It used to be the case that car events in the UK petered out during October each year, as the hours of daylight reduced, and the chances of the weather being favourable were less than they are in earlier months, but more recently that has not really proved to be the case and certainly in 2021 where everyone feels there is a lot of catching up to do having been very limited in events of any sort for most of 2020 and the first few months of 2021, them things look set to carry on right through to the end of the year. There are fewer of the large events, though, so the challenge of the diary clash is somewhat reduced, making it a bit easier to decide what to attend without agonising over multiple alternatives. The event being covered here pretty much sold itself to me, as it is local and organised by a friend of mine who has often expressed disappointment that I don’t make it to more of his events. Queen Square Breakfast Club meets used to be held in Queen Square in the centre of Bristol, but some years ago their popularity meant that they outgrew the location and new venues had to be found. And they have been. A whole series of different locations, all fairly close to Bristol have been used over the years, some with greater capacity than others. This particular event took place at the well-known farm shop location in Easter Compton and had the added bonus of a significant amount of indoor display space which provided some useful protection in the event of a wet morning (it turned out this was not needed, as the day was dry). Not only did I book myself in, but I publicised it within the Abarth community hoping to get some more Abarths to attend than had been the case at the October Queen Square meet. Here is what I found when I arrived on site:
To ensure we could get the Abarths parked together, I arranged for us to meet at a nearby rendez-vous point, The Fox inn in Easter Compton, and there was the chance to grab a few photos before we set off for the last couple of minutes travel to the venue.
Oldest of the Abarths attending on this occasion was mine. As well documented here, it is a 595 Competizione, known to the experts as a Series 3 car, though it takes a trained eye to spot the difference between this and the earlier cars. 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.
The Series 4 version of the familiar 595 reached the markets in the middle of 2016. After rumours had circulated all winter following the launch of the facelifted Fiat 500 last year, Abarth finally unveiled the Series 4 at the end of May 2016. Initially, we were told that the cars would not be available in the UK until September, but that came forward somewhat, with dealers all receiving demo cars in June, and the first customers taking delivery in July. Three regular production versions of both the closed car and the open-topped C were initially available, all badged 595, and called Custom, Turismo and Competizione, as before, though numerous limited edition models have since appeared and in most case disappeared. The most significant changes with the Series 4 are visual, with a couple of new colours, including the much asked for Modena Yellow and a different red, called Abarth Red, which replaces both the non-metallic Officina and – slightly surprisingly – the tri-coat pearlescent Cordolo Red. as well as styling changes front and rear. The jury is still out on these, with many, me included, remaining to be convinced. At the front, the new air intake does apparently allow around 15 – 20 % more air in and out, which will be welcome, as these cars do generate quite a lot of heat under the bonnet. Competizione models for the UK retain the old style headlights, as they have Xenon lights as standard, whereas the Custom and Turismo cars have reshaped units. At the back, there are new light clusters and a new rear bumper and diffuser. Inside, the most notable change is the replacement of the Blue & Me system with a more modern uConnect Audio set up, which brings a new colour screen to the dash. Mechanically, there is an additional 5 bhp on the Custom (now 145) and Turismo (now 165 bhp) and the option of a Limited Slip Diff for the Competizione, which is likely to prove a popular option. Details of the interior trim have changed, with a filled-in glovebox like the US market cars have always had, and electric windows switches that are like the US ones, as well as a part Alcantara trim to the steering wheel in Competizione cars. These cars have now been on offer for five years and with Abarth sales on the rise, this is the model you see most often.
This is the Grande Punto of Andy Purdue, who lives locally in Weston-super-Mare and who owns and runs Purdue Performance, a specialist in modifications tuning of cars including Abarths. 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 13th birthdays, and some have amassed relatively big mileages, but they are still a car for the cognoscenti.
Completing the collection of Abarth models was Tania WIghtman’s 124 Spider. The 124 Spider went on sale in September 2016, having been 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.
Those who stayed on after the bulk of the cars had gone were able to get some more photos of their cars in a variety of locations on site, with the graffiti walls proving particularly popular.
Sole Alfa Romeo at the event was this Giulietta. The current Giulietta arrived in 2010 as a much awaited replacement for the 147. Spy photos had suggested that the car was going to look very like Fiat’s ill-fated Bravo, but the reality was that it had a style all of its own. A range of very efficient petrol and diesel engines were among the most emissions-efficient in their class at the time, and a 250 bhp Quadrifoglio version at the top of the range made sure there was something for the man who wanted a rapid, but quite subtle hatch. The car has enjoyed reasonable success in the UK, and the car has certainly found favour among Alfa enthusiasts.
Representing the longest lived design in Aston Martin’s history was this splendid V8 Vantage. 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.
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.
Also here was the latest Vantage and the larger DB11.
The Audi R8, based on the Audi Le Mans quattro concept car (designed by Frank Lamberty and Julian Hoenig) first appeared at the 2003 International Geneva Motor Show and the 2003 Frankfurt International Motor Show. The R8 road car was officially launched at the Paris Auto Show on 30 September 2006. There was some confusion with the name, which the car shares with the 24 Hours of Le Mans winning R8 Le Mans Prototype (LMP). Initial models included the R8 4.2 FSI coupé (with a V8 engine) and R8 5.2 FSI coupé (with a V10 engine). Convertible models, called the Spyder by the manufacturer, were introduced in 2008, followed by the high-performance GT model introduced in 2011. The Motorsport variants of the R8 were also subsequently introduced from 2008 onwards. An all-electric version called the e-Tron started development but would only reach production stage when the second generation model would be introduced. 6-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Jacky Ickx described the R8 as “the best handling road car today” and the car was well received by everyone who drove it. The car received a facelift in 2012 and a new model called the V10 Plus was now added to the range. Production of the Type 42 ended in August 2015.
Representing the E31 8 Series, a car which found less favour than everyone expected when it was new, as this 840Ci. While it did supplant the original E24 based 6 Series in 1991, a common misconception is that the 8 Series was developed as a successor. It was actually an entirely new class aimed at a different market, however, with a substantially higher price and better performance than the 6 series. Design of the 8 Series began in 1984, with the final design phase and production development starting in 1986. The 8 Series debuted at the Frankfurt Motor Show (IAA) in early September 1989. The 8 Series was designed to move beyond the market of the original 6 Series. The 8 Series had substantially improved performance, however, as well as a far higher purchase price. Over 1.5 billion Deutsche Mark was spent on total development. BMW used CAD tools, still unusual at the time, to design the car’s all-new body. Combined with wind tunnel testing, the resulting car had a drag coefficient of 0.29, a major improvement from the previous BMW M6/635CSi’s 0.39. The 8 Series supercar offered the first V-12 engine mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox on a road car. It was the first car to feature CAN bus—a form of multiplex wiring for cars that is now an industry standard. It was also one of the first vehicles to be fitted with an electronic drive-by-wire throttle. The 8 Series was one of BMW’s first cars, together with the Z1, to use a multi-link rear axle. While CAD modelling allowed the car’s unibody to be 8 lb (3 kg) lighter than that of its predecessor, the car was significantly heavier when completed due to the large engine and added luxury items—a source of criticism from those who wanted BMW to concentrate on the driving experience. Some of the car’s weight may have been due to its pillarless “hardtop” body style, which lacked a “B” post. Sales of the 8 Series were affected by the global recession of the early 1990s, the Persian Gulf War, and energy price spikes. As a result, plans for the M8 supercar were dropped in 1991. A cheaper 8 cylinder 840CI joined the range in 1993 in an effort to boost sales, and to an extent it, did but this was still not enough and BMW pulled the 8 Series from the North American market in 1997, having sold only 7,232 cars over seven years. BMW continued production for Europe until 1999. The ultimate worldwide production total was 31,062
The E60 M5 was introduced in 2004, with a V10 engine and 7-speed paddle-shift transmission linking the car with the BMW Sauber Formula One program. The E60 M5 was the world’s first production sedan to use a V10 gasoline engine. This generation of the M5 was also built in the E61 Touring (wagon) body style, which was only sold in Europe. The E63/E64 M6 coupé and convertible are based on a shortened version of the M5 chassis and largely use the same mechanical components. The BMW S85 is a 5.0 L V10 engine which generates a power output of 500 bhp at 7,750 rpm and 520 Nm (384 lb/ft) of torque at 6,100 rpm. The S85 was exclusively used in the E60 M5 (and related E63/E64 M6) and is not based on any other engine. There are three driver-selectable engine modes: P400, P500 and P500 S. P400, the default start-up mode, limits the engine to 394 bhp. P500 increases power to the full 500 bhp. The P500 S mode keeps the engine at the same power output as the P500 mode but adds a more sensitive throttle response. This engine is well known for its rod bearing failures. The S85 and S65 from the E9X series M3 share this rod bearing issue, and can lead to catastrophic engine failure if it is not addressed. Another major issue with this engine is the throttle actuators, which is usually attributed to the gears located inside the actuators, however, electronic failure of the actuators themselves is not uncommon. The official 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) acceleration figure is 4.7 seconds for the sedan, however magazine tests have recorded figures down to 4.1 seconds. The E60 M5 was the fastest 4-door sedan available at the time of its introduction. Top speed is electronically restricted to 250 km/h (155 mph) but could be raised to 305 km/h (190 mph) with the optional M-driver’s package. The M5 has recorded a Nürburgring lap time of 8:13. Upgrades over regular 5 Series models include a wider track, unique body panels, a colourful heads up display featuring navigation, control messages, speed, rpm and gear selection information, automated seat side bolsters, heated/ventilated seats and power rear curtain. The larger, flared front guards on either side also featured cooling vents, reminiscent of the 1970s BMW CSL. The wheels were of 19-inch diameter and the car has quad exhaust pipes at the rear. During its five-year production run, 20,589 units were built: 19,564 sedans and 1,025 Touring. The biggest market was the United States with 8,800 cars (sedans only), followed by Great Britain and Ireland with 1,776 cars and Germany with 1,647 cars.
There were a number of other more recent M models, mostly from the M3 and M4 families with the last three model generations all represented.
This is a 1970 Electra Hardtop. All GM passenger vehicles received a major redesign in 1965 dominated by flowing “Coke bottle” lines and fastback roof profiles on its coupe models, and the 6 window-body style was eliminated. For 1965, Buick also changed its marketing strategy and offering the Electra 225 in two trim levels, base and Custom. Along with the new body came a new chassis with a full perimeter frame including side rails that replaced the previous “X” frame used since 1961. Engine offerings were unchanged from 1964 including the standard 325 bhp 401 V8, and two versions of the larger 425 V8 that were rated at 340 bhp with a four-barrel carburettor or 360 bhp with two four barrels. The three-speed Super Turbine 400 automatic transmission was standard equipment. A new body style introduced for 1965 was the thin-pillar 4-door sedan, which featured frameless window glass with a thin, chrome fixed “B” pillar. The 1966 Electra 225 saw only minor styling changes including a new grille and a revised full-width taillight and trunk lid that included an “Electra 225” script rather than the “BUICK” nameplate spelled out in 1965. Engine offerings were unchanged from 1965 with the exception that the dual-quad 360 bhp 425 was downgraded from a factory option to dealer-installed. Inside, a revised instrument panel featured a horizontal sweep speedometer, fuel gauge and warning lights. Front seat headrests became an option. A moderate facelift highlighted the 1967 Electra 225 including a Pontiac/Oldsmobile-like divided split grille. Both base and Custom models were continued with a new “Limited” option package available Electra 225 Custom 4-door hardtop reviving a nameplate that graced Buick’s ultra-luxury flagship in the late 1930s (and again in 1958), which included an ultra-luxurious interior trim. Under the hood a new 430 cubic-inch V8 rated at 360 bhp with four-barrel carburettor replaced the previous “Nailhead” 401 and 425 V8s. Power front disc brakes were available as a new option along with a stereo 8-track tape player. The 1968 Electra 225 received a revised grille and taillight trim along with concealed windshield wipers. Inside, there was a revised instrument panel with a square speedometer and other instruments, plus a new steering wheel. Shoulder seat-belts were standard for both the driver and front passenger. Base and Custom models were still offered, with the Limited trim option available on the Electra 225 Custom hardtop sedan. 1969 brought a major restyling to the Electra 225 and other GM B-body and C-body cars with somewhat crisper bodylines than 1965–68 models, but continued with the same chassis and inner body structure introduced with the 1965 model, however the wheelbase was increased one inch to 127 in (3,226 mm). The 1969s were also the first to offer headrests as standard equipment due to a federal safety mandate, and the steering column with ignition switch that also locked the steering wheel with the transmission in “Park”, a feature found on all 1969 GM cars one year before it became a federal safety mandate in 1970. Also new was a variable-ratio power steering system combined with revised front suspension tuning called “Accu-Drive.” Other changes included ventless front windows. The same assortment of base and Custom models were offered in 1969 with the “Limited” trim package available on Custom sedans and coupes. A new option available with the Limited package was a split 60/40 bench seat with center armrest. Finned aluminum drum brakes were again offered as standard equipment, while the Bendix four-piston disk brake units were also available. 12″ x 1″ vented steel rotors were coupled with the cast iron caliper assemblies. A dual exhaust was available as an option. Five different rear axles were available: a 2.56 Economy as well as 2.73, 3.08, 3.23:1 gear ratios. The special PX-Code “AC Delete” 3.91 performance gear option was also available. The standing quartermile was completed in 15.5 seconds at a terminal velocity of 90 mph (145 km/h) for the dual exhaust engine with the 2.73 gear ratio in a 4,700 lb (2,132 kg) Custom Convertible. Only a minor facelift with revised grille and taillight trim marked the 1970 Electra 225. The big news was under the hood, where a new 370 hp 455 cubic-inch V8 replaced the 430 V8 used from 1967 to 1969. This was the final year for the Electra convertible, finned aluminum brake drums and high compression engines. New this year was a concealed radio antenna, which amounted to two wires embedded in the windshield. Also new for 1970 was the Estate Wagon, which shared the Electra’s 455 V8 and four VentiPorts, but was a B-body car like the LeSabre and the Wildcat and consequently shared the smaller cars’ 124.0-inch (3,150 mm) wheelbase and interior. This was Buick’s first full-sized station wagon since 1964. The following year the Buick Estate would move up to Electra’s larger body and more voluminous interior.
A rather blurry photo, sadly, of the Dodge Challenger, this is a top of the range HellCat, a bonkers model with no less than 707 bhp on offer.
In 1993, Ferrari presented a light weight 348 GT Competizione variant as a homologation version for competing in the GT Championship. Safety equipment such as a tool kit was carried over from the 348 Challenge. The braking system was derived from the F40 Evoluzione model. The cars also had modified racing suspension and exhaust system. The engine had a power output of 320 PS at 7,000 rpm and 324 N⋅m (239 lb⋅ft) of torque at 5,000 rpm, consistent to standard late 348 production with the F119H engine. Only 50 were made, including 8 Right Hand Drive models. Special features included a specially trimmed steering wheel indicating the number sequence in the production of the 50 cars, 5-spoke 18-inch Speedline competizione wheels and cloth trim seats with kevlar structure for weight reduction. Aiding further in the weight reduction was the carbon kevlar composite material used for the front and rear bumpers as well as the doors and a light weight polycarbonate rear window. Additional interior trim pieces such as door sills featured carbon kevlar and creature comforts such as air conditioning and sound proofing materials were removed. These changes resulted in a dry weight of 1,180 kg (2,601 lb). The final drive in the gear box was changed to 25/27 ratio for improved performance.
Effectively a mid-life update to the 360 Modena, the F430 debuted at the 2004 Paris Motor Show. Designed by Pininfarina, under the guidance of Frank Stephenson, the body styling of the F430 was revised from the 360 Modena, to improve its aerodynamic efficiency. Although the drag coefficient remained the same, downforce was greatly enhanced. Despite sharing the same basic Alcoa Aluminium chassis, roof line, doors and glass, the car looked significantly different from the 360. A great deal of Ferrari heritage was included in the exterior design. At the rear, the Enzo’s tail lights and interior vents were added. The car’s name was etched into the Testarossa-styled driver’s side mirror. The large oval openings in the front bumper are reminiscent of Ferrari racing models from the 60s, specifically the 156 “sharknose” Formula One car and 250 TR61 Le Mans cars of Phil Hill. Designed with soft-top-convertible. The F430 featured a 4.3 litre V8 petrol engine of the “Ferrari-Maserati” F136 family. This new power plant was a significant departure for Ferrari, as all previous Ferrari V8’s were descendants of the Dino racing program of the 1950s. This fifty-year development cycle came to an end with the entirely new unit. The engine’s output was 490 hp at 8500 rpm and 343 lb/ft of torque at 5250 rpm, 80% of which was available below 3500rpm. Despite a 20% increase in displacement, engine weight grew by only 4 kg and engine dimensions were decreased, for easier packaging. The connecting rods, pistons and crankshaft were all entirely new, while the four-valve cylinder head, valves and intake trumpets were copied directly from Formula 1 engines, for ideal volumetric efficiency. The F430 has a top speed in excess of 196 mph and could accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in 3.9 seconds, 0.6 seconds quicker than the old model. The brakes on the F430 were designed in close cooperation with Brembo (who did the calipers and discs) and Bosch (who did the electronics package),resulting in a new cast-iron alloy for the discs. The new alloy includes molybdenum which has better heat dissipation performance. The F430 was also available with the optional Carbon fibre-reinforced Silicon Carbide (C/SiC) ceramic composite brake package. Ferrari claims the carbon ceramic brakes will not fade even after 300-360 laps at their test track. The F430 featured the E-Diff, a computer-controlled limited slip active differential which can vary the distribution of torque based on inputs such as steering angle and lateral acceleration. Other notable features include the first application of Ferrari’s manettino steering wheel-mounted control knob. Drivers can select from five different settings which modify the vehicle’s ESC system, “Skyhook” electronic suspension, transmission behaviour, throttle response, and E-Diff. The feature is similar to Land Rover’s “Terrain Response” system. The Ferrari F430 was also released with exclusive Goodyear Eagle F1 GSD3 EMT tyres, which have a V-shaped tread design, run-flat capability, and OneTRED technology. The F430 Spider, Ferrari’s 21st road going convertible, made its world premiere at the 2005 Geneva Motor Show. The car was designed by Pininfarina with aerodynamic simulation programs also used for Formula 1 cars. The roof panel automatically folds away inside a space above the engine bay. The conversion from a closed top to an open-air convertible is a two-stage folding-action. The interior of the Spider is identical to that of the coupé. Serving as the successor to the Challenge Stradale, the 430 Scuderia was unveiled by Michael Schumacher at the 2007 Frankfurt Auto Show. Aimed to compete with cars like the Porsche RS-models and the Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera it was lighter by 100 kg/220 lb and more powerful (510 PS) than the standard F430. Increased power came from a revised intake, exhaust, and an ion-sensing knock-detection system that allows for a higher compression ratio. Thus the weight-to-power ratio was reduced from 2.96 kg/hp to 2.5 kg/hp. In addition to the weight saving measures, the Scuderia semi-automatic transmission gained improved “Superfast”, known as “Superfast2”, software for faster 60 millisecond shift-times. A new traction control system combined the F1-Trac traction and stability control with the E-Diff electronic differential. The Ferrari 430 Scuderia accelerates from 0-100 km/h in 3.6 seconds, with a top speed of 202 miles per hour. Ferrari claimed that around their test track, Fiorano Circuit, it matched the Ferrari Enzo, and the Ferrari F430’s successor, the Ferrari 458. To commemorate Ferrari’s 16th victory in the Formula 1 Constructor’s World Championship in 2008, Ferrari unveiled the Scuderia Spider 16M at World Finals in Mugello. It is effectively a convertible version of the 430 Scuderia. The engine produces 510 PS at 8500 rpm. The car has a dry weight of 1,340 kg, making it 80 kg lighter than the F430 Spider, at a curb weight of 1,440 kg (3,175 lb). The chassis was stiffened to cope with the extra performance available and the car featured many carbon fibre parts as standard. Specially lightened front and rear bumpers (compared to the 430 Scuderia) were a further sign of the efforts Ferrari was putting into this convertible track car for the road. Unique 5-spoke forged wheels were produced for the 16M’s launch and helped to considerably reduce unsprung weight with larger front brakes and callipers added for extra stopping power (also featured on 430 Scuderia). It accelerates from 0-100 km/h in 3.7 seconds, with a top speed of 315 km/h (196 mph). 499 vehicles were released beginning early 2009 and all were pre-sold to select clients. Seen here were the Coupe. Spider and the Scuderia.
The Ferrari F12berlinetta (Type F152) is a front mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive grand tourer which debuted at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show, and replaces the 599 grand tourer. The naturally aspirated 6.3 litre Ferrari V12 engine used in the F12berlinetta has won the 2013 International Engine of the Year Award in the Best Performance category and Best Engine above 4.0 litres. The F12berlinetta was named “The Supercar of the Year 2012” by car magazine Top Gear. The F12berlinetta was replaced by the 812 Superfast in 2017. There were also examples of both here, the F12 being the relatively recent acquisition of my friend, Mat Dunn. He stayed on after most of the cars had gone and was able to get plenty of additional photos of his car, and that gave me the opportunity to do the same as well.
Introduced at the 1980 Geneva Show, the Panda (Tipo 141) was designed as a cheap, easy to use and maintain, no-frills utility vehicle, positioned in Fiat’s range between the 126 and 127. It can be seen as a then-modern approach to the same niche which the Citroën 2CV and Renault 4 were designed to serve. The first Panda was designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro of Italdesign. In an interview to Turinese newspaper La Stampa published in February 1980, Giugiaro likened the Panda to a pair of jeans, because of its practicality and simplicity, and he has often said that this is his favourite of all the cars he designed. Mechanically the first Pandas borrowed heavily from the Fiat parts bin. Engines and transmissions came from the Fiat 127 and, in certain territories, the air-cooled 652 cc two-cylinder powerplant from the Fiat 126. The plan for a mechanically simple car was also evident in the rear suspension, which used a solid axle suspended on leaf springs. Later versions of the car added various mechanical improvements but this spirit of robust simplicity was adhered to throughout the life of the model. Many design features reflect the Panda’s utilitarian practicality. Examples include a seven-position adjustable rear seat which could be folded flat to make an improvised bed, or folded into a V shape to support awkward loads, or easily and quickly removed altogether to increase the overall load space. The first Pandas also featured removable, washable seat covers, door trims and dashboard cover, and all the glass panels were flat making them cheap to produce, easy to replace and interchangeable between left and right door. Much like its earlier French counterparts the Panda could be specified with a two piece roll forward canvas roof. At launch two models were available: the Panda 30, powered by a longitudinally-mounted air cooled 652 cc straight-two-cylinder engine derived from the 126, or the Panda 45, with a transversely-mounted water cooled 903 cc four-cylinder from the 127. As a consequence of the different drivetrain layout the 45 had the radiator grille to the right side, the 30 to the left. In September 1982 Fiat added another engine to the line-up: the Panda 34 used an 843 cc water-cooled unit, derived from that in the 850. It was originally reserved for export to France, Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands. Fiat launched the Panda 45 Super at the Paris Motor Show later in 1982, with previous specification models continuing as the “Comfort” trim. The Super offered numerous improvements, most significant being the availability of a five-speed gearbox as well as improved trim. There were minor styling changes to the Super including the introduction of Fiat’s new black plastic “corporate” grille with five diagonal silver bars. The earlier grille design (metal with slots on the left for ventilation) continued on the Comfort models until the next major revision of the line-up. A 30 Super was added to the range in February 1983, offering the Super trim combined with the smaller engine. The Panda 4×4 was launched in June 1983, it was powered by a 965 cc engine with 48 bhp derived from that in the Autobianchi A112. Known simply as the Panda 4×4, this model was the first small, transverse-engined production car to have a 4WD system. The system itself was manually selectable, with an ultra-low first gear. Under normal (on-road) conditions starting was from second, with the fifth gear having the same ratio as fourth in the normal Panda. Austrian company Steyr-Puch supplied the entire drivetrain (clutch, gearbox, power take-off, three-piece propshaft, rear live axle including differential and brakes) to the plant at Termini Imerese where it was fitted to the reinforced bodyshell. Minor revisions in November 1984 saw the range renamed “L”, “CL”, and “S”. Specifications and detailing were modified across the range including the adoption of the Fiat corporate grille across all versions. Mechanically, however, the cars remained largely unchanged. In January 1986, the Panda received a substantial overhaul and a series of significant mechanical improvements. Most of these changes resulted in the majority of parts being changed and redesigned, making many of the pre-facelift and post-facelift Panda parts incompatible between models. The 652 cc air-cooled 2-cyl engine was replaced by a 769 cc (34 bhp) water-cooled 4-cyl unit, and the 903/965cc by a 999cc (45 bhp, 50 bhp in the 4×4) unit. Both new engines were from Fiat’s new FIRE family of 4-cylinder water-cooled powerplants with a single overhead camshaft. The rear suspension was also upgraded, the solid axle with leaf springs being replaced by a more modern dependent suspension system using a non-straight rigid axle (known as the ‘Omega’ axle) with a central mounting and coil springs (first seen on the Lancia Y10, which used the same platform). The 4×4 retained the old leaf sprung live axle set-up, presumably to avoid having to redesign the entire 4WD system. Improvements were also made to the interior and the structure. The body was strengthened and fully galvanised on later models, virtually eliminating the earlier car’s strong tendency to rust. The rear panel design was also revamped to include flared arches that mirrored those of the front wings, replacing the un-sculpted style seen on earlier models, and the doors received a slight redesign with the earlier car’s quarter light windows being removed and replaced by a full width roll-down window. The bottom seam of the facelifted model’s doors unfortunately retained much the earlier car’s susceptibility to rust. In ascending order of specification and cost, the revised range was as follows: 750L, 750CL, 750S, 1000CL, 1000S, 4×4. April 1986 saw the introduction of a 1,301 cc diesel engine with 37 bhp (a detuned 127/Uno unit). Fitted as standard with a five-speed gearbox it was only available in the basic “L” trim. A van variant of the Panda was also introduced, with both petrol and diesel engines. The van was basically a standard Panda without rear seats. The rear windows were replaced with plastic blanking panels and a small (always black) steel extension with side hinged doors was fitted instead of the usual hatchback tailgate. Neither the van nor the diesel were available in right hand drive markets. In 1987, a new entry-level model badged “Panda Young” was added to the range. This was essentially an L spec car with a 769 cc OHV engine based on the old 903 cc push-rod FIAT 100 engine and producing the same 34 bhp as the more sophisticated 769 cc FIRE unit. The Panda 4×4 Sisley limited edition was also released; this was based on the standard 4×4, but came with metallic paint, inclinometer, white painted wheels, roof rack, headlamp washers, bonnet scoop, “Sisley” badging and trim. Although originally limited to the production of only 500, in 1989 the Sisley model became a permanent model due to its popularity. In 1991, a facelift was introduced. This entailed a new front grille with a smaller five-bar corporate badge, plus revisions to trim and specifications across the range. New arrivals included the ‘Selecta’, which had a continuously variable transmission with an electromagnetic clutch. This advanced transmission was available either with the normal 999 cc FIRE engine (revised with single-point fuel injection and a catalytic converter) or an all new 1108 cc FIRE unit, fitted with electronic fuel injection and a three-way catalytic converter and producing 51 bhp. The new CLX trim also featured a five-speed gearbox as standard. The range now comprised the 750 Young (769 cc ohv), 750 and 750 CLX (both 769 cc FIRE sohc), 900 Dance (903 cc ohv), 1000 Shopping, CLX, CL Selecta and S (all with 999 cc sohc, available with or without SPI and catalytic converter depending on the market), 1100 CL Selecta (1108 cc sohc with SPI and cat) and the 4×4 Trekking (999 cc, again available with and without a cat depending on the market). The Elettra concluded the range. In 1992, the 1108 cc engine, complete with SPI and catalytic converter, replaced the 999 cc unit in the 4×4 (with 50 bhp) and also in 1992 an 899 cc (with injection and catalyst) became available, in the ‘Cafe’ special edition. This was a reduced capacity 903 cc unit, designed to meet tax requirements in some markets. From 1996 onwards, the Panda was gradually phased out across Europe, due to tightening emissions and safety legislation. The car remained in production in Italy until May 2003. Its total production run of 23 years makes the Panda one of Europe’s longest-lived small cars. Over 4,5 million were built and the car is still popular in Italy.
The regular second generation Focus cars were released in late 2004. An ST version followed very quickly, and for a long time, Ford maintained that was the only sporty Focus there was going to be. Finally, on December 17, 2007 Ford of Europe confirmed that a Mk 2 Focus RS would be launched in 2009, with a concept version due in mid-2008. t with an upgraded Duratec ST engine with 305PS Duratec RS, gearbox, suspension, and LSD. In 2008, Ford revealed the new Focus RS in “concept” form at the British International Motor Show. Contrary to numerous rumours and speculation, the RS was announced by Ford to have a conventional FWD layout. The Duratec RS engine was upgraded to produce 301 bhp and 325 lb/ft of torque. 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) acceleration was quoted to be under 6 seconds. The RS used a modified Volvo -engineered 2,522cc five-cylinder engine found in the Focus ST. A larger Borg Warner K16 turbo now delivers up to 20.3-psi of boost. A new air-to-air intercooler has been developed as a complement, while the forged crankshaft, silicon-aluminum pistons, graphite-coated cylinder bores, 8.5:1 compression ratio and variable valve timing also up the power output. The car remained front wheel drive, but to reduce torque steer used a Quaife Automatic Torque Biasing LSD, and a specially designed MacPherson strut suspension at the front called RevoKnuckle, which provided a lower scrub radius and kingpin offset than traditional designs while avoiding the increased weight and complexity of double wishbone and multi-link suspension setups. Ford UK claim: “It’s as close as you’ll come to driving a full-spec rally car (Ford Focus RS WRC). The production car was finally unveiled on 5 January 2009. It looked very distinctive, as at the rear a large venturi tunnel and a dramatic rear spoiler created a purposeful look. It was available in three expressive exterior colours: Ultimate Green, Performance Blue and Frozen White. The ‘Ultimate’ Green was a modern reinterpretation of the classic 1970s Ford Le Mans Green of the Ford Escort RS1600 era.
Ford played much the same guessing game about whether there would be an RS version of the third generation Focus as they had done with the earlier versions. Production of the regular cars started in late 2010, but it was not until the 2015 Geneva Motor Show before the production ready MKIII Ford Focus RS was unveiled. It came packing the turbocharged 2.3-litre inline-four engine found in the Mustang EcoBoost. In the Focus RS, the engine itself produces 350 hp. Power is sent to all four wheels via Ford’s all-new Torque-Vectoring All-Wheel-Drive system with a rear drive unit designed by GKN, as well as upgraded suspension and brakes. As well as that, the new Focus RS will be fitted with Drive Modes – including an industry-first Drift Mode that allows controlled oversteer drifts – and Launch Control. The RS will boast a model specific aerodynamic package that helps to differentiate it from other Focus models. The RS is capable of accelerating to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 4.7 seconds. Sales finally started in mid 2016, with long waiting lists having been created, though Ford did eventually catch up with expanded production levels allowing them to meet the demand.
Also here was the less potent, but still a fun hot-hatch, the Focus ST
Joining it were a couple of recent model Mustangs.
A rather older Ford was this pickup based on the 1935 V8 model.
The Ford Fairlane is an automobile model that was sold between the 1955 and 1970 model years by Ford in North America. Taking its name from the Dearborn, Michigan estate of Henry Ford, the Fairlane nameplate was used for seven different generations of vehicles. Through its production, the model line would be marketed in a wide variety of body styles, including two-door and four-door sedans, two-door and four-door hardtops, station wagons, and both traditional and retractable-hardtop convertibles. Initially introduced as the flagship of the full-size Ford range, the Fairlane marked the introduction of the Crown Victoria and 500 nameplates, both later becoming stand-alone full-size model lines (the latter, as the Ford Five Hundred). Following the introduction of the Ford Galaxie, the Fairlane was repackaged as an intermediate-segment car (today, mid-size) from 1962 to 1970. The Fairlane was revised in 1966. The appearance was changed to match the full-sized Ford, which had been restyled in the 1965 model year. The front end featured vertically stacked dual headlights. The XL, GT, and GTA packages were introduced, as well as a convertible to join the existing range of sedans, hardtops, and station wagons. The “K-code” 289 CID engine was dropped this year. The GT featured a 390 CID FE V8 as standard, while the GTA also included the newly introduced the SportShift Cruise-o-Matic automatic transmission. The GT/GTA 390 CID engine developed 335 bhp with higher compression, and had a four-barrel carburettor. Mid year, Ford produced 57 special Fairlane 500 two-door hardtops with “R-code” 427 cu in (7.0 L) V8 engine rated at 425 bhp at 6000 rpm and 480 lb/ft (651 N⋅m) at 3700 rpm of torque, equipped with Ford’s “Top-Loader” four-speed manual transmission. Built to qualify the engine/transmission combination for NHRA and IHRA Super Stock racing, they were white and had fibreglass hoods with a forward-facing hood scoop which ended at the edge of the hood. The Fairlane Squire wagon was reintroduced for 1966. Minor trim changes were introduced for 1967 as the Fairlane was mildly facelifted. The 289 CID small-block was the base V8, with a 200 CID six standard, with the 390 CID optional (with either two- or four-barrel carburettor, at 275 and 320 bhp, respectively). The 427s were still available, either with a single four-barrel carburetor or dual quad carbs, developing 410 (W-code) and 425 bhp (R-code), 427s were available on XL models, but very few were built. The notable addition for the 1967 model year was a Ranchero pickup as part of the Fairlane range (from 1960 to 1965, the Ranchero was based on the Falcon, while in 1966 it used the Fairlane platform but Falcon styling). The 1967 Fairlanes also included a number of federal government-mandated safety features, including a new energy-absorbing steering column with a large padded steering wheel hub, soft interior trim, four-way hazard flashers, a dual-chamber braking system, and shoulder belt anchors. The convertible had a tempered safety glass rear window. The Falcon Ranchero and Falcon station wagon were, between 1966 and 1970, identical under the skin to the Fairlane versions of the same model. Only sheetmetal and trim differed. Two different two-door coupe models were offered. The lower-end Fairlane Club Coupe had pillars separating the door glass and rear side glass, while the higher trim level Fairlanes were pillarless two-door hardtops, similar to the convertibles.
In 1982, General Motors introduced the Chevrolet S-10 Blazer, and its rebadged GMC S-15 Jimmy variant, as 1983 models. They were based on, and co-developed, with the 1982 Chevrolet S-10 pickup truck, introduced one year prior, to replace the Isuzu-based Chevrolet LUV truck. The S-series Blazer and Jimmy did not feature removable hardtops, like their full-size K5 counterparts, and were for a long time, like them, only offered in a two-door bodystyle. Only in March 1990, four-door versions of the S-10 Blazer and Jimmy were introduced as 1991 models, with a 6.5 in (17 cm) greater wheelbase and length. Base power was provided by GM’s 2.0 L OHV four-cylinder engine, producing 83 bhp A 2.8 L, 110 hp V6 was offered as an option (coincidentally this engine was also used in Jeep’s competing Cherokee until 1987). Due to emissions laws, a 1.9 L I4 petrol engine built by Isuzu was offered as the base model engine in California in place of the 2.0 L engine, while an Isuzu 2.2 L diesel engine (also used in the S-series pickups) producing 58 hp was offered as an option. The 1.9 and 2.0 L gasoline fours and the 2.2 L diesel were dropped after 1985, replaced by the larger 2.5 L Iron Duke engine. The V6 was refitted with a throttle-body fuel injection system for 1986 in order to improve performance and fuel economy. In order for it to keep being competitive, the Blazer and Jimmy received a new 4.3 L V6 option for 1988 (also used with the Astro/Safari vans, short wheelbase G-series vans, and light duty C/K-1500 trucks), based on the Chevrolet Small-Block V8 engine, producing a respectable 150 bhp. Power output was increased to 160 bhp for 1989, while the four-cylinder engine was dropped. The 2.8 L V6 was discontinued after 1990, making the 4.3 L the sole available engine. A 5-speed manual transmission (Getrag 290/Hydramatic 290/5LM60, sourced from the GMT400) was added to the option list, replacing the Borg-Warner T-5. In March 1990, 4-door versions of the S-10 Blazer and Jimmy were introduced as a 1991 model; the 4-door had a 6.5 in longer wheelbase (2-doors had a 100.5 in wheelbase – six inches (152 mm) longer than the Ford Bronco II) and a one-piece front grille with a painted black insert (1990 2-door S-10 Blazers and Jimmys had the 3-piece grille). This new grille also did away with the separate metal filler panel under the grille, since the grille is taller and took its place. Early production models between March and August 1990 were initially available as a four-wheel drive only; 2WD versions commenced production around Summer 1990. This came just months ahead of the introduction of the Ford Explorer, which replaced the Bronco II; six-and-a-half years after the segment-leading Cherokee debuted with four doors. Snowflake alloy wheels (similar to the ones used on the Chevrolet Astro/GMC Safari) were introduced, either painted charcoal gray or argent silver. The upscale Oldsmobile Bravada appeared later in the year featuring an All-Wheel-Drive package called “Smart-Trak” (using a BorgWarner 4472 transfer case, shared with the AWD Astro/Safari) 1992 models were similar to 1991s – the only way to tell the difference is the rear back glass (the rear glass does not have any trim to which two black buttons serve as the back glass strut mounting points) and front grille (chrome shell with argent silver inserts). The interior was a carryover from 1991 with the exception of the center console and steering wheel (X-bar style similar to the one used in the GMT400 trucks). Also, the “S-15” name was dropped from the Jimmy. The S10 Blazer also introduced an upscale Tahoe and Sport trim packages, the Tahoe LT, which was rebadged as the LT in 1995 whilst the Tahoe package was renamed as the LS. The Tahoe LT had its own exterior décor with faded lower body lines on the lower rockers along with Tahoe LT badges – this also included an overhead console and keyless remote door locks). Sport package had bigger sway bars, slightly modified suspension and 30×9.5 or optional 31×10.5 tires. Body trim included also black plastic fender flares, front fog lights and spare tire carrier on the tailgate. 1992 was the first model year where the S10 Blazer and Jimmy offered an NP233 electronic transfer case for as a drive train option. This deleted the Manual gear range selector with a 3 position switch located to the left of the gauge cluster in the same location that the rear defrost button would be located on non-electronic transfer-case and 2WD model Blazers and Jimmies (when optioned with the electronic transfer case the defrost button assembly is positioned below the headlight switch). The electronic transfer-case added luxury however there was no neutral position with the electronic transfer case, so the owner’s manual stated that the drive shaft had to be removed when the vehicle was being towed. The fuel lines, which were routed on the driver side frame rail to the TBI fuel injectors, were redesigned where the fuel inlets entered the rear of the engine (same as the GMT400). This was phased in because of the L35 option which used a similar fuel line setup. The serpentine accessory drive for the 4.3L motor was modified where the air pump was eliminated and further lightened. From at least 1991 onward, all S10 Blazers and Jimmies came with four-wheel anti-lock brakes as standard equipment. The first two years of the ABS system had axleshafts with pressed-on ABS toner rings, which were eliminated during the latter half of the 1993 model year (rear ABS control was now done via the vehicle speed sensor). A 5-speed manual transmission remained standard through 1994, but only with the TBI engine. Only the two 4.3 L engines were offered as options – the base TBI and the CPI (introduced in 1992 for the S-series and Chevrolet Astro minivans; the latter had the “Vortec” logo on the intake plenum). 1993 had a few changes – the center console was raised (with a dual cup holder), and the 4L60E transmission replaced the 700r4. The grille (alongside the S-10 pickup) was revised (which was a chrome-plated version of the base work truck grille found on base S-10 pickups), along with the addition of optional 5-spoke alloy rims (for the 2WD model – basically a copy of the 3rd generation Camaro Z28 15″ alloy rim). Although the second generation S-series pickup debuted in 1994, the S-10 Blazer and Jimmy continued unchanged for that year, with the only significant changes being a third brake light and the discontinuation of the rear spoiler. 1994 was a transition year for many automakers when it came to switching from R-12 Freon to CFC-free R134a refrigerant. The redesigned 1994 S-10 and Sonoma pickups used R134a refrigerant. Despite being nearly identical to the 1993 models, the entire 1994 model year full-size pickup and SUV lineup (C/K, Sierra, Suburban, Yukon, etc.), also used R134a. The 1994 S-10 Blazer and Jimmy seem to have used R-12 until the end of their production run and subsequent replacement with redesigned 1995 models that looked like new-for-1994 pickups.
Recently released, the i20N is a direct competitor to the popular Ford Fiesta ST and the early reviews suggest that Hyundai has hit the proverbial bulls eye with a car that is fun to drive and good to own. This is only the second one I have seen in the metal.
Few would have guessed that the XJS would run for over 20 years, but eventually it came time for its replacement, and the car charged with so doing was the XK8. Development began in 1992, with design work having starting earlier, in late 1991. By October 1992 a design was chosen and later frozen for production in 1993. Prototypes were built from December 1993 after the X100 was given formal approval and design patents were filed in June 1994. Development concluded in 1996, at which point the car was launched. The first-generation XK series shares its platform with the Aston Martin DB7, and both cars are derived from the Jaguar XJS, though the platform has been extensively changed. One of the revisions is the use of the second generation of Jaguar’s independent rear suspension unit, taken from the XJ40. The XK8 was available in coupé or convertible body styles and with the then new 4.0-litre Jaguar AJ-V8 engine. In 1998 the XKR was introduced with a supercharged version of the engine. 2003 the engines were replaced by the 4.2-litre AJ34 engines in both the normally aspirated and supercharged versions. Equipment levels were generous and there was a high standard of fit and finish. Both models came with all-leather interior, burl walnut trim, and side airbags. Jeremy Clarkson, during a Top Gear test-drive, likened the interior of the original XK8 to sitting inside Blenheim Palace. The model ran for 10 years before being replaced by the X150 model XK.
Other Jaguar models here were a couple of examples of the latest sports car, the F Type.
The EV6 is an all-electric model which has just been added to Kia’s range. It has been well received by the press, so it will be interesting to see if this distinctive looking machine appeals to the buying public as well.
The Aventador SVJ is the fastest Lamborghini you can buy new. With 759bhp and 531lb ft on tap, the SVJ (Superveloce Jota) matches the power output of the ultra-low-volume Centenario and is 29bhp more powerful than the Aventador S. This power figure is produced by a tuned version of Lamborghini’s naturally aspirated 6.5-litre V12 and is transmitted to the road through all four wheels. Four-wheel steering is also fitted, as per the Aventador S, but the SVJ builds upon the standard car’s agility with a second generation of its active aerodynamics system (ALA 2.0), with improvements over the first system including redesigned air inlets and aero channel designs. The system aided the SVJ in lapping the Nürburgring circuit in 6min 44.97sec – a new record for a production car. Lamborghini claims the SVJ’s downforce is 40% greater than that of the Aventador SV – its former performance flagship. Larger side air intakes, a huge rear wing, tweaked underbody with vortex generators and prominent rear diffuser and aerodynamic bodywork at the front help to achieve the improved aero figure. The chassis is tweaked for additional stiffness – a 50% stiffer anti-roll bar compared with the Aventador SV has been fitted, while the suspension’s damping force range is increased by 15% over the SV. Other tweaks to the suspension are claimed to improve the car’s on-track stability. A re-engineered exhaust system reduces back pressure and has been fettled to produce a “more emotive’ sound, as well as being lighter than the standard set-up, with higher exit points. Also among the mechanical upgrades is a tweaked seven-speed automated manual gearbox, while the four-wheel drive system now sends 3% more torque rearwards. The stability control and ABS systems are tweaked to accommodate the greater grip provided by the active aerodynamics. The car’s exclusive aluminium Nireo wheels are shod in specially made Pirelli P Zero Corsa tyres and are stiffer, with a bespoke tread design for the Aventador SVJ. Lamborghini plans to build 900 SVJs, with UK prices starting at around £356,000 when deliveries begin in early 2019. An additional 63 units will be produced in 63 Edition guise, of which the Pebble Beach reveal car is one, celebrating the brand’s 1963 inception. These feature a bespoke colour and trim and will carry a higher price tag than the regular SVJ.
Introduced in 1967, the Elan +2 had a longer wheelbase and two rear seats and so was intended for those Lotus customers who needed space to carry (small) people in the back, without sacrificing the same basic principles which made the Elan so appealing. A fast and agile sport coupe, a number of different engines were fitted over the years, with the later models having 130 bhp and a 5 speed gearbox at their disposal, which gave a top speed of 120 mph and 0–60 acceleration of 7.9 seconds and 0-100 mph 21.8 seconds. 5,200 Elans +2 were made, with production ceasing in 1975. Fewer than 1,200 of these cars remain on the roads today. Their relative rarity, beautiful lines, impressive performance and practicality are the main factors for the rising interest on these cars among collectors.
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.
At the Frankfurt 2011 Show, the 2012 version of the Exige S was announced. It features a supercharged 3.5 litre V6 engine (from the Evora S) rated at 345 hp. In 2013, a roadster version was introduced with only minor changes to the design for the removable top. The engine and performance were virtually unchanged from the coupe. To accommodate the V6 engine, the new model is approximately 25 cm (9.8 inches) longer and 5 cm (2.0 in) wider (exterior bodywise) than the model with the inline-four engine, being 4,052 mm (159.5 inches) long, 1,802 mm (70.9 in) wide (not counting the mirrors) and 1,153 mm (45.4 in) tall. The drag coefficient is 0.433. Since that time there have been a bewildering array of different versions and you need to be a real marque expert to tell them all apart. The policy has worked, though, as sales have remained steady whilst Lotus try to amass the finances to develop any all new models. The Exige V6 Cup is a track oriented version of the Exige S while the Exige CupR is the track-only version of Exige V6 Cup. The Exige V6 Cup is offered for sale in the United States as a track only car. If purchased, US Lotus Dealers will only provide a bill of sale instead of a title. The vehicles were unveiled at the 2013 Autosport International motor show. Limited to 50 examples, the Lotus Exige 360 Cup was revealed on 14 August 2015. The car is powered by a 3.5-liter supercharged Toyota V6 delivering 355 hp. The Lotus Exige Sport 380 is a track focused and more powerful version of the Lotus Exige lineup. It was unveiled on 23 November 2016. Lotus’ CEO, Jean-Marc Gales describes it as, “The Exige Sport 380 is so good, that it is no longer the best in class, it’s now in a class of its own”, and it fulfills this statement by taking on some of the powerful and expensive super cars both on the track and the streets. The 3.5-litre, super-charged V6 engine is now uprated and produces 375 hp and 410 Nm (302 lb/ft) of torque with a 6500 rpm red line achieved by revised supercharger and ECU. It can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds and has a top speed of 178 mph (286 km/h). The interior is also stripped out and features necessary driver aids. The Exige Sport 380 weighs 1,076 kg (2,372 lb), thanks to the extensive use of carbon fibre on the exterior as well as the interior, the application of polycarbonate windows instead of traditional glass windows and a newly designed rear transom panel which features two rear lights instead of four.The Lotus Exige Cup 380 is a more hardcore variant of the Exige Sport 380. Performance of the car remains the same as the Sport 380 but it features more aero components and a larger rear wing to produce more downforce at high speeds. The Exige Cup 380 generates 200 kg (441 lb) of downforce at its maximum speed of 175 mph (282 km/h); the top speed is reduced due to excess downforce and more drag. It features a more stripped out interior in order to save weight and other light weight carbon fiber components, Lotus states a lowest possible dry weight of only 1,057 kg (2,330 lb). On 9 November 2017, Lotus unveiled the most powerful version of the Exige to date called the Exige Cup 430, producing 430 PS (424 hp) and using the Evora GT430’s powertrain, modified to fit in the smaller Exige. The car body can produce 220 kg (485 lb) of downforce. The Cup 430 is 19 kg (42 lb) lighter than the Sport 380 due to the use of carbon fibre in body panels and interior and a titanium exhaust. The gearbox allows quicker gearshifts than the previous model. The Cup 430 is not offered with an automatic gearbox. The Lotus Exige Cup 430 is capable of covering the Hethel circuit in 1 minute 24.8 seconds – the fastest production car to lap the circuit – 1.2 seconds faster than the road going Lotus 3-Eleven.
Unveiled at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in 2015, the 3-Eleven was launched in 2016 at a price of £82,500 for the road version (plus VAT) £116,500 (including VAT) for the race version) and limited to a production run of 311 units worldwide. In February 2018, the road version received cosmetic and mechanical updates like the rest of the Lotus line up for the final run of production with engine power increased to 430 hp and performance similar to the race version. The upgraded car is known as the 3-Eleven 430. The 3-Eleven is available in two configurations; a road legal version and a race version. The car has a mid-mounted engine configuration and comes with a 3,456 cc Toyota 2GR-FE V6 engine coupled with an Edelbrock Roots-type supercharger. The engine is similar to the one found in the Lotus Evora, but with variable power outputs, producing 410 bhp at 7,000 rpm and 410 Nm (302 lb/ft) at 3,000 rpm of torque in the road version, and with engineering changes and software revisions to produce 460 bhp at 7,000 rpm and 525 Nm (387 lb/ft) at 3,500 rpm in the race version. Both versions of the car have different transmissions; a 6-speed manual transmission is available for the road version and a paddle operated 6-speed sequential manual transmission is available for the race version. Acceleration times also vary with the road version having a 0–62 mph (0–100 km/h) acceleration time of 3.3 seconds and the race version having the same acceleration time of 2.9 seconds which is achieved due to a reduction in dry weight by 35 kg (77 lb). Both versions have a top speed of 180 mph (290 km/h). A more powerful and track focused version of the road car was launched in February 2018 dubbed the 3-eleven 430 edition, having an increase in the power output to 430 hp and performance now similar to the racing version.
The Maserati GranTurismo and GranCabrio (Tipo M145) are a series of a grand tourers produced from 2007 to 2019. They succeeded the 2-door V8 grand tourers offered by the company, the Maserati Coupé, and Spyder. The GranTurismo set a record for the most quickly developed car in the auto industry, going from design to production stage in just nine months. The reason being that Ferrari, after selling off Maserati to the Fiat Chrysler Group, took the designs of the proposed replacement of the Maserati Coupé and after some modifications, launched it as the Ferrari California. Unveiled at the 2007 Geneva Motor Show, the GranTurismo has a drag coefficient of 0.33. The model was initially equipped with a 4.2-litre V8 engine developed in conjunction with Ferrari. The engine generates a maximum power output of 405 PS and is equipped with a 6-speed ZF automatic transmission. The 2+2 body was derived from the Maserati M139 platform, also shared with the Maserati Quattroporte V, with double-wishbone front suspension and a multilink rear suspension. The grand tourer emphasises comfort in harmony with speed and driver-enjoyment. The better equipped S variant was unveiled at the 2008 Geneva Motor Show and features the enlarged 4.7-litre V8 engine shared with the Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione, rated at 440 PS at 7,000 rpm and 490 Nm (361 lb/ft) of torque at 4,750 rpm. At the time of its introduction, it was the most powerful road-legal Maserati offered for sale (excluding the homologation special MC12). The engine is mated to the 6-speed automated manual shared with the Ferrari F430. With the transaxle layout weight distribution improved to 47% front and 53% rear. The standard suspension set-up is fixed-setting steel dampers, with the Skyhook adaptive suspension available as an option along with a new exhaust system, and upgraded Brembo brakes. The seats were also offered with various leather and Alcantara trim options. The upgrades were made to make the car more powerful and more appealing to the buyers while increasing performance, with acceleration from 0–100 km/h (0–62 mph) happening in 4.9 seconds and a maximum speed of 295 km/h (183 mph). Aside from the power upgrades, the car featured new side skirts, unique 20-inch wheels unavailable on the standard car, a small boot lip spoiler, and black headlight clusters in place of the original silver. The variant was available in the North American market only for MY2009 with only 300 units offered for sale. The GranTurismo MC is the racing version of the GranTurismo S developed to compete in the FIA GT4 European Cup and is based on the Maserati MC concept. The car included a 6-point racing harness, 120 litre fuel tank, 380 mm (15.0 in) front and 326 mm (12.8 in) rear brake discs with 6-piston calipers at the front and 4-piston calipers at the rear, 18-inch racing wheels with 305/645/18 front and 305/680/18 rear tyres, carbon fibre bodywork and lexan windows throughout along with a race interior. All the weight-saving measures lower the weight to about 3,000 lb (1,361 kg). The car shares the 4.7-litre V8 engine from the GranTurismo S but is tuned to generate a maximum power output of 450 PS along with the 6-speed automated manual transmission. The GranTurismo MC was unveiled at the Paul Ricard Circuit in France. It went on sale in October, 2009 through the Maserati Corse programme. 15 GranTurismo MC racecars were developed, homologated for the European Cup and National Endurance Series, one of which was taken to be raced by GT motorsport organization Cool Victory in Dubai in January, 2010. Introduced in 2008, the GranTurismo MC Sport Line is a customisation programme based on the GranTurismo MC concept. Changes include front and rear carbon-fibre spoilers, carbon-fibre mirror housings and door handles, 20-inch wheels, carbon-fibre interior (steering wheel rim, paddle shifters, instrument panel, dashboard, door panels), stiffer springs, shock absorbers and anti-roll bars with custom Maserati Stability Programme software and 10 mm (0.4 in) lower height than GranTurismo S. The programme was initially offered for the GranTurismo S only, with the product line expanded to all GranTurismo variants and eventually all Maserati vehicles in 2009. Replacing both the GranTurismo S and S Automatic, the Granturismo Sport was unveiled in March 2012 at the Geneva Motor Show. The revised 4.7L engine is rated at 460 PS. The Sport features a unique MC Stradale-inspired front fascia, new headlights and new, sportier steering wheel and seats. The ZF six-speed automatic gearbox is now standard, while the six-speed automated manual transaxle is available as an option. The latter has steering column-mounted paddle-shifters, a feature that’s optional with the automatic gearbox. New redesigned front bumper and air splitter lowers drag coefficient from Cd=0.33 to 0.32. In September 2010, Maserati announced plans to unveil a new version of the GranTurismo – the MC Stradale – at the 2010 Paris Motor Show. The strictly two-seat MC Stradale is more powerful than the GranTurismo at 450 PS, friction reduction accounts for the increase, says Maserati, due to the strategic use of “diamond-like coating”, an antifriction technology derived from Formula 1, on wear parts such as the cams and followers. It is also 110 kg lighter (1,670 kg dry weight) from the GranTurismo, and more aerodynamic than any previous GranTurismo model – all with the same fuel consumption as the regular GranTurismo. In addition to two air intakes in the bonnet, the MC Stradale also receives a new front splitter and rear air dam for better aerodynamics, downforce, and improved cooling of carbon-ceramic brakes and engine. The body modifications make the car 48 mm (2 in) longer. The MC Race Shift 6-speed robotised manual gearbox (which shares its electronics and some of its hardware from the Ferrari 599 GTO) usually operates in an “auto” mode, but the driver can switch this to ‘sport’ or ‘race’ (shifting happening in 60 milliseconds in ‘race’ mode), which affects gearbox operations, suspension, traction control, and even the sound of the engine. The MC Stradale is the first GranTurismo to break the 300 km/h (186 mph) barrier, with a claimed top speed of 303 km/h (188 mph). The push for the Maserati GranTurismo MC Stradale came from existing Maserati customers who wanted a road-legal super sports car that looked and felt like the GT4, GTD, and Trofeo race cars. It has been confirmed by the Maserati head office that only 497 units of 2-seater MC Stradales were built in total from 2011 to 2013 in the world, Europe: 225 units, China: 45 units, Hong Kong: 12, Taiwan: 23 units, Japan: 33 units, Oceania: 15 units and 144 units in other countries. US market MC’s do not have the “Stradale” part of the name, and they are sold with a fully automatic six-speed transmission rather than the one available in the rest of the world. US market cars also do not come with carbon fibre lightweight seats like the rest of the world. The MC Stradale’s suspension is 8% stiffer and the car rides slightly lower than the GranTurismo S following feedback from racing drivers who appreciated the better grip and intuitive driving feel of the lower profile. Pirelli has custom-designed extra-wide 20-inch P Zero Corsa tyres to fit new flow-formed alloy wheels. The Brembo braking system with carbon-ceramic discs weighs around 60% less than the traditional system with steel discs. The front is equipped with 380 x 34 mm ventilated discs, operated by a 6 piston caliper. The rear discs measure 360 x 32 mm with four-piston calipers. The stopping distance is 33 m at 100 km/h (62 mph) with an average deceleration of 1.2g. At the 2013 Geneva Motor Show, an update to the GranTurismo MC Stradale was unveiled. It features an updated 4.7 litre V8 engine rated at 460 PS at 7,000 rpm and 520 Nm (384 lb/ft) of torque at 4,750 rpm, as well as the MC Race Shift 6-speed robotized manual gearbox which shifts in 60 milliseconds in ‘race’ mode. The top speed is 303 km/h (188 mph). All models were built at the historic factory in viale Ciro Menotti in Modena. A total of 28,805 GranTurismos and 11,715 units of the convertible were produced. The final production example of the GranTurismo, called Zéda, was presented painted in a gradient of blue, black and white colours.
In June 2018, McLaren unveiled the top-of-the-line sports series variant online. The car, called the 600LT is based on the 570S and is the third McLaren production car to receive the longtail treatment. Inspired by the 675LT and the F1 GTR Longtail, the body of the car has been extended by 73.7 mm (2.9 in). The car also features enhanced aerodynamic elements such as an extended front splitter and rear diffuser, new side sills, and an aero-enhancing fixed rear wing for increased downforce. McLaren claims that 23% parts on the 600LT are new as compared to the 570S. The carbon fibre monocoque utilised in the 600LT is modified and this combined with the extensive use of carbon fibre in the roof along with the cantrails and front wings, results in a weight saving of 96 kg (212 lb) over the 570S, with the total weight amounting to 1,247 kg (2,749 lb). Another distinguishing feature of the 600LT is the lightweight titanium exhaust system which is mounted on top of the rear of the car which harks back to its original application in the Senna. The interior features sports bucket seats from the P1 and Alcantara trim but can be optioned with the much lighter bucket seats found in the Senna. The 3.8-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine utilised in the 600LT is tuned to produce a maximum power output of 600 PS (592 bhp) (hence the 600 in the name) and 620 N⋅m (457 lb⋅ft) of torque, achieving a power-to-weight ratio of 479 PS per tonne. Performance figures and production numbers of the car remain unknown. Production of the 600LT started in October 2018. In January 2019, McLaren unveiled the convertible variant of the 600LT at the Detroit Auto Show. Due to the use of the same carbon monocoque as the other models in the 570S lineage the 600LT Spider required did not need any extra modifications to incorporate a folding hardtop roof. As a result, the Spider weighs 50 kg (110 lb) more than the coupé while maintaining the same performance statistics. The Spider has the same engine and aerodynamic components as the coupé and share the roof folding mechanism with the standard 570S Spider which can be operated at speeds upto 40 km/h (25 mph). The car can accelerate to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 2.9 seconds, to 200 km/h (124 mph) in 8.4 seconds (0.2 seconds more than the coupé) and can attain a top speed of 315 km/h (196 mph) with the roof retracted and 323 km/h (201 mph) with the roof closed. The car can achieve a dry weight of 1,297 kg (2,859 lb) when equipped with the MSO ClubSport package which includes the removal of air-conditioning and radio, titanium wheel nuts and the replacement of the standard seats with the carbon fibre seats from the Senna. The car has received rave reviews.
The Mercedes-Benz W124 is a range of mid-size cars made by Daimler-Benz from 1984 to 1997. The range included numerous body configurations, and though collectively referred to as the W-124, official internal chassis designations varied by body style: saloon (W 124); estate (S 124); coupé (C 124); cabriolet (A 124); limousine (V 124); rolling chassis (F 124); and long-wheelbase rolling chassis (VF 124). From 1993, the 124 series was officially marketed as the E-Class. The W 124 followed the 123 series from 1984 and was succeeded by the W 210 E-Class (saloons, estates, rolling chassis) after 1995, and the C 208 CLK-Class (coupés, and cabriolets) in 1997. In North America, the W124 was launched in early November 1985 as a 1986 model and marketed through the 1995 model year. Series production began at the beginning of November 1984, with press presentation on Monday, 26 November 1984 in Seville, Spain, and customer deliveries and European market launch starting in January 1985. The W124 was a mid-sized vehicle platform, which entered planning in the autumn of 1976 under development Hans Scherenberg. In July 1977, the W124 program officially began, with R&D commencing work under newly appointed Werner Breitschwerdt. In April 1978, decisions were made to base it on the Mercedes-Benz W201 model program. By April 1979, a package plan was completed for the program, laying out the guidelines of the project. During the winter of 1980–1981, the final exterior for the W124 program was completed, chosen as the leading proposal by design director Bruno Sacco, and approved by the board of management in early 1981. By mid-1982, the first prototypes reflective of the production design, were assembled and sent to testing. In March 1984, pilot production commenced and development of the sedan concluded with engineering sign-off. Front suspension used a separate spring and damper with a rubber top mount. The rear suspension of the W124 featured the Mercedes multi-link axle introduced in 1982 with the Mercedes W201 and which is now standard on many modern cars. Estate cars (and optionally, saloons and coupés) had Citroën-like rear self-leveling suspension with suspension struts rather than shock absorbers, gas-filled suspension spheres to provide damping and an under bonnet pressurizing pump. Unlike the traditional Citroën application, the Mercedes suspension system had a fixed ride height and employed rear coil springs to maintain the static ride height when parked. The W124 was the first Mercedes series to be fitted with the iconic 15-hole, flat-faced alloy wheels characteristic of Mercedes-Benz cars of the 1980s and 1990s. The alloy wheels were nicknamed ‘gullideckel’ or manhole covers, because they resemble manhole or drainage covers in Germany, which are consistently round in shape with a series of 15- or 16-holes around the outer edge, often within a concentric ring. Gullideckel wheels in a variety of diameter and offset specifications were later incorporated into the facelift versions of the W126 S-Class, R107 SL and W201 190E series, and were also the ‘non-option’ wheel on the R129 SL-Class roadster. The R129 SL-Class was based on the W124 platform; the W124 was later equipped with two of the roadster’s engines 3.2 24V straight-six and 5.0 V8. Much of the 124’s engineering and many of its features were advanced automotive technology at its introduction, incorporating innovations that have been adopted throughout the industry. It had one of the lowest coefficient of drag (Cd) of any vehicle of the time (0.28 for the 200/200D model for the European market with 185/65 R15 tyres) due to its aerodynamic body, that included plastic moulding for the undercarriage to streamline airflow beneath the car, reducing fuel consumption and wind noise. It had a single windscreen wiper that had an eccentric mechanism at its base that extended the wiper’s reach to the top corners of the windscreen (more than if it had traveled in a simple arc). The saloon/sedan, coupés and convertibles had optional rear headrests that would fold down remotely to improve rearward visibility when required. This feature was not available for the T-model because of its specific layout (no space to store the retractable headrests), but the estate serially came with a “neighbour-friendly” rear door that was pulled in the shut-position silently and automatically by a sensor-controlled servomotor. This allowed the use of a tighter fitting rear gate, minimizing the cabin noise in the T-model – sometimes an area of concern for station wagons. With the exception of the 200, which was equipped with a Stromberg or Pierburg carburetor but was not available to the United States, manifold injection was standard in Otto models, and the engines incorporated features that maximized performance. The most notable such feature was the addition of an oxygen sensor in the exhaust system which, in conjunction with a semi-electronic fuel injection system, could make the engine run more efficiently. This improved fuel consumption while simultaneously meeting stricter emission regulations. Mercedes-Benz’s four-wheel drive system, the 4Matic was first introduced on the W124 in 1987. The estate cars (chassis designation S124) came in 5 or 7-seat models, the 7-seater having a rear-facing bench seat that folded flush luggage compartment cover and an optional (in the US until 1994) retractable cargo net. To provide a flat loading floor with the seat folded down, the T-model’s rear seat squab was mounted about 10 cm (3.9 in) higher than in saloons, robbing rear seat passengers of some head room. The S124 estate continued in production alongside the new W210 until the S210 estate launched more than a year later. A two-door coupé version was also built, with the chassis designation C124. In 1989, the 124 series received its first facelift. Most notable difference between the 1985 to 1988 models and the post 1989 models are the so-called “Sacco planks”. These are body trim parts mounted on the lower portions of the doors. In 1993, the second facelift was introduced to the 124. It changed the appearance of the 124 series once again: the front portion was changed, which made the 124 bear closer resemblance to the 140 series, and the rear bumper on saloon, cabriolet, and coupé models was extended further around the rear wings, whilst the estate models retained their original rear bumpers. Mercedes launched a cabriolet (convertible) version in Europe in 1991, the 300CE-24 cabriolet, and in the UK (RHD) and Japan (LHD). The 320CE, and North America, the 300CE, in 1992. These versions were redesignated as the E 320 in 1993, complemented by the less powerful, but less expensive E 220 in 1993, and the mainland-Europe-only E 200 in 1994. Mercedes brought the E 320 cabriolet (convertible) to the US and Japan from 1993 to 1995. There were 68 E 36 AMG cabriolets built from 1993 until 1996 (54 LHD and 14 RHD) to complement the also rare E 36 AMG coupé, saloon (RHD only), and estate. Approximately 171 estate cars were produced for the Japanese market. The pre-merger AMG coupés are based on the 124 series 2 update. The AMG 3.4 CE (300CE-24 based coupé) were all LHD, 25 were produced from 1988 until 1993. There were also 7 cabriolets built, and eleven saloons (and possibly estates). AMG Japan also carried out such conversions locally.The E 320, E 220, and E 200 cabriolets ceased production in 1997. Indian assembly (in a joint-venture with Telco called Mercedes-Benz India) began in March 1995. Offered with five-cylinder diesel engines built by Mercedes’ Indian partner Bajaj Tempo,h the W124 was replaced there in December 1997
Not surprisingly, there were a number of recent AMG models here, mostly C63 cars from the current and previous generations.
Also here was the top of the line sports car, the AMG GT.
This is an Evo V. These were produced for just one year, from January 1998 to January 1999 and represented a comprehensive reworking of the Evo IV, as opposed to being a brand new model. Many aspects of the car were changed such as: The interior was upgraded in the GSR version with a better class of Recaro seats; the body kit had flared arches at the front and rear and a new aluminium rear spoiler replaced the IV FRP version and gave an adjustable angle of attack to alter rear downforce. (In process of doing so, the Evolution V onwards was no longer considered “compact” according to Japanese dimension regulations, requiring Japanese owners to pay an increased annual tax as the car was now 70 mm (2.8 in) wider than regulated limit of 1,700 mm (66.9 in)); the track was widened by 10 mm (0.4 in), the wheel offset changed from ET45 to ET38 along with the wheel diameter which rose from 16 in to 17 in to accommodate Brembo brakes; in addition the brake master cylinder bore increased by 0.3 mm (0.01 in); the engine was strengthened in a few areas and the cam duration was increased. The pistons were lighter with a smaller skirt area. 510 cc injectors were replaced with 560 cc injectors for better engine reliability due to more electrical “headroom” and the ECU was changed to include a flash ROM, allowing more boost pressure to the same TD05-HR as the Mitsubishi Evolution IV. Furthermore, the turbocharger was again improved. Torque was increased to 373 Nm (275 lb/ft) at 3,000 rpm. Power officially stayed the same, at 280 PS (276 bhp), though some claim horsepower was actually somewhat higher. There were tow versions: RS – “rally sport” Close-ratio 5-speed, minimal interior, rally suspension, 1.5 Way LSD, (Shortened close-ratio 5-speed transmission, Auto Air Conditioner, Enkei Wheels, Recaro bucket seat, Brembo brakes, power window are available as option); and GSR – 5-speed, gauge pack, AYC (Active Yaw Control), Anti-Lock Braking System, Recaro front bucket and rear seat, auto air-conditioner, double-din audio, power window, Brembo brakes.
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.
Released on July 2002 in Japan at reorganized Nissan Japanese dealerships called Nissan Blue Stage, and August 20, 2002 in the US., the 350Z coupé was available in 5 trim packages: ‘350Z’ (Base), ‘Enthusiast’, ‘Performance’, ‘Touring’, and ‘Track’ editions. In Europe, only the ‘Track’ trim was available, although it was badged and marketed as ‘350Z’. The Base model did not include a VLSD or Traction Control and was only available with cloth seats. It did not include cruise control, nor power or heated seats. The Enthusiast model came with traction control, a VLSD, and cruise control. The Performance model came with bigger 18-inch wheels, front air dam, rear spoiler, optional Brembo brakes, and VDC instead of Traction Control. Touring was made more of the luxury model. It had power, leather, heated seats, VDC, a VLSD, xenon headlamps, optional Brembos, 18-inch wheels, and optional GPS. The Track model included Brembo brakes, front air dam, rear spoiler, traction control, cloth seats, 18-inch wheels, VLSD, and optional GPS. In 2004 Nissan introduced the 350Z Roadster with an electrically retractable soft-top roof. In the U.S. market the car was available in two trim packages (Enthusiast and Touring), while in Europe, the same versions as the coupé were offered. Nissan added the Grand Touring (GT) trim to the Roadster trim packages for 2005. In 2005 Nissan launched a 35th Anniversary edition, with a revised exterior and interior. Early 2005 model-year 35th anniversary edition models were equipped with the original VQ35DE with 287 hp and automatic transmission. In January 2005, Nissan introduced the 35th Anniversary 6-speed manual models and Track models (mid-year introduction), which included the updated VQ35DE 300 hp Rev-up engine and new updated CD009 manual transmission. As well as minor changes to suspension tuning and parts. For the 2006 model year, the 350Z received changes for its mid-cycle facelift. The VQ35DE 300 hp Rev-up engine that was introduced mid-year 2005 on the Track and 35th Anniversary Edition with 6-speed manual transmission models was offered for every trim level that had a manual transmission option. The VQ35DE with 287 hp continued to be offered with only the 5-speed automatic. Additions included bi-xenon projectors, a revised front fascia, new LED rear lights, changes to the interior trim and speed sensitive steering. Touring and Grand Touring models had radio-steering controls standard, MP3 CD compatibility, and Satellite Radio became an available option. For the 2007 model year, the 350Z was again moderately revised. The VQ35DE V6 was replaced with a new VQ35HR V6. It produced 306 hp at 6800 rpm with 268 ft·lb at 4800 rpm using the revised SAE certified power benchmark. The VQ35HR had a raised redline to 7500 rpm and more torque across the rpm range. The bonnet was redesigned with a bulge reminiscent of the original 240Z to accommodate the raised deck height of the new VQ35HR. In the US, trim levels were narrowed down to 350Z (base), Enthusiast, Touring, and Grand Touring, while in Europe the same trim levels remained. Bluetooth was added for the 2007 model year. The car was replaced by the 370Z for the 2009 model year. It has never found quite the same levels of enthusiasm that greeted – and have stayed with – the 350Z.
Completing the array of Z cars here was an example of the current one, the 370Z, a model which has been produced since 2009 with not much changed in all that time. Production does end soon and the car’s replacement the 400Z, will not be coming to Europe (sadly).
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.
First of a couple of Japanese cars present that I did not immediately recognise was this C35 generation Laurel. The eighth and last generation Laurel debuted in June 1997. The number of available models was further reduced; the models had a DOHC two-liter engine, a 2.5 L six, or a 2.8 L diesel six. In late 2002 Laurel production was ended. The competitors were the Toyota Cresta and the Honda Inspire. In this generation, no manual transmission was offered anymore. It was unceremoniously replaced in 2003 by the Nissan Teana.
Follow on to the Noble M10, the M12 was a two-door, two-seat model, originally planned both as a coupe and as a convertible. All M12s were powered by modified bi-turbocharged Ford Duratec V6 engines. There was a full steel roll cage, steel frame, and G.R.P. (fibreglass) composite clam shell body parts. Although looking to be track derived, the M12 was street-legal, ready for both road and track. The M12 has no anti-roll bars on the car, allowing for a comfortable feel. The coupe evolved through four versions of Noble cars, with the 425 bhp M400 as the ultimate version of the M12, following the first 2.5 litre 310 bhp car, the 352 bhp 3 litre GTO-3 and the GTO-3R. The car was sold in the US, where it proved quite popular, with 220 GTO-3Rs and M400s sold there. US production rights were sold in February 2007 to 1G Racing from Ohio. Due to high demand of these cars, 1G Racing (now Rossion Automotive) released its own improved car based on the M400, named Rossion Q1. Another company which is also producing a model developed from the M12 is Salica Cars 1 with their Salica GT and Salica GTR.
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.
Porsche unveiled the facelifted 991.2 GT3 at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show. Extensive changes were made to the engine allowing for a 9,000 rpm redline from the 4.0 litre flat-six engine derived from Porsche 911 GT3 R and Cup racing cars. The engine has a power output of 500 PS (493 bhp) and 460 Nm (339 lb/ft) of torque. Porsche’s focus was on reducing internal friction to improve throttle response. Compared to the 991.1, the rear spoiler is 0.8 inch taller and located farther back to be more effective resulting in a 20% increase in downforce. There is a new front spoiler and changes to the rear suspension along with larger ram air ducts. The car generates 154 kg (340 lb) of downforce at top speed. The 991.2 GT3 brought back the choice between a manual transmission or a PDK dual clutch transmission. Performance figures include a 0-60 mph acceleration time of 3.8 seconds (3.2 seconds for the PDK version) and a quarter mile time of 11.6 seconds. The GT3 can attain a top speed of 319 km/h (198 mph).
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 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.
Much rumoured for some time, the Cayman GT4 was officially launched at the 2015 Geneva Show, positioned to sit between the Cayman GTS and the 911 GT3. By the time of the official unveiling, the car was supposedly sold out many times over, though more recently it has become apparent that at least some Porsche dealers have been holding onto cars claiming that the first purchaser changed their mind, and then offering them to those who did not get one of the allocation a year ago, at vastly inflated prices. If true, this is very sharp practice indeed, but seems to be the sort to tricks that are becoming increasingly common as enthusiasts are being fleeced in the name of extra profit. For a starting price of around £65,000 in the UK, the lucky customer would get a car which used used a stiffened and strengthened Cayman bodyshell as a starting point, but lowered by 30mm . Porsche say that in fitting as many GT parts as possible, they did not make it out of a Cayman GTS, but rather they produced an entry-level mid-engined GT3 car. That sounds like PR spin to me, as of course the car does use an awful lot of parts from the regular Cayman. However, plenty is changed, too. There is a reworked version of the Carrera S’s 3.8-litre flat six engine, producing 380bhp at 7400rpm and 310lb ft at 4750-6000rpm, hooked up to a modified version of the Cayman GTS’s six-speed manual gearbox. A PDK dual-clutch automatic was considered but rejected, meaning the Cayman GT4 is manual only. This is enough to mean that the 0-62mph sprint takes 4.4sec and the top speed is 183mph, with combined fuel economy of 27.4mpg and CO2 emissions rated at 238g/km. The front axle and suspension are borrowed from the 911 GT3 and the rear axle and forged aluminium double wishbone suspension are completely new. Dampers are taken from the 911 GT3. The electric steering system from the 911 GT3 does make it onto the Cayman GT4 but is given new software. Stopping power is provided by standard steel brakes, or optional carbon-ceramics from the 911 GT3. The forged 20in alloy wheels were new and are shod with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres. The rear 295/30 ZR20 tyres are bespoke, but the front 245/35 ZR20s were borrowed from the 911 GT3 as they were “a perfect match”. design-wise, the goal was to create a “zero lift car”, but thanks to the extensive aerodynamic and cooling package on the car – which includes a front splitter, a larger front grille and increased frontal air intakes, side air intakes, not one but two rear spoilers and a fully functional diffuser – the Cayman GT4 produces as much downforce at speed (100kg) as the 911 GT3. Every single part on the Cayman GT4 has a functional use. Other design features include “cool” black glass on the front and rear lights, blackened twin central exhausts and quality stitching on the twin lightweight bucket seats, taken from the 918 Spyder, as small details adding to that ‘want factor’.Despite all the extra equipment, the Cayman GT4 weighs no more than a Cayman GTS, tipping the scales at 1340kg dry. You could delete items such as the sat-nav and air-con to save weight, but few customers did, just as with the 911 GT3 RS were just 2% of buyers deleted the air-con. Inside, the steering wheel was new. The sports seats were trimmed in both leather and Alcantara. Standard equipment included bi-xenon headlights, a sports exhaust system, a Sport Chrono Package with dynamic engine mounts, the Porsche Torque Vectoring system, a mechanical limited-slip differential at the rear and the Porsche Stability Management system. On the options list were items such as carbonfibre-reinforced, plastic-backed seats for the two-seat interior. These weigh just 15kg each and were inspired by the 918 Spyder. A customised version of the Sport Chrono Package was offered, as is a Club Sport Package. Initially it was declared that production would be very limited, but Porsche soon relented and far more were built than had originally been declared.
Porsche revealed the latest Boxster Spyder based on the 981 Boxster in April 2015 at the New York Auto Show. The styling of the car is similar to the previous generation Spyder, continuing the twin hump rear deck and manually operated canvas top. It also shares some styling with the Cayman GT4, using the same front and rear fascia. The engine is also shared with the Cayman GT4, a 3.8 litre flat-6, making this the largest and most powerful engine used in a Boxster with 385 bhp. It was the lightest Porsche, weighing 1,315 kilograms (2,899 lb). This was achieved through the use of aluminium doors and rear boot lid, a manually operated roof and unique lightweight 20 inch wheels. The air conditioning and audio system were also removed, although they can be added as no cost options. Braking is via larger brakes than used on the Boxster S, being 340mm front and 330mm rear units taken from the 911 Carrera S. Also shared with the GT4 is a limited slip differential combined with Porsche Torque Vectoring and features a 20mm lower ride height. Additionally it also borrows the steering rack from the 911 Turbo S along with the same reduced diameter GT steering wheel as used in both the GT3 and GT4. The Boxster Spyder was only available with a 6 speed manual transmission. The Spyder had a base price of US$82,100 and was only available as a 2016 model with a total worldwide production of 2400 units, with 850 destined for the US.
Sole sporting Renault here was this example of the current fourth generation Megane, the RS280, a car which only received muted enthusiasm on launch compared to its predecessors, all of which were much lauded has probably contributed to modest sales, so this is quite a rare car.
The 99 was first shown on November 22, 1967. The first production cars came in autumn 1968, although only 4190 cars were built this year. Production increased considerably in 1969 and again in 1970 when the four-door model arrived. In 1970 the interior was also given a facelift and became more luxurious, with a new steering wheel. The exhaust system was now made of aluminium, engine mounts and drive joints were changed. In March, the 99E (also available with a three-speed automatic transmission) was introduced. It had a 1.75 L engine with electronically controlled fuel injection, giving 86 bhp. In 1971 the 99 was given a larger and stronger engine, a 1.85 L engine giving 85 bhp on the carburettor model and 94 bhp for the fuel-injected model. The 1.75 L engine was now only available with a carburettor. Saab also introduced headlight wipers, as well as larger rear-view mirrors and an additional air inlet beneath the existing grille. The dashboard was given a redesign along with new instruments. In 1972 the 1.75 L engine was no longer available. The power of the engine was increased to 87 bhp for carburettor models and 96 bhp for fuel-injected models. The 2.0 L engine became available. The major change this year were new plastic bumpers that could take impacts up to 8 km/h (5 mph) and still retain their shape. The suspension was stiffened and received stronger dampers. An electrically heated driver’s seat was also introduced. In January 1972 the 99 EMS (Electronic-Manual-Special) was introduced. It was a sportier model that was originally only available in a two-door version; but became available in the wagonback body beginning in 1974 (Europe). It had stiffer suspension and also silver or copper (‘bronze’)-coloured metallic paint as option. The engine had 1985 cc displacement and Bosch D-Jetronic electronic fuel injection giving 108 bhp and a top speed of 170 km/h (106 mph). In 1973 a low-cost model called the 99L was introduced. It was a two-door with a 1.85 L engine giving 87 bhp. All other models had the Swedish-built 2.0 L engine, which produces 95 PS in carburettor form. The LE model had electronic fuel injection giving 108 bhp. The LE model was mainly made for export. The inner ceiling was changed, as were protective bars in the doors, and a new black grille. In Northern Europe, a de-contented model called the 99 X7 was also marketed. In January 1974 the three-door hatchback Combi-coupé (marketed as a “Wagon Back” in the USA) was introduced. It was 11 cm (4.3 in) longer than the sedan. Front seats and steering wheel were new for 1974, while the EMS received an all-new, model-specific interior. Inertial reel belts were also fitted. In 1975 the brakes were improved and the hand brake now worked directly on the primary brake pads instead of on separate pads acting as drum brakes inside the brake rotor. The 99 was now available in two versions, one with a carburettor with 99 bhp and a fuel-injected version using Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection system giving 116 bhp. In February a model using Zenith-Stromberg 150CDS(E) dual carburettors was introduced. It was only available for the Combi-coupé and has 107 bhp. The Combi-coupé had been fitted with a unique grille in 1974; this was now applied across the range. In 1976 nothing major was changed, but a self-adjusting clutch was introduced. The engines were adapted for tougher emissions requirements and several models with an electrically heated rear window were introduced. A luxurious 4-door sedan model was available, the 99 GLE. it came with power steering, an automatic transmission, a fuel-injected engine, luxurious upholstery on the seats and an armrest in the rear seat. The five-door Combi-coupé model was also introduced. In 1977, the front light clusters and the sedan’s tail lights were enlarged. The rubber strips on the bumpers were changed. The “One Hundred series” of test-fleet Turbo cars were distributed around the world. The cars were mainly made from three- and two-door EMS models, but a few four-door and even five-door cars were also made. The four- and five-door models were tested by mostly police in Sweden, Finland and Switzerland. In 1978 a turbocharged version of the car, the 99 Turbo, was introduced. It was only available as a Combi-coupé until the next year. The turbocharged two-litre engine produced 143 bhp giving the car a top speed of 200 km/h (124 mph). The turbochargers were designed and built by Garrett AiResearch. In terms of appearance, it received distinctive alloy wheels and front and rear spoilers. The 99 Turbo repositioned Saab in the car market and it came to be regarded as an iconic and technologically significant model of its era. By early 1979, over 10,000 turbo-engined Saabs had already been built, as Saab successfully entered a new market segment. Other news for 1978 included the availability of a sunroof, and the EMS became a three-door Combi-coupé in some markets. In 1979 the Combi-coupé option was discontinued for the 99, as the new Saab 900 was only available in this bodystyle. The 99 Turbo changed over to the two-door saloon bodywork although only a small number were built. The rear axle was altered, the fuel tank changed to a plastic one, new wheels were fitted, and four-door models received new bumpers similar to those of the 900. These bumpers were also installed on two-doors beginning with the 1980 model year. In 1980 the 99 was also given the new and safer seats from the Saab 900, as well as low-mounted protective strips along the sides. The spare wheel was changed to an emergency unit. The carpeting, which had been changed to rubber a few years earlier, went back to textile. In the Swedish market the twin-carb version made a return for a single year, sold as the 99 Super and only available with four doors and an automatic transmission. In 1981 the twin-carb Super was discontinued, although the 99 did gain a new engine option in its stead: the 99 GL with 100 PS (99 bhp) was joined by the 99 GLi with 116 bhp, both with four-speed manual transmissions. The GLi was a bit more luxurious and had power side mirrors. It was only sold in Northern Europe and only around 1600 were built. All 99s received a new rear seat, velour upholstery, new rear mirrors, a new steering wheel, and the 900’s front axle. In 1982 came the H engine, built by Scania at Södertälje, making it possible for all cars to run on 93 octane petrol. The two- and four-door 99 GLs were now available with a five-speed manual transmission. The window surround trim was blacked out and the wheels were new. In 1983 a number of smaller technical and cosmetic changes were made, including a new grille similar to that of the 900 and blacked out B-pillars on two-door models. Brake pads were now asbestos-free. Five-speed-equipped 99s received low-resistance tyres, which sit on wider 5½-inch rims, requiring moving the rear axle. Some further minor changes took place for 1984, including electronic ignition, lowered seats, and a more upright steering wheel. Five-speed cars also received interval wipers. This was to be the final year for the 99. It was replaced by the Saab 90 and the Saab 900. A total of 588,643 were made; this total rises to 614,003 if Saab 90 production is included.
This is an Impreza WRX STi from the first generation of the Impreza family. There have been seven noted versions of the WRX dating back from Subaru’s original World Rally Cross staging vehicles. Subaru adopted the name “WRX” to stand for “World Rally eXperimental” as all WRX versions (1992 to present) feature rally inspired technology, including all wheel drive, stiffened suspensions and turbocharged four cylinder engines. The STi versions were marketed with consecutive numbers. Another way to determine the version of a WRX was to look at the chassis code. All WRX sold between 1992 and 2000 have the beginning chassis code of GC8 2/4 door sedan or GF8 hatchback; this is followed by a letter from A to G. Coupe versions share the “GC” code with sedans, except in the US, where they have a separate chassis code of “GM”. In 1994, Subaru introduced Subaru Tecnica International (STi badged) versions of the WRX in Japan. These models were upgraded from the standard WRX in many categories, including blueprinted performance-tuned engines, transmissions, and suspensions. The STi versions of the WRX were immensely successful in rallies and popular among street racers but were only sold in the Japanese market. Compared to the WRX, the STi had mostly mechanical modifications. (STi prepped Subaru rally cars since 1988 including the Legacy RS, the WRX STi Version was just the first car with an actual STi badge, though with handcrafted tuning). The WRX debuted in November 1992 with 240 PS. The centre differential was a viscous coupling type, the rear limited slip differential was a viscous type. The WRX Type RA is a stripped down version of the WRX that was available in the Japanese market for people to purchase for motorsports and tuning. Targeted for race and rally, the RA versions were generally lighter in weight; featuring reduced soundproofing, manual windows, car horn delete, no air conditioning, no anti-lock brakes, and added racing features such as more robust engines, 5th injection, intercooler water spray and shorter gearing. The WRX Type RA uses a closer ratio gearbox and a three-spoke leather steering wheel from Nardi. The ra model chassis code between GC8-(000000 to 005000) are only sold to the race team by order. Close ratio transmission is anticipated race use, the gap between each gear is brought closer together and a specific close ratio transmission is used. In Europe, the WRX was introduced as the Impreza GT, and as the Impreza Turbo 2000 (UK). It came with 208 hp. A bewildering array of different versions would follow until the release of the second generation Impreza in 2000.
A couple of Toyota models caught my eye. The more familiar was the current GR Supra, a well-rated but still quite rare sports coupe.
The other car was less familiar and I had to look at the badge to check what it was. This is a Chaser, a model not sold new in Europe. In October 1992, the X90 Chaser replaced the previous X81 Chaser. It had a larger body, better handling and more engine power. The body was curvier and the car was significantly longer. The Chaser line-up was largely carried over from the X81 Chaser except the GT Twin Turbo, which was abolished and replaced by the new Tourer V. The top-of-the-line Avante G model received a 220 PS natural aspirated 2JZ-GE, the next evolution of the JZ series of engines after the 1JZ. The Tourer V was equipped with the 1JZ-GTE engine as the most powerful offering. Manual transmissions were optional for all engine offerings, from the 1.8 litre 4S-FE and 2.4 turbodiesel 2L-TE up through the 2.0 1G-FE inline 6 and 1JZ-GE 2.5 inline 6. The Tourer S trim received the non-turbo 1JZ-GE. In September 1992, the Tourer models received equipment upgrades, although not to the level of the Avante G, and their prices were correspondingly higher. With the retirement of the Cressida model after the X81 generation, only the Mark II, Chaser, and Cresta were sold in the Japanese car market. Each of the members of the Cressida family supposedly had different characteristics – the Chaser was geared towards sporty driving, the Cresta towards luxury, and the Mark II was the baseline model. Apart from trim, the cars mostly differed in front and rear end design, with the Cresta also receiving different doors.
I enjoyed this event. It was nice to have something that was within a few miles of home, and to catch up both with friends and also event organisers Dan and Miriam Grazier, whom I know had something a stressful time in the days leading up to this event and even on the day when they found that one of the indoor halls that had been promised was actually full of other stuff. The Queen Square events are deservedly popular, and the only reason I do not manage to attend more of them is because there are just too many diary clashes which get in the way. Looking at the calendar that might be less of a problem in the coming months, and with different locations used for these events, I look forward to the next one I can attend, which, all being well, will be in January 2022.