Although a significant percentage of the population is not terrible keen in heading out early on New Year’s Day, as they catch up on sleep following the celebrations of the night before, there are plenty of people, among them lots of car enthusiasts who are just itching to get out and do something for the first time in the New Year. And so car-related gatherings are just as popular on this day as they are in the rest of the year, and there are plenty of them scattered across the country. The largest – and one I have attended a number of times before – takes place at Brooklands, and that was the one that I planned to attend as my first event of 2022, looking forward to it very much, as 2021 had started without this event or any other being possible. I arranged an Abarth Owners Club parking area and sent out the parking passes and then, just before Christmas, the venue decided that given the prevailing Covid situation in the country, they should not go ahead, and the whole thing was cancelled. Or rather postponed, to April. Venues holding meets on a smaller scale decided that they could still proceed, though, so I was still able to go out and mark the start of another year. I chose to go to what was perhaps the closest event to me, at Andoversford in the Cotswolds. A long standing event, organised by the Cotswold Car Club, but open to anyone who wanted to go along, it has moved from the Frog Mill pub to the Cricket Club ground which is literally next door. Officially the event started at 11:30am, but when I arrived a few minutes after that there were plenty of cars already parked up so I guess some had arrived earlier than that. Plenty more cars continued to arrive, so there was plenty to see. Here is what the camera recorded:
I decided to take my Abarth, and it proved to be the only 500-based car there.
There were also a couple of 124 Spiders here, though I did not recognise either car or their occupants, and one of them stayed less than 15 minutes before leaving, so there was no chance to go and say “hello”. Eagerly awaited, the 124 Spider went on sale in September 2016. A quick reminder as to what this car is: The Abarth 124 Spider was developed in parallel with the Fiat model. It does cost a lot more, and there are those who think you don’t get enough extra for your money, but those who have driven it will tell you otherwise. You certainly get more power. The 1.4 MultiAir turbo unit jumps up from 138bhp to 168bhp, while torque also increases by a modest 10Nm to 250Nm, which gives it a 0-62mph time of 6.8 seconds, which is half a second quicker than the 2.0-litre Mazda MX-5. The top speed is 143mph. It weighs just 1060kg meaning a power-to-weight ratio of 158bhp-per-tonne, and with the new Record Monza exhaust system it sounds great even at idle. The Abarth version gets a stiffer suspension setup than the regular Fiat 124 Spider, with Bilstein dampers and beefed-up anti-roll bars. Bigger Brembo brakes also feature, with aluminium calipers. It can be had with a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission with paddles, and the latter gets a Sport mode for quicker shifts. Many of the UK cars sport the ‘Heritage Look’ pack, which is a no-cost option. It brings a matt black bonnet and bootlid, plus red exterior trim detailing and has proved popular. The £29,565 starting price gets you standard equipment such as cruise control, climate control, Bluetooth, a DAB radio and satnav, plus Alcantara black and red (or pure black) seat trim. The automatic gearbox is a £2,035 extra, while an optional visibility pack brings LED DRLs, auto lights and wipers and rear parking sensors. Sales ceased during 2019, with around 1800 cars having been brought into the UK, so this is always going to be a rare car, and values are already increasing at a rate reflecting its desirability and the difficulty in finding one.
Most commonly seen cars from the 105 Series are the Coupe models and this version was represented here by the 1750 GTV. The first car was called the Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GT, and was revealed at a press event held at the then newly opened Arese plant on 9 September 1963, and displayed later the same month at the Frankfurt Motor Show. In its original form the Bertone body is known as scalino (step) or “step front”, because of the leading edge of the engine compartment lid which sat 1/4 an inch above the nose of the car. The Giulia Sprint GT can be distinguished from the later models by a number of features including: Exterior badging: Alfa Romeo logo on the front grille, a chrome script reading “Giulia Sprint GT” on the boot lid, and rectangular “Disegno di Bertone” badges aft of the front wheel arches; flat, chrome grille in plain, wide rectangular mesh without additional chrome bars; single-piece chrome bumpers; no overriders. Inside the cabin the padded vinyl dashboard was characterised by a concave horizontal fascia, finished in grey anti-glare crackle-effect paint. Four round instruments were inset in the fascia in front of the driver. The steering wheel was non-dished, with three aluminium spokes, a thin bakelite rim and a centre horn button. Vinyl-covered seats with cloth centres and a fully carpeted floor were standard, while leather upholstery was an extra-cost option. After initially marketing it as a four-seater, Alfa Romeo soon changed its definition of the car to a more realistic 2+2. The Giulia Sprint GT was fitted with the 1,570 cc version of Alfa Romeo’s all-aluminium twin cam inline four (78 mm bore × 82 mm stroke), which had first debuted on the 1962 Giulia Berlina. Breathing through two twin-choke Weber 40 DCOE 4 carburettors, on the Sprint GT this engine produced 105 hp at 6,000 rpm. Like all subsequent models, the Sprint GT was equipped with an all-synchromesh 5-speed manual transmission. The braking system comprised four Dunlop disc brakes and a vacuum servo. The rear brakes featured an unusual arrangement with the slave cylinders mounted on the axle tubes, operating the calipers by a system of levers and cranks. According to Alfa Romeo the car could reach a top speed of “over 180 km/h (112 mph)”. In total 21,902 Giulia Sprint GT were produced from 1963 to 1965, when the model was superseded by the Giulia Sprint GT Veloce. Of these 2,274 were right hand drive: 1,354 cars fully finished in Arese, and 920 shipped in complete knock-down kit form for foreign assembly. For 1966, the Giulia Sprint GT was replaced by the Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GT Veloce, which was very similar but featuring a number of improvements: a revised engine—slightly more powerful and with more torque—better interior fittings and changes to the exterior trim. Alongside the brand new 1750 Spider Veloce which shared its updated engine the Sprint GT Veloce was introduced at the 36th Geneva Motor Show in March 1966, and then tested by the international specialist press in Gardone on the Garda Lake. Production had began in 1965 and ended in 1968. The Giulia Sprint GT Veloce can be most easily distinguished from other models by the following features: badging as per Giulia Sprint GT, with the addition of round enamel badges on the C-pillar—a green Quadrifoglio (four-leaf clover) on an ivory background—and a chrome “Veloce” script on the tail panel; black mesh grille with three horizontal chrome bars; the grille heart has 7 bars instead of 6; stainless steel bumpers, as opposed to the chromed mild steel bumpers on the Giulia Sprint GT. The bumpers are the same shape, but are made in two pieces (front) and three pieces (rear) with small covers hiding the joining rivets. Inside the main changes from the Giulia Sprint GT were imitation wood dashboard fascia instead of the previous anti-glare grey finish, front seats revised to a mild “bucket” design, and a dished three aluminium spoke steering wheel, with a black rim and horn buttons through the spokes. The Veloce’s type 00536 engine, identical to the Spider 1600 Duetto’s, featured modifications compared to the Giulia Sprint GT’s type 00502—such as larger diameter exhaust valves. As a result it produced 108 hp at 6,000 rpm, an increase of 3 hp over the previous model, and significantly more torque. The top speed now exceeded 185 km/h (115 mph). Early Giulia Sprint GT Veloces featured the same Dunlop disc brake system as the Giulia Sprint GT, while later cars substituted ATE disc brakes as pioneered on the GT 1300 Junior in 1966. The ATE brakes featured an handbrake system entirely separate from the pedal brakes, using drum brakes incorporated in the rear disc castings. Though the Sprint GT Veloce’s replacement—the 1750 GT Veloce—was introduced in 1967, production continued throughout the year and thirty final cars were completed in 1968. By then total Giulia Sprint GT Veloce production amounted to 14,240 examples. 1,407 of these were right hand drive cars, and 332 right hand drive complete knock-down kits. The 1750 GT Veloce (also known as 1750 GTV) appeared in 1967 along with the 1750 Berlina sedan and 1750 Spider. The same type of engine was used to power all three versions; this rationalisation was a first for Alfa Romeo. The 1750 GTV replaced the Giulia Sprint GT Veloce and introduced many updates and modifications. Most significantly, the engine capacity was increased to 1779 cc displacement. Peak power from the engine was increased to 120 hp at 5500 rpm. The stroke was lengthened from 82 to 88.5 mm over the 1600 engine, and a reduced rev limit from 7000 rpm to 6000 rpm. Maximum torque was increased to 137 lb·ft at 3000 rpm. A higher ratio final drive was fitted (10/41 instead of 9/41) but the same gearbox ratios were retained. The result was that, on paper, the car had only slightly improved performance compared to the Giulia Sprint GT Veloce, but on the road it was much more flexible to drive and it was easier to maintain higher average speeds for fast touring. For the United States market, the 1779 cc engine was fitted with a fuel injection system made by Alfa Romeo subsidiary SPICA, to meet emission control laws that were coming into effect at the time. Fuel injection was also featured on Canadian market cars after 1971. Carburettors were retained for other markets. The chassis was also significantly modified. Tyre size went to 165/14 from 155/15 and wheel size to 5 1/2J x 14 instead of 5J x 15, giving a wider section and slightly smaller rolling diameter. The suspension geometry was also revised, and an anti-roll bar was fitted to the rear suspension. ATE disc brakes were fitted from the outset, but with bigger front discs and calipers than the ones fitted to GT 1300 Juniors and late Giulia Sprint GT Veloces. The changes resulted in significant improvements to the handling and braking, which once again made it easier for the driver to maintain high average speeds for fast touring. The 1750 GTV also departed significantly from the earlier cars externally. New nose styling eliminated the “stepped” bonnet of the Giulia Sprint GT, GTC, GTA and early GT 1300 Juniors and incorporated four headlamps. For the 1971 model year, United States market 1750 GTV’s also featured larger rear light clusters (there were no 1970 model year Alfas on the US market). Besides the chrome “1750” badge on the bootlid, there was also a round Alfa Romeo badge. Similar Quadrofoglio badges to those on the Giulia Sprint GT Veloce were fitted on C pillars, but the Quadrofoglio was coloured gold instead of green. The car also adopted the higher rear wheelarches first seen on the GT 1300 Junior. The interior was also much modified over that of earlier cars. There was a new dashboard with large speedometer and tachometer instruments in twin binnacles closer to the driver’s line of sight. The instruments were mounted at a more conventional angle, avoiding the reflections caused by the upward angled flat dash of earlier cars. Conversely, auxiliary instruments were moved to angled bezels in the centre console, further from the driver’s line of sight than before. The new seats introduced adjustable headrests which merged with the top of the seat when fully down. The window winder levers, the door release levers and the quarterlight vent knobs were also restyled. The remote release for the boot lid, located on the inside of the door opening on the B-post just under the door lock striker, was moved from the right hand side of the car to the left hand side. The location of this item was always independent of whether the car was left hand drive or right hand drive. Early (Series 1) 1750 GTV’s featured the same bumpers as the Giulia Sprint GT Veloce, with the front bumper modified to mount the indicator / sidelight units on the top of its corners, or under the bumper on US market cars. The Series 2 1750 GTV of 1970 introduced other mechanical changes, including a dual circuit braking system (split front and rear, with separate servos). The brake and clutch pedals on left hand drive cars were also of an improved pendant design, instead of the earlier floor-hinged type. On right hand drive cars the floor-hinged pedals were retained, as there was no space for the pedal box behind the carburettors. Externally, the series 2 1750 GTV is identified by new, slimmer bumpers with front and rear overriders. The combined front indicator and sidelight units were now mounted to the front panel instead of the front bumper, except again on the 1971-72 US/Canadian market cars. The interior was slightly modified, with the seats retaining the same basic outline but following a simpler design. 44,269 1750 GTVs were made before their replacement came along. That car was the 2000GTV. Introduced in 1971, together with the 2000 Berlina sedan and 2000 Spider, the 2 litre cars were replacements for the 1750 range. The engine displacement was increased to 1962 cc. Oil and radiator capacities remained unchanged. The North American market cars had fuel injection, but everyone else retained carburettors. Officially, both versions generated the same power, 130 hp at 5500 rpm. The interior trim was changed, with the most notable differences being the introduction of a separate instrument cluster, instead of the gauges installed in the dash panel in earlier cars. Externally the 2000 GTV is most easily distinguished by its grille with horizontal chrome bars, featuring protruding blocks forming the familiar Alfa heart in outline, smaller hubcaps with exposed wheel nuts, optional aluminium alloy wheels of the same size as the standard 5. 1/2J × 14 steel items, styled to the “turbina” design first seen on the alloy wheels of the Alfa Romeo Montreal, and the larger rear light clusters first fitted to United States market 1750 GTV’s were standard for all markets. From 1974 on, the 105 Series coupé models were rationalised and these external features became common to post-1974 GT 1300 Junior and GT 1600 Junior models, with only few distinguishing features marking the difference between models. 37,459 2000 GTVs were made before production ended and these days they are very sought after with prices having sky-rocketed in recent years.
Alfa replaced the Giulia-based Spider model with an all-new design which finally made its debut in 1966 together with the Giulia Sprint GT Veloce at an event organised in Gardone Riviera. With its boat tailed styling, it quickly found favour, even before taking a starring role in the film “The Graduate”. The original 1600cc engine was replaced by a more powerful 1750cc unit at the same time as the change was made to the rest of the range, and the car continued like this until 1970, when the first significant change to the exterior styling was introduced on the 1750 Spider Veloce, with the original’s distinctive elongated round tail changed to a more conventional cut-off tail, called the “Kamm tail”, as well as improving the luggage space. Numerous other small changes took place both inside and out, such as a slightly different grille, new doorhandles, a more raked windscreen, top-hinged pedals and improved interior trim. 1971 saw the Spider Veloce get a new, larger powerplant—a 1962 cc, 132 hp unit—and consequently the name was changed from 1750 Spider Veloce to 2000 Spider Veloce. The 1600 Spider restarted production a year later as the Spider 1600 Junior, and was visually identical to the 1300. 1974 saw the introduction of the rare, factory request, Spider-Targa. Based upon the Spider, it featured a Porsche style solid rear window and lift out roof panels, all made out of black GRP type material. Less than 2,000 models of such type were ever made and was the only part solid roof Spider until the introduction of the factory crafted hard top. The 1300 and 2000 cars were modified in 1974 and 1975 respectively to include two small seats behind the front seats, becoming a “two plus two” four seater. The 1300 model was discontinued in 1977. Also, between 1974 and 1976, the early-style stainless-steel bumpers were discontinued and replaced with black, rubber-clad units to meet increasingly stringent North American crash requirements. 4,557 examples of the 1300 Junior were made and 4,848 of the 1600 Junior as well as 16,320 2000 Spider Veloces and 22,059 of 2000 Spider Veloce US version. There were also 4,027 1750 Spider Veloces produced.
By 1921, Herbert Austin’s was facing imminent bankruptcy. Like many of the other early car companies, Austin had produced large and costly cars since the firm’s inception and there simply was not a big enough market for the number of cars and car makers that were producing vehicles at the time. Herbert Austin’s master stroke was to produce a cheap and affordable car which did much to put Britain on wheels in the 1920s. The first Sevens were built in 1922, and were four seat open tourers. Nicknamed Chummy, the first 100 featured a 696cc four cylinder engine, which was quickly upgraded to the 747cc unit that remained until the end of production some 17 years later. The first cars had an upright edge to the doors and a sloping windscreen, but from 1924, the screen became upright and there was a sloping edge to the doors, as well as a slightly longer body. Stronger brakes came along in 1926, along with a slightly taller nickel-plated radiator grille, conventional coil ignition, a more spacious body and wider doors. An even longer and wider body arrived in 1930, as well as a stronger crankshaft and improvements to the brakes which coupled front and rear systems together so they both worked by the footbrake. In 1931 the body was restyled , with a thin ribbon-style radiator and by 1932 there was a four speed gearbox to replace the earlier three-speeder. 1933 saw the introduction of the Ruby, a car that looked more modern with its cowled radiator. There were also Pearl and Opal versions. Development continued, so in 1937 there was a move to crankshaft shell bearings in place of the white metal previously used, and the Big Seven appeared. The last Seven was made in 1939, by which time 290,000 had been produced. Aside from saloons and tourers, there had been vans and sports derivatives like the Le Mans, the supercharged Ulster and the rather cheaper Nippy. Around 11,000 Sevens survive today.
The Morris Minor was already well established when rival Austin launched their competitor, the A30 Saloon of 1952. That was also the year that Austin and Morris merged to become the British Motor Corporation, so suddenly the two cars that had been conceived to compete against each other were stablemates. Except BMC did not work like that. Separate dealer chains remained in place, as they would do for a further 30 years, and whilst this may sound inefficient now, it has to be noted that brand loyalty was such that there were plenty of people would only consider an Austin say, and not a Morris, or vice versa. The A30 was smaller than the Minor and at £507, at launch, it was also £60 cheaper. The body structure was designed by T.K. Garrett, who had been an aeronautical engineer before joining Austin. It was of fully stressed monocoque chassis-less construction, which made it lighter and stiffer than most contemporary vehicles, the first Austin to be made in this way. Inside there were individual seats at the front and a bench at the rear covered in PVC with an option of leather facings on the seats. Evidence of economy was seen in only having a single windscreen wiper, central combined stop/tail/numberplate lamp and a sun visor in front of the driver only. A passenger-side wiper and sun visor, and a heater were available as optional extras. Even so, it sold well, and 223,264 examples were built. The A30 was replaced by the Austin A35 in 1956 with the new name reflecting the larger and more powerful 34 hp A-Series engine, which gave the car a slightly higher top speed and better acceleration, though much of this came as a result of different gearbox ratios. The A30 had the first three ratios close together then a big gap to top, whereas in the A35, the ratios were better spaced and gave a higher speed in third gear. That top speed was 72 mph and 0 – 60 acceleration times are just over 30 seconds, so this remains a very slow car by modern standards. The A35 was very similar in appearance to the A30, and is best recognised by its larger rear window aperture and a painted front grille, with chrome horse-shoe surround, instead of the chrome grille featured on the A30. The semaphore trafficators were replaced with present-day front- and rear-mounted flashing light indicators. A slightly easier to operate remote-control gear-change was provided. Like the A30, the A35 was offered as a two- or four-door saloon or two-door “Countryman” estate and also as a van. The latter model continued in production through to 1968. A rare coupe utility (pickup) version was also produced in 1956, with just 477 sold. Drawings were made for a sports tourer, but no prototype was actually built. The A35 passenger cars were replaced by the new body shape A40 Farina models in 1959 but the estate car version continued until 1962 and van until 1968. These days they are popular as an affordable classic. Their simple mechanicals, good availability of some parts (not bodywork, though) and pert looks give them widespread appeal.
The BMW E30 is the second generation of BMW 3 Series, which was produced from 1982 to 1994 and replaced the E21 3 Series, and was the car which really saw the popularity of the 3 Series increase dramatically. . Development of the E30 3 Series began in July 1976, with styling being developed under chief designer Claus Luthe with exterior styling led by Boyke Boyer. In 1978, the final design was approved, with design freeze (cubing process) being completed in 1979. BMW’s launch film for the E30 shows the design process including Computer-aided design (CAD), crash testing and wind-tunnel testing. The car was released at the end of November 1982. Externally, the E30’s appearance is very similar to twin headlight versions of its E21 predecessor, however there are various detail changes in styling to the E30. Major differences to the E21 include the interior and a revised suspension, the latter to reduce the oversteer for which the E21 was criticised. At launch, the car had a 2 door style like its predecessor and just four engines, all of them petrol: the 316 and 318 four cylinder units and the 320 and 323i 6 cylinders. This last was soon upgraded to a 2.5 litre unit. Diesel models were added during the 80s and there was an all-wheel drive 325iX option for continental European markets. In addition to the 2 door saloon and Baur convertible body styles of its E21 predecessors, the E30 became available by early 1984 as a four-door sedan and later a five-door station wagon (marketed as “Touring”). The Touring body style began life as a prototype built by BMW engineer Max Reisböck in his friend’s garage in 1984 and began production in 1987. The factory convertible version began production in 1985, with the Baur convertible conversions remaining available alongside it. Following the launch of the E36 3 Series in 1990, the E30 began to be phased out.
The development programme for the E46 began in 1993 under chief engineer Wolfgang Ziebart and head of R&D Wolfgang Reitzle. In late 1993, design work began under chief designer Chris Bangle and continued into 1995. In May 1995, the general exterior design of the E46 by Erik Goplen of DesignworksUSA was approved and as a result DesignworksUSA was contracted by BMW to work alongside BMW Group’s in-house design team to create the exterior bodywork for the 3 Series range in February 1996. The design team put an emphasis on improving aerodynamics and increasing the car’s aggressive stance. Design patents were filed in Germany on 16 July 1997 and in the US on 16 January 1998. Chris Bangle and Dr. Wolfgang Reitzle (BMW Head of R&D) were responsible through 1995 for the production sedan’s exterior, as evident in the 1997 design patent. Production development of the sedan took 24 months following design freeze and was 31 months from executive board styling approval in 1995 to its start of series production in December 1997. Erik Goplen designed the production coupé, convertible and station wagon during 1996–1997. The E46 sedan was unveiled via press release on 11 November 1997 and was launched on the market at the end of April 1998. The range was gradually built up, with the four door saloon being the first model to be seen, and with a limited range of engines, and over the following months, the 2 door coupe, convertible, Touring and a 3 door hatch Compact were added, and the engine range was widened. All-wheel drive, which was last available in the 3 Series in 1991, was reintroduced for the E46 on the 325xi, 330xi and 330xd models. The E46 was the first 3 Series to be available with an engine using Valvetronic (variable valve lift). Various electronic features were also introduced to the 3 Series in the E46 generation, including satellite navigation, electronic brake-force distribution, rain-sensing wipers and LED tail-lights. The E46 M3 is powered by the BMW S54 inline-six engine with either a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed SMG-II automated manual transmission. The M3 was introduced in late 2000 and was produced in coupé and convertible body styles only. There was a steady program of evolution through the model’s life. Sales were strong. The best year was 2002 when over 560,000 were sold worldwide. Following the introduction of the E90 3 Series sedans in late 2004, the E46 began to be phased out. However the E46 coupé and convertible body styles remained in production until August 2006.
The third-generation Camaro was produced from 1981 (for the 1982 model year) to 1992. These were the first Camaros to offer modern fuel injection, Turbo-Hydramatic 700R4 four-speed automatic transmissions, five-speed manual transmissions, 14,15- or 16-inch wheels, a standard OHV 4-cylinder engine,] and hatchback bodies. The cars were nearly 500 pounds (227 kg) lighter than the second generation model. The IROC-Z was introduced in 1985 and continued through 1990. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Regulations required a CHMSL (Center High Mounted Stop Lamp) starting with the 1986 model year. For 1986, the new brake light was located on the exterior of the upper center area of the back hatch glass. Additionally, the 2.5 L Iron Duke pushrod 4-cylinder engine was dropped, and all base models now came with the 2.8 L V6 (OHV). For 1987 and later, the CHMSL was either mounted inside the upper hatch glass or integrated into a rear spoiler (if equipped). In 1985, the 305 cu in (5.0 L) small block V8 was available with indirect injection called “tuned port injection” (TPI). In 1987 the L98 350 cu in (5.7 L) V8 engine became a regular option on the IROC-Z, paired with an automatic transmission only. The convertible body style returned in 1987 (absent since 1969) and all came with a special “20th Anniversary Commemorative Edition” leather map pocket. 1992 offered a “25th Anniversary Heritage Package” that included stripes and a unique spoiler plaque. Beginning in 1988, the 1LE performance package was introduced, optional on street models, and for showroom stock racing in the U.S. and Canada. The B4C or “police” package was made available beginning in 1991. This created a Z28 in more subtle RS styling.
The Chevrolet SSR (Super Sport Roadster) is a retractable hardtop convertible pickup truck manufactured by Chevrolet between 2003 and 2006. The SSR’s “retro” styled design was inspired by Chevrolet’s late-1940s Advance Design trucks, in particular the 1947–1955 pickups. The vehicle rode on a GM368 platform specific to it, a version of the period’s highly adaptable GMT360, and featured a steel body retractable hardtop designed by Karmann and built by ASC. The body of the truck, namely the front fenders, were made with deep draw stampings, a forming technique that had not been used in automotive stampings in decades, and required a “relearning” of the forming technique. The production model was based on the SuperSport Roadster concept car shown at the 2000 Detroit Auto Show. An early-production SSR was the pace car for the 2003 Indianapolis 500 auto race. The SSR was introduced as a 2004 model on New Year’s Eve 2003. In spite of marketing efforts which included the SSR being used as the pace car for the 2003 Indianapolis 500, The Chevrolet SSR offered many luxury amenities as standard equipment. Standard equipment on all SSR’s included power windows and door locks, keyless entry, luxury leather-trimmed bucket seats, front side SRS airbags, an A/M-F/M stereo radio with cassette and CD players and a four-speaker audio system, carpeted floor mats, 19″ front and 20″ tyres and cast-aluminium wheels, a body-coloured rear tonneau cover, a power-retractable hardtop convertible roof, carpeted flooring for the interior and rear cargo compartment area, a driver information centre, dual-zone manual air conditioning, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, dual front SRS airbags, a leather-wrapped, tilt-adjustable steering wheel, and a cruise control, among other features. Options were few, but included the General Motors (GM) OnStar in-vehicle telematics system, polished cast-alloy wheels, Teak decking and metal strakes for the rear cargo compartment area, rear onboard storage saddle bags, SSR-embroidered carpeted floor mats, dual power-adjustable bucket seats with driver’s seat memory, an A/M-F/M stereo radio with a six-disc, in-dash CD changer, XM Satellite Radio, and a Bose six-speaker premium audio system with an amplifier, steering wheel-mounted audio system and OnStar controls, colour-keyed interior accent trim, dual-zone automatic air conditioning, and an auxiliary centre gauge package. Many of these options were part of the 1SB Equipment Package, which replaced the standard 1SA Equipment Package. The 2003 and 2004 model years used General Motors’ 5.3 L 300 hp Vortec 5300 V8. Performance was 7.7 seconds for 0–60 mph (0–97 km/h) with a 15.9 second quarter mile run at 86.4 mph. The 2005 SSR used the 390 hp LS2 V8 also found in the C6 Corvette, Trailblazer SS, and Pontiac GTO, and also offered a manual transmission option, the six-speed Tremec, for the first time. For the 2005 model year, the LS2 engine featured minor modifications that boosted its output to 390 hp (395-400 for 2006), respectively. Performance improved dramatically with the LS2, the 6-speed manual version had an advertised 0-60 mph time of 5.29 seconds. In addition, GM badges were added to the vehicle. It sold below expectations with under 9,000 sales at US$42,000 each. Citing a 301-day supply of SSRs, General Motors in December of that year announced five weeks of layoffs at Lansing Craft Center, the factory that made the SSR. On November 21, 2005, GM announced that it would close the Craft Center in mid-2006, spelling the end for the SSR. The final SSR, a unique black-on-silver model (Highest VIN 1GCES14H06B126138), was built on March 17, 2006. Analysts estimate that 24,150 SSRs were produced in total. Of the total production, 24,112 were available for sale to the public.
Launched late in 1962, the Daimler V8 Saloon was essentially a rebadged Jaguar Mark 2 fitted with Daimler’s 2.5-litre 142 bhp V8 engine and drive-train, a Daimler fluted grille and rear number plate surround, distinctive wheel trims, badges, and interior details including a split-bench front seat from the Jaguar Mark 1 and a black enamel steering wheel. Special interior and exterior colours were specified. Most cars were fitted with power-assisted steering but it was optional. Automatic transmission was standard; manual, with or without overdrive, became an option in 1967. The 2.5 V8 was the first Jaguar designed car to have the Daimler badge. A casual observer, though not its driver, might mistake it for a Jaguar Mark 2. The Daimler’s stance on the road was noticeably different from a Mark 2. In April 1964 the Borg-Warner Type 35 automatic transmission was replaced by a D1/D2 type, also by Borg-Warner. A manual transmission, with or without an overdrive unit usable with the top gear, became available on British 2.5 V8 saloon in February 1967 and on export versions the following month. Cars optioned with the overdrive had the original 4.55:1 final drive ratio. In October 1967, there was a minor face-lift and re-labelling of the car to V8-250. It differed only in relatively small details: “slimline” bumpers and over-riders (shared with the Jaguar 240/340 relabelled at the same time), negative-earth electrical system, an alternator instead of a dynamo and twin air cleaners, one for each carburettor. Other new features included padding over the instrument panel, padded door cappings and ventilated leather upholstery, reclinable split-bench front seats and a heated rear window. Power steering and overdrive were optional extras. Jaguar replaced its range of saloons—the 240, the 340, the 420, and the 420G—with the XJ6 at the end of 1968. The company launched the XJ6-based Daimler Sovereign the following year to replace the Daimler saloons—the 240-based V8-250 and the 420-based Sovereign. Henceforth all new Daimlers would be re-badged Jaguars with no engineering links to the pre-1960 Daimlers.
The Sierra RS Cosworth model. a very sporting version of Ford’s upper-medium sized family car, was built by Ford Europe from 1986 to 1992, the result of a Ford Motorsport project with the purpose of producing an outright winner for Group A racing in Europe. The project was defined in the spring of 1983 by Stuart Turner, then recently appointed head of Ford Motorsport in Europe, who had realised right away that Ford was no longer competitive in this area. Turner got in touch with Walter Hayes, at the time the vice-president of public relations at Ford, to get support for the project. Hayes had earlier been the driving force behind the development of the Ford GT40 that won Le Mans in 1966, and the Cosworth DFV engine that brought Ford 154 victories and 12 world championships in Formula One during the 1960s and 1970s. Hayes found the project very appealing and promised his full support. Turner then invited Ken Kohrs, vice-president of development, to visit Ford’s longtime partner, the automotive company Cosworth, where they were presented a project developed on Cosworth’s own initiative, the YAA engine. This was a twin cam, 16-valve engine based on Ford’s own T88 engine block, better known as the Pinto. This prototype proved an almost ideal basis for the engine Turner needed to power his Group A winner. Therefore, an official request for a turbocharged version (designated Cosworth YBB) capable of 180 HP on the street and 300 HP in race trim, was placed. Cosworth answered positively, but they put up two conditions: the engine would produce not less than 204 HP in the street version, and Ford had to accept no fewer than 15,000 engines. Turner’s project would only need about 5,000 engines, but Ford nevertheless accepted the conditions. The extra 10,000 engines would later become one of the reasons Ford also chose to develop a four door, second generation Sierra RS Cosworth. To find a suitable gearbox proved more challenging. The Borg-Warner T5, also used in the Ford Mustang, was chosen, but the higher revving nature of the Sierra caused some problems. Eventually Borg-Warner had to set up a dedicated production line for the gearboxes to be used in the Sierra RS Cosworth. Many of the suspension differences between the standard Sierra and the Cosworth attributed their development to what was learned from racing the turbocharged Jack Roush IMSA Merkur XR4Ti in America and Andy Rouse’s successful campaign of the 1985 British Saloon Car Championship. Much of Ford’s external documentation for customer race preparation indicated “developed for the XR4Ti” when describing parts that were Sierra Cosworth specific. Roush’s suspension and aerodynamics engineering for the IMSA cars was excellent feedback for Ford. Some production parts from the XR4Ti made their way into the Cosworth such as the speedometer with integral boost gauge and the motorsport 909 chassis stiffening plates. In April 1983, Turner’s team decided on the recently launched Sierra as a basis for their project. The Sierra filled the requirements for rear wheel drive and decent aerodynamic drag. A racing version could also help to improve the unfortunate, and somewhat undeserved, reputation that Sierra had earned since the introduction in 1982. Lothar Pinske, responsible for the car’s bodywork, demanded carte blanche when it came to appearance in order to make the car stable at high speed. Experience had shown that the Sierra hatchback body generated significant aerodynamic lift even at relatively moderate speed. After extensive wind tunnel testing and test runs at the Nardò circuit in Italy, a prototype was presented to the project management. This was based on an XR4i body with provisional body modifications in fibreglass and aluminium. The car’s appearance raised little enthusiasm. The large rear wing caused particular reluctance. Pinske insisted however that the modifications were necessary to make the project successful. The rear wing was essential to retain ground contact at 300 km/h, the opening between the headlights was needed to feed air to the intercooler and the wheel arch extensions had to be there to house wheels 10” wide on the racing version. Eventually, the Ford designers agreed to try to make a production version based on the prototype. In 1984, Walter Hayes paid visits to many European Ford dealers in order to survey the sales potential for the Sierra RS Cosworth. A requirement for participation in Group A was that 5,000 cars were built and sold. The feedback was not encouraging. The dealers estimated they could sell approximately 1,500 cars. Hayes did not give up, however, and continued his passionate internal marketing of the project. As prototypes started to emerge, dealers were invited to test drive sessions, and this increased the enthusiasm for the new car. In addition, Ford took some radical measures to reduce the price on the car. As an example, the car was only offered in three exterior colours (black, white and moonstone blue) and one interior colour (grey). There were also just two equipment options: with or without central locking and electric window lifts. The Sierra RS Cosworth was first presented to the public at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1985, with plans to release it for sale in September and closing production of the 5,000 cars in the summer of 1986. In practice, it was launched in July 1986. 5545 were manufactured in total of which 500 were sent to Tickford for conversion to the Sierra three-door RS500 Cosworth. The vehicles were manufactured in right hand drive only, and were made in Ford’s Genk factory in Belgium. Exactly 500 RS500s were produced, all of them RHD for sale in the UK only – the biggest market for this kind of Ford car. It was originally intended that all 500 would be black, but in practice 56 white and 52 moonstone blue cars were produced.To broaden the sales appeal, the second generation model was based on the 4 door Sierra Sapphire body. It was launched in 1988, and was assembled in Genk, Belgium, with the UK-built Ford-Cosworth YBB engine. Cylinder heads on this car were early spec 2wd heads and also the “later” 2wd head which had some improvements which made their way to the 4X4 head. Suspension was essentially the same with some minor changes in geometry to suit a less aggressive driving style and favour ride over handling. Spindles, wheel offset and other changes were responsible for this effect. Approximately 13,140 examples were produced during 1988-1989 and were the most numerous and lightest of all Sierra Cosworth models. Specifically the LHD models which saved weight with a lesser trim level such as manual rear windows and no air conditioning. In the UK, the RHD 1988-1989 Sierra Sapphire RS Cosworth is badged as such with a small “Sapphire” badge on the rear door window trims. All 1988-1989 LHD models are badged and registered as a Sierra RS Cosworth with no Sapphire nomenclature at all. “Sapphire” being viewed as a Ghia trim level that saw power rear windows, air conditioning and other minor options. Enthusiasts of the marque are mindful of this and will describe the LHD cars by their body shell configuration, 3 door or 4 door. As the Sapphire Cosworth was based on a different shell to the original three-door Cosworth, along with its more discreet rear wing, recorded a drag co-efficient of 0.33, it registered slightly better performance figures, with a top speed of 150 mph and 0-60 of 6.1 seconds, compared to the original Cosworth. In January 1990, the third generation Sierra RS Cosworth was launched, this time with four wheel drive. As early as 1987, Mike Moreton and Ford Motorsport had been talking about a four wheel drive Sierra RS Cosworth that could make Ford competitive in the World Rally Championship. The Ferguson MT75 gearbox that was considered an essential part of the project wasn’t available until late 1989 however. Ford Motorsport’s desire for a 3-door “Motorsport Special” equivalent to the original Sierra RS Cosworth was not embraced. The more discreet 4-door version was considered to have a better market potential. It was therefore decided that the new car should be a natural development of the second generation, to be launched in conjunction with the face lift scheduled for the entire Sierra line in 1990. The waiting time gave Ford Motorsport a good opportunity to conduct extensive testing and demand improvements. One example was the return of the bonnet louvres. According to Ford’s own publicity material, 80% of the engine parts were also modified. The improved engine was designated YBJ for cars without a catalyst and YBG for cars with a catalyst. The latter had the red valve cover replaced by a green one, to emphasise the environmental friendliness. Four wheel drive and an increasing amount of equipment had raised the weight by 100 kg, and the power was therefore increased to just about compensate for this. The Sierra RS Cosworth 4×4 received, if possible, an even more flattering response than its predecessors and production continued until the end of 1992, when the Sierra was replaced by the Mondeo. The replacement for the Sierra RS Cosworth was not a Mondeo however, but the Escort RS Cosworth. This was to some extent a Sierra RS Cosworth clad in an “Escort-like” body. The car went on sale in May 1992, more than a year after the first pre-production examples were shown to the public, and was homologated for Group A rally in December, just as the Sierra RS Cosworth was retired. It continued in production until 1996. The Sierra and Sapphire Cosworths were undoubted performance bargains when new, but they also gained a reputation both for suffering a lot of accidents in the hands of the unskilled and also for being among the most frequently stole cars of their generation. These days, though, there are some lovely and treasured examples around and indeed you are far more likely to see a Cosworth version of the Sierra than one of the volume selling models.
The 1960 Galaxie introduced all-new design with less ornamentation. A new body style was the Starliner, featuring a huge, curving rear observation window on a pillarless, hardtop bodyshell. The thin, sloping rear roof pillar featured three “star” emblems that served as the Galaxie signature badge for all 1960 – 62 models. The formal roofed 2-door hardtop was not available this year, but the roofline was used for the Galaxie 2-door pillared sedan, complete with chromed window frames. It had been the most popular body style in the line for 1959, and sales dropped off sharply. Contrary to Ford’s tradition of pie-plate round taillights, the 1960 featured “half-moon” lenses turned downward. The “A” pillar now swept forward instead of backward, making entering and exiting the car more convenient. For 1961, the bodywork was redone again, although the underpinnings were the same as for 1960. This time, the tailfins were almost gone; the small blade-like fins capped smaller versions of 1959’s “pie-plate” round taillamps once again. Performance was beginning to be a selling point, and the 1961 Galaxie offered a new 390 CID (6.4 L) version of Ford’s FE series pushrod V8, which was available with either a four-barrel carburetor or, for higher performance, three two-barrel carburetors. The latter was rated at 401 hp (gross). The 352 was downgraded in favor of the 390; it was equipped with a 2-barrel carburetor and single exhaust. The Starliner was again offered this year, and Ford promoted this model with luxury and power equipment, but it was dropped at the end of the year, as the re-introduced square-roof hardtop coupe, the Galaxie Club Victoria, took the bulk of sales. For 1962, the Galaxie name was applied to all of Ford’s full size models, as the Fairlane name was moved to a new intermediate model and Custom was temporarily retired. New top-line Galaxie 500 (two-door sedan and hardtop, four-door sedan and hardtop, and “Sunliner” convertible) models offered plusher interiors, more chrome trim outside, and a few additional luxury items over and above what was standard on the plainer Galaxie models. Base Galaxie models were available in two- and four-door sedans as well as the plain Ranch Wagon. In an effort to stimulate midseason sales, Ford introduced a group of sporty cars along with a “Lively Ones” marketing campaign. These models featured the bucket seats and console that were popularized by the Chevrolet Corvair Monza, and included a Fairlane 500 Sports Coupe, and a Falcon Futura. The full-size line was available with new bucket-seats-and-console “Lively One,” the Galaxie 500/XL (two-door hardtop and convertible). Ford stated in its sales literature that XL stood for “Xtra Lively.” The 223 cu in (3.7 l) “Mileage Maker” 6-cylinder was the base engine. The 292 cu in (4.8 l) V8 was standard on the 500/XL. The XL had sportier trim inside and out. This model was Ford’s response to Chevrolet’s Super Sport option for the big Impala, which was introduced the previous year and saw a significant rise in sales for 1962. A 406 cu in (7 l) engine was available in single four-barrel or triple-carbureted “six-barrel” form. Tailfins were gone, giving the 1962 models a more rounded, softer rear end look. Taillights were set lower into the rear panel and were partially sunken into the newly sculpted rear bumper. Outside, XL models got a thicker body side chrome spear, along with a new “Galaxie 500XL” emblem on each rear fender (including the convertible, where this badge replaced the “Sunliner” script). An oval version of the Galaxie “star” emblem replaced Ford crests on the roof sail panels on hardtops. Front fenders shapes were the same as 1961; a slightly modified flat-face grille featured a large “star”emblem in its center for all 500 and higher-priced Galaxie models. The 1962 models were overweight by comparison to the Super Duty Pontiacs with their aluminum body panels and larger-displacement engines. Therefore, late in the production run, Ford’s Experimental Garage was ordered to reduce the weight of the Galaxie. It produced 11 “lightweight Galaxies”, making use of fiberglass panels, as well as aluminum bumpers, fender aprons, and brackets; the result was a Galaxie weighing in at under 3,400 lb (1,542 kg). The base 2-door Club Sedan was 3,499 lb (1,587 kg). It was an improvement. The 1963 model was essentially unchanged save for some freshening and added trim; windshields were reshaped and a four-door hardtop 500/XL was added. A lower, fastback roofline was added mid-year to improve looks and make the big cars more competitive on the NASCAR tracks with less drag and reduced aerodynamic lift at high speed. This 1963½ model, the industry’s first official “½ year” model, was called the “sports hardtop” or “fastback” (it shared this feature with the for 1963½ Falcon). Galaxie buyers showed their preference as the new sports hardtop models handily outsold the “boxtop” square-roof models. The sports hardtop was available in both Galaxie 500, and Galaxie 500/XL trim. Mercury also received the new roofline (under the Marauder badge) in Monterey, Montclair, and Park Lane models. This year, a no-frills big Ford, priced around $100.00 below the base Galaxie sedans, was offered, badged as the Ford 300. It was offered for 1963 only, and was replaced by the Custom series in 1964. The “Swing-away” steering wheel became optional. The Fairlane’s newly enlarged “Challenger” V8 engine of 260 cu in (4.3 l) replaced the Y-block 292 cu in (4.8 l) as the entry level V8. Later in the year, the 260 was replaced with an enlarged version displacing 289 cubic inches. At the beginning of the 1963 model run, the 292 Y-block V8 was replaced as the base V8 engine with the Fairlane’s new small block 260. The 260 proved under-powered for the heavy full size Ford and was replaced midyear (coincident with the introduction of the 63 and 1/2 models) with the 289 V8. The 289 was then the largest of the “small block series” that was first used (221 cubic inch version) in the 1962 Fairlane. The 260 was offered on the Falcon Sprint and later, in mid 1964, in the early version of the 1965 Mustang. By 1965 model introduction (in the fall of 1964), the 260 (which had disappointing performance in all versions including the Sprint and Mustang) was replaced by the 289 in all models. Ford continued to offer the FE series 352 in the 1963 full size, as well as 3 versions of the 390 V8 (regular, high performance, and police). Five different transmissions were offered for 1963. A 3-speed manual column shift was standard on all models except the 406 V8, which required the heavier duty Borg-Warner 4-speed manual. A three speed manual with overdrive was optional, but rarely ordered. The two-speed Ford-O-Matic was common with the 6-cylinder and small block V-8s, while the majority of big blocks (352 and 390) were ordered with the 3-speed Cruise-O-Matic automatic transmission. The availability of several different rear end ratios, along with 5 transmissions, and 8 different engines, led to a huge number of different driveline combinations for 1963. The most produced combination for the Galaxie and Galaxie 500 was the 352 V8, with Cruise-O-Matic and the 3.0 rear end ratio. Ford’s “Club,” “Town,” and “Victoria” monikers for body styles were retired in 1963, replaced by generic labels, “2-door”,”4-door”, and “Hardtop.” Partway through this year and in limited quantities, a new 427 replaced the 406 for racing applications. It was intended to meet NHRA and NASCAR 7-liter maximum engine size rules. This engine was rated at a 425 hp with 2 x 4 barrel Holley carburettors and a solid lifter camshaft. Ford also made available aluminium cylinder heads as a dealer option. The 1963½ was still overweight, however. To be competitive in drag racing Ford produced 212 (around 170 from Ford Norfolk, about 20 from Ford Los Angeles) lightweight versions of the “R” code 427, in the Galaxie 500 Sport Special Tudor Fastback. Available only in Corinthian White with red vinyl interior, and with a list price of about US$4,200 (when a base Ford 300 went for US$2,324, and XL Fastback was US$3,268), these cars came stock with Borg-Warner T-10 four-speed, 4.11:1 rear axle, heavy-duty suspension and brakes, and were fitted with a fiberglass hood (a flat piece at first, late in 1963 the popular blister hood also used on the Thunderbolt),[ trunk, front fenders, and fender aprons, as well as aluminum bumpers and mounting brackets, transmission cases, and bellhousing. Hood springs, heater, trunk lining and mat, spare wheel and tire (and mounting bracket), trunk lid torsion bar, jack, lug wrench, one horn (of the stock two), armrests, rear ashtrays, courtesy lights, and dome light were removed to reduce weight. The first 20 cars had functional fiberglass doors, which shaved 25 lb (11 kg); these were deleted because of Ford’s concern for safety if used on the highway. The cars had all sound-deadening material removed, lightweight seats and floormats, and no options. They were not factory equipped with cold-air induction, as the Thunderbolt would be. In addition, they were built on the 45 lb (20 kg)-lighter Ford 300 chassis, originally intended for a smaller-displacement V8. In all, the 427s were 375 lb (170 kg) lighter than before (425 lb (193 kg) with the fiberglass doors). The first two lightweight Galaxies, using 289 cu in (5 l) bodies, were assembled at Wayne, Michigan, late in January 1963, to be tested at the 1963 Winternats. They were delivered to Tasca Ford (East Providence, Rhode Island) and Bob Ford (Dearborn, Michigan). Bill Lawton’s Tasca Galaxie turned the best performance, with a 12.50 pass at 116.60 mph (187.65 km/h). It was not enough against the 1963 Chevrolet Impala Z-11s in Limited Production/Stock, however. Three more were assembled from parts and tested at Ford’s Experimental Garage in Dearborn. One of the next two, the last Winternationals test cars, was prepared by Bill Stroppe in Long Beach, California, for Les Ritchey; it was featured in the July 1963 issue of Hot Rod. For all their efforts, Ford discovered the Galaxies were still too heavy, and the project was abandoned. Some of these cars competed in England, Australia and South Africa after being modified by Holman and Moody who fitted them with disc brakes and other circuit racing components. Jack Sears won the 1963 British Saloon Car Championship driving Galaxies and Cortinas and the racing Galaxies were also driven by Sir Jack Brabham, Graham Hill and other notable drivers of the period. The heavy Galaxies suffered from persistent brake failure that led to a number of crashes, and in late 1963 started using the 12-inch disc brakes from the Ford GT40 program. By this time the Lotus Cortinas were being developed and the big Galaxie became uncompetitive. Model year 1964 was the fourth and final year of this body style. Interior trim was altered, and the exterior featured a more sculpted look which was actually designed to make the car more aerodynamic for NASCAR. The formal-roof “boxtop” style was no longer available, all non-wagon models now featuring the “fastback” roof design that was the runaway best-seller in 1963. The base 300 was replaced by a line of Custom and Custom 500 models. The 289 continued as the base V8 and was standard in the XL series. XL models got new thin-shell bucket seats with chrome trim. Federal regulations now required lap-style safety belts for both front outboard occupants. The ignition switch was moved from the left side of the steering column, to the right, but otherwise the attractive instrument panel remained unchanged from ’63. The 1964 XL two-door hardtop became the best seller of any XL produced in any year. The 427 cu in (7.0 l) engine was used in 50 lightweight fiberglass-equipped cars for drag racing. These competed in North America but were still too heavy and Ford introduced the lightweight Fairlane Thunderbolt. The Ford Country Squire station wagon, while wearing “Country Squire” badging, was actually part of the Galaxie 500 line. Some Country Squires had “Galaxie 500” badging on the glovebox indicating the series name. These station wagons featured the same trims as Galaxie 500s, and were a step up from the base-model Country Sedan.
In 2001, Ford partnered with Warner Bros. to offer a special version of its GT with the Bullitt nameplate, honoring the 1968 390 fastback model driven by Steve McQueen in the 1968 movie Bullitt which became famous for its high speed chase scene. A 2008–2009 Bullitt edition was also released. Exterior features include uniquely finished 18″ Torq-Thrust style wheels and removal of the decklid spoiler and all badges except for the faux gas cap, which is replaced with a Bullitt-specific unit. Inside, there are Bullitt door sills, gauges, and steering wheel cap, an engine-turned aluminium dash panel, aluminum shift knob and pedals, and GT500-inspired front seats and GT500-inspired steering wheel with black stitching. The first factory Mustang open-element air filter, unique exhaust that mimics the sound of Steve McQueen’s GT 390 Fastback and ends in 3.5-inch tips, and new engine programing raise horsepower to 315 (up from 300). A Tremec 5-speed manual and 3.73:1 ratio live rear axle drops 0-60 mph times to 4.9-5.0 seconds compared to the standard GT’s 5.2-5.3, and quarter miles come in 13.8 seconds at 102 mph (164 km/h). Suspension is upgraded by a Bullitt-badged front tower brace and retuned suspension components that drop the ride height by 6 mm (0.24 in). The Bullitt package is a $3,310 upgrade from the standard GT Premium.
The sixth-generation F-series was introduced in 1973. This version of the F-series continued to be built on the 1965 fourth-generation’s revised platform, but with significant modernization and refinements, including front disc brakes, increased cabin dimensions, full double-wall bed construction, and increased use of galvanized steel. The FE engine series was discontinued in 1976 after a nearly 20-year run, replaced by the more modern 335 and 385 series engines. In 1975, the F-150 was introduced in between the F-100 and the F-250 to avoid certain emission control restrictions. For 1978, square headlights replaced the previous models’ round ones on higher trim package models, such as Lariat and Ranger, and in 1979 became standard equipment. Also for 1978, the Ford Bronco was redesigned into a variant of the F-series pickup; 1979 was the last year that the 460 engine was available in a half-ton truck.
This is a Gilbern GT, the first car produced by the long-extinct Welsh maker. A 2+2 two-door coupé, the GT was made between 1959 and 1967. The GT Mk 1 was initially available with either 948 cc BMC A-Series engine with an optional Shorrocks supercharger or Coventry Climax 1098 cc engines. The chassis was fabricated from square steel tubing and the front suspension was initially from the Austin A35. The body was a one-piece moulding. Although usually supplied in kit form, the body was provided fully trimmed and painted leaving the purchaser to only complete the mechanical items. Later versions came with a B-series 1500 or 1600 cc MGA or 1800 cc MGB engine and coil-sprung BMC rear axle. With the coming of the larger engine, the car was renamed the GT1800. 280 cars were made before it was replaced by the better known Genie. Survival rates of all Gilberns is very high, but even so you don’t see the GT that often.
In 1966 a larger, more up-market model, the Genie, appeared at the London Motor Show. It could be had with either a 2.5- or 3-litre Ford Essex V6 engine and gearbox with optional overdrive, but the steering and back axle were still BMC units from the MGB. The engine was fitted with a twin-choke Weber carburetor on most cars, although a small number were built with Tecalemit Jackson fuel injection. The rear suspension differed from the MG in having coil-spring/damper units and trailing arms. On early Genies, the rear axle was located with a Panhard rod, which was then changed to a Watts linkage on later examples. The 2.5-litre version was dropped in 1968. In 1969, a complete car cost around £2000. In 1969 the car was replaced by the broadly similar Invader.
The Super Minx was announced in October 1961,and was intended to give Rootes, and particularly its Hillman marque, an expanded presence in the upper reaches of the family car market. It has been suggested that the Super Minx design was originally intended to replace, and not merely to supplement, the standard Minx, but was found to be too big for that purpose. An estate car joined the range in May 1962, and a two-door convertible in June 1962. The convertible never sold in significant numbers: the last one was made in June 1964. At launch, the car was powered by the Rootes 62 bhp 1,592 cc unit, which had first appeared late in 1953 with a 1,390 cc capacity. The original Super Minx had the cast-iron cylinder head version of the engine, though on later cars the cylinder head was replaced with an aluminium one. Suspension was independent at the front using coil springs with anti-roll bar and at the rear had leaf springs and a live axle. Un-assisted 9 in Lockheed drum brakes were fitted. The steering used a recirculating ball system and was as usual at the time not power assisted. Standard seating, trimmed in Vynide, used a bench type at the front with individual seats as an option. A heater was fitted but a radio remained optional. The car could be ordered in single colour or two tone paint. The four-speed manual transmission featured synchromesh on the top three ratios from the start and had a floor lever: “Smiths Easidrive” automatic transmission was option. A year after the car was launched a Mark II version was presented, in October 1962, with greasing points eliminated, larger front disc brakes and a revised axle ratio. For buyers of the automatic transmission cars, 1962 was the year that the Smiths Easidrive option was replaced by the Borg-Warner 35 transmission. In 1964, with the launch of the Super Minx Mark III, the wrap-around rear window gave way to a new “six-light” design with extra side windows aft of the rear side doors. Engine capacity was increased to 1,725 cc for the Super Minx Mark IV launched at the London Motor Show in October 1965.The car was replaced by the Arrow range (Hunter) in late 1966.
Introduced in January 1982, the Pony II was similar mechanically to the first-generation version, but was extensively restyled. Only the five-door Liftback and two-door pickup were offered. With the Pony II, export also began to the UK in the spring of 1982 – making it the first Korean car to be sold there. Initially, the Pony was positioned as a budget offering between Eastern Bloc brands (Lada, Skoda) and the lower echelons of established Japanese makes for sales, marking the beginning of a successful foray into this market by Korean carmakers. The Pony II was exported to Canada from 1983, where it was one of the least expensive vehicles on the market, and sales greatly exceeded expectations; initial projections for 1984 called for 5,000 sales, but the final total was 25,123, making it one of the top-selling vehicles in that country. The Pony became notorious for poor quality, but it was more refined and well-built than comparably-priced Eastern European imports, helping Hyundai gain a foothold in Canada. The Pony was sufficiently popular there that it was sold alongside the Excel until 1987 rather than being replaced by that vehicle as was done in some other markets. For 1984, the Pony came only with a 1439 cc 4G33 engine inline-four, rated at 70 hp and 82 lb·ft (111 N·m) of torque. This engine was available with either a four-speed or five-speed manual or a three-speed automatic transmission. The 1238 cc 4G36 engine was not available in Canada. This engine was retained across the line until 1986, after which only the 1597 cc 4G32 engine (74 hp , 93 lb·ft (126 N·m) torque) was available. In mid-1985, the door handles were blacked out, chrome was removed from the windshield wipers, and the “HD” badge was removed from the centre of the grille and replaced with the lettering “Hyundai” off to the left side. A 1.6-litre model 4G32 engine became available in 1985, with optional air conditioning. These powerplants had a hemispherical crossflow cylinder head, two valves per cylinder (chain-driven SOHC), a two-barrel downdraft carburettor (manual choke) and breaker point-type ignition. Trim levels were ‘L’ (standard), ‘GL/CX’, and ‘GLS/CXL’. The ‘CX/CXL’ designations were for 1987 model years only. The L featured vinyl seats, a fold-down rear bench seat, and usually a four-speed manual transmission mated to a 1.4 litre inline-four engine. The GL/CX included vinyl-cloth seats, a standard clock (which was mounted in the instrument cluster for 1984-1986 models, and for 1987, a digital clock was added in the centre of the upper dash) rear wiper, passenger-side mirror, tinted glass, lockable fuel door, standard door guards, 50/50 fold-down seats, upgraded interior trim, and (from 1985) an available 1.6 litre engine. The GLS/CXL included the above with the option of a tachometer, passenger-side vanity mirror, full cloth seats, and (from 1985) a standard 1.6 L engine. Only the ‘L’ and ‘CX’ were trim levels for 1987. The ‘L’ was the same as the previous ‘L’, however the clock was now digital and the CX had a standard tachometer. From 1986 to 1987, interior colors available were tan or blue. From 1984 to 1985, it was light gray on dark gray. Options included rear window louvers, a front air dam, rear spoiler, GT package (which included a leather-wrapped Momo three-spoke steering wheel), tachometer, different trim and badging, fog lamps, and extra lights in the rear. All GTs came with the more powerful 1.6 engine. The Pony pickup was sold in Europe (only) until the end of the 1980s. The second generation Pony remained on sale until 1988 (until 1990 in South Korea). In some markets the Pony was replaced by a re-badged Hyundai Excel from 1985, particularly in Europe.
One of the most loved Jaguars of all time, both when it was new, and still now, is the Mark 2 saloon. Many will tell you that it is not the 3 Series BMW that “invented” the “compact sports saloon” car class, but this model, which dates back to 1959. A thorough revision of the small Jaguar saloon that had joined the range in 1955, the Mark 2 was notable in that it was the first car to use the Arabic numeral in its name, as opposed to the Roman numerals of the larger Jaguar models. At launch, the earlier model which had hitherto been known by its engine size was christened the Mark 1. Although clearly based on that car, the updated car looked significantly different, with an increase of 18% in cabin glass area greatly improving visibility. The car was re-engineered above the waistline. Slender front pillars allowed a wider windscreen and the rear window almost wrapped around to the enlarged side windows now with the familiar Jaguar D-shape above the back door and fully chromed frames for all the side windows. The radiator grille was amended and larger side, tail and fog lamps repositioned. Inside a new heating system was fitted and ducted to the rear compartment (although still notoriously ineffective). There was an improved instrument layout that became standard for all Jaguar cars until the XJ Series II of 1973. As well as the familiar 2.4 and 3.4 litre engines, what made this car particularly special was that it was also offered with the potent 220 bhp 3.8 litre unit that was fitted to the XK150 and which would later see service in the E Type. This gave the car a 0 – 60 time of around 8.5 seconds and a top speed of 125 mph. No wonder that the Mark 2 became popular as a get-away car for the criminal fraternity, and to keep up with and catch them, many police forces bought the car as well. With revised suspension and standard four wheel disc brakes, the car was effective on the track, taking plenty of class wins when new, and it is still popular in historic racing circles today. The quickest and most successful private entries came from John Coombs, a man with significant race experience who operated a large Jaguar dealership in Guildford. Coombs would undertake modifications to meet the demands of his customers, so not all the cars that he worked on are the same. Jaguar replaced the Mark 2 with simplified and slightly more cheaply finished 240 and 340 models, as an interim measure until an all-new model was ready to take over from them. The 3.8 litre disappeared from the range at this time, but in the 7 years it had been in production, it had been the best seller of the range, with around 30,000 cars produced, as compared to 28,666 of the 3.4 litre and 25,741 of the 2.4 litre model.
Considered to be part of the Beta family, though there is an awful lot about the car that is very different from the front wheel drive models was the MonteCarlo, no fewer than eight examples of which were displayed. First conceived in 1969, with a a final design completed by 1971 by Paolo Martin at Pininfarina, what was initially known as the Fiat X1/8 Project, was originally designed as Pininfarina’s contender to replace Fiat’s 124 Coupe, but it lost out to Bertone’s cheaper design, which became the Fiat X1/9. Rather than scrap the proposal completely, it was developed further, when Fiat commissioned Pininfarina to build a 3.0 litre V6 mid-engined sports car. An X1/8 chassis was used as the start point, and developed for the first time in-house by Pininfarina and not based on any existing production car. Due to the 1973 Oil Crisis, the project was renamed X1/20 and updated to house a 2.0 litre engine. The first car to be made out of the X1/20 Project was the Abarth SE 030 in 1974. The project was passed to Lancia, and the road car was launched at the 1975 Geneva Motor Show as the Lancia Beta MonteCcarlo. It was the first car to be made completely in-house by Pininfarina. Lancia launched the MonteCarlo as a premium alternative to the X1/9, with the 2 litre twin cam engine rather than the X1/9’s single cam 1300. Both used a similar, based on the Fiat 128, MacPherson strut front suspension and disc brakes at both front and rear. Lancia Beta parts were limited to those from the existing Fiat/Lancia standard parts bin, the transverse mount version of the Fiat 124’s twin cam engine and the five speed gearbox and transaxle. MonteCarlos were available as fixed head “Coupés” and also as “Spiders” with solid A and B pillars, but a large flat folding canvas roof between them. Sales were slow to get started, and it soon became apparent that there were a number of problems with a reputation for premature locking of the front brakes causing particular alarm. Lancia suspended production in 1979 whilst seeking a solution, which meant that the car was not produced for nearly two years. The second generation model, known simply as MonteCarlo now, was first seen in late 1980. The braking issue was addressed by removing the servo, as well as few other careful mechanical tweaks. The revised cars also had glass panels in the rear buttresses, improving rear visibility somewhat, and there was a revised grille. In the cabin there was a new three spoke Momo steering wheel in place of the old two spoke one, as well as revamped trim and fabrics. The engine was revised, with a higher compression ratio, Marelli electronic ignition and new carburettors which produced more torque. It was not enough for sales to take off, and the model ceased production in 1982, although it took quite a while after that to shift all the stock. Just under 2000 of the Phase 2 cars were made, with 7798 MonteCarlos made in total.
Mazda launched the second generation MX-6 using the GE platform, shared by the 626 and Ford rebadged cars, the Ford Probe and the Ford Telstar. It was released in three distinct variants worldwide, known as A-spec, E-spec, and J-spec, which relates to their destined markets – U.S., Europe, and Japan, respectively. Built from 1991 in Japan, for Australia, New Zealand, and Europe, compared to the A-spec, the E-spec has different headlights (a two-piece projector setup giving far greater lighting) and taillights, different front and rear bumpers, fog lights, wing-mirrors (power and heated), steering wheel, interior trim, and alloys as standard. The side indicator lights were mounted behind the front wheels, and no corner bumper lights were used. It also came with optional air conditioning and leather interior (standard from ’96), and the MX-6’s main act – the 4WS system (not available in the UK). The engine was the same as the U.S. version (although not limited by lower-octane fuels) – the KL-DE 2.5 DOHC V6 engine, making 165 PS and with the higher octane fuels used in Europe as standard, slightly lower mileage but with greater performance. In Australia, the MX-6 was released in November 1991. Only one trim was available. Equipped with the KL-DE 2.5 DOHC V6 engine, sunroof, 4WS, etc., with the only remaining options being leather and electric seats. September 1994 was the release of the GE2 update model. Like Mazda Australia did with the GD2, now two choices were available – the 4WS, all-options MX-6, or the 2WS version. They both had new wheels, interior trim, and steering wheel, but only the 4WS version got the sunroof, CD player, leather (which actually only became standard in late ’96), and the digital climate control. The MX-6 lasted until 1997, with the last few rolling out of dealers in 1998. The last one rolled off the assembly line on June 20, 1997.
The R230 generation of the Mercedes-Benz SL-Class was introduced at the 2001 Frankfurt Motor Show and 2001 Bologna Motor Show, replacing the R129. The R230 underwent revisions in 2006 and 2008, and was superseded by the new SL-Class R231 in 2011. In early 1996, over six years into the life of the R129, development work on a successor began. On 27 January 1996, design work commenced and draft designs were submitted from ten designers in Germany, California, and Japan. Hundreds of sketches were submitted and would form the basis for twelve quarter scale models which were digitized for computer manipulation. Design of the R230 would progress through two different formats. The real world process centered on the traditional 1:4 scale models, with most of them initially being done clay. Virtual world design development took place in a room packed with state-of-the-art computer processing technology referred to as the “CAVE” (Computer Aided Virtual Environment). This technology was also used earlier on to design the W203 in 1995. The supercomputer in the “CAVE” was able to create full-size images of selected designs, using its five projectors and allowing designers to inspect every inch of every surface rendered. Parallel to the virtual process, the twelve scale models were scrutinized as well, with four standouts chosen to be created in full-size mockups. This evolution of the scale models occurred alongside the development of the interior design. On 16 June 1997, the final design for the R230 was approved by the board and refined into production specifications into 1998. The design patents for the R230 were later filed in Germany on 9 September 1999 and on 1 March 2000 in the United States. In July 2001, after over five years of development, the new SL was unveiled and introduced at the 2001 Frankfurt Motor Show that September. Production began on 13 October 2001 at the Bremen plant and European sales commenced that November. This car first appeared as the Safety Car for Formula One at the 2001 German Grand Prix in Hockenheim. The street version was unveiled at the 2001 IAA. The range was launched with a film style advertisement called Lucky Star. Tthe range soon grew from the initial SL350 and Sl500 to include the V12 engined Sl600 and SL55 AMG and SL65 AMG models, this last offering 612 PS. The SL underwent a facelift in 2006, and was unveiled at the 2006 Geneva Motor Show. Changes include new engines for SL 350 and SL 500 (called SL 550 in North America), with improved performance on SL 55 AMG and SL 600, as well as a new top-of-the-line SL 65 AMG. ABC (Active Body Control) was improved to reduce body movements in dynamic driving by up to 60%, standard on all models except the SL 350. The new engines were mated to a new 7-speed 7G-Tronic automatic, with a Sport option to allow shifting to be performed up to 30% faster in manual “M” mode, and with added steering-wheel shift paddles. Exterior styling changes include a new bumper with three large cooling air intakes and a more pronounced V-shape as well as fog lamps with chrome surrounds, new light-alloy wheels, new rear light. Interior changes include softer leather upholstery, new interior colours, high-quality metal door sills with Mercedes-Benz lettering and embossed aluminium trim elements, removable luggage cover, optional remote boot-lid release. The roof opening mechanism was also revised, reducing the opening time from 20 seconds to 16 seconds. With the 2007 model year, there was a limited production model (550 units) introduced to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the SL roadster model. This Anniversary Edition version came with a pewter metallic exterior, cognac brown leather interior with black ash wood trim, 382 hp V8, exclusive twin-spoke rims, custom luggage bag for rear shelf, and many other standard options and features. The facelifted SL model was revealed in the Geneva Motor Show in March 2008. The SL received a new, more aggressive front end reflecting Mercedes’s new design philosophy, with a pair of long powerdomes on the bonnet and a single-bar grille replacing the old three-bar effort. Improvements have been made also on the engines. The 3.5 L V6 is uprated to 307 bhp at 6500 rpm. Compared to the previous 3.5-litre engine, the output has been boosted by 16 percent. Torque has also been improved adding 10 Nm (7.4 lb/ft) to the previous 350 Nm (258 lb/ft) making it 360 Nm (266 lb/ft). This engine now can rev up to a max of 7200 rpm for a period as the oil temperature and other engine parameters permit, a higher compression ratio, a new intake manifold and featuring extensive modifications to and lightening of the valve train. In this case, however, the extra power does not come at the expense of fuel economy: with a consumption figure of 9.9 l/100 km, the new SL 350 undercuts the previous model developing 272 PS by 0.4 l/100 km. Mercedes-Benz is extending the SL-Class line-up by introducing an attractive entry-level model in the shape of the SL 280 developing 231 PS. The six cylinder powerplant delivers its peak torque of 300 Nm (221 lb/ft) from 2500 rpm and accelerates the roadster from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 7.8 seconds, whilst fuel consumption (NEDC) is just 9.4 L/100 km (30 mpg‑imp; 25 mpg‑US). It features the AIRSCARF heating system used in the SLK. The R221 generation cars arrived to replace the model in 2011.
As one of Britain’s most popular classic cars, it was no surprise to find several examples of the MGB here, with cars from throughout the model’s long life, both in Roadster and MGB GT guise, as well as one of the short-lived V8 engined cars. Launched in October 1962, this car was produced for the next 18 years and it went on to become Britain’s best selling sports car. When first announced, the MGB was an innovative, modern design, with a monocoque structure instead of the traditional body-on-frame construction used on both the MGA and MG T-types and the MGB’s rival, the Triumph TR series, though components such as the brakes and suspension were developments of the earlier 1955 MGA and the B-Series engine had its origins back in 1947. The lightweight design reduced manufacturing costs while adding to overall vehicle strength, and with a 95hp 3-bearing 1798cc engine under the bonnet, performance was quite respectable with a 0–60 mph time of just over 11 seconds. The car was rather more civilised than its predecessor, with wind-up windows now fitted as standard, and a comfortable driver’s compartment offered plenty of legroom. The roadster was the first of the MGB range to be produced. The body was a pure two-seater but a small rear seat was a rare option at one point. By making better use of space the MGB was able to offer more passenger and luggage accommodation than the earlier MGA while being 3 inches shorter overall. The suspension was also softer, giving a smoother ride, and the larger engine gave a slightly higher top speed. The four-speed gearbox was an uprated version of the one used in the MGA with an optional (electrically activated) overdrive transmission. A five-bearing engine was introduced in 1964 and a number of other modifications crept into the specification. In late 1967, sufficient changes were introduced for the factory to define a Mark II model. Alterations included synchromesh on all 4 gears with revised ratios, an optional Borg-Warner automatic gearbox, a new rear axle, and an alternator in place of the dynamo with a change to a negative earth system. To accommodate the new gearboxes there were significant changes to the sheet metal in the floorpan, and a new flat-topped transmission tunnel. US market cars got a new safety padded dashboard, but the steel item continued for the rest of the world. Rostyle wheels were introduced to replace the previous pressed steel versions in 1969 and reclining seats were standardised. 1970 also saw a new front grille, recessed, in black aluminium. The more traditional-looking polished grille returned in 1973 with a black “honeycomb” insert. Further changes in 1972 were to the interior with a new fascia. To meet impact regulations, in late 1974, the chrome bumpers were replaced with new, steel-reinforced black rubber bumpers, the one at the front incorporating the grille area as well, giving a major restyling to the B’s nose, and a matching rear bumper completed the change. New US headlight height regulations also meant that the headlamps were now too low. Rather than redesign the front of the car, British Leyland raised the car’s suspension by 1-inch. This, in combination with the new, far heavier bumpers resulted in significantly poorer handling. For the 1975 model year only, the front anti-roll bar was deleted as a cost-saving measure (though still available as an option). The damage done by the British Leyland response to US legislation was partially alleviated by revisions to the suspension geometry in 1977, when a rear anti-roll bar was made standard equipment on all models. US emissions regulations also reduced horsepower. In March 1979 British Leyland started the production of black painted limited edition MGB roadsters for the US market, meant for a total of 500 examples, but due to a high demand, production ended with 6682 examples. The United Kingdom received bronze painted roadsters and a silver GT model limited editions. The production run of home market limited edition MGBs was split between 421 roadsters and 579 GTs. Meanwhile, the fixed-roof MGB GT had been introduced in October 1965, and production continued until 1980, although export to the US ceased in 1974. The MGB GT sported a ground-breaking greenhouse designed by Pininfarina and launched the sporty “hatchback” style. By combining the sloping rear window with the rear deck lid, the B GT offered the utility of a station wagon while retaining the style and shape of a coupe. This new configuration was a 2+2 design with a right-angled rear bench seat and far more luggage space than in the roadster. Relatively few components differed, although the MGB GT did receive different suspension springs and anti-roll bars and a different windscreen which was more easily and inexpensively serviceable. Although acceleration of the GT was slightly slower than that of the roadster, owing to its increased weight, top speed improved by 5 mph to 105 mph because of better aerodynamics. 523,826 examples of the MGB of all model types were built, and although many of these were initially sold new in North America, a lot have been repatriated here. There were several Roadsters and MGB GT.
This is an MG1300, one of the second of the Issigonis trio of space efficient front wheel drive ADO16 family of cars, which was first seen in August 1962 as the Morris 1100. A four door saloon, with styling that had been influenced by Pininfarina, this car applied the same principles as had been seen in the Mini of three years earlier, but in a larger package, creating plenty of space for 4 or even 5 adults and with more luggage room. Power came from a 1098cc version of the proven A Series engine, which gave it a lively (for the time!) performance and the combination of a long wheelbase and innovative hydrolastic suspension gave it a particularly comfortable ride. A sporting MG model, with twin carburettors was added to the range before the year was out. In 1963 an Austin model appeared, identical to the Morris in all but grille and tail end treatment, and then Wolseley, Riley and even Vanden Plas models were added to the range in 1965 and 1966, as well as Countryman and Traveller estate versions of the Austin and Morris. The Vanden Plas Princess model came out in the autumn of 1965, applying the sort of levels of equipment and luxury finish that were usually found on large cars to something much smaller. Despite the lofty price tag, there was a definite market for these cars, many of which had relatively gentle use when new, so there are a few survivors, including this later 1300 model. Mark 2 models were launched in 1967 with the option of a 1300 engine, and a slightly less spartan interior. The car became Britain’s best seller, a position it held until 1972, The MG models received the 1275cc engine in 1967 and with twin carburettors were quite brisk for their day. Combine that with good handling (this was an era when front wheel drive was good and rear wheel drive was not!), and the cars were popular with enthusiasts, though you do not see many these days. The MG and Riley versions were replaced by the 1300GT. Sold in Austin and Morris versions, these cars had a vinyl roof and rostyle wheels to give them the looks to match the performance delivered by the twin carburettor A Series 1275cc engine, and they were popular for a little while, with few direct rivals in the market.
MG re-entered the sports car market in 1995 with the launch of the MGF Two versions of this mid-engined and affordable rival to the Mazda MX5 were offered: both of which used the 1.8 litre K-Series 16-valve engine. The cheaper of the two put out 118 hp and the more costly VVC model (by dint of its variable valve control) had 143 hp. Rover Special Projects had overseen the development of the F’s design and before finalising the styling bought-in outside contractors to determine the most appropriate mechanical configuration for the new car. Steve Harper of MGA Developments produced the initial design concept in January 1991 (inspired by the Jaguar XJR-15 and the Ferrari 250LM), before Rover’s in house design team refined the concept under the leadership of Gerry McGovern. The MGF used the Hydragas suspension, a system employing interconnected fluid and gas displacers, which gave the car a surprisingly compliant ride and which could be tuned to provide excellent handling characteristics. The MG F quickly shot to the top of the affordable sports car charts in Britain and remained there until the introduction of the MG TF in 2002. The MG F underwent a facelift in Autumn of 1999 which gave the car a revised interior as well as styling tweaks and fresh alloy wheels designs. There was also the introduction of a base 1.6 version and a more powerful 160 hp variant called the Trophy 160, which had a 0-60 mph time of 6.9 seconds. It was only produced for a limited time. An automatic version with a CVT called the Steptronic was also introduced. A comprehensive update in 2002 resulted in the MG TF, named after the MG TF Midget of the 1950s. Based upon the MG F platform but heavily redesigned and re-engineered, the most significant mechanical changes were the abandonment of Hydragas suspension in favour of conventional coil springs, the new design of the air-induction system that along with new camshafts produces more power than in MG F engines, and the torsional stiffness of the body increased by 20%. Various cosmetic changes included a revised grille, redesigned front headlights, bumpers, side air-intake grills and changes to the rear boot,. The car continued to sell well. Production was suspended when MG-Rover went out of business, but resumed again in 2007 when Nanjing built a number more.
In mid 2001, an MG version of the 45 had been launched, called the ZS, which gave MG a range of 3 different models as well as the TF sports car. The view of the press was that the suspension and steering alterations completely transformed the car, but this model was in a difficult part of the market, compared to the smaller ZR and is found fewer buyers. Those who did sample the ZS, especially in ZS 180 guise with the 2.5 litre KV6 got an absolutely cracking car though. It sported a V6 with all the aural benefits when all its rivals had 4 cylinder turbo engines. Later cars were facelifted to distinguish them more clearly from the Rover 45, with elements of the X Power bodykit being made standard.
Issigonis’ friend John Cooper, owner of the Cooper Car Company and designer and builder of Formula One cars, saw the potential of the Mini for competition. Issigonis was initially reluctant to see the Mini in the role of a performance car, but after John Cooper appealed to BMC management, the two men collaborated to create the Mini Cooper. The Austin Mini Cooper and Morris Mini Cooper debuted in September 1961. The 848 cc engine from the Morris Mini-Minor was given a longer stroke to increase capacity to 997 cc increasing power from 34 to 55 bhp. The car featured a race-tuned engine, twin SU carburettors, a closer-ratio gearbox and front disc brakes, uncommon at the time in a small car. One thousand units of this version were commissioned by management, intended for and designed to meet the homologation rules of Group 2 rally racing. The 997 cc engine was replaced by a shorter stroke 998 cc unit in 1964. In 1962, Rhodesian John Love became the first non-British racing driver to win the British Saloon Car Championship driving a Mini Cooper. A more powerful Mini Cooper, dubbed the “S”, was developed in tandem and released in 1963. Featuring a 1071 cc engine with a 70.61 mm bore and nitrided steel crankshaft and strengthened bottom end to allow further tuning; and larger servo-assisted disc brakes, 4,030 Cooper S cars were produced and sold until the model was updated in August 1964. Cooper also produced two S models specifically for circuit racing in the under 1,000 cc and under 1,300 cc classes respectively, rated at 970 cc and a 1,275 cc both had a 70.61 mm bore and both were also offered to the public. The smaller-engine model was not well received, and only 963 had been built when the model was discontinued in 1965. The 1,275 cc Cooper S models continued in production until 1971. Sales of the Mini Cooper were: 64,000 Mark I Coopers with 997 cc or 998 cc engines; 19,000 Mark I Cooper S with 970 cc, 1,071 cc or 1,275 cc engines; 16,000 Mark II Coopers with 998 cc engines; 6,300 Mark II Cooper S with 1,275 cc engines. There were no Mark III Coopers and 1,570 Mark III Cooper S.
In 1969, now under the ownership of British Leyland, the Mini was given a facelift by stylist Roy Haynes, who had previously worked for Ford. The restyled version was called the Mini Clubman, and had a squarer frontal look, using the same indicator/sidelight assembly as the Austin Maxi. The Mini Clubman was intended to replace the upmarket Riley and Wolseley versions, and a new model, dubbed the 1275 GT, was slated as the replacement for the 998 cc Mini Cooper, the 1,275 cc Mini Cooper S continuing alongside the 1275 GT until 1971. The Clubman Estate replaced the Countryman and Traveller. The original “round-front” design remained in production alongside the Clubman and 1275 GT. Production of the Clubman and 1275 GT got off to a slow start because the cars incorporated “lots of production changes” including the relocation of tooling from Cowley to the Longbridge plant: so very few cars were handed over to customers before the early months of 1970. Early domestic market Clubmans were still delivered on cross-ply tyres despite the fact that by 1970 radials had become the norm for the car’s mainstream competitors. By 1973 new Minis were, by default, being shipped with radial tyres, though cross-plies could be specified by special order, giving British buyers a price saving of £8. The most significant update after this came in 1976, when the engine was upgraded to the 110cc A Series unit, cloth seat trim was made standard and the wiper functions were moved to a column stalk. The stick on “wood” trim was replaced by painted coachlines at this time. The Clubman models were deleted in 1980, effectively replaced by the Metro, and they are relatively rare these days. The 1275 GT is often incorrectly described as the “Mini Clubman 1275 GT”. The official name was always just the “Mini 1275 GT”, and it was a separate, distinct model from the Clubman (although it shared the same frontal treatment as the Mini Clubman, and was launched at the same time). It had the 1275cc A Series unit and a 4 speed gearbox, as well as larger wheels. It was also deleted in the autumn of 1980. Although moderately popular when new, it is now seen as something of a poor substitute for the Cooper models, and the survival rate is pretty low, so you don’t see them that often.
No surprise to see the evergreen Morris Minor here as this is a very popular classic. The Minor was conceived in 1941. Although the Nuffield Organization was heavily involved in war work and there was a governmental ban on civilian car production, Morris Motors’ vice chairman, Miles Thomas, wanted to prepare the ground for new products to be launched as soon as the war was over. Vic Oak, the company’s chief engineer, had already brought to Thomas’ attention a promising junior engineer, Alec Issigonis, who had been employed at Morris since 1935 and specialised in suspension design but he had frequently impressed Oak with his advanced ideas about car design in general. Issigonis had come to Oak’s particular attention with his work on the new Morris Ten, which was in development during 1936/7. This was the first Morris to use unitary construction and was conceived with independent front suspension. Issigonis designed a coil-sprung wishbone system which was later dropped on cost grounds. Although the design would later be used on the MG Y-type and many other post-war MGs the Morris Ten entered production with a front beam axle. Despite his brief being to focus on the Ten’s suspension Issigonis had also drawn up a rack and pinion steering system for the car. Like his suspension design this was not adopted but would resurface in the post-war years on the MG Y-type, but these ideas proved that he was the perfect candidate to lead the design work on a new advanced small car. With virtually all resources required for the war effort, Thomas nonetheless approved the development of a new small family car that would replace the Morris Eight. Although Oak (and Morris’ technical director, Sidney Smith) were in overall charge of the project it was Issigonis who was ultimately responsible for the design, working with only two other draughtsmen. Thomas named the project ‘Mosquito’ and ensured that it remained as secret as possible, both from the Ministry of Supply and from company founder William Morris (now Lord Nuffield), who was still chairman of Morris Motors and, it was widely expected, would not look favourably on Issigonis’ radical ideas. Issigonis’ overall concept was to produce a practical, economical and affordable car for the general public that would equal, if not surpass, the convenience and design quality of a more expensive car. In later years he summed up his approach to the Minor; that he wanted to design an economy car that “the average man would take pleasure in owning, rather than feeling of it as something he’d been sentenced to” and “people who drive small cars are the same size as those who drive large cars and they should not be expected to put up with claustrophobic interiors.” Issigonis wanted the car to be as spacious as possible for its size and comfortable to drive for inexperienced motorists. Just as he would with the Mini ten years later, he designed the Mosquito with excellent roadholding and accurate, quick steering not with any pretence of making a sports car, but to make it safe and easy to drive by all. As work proceeded, there were plenty of battle to overcome, to get Issigonis’ ideas approved, and not all of them were. The production car, called the Minor was launched at the British Motor Show at Earls Court in London on October 27, 1948. At the same show Morris also launched the new Morris Oxford and Morris Six models, plus Wolseley variants of both cars, which were scaled-up versions of the new Minor, incorporating all the same features and designed with Issigonis’ input under Vic Oak’s supervision. Thus Issigonis’ ideas and design principles underpinned the complete post-war Morris and Wolseley car ranges. The original Minor MM series was produced from 1948 until 1953. It included a pair of four-seat saloons, two-door and (from 1950) a four-door, and a convertible four-seat Tourer. The front torsion bar suspension was shared with the larger Morris Oxford MO, as was the almost-unibody construction. Although the Minor was originally designed to accept a flat-4 engine, late in the development stage it was replaced by a 918 cc side-valve inline-four engine, little changed from that fitted in the 1935 Morris 8, and producing 27.5 hp and 39 lbf·ft of torque. This little engine pushed the Minor to just 64 mph but delivered 40 mpg. Brakes were four-wheel drums. Early cars had a painted section in the centre of the bumpers to cover the widening of the production car from the prototypes. This widening of 4 inches is also visible in the creases in the bonnet. Exports to the United States began in 1949 with the headlamps removed from within the grille surround to be mounted higher on the wings to meet local safety requirements. In 1950 a four-door version was released, initially available only for export, and featuring from the start the headlamps faired into the wings rather than set lower down on either side of the grille. The raised headlight position became standard on all Minors in time for 1951. From the start, the Minor had semaphore-type turn indicators, and subsequent Minor versions persisted with these until 1961 An Autocar magazine road test in 1950 reported that these were “not of the usual self-cancelling type, but incorporate[d] a time-basis return mechanism in a switch below the facia, in front of the driver”. It was all too easy for a passenger hurriedly emerging from the front passenger seat to collide with and snap off a tardy indicator “flipper” that was still sticking out of the B-pillar, having not yet been safely returned by the time-basis return mechanism to its folded position. Another innovation towards the end of 1950 was a water pump (replacing a gravity dependent system), which permitted the manufacturer to offer an interior heater “as optional equipment”. When production of the first series ended, just over a quarter of a million had been sold, 30 per cent of them the convertible Tourer model. In 1952, the Minor line was updated with an Austin-designed 803 cc overhead valve A-series engine, replacing the original side-valve unit. The engine had been designed for the Minor’s main competition, the Austin A30, but became available as Austin and Morris were merged into the British Motor Corporation. The new engine felt stronger, though all measurements were smaller than the old. The 52 second drive to 60 mph was still calm, with 63 mph as the top speed. Fuel consumption also rose to 36 mpg. An estate version was introduced in 1952, known as the Traveller (a Morris naming tradition for estates, also seen on the Mini). The Traveller featured an external structural ash (wood) frame for the rear bodywork, with two side-hinged rear doors. The frame was varnished rather than painted and a highly visible feature of the body style. Commercial models, marketed as the Morris Quarter Ton Van and Pick-up were added in May 1953. Rear bodies of the van versions were all steel. The 4-seat convertible and saloon variants continued as well. The car was again updated in 1956 when the engine was increased in capacity to 948 cc. The two-piece split windscreen was replaced with a curved one-piece one and the rear window was enlarged. In 1961 the semaphore-style trafficators were replaced by the flashing direction indicators, these were US-style red at the rear (using the same bulb filament as the brake lamp) and white at the front (using a second brighter filament in the parking lamp bulb) which was legal in the UK and many export markets at the time (such as New Zealand). An upmarket car based on the Minor floorpan using the larger BMC B-Series engine was sold as the Riley One-Point-Five/Wolseley 1500 beginning in 1957: versions of this Wolseley/Riley variant were also produced by BMC Australia as the Morris Major and the Austin Lancer. In December 1960 the Morris Minor became the first British car to sell more than 1,000,000 units. To commemorate the achievement, a limited edition of 350 two-door Minor saloons (one for each UK Morris dealership) was produced with distinctive lilac paintwork and a white interior. Also the badge name on the side of the bonnet was modified to read “Minor 1,000,000” instead of the standard “Minor 1000”. The millionth Minor was donated to the National Union of Journalists, who planned to use it as a prize in a competition in aid of the union’s Widow and Orphan Fund. The company, at the same time, presented a celebratory Minor to London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children, but this car was constructed of cake.The final major upgrades to the Minor were made in 1962. Although the name Minor 1000 was retained, the changes were sufficient for the new model to be given its own ADO development number. A larger version of the existing A-Series engine had been developed in conjunction with cylinder head specialist Harry Weslake for the then new ADO16 Austin/Morris 1100 range. This new engine used a taller block than did the 948 cc unit, with increased bore and stroke bringing total capacity up to 1,098 cc. Although fuel consumption suffered moderately at 38 mpg, the Minor’s top speed increased to 77 mph with noticeable improvements in low-end torque, giving an altogether more responsive drive. Other changes included a modified dashboard layout with toggle switches, textured steel instrument binnacle, and larger convex glove box covers. A different heater completed the interior upgrade, whilst the larger combined front side/indicator light units, common to many BMC vehicles of the time, were fitted to the front wings. These now included a separate bulb and amber lens for indicators while larger tail lamp units also included amber rear flashers. During the life of the Minor 1000 model, production declined. The last Convertible/Tourer was manufactured on 18 August 1969, and the saloon models were discontinued the following year. Production of the more practical Traveller and commercial versions ceased in 1972, although examples of all models were still theoretically available from dealers with a surplus of unsold cars for a short time afterwards. 1,619,857 Minors of all variants were ultimately sold.
Mindful of the success of the Golf GTi, in the class above, and how a small car with good handling could take more power, as the Mini Cooper had proved, Peugeot came up with the GTi in early 1984. The first models had a 1.6 litre XU5J engine, producing 105 PS, which was uprated in 1987 with a cylinder head with larger valves thus becoming XU5JA, which took the power output up to 115 bhp. Visually the car retained the good looks of the 3 door version of the regular models, but it featured plastic wheel arch extensions and trim, beefier front and rear bumper valances and judicious use of red badging and trim. The shell also underwent some minor changes, including larger wheel arches (to suit the larger wheels , and the suspension was redesigned and sat lower on the GTI with stiffer springs, different wishbones and a drop-linked anti-roll bar. Red was a dominant colour inside. The car was an instant hit. At the end of 1986, Peugeot followed up with a more potent model, the 1.9 GTi, whose XU9JA engine produced 128 PS. Internally the engine of this car and the 1.6 model are very similar, the main differences on 1.9 litre versions being the longer stroke, oil cooler, and some parts of the fuel injection system. The shorter stroke 1.6 litre engine is famed for being revvy and eager, while the 1.9 litre feels lazier and torquier. Outside the engine bay the main differences between the 1.6 GTi and the 1.9 GTi are half-leather seats on the 1.9 GTi vs. cloth seats and disc brakes all-round (1.9 GTi) vs. discs at the front and drum brakes at the back; as well as the 14-inch Speedline SL201 wheels on the 1.6 GTi vs. 15 inch Speedline SL299 alloys on the 1.9 GTi. The 205 is still often treated as a benchmark in group car tests of the newest GTI models or equivalent. Peugeot itself has never truly recreated this success in future GTI models, although they came very close with the highly regarded GTI-6 variant of the Peugeot 306.
Replacing the 964, the 993 models were first seen in October 1993, with production starting a few weeks later. Its arrival marked the end of air-cooled 911 models. The 993 was much improved over, and quite different from its predecessor. According to Porsche, every part of the car was designed from the ground up, including the engine and only 20% of its parts were carried over from the previous generation. Porsche refers to the 993 as “a significant advance, not just from a technical, but also a visual perspective.” Porsche’s engineers devised a new light-alloy subframe with coil and wishbone suspension (an all new multi-link system), putting behind the previous lift-off oversteer and making significant progress with the engine and handling, creating a more civilised car overall providing an improved driving experience. The 993 was also the first 911 to receive a six speed transmission. The 993 had several variants, as its predecessors, varying in body style, engines, drivetrains and included equipment. Power was increased by the addition of the VarioRam system, which added additional power, particularly in the mid-ranges, and also resulted in more throttle noise at higher revs; as a consequence, resulted in a 15% increase in power over its predecessor. The external design of the Porsche 993, penned by English designer Tony Hatter, retained the basic body shell architecture of the 964 and other earlier 911 models, but with revised exterior panels, with much more flared wheel arches, a smoother front and rear bumper design, an enlarged retractable rear wing and teardrop mirrors. A major change was the implementation of all alloy multi-link rear suspension attached to an alloy sub frame, a completely new design derived from the 989, a four-door sedan which never went into production. The system later continued in the 993’s successor, the 996, and required the widening of the rear wheel arches, which gave better stability. The new suspension improved handling, making it more direct, more stable, and helping to reduce the tendency to oversteer if the throttle was lifted during hard cornering, a trait of earlier 911s. It also reduced interior noise and improved ride quality. The 993 was the first generation of the 911 to have a 6-speed manual transmission included as standard; its predecessors had 4 or 5-speed transmissions. In virtually every situation, it was possible to keep the engine at its best torque range above 4,500 rpm. The Carrera, Carrera S, Cabriolet and Targa models (rear wheel drive) were available with a “Tiptronic” 4-speed automatic transmission, first introduced in the 964. From the 1995 model year, Porsche offered the Tiptronic S with additional steering wheel mounted controls and refined software for smoother, quicker shifts. Since the 993’s introduction, the Tiptronic is capable of recognising climbs and descents. The Tiptronic equipped cars suffer as compared to the manual transmission equipped cars in both acceleration and also top speed, but the differences are not much notable. Tiptronic cars also suffered a 55 lb (25 kg) increase in weight. The 993’s optional all wheel drive system was refined over that of the 964. Porsche departed from the 964’s setup consisting of three differentials and revised the system based on the layout from its 959 flagship, replacing the centre differential with a viscous coupling unit. In conjunction with the 993’s redesigned suspension, this system improved handling characteristics in inclement weather and still retained the stability offered by all wheel drive without having to suffer as many compromises as the previous all-wheel-drive system. Its simpler layout also reduced weight, though the four wheel drive Carrera 4 weighs 111 lb (50 kg) more than its rear wheel drive counterpart (at 3,131 lb (1,420 kg) vs. 3,020 lb (1,370 kg)). Other improvements over the 964 include a new dual-flow exhaust system, larger brakes with drilled discs, and a revised power steering. A full range of models arrived before the arrival of the 996 generation in 1998.
The 924 was originally another joint project of Volkswagen and Porsche created by the Vertriebsgesellschaft (VG), the joint sales and marketing company funded by Porsche and VW to market and sell sports cars, For Volkswagen, it was intended to be that company’s flagship coupé sports car and was dubbed “Project 425” during its development. For Porsche, it was to be its entry-level sports car replacing the 914. At the time, Volkswagen lacked a significant internal research and design division for developing sports cars; further, Porsche had been doing the bulk of the company’s development work anyway, per a deal that went back to the 1940s. In keeping with this history, Porsche was contracted to develop a new sporting vehicle with the caveat that this vehicle must work with an existing VW/Audi inline-four engine. Porsche chose a rear-wheel drive layout and a rear-mounted transaxle for the design to help provide 48/52 front/rear weight distribution; this slight rear weight bias aided both traction and brake balance. The 1973 oil crisis, a series of automobile-related regulatory changes enacted during the 1970s and a change of directors at Volkswagen made the case for a Volkswagen sports car less striking and the 425 project was put on hold. After serious deliberation at VW, the project was scrapped entirely after a decision was made to move forward with the cheaper, more practical, Golf-based Scirocco model instead. Porsche, which needed a model to replace the 914, made a deal with Volkswagen leadership to buy the design back. The deal specified that the car would be built at the ex-NSU factory in Neckarsulm located north of the Porsche headquarters in Stuttgart, Volkswagen becoming the subcontractor. Hence, Volkswagen employees would do the actual production line work (supervised by Porsche’s own production specialists) and that Porsche would own the design. It became one of Porsche’s best-selling models, and the relative cheapness of building the car made it both profitable and fairly easy for Porsche to finance. The original design used an Audi-sourced four-speed manual transmission from a front wheel drive car but now placed and used as a rear transaxle. It was mated to VW’s EA831 2.0 litre 4 cylinder engine, subsequently used in the Audi 100 and the Volkswagen LT van (common belief is that ‘the engine originated in the LT van’, but it first appeared in the Audi car and in 924 form has a Porsche-designed cylinder head). The 924 engine used Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection, producing 125 bhp in European cars, but a rather paltry 95 bhp for the US market models, though this was improved to 110 hp in mid-1977 with the introduction of a catalytic converter, which reduced the need for power-robbing smog equipment. The four-speed manual was the only transmission available for the initial 1976 model, later this was replaced by a five-speed dog-leg unit. An Audi three-speed automatic was offered starting with the 1977.5 model. In 1980 the five-speed transmission was changed to a conventional H-pattern, with reverse now on the right beneath fifth gear. Porsche made small improvements to the 924 each model year between 1977 and 1985, but nothing major was changed on non-turbo cars. Porsche soon recognised the need for a higher-performance version of the 924 that could bridge the gap between the basic 924s and the 911s. Having already found the benefits of turbochargers on several race cars and the 1975 911 turbo, Porsche chose to use this technology for the 924, eventually introducing the 924 turbo as a 1978 model. Porsche started with the same Audi-sourced VW EA831 2.0 litre engine, designed an all new cylinder head (which was hand assembled at Stuttgart), dropped the compression to 7.5:1 and engineered a KKK K-26 turbocharger for it. With 10 psi boost, output increased to 170 hp. The 924 turbo’s engine assembly weighed about 65 lb more, so front spring rates and anti-roll bars were revised. Weight distribution was now 49/51 compared to the original 924 figure of 48/52 front to rear. In order to help make the car more functional, as well as to distinguish it from the naturally aspirated version, Porsche added an NACA duct in the bonnet and air intakes in the badge panel in the nose, 15-inch spoke-style alloy wheels, four-wheel disc brakes with five-stud hubs and a five-speed transmission. Forged 16-inch flat wheels of the style used on the 928 were optional, but fitment specification was that of the 911 which the 924 shared wheel offsets with. Internally, Porsche called it the “931” (left hand drive) and “932” (right hand drive). The turbocharged VW EA831 engine allowed the 924’s performance to come surprisingly close to that of the 911 SC (180 bhp), thanks in part to a lighter curb weight, but it also brought reliability problems.This was in part due to the fact that the general public did not know how to operate, or care for, what is by today’s standards a primitive turbo setup. A turbocharger cooled only by engine oil led to short component life and turbo-related seal and seat problems. To fix the problems, Porsche released a revised 924 turbo series 2 (although badging still read “924 turbo”) in 1979. By using a smaller turbocharger running at increased boost, slightly higher compression of 8:1 and an improved fuel injection system with DITC ignition triggered by the flywheel, reliability improved and power rose to 177 hp. In 1984, VW decided to stop manufacturing the engine blocks used in the 2.0 litre 924, leaving Porsche with a predicament. The 924 was considerably cheaper than its 944 stablemate, and dropping the model left Porsche without an affordable entry-level option. The decision was made to equip the narrower bodied 924 with a slightly detuned version of the 944’s 163 bhp 2.5 litre straight four, upgrading the suspension but retaining the 924’s early interior. The result was 1986’s 150 bhp 924S. In 1988, the 924S’ final year of production, power increased to 160 bhp matching that of the previous year’s Le Mans spec cars and the base model 944, itself detuned by 3 bhp. This was achieved using different pistons which raised the S’ compression ratio from 9.7:1 to 10.2:1, the knock-on effect being an increase in the octane rating, up from 91 RON to 95. This made the 924S slightly faster than the base 944 due to its lighter weight and more aerodynamic body. With unfavourable exchange rates in the late 1980s, Porsche decided to focus its efforts on its more upmarket models, dropping the 924S for 1989 and the base 944 later that same year.
The Reliant Rebel is a small four-wheeled car that was produced by Reliant between 1964 and 1974. It was designed by Reliant to be a market test to push Reliant into other parts of the market instead of just 3-wheelers. It was marketed as the smart alternative, because it had a rust-free glass-fibre body, a robust chassis and frugal fuel economy. Many models were produced from 600cc, 700cc, and 750cc with saloon, estate and van variants. It was considered a niche rival to the Austin Mini and Hillman Imp. The Rebel was the brainchild of Reliant Managing Director Ray Wiggin and was developed after the death of T.L. Williams, the founder of Reliant. Wiggin believed in the future people would be driving small 4 wheeled cars in a new car segment as the Austin Mini launch had been so successful and the UK microcar/3 wheeler segment would die off, such as Reliant’s Regal, so Reliant engineers, after working on the development of the four-wheeled Sabra Carmel with Autocars of Haifa, Israel decided to modify the then-current Regal 3/25 to create a four-wheel vehicle. They built a rolling chassis using a cut and welded Regal 3/25 chassis and drove it around the two gates factory to see if it would work. It was however felt that Reliant’s 598cc engine wouldn’t pull the weight of a finished car; consequently, Reliant engineers wanted to keep the 600 engine but tuned it by skimmed the cylinder head and fitted larger valves to give better torque to cope with the car’s extra weight. The Rebel would get its front suspension from the Triumph Herald, brakes from the Triumph Courier van and the steering box from the Standard 10. Reliant asked Ogle Design to design the Rebel, with the idea that it should look completely different from the Regal, but should save production costs by retaining some of the Regal’s parts such as its doors, windscreen and dashboard. The resulting car was 138 ins.(3505 mm) in length, 58 ins. (1473 mm) in width, with a wheelbase of 89 ins. (2261 mm). The kerb weight of the Rebel depending on the model was between 1185 lbs. and 1327 lbs. (539 kg to 603 kg). The Rebel made its public debut at the Earls Court Motor Show in 1964. The show cars were pre-production models, built in Turkey and driven to Earls Court to test their durability. Lots of media attention was given to the Rebel at launch at the Earls Court Motor Show with many publications praising the new Reliant small 4 wheeler, Reliant had over 1000 notices of interest from the public at the show from people interested in purchasing the new car. Sadly for Reliant they could fill these early orders, Rebel production was always low and frustrating for customers since Reliant hadn’t expanded its factory to give the Rebel its own production line, Reliant instead spent the money making a new production line and factory building for the new Scimitar Coupe which was launched alongside the rebel in 1964. So for every Rebel produced Reliant had to shut down Regal production for the Rebel to be produced on that line, something management didn’t want to do since the Regal was very in demand and more profitable, this was the reason why there was a big marketing push when the Rebel was launched with very few cars being produced thereafter. The Rebel didn’t get its own dedicated production line until 1971 during Rebel 700 production. It then lost it in 1974 along with the Bond Bug in order to increase production of the newly launched Reliant Robin to keep up with demand after its 1973 launch. Not having Rebels readily available at dealers after its launch and for several years thereafter, are the main reasons why production numbers were so low compared to the Regal 3/25 and 3/30 which sold over 100/000 cars over same period. Ray Wiggins had developed the Rebel as a marketing exercise for Reliant to push the company into new parts of market. He wanted people to become aware that Reliant was in this segment of the market, but he did not push the Rebel to sell in huge numbers as expected. Management were more concerned about 3-wheeler production rather than Ray Wiggin’s longer-term view. The Rebel launched in October 1964 as a saloon with the same 598cc engine as used in the Reliant Regal 3/25 and only one trim level, but with an accessory list. These vehicles were only produced in two production batches in the Tamworth factory in November/December totaling in only around 100 original Rebel built. These vehicles are mostly seen as pre-production as they were built for dealer demonstrations only and the specification changed between each vehicle as the factory tested different fabrics and materials for the interior. The main differences in these early models were the interior which used the dashboard and steering wheel from the regal 3/25, bonnet hinges hidden in the body work, the spare wheel that was fitted under the bonnet and the interior having minimal carpeting and black gel coat. Rebel prototypes had a larger front grille, after testing it was found to make the cars run too cool so on early cars the grille was not cut out of the molding leaving a “dummy grille” as some people call it. Only 6 months after the Rebel’s launch in 1965, it was relaunched as the Rebel Deluxe (but never actually using this name again). The car was updated with a new dashboard design using different instruments, thicker seats for greater comfort and five leaf springs in the rear instead of seven for a softer ride. The top half of the grill was deleted completely and filled in smooth, orange front indicators replaced the original clear units and a unique steering wheel was added. This model in later years was simply named the Rebel 600. The Rebel 700, introduced in October 1967, had several major changes from the 600, including a full chassis redesign using stronger steel and construction, a new engine of 701cc, a move to negative earth and many other specification changes. At the Earl’s Court Motor Show the estate model was shown for the first time and also announced it was on sale now. The estate used longer rear windows and a large side hinged rear door. Combined with the new fold-flat rear seat this made the Rebel estate incredibly practical, and within two years it was the best-selling model.Later, side windows that slid open could be ordered. In 1971, a van version of the Rebel was introduced after many Rebel estate buyers’ enquiries. The van model was basically the estate but without windows. Rear seats could still be ordered in the van with a rear window DIY kit offered by Reliant dealers – thus meaning you could buy a Rebel van make it into an estate avoiding a large amount of tax. Both the estate and the van offered 46 cu. ft. of load space, which increased in the van to 60 cu. ft. without the optional front passenger seat. Not many Rebel 700 Vans were produced as production was in development for the 750, many more 750 vans were produced. The next evolution of the Rebel was the 750 model, introduced in October 1972. This car gained some parts with the three-wheeled Reliant Robin that was due to be introduced in 1973, parts gained were: The new 748cc engine, Rear light clusters, Modified version of the 4 speed all syncro gearbox and Radiator. The Rebel 750 was the most popular Rebel as Reliant gave the Rebel a big marketing push in magazines and newspapers including full-page colour ads, because of this many people were only discovering the Rebel for the first time now with its large range of models. The interior also had a large change, fatter more comfortable front seats were used with a soft touch padded dashboard, all the interiors now used black vinyl seats and black carpets. Van production saw a short-lived effort to produce more as Royal Mail needed a replacement for its fleet of Morris vans, they had already trialled the Reliant Supervan but thought the more conventional Rebel van would be a good replacement, only as little as 10 vans were trialed. In early 1974 with the new Reliant Robin proving to be so popular production on all other models including the Rebel, Bond Bug, Reliant TW9 ended so more Robin models could be made. In 1975 the Rebel would be replaced with the Reliant Kitten. The Reliant Rebel estate was the first time Reliant would build a small estate vehicle using a large side hinged door with fold-flat rear seats. Owing to the popularity of this design, Reliant would carry on using this formula for the Regal, Robin and Rialto models until 1998. The Rebel used all of Reliant’s own all aluminium OHV engines (based on a reverse-engineered 803cc Standard SC engine used in the discontinued Standard Eight). The car was launched with a 598cc engine producing 28 bhp, this was 4 more horsepower than standard 600cc from the regal 3/25, this was done as the car felt sluggish with its extra weight. After the introduction of the 70 mph speed limit on British motorways the new speed limit was seen as a target, any vehicle with a top speed lower than 70 mph was seen to be slow, with this Reliant increased the engine size to 701cc and 31 hp, the new engine was then used in both the Rebel and the Regal. The latter model was then named the Rebel 700 in time for the October 1967 London Motor Show. The larger engine gave the Rebel a top speed of 70 mph and would later be fitted into the Regal three-wheeler becoming the regal 3/30. By 1972 reliant fitted the 750cc engine to the rebel, this was to test the new engine before the launch of the new reliant robin the next year, the same was done with the bond bug 750. At the 1972 Motor Show Reliant launched the reliant 750, with 35 hp it gave the Rebel 750 a top speed of 80 mph but also gave better MPG of up to 65 the gallon. Rebel engines were always of higher compression and higher horsepower because of the car’s additional weight compared to the three-wheeled variants. Reliant always introduced a new engine size in the Rebel first, before the Regal or the related Bond Bug received it. All rebel engine numbers end with a capital R to signify it is a rebel engine with its modifications. The chassis from its center back is similar to that of the three-wheeled Regal, but the Rebel features a conventional four-wheel configuration with the front chassis section containing conventional steering and suspension. In the Rebel’s case, this is the steering box from a Standard Ten with wishbones, trunnions and ball-joints from the Triumph GT6 / Vitesse and Triumph Herald models. The Rebel’s standard 12-in. steel wheels have a PCD of 4 x 4 in. (4 x 101.6mm) and the car rides on 5.50 X 12 in. tyres. The leaf springs on the rebel are not Regal as many people believe as the rebel leaf springs are longer. The Rebel was introduced with a four-speed gearbox which features synchromesh on the top three ratios. There is no synchro on first gear. The gearbox was based on that of the Regal, but had an extended tailshaft with a linkage for the gearstick. By 1972 synchromesh had been extended to all four forward speeds as the gearbox was now based on the Robin gearbox. The gearstick was no longer on a linkage but “projects forward from the front of the transmission tunnel”. “The light-weight body material and the aluminium engine block meant that the car was some 15% lighter than the (slightly shorter) Mini and 35% lighter than the early Renault 5”, which was also introduced in 1972 A total of 2,600 Rebels were made in saloon, estate and van variants. Most were sold in the UK but many were sold in the Caribbean islands. Of the approximately 900 Rebels which were exported, a number of them were in left-hand drive form to suit some of their export market. As above most of the reasoning behind the low production numbers was Reliant didn’t give the Rebel its own production line until 1971, before this if a batch of Rebels needed to be produced then Reliant had to stop production of its popular Regal 3/25, something which Reliant didn’t want to do very often.
The R5 Turbo was conceived with dual intent, promoting the sales of the common R5 and being homologated in the FIA group 3 and 4 categories of the rally championship (today WRC). All the motorsport derivatives were based on the Turbo 1. The factory pushed the engine output up to 180 PS for the Critérium des Cévennes, 210 PS for the Tour de Corse, and by 1984 as much as 350 PS (257 kW; 345 hp) in the R5 Maxi Turbo. The final Renault 5 Maxi Turbo Superproduction reached 385 PS and won the French Supertouring Championship that year. The Renault 5 Turbo competed in the sub-2000 cc category, thanks to the multiplication factor of 1.4 which was applied to turbocharged engines. FISA restricted tire and wheel sizes based on engine size, so for the Maxi Turbo, Renault enlarged to engine to 1527 cc which brought it up to 2138 cc in the eyes of the regulatory agencies – placing it in the 2000–2500 cc category and allowing for the fitment of wider wheels at the expense of a higher minimum weight. Driven by Jean Ragnotti in 1981, the 5 Turbo won the Monte Carlo Rally on its first outing in the World Rally Championship. The 2WD R5 Turbo soon faced the competition of new Group B four-wheel drive cars that proved faster on dirt.
The Elf was one of a pair of Mini based models which BMC launched in 1961, the other being the Wolseley Hornet. Both had longer, slightly finned rear wings and larger boots that gave the cars a more traditional three-box design. Wheelbase of the Elf and Hornet remained at 2.036 m (6.68 ft), whereas the overall length was increased to 3.27 m (10.7 ft). This resulted in a dry weight of 638 kg for the Elf and 618 kg for the Hornet. Front-end treatment, which incorporated each marque’s traditional upright grille design (the Hornet’s grille with a lit “Wolseley” badge), also contributed to a less utilitarian appearance. The cars had larger-diameter chrome hubcaps than the Austin and Morris Minis, and additional chrome accents, bumper overriders and wood-veneer dashboards. The Riley was the more expensive of the two cars. The name “Wolseley Hornet” was first used on 1930s saloon, coupé, sports and racing cars, while the name “Elf” recalled the Riley Sprite and Imp sports cars, also of the 1930s (Riley’s first choice of name “Imp” could not be used as Hillman had registered it). The full-width dashboard was a differentiator between the Elf and Hornet. This dashboard was the idea of Christopher Milner the Sales Manager for Riley. Both the Riley Elf’s and Wolseley Hornet’s bodies were built at Fisher & Ludlow under their “Fisholow” brandname. Plates in the engine compartment on the right side fitch plate bear evidence of this speciality. Very early Mark I versions of both cars had no overriders on the bumpers and a single piece front wing (A-panel and wing in one piece, no outside seam below scuttle panel) that was soon given up again, allegedly due to cost. The Elf’s and Hornet’s special bumper overriders first appeared in 1962. Early production Mark I’s also had a combination of leather and cloth seats whereas all later models had full leather seats. Mark I models were equipped with single leading shoe brakes on the front. Both the Elf and the Hornet went through three engine versions. Initially, they used the 848 cc 34 bhp engine with a single HS2 carburettor, changing to a single HS2 carburettor 38 bhp version of the Cooper’s 998 cc power unit in the Mark II in 1963. This increased the car’s top speed from 71 to 77 mph . Therefore, Mark II cars also came with increased braking power in the form of front drum brakes with twin leading shoes to cope with the increased power output. Both Mark I and Mark II featured four-speed gearboxes (three synchromesh gears) with rod gear change, a.k.a. “magic wand” type. Automatic gearboxes became available on the Mark II in 1965 as an option. The Mark III facelift of 1966 brought wind-up windows and fresh-air fascia vents. Concealed door hinges were introduced two years before these were seen on the mainstream Mini. The gear selecting mechanism was updated to the rod type, as seen on all later Mini type cars. Automatic gearboxes were available to the Mark III in 1967 again. Full-four synchromesh gearing was eventually introduced during 1968. 30,912 Riley Elfs and 28,455 Wolseley Hornets were built. Production of both models ceased in late 1969.
One of the most imposing cars at the event was this Rolls-Royce Dawn, a still current model
In May 1990, a heavily revised Metro was revealed, with the model adopting full Rover badging. The looks had been modernised, but it was what had been done under the bonnet that was far more significant, with the relatively new K-Series engine finding a home in both 1100 and 1400cc guises. Combined with a five speed gearbox in more costly models, and a new trim that looked decidedly up-market for a small car, suddenly the Metro was back in contention, and that year, the model won high praise and just about every comparison test there was. The MGs were no more, but there was a 1.4 GTi car at the top of the range, and there was even a (very low volume) Cabrio for a while. Sadly, though, with development funds still next to non-existent, the car stayed in production for too long. By 1997, the basic design was 17 years old, and it was the fact that it had the safety standards more akin to cars of 1980 than 1997 that finally finished it off, with a disastrous NCAP safety test which deterred all but the very faithful from buying it.
The Saab 95 is a seven-seater, two-door station wagon which was produced by Saab from 1959 to 1978. Initially it was based on the Saab 93 sedan, but the model’s development throughout the years followed closely that of the Saab 96 after the 93 was taken off the market in 1960. It was introduced in 1959, but because only 40 were made in 1959, production is often said to have started in 1960. The first engine was an 841 cc three-cylinder two-stroke, but from 1967 onward, it became available with the same four-stroke Ford Taunus V4 engine as used in the Saab 96, the Saab Sonett V4 and Sonett III, and the German Ford Taunus. It had a four-speed manual transmission. There was a small handle on the firewall that, when pushed, put the car into a “freewheeling” mode. This allowed the driver to coast downhill without seizing the two-stroke engine, but when power was needed the transmission would engage and the driver could power the car up hill again. As the 95 received the four-speed gearbox before the 96 (that still had the old three-speed unit) it was also used for rallying. In the US, the Saab 95 received the larger 1.7 litre V4 for the 1971 model year, as a response to tighter emissions regulations. The compression ratio was lowered to 8.0:1, meaning that the power remained 73 hp. The Saab 95/96 remained on sale in the United States until 1973. A rear-facing folding seat was dropped with the 1976 model year, making the car a regular five-seater. Production ended in 1978 (when only 470 examples were built). A total of 110,527 were made.
The Chamois was the luxury version of the Hillman Imp, added to the range in the autumn of 1964, just over a year after the launch of the Hillman versions. It was updated during the 1960s inline with the Imp versions and was deleted in 1970 when the Singer name was phased out.
The Smart Roadster and Roadster Coupé were introduced in 2003, based on a stretched platform of the Fortwo with a full length of 3427 mm. The two variants are meant to be reminiscent of the British roadster of yore, such as the Triumph Spitfire or the MG B. Both the Roadster and Roadster Coupé are available with a removable Targa roof or an electrical softtop. The Roadster is powered by 61 or 82 PS versions of the turbocharged 698cc 3-cylinder Suprex engine in the rear, which is engineered by Mercedes-Benz. The Roadster Coupé has only the more powerful 80 bhp engine. A steering wheel with Formula 1-style paddle-shifters, to control the single-clutch automated manual transmission, is optional. Weighing as little as 790 kg (1,742 lb), the Roadster is intended to provide the emotion of driving a sports car at an affordable cost. Both the Roadster and Roadster Coupé are available in Brabus-tuned versions with power increased to 99 bhp. The Brabus versions have a different twin sports exhaust, lower suspension, polished six-spoke aluminum alloy Monoblock VI 17″ wheels (205/40 ZR17 at the front and 225/35 ZR17 at the rear), front spoiler, side skirts and radiator grille. Exclusive Brabus (Xclusive) interior includes a leather-trimmed dashboard, alloy-effect accent parts, instrument graphics, leather/aluminium gearshift with Brabus labelled starter button, aluminium handbrake handle (which fouls the central armrest), aluminium pedals and Brabus labeled floor mats. The Brabus version also features stronger clamping of the clutch plates and a faster gearchange. The Monoblock wheels are known to be very soft and as a result, are very easy to buckle. The lacquer on these wheels is also very poor, and corrosion can occur very early in the life of the wheel. Despite a projected break-even of only 8-10,000 units per year, first-year sales almost doubled this estimate. However, some Smart Roadsters leaked and production ceased due to the warranty work and other costs reaching an average of €3000 per vehicle. While a critical success, the Smart Roadster was, due to these costs, an economic failure for the company. Influential British motoring television show and magazine Top Gear praised the Roadster, awarding it Fun Car Of The Year for 2005. 43,091 Roadsters were built and put on the shop fronts, with chassis numbers ranging from 00,001 to around 43,400.
This somewhat customised car is based on a 1939 Commander. In 1935, the Commander was dropped from Studebaker’s product line, only to be reinstated in 1937 when the name was applied to Studebaker’s least expensive range formerly known as the Studebaker Dictator. Studebaker introduced the Champion in 1939, and the Commander line was again repositioned, now as the mid-range vehicle.
One of the nicest cars of the event was this rather splendid Talbot, which I believe to be a 14-45 model. The Talbot 14/45 was the first complete car design from the pen of engineering genius Georges Roesch. He pioneered the use of high compression and high revs as the source of refined power. The 14hp had to be right from the drawing board in order to save the moribund Talbot factory and parts for 1000 cars were purchased before a prototype had run. Fortunately the car was the star of the 1926 London Motor Show and order books filled immediately. Talbot had been saved! The heart of this miracle car was an unremarkable looking six-cylinder engine, but bristling with innovation: rockers oscillated on ‘knife-edges’ and pushrods were as slim a knitting needles to give the lightest valve gear around; the four-bearing crankshaft was sturdy and machined from solid; water circulation used thermo-syphon with cooling provided by a fan integral with the flywheel; silent starting and charging came from a direct-drive dynamotor; twin-point Delco-Remy coil ignition was state of the art for the time and the innovative two part pistons (aluminium crown and iron skirt) accommodated a compression ratio of 5.5: 1. At 4500rpm it produced an impressive 45bhp. The chassis was more conventional, but benefitted from well-developed steering and four-wheel brakes with self-servo action on the front. Available in 9’3”, 9’6” and 10’ lengths it would serve as the basis for all future Talbots. The four-speed gearbox shared its lubricating oil with the engine – 30 years ahead of the Mini, and towards the end of production it even offered the innovative pre-selector gearbox and traffic clutch. The 14hp was the foundation of Talbot’s commercials success: “Rolls Royce refinement for half the engine size and quarter the price”. It went through model evolutions and carried many different body styles – making particularly effective use of the Weymann method of saloon body construction. But by the mid 1930s the ten year old design was showing its age and production ceased in 1935 after 11 000 of these workhorses had been made. About 70 of these charming cars remain and most Talbot enthusiasts agree it is the purest of the Roesch designs. It will hum along at 60 mph providing complete comfort to its occupants.
The WiLL Vi is a subcompact car, produced from 2000 to 2001, with distinctive styling combining elements of many cars. The WiLL Vi was designed by the then newly formed Virtual Venture Company, headed by Jim Shimizu. The unique-appearing rear window had earlier appeared on the Mazda Carol, the Ford Anglia (1959–1968), and the Citroen Ami. The “neo-retro” look represented a period in Japan where vehicles took on the styling of historic vehicles from the 1950s and 1960s, such as the Nissan Be-1, Nissan Figaro, Nissan Pao, the Toyota Origin, the Subaru Vivio Bistro, and the Mitsubishi Minica Town Bee. The curve of the tail section is also similar to that of the second gen Renault Megane. The car was equipped with MacPherson struts for the front wheels and a torsion beam axle for the rear wheels. The car was painted in a number of pastel colors, and the plastic wheel covers resemble sand dollars. One of the few options was a canvas sliding roof, and the vehicle was installed with bench seats for both front and rear passengers, with the gearshift installed on the dashboard. Sales were disappointing, so the Vi was replaced by the WiLL Cypha. A few have been imported to the UK and one of my friends, Dave Quinn, a fellow Abarth owner has one.
Rather better known is the Yaris GR, a car which you see at almost every meet these days.
Successor to the TR3a, and code named “Zest” during development, the TR4 was based on the chassis and drivetrain of the previous TR sports cars, but with a modern Michelotti styled body. The TR 4 engine was carried over from the earlier TR2/3 models, but the displacement was increased from 1991cc to 2138 cc by increasing the bore size. Gradual improvements in the manifolds and cylinder head allowed for some improvements culminating in the TR4A model. The 1991 cc engine became a no-cost option for those cars destined to race in the under-two-litre classes of the day. Some cars were fitted with vane-type superchargers, as the three main bearing engine was liable to crankshaft failure if revved beyond 6,500 rpm; superchargers allowed a TR4 to produce much more horse-power and torque at relatively modest revolutions. The standard engine produced 105 bhp but, supercharged and otherwise performance-tuned, a 2.2-litre I4 version could produce in excess of 200 bhp at the flywheel. The TR4, in common with its predecessors, was fitted with a wet-sleeve engine, so that for competition use the engine’s cubic capacity could be changed by swapping the cylinder liners and pistons, allowing a competitor to race under different capacity rules (i.e. below or above 2 litres for example). Other key improvements over the TR3 included a wider track front and rear, slightly larger standard engine displacement, full synchromesh on all forward gears, and rack and pinion steering. In addition, the optional Laycock de Normanville electrically operated overdrive Laycock Overdrive could now be selected for 2nd and 3rd gear as well as 4th, effectively providing the TR4 with a seven-speed manual close ratio gearbox. The TR4 was originally fitted with 15×4.5″ disc wheels. Optional 48-lace wire wheels could be ordered painted the same colour as the car’s bodywork (rare), stove-enamelled (matte silver with chrome spinners, most common) or in matte or polished chrome finishes (originally rare, but now more commonly fitted). The most typical tyre originally fitted was 590-15 bias ply or optional radial tires. In the US at one point, American Racing alloy (magnesium and aluminium) wheels were offered as an option, in 15×5.5″ or 15×6″ size. Tyres were a problem for original owners who opted for 60-spoke wire wheels, as the correct size radial-ply tyre for the factory rims was 155-15, an odd-sized tyre at the time only available from Michelin at considerable expense. Some original TR4 sales literature says the original radial size was 165-15. The much more common 185-15 radials were too wide to be fitted safely. As a result, many owners had new and wider rims fitted and their wheels re-laced. The new TR4 body style did away with the classical cutaway door design of the previous TRs to allow for wind-down windows (in place of less convenient side-curtains), and the angular rear allowed a boot with considerable capacity for a sports car. Advanced features included the use of adjustable fascia ventilation, and the option of a unique hard top that consisted of a fixed glass rear window (called a backlight) with an integral rollbar and a detachable, steel centre panel (aluminium for the first 500 units). This was the first such roof system on a production car and preceded by 5 years the Porsche 911/912 Targa, which has since become a generic name for this style of top. On the TR4 the rigid roof panel was replaceable with an easily folded and stowed vinyl insert and supporting frame called a Surrey Top. The entire hard top assembly is often mistakenly referred to as a Surrey Top. In original factory parts catalogues the rigid top and backlight assembly is listed as the Hard Top kit. The vinyl insert and frame are offered separately as a Surrey Top. Features such as wind-down windows were seen as a necessary step forward to meet competition and achieve good sales in the important US market, where the vast majority of TR4s were eventually sold. Dealers had concerns that buyers might not fully appreciate the new amenities, therefore a special short run of TR3As (commonly called TR3Bs) was produced in 1961 and ’62. The TR4 proved very successful and continued the rugged, “hairy-chested” image that the previous TRs had enjoyed. 40,253 cars were built during production years. Most were sold new to the US, but plenty have returned, and it is estimated that there are not far short of 900 examples of the model in the UK at present.
The TR6 was the first Triumph for some time not to have been styled by Michelotti. By the mid 1960s, money was tight, so when it came to replacing the TR4 and TR5 models, Triumph were forced into trying to minimise the costs of the redesign, which meant that they kept the central section of the old car, but came up with new bodywork with the front and back ends were squared off, reportedly based on a consultancy contract involving Karmann. The resulting design, which did look modern when it was unveiled in January 1969 has what is referred to as a Kamm tail, which was very common during 1970s era of cars and a feature on most Triumphs of the era. All TR6 models featured inline six-cylinder engines. For the US market the engine was carburetted, as had been the case for the US-only TR250 engine. Like the TR5, the TR6 was fuel-injected for other world markets including the United Kingdom, hence the TR6PI (petrol-injection) designation. The Lucas mechanical fuel injection system helped the home-market TR6 produce 150 bhp at model introduction. Later, the non-US TR6 variant was detuned to 125 bhp for it to be easier to drive, while the US variant continued to be carburetted with a mere 104 hp. Sadly, the Lucas injection system proved somewhat troublesome, somewhat denting the appeal of the car. The TR6 featured a four-speed manual transmission. An optional overdrive unit was a desirable feature because it gave drivers close gearing for aggressive driving with an electrically switched overdrive which could operate on second, third, and fourth gears on early models and third and fourth on later models because of constant gearbox failures in second at high revs. Both provided “long legs” for open motorways. TR6 also featured semi-trailing arm independent rear suspension, rack and pinion steering, 15-inch wheels and tyres, pile carpet on floors and trunk/boot, bucket seats, and a full complement of instrumentation. Braking was accomplished by disc brakes at the front and drum brakes at the rear. A factory steel hardtop was optional, requiring two people to fit it. TR6 construction was fundamentally old-fashioned: the body was bolted onto a frame instead of the two being integrated into a unibody structure; the TR6 dashboard was wooden (plywood with veneer). Other factory options included a rear anti-roll bar and a limited-slip differential. Some say that the car is one of Leyland’s best achievements, but a number of issues were present and remain because of poor design. As well as the fuel injection problems, other issues include a low level radiator top-up bottle and a poor hand-brake. As is the case with other cars of the era, the TR6 can suffer from rust issues, although surviving examples tend to be well-cared for. The TR6 can be prone to overheating. Many owners fit an aftermarket electric radiator fan to supplement or replace the original engine-driven fan. Also the Leyland factory option of an oil cooler existed. Despite the reliability woes, the car proved popular, selling in greater quantity than any previous TR, with 94,619 of them produced before production ended in mid 1976. Of these, 86,249 were exported and only 8,370 were sold in the UK. A significant number have since been re-imported, as there are nearly 3000 of these much loved classics on the road and a further 1300 on SORN, helped by the fact that parts and services to support ownership of a TR6 are readily available and a number of classic car owners’ clubs cater for the model.
Towards the end of the 1950s Standard-Triumph offered a range of two-seater Triumph sports cars alongside its Standard saloons, the Standard 8 and 10, powered by a small (803 cc or 948 cc) 4-cylinder engine, which by the late 1950s were due for an update. Standard-Triumph therefore started work on the Herald. The choice of the Herald name suggests that the car was originally intended to be marketed as a Standard, as it fits the model-naming scheme of the time (Ensign, Pennant and Standard itself). But by 1959 it was felt that the Triumph name had more brand equity, and the Standard name was phased out in Britain after 1963. Giovanni Michelotti was commissioned to style the car by the Standard-Triumph board, encouraged by chief engineer Harry Webster, and quickly produced designs for a two-door saloon with a large glass area that gave 93 per cent all-round visibility in the saloon variant and the “razor-edge” looks to which many makers were turning. As Fisher & Ludlow, Standard-Triumph’s body suppliers became part of an uncooperative BMC, it was decided that the car should have a separate chassis rather than adopting the newer monocoque construction. The main body tub was bolted to the chassis and the whole front end hinged forward to allow access to the engine. Every panel – including the sills and roof – could be unbolted from the car so that different body styles could be easily built on the same chassis. As an addition to the original coupé and saloon models, a convertible was introduced in 1960. The Standard Pennant’s 4-cylinder 948 cc OHV engine and 4 speed manual gearbox was used with synchromesh on the top three gears and remote gear shift and driving the rear wheels. Most of the engine parts were previously used in the Standard 8/10. The rack and pinion steering afforded the Herald a tight 25-foot turning circle. Coil and double-wishbone front suspension was fitted, while the rear suspension, a new departure for Triumph, offered “limited” independent springing via a single transverse leaf-spring bolted to the top of the final drive unit and swing axles. Instruments were confined to a single large speedometer with fuel gauge in the saloon (a temperature gauge was available as an option) on a dashboard of grey pressed fibreboard. The coupé dashboard was equipped with speedometer, fuel and temperature gauges, together with a lockable glovebox. The car had loop-pile carpeting and heater as standard. A number of extras were available including twin SU carburettors, leather seats, a wood-veneered dashboard, Telaflo shock absorbers and paint options. In late 1958, prototype cars embarked on a test run from Cape Town to Tangiers. An account of the journey was embellished by PR at the time. However only minor changes were deemed necessary between the prototype and production cars. The new car was launched at the Royal Albert Hall in London on 22 April 1959 but was not an immediate sales success, partly owing to its relatively high cost, approaching £700 (including 45 per cent Purchase Tax). In standard single-carburettor form the 34.5 bhp car was no better than average in terms of performance. A saloon tested by The Motor magazine in 1959 was found to have a top speed of 70.9 mph and could accelerate from 0–60 mph in 31.1 seconds. A fuel consumption of 34.5 mpg was recorded. The rear suspension was criticised as yielding poor handling at the extremes of performance though the model was considered easy to drive with its good vision, light steering (smallest turning circle of any production car) and controls, and ease of repair. A Herald S variant was introduced in 1961 with a lower equipment level and less chromium than the Herald, offered in saloon form only. The 948cc Herald Coupe and Convertible models were discontinued in 1961, the 948cc Herald Saloon in 1962 and the Herald S in 1964. Standard-Triumph experienced financial difficulties at the beginning of the 1960s and was taken over by Leyland Motors Ltd in 1961. This released new resources to develop the Herald and the car was re-launched in April 1961 with an 1147 cc engine as the Herald 1200. The new model featured rubber-covered bumpers, a wooden laminate dashboard and improved seating. Quality control was also tightened up. Twin carburettors were no longer fitted to any of the range as standard although they remained an option, the standard being a single down-draught Solex carburettor. Claimed maximum power of the Herald 1200 was 39 bhp, as against the 34.5 bhp claimed for the 948 cc model. One month after the release of the Herald 1200, a 2-door estate was added to the range. Disc brakes became an option from 1962. Sales picked up despite growing competition from the BMC Mini and the Ford Anglia, with the car proving particularly popular to women drivers. The coupé was dropped from the range in late 1964 as it was by then in direct competition with the Triumph Spitfire. The Triumph Courier van, a Herald estate with side panels in place of rear side windows, was produced from 1962 until 1966, but was dropped following poor sales. Production in England ceased in mid-1964. CKD assembly by MCA in Malta continued till late 1965, at least. The Courier was powered by the 1147 cc engine. An upmarket version, the Herald 12/50, was offered from 1963 to 1967. It featured a tuned engine with a claimed output of 51 bhp in place of the previous 39, along with a sliding (Webasto) vinyl-fabric sunroof and front disc brakes as standard. The 12/50, which was offered only as a 2-door saloon, was fitted with a fine-barred aluminium grille. The power output of the 1200, which remained in production alongside the 12/50, was subsequently boosted to 48 bhp. In October 1967 the range was updated with the introduction at the London Motor Show of the Herald 13/60, which was offered in saloon, convertible and estate-bodied versions. The sun-roof remained available for the saloon as an optional extra rather than a standard feature. The front end was restyled using a bonnet similar to the Triumph Vitesse’s and the interior substantially revised though still featuring the wooden dashboard. Interior space was improved by recessing a rear armrest in each side panel. The engine was enlarged to 1296 cc, essentially the unit employed since 1965 in the Triumph 1300, fitted with a Stromberg CD150 carburettor, offering 61 bhp and much improved performance. In this form (though the 1200 saloon was sold alongside it until the end of 1970) the Herald Saloon lasted until December 1970 and the Convertible and Estate until May 1971, by which time, severely outdated in style if not performance, it had already outlived the introduction of the Triumph 1300 Saloon, the car designed to replace it and was still selling reasonably well but, because of its labour-intensive method of construction, selling at a loss.
Launched at the same time as the Rover 2000 was Triumph’s large saloon car, also called 2000. A replacement for the long running Standard Vanguard, this was the more sporting of the duo, with a subtly different appeal from the Rover. Between them, the cars defined a new market sector in the UK, promising levels of comfort and luxury hitherto associated with larger Rover and Jaguar models, but with usefully lower running costs and purchase prices, all in a modern package. Both added more powerful models to their range, with Rover going down the twin carburettor route, whilst in 1967, Triumph installed a larger 2.5 litre engine and the then relatively new fuel injection system, creating the 2.5PI, which is what was to be seen here. This Lucas system was not renowned for its reliability in the early days, but it did make the car rapid and refined. A facelift in 1969 brought new styling front and rear, which turned out to be a taster for a new grand tourer model which would emerge a few months later, and in this Mark 2 guise, the car was sold until 1977, in both saloon and estate guises. A mid range model, with twin carburettors but the larger engine, the 2500TC was introduced in 1974 and the 2500S arrived in 1975 with more power but also carb fed, to replace the troublesome and thirsty PI. These are the most sought after models now.
The Griffith was the first of the modern generation TVRs. First seen as a concept at the 1990 British Motor Show, it wowed the crowds sufficiently that unlike the Show Cars of precediing years, may of which were never seen again, Peter Wheeler and his small team in Blackpool immediately set about preparing it for production. It took until mid 1992 before they were ready. Like its forerunner namesakes, the Griffith 200 and Griffith 400, the modern Griffith was a lightweight (1048 kg) fibreglass-bodied, 2-door, 2-seat sports car with a V8 engine. Originally, it used a 4.0 litre 240 hp Rover V8 engine, but that could be optionally increased to a 4.3 litre 280 hp unit, with a further option of big-valve cylinder heads. In 1993, a TVR-developed 5.0 litre 340 hp version of the Rover V8 became available. All versions of the Griffith used the Lucas 14CUX engine management system and had a five-speed manual transmission. The car spawned a cheaper, and bigger-selling relative, the Chimaera, which was launched in 1993. 602 were sold in the first year and then around 250 cars a year were bought throughout the 90s, but demand started to wane, so iIn 2000, TVR announced that the Griffith production was going to end. A limited edition run of 100 Special Edition (SE) cars were built to mark the end of production. Although still very similar to the previous Griffith 500 model, the SE had a hybrid interior using the Chimaera dashboard and Cerbera seats. Noticeably, the rear lights were different along with different door mirrors, higher powered headlights and clear indicator lenses. Some also came with 16-inch wheels. Each car came with a numbered plaque in the glove box including the build number and a Special Edition Badge on its boot. All cars also had a unique signature in the boot under the carpet. The SEs were built between 2000 and 2002, with the last registered in 2003. A register of the last 100 SEs can be found at TVR Griffith 500 SE Register. These days, the Griffith remains a much loved classic and to celebrate the car, the owners have a meet called “The Griff Growl.”
The Tuscan was launched in 2000, by which time there had been a series of what we think of as the modern era TVRs produced for nearly a decade, the Cerbera, Griffith and Cerbera. The Tuscan did not replace any of them, but was intended to help with the company’s ambitious push further up market to become a sort of Blackpool-built alternative to Ferrari. It did not lack the styling for the task, and unlike the preceding models with their Rover V8 engines, the new car came with TVR’s own engine, a straight six unit of 3.6 litre capacity putting out 360 bhp. The Tuscan was intended to be the grand tourer of the range, perfectly practical for everyday use, though with only two seats, no ABS, no airbags and no traction control, it was a tough sell on wet days in a more safety conscious world, but at least there was a removable targa top roof panel for those days when the sun came out. The car may have lacked the rumble of a V8, but when pushed hard, the sound track from the engine was still pretty special, and the car was faster than the Cerbera, but sadly, the car proved less than reliable, which really started to harm TVR’s reputation, something which would ultimately prove to be its undoing.
Introduced early in June 1966, with the same engine and mechanical components as the Cresta PC, the Viscount was the super de-luxe version of it, intended to compete with vehicles such as the Audi 100 and Mercedes-Benz W108. It was supplied as standard with power steering, electric windows, reclining seats, a vinyl roof, walnut dashboard, inertia reel seat belts front, and even a heated rear window. Areas of the grille and headlamp surrounds were blacked out to give a classier look and the tail-lights had a chrome overlay. The dark green, blue or maroon paintwork featured simulated, hand painted coachlines, along each flank, to give the car a coachpainted appearance. The outer pair of the quad, five inch, sealed beam headlamps were twin filament, giving the car four main beams. The Viscount also came with wider tyres and rims than the Cresta (7.00-14in on 5″ rims rather than 5.90-14in on 4.5″ rims). All PC 3.3 had twin tail-pipes. The standard transmission option was GM’s Powerglide 2-speed automatic system, but a four speed manual gearbox was available, initially on the UK market at a saving of £85: elsewhere the manual gear box was a no-cost option. In the third quarter of 1970 the two-speed Powerglide automatic was replaced with a GM 3-speed automatic transmission. Some South African versions were fitted with a Chrysler V8 as an option – one of the rare times a General Motors product used a direct rival’s engine. The British version of the Vauxhall Viscount automatic with the 2-speed Powerglide transmission was road tested by Motor ref.33/66 on 3 September 1966. A maximum (best) top speed of 100mph was recorded with 0-60 mph in 14.5secs, Standing quarter mile in 20.3secs. Overall mpg was 15.6. The later automatic Viscount model, with the 3 speed Strasbourg GM transmission, ought to have improved on these acceleration figures, especially at the lower speeds. Production ended in 1972 with no direct replacement, although the Cresta engine continued to be used in the slightly smaller Vauxhall Ventora until 1978.
Conceived as a replacement for the popular Beetle Cabrio, and at the time unique in the market place, a convertible version of the Golf was presented to Volkswagen’s management by coachbuilder Wilhelm Karmann GmbH as early as 1976. This early prototype lacked the roll-over bar of the later version, and had a flat body line in the rear, where the soft top folded down below the sill level. The production version of the convertible Golf was designated Type 155. In Europe and Canada it was called the Golf Cabriolet, while in the United States it was sold as the Rabbit Convertible until 1985, when it was also renamed “Cabriolet”. The Cabriolet was sold from 1980 to 1993. It had a reinforced body, a transverse roll-over bar, and a high level of trim. From stamping to final assembly the Mk1 Cabriolet was built entirely at the Karmann factory. Volkswagen supplied engines, suspension, and interior trim for Karmann to install. The tops, of vinyl or cloth, were heavily insulated, with a heated glass rear window. The top was raised and lowered manually until 1991, when it became electrically operated. The body of the Cabriolet did not change through the entire production run except for a larger fuel tank. It kept the pre-1980 style of rear lamp clusters. A space saver spare wheel was fitted from the outset, including 1978 pre-production models, unlike the saloon which did not adopt this until 1984. All Cabriolets from 1988 on left the factory fitted with a “Clipper” bodykit that featured smooth body-coloured bumpers, wheel-arch extensions, and side skirts. Prior to the 1984 model year the highest standard specification Cabriolet was the GLI, which was essentially a GTI in all but name. It was only in late 1983 with the introduction of the 1984 model that an officially badged GTI version of the cabriolet finally became available.
Although costly when new, thanks to the UK’s Import Duty which applied to foreign car imports at the time, the Volvo of this era was surprisingly popular with UK buyers. The cars were tough, as strong success in rallying evidenced, but not that many have survived. There’s a complex history to this model, with lots of different numbers applied to the car during a 13 year production run. When introduced, the car was named the Amason (with an ‘s’), deriving from the fierce female warriors of Greek mythology, the Amazons. German motorcycle manufacturer Kreidler had already registered the name, and the two companies finally agreed that Volvo could only use the name domestically (i.e., within Sweden), modifying the spelling to Amazon. Subsequently, Volvo began its tri-digit nomenclature and the line became known as the 120 Series. Under prototype designation 1200, following the PV444’s internal designation as the 1100, the Amazon was released in the press in February 1956, with production initially set to begin in July of the same year, and deliveries commenced in August 1956 — under the now modified internal designation 120 series. The Amazon sedan’s ponton genre, three-box styling was inspired by US cars of the early 1950s, strongly resembling the Chrysler New Yorker sedan and the Chrysler 300C hardtop Coupe. According to designer Jan Wilsgaard, the Amazon’s styling was inspired by a Kaiser he saw at the Gothenburg harbour. The Amazon featured strong articulation front to rear, pronounced “shoulders”, and slight but visible tailfins. These features became inspiration for Peter Horbury when reconceiving Volvo’s design direction with the V70 after decades of rectilinear, slab-sided, boxy designs. The Amazon’s bodywork was constructed of phosphate-treated steel (to improve paint adhesion) and with heavy use of undercoating and anti-corrosive oil treatment. The Amazon shared the wheelbase, tall posture and high H-point seating of its predecessor, the PV. In 1959 Volvo became the world’s first manufacturer to provide front seat belts as standard equipment — by providing them on all Amazon models, including the export models — and later becoming the first car featuring three-point seat belts as standard equipment. The Amazon’s handbrake location, outboard of the driver’s seat, was intended to accommodate subsequent bench seat models with column shift transmissions — which never materialised. Buyers began to receive the first cars in February 1957, and initial models were two-tone red and black with light grey roof, light grey with a black roof, followed by a dark blue with grey roof in 1958. Further iterations included the 121, the base model with a single carburettor 66 bhp engine, the 122S introduced in 1958 as a performance model equipped with a dual carburettor 85 bhp engine. The estate version was introduced at the 1962 Stockholm Auto Show, and Volvo manufactured 73,000 examples between 1962 and 1969. The Amazon estate featured a two-piece tailgate, with the lower section folding down to provide a load surface and the upper section that hinged overhead. The vehicle’s rear licence plate, attached to the lower tailgate, could fold “up” such that when the tailgate was lowered and the vehicle in use, the plate was still visible. This idea was used by the original 1959 Mini. In recent years a similar arrangement was used on the tailgate of the Subaru Baja. In 1966 the Volvo PV ended production, replaced by the Amazon Favorit, a less expensive version of the Amazon, without exterior chrome trim, a passenger-side sun visor or cigarette lighter, and with a three-speed rather than four-speed transmission — available in black with red interior and later white or black with red interior. The newer Volvo 140 was becoming the company’s mainstream model, and the last of the four-door 120 saloons were produced in 1967, the year which saw the launch of the 123GT, which was a Model 130 with high-compression four-cylinder B18B engine (from the Volvo P1800), M41 gearbox, fully reclining seats, front fog and driving lights (on some markets), alternator, fender mounted mirrors, special steering wheel, dash with a shelf and tachometer, and other cosmetic upgrades. In 1969 the displacement of the old B18 engine was increased and the engine was called the B20. The last Amazon was manufactured on 3 July 1970. By the end of production, 234,653 four-door models, 359,917 two-door models and 73,220 station wagons had been produced, of which 60% were exported; a total of 667,791 vehicles.
This was a most enjoyable event and a great start to what looks likely to be a very busy 2022. For sure it was nothing like the scale of the Brooklands event, but it was large enough to keep me entertained for a good couple of hours, especially as cars kept arriving and leaving, so there was always something fresh to see and photograph. There was also the advantage that the travel times to and from the event were much shorter than had I been heading to Brooklands. It’s going to be a touch decision to make when I plan where to go for New Year’s Day 2023.