmission was standard, with a four-speed automatic available as an option. In 1986 (1988 for the US market), Toyota introduced a supercharged engine for the MR2. Based on the same block and head, the 4A-GZE was equipped with a small Roots-type supercharger and a Denso intercooler. T-VIS was eliminated and the compression ratio was lowered to 8:1. It produced 145 hp at 6,400 rpm and 186 Nm (137 lb/ft) of torque at 4,400 rpm and accelerated the car from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 6.5 to 7.0 seconds. The supercharger was belt-driven but actuated by an electromagnetic clutch, so that it would not be driven except when needed, increasing fuel economy. Curb weight increased to as much as 2,494 lb (1,131 kg) for supercharged models, due to the weight of the supercharger equipment and a new, stronger transmission. A fuel selector switch was also added in some markets, to allow the car to run on regular unleaded fuel if required to. In addition to the new engine, the MR2 SC was also equipped with stiffer springs, and received special “tear-drop” aluminium wheels. The engine cover had two raised vents (only one of which was functional) that visually distinguished it from the naturally aspirated models. It was also labelled “SUPER CHARGER” on the rear trunk and body mouldings behind both doors. This model was never offered outside of the Japanese and North American markets, although some cars were privately imported to other countries. Toyota made detailed changes to the car every year until replacing it with a second generation model in 1989.
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.
This is a fifth generation Celica, the sporty Coupe that Toyota produced initially as a rival to the Ford Capri, back in 1970. It went on to live some years longer than the Ford, and thanks to a policy of all Japanese makers at the time of renewing their cars every 4 years, was available in far more distinct generations than its European rivals. The fifth generation car was produced form 1989 to 1993. Compared to its predecessor, it had new Super Round organic styling, upgraded wheels and tyres, more powerful GT-Four (US: All-Trac Turbo) with better cooling system, and for the Japanese market only, the 4-Wheel Steering (4WS) models. Toyota engineers claimed that the round styling and lack of straight edges increased strength without adding weight. The styling was later copied by other manufacturers. There were all manner of different versions offered in the Celica’s major markets and whilst the styling was perhaps more transatlantic in appeal than had been the case with the fourth generation car, it was adapted for Europe, where versions included a 1.6 ST-i (not sold in the UK), the 2.0 GT-i 16, and GT-Four. Some markets got a two door version., but it was the three door hatch which found its way to the UK, and the 2.0 GT-i 16 cabriolet was offered only in certain European countries. Only the 2.0 GT-i 16 liftback and GT-Four were officially sold in the UK.
In September 1996, the X100 Chaser replaced the X90 Chaser. The product lineup consisted mostly of Avante and Tourer trim, with the Avante as the luxury model (with more interior accessories) and the Tourer as the sporty model (with large 16-inch wheels). Toyota’s VVTi, the company’s version of variable-valve timing, was added to the 1JZ engines; they were also upgraded to have more torque, since they had already reached the agreed voluntary limit set by Japanese Automobile Manufacturer’s Association regarding horsepower. The 1JZ-GTE was powered by a single turbo configuration instead of the twin turbo of its predecessors. New to the lineup was the Avante Four and the Avante Four G Package (basically the Avante 2.5 L with a full-time 4WD system). These cars were only available with a 4-speed electronic control type (ECT) automatic transmission. The Tourer V and the automatic-only Avante G 3.0 L (2JZ) models had the option of electronic control flex lockup attaching 4-speed automatic (intelligent) (ECT-iE) transmission, besides the ECT-E automatic in the lower-end models. In 1997, the lineup remained largely unchanged, although a basic Tourer 2.0 L model was added. The Tourer was powered by a 1G-FE engine, rated at 140 PS at 5,600 rpm. It was sold with only the 4-speed electronic control type (ECT) automatic transmission. In 1998, the base Tourer model received the optional manual gearbox and a 4WD option was added to the base Avante models; the Avante Four S Package received a higher special-edition interior. Additionally, the Chaser received a facelift, with the most significant changes to the rear tail lights. Other changes included new fog lights with a slightly redesigned front bar to accommodate them, different interior fabric, a 3-spoke steering wheel instead of 4 spokes, orange gauge lighting instead of white and a grille with 2 horizontal bars instead of 3. The Chaser was discontinued in June 2001. It was replaced with a new model called the Verossa which shared the same model code. The Cresta suffered the same fate, but the Mark II continued for another generation (X110) before it was also discontinued. In 2004, the all-new X120 Mark X was introduced in Japan, incorporating many characteristics of the Chaser and the Cresta. In fact, the aim of the Mark X was to combine the characteristics of the 3 models into one single model
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.
The TR6 was the first Triumph for some time not to have been styled by Michelotti. By the mid 1960s, money was tight, so when it came to replacing the TR4 and TR5 models, Triumph were forced into trying to minimise the costs of the redesign, which meant that they kept the central section of the old car, but came up with new bodywork with the front and back ends were squared off, reportedly based on a consultancy contract involving Karmann. The resulting design, which did look modern when it was unveiled in January 1969 has what is referred to as a Kamm tail, which was very common during 1970s era of cars and a feature on most Triumphs of the era. All TR6 models featured inline six-cylinder engines. For the US market the engine was carburetted, as had been the case for the US-only TR250 engine. Like the TR5, the TR6 was fuel-injected for other world markets including the United Kingdom, hence the TR6PI (petrol-injection) designation. The Lucas mechanical fuel injection system helped the home-market TR6 produce 150 bhp at model introduction. Later, the non-US TR6 variant was detuned to 125 bhp for it to be easier to drive, while the US variant continued to be carburetted with a mere 104 hp. Sadly, the Lucas injection system proved somewhat troublesome, somewhat denting the appeal of the car. The TR6 featured a four-speed manual transmission. An optional overdrive unit was a desirable feature because it gave drivers close gearing for aggressive driving with an electrically switched overdrive which could operate on second, third, and fourth gears on early models and third and fourth on later models because of constant gearbox failures in second at high revs. Both provided “long legs” for open motorways. TR6 also featured semi-trailing arm independent rear suspension, rack and pinion steering, 15-inch wheels and tyres, pile carpet on floors and trunk/boot, bucket seats, and a full complement of instrumentation. Braking was accomplished by disc brakes at the front and drum brakes at the rear. A factory steel hardtop was optional, requiring two people to fit it. TR6 construction was fundamentally old-fashioned: the body was bolted onto a frame instead of the two being integrated into a unibody structure; the TR6 dashboard was wooden (plywood with veneer). Other factory options included a rear anti-roll bar and a limited-slip differential. Some say that the car is one of Leyland’s best achievements, but a number of issues were present and remain because of poor design. As well as the fuel injection problems, other issues include a low level radiator top-up bottle and a poor hand-brake. As is the case with other cars of the era, the TR6 can suffer from rust issues, although surviving examples tend to be well-cared for. The TR6 can be prone to overheating. Many owners fit an aftermarket electric radiator fan to supplement or replace the original engine-driven fan. Also the Leyland factory option of an oil cooler existed. Despite the reliability woes, the car proved popular, selling in greater quantity than any previous TR, with 94,619 of them produced before production ended in mid 1976. Of these, 86,249 were exported and only 8,370 were sold in the UK. A significant number have since been re-imported, as there are nearly 3000 of these much loved classics on the road and a further 1300 on SORN, helped by the fact that parts and services to support ownership of a TR6 are readily available and a number of classic car owners’ clubs cater for the model.
Envisioned as a luxury sports car, the Stag was designed to compete directly with the Mercedes-Benz SL. It started as a styling experiment, cut and shaped from a 1963–4 Triumph 2000 pre-production saloon, which had also been styled by Michelotti, and loaned to him by Harry Webster, Director of Engineering at Triumph. Their agreement was that if Webster liked the design, Triumph could use the prototype as the basis of a new Triumph model. Harry Webster, who was a long time friend of Giovanni Michelotti, whom he called “Micho”, loved the design and took the prototype back to England. The end result, a two-door drop head (convertible), had little in common with the styling of its progenitor 2000, but retained the suspension and drive line. Triumph liked the Michelotti design so much that they propagated the styling lines of the Stag into the new Mark 2 2000/2500 saloon and estate. The initial Stag design was based around the saloon’s 2.5-litre six cylinder engine, but Harry Webster intended the Stag, large saloons and estate cars to use a new Triumph-designed overhead cam 2.5-litre fuel injected V8. Under the direction of Harry Webster’s successor, Spen King in 1968, the new Triumph OHC 2.5 PI V8 was enlarged to 2997 cc to increase torque. To meet emission standards in the USA, a key target market, the troublesome mechanical fuel injection was dropped in favour of dual Zenith-Stromberg 175 CDSE carburettors. A key aim of Triumph’s engineering strategy at the time was to create a family of engines of different size around a common crankshaft. This would enable the production of power plants of capacity between 1.5 and 4 litres, sharing many parts, and hence offering economies of manufacturing scale and of mechanic training. A number of iterations of this design went into production, notably a slant four-cylinder engine used in the later Triumph Dolomite and Triumph TR7, and a variant manufactured by StanPart that was initially used in the Saab 99. The Stag’s V8 was the first of these engines into production. Sometimes described as two four-cylinder engines Siamesed together, it is more correct to say that the later four-cylinder versions were half a Stag engine. It has sometimes been alleged that Triumph were instructed to use the proven all-aluminium Rover V8, originally designed by Buick, but claimed that it would not fit. Although there was a factory attempt by Triumph to fit a Rover engine, which was pronounced unsuccessful, the decision to go with the Triumph V8 was probably driven more by the wider engineering strategy and by the fact that the Buick’s different weight and torque characteristics would have entailed substantial re-engineering of the Stag when it was almost ready to go on sale. Furthermore Rover, also owned by British Leyland, could not necessarily have supplied the numbers of V8 engines to match the anticipated production of the Stag anyway. As in the Triumph 2000 model line, unitary construction was employed, as was fully independent suspension – MacPherson struts in front, semi-trailing arms at the rear. Braking was by front disc and rear drum brakes, while steering was power-assisted rack and pinion. Although other bodystyles were envisaged, these never made production, so all Stags were four-seater convertible coupés. For structural rigidity – and to meet new American rollover standards of the time – the Stag required a B-pillar “roll bar” hoop connected to the windscreen frame by a T-bar. A removable hardtop was a popular factory option for the early Stags, and was later supplied as a standard fitment. The car was launched one year late in 1970, to a warm welcome at the various international auto shows. Sadly, it rapidly acquired a reputation for mechanical unreliability, usually in the form of overheating. These problems arose from a variety of causes, all of which are now well understood, and for which solutions have been identified, but at the time, they really hurt the reputation and hence sales of the car. They ranged from late changes to the engine which gave rise to design features that were questionable from an engineering perspective, the choice of materials which necessitated the use of antifreeze all year round, the engine’s use of long, simplex roller link chains, which would first stretch and then often fail inside fewer than 25,000 miles; the arrangement of the cylinder head fixing studs, half of which were vertical and the other half at an angle causing sideways forces which caused premature failure of the cylinder head gaskets. and poor quality production from a plant troubled with industrial unrest and poor quality control. At the time, British Leyland never provided a budget sufficient to correct the few design shortcomings of the Triumph 3.0 litre OHC V8, and the dealers did not help matters. The Stag was always a relatively rare car. British Leyland had around 2,500 UK dealers when the Stag was on sale and a total of around 19,000 were sold in the UK. Thus the average dealer sold only seven or eight Stags during the car’s whole production run, or roughly one car per year. This meant that few dealers saw defective Stags often enough to recognise and diagnose the cause of the various problems. Many owners simply replaced the engine altogether, often with the Rover V8, Ford Essex V6, or even the Triumph 6-cylinder engine around which the car was originally designed. Perhaps thanks to such a reputation for its unreliable engine, only 25,877 cars were produced between 1970 and 1977. Of this number, 6780 were export models, of which 2871 went to the United States. The majority of cars were fitted with a Borg-Warner 3-speed automatic transmission. The other choice was a derivative of the ancient Triumph TR2 gearbox which had been modified and improved over the years for use in the TR series of sports cars. Other than the choice of transmissions there were very few factory-installed options. On early cars buyers could choose to have the car fitted with just the soft-top, just the hard-top (with the hood storage compartment empty) or with both. Later cars were supplied with both roofs. Three wheel styles were offered. The standard fitments were steel wheels with Rostyle “tin-plate” trims. Five-spoke alloy wheels were an option, as were a set of traditional steel spoke wheels with “knock-off”‘ hubcaps. The latter were more commonly found on Stags sold in North America on Federal Specification vehicles. Electric windows, power steering and power-assisted brakes were standard. Options included air conditioning, a luggage rack, uprated Koni shock absorbers, floor mats and Lucas Square Eight fog lamps, and a range of after-market products, most of which were dealer installed as optional accessories could also be fitted. Rather unusually for a 4-seat touring car, the accessory list included a sump protector plate that was never produced. This was probably included as a slightly “gimmicky” tribute to Triumph’s rallying successes. Nowadays, the Stag is seen in a very different light, with lots of very enthusiastic and knowledgeable owners who enjoy the good points of this attractive looking car and who revel in the fact that the market has not yet boosted prices into the unaffordable category, as one day will surely happen.
Launched at the same time as the Rover 2000 was Triumph’s large saloon car, also called 2000. A replacement for the long running Standard Vanguard, this was the more sporting of the duo, with a subtly different appeal from the Rover. Between them, the cars defined a new market sector in the UK, promising levels of comfort and luxury hitherto associated with larger Rover and Jaguar models, but with usefully lower running costs and purchase prices, all in a modern package. Both added more powerful models to their range, with Rover going down the twin carburettor route, whilst in 1967, Triumph installed a larger 2.5 litre engine and the then relatively new fuel injection system, creating the 2.5PI, which is what was to be seen here. This Lucas system was not renowned for its reliability in the early days, but it did make the car rapid and refined. A facelift in 1969 brought new styling front and rear, which turned out to be a taster for a new grand tourer model which would emerge a few months later, and in this Mark 2 guise, the car was sold until 1977, in both saloon and estate guises. A mid range model, with twin carburettors but the larger engine, the 2500TC was introduced in 1974 and the 2500S arrived in 1975 with more power but also carb fed, to replace the troublesome and thirsty PI. These are the most sought after models now.
The Dolomite really was the 3 Series of its day, a family sized saloon that offered a combination of luxury and sportiness that made it a cut above the average Cortina and Marina. Designed as the successor for the upmarket variants of Triumph’s front-wheel drive designs, and also to replace a sporting relative of the Herald, the 6-cylinder Triumph Vitesse, the Triumph Dolomite was unveiled at the London Motor Show in October 1971. However, due to a number of strikes and other industrial upsets, the car was not reported to be in full production until October 1972. The Dolomite used the longer bodyshell of the front wheel drive Triumph 1500, but with the majority of the running gear carried over from the rear-wheel drive Triumph Toledo. Initially, the only version available used the new slant-four 1854 cc engine, which mated an alloy OHC head to an iron block, providing 91 bhp which offered sprightly performance. This was a version of the engine that the company was already providing to Saab for use in their 99 model. The car was aimed at the then-new compact performance-luxury sector, vying for sales against cars such as the BMW 2002 and Ford Cortina GXL, and was offered with a high level of standard equipment, including twin headlamps, a clock, full instrumentation, luxury seats and carpets, a heated rear window, and a cigar lighter. Styling was similar to the Triumph 1500, with some updates such as a black painted rear panel, vinyl D-posts, and new wheel trims. The car was capable of 100 mph with 60 mph coming up in just over 11 seconds. An overdrive gearbox was soon made available as an option, offering relaxed motorway cruising and improved fuel economy, and there was also an optional automatic transmission. Although the Dolomite proved to be refined and rapid, competitors such as the BMW 2002 had a performance advantage which was costing Triumph dearly, both in terms of sales and prestige. To remedy this, Triumph unveiled the Dolomite Sprint in June 1973, although the launch had been delayed by a year; it had been due to go on sale in 1972. A team of engineers led by Spen King developed a 16-valve cylinder head with all of the valves being actuated using a single camshaft rather than the more conventional DOHC arrangement. The capacity was also increased to 1,998 cc and combined with bigger carburettors the output was upped to 127 bhp. This represented a significant power increase over the smaller 1850cc variant, however it fell short of the original target of 135 bhp Despite BL engineers being able to extract a reliable 150 bhp from test engines, the production line was unable to build the engines to the same level of quality, with production outputs being in the region of 125 bhp to 130 bhp. This led to the original model designation, the Dolomite 135, being replaced at short notice with the Sprint name. As a result of the use of this engine, the Dolomite Sprint has been claimed to be “the world’s first mass-produced multi-valve car”. While other multi-valve engines (notably the Lotus 907) were produced in volume, they were not used in mass production vehicles until after the introduction of the Dolomite Sprint. The design of the cylinder head won a British Design Council award in 1974. Performance was excellent, with 0–60 mph taking around 8.4 seconds, with a maximum speed of 119 mph. Trim was similar to the 1850, with the addition of standard alloy wheels (another first for a British production car), a vinyl roof, front spoiler, twin exhausts and lowered suspension. By now seats were cloth on the 1850, and these were also fitted to the Sprint. Due to the increase in power brought by the new engine, the rest of the driveline was upgraded to be able to withstand the extra torque. The gearbox and differential were replaced by a version of those fitted to the TR and 2000 series cars, albeit with a close ratio gearset in the gearbox. The brakes were upgraded with new pad materials at the front, and the fitment of larger drums and a load sensing valve at the rear. Other changes over the standard Dolomite included the option of a limited slip differential. The optional overdrive and automatic transmission from the 1850 model were also offered as options on the Sprint. Initial models were only offered in Mimosa Yellow, although further colours were available from 1974 on. At launch the Sprint was priced at £1740, which compared extremely well to similar cars from other manufacturers. Prospective buyers would have been hard pressed to justify the extra £1000 cost of the BMW 2002 Tii, which offered similar performance. The four-door practicality of the Sprint also made it a very attractive proposition for the young executive choosing his first company car. The press gave the Dolomite Sprint an enthusiastic reception. Motor summarised its road test (subtitled “Britain leads the way”) with glowing praise: ” …the Sprint must be the answer to many people’s prayer. It is well appointed, compact, yet deceptively roomy. Performance is there in plenty, yet economy is good and the model’s manners quite impeccable … Most important of all, it is a tremendously satisfying car to drive”. Sadly, it proved not quite so satisfying to own, as the legendary BL lack of reliability was a feature on some, but by no means all Sprints. In 1976, Triumph rationalised their range, calling all their small models, Dolomite, and using the same body shell, so the Toledo (which had maintained its stubby tail until this point) and 1500TC became the Dolomite 1300, 1500 and 1500HL respectively. With minor changes to trim and equipment, the cars continued in production until 1980.
The Cerbera was first shown as a prototype at the 1994 Birmingham Show, entering production in 1996. The name derives from Cerberus the three-headed beast of Greek legend that guarded the entrance of Hades. This was the third car manufactured by TVR under the leadership of Peter Wheeler, and it represented three firsts for the Wheeler-led company: the first hard-top—the Griffith and the Chimaera were both convertibles; the first 2+2—TVRs were traditionally two-seaters; the first to be driven by TVR’s own engines—historically, TVR had purchased engines from mainstream manufacturers like Rover, Ford and Triumph. Prior to the Cerbera, TVR had purchased V8 engines from Rover and then tuned them for their own use. When Rover was purchased by BMW, Peter Wheeler did not want to risk problems should the Germans decide to stop manufacturing the engine. In response, he engaged the services of race engineer Al Melling to design a V8 engine that TVR could manufacture in-house and even potentially offer for sale to other car-makers. In an interview for the television programme Top Gear, Wheeler explained “Basically, we designed the engine as a race engine. It was my idea at the time that if we wanted to expand, we ought to make something that we could sell to other people. We’ve ended up with a 75-degree V8 with a flat-plane crank. The bottom-half of the engine to the heads is exactly as you would see in current Formula One engines.” Wheeler was quoted at the time of the car’s launch as saying that the combination of light weight and high power was too much for a road car, a quote which ensured much free publicity in the press. Enthusiasts still argue about whether this was a typical example of Wheeler’s legendary frankness, or an equally typical example of his PR chief Ben Samuelson’s knack for saving on advertising costs by creating a story. The result was dubbed the “Speed Eight” (official designation ‘AJP8’) after Al Melling, John Ravenscroft and Peter Wheeler, a 4.2 litre V8 producing 360 hp and gave the Cerbera a top speed of 185 mph (297 km/h). A 4.5 litre version of the engine was later offered with 420 hp. The AJP8 has one of the highest specific outputs of any naturally aspirated V8 in the automotive world at 83.3 hp/litre for the 4.2 and 93.3 hp/litre for the 4.5. Later models of the 4.5 litre engine had the ‘Red Rose’ option, which increased output to 440 bhp (97.7 hp/litre) when fuelled with super-unleaded (high octane) and the driver pushed the unmarked button on the dashboard which altered the engine mapping to suit. In some cases, real-world outputs for production V8s (4.5 in particular) were down from TVRs quoted output. Some of these have seen some form of modification (ECU, induction, exhaust etc.) to bring the power back up to the factory quoted output. One of the attractions of the V8 Cerberas for many owners was the loud backfire produced on overrun, particularly at low speeds. In fact this was the result of an argument at the factory between one of TVR’s executives and the engineers mapping the engine. The engineers wanted to map out this “irregularity” to improve fuel efficiency and CO2 emissions, whilst the executive insisted it was exactly the kind of thing owners would like. In the end a compromise was reached in which the popping and banging remained on the 4.5 litre cars. With the success of the Speed Eight program, Wheeler also undertook the design of a “Speed Six” engine to complement it. This engine also made its debut in the Cerbera but was a 4.0 litre inline slant six design with four valves per cylinder to the Speed Eight’s two. In service however it gained a reputation for unreliability and many engines had to be rebuilt. The car itself was designed from the start as a four-seater. The rear seats are smaller than the front, a design commonly referred to as a “2+2”. However, the interior is designed so that the passenger seat can slide farther forward than the driver’s seat. This allows more room for the person sitting behind the front passenger. TVR have referred to this as a “3+1” design. TVR maintained its tradition of building cars that were not only exceptionally powerful but also very light for their size and power output. The Cerbera’s weight was quoted by TVR at 1100 kilograms, although customers claimed the weight varied between 1,060 kg (2,337 lb) and 1,200 kg (2,646 lb). The dashboard was designed especially for the Cerbera and uses a two-spar steering wheel as opposed to the typical three-spar previously found in most TVRs. The reason for this is that minor instruments are located on a small panel below the steering wheel and a third spar in the wheel would have made them difficult to read. Like all TVRs of the Peter Wheeler era, the Cerbera had a long-travel throttle to compensate for the lack of electronic traction-control and very sharp steering. The V8 powered cars were two turns from lock to lock and the Speed Six car was 2.4 turns. This made it easier for experienced drivers to maintain or regain control of the car in the event of a loss of traction but some less experienced drivers complained that it made the cars feel “twitchy” and more responsive than they would otherwise have preferred. In 2000, TVR changed the styling of the car slightly by modifying the headlights to more closely resemble those seen in the TVR Tuscan. The “facelift” features were available with all three engine configurations. In addition, the cars equipped with the 4.5 litre engine were offered with the “lightweight” option, reducing the overall weight through the use of lighter body panels and a slightly reworked interior. The final car was made in 2006.
The final car to bear the Victor name, and the last Vauxhall to be designed independently of Opel, was the FE Series, and this was launched in March 1972. This was a time when labour relations in the UK motor industry were poor and strikes were an almost constant feature, so there were very few launch cars and most of the publicity material used drawings rather than photos. The FE Series cars appeared substantially larger than their predecessors, but in fact were no wider and only 2 inches longer with much of the extra length accounted for by larger bumpers. Nevertheless, a higher cabin and improved packaging enabled the manufacturer to boast of 1.5 inches more leg room in the front and no less than 4 inches of extra leg room in the back, with virtually no loss of luggage capacity. Useful increases in headroom and shoulder-level cabin width were also achieved through the use of differently shaped side panels and windows. The engines were carried over from the FD range although enlarged to 1759 cc and 2279 cc. For a short period, the straight-six engine was used in the Ventora and 3300SL models, the latter effectively a Victor Estate with lesser trim than the luxury Ventora. Most cars in this class featured manual transmission and with the FE Vauxhall belatedly fell into line with their principal market competitors by including a four-speed gearbox – available only at extra cost on the old Victor FD – as standard equipment. The FE’s extra weight presumably made this development irresistible. The four-speed transmission used the same box and ratios across the range, from the 1759 cc Victor to the torquey 3294 cc Ventora-badged version. Contemporary road tests of the four-cylinder cars commented adversely on the wide gap – highlighted on the mountain roads included in the Portuguese route chosen for the car’s press launch – between second and third gears. Although the architecture of the suspension remained as before, numerous detailed modifications were made to counter criticism of the old model. Changes included an anti-roll bar as standard equipment on all but the entry-level models, and stiffer springs at the back, intended to compensate for the Victor’s tendency to understeer. At the front the springing remained soft by the standards of the time: the track was widened by 1.7 inches and wheel geometry modified to incorporate “anti-dive action”, improvements intended to address the Victor’s tendency to wallow, which by then was attracting criticism from performance-oriented commentators. The FE Victor shared its floorpan with the Opel Rekord but retained a distinct bodyshell, its own suspension and rack-and-pinion steering as opposed to the Rekord’s recirculating ball unit. The front end incorporated the then advanced detail of having the slim bumper bisect the grille, with a third of the grille and the side-lights (on quad headlamp models) below the bumper line. Despite the absence of shared body panels anywhere that they could be seen, detailed investigation disclosed that minor assemblies such as the door locks and the wiper mechanisms were shared with the Opel Rekord D. World energy crises, falling exports and an increasingly muddled image led to Vauxhall’s decline during the early 1970s, such that sales of the FE slumped to 55,000 units before it was transformed to the VX series in January 1976. The changes introduced then were intended to position the car more clearly in the range over the newly introduced, and more expensive Cavalier, with a more powerful 1800cc engine and upgraded trim being among the modifications made. In this guise, the VX Series lived on nearly another 3 years before finally being replaced by the Carlton in the autumn of 1978. Seen here is a 2300 example of the FE Victor.
There were a couple of examples of the Type 2 “Bus”, the second generation of VW’s versatile van range, first seen in late 1967. It was built in Germany until 1979. In Mexico, the Volkswagen Kombi and Panel were produced from 1970 to 1994. Models before 1971 are often called the T2a (or “Early Bay”), while models after 1972 are called the T2b (or “Late Bay”). This second-generation Type 2 lost its distinctive split front windshield, and was slightly larger and considerably heavier than its predecessor. Its common nicknames are Breadloaf and Bay-window, or Loaf and Bay for short. At 1.6 litres and 47 bhp DIN, the engine was also slightly larger. The battery and electrical system was upgraded to 12 volts, making it incompatible with electric accessories from the previous generation. The new model also did away with the swing axle rear suspension and transfer boxes previously used to raise ride height. Instead, half-shaft axles fitted with constant velocity joints raised ride height without the wild changes in camber of the Beetle-based swing axle suspension. The updated Bus transaxle is usually sought after by off-road racers using air-cooled Volkswagen components. The T2b was introduced by way of gradual change over three years. The first models featured rounded bumpers incorporating a step for use when the door was open (replaced by indented bumpers without steps on later models), front doors that opened to 90° from the body, no lip on the front guards, unique engine hatches, and crescent air intakes in the D-pillars (later models after the Type 4 engine option was offered, have squared off intakes). The 1971 Type 2 featured a new, 1.6 litre engine with dual intake ports on each cylinder head and was DIN-rated at 50 bhp. An important change came with the introduction of front disc brakes and new roadwheels with brake ventilation holes and flatter hubcaps. Up until 1972, front indicators are set low on the nose rather than high on either side of the fresh air grille – giving rise to their being nicknamed “Low Lights”. 1972’s most prominent change was a bigger engine compartment to fit the larger 1.7- to 2.0-litre engines from the Volkswagen Type 4, and a redesigned rear end which eliminated the removable rear apron and introduced the larger late tail lights. The air inlets were also enlarged to accommodate the increased cooling air needs of the larger engines. In 1971 the 1600cc Type 1 engine as used in the Beetle, was supplemented with the 1700cc Type 4 engine – as it was originally designed for the Type 4 (411 and 412) models. European vans kept the option of upright fan Type 1 1600 engine but the 1700 Type 4 became standard for US spec models. In the Type 2, the Type 4 engine, or “pancake engine”, was an option for the 1972 model year onward. This engine was standard in models destined for the US and Canada. Only with the Type 4 engine did an automatic transmission become available for the first time in the 1973 model year. Both engines were 1.7 L, DIN-rated at 66 bhp with the manual transmission and 62 bhp with the automatic. The Type 4 engine was enlarged to 1.8 L and 67 bhp DIN for the 1974 model year and again to 2.0 L and 70 bhp DIN for the 1976 model year. The two-litre option appeared in South African manufactured models during 1976, originally only in a comparably well-equipped “Executive” model. The 1978 2.0 L now featured hydraulic valve lifters, eliminating the need to periodically adjust the valve clearances as on earlier models. The 1975 and later U.S. model years received Bosch L-Jetronic electronic fuel injection as standard equipment; 1978 was the first year for electronic ignition, utilising a hall effect sensor and digital controller, eliminating maintenance-requiring contact-breaker points. As with all Transporter engines, the focus in development was not on power, but on low-end torque. The Type 4 engines were considerably more robust and durable than the Type 1 engines, particularly in Transporter service. In 1972, exterior revisions included relocated front turn indicators, squared off and set higher in the valance, above the headlights. Also, square-profiled bumpers, which became standard until the end of the T2 in 1979, were introduced in 1973. Crash safety improved with this change because of a compressible structure behind the front bumper. This meant that the T2b was capable of meeting US safety standards for passenger cars of the time, though not required of vans. The “VW” emblem on the front valance became slightly smaller. Later model changes were primarily mechanical. By 1974, the T2 had gained its final shape. Very late in the T2’s design life, during the late 1970s, the first prototypes of Type 2 vans with four-wheel drive (4WD) were built and tested.
It was in 1948 that Wilhelm Karmann first bought a VW Beetle sedan and converted it into a four-seater convertible. After successfully presenting it at VW in Wolfsburg the Beetle Cabriolet began production in 1949 by Karmann in Osnabrück. The convertible was more than a Beetle with a folding top. To compensate for the strength lost in removing the roof, the sills were reinforced with welded U-channel rails, a transverse beam was fitted below the front edge of the rear seat cushion, and the side cowl-panels below the instrument panel were double-wall. In addition, the lower corners of the door apertures had welded-in curved gussets, and the doors had secondary alignment wedges at the B-pillar. The top was cabriolet-style with a full inner headliner hiding the folding mechanism and crossbars. In between the two top layers was 1 in (25 mm) of insulation. The rear window was tempered safety glass, and after 1968, heated. Due to the thickness of the top, it remained quite tall when folded. To enable the driver to see over the lowered top, the inside rearview was mounted on an offset pivot. By twisting the mirror 180 degrees on a longitudinal axis, the mirror glass would raise approximately 2 in (5.1 cm). The convertible was generally more lavishly equipped than the sedan with dual rear ashtrays, twin map pockets, a visor vanity mirror on the passenger side, rear stone shields, and through 1969, wheel trim rings. Many of these items did not become available on other Beetles until the advent of the optional “L” (Luxus) Package of 1970. After a number of stylistic and technical alterations made to the Karmann cabriolet, (corresponding to the many changes VW made to the Beetle throughout its history), the last of 331,847 cabriolets came off the production line on 10 January 1980.
There was also a couple of examples of the regular Beetle saloon. Production in Germany ended in 1978 but continued in Mexico until 1997 and the red car seen here is one of those Mexican built models, showing how little this long running design changed over a lengthy production run.
VW launched the second generation Golf in August of 1983, nearly 9 years after production of the first model to bear the name had begun. This time, a GTi version was included in the product plans from the start, and the new GTi was announced in May 1984. Like the regular Golf 2, it was almost 7″ longer than the Mark 1, with 3″ extra in the wheelbase and a 2″ wider track. It was also 10% heavier, but with significantly improved aerodynamics, resulting from attention to detail which included integrated gutters and flush glass as well as more rounded styling, the cd fell from 0.42 to 0.34. Initially it was powered by the same 1781cc fuel injected engine, but there were all round disc brakes and longer suspension travel improved the ride. Competitors came snapping at its heels, though, so after 2/5 years, VW responded by giving the car 24% more power, achieved by doubling the number of valves to 16. Lower stiffer suspension and bigger front brakes were also fitted, all of which restored the Golf GTi 16V to the top of the Hot Hatch pile. For most people that is, though the 8v car retained a following thanks to its broader torque spread. This less powerful car changed from a mechanical K-Jetronic injection system to a new Digifant electronic set up in 1987 at which point the front quarterlights were deleted, and a digital instrument pack became an option on the 16v car. Power steering became standard in late 1990 and the 8v gained the interior from the 16v model. Production ran through to February 1992, by which time the Mark 3 GTi was waiting in the wings. over 600,000 were built over an 8 year period, around 10% of all Mark 2 Golf production.
The Volkswagen Type 2 (T3) was the third generation of the Volkswagen Transporter and was marketed under various nameplates worldwide – including the Transporter or Caravelle in Europe, Microbus in South Africa, and Vanagon in North and South America. It was larger, heavier, and more angular in its styling than its predecessor, the T2. The T3 was manufactured in Germany from 1979 until 1991. Production of the Syncro (mostly for official use, like postal service or German army) continued until 1992 at Puch in Graz, Austria, where all 4WDs were built. It was available in 14″ syncro and a 16″ syncro version, main differences between the 2 models was 16″ wheels with 205R16 tyres, larger front brakes 280mm discs instead of 254mm disc that was on the 14″ syncro but they shared the same callipers and brake pads. The 16″ syncro had larger rear brakes taken from the VW LT and fender flares which hid the area where VW trimmed the arches to give more room for larger tyres. Following the Type 2 T2, the Type 2 T3 initially featured air-cooled engines; later models had water-cooled engines. Versions produced in South Africa from 1990 until 2002 featured an Audi five-cylinder engine. Volkswagen marketed the Westfalia camper variant throughout the T3 production, with features including a raised roof (either pop-up or fixed), refrigerator, sink, and stove. Examples built between 1979 and 1985 featured round headlights and basic steel or chrome-plated steel bumpers with plastic end-caps. Air-cooled models (1979 to mid-1983) lack the lower grill above the radiator of the water-cooled models, except on models with factory air conditioning. Production of the Syncro four-wheel drive model began in late 1984, with the world premiere taking place at the Brussels Commercial Vehicle Show in January 1985. The original Syncros came equipped with the gasoline 1.9 with 78 PS and a “4+G” gearbox, with the G being a low gear for offroad use (Gelände in German). 1986 model year models received revisions including a rev counter, more fabric choices, redesigned air conditioning, enlarged water-cooled engine with a more advanced engine management system, and redesigned transmissions. Exterior changes included rectangular headlights (on selected models), and different paint options. Alloy wheels, larger and squarer fiberglass bumpers with trim along the rocker panels were optional (standard on Hannover and Wolfsburg Edition vans). For 1990 and 1991 model years, a “Carat” trim level was available which included all available options except the Westfalia conversion and Syncro. Some 1979 through 1981 models received 6 welded-in metal slats covering the engine ventilation passages behind the rear windows. All later models had black plastic 16-slat covers that slotted in at the top and screwed down at the bottom. During the 1980s, the U.S. Army and Air Force in Germany used T3s as administrative (non-tactical) vehicles. In military use, the vehicle’s nomenclature was “Light Truck, Commercial”. Porsche created a version called B32 in a limited edition. The van, based on the luxurious Carat model, was equipped with the 231 PS 3.2 litre Carrera engine and was originally developed to support Porsche’s testing activities in Algeria. Ten of these were built, with some sold by Porsche to special customers. Porsche themselves also used the Porsche-engined bus to transport staff rapidly. Top speed was around 135 mph (217 km/h), although Porsche only claimed 116 mph (187 km/h) to ensure that the numbers could be replicated with nine people in the car and with the air conditioning on full. There was one more six-cylinder engine, used in the VW Oettinger WBX6. The development of the engine was originally contracted to Oettinger by Volkswagen; it was derived from the regular Wasserboxer and meant for projected use in the T3. When VW abandoned the project, Oettinger bought the rights to the design and put it on the market. As such the six-cylinder shares many parts with the four-cylinder Wasserboxer. The WBX6 was originally only available with a three-speed automatic transmission, incorporating many Audi 100 parts to accommodate the higher power and torque. A limited number of 2WD models were also produced at the Graz factory after German production had come to an end in 1990. South African production of the T3 continued, for that market only, until 2002. The T3 was the final generation of rear-engined Volkswagens.
I really enjoyed this event. The changes to the site are all very worthwhile, and although some complain about the need for an advance ticket, the extra control that this gives on numbers means that everyone who turns up does get a proper parking space in the event. I like the idea of the themed event, too, even if the organisers had ignored our suggestion of making this one an Italian them (they did it in October when all the Abarths were elsewhere at another event), and as well as enjoying a morning’s event, I was able to spend some time in the museum, which has also changed a lot since I was last here, A separate report on that will ensue. With Breakfast Club events taking place every month, even in the winter-est of months, I can be sure that it will not be anything like as long before I am back at Haynes to see a variety of cars like I enjoyed this time.