During 2021 I made no fewer than 11 visits to Caffeine & Machine, that ever-popular meeting place for car and bike enthusiasts situated a few miles south east of Stratford on Avon, and I asserted in my report from the final visit, a few days before Christmas, that I was sure there would be at least as many occasions when I would call in during 2022. Well, only 8 days into the New Year and here is the first such. I was in the area for other reasons, and it seemed an opportunity missed not to call in en route home, so that is exactly what I did. A grey day in January is unlikely to see the site full to capacity, and indeed it was not, but there were plenty of cars there, some of which were what one might call the more everyday sort of machines which are still commonplace but which eventually will become rarities, but there were also a number of older and enthusiast cars and it is those on which this report focuses (no pun intended, but there was the Ford of that name here, of course!). Enjoy!
There are nearly always a couple of Abarths here, even when no official Abarth meet has been arranged, though often that means that they are cars that I do not recognise and that was the case on this occasion. Early on there was a nice white 595 model to be seen. Having used the legendary 695 badging from the 1960s on the Tributo cars, at the 2012 Geneva Show, Abarth dusted off the 595 name that had been used on the less powerful of the Nuova 500 based cars of the same generation, and created two new versions which we should think of as Series 2 cars, the 595 Turismo and Competizione, both of which could be bought in either closed or open top C guise, with either the 5 speed manual or robotised automated gearshifts. Both models had the 160 bhp engine as standard. Effectively they were a replacement for the Esseesse kit, and it meant that the cars were produced complete at the factory, rather than needing the dealer to undertake the upgrade (and the associated paperwork), though Abarth did not withdraw the Esseesse kits from the market for some while. Turismo, as the name suggests was aimed slightly less extreme in intent, featuring standard leather upholstery, upgraded dampers and climate control, Xenon headlights and Alutex interior details. The sportier Abarth 595 Competizione replaced the leather seats with Sabelt cloth sport seats and Alutex with aluminium, while adding p-cross-drilled brakes and the Record Monza dual-mode exhaust.
Later, and parked up in the same place was a Series 4 car. After rumours had circulated all winter following the launch of the facelifted Fiat 500 in 2015, Abarth finally unveiled the Series 4 at the end of May 2016. Initially, we were told that the cars would not be available in the UK until September, but that came forward somewhat, with dealers all receiving demo cars in June, and the first customers taking delivery in July. Three regular production versions of both the closed car and the open-topped C were initially available, all badged 595, and called Custom, Turismo and Competizione, as before, though numerous limited edition models have since appeared and in most case disappeared. The most significant changes with the Series 4 are visual, with a couple of new colours, including the much asked for Modena Yellow and a different red, called Abarth Red, which replaces both the non-metallic Officina and – slightly surprisingly – the tri-coat pearlescent Cordolo Red. as well as styling changes front and rear. The jury is still out on these, with many, me included, remaining to be convinced. At the front, the new air intake does apparently allow around 15 – 20 % more air in and out, which will be welcome, as these cars do generate quite a lot of heat under the bonnet. Competizione models for the UK retain the old style headlights, as they have Xenon lights as standard, whereas the Custom and Turismo cars have reshaped units. At the back, there are new light clusters and a new rear bumper and diffuser. Inside, the most notable change is the replacement of the Blue & Me system with a more modern uConnect Audio set up, which brings a new colour screen to the dash. Mechanically, there is an additional 5 bhp on the Custom (now 145) and Turismo (now 165 bhp) and the option of a Limited Slip Diff for the Competizione, which is likely to prove a popular option. Details of the interior trim have changed, with a filled-in glovebox like the US market cars have always had, and electric windows switches that are like the US ones, as well as a part Alcantara trim to the steering wheel in Competizione cars. These cars have now been on offer for five years and with Abarth sales on the rise, this is the most commonly seen variant.
Representing the longest lived design in Aston Martin’s history was this splendid V8 Vantage. By the mid 1960s, Aston Martin’s customers had been clamouring for an eight-cylinder car, so Aston Martin designed a larger car. The engine was not ready, however, so in 1967 the company released the DBS with the straight-six Vantage engine from the DB6. Two years later, Tadek Marek’s V8 was ready, and Aston released the DBS V8. Though the body and name was shared with the six-cylinder DBS, the V8 sold for much more. The body was a modern reinterpretation of the traditional Aston Martin look, with a squared-off grille and four headlights (though some consider the styling derivative of the early Ford Mustang). Distinguishing features of the V8 model are the larger front air dam and lack of wire wheels, though some six-cylinder DBS cars also used the V8’s alloy wheels. The tail lights were taken from the Hillman Hunter. A road test report of the time noted that the car had gained 250 lb in weight with the fitting of the V8 in place of the previously used six-cylinder unit, despite the manufacturer’s assurance that the engine weighed only 30 lb more than the older straight-six. Other contributions to the weight gain included heavier ventilated brake discs, air conditioning, fatter tyres, a new and stronger ZF gearbox as well as some extra bodywork beneath the front bumper. Marek’s V8 engine displaced 5,340 cc and used Bosch fuel injection. Output was not officially released, but estimates centre around 315 hp. The DBS V8 could hit 60 mph in 5.9 seconds and had a top speed of nearly 160 mph. 402 DBS V8s were built. In April 1972, the DBS V8 became just the Aston Martin V8 as the six-cylinder DBS was dropped, leaving just this car and the six-cylinder Vantage in production. The V8 became known as the AM V8, a model retroactively referred to as the Series 2 V8 to separate it from later models. Visual differences included twin quartz headlights and a mesh grille, a front design which was to last until the end of production in 1989. AM V8 cars, produced from May 1972 through July 1973, used a similar engine to the DBS V8, albeit with Bosch fuel injection rather than the earlier carburettors. Just 288 Series 2 cars were built. Although David Brown had left the company, he had overseen development of this model. The first 34 cars still carried leftover “DBS V8” badging. The car switched back to Weber carburettors for the Series 3 in 1973, ostensibly to help the car pass new stricter emissions standards in California but most likely because Aston Martin was unable to make the Bosch fuel injection system work correctly. These cars are distinguished by a taller bonnet scoop to accommodate four twin-choke (two-barrel) Weber carbs. The car produced 310 hp and could reach 60 mph in 6.1 seconds with an automatic transmission or 5.7 with a manual. Performance suffered with emissions regulations, falling to 288 hp in 1976. The next year, a more powerful “Stage 1” engine with new camshafts and exhaust brought it up to 305 hp. Production of Series 3 cars lasted from 1973 through October 1978, but was halted for all of 1975. 967 examples were produced in this time. While earlier V8 cars have louvers cut into the little panel mounted beneath the rear windshield, the Series 3 and later cars instead have a small lip at the bottom of this panel, just ahead of the leading edge of the bootlid. The “Oscar India” specification was introduced in October 1978 at the Birmingham International Motor Show. Visually, the former scoop on the bonnet gave way to a closed “power bulge”, while a spoiler was integrated into the tail. Most Oscar India cars were equipped with a Chrysler “Torqueflite” three-speed automatic transmission, with wood trim fitted for the first time since the DB2/4 of the 1950s. Just 352 Oscar India models were built from 1978 through 1985. The power of the now de-smogged engines kept dropping on American market cars, down to a low of 245 hp in the early eighties. The convertible “Volante” was introduced in June 1978, but featured the Series 4 bonnet a few months before the coupé received the Oscar India update. The Volante Series 1 weighs 70 kg (155 lb) more than the coupé, due to the necessity of reinforcing the frame. US market cars received much larger bumpers beginning with the 1980 model year, adding weight and somewhat marring the car’s lines. Owners of US-specified cars often modify them to have the slimmer European bumpers. By 1981, the success of the Volante meant that the coupé model was only built on individual demand. The fuel-injected Series 5 cars were introduced in January 1986 at the New York International Auto Show. The compact Weber/Marelli system no longer needed the space of the previous carburettors, so the bonnet bulge was virtually eliminated. 405 Series 5 cars were built before production ceased in 1989. The Volante Series 2 received the same changes; 216 were built.
Something of a rarity now was this E38-generation 740i. The BMW Generation E38 is the third generation of the BMW 7 Series luxury cars and was produced from 1994 until 2001. The E38 replaced the E32 7 Series and was produced with petrol and turbo-diesel straight-six and V8 engines, along with a petrol V12 flagship model. Three wheelbase lengths were available — short (i), long (iL) and Limousine (L7). The E38 was the first car available with curtain airbags. It was also the first European car to offer satellite navigation and the first BMW to offer an in-built television. The E38 was the first 7 Series to be available with a diesel engine and the last to be available with a manual transmission. In early 1988, development began on the third generation of the 7 Series. From 1988 to 1990 styling work was done initially under design director Claus Luthe (through April 1990, taken over by Dr. Wolfgang Reitzle), when Boyke Boyer’s concept design was chosen and further refined into production form. In February 1991, the final production design for the new 7 Series was approved by the board 36 months ahead of scheduled start of production for 17 February 1994. On 27 April 1993, German design patents were filed featuring a pre-production prototype as a design representation. Patents were later filed on 27 October 1993 in the United States. Production started on 23 July 1993 on pilot production models and US specification variants on 13 January 1994, with series production commencing in April 1994 for June 1994 domestic German launch with the 730i and 740i. US-specification cars entered production in September 1994, for November 1994 launch. On 18 February 1994, the E38 BMW 7 Series was unveiled for the 1995 model year via a BMW press release. The 750i production began in November 1994, in advance of its January 1995 launch. The production totals by model are: 728i- 38,000; 728iL- 7,000; 730i- 21,000; 730iL- 2,000; 735i- 21,000; 735iL- 5,000; 740i- 88,000; 740iL- 81,000; 750i- 8,000; 750iL- 15,000; 725tds- 9,000; 730d- 12,000, 740d- 3,000 and less than 500 each for the 740iL P, 750iL P, 750iL S and L7 models. A total of 340,242 cars were produced. The last E38 rolled off BMW’s assembly line on 27 July 2001 to make way for the replacement E65 7 Series.
The M3 version of the E46 3 Series was produced in coupé and convertible body styles. The E46 M3 is powered by the S54 straight-six engine and has a 0-100 km/h (62 mph) acceleration time of 5.1 seconds for the coupe, with either the manual or SMG-II transmission. The skid pad cornering results are 0.89 g for the coupe and 0.81 g for the convertible.The top speed is electronically limited to 250 km/h (155 mph). The available transmissions were a Getrag 420G 6-speed manual transmission or a SMG-II 6-speed automated manual transmission, which was based on the Getrag 420G. The SMG-II used an electrohydraulically actuated clutch and gearshifts could be selected via the gear knob or paddles mounted on the steering wheel. The SMG-II was praised for its fast shift times and racetrack performance, but some people found its shifts to be delayed and lurching in stop-start traffic. In 2005, a special edition was introduced which used several parts from the CSL. This model was called the M3 Competition Package (ZCP) in the United States and mainland Europe, and the M3 CS in the United Kingdom. Compared to the regular M3, the Competition Package includes: 19-inch BBS alloy wheels- 19″x 8″ at the front and 19″x 9.5″ at the rear; Stiffer springs (which were carried over to the regular M3 from 12/04); Faster ratio steering rack of 14.5:1 (compared with the regular M3’s ratio of 15.4:1) as per the CSL; Steering wheel from the CSL; M-track mode for the electronic stability control, as per the CSL; The CSL’s larger front brake discs (but with the regular M3 front calipers) and rear brake calipers with larger pistons; Alcantara steering wheel and handbrake covers; The engine, gearbox and other drivetrain components are the same as the standard M3. Total production of the E46 M3 was 56,133 coupes and 29,633 convertibles. The cars were assembled at the BMW Regensburg factory in Germany and production was from September 2000 until August 2006, production totalled 85,766.
Ford did not make the same mistake with the Focus as they had with its predecessor, so even the ordinary models were good to drive. There was a long wait for a truly sporting flagship, but when it arrived, in late 2002, the Focus RS proved to be rather special. Originally it was to be released as the Racing Focus, however after the poor selling Racing Puma, Ford decided to revive the RS badge. The car was largely built on its own assembly line in Ford’s Saarlouis plant, with some additional specialist off-line assembly performed by the ACÜ group at Überhern. The RS was offered all over Europe, with production limited to 4501 units. 2147 of these were sold in the United Kingdom, by far its largest of the 21 markets where it was available. The development of the Focus RS was undertaken by a mixed team of mainstream Ford engineers (not SVE or the TeamRS group which replaced it later on) and Tickford Engineering in Milton Keynes, United Kingdom. More bespoke than the prior Focus ST170, the Focus RS upgraded or replaced 70% of the standard Focus mechanicals. The turbocharged straight-4 engine produced a minimum of 212 bhp and 310 N·m (229 lb·ft) of torque, which was then mated to the 5-speed MTX-75 and not the Getrag transmission used in the ST 170. Mechanically, most notably, the car incorporated a Quaife automatic torque biasing differential to improve traction from the front-wheel drive setup. The steering used a similar quick-ratio rack as the ST170 while the brakes used fixed-caliper, four-piston Brembo units with 12.8 in discs at the front and single-piston floating calipers and 11.0 in discs at the back. Wheels were 18″ alloys specially developed by OZ Racing. The engine was heavily modified with forged aluminium pistons, hardened valve seats, sodium-filled exhaust valves, stainless steel exhaust system. The forced induction system comprised a Garrett turbocharger with a water-cooled charge air cooler and an electric water pump. To transmit the higher torque an upgraded AP clutch was used. It could generate a steady 0.98G in lateral acceleration due to racing parts such as Sachs dampers, lightweight O.Z Alloy Wheels and a Quaife ATB Differential. It would also allow 1.0G of braking force due to the standard Brembo braking system. The Focus RS was available in one metallic colour, Imperial Blue. The body looked similar to the standard Focus or to the ST170, although the RS featured unique front and rear bumper assemblies required for the wider wheel arches which accommodated the 65 mm (2.6 in) wider front track. Internally, the theme is blue and black with sections of blue leather trim on the door trim panels, the steering wheel and the Sparco seats which were trimmed in blue/black leather and Alcantara. A green starter button starts the engine. The instruments have a blue background and in place of the coolant temperature gauge, the RS was equipped with a boost pressure indicator (up to 1.5 bar). The gear lever knob, handbrake lever, and pedals were all custom made by Sparco. All-around performance was roughly equal or better to its other competitors, including hatchbacks such as the Honda Civic Type-R and some four-wheel drive cars in the same price field. Power was a diminished priority and the handling on a track, courtesy of the front differential, was considered by most observers to be its strongest characteristic. In a Top Gear review, Jeremy Clarkson noted that “it lacks the straightforward oomph of a Subaru Impreza. […] The reason it was quick round our track is simple: this car handles like it’s in a cartoon.” Clarkson and other motor journalists also commented on the car’s torque steer on bumpy British roads. Well preserved examples – and that’s not all of them, by any means, now – are worth decent money and will likely increase in value over time.
First Jaguar I spotted was this S Type R. After being privatised in 1984, Jaguar had been developing a smaller saloon to complement the XJ6 by the early 1990s, but these plans were axed following its takeover by Ford in 1989, only to resurface within a few years. The S-Type was produced at Jaguar’s Castle Bromwich facility in Birmingham, England. The car was styled by Geoff Lawson in 1995 and is based on the Jaguar DEW platform/Ford DEW platform, shared with the Lincoln LS and Ford Thunderbird. It was unveiled at the Birmingham International Motor Show on 20 October 1998, and went on sale in January 1999. It was aimed at buyers of cars including the BMW 5 Series. The first S-Types (“X200” 1999–2002) are distinguished by a U-shaped centre console and optional touchscreen navigation system in the 2003 and later models. The traditional leaping jaguar bonnet ornament was optional even though it is approved by the US and EU standards and breaks away in the case of an accident. Subsequent models (“X202”, “X204”, “X206”; the last digit denoting the model year) have the Jaguar logo incorporated within the radiator grille and a more traditional ‘looped’ styling for the centre console. In Australia, the “jag” bonnet ornament did not become available until 2004. The supercharged S-Type R (Jaguar STR for short) joined the lineup in 2002, and the hope was that it would compete with BMW’s M5 and the Mercedes E55 AMG. The R was powered by the newly revised hand-built 4.2-Litre V8 with an Eaton M112 supercharger, producing 400 bhp and could accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 5.3 seconds (0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 5.6 s). The top speed was limited to 155 mph. It included 18-inch alloy wheels, wire-mesh grille, and monochromatic paint. The R also has a rear apron, side-skirts, and front apron with built-in fog-lamps, a rear spoiler, a brace located near the rear subframe, and R badging on the boot lid and both front wings. The Jaguar S-Type R is able to produce an extra 20 bhp with a modified pulley. Also added on the 2003 model was an electronic parking-brake paddle-switch that replaced the conventional manually operated lever for the rear brakes. For the 2003 model year, the Jaguar S-type was given a six-speed, automatic ZF 6HP26 transmission as well as a revised 3.0-litre V6 engine with 235 hp (US spec) versus 238 hp for the 1999 to 2002 models. The 2003 model featured a revised dash, centre console, and a grille with the Jaguar badge to give the vehicle a more Jaguar-like appearance, and a flip-open key was devised for the ignition. A minor facelift on the 2004 model year featured redesigned front and rear aprons, a slightly modified grille, remodelled rear light clusters, an aluminium bonnet, and a new 2.7-litre V6 diesel engine with 207 hp. The windscreen washer jets were incorporated into the windscreen wiper arms. There were no changes made to the cabin interior. 2006 to 2007 models featured no fog lights. The car was replaced by the XF in 2007.
There were also a pair of F Type cars here, an S and the more potent SVR. The SVR was premiered at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2016. Available in both coupé and convertible body styles along with having all-wheel-drive, it features the same 5.0-litre supercharged V8 engine from the V8 S and R, but has a maximum power output of 575 PS (567 bhp at 6,500 rpm and 700 Nm (516 lb/ft) of torque at 3,500-5,000 rpm, the car can accelerate from 0–100 km/h (0–62 mph) in 3.5 seconds and can attain a top speed of 322 km/h (200 mph), making it the first Jaguar road car since the XJ220 to reach 322 km/h (200 mph). The SVR convertible can attain a top speed of 312 km/h (194 mph). The F-Type SVR was discontinued in 2020.
Just one Maserati here, as is often the case and that was my Ghibli.
Mazda introduced rotary-powered vehicles in 1971, beginning with the R100 and eventually introduced the RX-2, RX-3, RX-4, RX-5, and three generations of the RX-7 sports car in the US and worldwide markets. However, due to the lack of conveniences and user-friendliness, coupled with the high price tag and declining interest in sports cars and coupés at the time, Mazda decided to withdraw the RX-7 from most major markets except Japan. After 1995, Mazda suffered from a relatively undistinguished and ordinary product line in the US except for the MX-5 Miata. As popular interest in import tuning and performance cars resurged in the late-1990s due in part to various popular cultural influences, Japanese automakers waded back into the performance and sports car market in the US and in worldwide markets. In addition, Mazda endeavoured to rejuvenate itself around this time, partially with financial and management assistance from its new owner Ford, and successfully developed a new product line of high quality cars with desirable styling and superior driving dynamics compared to their competitors, beginning with the Mazda6 and followed by the Mazda3, paving the way for the arrival of Mazda’s next-generation rotary powered sports car. The RX-8 combined two previous products (the internationally sold RX-7, and the Cosmo which was exclusive to Japan), with the exterior dimensions of the RX-8 to be slightly smaller than those of the Cosmo. Mazda chose not to install the 2.0 L three-rotor 20B-REW, which was discontinued in 1996 when the Cosmo ceased production. In Japan, sales were affected by the fact that the RX-8 did not comply with Japanese Government’s dimension regulations, and Japanese buyers were liable for yearly taxes for driving a larger car. The rotary engine had financial advantages to Japanese consumers in that the engine displacement remained below 1.5 litres, a significant determination when paying the Japanese annual road tax which kept the obligation affordable to most buyers, while having more power than the traditional inline engines. The development of the RX-8 can be traced as far back as the 1995 RX-01 concept car, which featured an early iteration of the 13B-MSP engine. Naturally aspirated with side exhaust ports, this engine has a power output of 210 bhp Because of Mazda’s financial position at the time and the growing market interest in SUVs, the RX-01 did not see further development or production. However, a “skunkworks project” engineering team within Mazda kept the development of the 13B-MSP alive using an elongated MX-5 chassis known internally as “gokiburi-ka”, or “cockroach car” translated to English, eventually catching the attention of management, which was by then heavily influenced by Ford. Development of the 13B-MSP advanced and eventually led to the RENESIS name debuting along with the RX-EVOLV concept car which began to bear semblance to the production version of the RX-8 with the “freestyle” rear suicide doors. The styling was further refined, in Mazda tradition, by competition between its design studios in Japan, the US, and Europe. The lead designer was Ikuo Maeda, the son of Matasaburo Maeda (the lead designer of the original RX-7). The project obtained official approval from management under one condition, that the resulting car should have four doors, and eventually the RX-8 concept car (design/engineering model) was produced and shown in 2001, closer resembling the production version. A near-production “reference exhibit” RX-8 was shown shortly thereafter at the 2001 Tokyo Motor Show, pending final approval for production. The production version of the RX-8 closely resembles this vehicle save for minor trim details, and “Job 1” began in February, 2003 at Mazda’s Hiroshima plant in Japan. The RX-8 was designed as a front mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive, four-door, four-seater quad coupé. The car has a near 50:50 front-rear weight distribution and a low polar moment of inertia, achieved by mounting the engine behind the front axle and by placing the fuel tank ahead of the rear axle. The front suspension uses double wishbones and the rear suspension is multi-link. Weight is trimmed through the use of materials such as aluminium and plastic for several body panels. The rest of the body is made of steel, except for the plastic front and rear bumpers. The manual gearbox model uses a carbon fibre composite driveshaft to reduce the rotational mass (momentum of inertia) connected to the engine. Power is sent to the rear wheels through a torque-sensing conical limited-slip differential for improved handling. While under-powered in comparison to the final variant of the RX-7, the RX-8 is considered its successor as Mazda’s rotary engine sports car. A prominent feature of the RX-8 is its rear-hinged “freestyle” doors (similar to suicide doors) that provide easier access to the rear seats. The RX-8 has no B-pillars between the front and rear doors, but the leading edge of the rear door acts as a “virtual pillar” to maintain structural rigidity. Because of the overlapping design, the rear doors can be opened only when the front doors are open. The RX-8’s cabin was designed to allow enough room to house four adults, making it a genuine 4-seater rather than a 2+2. In designing the RX-8, Mazda’s engineers were able to achieve a chassis stiffness rating of 30,000 The earlier models of the RX-8, having chassis codes SE3P, and JM1FE, were produced from the 2003 model year, though the car’s U.S. debut was for the 2004 model year. It is powered by the RENESIS 13B-MSP (2-rotor, multi-side-port) Wankel engine displacing 1.3 L (1,308 cc). The 4-port standard RENESIS was rated at 191 bhp and was coupled with either a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmission. The 6-port high power RENESIS was only available with a six-speed manual transmission and was rated at 238 bhp. For the North American market, Mazda revised the reported output rating of the standard and high power RENESIS soon after launch to 189 bhp and 237 bhp, respectively.With exhaust ports now located in the side housing, the RENESIS boasted improved fuel efficiency and emissions rating over the 13B-REW employed by the preceding RX-7, thereby making it possible to be sold in North America. At launch, the RX-8 was available in various models in different markets around the world. The variations according to different markets are as follows: 6-speed manual with a claimed output of 232 bhp at 8,250 rpm and 159 lb⋅ft (216 Nm) of torque at 5,500 rpm with a 9,000 rpm (redline limited) (Sold in North America). This model was equivalent to the “Type S” trim in Japan; 5-speed manual with engine tuned to 189 bhp with the redline reduced to 7,500 rpm. This powertrain combination was not available in North America; 6-speed automatic with manual paddle shifting option (introduced in the U.S. for the 2006 model year, replacing the 4-speed automatic transmission of 2004–2005) with the engine rated at 212 bhp and 159 lb/ft (216 Nm) of torque with a redline at 7,500 rpm. This was the revised standard RENESIS, now with two extra intake ports like the high power version. The 2006 automatic RX-8 model also was given a second oil cooler, as was standard in the manual transmission model. Automatic versions all had lower output/lower rpm engines due to the lack of availability of a transmission that would be able to reliably cope with the engine’s high rpm limits. In 2003 Mazda announced a factory Mazdaspeed Version of the RX-8 exclusively in Japan. Based on the Type S and tuned by Mazda’s in-house division Mazdaspeed, the car included both mechanical, suspension, and aerodynamic improvements over the standard RX-8’s. Mazdaspeed RX-8’s were considered the highest performance model of the pre-facelift RX-8. Mechanical and suspension improvements included a new performance exhaust system, upgraded spark plugs, grounding kit, lightweight flywheel, re-balanced eccentric shaft, performance brake pads, stiffer anti roll bars, four point front strut tower brace, rear strut tower brace, as well as a set of height and damping force adjustable coil-overs. Mazdaspeed also redesigned the aerodynamics of the car, giving it a new front bumper, with enlarged venting and oil cooler ducting, as well as side skirts, rear under spoiler, and a rear wing. The Mazdaspeed RX-8 was offered in either Strato Blue Mica, or Sunlight Silver Metallic as exclusive colours. A total of 480 factory Mazdaspeed Version RX-8’s were built, and had a suggested retail price of JP¥3,650,000.00. Mazda also sold Mazdaspeed accessories worldwide through their dealerships. These accessories included both parts that weren’t equipped on factory Mazdaspeed RX-8’s as well as nearly all the parts equipped on the factory Mazdaspeed Version. This allowed standard RX-8’s to be upgraded to Mazdaspeed standards through dealerships around the world. In November 2008, Mazda improved the RX-8 body rigidity through the addition of structural reinforcements, by adding a trapezoidal shock tower brace and enhancing the local rigidity of the front suspension tower areas. The rear suspension geometry was revised for better handling, and the final-drive-gear ratio on manual transmission cars was shortened from 4.444 to 4.777 for improved off-the-line performance. While minimal, these changes gave the updated RX-8 increased acceleration and performance. Mazda engineers claimed that the 2nd generation RX-8 was (slightly) faster than the previous generation due to the lower gearing and improved suspension. The Renesis II engine iteration that was launched in the 2009 model year included a third oil injection port in each rotor housing to feed oil to the middle of the rotor facing, making this their first all-new EMOP (Electric Metering Oil Pump) with a total of 6 lubrication injectors, plus an all-new engine oil pump with higher pressure rating that requires specific oil filter rated for the higher pressure. New catalytic converter was used to reduce clogging that resulted in overheating exhaust stream forward of the catalytic converter and eventual rotor side seal failure, which was responsible for majority of RX-8 engine failures. Ignition coil packs, which suffer reduced performance over time and leads to unburnt fuel and oil that eventually clogs the catalytic converter, was not upgraded from series 1 RX-8. Due to higher usage cycle that is two to three times higher in Wankel compared to Otto cycle, ignition coil packs on RX-8 can degrade much sooner than Piston engines using similar hardware, and cause unburnt fuel to reach the catalytic converter, clogging it and cause engine overheating leading to side seal springs failure. The updated RX-8 also received design enhancements that were meant to freshen the styling and give the RX-8 a new look, without impairing the basic design theme. Refinements for the 2009 model year included a more aggressive restyled front and rear bumper as well as a new front fascia. The updated RX-8 also came with sporty, high-quality finish front and rear headlamps as well as larger exhaust pipes (now measuring 90 mm (3.5 in) across). The 2009 RX-8 also offered a new five-spoke wheel design featuring a symbolic and sporty design reminiscent of the rotary engine, with different arrangements for each wheel size. A rear spoiler was also added dependent on the trim level selected. There were three trims available to consumers from 2009 to 2012: Sport, Grand Touring, and R3. European production ended in 2010 when the car could no longer meet emissions standards.
Before the 205, Peugeot was considered the most conservative of France’s “big three” car manufacturers, producing large saloons such as the 504 and 505, although it had entered the modern supermini market in 1973 with the Peugeot 104. The genesis of the 205 lay within Peugeot’s takeover in 1978 of Chrysler’s European divisions Simca and the former Rootes Group, which had the necessary expertise in making small cars including the Simca 1100 in France and Hillman Imp in Britain. It was around this time that Peugeot began to work on the development of a new supermini for the 1980s. It was launched on 24 February 1983, and was launched in right-hand drive form for the UK market in September that year. Shortly after its launch, it was narrowly pipped to the European Car of the Year award by the similar sized Fiat Uno, but ultimately (according to the award organizers) it would enjoy a better image and a longer high market demand than its Italian competitor. It was one of five important small cars to be launched onto the European market within a year of each other: the other four were the Uno, the second generation Ford Fiesta, the original Opel Corsa (sold as the Vauxhall Nova on the British market) and the original Nissan Micra. Its launch also closely followed that of the Austin Metro and Volkswagen Polo Mk2. The styling of the 205 is often thought to be a Pininfarina design, although Gerard Welter claims that it is an in-house design; Pininfarina only styled the Cabriolet. It is often credited as the car that turned Peugeot’s fortunes around. The fully independent suspension used the now standard PSA Peugeot Citroën layout that had debuted in the Peugeot 305 estate. A key ingredient of the success of the 205, it had MacPherson struts at the front and trailing arms with torsion bars at the rear. The rear suspension was very compact, designed to minimise suspension intrusion into the boot, giving a wide flat loadspace, while providing excellent ride and handling. Early 205s used the X petrol engine [n 1] from the older Peugeot 104, although these were later (1987–1988) replaced with the newer XU and TU-series engines, which were of PSA design. Engines ranged in displacement from 954 cc to 1905 cc, in carburettor or fuel injected versions. The diesel models employed the PSA XUD engine, lifted from the Citroën BX which was introduced in September 1982. These engines had a capacity of 1769 cc (XUD7) and 1905 cc (XUD9) and are closely related to the XU5 and XU9 petrol engines in the BX16 and BX19 of the time. The diesel engines were world-beating and so petrol-like that many buyers were won over by petrol car performance combined with diesel economy. For instance, the 205 GRD (1.8 Diesel, 59 bhp, 78 lb/ft (105.8 Nm)) was as fast as, yet smoother than, the 205 GR (1.4 Petrol, 59 bhp, 78 lb/ft (105.8 Nm)), due to the engine developing peak torque at much lower rpm, while using much less fuel. There were various versions intended for commercial use, such as the two-seater XA-series. There was also the “205 Multi”, a tall-bodied special version on XA or XE-basis built by independent coachbuilders like Gruau and Durisotti. Gruau called their XA-based two-seater version the “VU”, while the five-seat XE-based version was called the “VP”. Durisotti began building the 205 Multi in 1986; it was called the “205 Multi New Look”. The 205 was an instant hit, and its styling was echoed in every Peugeot model that was to follow. The exterior styling was never facelifted or significantly altered in its 15-year production run. There was a dashboard redesign for the 1988 model year, and in late 1990 the 205 received new door design and cards, clear front indicators, new ‘smoked’ rear light clusters, single point petrol injection and catalytic converters were introduced, to meet the new 1992 pollution limits. These updates came at a crucial time, as 1990 also saw the arrival of a completely new French competitor, the Renault Clio, while the Rover Metro and Volkswagen Polo were also heavily updated, and Ford had already replaced its Fiesta with a third generation model. Still, the 205 was still widely regarded in the motoring press as the benchmark car in this sector by 1990. At the beginning of 1993, Peugeot launched the 306, which officially replaced the 309; the arrival of this car also diminished the 205’s role (and its sales figures) in the Peugeot range, as had the arrival of the smaller 106 in September 1991 – although the final demise of the 205 was still some years away. The engines were continuously updated, with the new TU engines introduced in 1988. In 1991, the 205 dTurbo was launched with a powerful turbocharged version of the 1,769 cc xud diesel engine. After several years of gradually declining sales, the Peugeot 205 was discontinued in the United Kingdom in 1996. The Peugeot 205 was still offered in the “Sacré Numéro” and “Génération” models until the end of the production in 1998. The last models were GLD 1.8 configuration and were sold in Argentina. Most of the later European versions were only sold in France. Due to the pressure from the market, with buyers wanting a Peugeot supermini in the mould of the 205 again, the company finally built a direct replacement in the 206, which was launched in 1998. 5,278,050 Peugeot 205s have been sold, and a significant percentage of them were still in circulation as of 2009. By 2014, there were still as many as 14,000 on the road in the United Kingdom, compared to the peak high of 374,773 in 1994. With potentially as many 400,000 sales in the UK, it became the best selling car ever sold by Peugeot in the UK – although its success was emulated a few years later by the larger 306 and later by the 206. It also helped boost the popularity of the Peugeot brand there, and was at least a factor in Peugeot’s decision to phase out the Talbot brand in the mid 1980s when launching new models to be built at the former Rootes Group plant near Coventry and the former Simca plant at Poissy.
During the 1990s, Porsche was facing financial troubles and rumours of a proposed takeover were being spread. The signature air-cooled flat-6 of the 911 was reaching the limits of its potential as made evident by the 993. Stricter emissions regulations world wide further forced Porsche to think of a replacement of the air-cooled unit. In order to improve manufacturing processes, Porsche took the aid of leading Japanese car manufacturer Toyota whose consultants would assist in the overhaul of the Zuffenhausen manufacturing facility introducing mass production techniques which would allow Porsche to carry out production processes more efficiently. Porsche had realised that in order to keep the 911 in production, it would need radical changes. This led to the development of the 996. The sharing of development between the new 911 and the entry level Boxster model allowed Porsche to save development costs. This move also resulted in interchangeable parts between the two models bringing down maintenance costs. The Porsche 996 was a new design developed by Pinky Lai under Porsche design chief Harm Lagaay from 1992 to 1994; it was the first 911 that was completely redesigned, and carried over little from its predecessor as Porsche wanted the design team to design a 911 for the next millennium. Featuring an all new body work, interior, and the first water-cooled engine, the 996 replaced the 993 from which only the front suspension, rear multi-link suspension, and a 6-speed manual transmission were retained in revised form. The 996 had a drag coefficient of Cd=0.30 resulting from hours spent in the wind tunnel. The 996 is 185 mm (7 in) longer and 40 mm (2 in) wider than its predecessor. It is also 45% stiffer courtesy of a chassis formed from high-strength steel. Additionally, it is 50 kg (110 lb) lighter despite having additional radiators and coolant. All of the M96 engines offered in the 996 (except for the variants fitted to the Turbo and GT2/GT3 models) are susceptible to the Porsche Intermediate Shaft Bearing issue which can potentially cause serious engine failure if not addressed via a retrofit. The 996 was initially available in a coupé or a cabriolet (Convertible) bodystyle with rear-wheel drive, and later with four-wheel drive, utilising a 3.4 litre flat-6 engine generating a maximum power output of 296 bhp. The 996 had the same front end as the entry-level Boxster. After requests from the Carrera owners about their premium cars looking like a “lower priced car that looked just like theirs did”, Porsche redesigned the headlamps of the Carrera in 2002 similar to the high performance Turbo’s headlamps. The design for the initial “fried egg” shaped headlamps could be traced back to the 1997 911 GT1 race car. In 2000, Porsche introduced the 996 Turbo, equipped with a four-wheel-drive system and a 3.6-litre, twin-turbocharged and intercooled flat-six engine generating a maximum power output of 420 bhp, making the car capable of accelerating from 0–60 mph in 4.2 seconds. An X50 option which included larger turbochargers and intercoolers along with revised engine control software became available from the factory in 2002, increasing power output to 451 bhp. In 2005, Porsche introduced the Turbo S, which had the X50 option included as standard equipment, with the formerly optional Carbon fibre-reinforced Silicon Carbide (C/SiC) composite ceramic brakes (PCCB) also included as standard. In 2000, power output on the base Carrera model was increased to 300 bhp. 2001 marked the final year of production for the base Carrera 4 Coupé in narrow body format. In 2002, the standard Carrera models underwent the above-mentioned facelift. In addition, engine capacity was also increased to 3.6-litres across the range, yielding gains of 15 bhp for the naturally aspirated models. 2002 also marked the start of the production of the 996 based Targa model, with a sliding glass “green house” roof system as introduced on its predecessor. It also features a rear glass hatch which gave the driver access to the storage compartment. Also in 2002, the Carrera 4S model was first introduced.
The Megane Renault Sport 230 Renault F1 Team R26 is a version that commemorates the success of Renault in the Formula 1 World Championship with the 2005 and 2006 Constructors’ and Drivers’ Championship titles and is named after the 2006 F1 car (R26). It is based on the facelifted Mégane RS. The engine is rated at 227 hp (230 PS) at 5,500 rpm and 310 Nm (229 lb⋅ft) at 3,000 rpm. It incorporates the improved version of the Cup Chassis package now with a limited slip differential fitted for the first time in addition to 18-inch Anthracite spoked alloy wheels with Michelin Pilot Sport 2 235/40 R18 tyres, Brembo front and rear red brake calipers and an increased brake master cylinder diameter, plus revised stiffened steering. Other features include a sport exhaust, Recaro seats, climate control, 4×15-watt RDS radio single CD/MP3 player with 6 speakers, Renault F1 decals, numbered plaque, limited slip differential and a rear spoiler. The car weights 1,355 kg (2,987 lb) kerb, 1,820 kg (4,012 lb) gross. This generation of Megane RS was widely regarded as one of the best hot hatches of the time.
A next generation 9-5 built on the Global Epsilon platform was presented at the Frankfurt International Auto Show in September 2009. The vehicle had its North American debut in October 2009 at the South Florida Auto Show in Miami. On November 24, 2009, the first pre-series Saab 9-5 of the new generation rolled off the Trollhättan production line. With the announcement of the sale of Saab to Spyker on January 26, 2010, the new generation Saab 9-5 was taken into production at the Saab plant in Trollhättan. Full production began in April 2010, with the cars appearing in dealerships on June 19. Saab introduced a wagon variant of the new 9–5, dubbed “SportCombi,” at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show. The Saab 9-5 Sedan 2.8 V6 Turbo was named Car of the Year in Singapore by “Wheels Asia”. Production of the 9-5 ended in March 2011 with Trollhättan production stopping due to the company’s failing liquidity. Total production numbers of the Gen II Saab 9-5 ended at 11,280 units.
For the VA series WRX released in 2014 for the 2015 model year, Subaru decided to move away from marketing the WRX and WRX STI under the Impreza name. This time, the Impreza name was dropped in all markets in which the new model is named simply as the WRX, as had been the case in North America with the previous model, while in Japan it was sold as the WRX S4. The WRX and WRX STI are the performance model based on the GJ/GP Impreza with higher output engines, firmer suspension, larger brakes, slightly resculpted body panels, lowered ride height and larger intakes. The body design also took a stronger departure from the Impreza donor model than in the past. The general WRX profile/silhouette was carried over from the Impreza, as were the front doors, trunk lid, and interior. However, the entire front end bodywork plus the rear quarter panels were unique to the WRX. The rear doors received a subtle reskin with an upwards kink and revised character line, but retained an otherwise identical shape. Subaru had promised to completely move the WRX and STI off the Impreza chassis and body to create a standalone model,. The VA-body WRX is based on a modified Impreza body and chassis, with the Impreza name dropped from the WRX in all markets. For this generation, Subaru decided to not produce a WRX or WRX STI hatchback as had been previously offered. The previous generation hatchback made up approximately 50 percent of US WRX and WRX STI sales. UK sales were small, but Subaru persisted with the model for the handful of enthusiasts still loyal to the brand and the once-great rally hereitage.
VW launched the second generation Golf in August of 1983, nearly 9 years after production of the first model to bear the name had begun. This time, a GTi version was included in the product plans from the start, and the new GTi was announced in May 1984. Like the regular Golf 2, it was almost 7″ longer than the Mark 1, with 3″ extra in the wheelbase and a 2″ wider track. It was also 10% heavier, but with significantly improved aerodynamics, resulting from attention to detail which included integrated gutters and flush glass as well as more rounded styling, the cd fell from 0.42 to 0.34. Initially it was powered by the same 1781cc fuel injected engine, but there were all round disc brakes and longer suspension travel improved the ride. Competitors came snapping at its heels, though, so after 2/5 years, VW responded by giving the car 24% more power, achieved by doubling the number of valves to 16. Lower stiffer suspension and bigger front brakes were also fitted, all of which restored the Golf GTi 16V to the top of the Hot Hatch pile. For most people that is, though the 8v car retained a following thanks to its broader torque spread. This less powerful car changed from a mechanical K-Jetronic injection system to a new Digifant electronic set up in 1987 at which point the front quarterlights were deleted, and a digital instrument pack became an option on the 16v car. Power steering became standard in late 1990 and the 8v gained the interior from the 16v model. Production ran through to February 1992, by which time the Mark 3 GTi was waiting in the wings. over 600,000 were built over an 8 year period, around 10% of all Mark 2 Golf production.
This may have been a relatively quite day at Caffeine & Machine, but that was not unexpected given the time of year and the rather grey nature of the weather, but it was still well worth dropping in, and seeing the variety of cars parked up and availing myself of the coffee and food on offer. I have little doubt that I will be back many more times in 2022 to enjoy this popular venue.