Just before the nation went into lockdown for the first time in March 2020, a new General Manager was appointed to take over the running of the iconic Prescott Hill Climb and she was joined by a new Chairman of the Bugatti Owners Club. After a few weeks in post, they declared that whilst they were both very mindful of everything that made Prescott such a special place and they had no desire to dilute or destroy that, they felt that the events program, which had been largely the same for almost as many years as I can remember would benefit from a freshening. Of course, the lockdowns of 2020 precluded the implementation of any of their plans, with only very limited activity possible on site. And 2021 proved to be not much better, with restrictions only truly lifting in the middle of the year, by which time it was a bit late to try to assemble events, the target date for which had already passed. So that meant that 2022 was the first year when the new events could be tried out. One of the new events that appeared in the program was a day called Prescott Club Day, which was scheduled to take place the day before the long-awaited Prescott Italia. The Prescott website gave some clues as to what was envisaged, and a chat with Gemma, the GM, elicited a little more. The idea was born out of lots of requests from Car Clubs who wanted to hold their own event at Prescott, including access to the hill, but who could never muster enough participants to make their events viable. Bringing any Club that wanted to do this together and offering sensibly priced untimed drives up the hill seemed like the solution, and that is what this day was all about. That of course meant that there would be great variety of cars in the Paddock, and so it proved. Here is what I saw:
There was just one Abarth here – mine. As is well documented here, this is one of the first of the 180 bhp Competizione cars, and is also referred to as a Series 3 model in the long running history of the 500/595 family of cars. Rumours started to circulate towards the end of 2014 that Abarth were going to upgrade the Competizione model, so as better to bridge the gap between the Turismo and the 190 bhp 695 Biposto that had been added to the range earlier in the year. It was Geneva 2015 when the result was finally shown to an expectant fan base. Most exciting news was that thanks to a bigger Garrett Turbo, the engine had been tweaked to 180 bhp, and with reduced CO2 emissions. A standard spec that included Koni Dampers, Brembo brakes, Xenon lights, Sabelt seats, Climate Control, parking sensors as well as other refinements that had been added like the TFT instrument display all proved very compelling, so not long after the first cars reached the UK in June of 2015, I found temptation too hard to resist, and as is well documented here, swapped my 2010 car for one of these. At the time I ordered it, Cordolo Red, a tri-coat pearlescent paint which shimmers in bright sunlight looked set to become one of the most popular colours of the lot, even though it is a cost option. Indeed, the Launch Edition models were all offered either in this colour or Scorpion Black, with black wheels. Surprisingly, the colour was not carried over to the Series 4 cars.
The Alpina B9 was built in a small series from November 1981 to December 1985 on the basis of the BMW E28. About 500 examples were produced. The B9 is based on the 528i, whose M30-2.8-litre BMW engine was replaced by a 3.45-litre. Alpina tuned engine. The motor is based on the 3.5-litre version of the M30, but has been extensively modified. Alpina replaced the cylinder head, pistons, camshaft and modified the Bosch Motronic ECU. The engine transmits its power to the rear wheels via a 5-speed gearbox, an automatic transmission was also available. The suspension of the E28 has been modified with Bilstein gas dampers, as standard the B9 was delivered with 16-inch wheels. Alpina also modified the interior with among other things, Recaro seats, a new shifter and a modified instrument cluster. The car was replaced by the B10 in late 1985, still based on the E28 5 Series.
First of a number of recent German hot hatch cars was this example of the previous generation RS3.
The Audi R8, based on the Audi Le Mans quattro concept car (designed by Frank Lamberty and Julian Hoenig) first appeared at the 2003 International Geneva Motor Show and the 2003 Frankfurt International Motor Show. The R8 road car was officially launched at the Paris Auto Show on 30 September 2006. There was some confusion with the name, which the car shares with the 24 Hours of Le Mans winning R8 Le Mans Prototype (LMP). Initial models included the R8 4.2 FSI coupé (with a V8 engine) and R8 5.2 FSI coupé (with a V10 engine). Convertible models, called the Spyder by the manufacturer, were introduced in 2008, followed by the high-performance GT model introduced in 2011. The Motorsport variants of the R8 were also subsequently introduced from 2008 onwards. An all-electric version called the e-Tron started development but would only reach production stage when the second generation model would be introduced. 6-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Jacky Ickx described the R8 as “the best handling road car today” and the car was well received by everyone who drove it. The car received a facelift in 2012 and a new model called the V10 Plus was now added to the range. Production of the Type 42 ended in August 2015
Also here was the second generation R8. Launched at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show and is based on the Modular Sports System platform shared with the Lamborghini Huracan. The development of the Type 4S commenced in late 2013 and was completed in late 2014. Initial models included the all-electric e-Tron and the V10 5.2 FSI along with the V10 plus. Unlike its predecessor, there was no manual transmission available and the entry-level V8 trim was also dropped. In 2016, the convertible (Spyder) variant was added to the line up which was initially available in the base V10 trim. In mid-2017, the high performance V10 plus Spyder was added to the range. A rear-wheel-drive model called the R8 RWS was introduced. In 2018, the R8 received a mid-cycle refresh with mechanical and exterior changes. The newer and more aggressive design language carried over from famous Audi models of the past and it’s appearance is slightly more angular up front. Some of the aerodynamic features such as the front aeroblades are shared with the Lamborghini Huracàn. The refreshed model had substantial performance improvements over its predecessor. The base R8 got a power boost from 532 hp to 562 hp, while the V10 Plus was renamed V10 Performance Quattro and the engine saw a power increase by 10 hp, now up to 612 hp. It remains a current model.
Very well known as a model, indeed many would tell you that this is THE classic Bugatti, is the Type 35 and there was one of these here. The Type 35 was phenomenally successful, winning over 1,000 races in its time. It took the Grand Prix World Championship in 1926 after winning 351 races and setting 47 records in the two prior years. At its height, Type 35s averaged 14 race wins per week. Bugatti won the Targa Florio for five consecutive years, from 1925 through 1929, with the Type 35. The original model, introduced at the Grand Prix of Lyon on August 3, 1924, used an evolution of the 3-valve 1991 cc overhead cam straight-8 engine first seen on the Type 29. Bore was 60 mm and stroke was 88 mm as on many previous Bugatti models. 96 examples were produced. This new powerplant featured five main bearings with an unusual ball bearing system. This allowed the engine to rev to 6000 rpm, and 90 hp was reliably produced. Solid axles with leaf springs were used front and rear, and drum brakes at back, operated by cables, were specified. Alloy wheels were a novelty, as was the hollow front axle for reduced unsprung weight. A second feature of the Type 35 that was to become a Bugatti trademark was passing the springs through the front axle rather than simply U-bolting them together as was done on their earlier cars. A less expensive version of the Type 35 appeared in May, 1925. The factory’s Type 35A name was ignored by the public, who nicknamed it “Tecla” after a famous maker of imitation jewellery. The Tecla’s engine used three plain bearings, smaller valves, and coil ignition like the Type 30. While this decreased maintenance requirements, it also reduced output. 139 of the Type 35As were sold. The Type 35C featured a Roots supercharger, despite Ettore Bugatti’s disdain for forced induction. Output was nearly 128 hp with a single Zenith carburettor. Type 35Cs won the French Grand Prix at Saint-Gaudens in 1928, and at Pau in 1930. Fifty examples left the factory. The final version of the Type 35 series was the Type 35B of 1927. Originally named Type 35TC, it shared the 2.3 litre engine of the Type 35T but added a large supercharger like the Type 35C. Output was 138 hp, and 45 examples were made. A British Racing Green Type 35B driven by William Grover-Williams won the 1929 French Grand Prix at Le Mans.
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.
This is the latest Mustang Mach 1. After a 17 year hiatus, the fifth installment of the Mach 1 uses the GT’s 5.0 L Coyote V-8 producing 480 hp at 7,000 rpm and 420 lb/ft (569 Nm) at 4,600 rpm, which is same output of the Mustang Bullitt. The 2022 model produces 470 hp and 410 lb/ft at 4,600 rpm, which is a loss of 10 hp and 10 lb/ft of torque. Ford engineers were originally targeting 525 bhp and 450 lb⋅ft (610 N⋅m). It borrows several parts from the Shelby models: the intake manifold, oil-filter adapter, engine oil cooler, and front and rear subframe are shared with the Shelby GT350, while the rear axle cooling system, rear toe link, and rear diffuser are shared with the Shelby GT500. On the front grille, at each side of the pony badge there are two large vent holes. “Mach 1 performance is evident even before you get behind the wheel. Its streamlined design and exterior styling cues celebrate Mach 1 heritage dating back more than five decades. Sure, every Mustang looks good in the driveway, but the Mach 1 was made to shine on the track. The unique handling dynamics and an available Mach 1 Handling Package help you feel stuck to the road, around curves and when you’re hitting the straightaway at a 168 mph max speed. Better yet, it’s completely customizable in appearance, powertrain and performance, so you can put your spin on this icon. There is a hefty price premium, though,compared with the regular 5.0 GT model.
The G15 is a two-seater, rear-engined sports car designed by Ivor Walklett and built by Ginetta Cars Limited in Witham, Essex between 1968 and 1974. Ginetta entered into an arrangement with the Rootes Group in Coventry, England to supply the lightweight aluminium inline-4 cylinder, 875cc engines, a design derived from the Coventry Climax racing engines, and 4-speed manual transaxles. The unique slanted angle of the Rootes Imp engine and the light weight meant the engine was well suited to the low body lines envisaged by Ivor for the G15 road-going sports car. It’s coupé body was made of glass fibre from a single mold and formed part of the structure when mounted to the tubular steel chassis. The independent suspension used coil springs and dampers front and rear. The front suspension incorporated modified upper and lower wishbones of various Triumph cars: the TR4, TR6 Spitfire, and Herald. It featured an anti-roll bar, 9 inches (230 mm) disk brakes and 4×100mm PCD hubs. The rear suspension used trailing swingarms and drum brakes. The design featured a rear engine cover that swings up giving full access to the engine and various components. The wheels are 5.2 inches × 13 inches. A flip-up filler in the centre of the nose fills the fuel tank which is either a steel tank holding 18 litres or a 26 litre fibreglass tank. Also in the front is the radiator, with the spare wheel behind it. The battery was mounted to the passenger side front compartment ahead of the wheel. Weight was approximately 1,230 pounds (560 kg) depending on configuration. The first prototype G15, painted in ‘moonstone white’ was exhibited at the 1967 International Motor Show at London’s Earl Court next to Ginetta’s G12 racing car. As the rear-mounted Sunbeam Imp cooling radiator of the first few cars sometimes overheated the Mk II version of 1969 had a front mounted radiator with electric fan. The interior got a revised dashboard with Smiths and AC gauges and an improved steel-tube frame and fiberglass form seats. A heater and windscreen washer were optional extras. The 1970 MK III had larger rear quarter light windows. Engine options also became available; the 875cc (55 bhp/52 lb ft torque) was offered as standard and a 998cc (65 bhp) version of the Rootes Rallye Imp engine was later offered by Ginetta for an extra £100 in the G15S. The original wheels with aluminium trim were replaced with Cosmic or Minilite alloys as displayed in a 1969 motor show. Around 800 were built.
The second generation of the XK debuted in 2005 at the Frankfurt Motor Show in Germany, styled by Jaguar’s chief designer Ian Callum. The X150’s grille was designed to recall the 1961 E-Type. The XK is an evolution of the Advanced Lightweight Coupé (ALC) introduced at the 2005 North American International Auto Show. The XK features a bonded and riveted aluminium chassis shared with the XJ and body panels, both a first for a Jaguar grand tourer. Compared to the XK (X100), the XK (X150) is 61.0 mm (2.4 in) wider and is 162.6 mm (6.4 in) longer. It is also 91 kg (200 lb) lighter resulting in performance and fuel consumption improvements. Unlike the X100, the X150 has no wood trim on the interior offered as standard equipment. The interior featured steering column mounted shift paddles. A more powerful XKR version having a supercharged variant of the engine was introduced in 2007. The XK received a facelift in 2009, with minor alterations to front and rear lights and bumper designs, together with the introduction of a new 5.0-litre V8 for both the naturally aspirated XK and the supercharged XKR. The interior also received some changes, in particular the introduction of the XF style rotary gear selector mated to the new ZF automatic transmission. The XK received a second and more minor facelift in 2011 with new front bumper and light design, which was presented at the New York Auto Show. A higher performance variant of the XKR, the XKR-S, was introduced at the Geneva Motor Show in 2012. The XKR-S gained an additional 40 bhp over the XKR bringing the 0-60 mph acceleration time down to 4.4 seconds and the top speed up to 300 km/h (186 mph). A convertible version of the XKR-S was introduced in 2012. Production of the XK ended in July 2014 without a replacement model.
In its turn, the Diablo gave way to the Murcielago in 2001. Taking its name from the Spanish for “bat”, this was Lamborghini’s first new design in eleven years and more importantly, the brand’s first new model under the ownership of German parent company Audi, which was manifest in a much higher level of quality and reliability. The Murcielago was styled by Peruvian-born Belgian Luc Donckerwolke, Lamborghini’s head of design from 1998 to 2005. Initially it was only available as a Coupe. The Murciélago was an all-wheel drive, mid-engined supersports car. With an angular design and an exceptionally low slung body, the highest point of the roof is just under 4 feet above the ground. One of the vehicle’s most distinguishing features are its scissor doors. which lends to the extreme image. First-generation Murciélagos, produced between 2001 and 2006, were powered by a Lamborghini V12 that traces its roots back to the company’s beginnings in the 1960s. The rear differential is integrated with the engine itself, with a viscous coupling centre differential providing drive to the front wheels. Power is delivered through a 6-speed manual transmission. The Murciélago suspension uses an independent double-wishbone design, and bodywork features carbon fiber, steel and aluminium parts. The rear spoiler and the active air intakes integrated into the car’s shoulders are electromechanically controlled, deploying automatically only at high speeds in an effort to maximise both aerodynamic and cooling efficiency. The first generation cars were produced between 2001 and 2006, and known simply as Murciélago, sometimes Murciélago VT. Their V12 engines produced just under 580 PS (572 hp), and powered the car to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 3.8 seconds. Subsequent versions incorporated an alphanumeric designation to the name Murciélago, which indicated their engine configuration and output. However, the original cars are never referred to as “LP 580s”. The Murciélago Roadster was introduced in 2004. Primarily designed to be an open top car, it employed a manually attached soft roof as cover from adverse weather, but a warning on the windshield header advised the driver not to exceed 100 mph (160 km/h) with the top in place. The designer used the B-2 stealth bomber, the Wally 118 WallyPower yacht, and architect Santiago Calatrava’s Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències in Valencia, Spain as his inspiration for the roadster’s revised rear pillars and engine cover. In March 2006, Lamborghini unveiled a new version of its halo car at the Geneva Motor Show: the Murciélago LP 640. The new title incorporated the car’s name, along with an alphanumeric designation which indicated the engine’s orientation (Longitudinale Posteriore), along with the newly updated power output. With displacement now increased to 6.5 litres, the new car made 640 PS ( 631 hp) at 8000 rpm. The Murciélago’s exterior received a minor facelift. Front and rear details were revised, and side air intakes were now asymmetrical with the left side feeding an oil cooler. A new single outlet exhaust system incorporated into the rear diffuser, modified suspension tuning, revised programming and upgraded clutch for the 6-speed “e-Gear” automated sequential transmission with launch control rounded out the performance modifications. Interior seating was also re-shaped to provide greater headroom, and a new stereo system formed part of the updated dashboard. Optional equipment included Carbon fibre-reinforced Silicon Carbide (C/SiC) ceramic composite brakes, chrome paddle shifters and a glass engine cover. At the 2006 Los Angeles Auto Show, Lamborghini announced that the roadster version of the Murciélago would also be updated to LP 640 status. At the 2009 Geneva Motor Show, Lamborghini unveiled the ultimate version of the Murciélago, the LP 670–4 SuperVeloce. The SV moniker had previously appeared on the Diablo SV, and Miura. SV variants are more extreme and track-oriented, and are released at the end of each model’s production run. The SuperVeloce’s V12 produced 670 PS (661 hp) at 8000 rpm and 660 N·m (490 lbf·ft) of torque at 6500 rpm, thanks to revised valve timing and upgraded intake system. The car’s weight was also reduced by 100 kg (220 lb) through extensive use of carbon fibre inside and out. A new lighter exhaust system was also used. As a result of the extensive weight loss, the SV had a power-to-weight ratio of 429 bhp/ton. Also standard were the LP 640’s optional 15-inch carbon-ceramic disc brakes with 6 piston calipers. The original production plan for the SV was limited to 350 cars, but in fact only 186 LP 670-4s were produced before the factory had to make room for the new Aventador production line. Numbered cars 1–350 do not represent the order in which cars were manufactured. Only 5-6 were made with manual transmission. Production of the Murciélago ended on November 5, 2010, with a total run of 4,099 cars. Its successor, the Aventador, was released at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show.
Introduced in 1967, the Elan +2 had a longer wheelbase and two rear seats and so was intended for those Lotus customers who needed space to carry (small) people in the back, without sacrificing the same basic principles which made the Elan so appealing. A fast and agile sport coupe, a number of different engines were fitted over the years, with the later models having 130 bhp and a 5 speed gearbox at their disposal, which gave a top speed of 120 mph and 0–60 acceleration of 7.9 seconds and 0-100 mph 21.8 seconds. 5,200 Elans +2 were made, with production ceasing in 1975. Fewer than 1,200 of these cars remain on the roads today. Their relative rarity, beautiful lines, impressive performance and practicality are the main factors for the rising interest on these cars among collectors.
It is now over 25 years since Lotus launched the Elise, a model which showed a return to the core values of simplicity and light-weight which were cornerstones of Colin Chapman’s philosophy when he founded the marque in 1955. The first generation Elise was produced for just over 4 years, with a replacement model, the Series 2 arriving in October 2000. It came about as the Series 1 could not be produced beyond the 2000 model production year due to new European crash sustainability regulations. Lacking the funding to produce a replacement, Lotus needed a development partner to take a share of investment required for the new car. General Motors offered to fund the project, in return for a badged and GM-engined version of the car for their European brands, Opel and Vauxhall. The result was therefore two cars, which although looking quite different, shared much under the skin: a Series 2 Elise and the Vauxhall VX220 and Opel Speedster duo. The Series 2 Elise was a redesigned Series 1 using a slightly modified version of the Series 1 chassis to meet the new regulations, and the same K-series engine with a brand new Lotus-developed ECU. The design of the body paid homage to the earlier M250 concept, and was the first Lotus to be designed by computer. Both the Series 2 Elise and the Opel Speedster/Vauxhall VX220 were built on the same production line, in a new facility at Hethel. Both cars shared many parts, including the chassis, although they had different drive-trains and power-plants. The VX220 carried the Lotus internal model identification Lotus 116, with the code name Skipton for the launch 2.2 normally aspirated version and Tornado for the 2 litre Turbo which came out in 2004. Fitted with 17 inch over the Elise’s 16 inch front wheels, the Vauxhall/Opel version ceased production in late 2005 and was replaced by the Opel GT for February 2007, with no RHD version for the United Kingdom. The Elise lived on. and indeed is still in production now, some 15 years later, though there have been countless different versions produced in that time. Whilst the first of the Series 2 cars came with the Rover K-Series engine, and that included the 111S model which had the VVC engine technology producing 160 hp, a change came about in 2005 when Lotus started to use Toyota engines. This was initially due to Lotus’ plans to introduce the Elise to the US market, meaning that an engine was needed which would comply with US emissions regulations. The selected 1.8 litre (and later 1.6 litre) Toyota units did, and the K-series did not. that MG-Rover went out of business in 2005 and engine production ceased confirmed the need for the change. Since then, Lotus have offered us track focused Elise models like the 135R and Sport 190, with 135 bhp and 192 bhp respectively, as well as the 111R, the Sport Racer, the Elise S and Elise R. In 2008 an even more potent SC model, with 218 bhp thanks to a non-intercooled supercharger was added to the range. In February 2010, Lotus unveiled a facelifted version of the second generation Elise. The new headlights are now single units; triangular in shape they are somewhat larger than the earlier lights. The cheapest version in Europe now has a 1.6 litre engine to comply with Euro 5 emissions, with the same power output as the earlier 1.8 136bhp car. Lotus has been through some difficult times in recent years, but things are looking more optimistic again, with production numbers having risen significantly in the last couple of years, after a period when next to no cars were made. The Elise is still very much part of the range. Seen here was the Series 2 model.
Designed by brothers Dennis and Peter Adams, this car caused something of a sensation when it was shown at the 1964 Racing Car Show. Known as the Marcos 1800, it had a glassfibre body, with a wooden chassis and was offered for sale fully built or in kit form. This was to be the design that would become familiar to sports car enthusiasts for more than 30 years, even though the original plywood chassis would later be replaced by a steel chassis and the futuristic scalloped dashboard also vanished after a few years. The plywood chassis was glued together from 386 separate pieces and was not only light and strong, but also required a minimum up front investment to construct. The extremely low Marcos required a nearly supine driving position and fixed seats, mounted lower than the floor of the car. In return, the entire pedal set could be moved fore and aft with a knob on the dashboard. If this proved not to be enough Marcos also offered optional booster pillows. This setup, with the fixed seats, remained until the end of Marcos production in late 2007. The original Marcos 1800 had a two-spoke steering wheel and a novel dash with a prominent centre console, a rather expensive design which did not survive onto the Ford-engined cars. The entire nose portion, of a long and tapered design, was hinged at the front and was held down by latches behind the front wheelwells. It used the cast-iron four-cylinder 96 hp Volvo 1778 cc B18 unit with overdrive gearbox from the Volvo P1800S enough for a 116 mph top speed and a 0-60 mph time of 8.2 seconds. Successful in competition, the rather expensive 1800 sold very slowly, and after the first 33 cars the de Dion rear suspension was replaced by a live Ford axle. The price was dropped from ₤1500 to ₤1340, but it was not enough to make the car profitable. Cars were stockpiling in 1966, and after 106 (or 99) had been built, the 1800 was replaced by the Ford-engined 1500. Normally fitted with a four-speed manual transmission a five-speed one was also available, allowing for a higher top speed. According to some sources, a few of the last cars built had the 2 litre Volvo B20 engine fitted, as did some of the racing cars. The 1800 is the only Marcos that is eligible for historic racing and as such is considerably more valuable today than later models. In 1966 the GT was changed to a pushrod inline-four Ford Kent engine of 1500 cc, in order to lower costs as the 1800 had been rather too expensive to market. The complex dash was also replaced with a flat polished wood unit, which was soon downgraded further yet to a mass-produced “wood-effect” one. Power and performance were both down on the 1800, but sales increased considerably. To hide the fact that a common Ford engine was used, Marsh replaced the rocker covers with Marcos ones and switched from Weber to Stromberg carburettors. An overbored Lawrencetune 1650 cc version was made available in 1967 (32 built) to ameliorate the power shortage, for the Marcos 1650 GT. The 1650 also had bigger disc brakes and a standard Webasto sunroof, but proved somewhat less than reliable It and the 1500 were both replaced by Ford’s new Crossflow four not much later, in late 1967. The 1600 proved to be the most popular model yet, with 192 cars built until early 1969. Weight was 740 kg (1,631 lb) and disc brakes up front were standard, although power assist was an optional extra. Production ended in October 1969 as the new steel chassis was not well suited for the crossflow engine. A new model, the 2 litre, appeared at the January 1969 London Show with the engine changed to the Ford Essex V4 engine from the Ford Corsair – while a V6 engine had already appeared at the top of the lineup in 1968. Also in 1969, the plywood chassis was gradually replaced by a square section steel one, which shortened production time and saved on cost. These steel framed cars required a lower sill panel and have reshaped rear bumpers, as well as some subtle interior differences. The wooden chassis had also begun to meet a certain amount of resistance from buyers. There seem to have been no V4-engined wooden cars made, although there is a few months overlap between the introduction dates. The V4 received most of the same standard and optional equipment (except the overdrive) and the same central bonnet bulge as did the V6 models; very few of the Marcos 2 litres still have their V4 engines, as a V6 swap is a rather quick job and makes for a much faster car than the original’s 85 hp. It was not exactly a success story, 78 2 litres were most likely built, although numbers as low as 40 have also been mentioned. New at the October 1968 London Show was the more powerful Marcos 3 litre. Fitted with the double-carb Ford Essex V6 engine and transmission from the Ford Zodiac, production beginning in January 1969. Max power was 140 bhp and aside from the badging, this car is most easily recognised by the large, central bonnet bulge necessary to clear the larger engine. The 3 litre had a four-speed manual with a Laycock-de-Normanville Overdrive for the third and fourth gears fitted. In December 1969 a twin-carburetted 3-litre Volvo B30 straight-six became available (initially only for the US), and in 1971 eleven or twelve cars were fitted with the 150 bhp Triumph 2.5-litre straight-six. These were called the Marcos 2½ litre. As the bonnet was a close fit over the various larger engines, this resulted in a corresponding variation in the bonnet design as regards changes designed to clear engine air intakes, often the only external sign of the type of engine fitted. All inline-sixes required a rather angular bulge right of centre on the bonnet to clear the carburettors. Around this time, some V6 cars begun sporting single rectangular headlights (not on US-market cars), borrowed from the Vauxhall Viva HB. Later in 1969 the six-cylinder cars, as with their four-cylinder counterparts, received the new steel chassis. Either 100 or 119 of the wood-chassied V6 cars were built. The Ford V6 version achieved over 120 mph on test and the Volvo-engined model was not far behind it, but the heavy cast-iron engines increased nose-heaviness in comparison to the four-cylinder variants. With US sales going strong, Marcos production was up to three per week and they had to invest in a bigger space in 1969. Cars for the North Americas market had Volvo’s inline-six cylinder, 3 litre engines with a standard Borg-Warner Type 35 automatic transmissions. They sat on tubular steel space frames, have a higher ride height, and no headlight covers – all of this was in order to get US road certification. Air conditioning was also listed as an option by New York-based importers Marcos International Inc. Delays and problems with the federalised cars were beginning to mount. In 1970, 27 exported cars were impounded by US Customs for supposedly not meeting federal law, causing Marcos to withdraw entirely from the US market. Together with the development costs of the Mantis and the introduction of VAT on kit cars on the horizon, Marcos had to close its doors for what turned out to be the first time. About sixty US market cars were built, some of which were brought back after the US market dried up in 1970 and converted to RHD for sale in the home market. Production of the Volvo 3 litre continued for the rest of the world, with these cars fitted with a four-speed manual transmission. Either 80 or 172 of the Volvo I6-engined Marcos were built until early 1972, with the final one destined to become the last Marcos built for the next ten years. After Marcos had run out of money the company was sold to Hebron & Medlock Bath Engineering in mid-1971. They themselves had to call in the receivers only six months later. The Rob Walker Garage Group bought the factory only to sell off everything, including some finished cars such as all six Mark 2 1600s built. Jem Marsh bought up spares and other parts at the liquidation sale and proceeded to run a company servicing existing Marcos, until he resumed production of Marcos kits in 1981. The original GT continued to be built until 1989 or 1990, being developed into its altered Mantula form. This was further developed into more powerful and aggressively-styled designs, culminating in the 1994 LM600 (which competed in the 1995 Le Mans 24-hour race).
This is one of a series of Marcos models produced in the company’s renaissance period of the late 1980s and 1990s. The original Marcos company was one of many which suffered in the mid 1970s, and ceased building cars, but unlike some of the others of this ilk, that was not the end of the story, as marque founder Jem Marsh resurrected the Marcos brand in 1981, offering the previous GT cars as kits. Engine options included Ford’s 3.0 Essex V6, 2.8 Cologne V6, 1600 Crossflow, 2.0 Pinto and 2.0 V4, plus Triumph’s 2.0 and 2.5 straight six. About 130 kits were sold up to 1989. In 1983 the Marcos Mantula was introduced, externally very similar to the old GT, but now powered by a 3.5-litre Rover V8 with a 5-speed gearbox. This alloy engine weighed less than the previous six-cylinder cast-iron units, reducing overall weight to about 900 kg and making the car competitive against other Rover-powered sports cars such as TVR and Morgan. The engine evolved into the Rover Vitesse EFi engine, and later Mantulas were fitted with the 3.9 EFi. In 1986 the model was made available as a convertible, the Marcos Spyder, which would outsell the coupés in later production. 1989 saw the introduction of independent rear suspension, together with the Ford Sierra’s 7″ differential and rear disc brakes. The independent suspension allowed a full-width boot and the relocation of the battery and heater/air conditioning. 170 coupés and 119 Spyders were produced. Launched in 1991, the Marcos Martina was externally very similar to the Mantula, but with flared front wheel arches. It used the Ford Cortina’s 2-litre four-cylinder engine, steering and suspension, and approximately 80 were produced. Originally available as kits or factory-built, the cars were all factory-built from 1992. Production of the Mantula and Martina ceased in 1993. In 1992 Marcos left the kit car business, all cars from this point onwards being factory built, and launched the Marcos Mantara which was sold through dealers in limited numbers. The main difference between the Mantara and the Mantula was the adoption of MacPherson strut front suspension in place of the Triumph suspension and associated trunnions. This change resulted in a wider front track, different bonnet, and flared front arches. The rear wheel arches and rear lights were also changed to give the car a more modern appearance. Power steering was also available for the first time. The Mantara was powered as standard by a 3.9 litre fuel injected Rover V8 or a 4.6 litre Rover V8 as an optional alternative. The Marcos GTS was a version of the Mantara powered by the 2-litre Rover Tomcat engine. The top version was the 200 bhp turbo version. The GTS version of the Mantara had a slightly different bonnet incorporating much smoother lines, flared-in headlamps, and a deeper spoiler, which was used on the later Mantaray model. A handful of late Mantara V8’s were produced with the same bonnet as the 2.0 litre GTS. For a return to GT racing, a range of modified Mantaras was also produced in the LM (Le Mans) versions. In order to qualify as a production vehicle, a limited number of road going cars were also made. Several versions of the LM were made such as the LM400 (with a Rover 3.9-litre V8 engine), LM500 (Rover 5-litre V8) and LM600 (with 6-litre Chevrolet small-block V8). Only 30 road-going LM cars were ever built, and of these only one was a road-going LM600. In 1997 the Mantis name was re-used on a 2-seater coupé or convertible road car based on the LM series powered by the 4.6 litre all-aluminium quad-cam Ford ‘Modular’ engine producing 327 bhp and capable of 170 mph (270 km/h). To accommodate the engine the bonnet of the Mantis was significantly remodelled from the previous LM range (that used the Rover V8), and the upper chassis rails in the engine bay were widened. Price for the Mantis was £46883. In 1998 it was decided to supercharge the engine to produce the first British production sports car with over 500 bhp, this being named the Mantis GT. Using a Vortech supercharger, and intercooler the Mantis GT engine produced 506 bhp which could accelerate the car from 0-60 mph in 3.7 seconds. Price for the Mantis GT was £64331. Production of the Mantis was 51 cars, with 16 being the supercharged GT version (not including the Mantis Challenge race cars). In 1997 the Mantara evolved into the Marcos Mantaray, with the re-styled bonnet from the Mantara GTS and with a new shape rear-end. Mechanically the car was identical to the Mantara. It was offered with 4.0 and 4.6 litre Rover V8 as well as the 2-litre, and 2-litre turbo Rover Tomcat engines. Only 11 were made with the 4.0-litre, and seven with the 4.6-litre engine. Total factory production was 26, plus one car in chassis/body component form. Bankruptcy caused a break in production, but with new finance in place. an all new design, the TS250 was launched in 2004, but this proved to be short-lived before the company finally ceased trading.
The MX-5 was unveiled at the Chicago Auto Show on February 10, 1989, with a price tag of US$14,000. The MX-5, with production code NA, was made available for delivery to buyers worldwide in the following dates: May 1989 (as a 1990 model) in the US and Canada; September 1, 1989 in Japan; and 1990 in Europe. An optional hardtop was made available at the same time, in sheet moulding compound (SMC). Demand initially outstripped production, fueled by enthusiastic press reviews. In Japan, the car was not badged as a Mazda, as the company was in the process of launching different marques for deluxe models, similar to Nissan’s Infiniti, Honda’s Acura and Toyota’s Lexus. Instead, the Mazda MX-5 was sold as the Eunos Roadster, and was joined by the MX-3/AZ-3/Eunos Presso (based on Japanese Mazda dealerships). The exterior dimensions and the engine displacement were also in compliance with Japanese Government compact car regulation. The body shell of the NA was all-steel with a lightweight aluminium bonnet. Overall dimensions were 3,970 mm (156 in) in length, 1,675 mm (65.9 in) in width, and 1,235 mm (48.6 in) in height. Without options, the NA weighed only 980 kg (2,160 lb). It had a drag coefficient of Cd=0.38. Suspension was an independent double wishbone on all four wheels, with an anti-roll bar at the front and rear. Four-wheel disc brakes, ventilated at the front, were behind alloy wheels with 185/60HR14 radial tyres. The base model came with stamped steel wheels from the then-current 323/Protege.The original MX-5, with standard manual transmission, came with a 1.6 L DOHC inline four-cylinder engine, producing 115 bhp at 6,500 rpm, and 136 N⋅m (100 lbf⋅ft) of torque at 5,500 rpm. The engine employs an electronic fuel injection system using a vane-type air flow meter and an electronic ignition system with a camshaft angle sensor instead of a distributor. This engine, codenamed B6ZE(RS), was specifically designed for the MX-5 and featured a lightened crankshaft, flywheel, and aluminium sump with cooling fins. An MX-5 with the optional automatic transmission had its 1.6L engine tuned to develop peak torque at lower rpm’s (136 Nm, 100 lb/ft at 4000 rpm) to better mate with the automatic transmission gearing and torque requirements. This tuning resulted in a lower peak power of 105 bhp at 6500 rpm. The standard transmission was a five-speed manual, derived from the one used in the Mazda 929/Luce (also rear-wheel drive) The gear shift was the subject of close attention during development, with engineers told to make it shift in as small a gear pattern as possible and with minimal effort. In Japan and the US, an optional automatic transmission was also offered. The Japanese and American markets also received an optional viscous limited-slip differential, although it was only available for cars with a manual transmission. To achieve the low introductory price, the base model was stripped. It had steel wheels, manual steering, roll-up windows, and no stereo or air-conditioning. Power steering, air-conditioning, and stereo were added as standard equipment in later years. The NA could reach 60 mph in 8.3 seconds and had a top speed of 203 km/h (126 mph) although Japanese market Eunos models were limited to 180 km/h (110 mph). This first generation of Miata (often referred to as the NA) included a special Limited Edition of 2000 examples in 1991, produced in British racing green with the first use of tan interior, to celebrate the highly successful launch of the MX-5 in the UK. These have a numbered brass plaque on the Windshield Frame and on the front of the Owners Book, and are fitted with alloy wheels from MSW (Mazda Sports Workshop) which are often mistaken for BBS, but which are entirely unique to this model. The NA with an automatic transmission reached 60 mph in 9.9 seconds and had a top speed of 181 km/h (112 mph). In 1993, 1,500 LE (Limited Edition) cars were produced. This model featured red leather interior, upgraded stereo, Nardi shift knob, leather-wrapped steering wheel, cruise control, limited-slip differential, power windows, power mirrors, power steering, air conditioning, BBS wheels, Bilstein shocks, front and rear spoilers, ABS brakes, stainless sill plates, and Harley style peanut tank door speaker trim. All 1993 LE cars came in black. For the 1994 model year, the first-generation MX-5 was freshened with the introduction of the more powerful 1,839 cc BP-ZE engine, dual airbags placed in a redesigned dashboard, the addition of a Mazda badge on the front fascia in the US and a limited-slip differential in some markets. The chassis was substantially braced to meet new side-impact standards, most visibly by adding a “track bar” between the seatbelt towers inside the car, but also to the front and rear subframes. Also, 1994 and 1995 were the only years in which Mazda offered a light metallic blue paint (Laguna Blue Mica), making these cars rare collectors cars to some. 1994 also saw the introduction of the “R” package, a sport-themed package with Bilstein shocks, stiffer sway bars, retuned springs, subtle front and rear underbody spoilers, and a Torsen LSD. Air conditioning was optional, but the “R” package was not available with power steering, leather, or an automatic transmission. It can also be identified by a red Miata badge on the rear instead of the usual black. No body style changes were made, however. Halfway through the 1997 model year the hazard light button was changed to a black button with red symbol as opposed to the earlier red button with white symbol. The new 1,839 cc engine produced 129 bhp at 6,500 rpm and 149 Nm (110 lb/ft) of torque at 5,500 rpm, which was then increased to 133 bhp at 6,500 rpm and 155 Nm (114 lb/ft) of torque at 5,500 rpm for the 1996 model year. The base weight increased to 990 kg (2,180 lb). Performance was thus improved slightly, because the additional weight was more than offset by the extra power. In some markets such as Europe, the 1.6 L engine continued to be available as a lower-cost option, but was detuned to 89 bhp. This lower-powered model did not receive all the additional chassis bracing of the new 1.8 L. Japanese and U.S. models offered an optional Torsen LSD, which was far more durable than the previous viscous differential. There were a number of trim levels and special editions available, determined by local Mazda marketing departments. In the US, the base model was offered for US$13,995 at launch and was very basic, with manual windows, steel wheels, and without air conditioning or power steering. The “A Package” offered power steering, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, aluminium alloy wheels and cassette stereo. The “B Package” added power windows, along with cruise control and headrest speakers, while the “C Package” included a tan interior and top with leather seats. The “R Package” was for racing, and the annual special editions were formalized as “M Editions”. These included all of the luxury options from the “C Package” as well as special paint and, sometimes, special wheels. The first generation MX-5 was phased out after the 1997 model year (with the exception of 400 limited edition Berkeley models sold only in the UK in 1998 to mark the end of the NA), with the final 1,500 NAs produced for the US market being the “STO” (“Special Touring Option”) versions.
The redesigned MX-5 was previewed at the Tokyo Motor Show in October 1997. In February 1998, Mazda released the second-generation MX-5, production code NB, for the 1999 model year. The NB featured a more powerful engine and external styling cues borrowed from the third generation Mazda RX-7, designed in 1995 by Tom Matano. Prices in the United States, the main market for the MX-5, started at US$19,770. Although many parts of the interior and body were different, the most notable changes were the headlamps: the first generation’s retractable headlamps no longer passed pedestrian safety tests and were replaced by fixed ones. The new car grew slightly in width compared to the earlier model and was slightly more aerodynamic than the original, with a drag coefficient of Cd=0.36. Other notable improvements include a glass rear window with defogger for the convertible top and a retractable wind deflector behind the seats. The NB continued to employ four-wheel independent suspension, with enlarged anti-roll bars at the front and rear, but the wheels, tires and brakes were significantly upgraded: anti-lock braking system was offered as an option; alloy wheels were now 14″ or 15″ in diameter and 6″ (150 mm) in width, depending on the trim package; sports models were equipped with the larger wheels and 195/50VR15 tyres. The BP-4W engine remained at 1.8 L but received several minor updates. The engine compression ratio was raised from 9.0:1 to 9.5:1 by adding slightly domed pistons. The intake cam was changed to a solid lifter design with a stronger cam; the intake runners in the head were straightened and the intake manifold was mounted higher up. Mazda’s Variable Intake Control System was introduced, which effectively gave a long narrow intake manifold at low rpm for better swirl, changing to a short, free-flowing manifold at high rpm for maximum breathing. Power output of the new engine was quoted at 140.0 bhp with 157 Nm (116 lb/ft) of torque. The 1.6 L B6 engine remained available in Europe and Japan. The base-model 1.8 L NB could reach 100 km/h (62 mph) in 7.8 s and had a top speed of 210 km/h (130 mph). For the 2001 model year, a facelift to the second-generation MX-5 was released. There were some minor exterior changes, with a press-release of July 18, 2000, announcing the changes as “resulting in an even sportier and more forceful look”. Fog lamps, previously an option, were made standard. The headlamps now featured projector style low beams and separate high beam lenses. The rear turn signals lamps were changed from amber to clear to make the car look more modern. Some cockpit elements were changed, the most notable being the redesigned centre console, and the white faced and red backlit instrument panel gauges from the 2000 Special Edition were made standard, replacing the previous blue faced gauges. The seats were also upgraded, incorporating more support in the side bolsters and taller headrests. Added for top models (designated ‘Sport’ in the U.K) were 16-inch wheels with 205/45VR16 low-profile tyres, larger brakes at the front and rear, additional chassis stiffening braces, a limited-slip differential, a 6-speed manual transmission, Bilstein suspension and leather seats. The upgraded tires and suspension allowed the new model to pull 0.91 g in lateral grip in tests by Car and Driver magazine. The body was strengthened, gaining 16% in bending rigidity and 22% in torsional rigidity. With the minimum of options, the 2001 model weighed 1,065 kg (2,348 lb). The 1.8 L BP6D engine was slightly modified and now featured variable valve timing on the intake camshaft. The intake and exhaust system also received a minor upgrade. These modifications resulted in a power output of 152 bhp (Japan, UK and Australia) or 143 bhp (US only). In the United States, Mazda erroneously quoted the power figure for the Japanese and Australian model in early catalogues. Car and Driver magazine and numerous owners confirmed the missing power, and Mazda offered to buy back the 2001 cars due to those misleading power claims. Owners who did not take up the buy back offer were offered an apology and free servicing for the warranty period.
The Mazda MX-5 (NC) is the third generation of the Mazda MX-5 manufactured from 2005 to 2015. At its introduction in 2005, it won the Car of the Year Japan Award and made Car and Driver’s 10Best list from 2006 to 2013. The NC is the first MX-5 generation to feature a retractable hardtop variant, with its roof being able to fold and unfold in 12 seconds without sacrificing trunk space. The exterior styling by Yasushi Nakamuta resembled the original design, but unlike the update from NA to NB, which was mostly a nose/tail/interior change, the NC shares no components with the NB, except for the fender-mounted turn signal lights on non-U.S. models (and rear differential internals). The chief designer of this model generation was Moray Callum. The 2003 Mazda Ibuki concept served as a preview of the new model. The suspension changed from a four-wheel double wishbone setup to a front wishbone/rear multilink setup, shared with the Mazda RX-8. Technologies including traction control and stability control were added to increase driveability. According to Car and Driver, the NC has a skidpad number of 0.90g. For the U.S., the engine was the 16-valve, 2.0 L MZR LF-VE DOHC I4, producing 170 bhp and 190 Nm (140 lb/ft) of torque coupled to either a 5-speed or a 6-speed manual transmission or 158 bhp with the optional 6-speed automatic transmission. A limited-slip differential was available with the 6-speed option. In Australia, the 2.0 L MZR was offered, rated at 158 bhp and 188 N⋅m (139 lb/ft) of torque and the 6-speed transmission and LSD are standard. In Europe, two engines were offered: the 2.0 L MZR LF-VE rated at 158 bhp and 188 Nm (139 lb/ft) of torque, coupled to the 6-speed manual transmission; and a new 1.8 L MZR L8-VE, rated at 126 bhp and 167 Nm (123 lb/ft), coupled to the 5-speed manual transmission. A six-speed automatic transmission, with steering wheel mounted paddle shifters, was optional. A test by Car and Driver magazine revealed a 0-60 mph time of 6.5 s for the 2.0 L U.S.-spec NC. Manufacturer figures for the European-spec model are: 0-100 km/h (62 mph) in 9.4 s for the 1.8 and 7.9 s for the 2.0. As of this generation, the car no longer complies with Japanese law’s maximum exterior width dimension for the mid-size vehicle tax class, making Japanese buyers liable for additional costs for ownership. In July 2006, Mazda debuted a Power Retractable Hard Top (PRHT) version of the NC with a two-piece folding hardtop, named MX-5 Roadster Coupé in Europe, Roadster Power Retractable Hard Top in Japan, and MX-5 Miata Power Retractable Hard Top in the U.S. and Canada. Designed by Webasto and constructed of polycarbonate, the top requires 12 seconds to raise or lower, and the first models were delivered to customers in late August 2006. The hardtop adds 36 kg (79 lb) to the weight of a comparably equipped soft-top, without diminishing trunk space when retracted. The PRHT omits the soft-top’s storage compartments behind the seats to accommodate the folding roof mechanism. Performance times are slightly affected with the weight increase, with the 0-100 km/h (62 mph) time increased to 9.6 s for the 1.8 and 8.2 seconds for the 2.0. Thanks to better aerodynamics, though, top speed is increased from 196 km/h (121.8 mph) to 200 km/h (124.3 mph) for the smaller-engined model and from 210 km/h (130 mph) to 215 km/h (134 mph) for the 2.0. These figures are for the European- versions. The MX-5 facelift was unveiled at the 2008 Paris Motor Show and Science Museum in London, and later at the 2009 Chicago Auto Show. The Japanese model went on sale on December 9, 2008 at Mazda and Mazda Anfini dealers. Major changes concern the restyled front which now incorporates elements from Mazda’s newer models like the larger grille and new head and fog lights. Further restyled elements include the side skirts, rear bumper and the tail lights. The soft-top Touring and Grand Touring models feature a mesh grille bordered by a chrome frame. The hardtop Roadster Coupe now features a mesh grille bordered by a chrome frame and chrome elements inside the headlamps and outer door handles. The instrument panel gained darker features and redesigned graphics for the gauges. To create more leg space in the cabin, a protrusion from the door pockets was eliminated. The 2.0 L; I4 engine was rated 167 bhp at 7,000 rpm and 190 Nm (140 lb/ft) at 5,000 rpm for the 5-speed manual transmission, 158 bhp at 6,700 rpm with the fuel cut-off at 7,200 rpm and 190 Nm (140 lb/ft) at 5,000 rpm for the automatic transmission. Engine redline was raised by 500 rpm to 7,200 rpm in manual model and fuel cut at 7,500 rpm. The suspension and gearbox have been fine-tuned; with the latter offering smoother shifts and an automatic transmission will be introduced in Europe for the first time
The fourth-generation Mazda MX-5 was unveiled in 2014 and has been in production since 2015. An updated model was introduced in 2019 and is visually identical to the pre-update model; it has been designated as series “ND2” due to an engine upgrade to 181 bhp and several other improvements around the car. The ND generation introduced a Retractable Fastback (RF) variant that features a rigid roof and buttresses that give the silhouette a more coupé-like appearance than the soft top convertible. The fourth generation MX-5 has received several accolades such as the 2015-2016 Car of the Year Japan Award, the 2016 World Car of the Year Award, Car and Driver’s 10Best list from 2016 to 2019, and the Red Dot Best of the Best Award in Product Design 2017. In addition, the car is the basis for the Fiat 124 Spider and Abarth 124 Spider.
Among the array of modern German hot hatches was the hottest of them all, the A45 AMG.
The Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class is a compact executive roadster, produced by Mercedes-Benz. It was released in 1996 and was built at the Mercedes plant in Bremen, Germany, until the end of production in 2020. The former name “SLK” was derived from sportlich (sporty), leicht (lightweight), and kurz (short). With the release of the facelift R172 in 2016, the SLK-Class was renamed to SLC-Class in accordance with the revised nomenclature adopted by Mercedes. Under this scheme, roadsters use the base name “SL”, followed by the model’s placement in Mercedes-Benz hierarchy, the letter “C”, being the roadster equivalent to the C-Class. The R170 Mercedes SLK is based on the SLK I Concept and SLK II Concept, which is a two-seater roadster concept car that features a folding metal electro-hydraulic roof, dubbed ‘vario-roof’ by Mercedes, and takes 25 seconds to operate. A German design patent was filed on 30 September 1993, with the final production version of the SLK introduced at the Turin Motor Show on 22 April 1996. The R170 SLK is based on the W202 C-Class platform, sharing many drivetrain and chassis components, as well as using a shortened version of the floor pan. The wheelbase is also identical to the wheelbase of the 190SL and 300SL, at 2,400 mm (94 in). The platform of the R170 Mercedes SLK is also used by the Chrysler Crossfire, which shares 80% of its components with the car. The SLK 32 AMG was introduced in 2001, designed to rival the BMW M Roadster and Porsche Boxster S. The car featured the same M112 engine as in the SLK 320, but has a helical twin-screw supercharger and water-to-air intercooler. The SLK 32 AMG introduced Mercedes’ new ‘SpeedShift’ 5G-Tronic (automatic) transmission, that allow for manual shifting of the gears, and faster automatic downshifts before overtaking. There was no manual transmission option available for the SLK 32 AMG. The SLK 32 AMG features a more angular steering wheel, AMG instrument dials, an updated front and rear bumper with larger air intakes, and larger brakes; from 12″, upgraded to 13″ in diameter. SLK 32 production started from January 2001, to March 2004. A total of 4,333 were produced; 979 were sold in Germany, 2,056 were imported to the US, and 263 to the UK.
The R172 SLK was released in 2011. It was available with a range of inline-four, V6, and V8, diesel and petrol engines, and introduced an electronically operated window tint shade for the sunroof, called Magic Sky Control. The facelift was released for vehicles produced from March 2016, to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the SLK-Class. The model range was also renamed to SLC-Class to conform to the new Mercedes nomenclature, and introduced new engines and a revised design. In 2020, Mercedes-Benz released a Final Edition to commemorate the end of the car’s production run.
The MGA replaced the long running T Series sports cars and presented a complete styling break from MG’s earlier sports cars. Announced on 26 September 1955, the car was officially launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show. A total of 101,081 units were sold through the end of production in July 1962, the vast majority of the 58.750 cars made were exported. Only 5869 cars were sold on the home market, the lowest percentage of any British car. It was replaced by the MGB. The MGA design dates back to 1951, when MG designer Syd Enever created a streamlined body for George Philips’ TD Le Mans car. The problem with this car was the high seating position of the driver because of the limitations of using the TD chassis. A new chassis was designed with the side members further apart and the floor attached to the bottom rather than the top of the frame sections. A prototype was built and shown to the BMC chairman Leonard Lord. He turned down the idea of producing the new car as he had just signed a deal with Donald Healey to produce Austin-Healey cars two weeks before. Falling sales of the traditional MG models caused a change of heart, and the car, initially to be called the UA-series, was brought back. As it was so different from the older MG models it was called the MGA, the “first of a new line” to quote the contemporary advertising. There was also a new engine available, therefore the car did not have the originally intended XPAG unit but was fitted with the BMC corporate B-Series type allowing a lower bonnet line. The MGA convertible had no exterior door handles, however the coupe did. It was a body-on-frame design and used the straight-4 1489cc “B series” engine from the MG Magnette saloon driving the rear wheels through a 4-speed gearbox. Suspension was independent with coil springs and wishbones at the front and a rigid axle with semi-elliptic springs at the rear. Steering was by rack and pinion. The car was available with either wire-spoked or steel-disc road wheels. The 1489 cc engine fitted with twin H4 type SU Carburettors produced 68 hp at first, but was soon uprated to 72 hp. Lockheed hydraulic drum brakes were used on all wheels. A high-performance Twin-Cam model was added for 1958. It used a high-compression (9.9:1 later 8.3:1) DOHC aluminium cylinder head version of the B-Series engine producing 108 hp. Due to detonation problems, a 100 bhp low-compression version was introduced later. Four-wheel disc brakes by Dunlop were fitted, along with Dunlop peg drive knock-off steel wheels similar to wheels used on racing Jaguars, unique to the Twin-Cam and “DeLuxe” MGA 1600 and 1600 MkII roadsters. These wheels and chassis upgrades were used on a small number of the “DeLuxe” models built after Twin-Cam production came to a halt. Aside from the wheels, the only outside identifier was a “Twin-Cam” logo near the vent aside the bonnet. A careful look at the rear wheel vents would also reveal another feature unique to Twin-Cam and DeLuxe: those 4 wheel Dunlop disc brakes . The temperamental engine was notorious for warranty problems during the course of production, and sales dropped quickly. The engine suffered from detonation and burnt oil. Most of the problems with the Twin-Cam engine were rectified with the low-compression version, but by then the damage had been done. Many restored Twin-Cams are running more reliably today than they ever did during production. The Twin-Cam was dropped in 1960 after 2,111 had been produced. Production ended in April 1960, but had slowed to a trickle long before. In May 1959 the standard cars also received an updated engine, now at 1588 cc producing 79.5 bhp . At the front disc brakes were fitted, but drums remained in the rear. Externally the car was very similar to the 1500 with differences including: amber or white (depending on market) front turn indicators shared with white parking lamps, separate stop/tail and turn lamps in the rear, and 1600 badging on the boot and the cowl. 31,501 of these were produced in less than three years. A number of 1600 De Luxe versions were produced with leftover special wheels and four-wheel disc brakes of the departed Twin-Cam, or using complete modified Twincam chassis left redundant by the discontinuance of that model. Seventy roadsters and 12 coupés were built. The engine size was increased again to 1622 cc by increasing the bore from 75.4 mm to 76.2 mm for the 1961 Mark II MGA. The cylinder head was also revised with larger valves and re-engineered combustion chambers. Horsepower increased to 90 bhp. It also had a higher ratio 4:1 rear axle, which made for more relaxed high-speed driving. An inset grille and Morris Mini tail lamps appearing horizontally below the deck lid were the most obvious visual changes. 8,198 Mark II roadsters and 521 coupés were built. As with the 1600 De Luxe, there were also some Mark II De Luxe versions; 290 roadsters and 23 coupés were produced.
This ZT260 belongs to my friend Stuart Clough, who had a similar car a while back, which he sold and missed it so much that some compelling “man maths” saw him make the case for buying another one. The MG ZT and ZT-T were introduced three years after the Rover 75 and less than a year after the de-merger of MG Rover from BMW, along with the cheaper 25-based ZR and 45-based ZS models. The basic shape and styling of the MG ZT remained the same as for the Rover 75 but with changes to the front bumper, now with an integrated grille, and detail alterations including colour coding of the chromed waistline, a new bootlid plinth and different alloy wheels and tyres sizes. The interior featured revised seats and dashboard treatment with new instrument faces. Engineering changes ranged from uprated suspension and brakes to revised engine tuning for the petrol and diesel models. Development of the MG ZT was headed by Rob Oldaker, Product Development Director, with styling changes undertaken by Peter Stevens, who was previously responsible for the styling of the McLaren F1 and X180 version of the Lotus Esprit. At launch, the most potent ZT was the 190bhp petrol powered model, but in 2003, the 260 version of the car was launched, which utilised a 4.6 litre V8 from the Ford Mustang range. The model was converted from front-wheel drive to rear-wheel drive and was largely engineered by motorsport and engineering company Prodrive before being completed by MG. Apart from the badges, the only visual difference externally between the 260 and other ZTs are the quad exhausts. The 4.6 version is regarded as a true Q-car. and it has its own every enthusiastic and active Owners Club.
This is an Evo X, the last (for now) of a series of highly-regarded performance saloons generated by Mitsubishi’s rally program. In 2005, Mitsubishi introduced a concept version of the next-gen Evolution at the 39th Tokyo Motor Show named the Concept-X, designed by Omer Halilhodžić at the company’s European design centre. Mitsubishi unveiled a second concept car, the Prototype-X, at the 2007 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS). The Lancer Evolution X featured a newly designed 4B11T 1,998 cc turbocharged, all-aluminium alloy GEMA Inline-four engine. Power and torque depend on the market, but all versions had at least 276 bhp. UK models were reworked by Mitsubishi UK, in accordance with previous MR Evolutions bearing the FQ badge, with power between 300 bhp and 360 bhp. It also featured Mitsubishi’s new sequential semi-automatic six speed SST twin-clutch transmission with steering-mounted magnesium alloy shift paddles. It replaced the Tiptronic automatic transmission, hence the SST version replaced the GT-A version (which was used in Evolution VII and Evolution IX Wagon). A five speed manual gearbox was also available. Two versions of the car are offered in the U.S. The Lancer Evolution MR, with 6-speed Twin Clutch Sportronic Shift Transmission (TC-SST). The other version is the GSR which has a 5-speed manual transmission system. The car also has a new full-time four-wheel drive system named S-AWC (Super All Wheel Control), an advanced version of Mitsubishi’s AWC system used in previous generations. The S-AWC uses torque vectoring technology to send different amounts of torque to the rear wheels. The Evolution X went on sale October 1, 2007 in Japan, January 2008 in the USA, February in Canada (as the first version of Evolution in Canada) and in March 2008 in the UK. The Twin Clutch SST version was available in Japan from November 2007. The introduction of the 2010 MR-Touring moved the car even further upscale. Leather and a sunroof became standard while revising the rear spoiler to just a lip spoiler. The car remained on sale until 2017, though as the market focus moved elsewhere, relatively few were registered in the model’s later years and there was no direct replacement.
It was only really with the launch in 1989 of the 964 that a truly “new” model would appear. Designed by Benjamin Dimson in 1986, it featured significant styling revisions over previous 911 models, most prominently the more integrated bumpers. The 964 was considered to be 85% new as compared to its predecessor. The first 964s available in 1989 were all wheel drive equipped “Carrera 4” models; Porsche added the rear wheel drive Carrera 2 variant to the range in 1990. Both variants were available as a coupe, Targa or Cabriolet. The 964 Carrera was the last generation sold with the traditional removable Targa roof until the 2011 991. A new naturally aspirated engine called the M64 was used for 964 models, with a flat-6 displacement of 3.6 litres. Porsche substantially revised the suspension, replacing torsion bars with coil springs and shock absorbers. Power steering and ABS brakes were added to the 911 for the first time; both were standard. The exterior bumpers and fog lamps became flush with the car for better aerodynamics. A new electric rear spoiler raised at speeds above 50 mph and lowered down flush with the rear engine lid at lower speeds. A revised interior featured standard dual airbags beginning in 1990 for all North American production cars. A new automatic climate control system provided improved heating and cooling. Revised instrumentation housed a large set of warning lights that were tied into the car’s central warning system, alerting the driver to a possible problem or malfunction. In 1992, Porsche produced a super-lightweight, rear-wheel-drive only version of the 964 dubbed Carrera RS for the European market. It was based on Porsche’s 911 “Carrera Cup” race car and harked back to the 2.7 and 3.0 RS and RSR models. It featured a revised version of the standard engine, titled M64/03 internally, with an increased power output of 260 bhp and lightweight flywheel coupled to the G50/10 transmission with closer ratios, asymmetrical Limited Slip Differential and steel synchromesh. A track-oriented suspension system with 40 mm (1.6 in) lower ride height, stiffer springs, shocks and adjustable stabiliser bars without power steering (RHD UK cars did have power steering). A stripped-out interior devoid of power windows or seats, rear seats, air conditioning, cruise control, sound deadening or a stereo system (optionally fitted) and new racing-bucket front seats were part of the package. The front boot cover was made of aluminium and the chassis was seam welded. Wheels were made of magnesium and the glass was thinner in the doors and rear window. The Carrera RS is approximately 345 pounds (155 kg) lighter than the Carrera 2 model. Also available were a heavier Touring variant (with sound deadening, power seats (optional), undercarriage protection and power windows) and an N/GT racing variant with a stripped, blank metal interior and a roll cage. They also came with optional lights on the visors. The RS was regarded as somewhat challenging to drive, though as time has gone by, everyone seems to have warmed to it.
Replacing the 964, the 993 models were first seen in October 1993, with production starting a few weeks later. Its arrival marked the end of air-cooled 911 models. The 993 was much improved over, and quite different from its predecessor. According to Porsche, every part of the car was designed from the ground up, including the engine and only 20% of its parts were carried over from the previous generation. Porsche refers to the 993 as “a significant advance, not just from a technical, but also a visual perspective.” Porsche’s engineers devised a new light-alloy subframe with coil and wishbone suspension (an all new multi-link system), putting behind the previous lift-off oversteer and making significant progress with the engine and handling, creating a more civilised car overall providing an improved driving experience. The 993 was also the first 911 to receive a six speed transmission. The 993 had several variants, as its predecessors, varying in body style, engines, drivetrains and included equipment. Power was increased by the addition of the VarioRam system, which added additional power, particularly in the mid-ranges, and also resulted in more throttle noise at higher revs; as a consequence, resulted in a 15% increase in power over its predecessor. The external design of the Porsche 993, penned by English designer Tony Hatter, retained the basic body shell architecture of the 964 and other earlier 911 models, but with revised exterior panels, with much more flared wheel arches, a smoother front and rear bumper design, an enlarged retractable rear wing and teardrop mirrors. A major change was the implementation of all alloy multi-link rear suspension attached to an alloy sub frame, a completely new design derived from the 989, a four-door sedan which never went into production. The system later continued in the 993’s successor, the 996, and required the widening of the rear wheel arches, which gave better stability. The new suspension improved handling, making it more direct, more stable, and helping to reduce the tendency to oversteer if the throttle was lifted during hard cornering, a trait of earlier 911s. It also reduced interior noise and improved ride quality. The 993 was the first generation of the 911 to have a 6-speed manual transmission included as standard; its predecessors had 4 or 5-speed transmissions. In virtually every situation, it was possible to keep the engine at its best torque range above 4,500 rpm. The Carrera, Carrera S, Cabriolet and Targa models (rear wheel drive) were available with a “Tiptronic” 4-speed automatic transmission, first introduced in the 964. From the 1995 model year, Porsche offered the Tiptronic S with additional steering wheel mounted controls and refined software for smoother, quicker shifts. Since the 993’s introduction, the Tiptronic is capable of recognising climbs and descents. The Tiptronic equipped cars suffer as compared to the manual transmission equipped cars in both acceleration and also top speed, but the differences are not much notable. Tiptronic cars also suffered a 55 lb (25 kg) increase in weight. The 993’s optional all wheel drive system was refined over that of the 964. Porsche departed from the 964’s setup consisting of three differentials and revised the system based on the layout from its 959 flagship, replacing the centre differential with a viscous coupling unit. In conjunction with the 993’s redesigned suspension, this system improved handling characteristics in inclement weather and still retained the stability offered by all wheel drive without having to suffer as many compromises as the previous all-wheel-drive system. Its simpler layout also reduced weight, though the four wheel drive Carrera 4 weighs 111 lb (50 kg) more than its rear wheel drive counterpart (at 3,131 lb (1,420 kg) vs. 3,020 lb (1,370 kg)). Other improvements over the 964 include a new dual-flow exhaust system, larger brakes with drilled discs, and a revised power steering. A full range of models arrived before the arrival of the 996 generation in 1998.
During the 1990s, Porsche was facing financial troubles and rumours of a proposed takeover were being spread. The signature air-cooled flat-6 of the 911 was reaching the limits of its potential as made evident by the 993. Stricter emissions regulations world wide further forced Porsche to think of a replacement of the air-cooled unit. In order to improve manufacturing processes, Porsche took the aid of leading Japanese car manufacturer Toyota whose consultants would assist in the overhaul of the Zuffenhausen manufacturing facility introducing mass production techniques which would allow Porsche to carry out production processes more efficiently. Porsche had realised that in order to keep the 911 in production, it would need radical changes. This led to the development of the 996. The sharing of development between the new 911 and the entry level Boxster model allowed Porsche to save development costs. This move also resulted in interchangeable parts between the two models bringing down maintenance costs. The Porsche 996 was a new design developed by Pinky Lai under Porsche design chief Harm Lagaay from 1992 to 1994; it was the first 911 that was completely redesigned, and carried over little from its predecessor as Porsche wanted the design team to design a 911 for the next millennium. Featuring an all new body work, interior, and the first water-cooled engine, the 996 replaced the 993 from which only the front suspension, rear multi-link suspension, and a 6-speed manual transmission were retained in revised form. The 996 had a drag coefficient of Cd=0.30 resulting from hours spent in the wind tunnel. The 996 is 185 mm (7 in) longer and 40 mm (2 in) wider than its predecessor. It is also 45% stiffer courtesy of a chassis formed from high-strength steel. Additionally, it is 50 kg (110 lb) lighter despite having additional radiators and coolant. All of the M96 engines offered in the 996 (except for the variants fitted to the Turbo and GT2/GT3 models) are susceptible to the Porsche Intermediate Shaft Bearing issue which can potentially cause serious engine failure if not addressed via a retrofit. The 996 was initially available in a coupé or a cabriolet (Convertible) bodystyle with rear-wheel drive, and later with four-wheel drive, utilising a 3.4 litre flat-6 engine generating a maximum power output of 296 bhp. The 996 had the same front end as the entry-level Boxster. After requests from the Carrera owners about their premium cars looking like a “lower priced car that looked just like theirs did”, Porsche redesigned the headlamps of the Carrera in 2002 similar to the high performance Turbo’s headlamps. The design for the initial “fried egg” shaped headlamps could be traced back to the 1997 911 GT1 race car. In 2000, Porsche introduced the 996 Turbo, equipped with a four-wheel-drive system and a 3.6-litre, twin-turbocharged and intercooled flat-six engine generating a maximum power output of 420 bhp, making the car capable of accelerating from 0–60 mph in 4.2 seconds. An X50 option which included larger turbochargers and intercoolers along with revised engine control software became available from the factory in 2002, increasing power output to 451 bhp. In 2005, Porsche introduced the Turbo S, which had the X50 option included as standard equipment, with the formerly optional Carbon fibre-reinforced Silicon Carbide (C/SiC) composite ceramic brakes (PCCB) also included as standard. In 2000, power output on the base Carrera model was increased to 300 bhp. 2001 marked the final year of production for the base Carrera 4 Coupé in narrow body format. In 2002, the standard Carrera models underwent the above-mentioned facelift. In addition, engine capacity was also increased to 3.6-litres across the range, yielding gains of 15 bhp for the naturally aspirated models. 2002 also marked the start of the production of the 996 based Targa model, with a sliding glass “green house” roof system as introduced on its predecessor. It also features a rear glass hatch which gave the driver access to the storage compartment. Also in 2002, the Carrera 4S model was first introduced.
Subaru introduced the “New Age” Impreza, the second generation car, to Japan in August 2000, and it arrived in Europe towards the end of that year. Larger in size compared to the previous iteration, the sedan increased its width by 40 millimetres (1.6 in), while the wagon notably increased by just 5 millimetres (0.2 in)—placing the two variants in different Japanese classification categories. The coupe body style from the first generation did not reappear for the new series, and the off-road appearance package that included contrasting-coloured bumpers did carry over forward. Marketed as a separate model line, this North America-only variant was, as before, badged the Outback Sport. Naturally aspirated flat-four (boxer) engines comprised the 1.5-litre EJ15, the 1.6-litre EJ16, the 2.0-litre EJ20, and the 2.5-litre EJ25. Turbocharged versions of the 2.0- and 2.5-litre engines were offered in the WRX and WRX STI models. STI models featured a more powerful 2.0-litre (2.5-litre outside of the Japanese market) turbocharged engine. WRX models featured a 2.0-litre turbocharged boxer engine until 2005, after which they switched to the 2.5-litre turbocharged engine. As with the first generation, the turbocharged STI variants were available in numerous specifications with a myriad of limited edition variants sold. The bug-eyed styling was not well received, and Subaru had two further attempts at the front end, neither of which was entirely successful, either, but enthusiasts were happy to overlook the gawky looks because the way the car drove. Subaru issued yearly updates to the STI, tweaking cosmetics and equipment levels, and also improving performance and handling. The car was replaced in 2007 by the third generation Impreza, widely regarded as inferior in many ways to this version.
In order to boost the Sunbeam’s image, a “hot hatch” version of the Sunbeam was launched at the 1978 British International Motor Show and Paris Motor Show, called “Sunbeam Ti”. On sale in the UK from June 1979 priced at £3,779, it was based on the former Avenger Tiger (itself hailing back to the Sunbeam Tiger), a sporty version of the Avenger. The 1.6-litre (1,598cc) engine fitted to the Sunbeam with twin Weber carburettors delivered 100 bhp. It featured sporty two-tone paint and body kit, and was very sport-oriented, being stripped of equipment that would have compromised its performance (and image). It proved quite popular with reviewers and enthusiasts, and helped to emphasize the advantages of the Sunbeam’s rear-wheel drive against more trendy (and spacious) front-wheel drive rivals. It is quite a rarity now, as the majority of surviving Sunbeams are the more potent Lotus models.
There was a particularly strong showing from the Celica Owners Club, with a large number of cars from four of the seven generations that were offered over a 30 period. Displayed at the October 1970 Tokyo Motor Show and marketed from December of the same year, the Celica was a two-door hardtop coupe that emphasised styling and driving enjoyment based on a platform shared with the Toyota Carina sedan which is one size above the Toyota Corolla. This car was aimed at the North American market and was Toyota’s response to the 1964 Ford Mustang (Pony car) which also was a standard sedan (Ford Falcon) with stylised 2+2 bodywork. In Europe, where it arrived in 1971, it was aimed at the successful Ford Capri. For export markets the Celica was available in three different levels of trim; LT, ST, GT, all with the same 1.6 litre 4 cylinder engine, though the LT had a single carburettor and the ST and GT had twin carbs. At its introduction the Celica was only available as a pillarless hardtop notchback coupe, adopting “coke bottle styling”. The prototype SV-1 liftback was shown as a concept car at the 1971 Tokyo Motor Show & with slight modifications this was introduced in Japan in April 1973 and this arrived in Europe in 1974. Minor styling changes were made during the car’s life before it was replaced by a second generation car in late 1977.
This is from the fourth generation of the Celica. In August 1985 the Celica was changed completely. It was an all-new vehicle with front wheel drive, a rounded, flowing body and new 2.0 litre four-cylinder engines, which arrived in Europe around the turn of 1985/86. The Celica was no longer built on the Toyota A platform, and instead realigned with the Toyota T platform underpinning the Toyota Corona. The Toyota A platform was now exclusive to the Toyota Supra. The coupe bodystyle in Japan was used only for the Corona coupe, sold only at Japanese Toyota dealerships Toyopet Store without the retractable headlights. An optional feature only offered on the Corona coupe was four-wheel steering, not shared with the Celica during this generation, however, the turbocharged engine on the Celica was not installed in the Corona coupe. Toyota introduced the “ultimate Celica”, the GT-Four (ST165) onto the Japanese market in October 1986. With full-time all-wheel drive, including an electronically controlled central locking differential, and a turbocharged version of the GT-S 2.0 L engine producing 190 hp (3S-GTE), it immediately took its place as the flagship of the Celica range and became the official Toyota rally car for all years of production. The GT-Four, with a revised viscous coupling central locking differential, began export in 1987 (1988 US model year) and marketed in North America as the All-trac Turbo. It was rated at 190 bhp and 190 lb/ft (258 Nm). The All-trac system was also offered for a limited time on the Camry, and Corolla in North America without the turbo, as well as the normally aspirated and supercharged Previa. The ST165 chassis design was quite acclaimed in its time. Toyota chose not to make any drastic suspension changes for the AWD GT-Four. The front suspension comprises MacPherson struts with an anti-swaybar and strut tower brace, while the rear employs struts with a trailing link and twin lateral links per side plus an anti-rollbar. The ST165 GT-Four made its World Rally debut in the 1988 Tour de Corse and finished 6th. The first victory came in 1988 Cyprus (non-WRC), and the first WRC victory in 1989 Rally Australia. The next generation model arrived in 1989.
These are from the fifth generation of the Celica, which was introduced in September 1989. The Celica received new Super Round organic styling, upgraded wheels and tyres, more powerful GT-Four (All-Trac Turbo in the US) with better cooling system, and for the Japanese market only, the four-wheel steering (4WS) models. Toyota engineers claimed that the round styling and lack of straight edges increased strength without adding weight. The styling was later copied by other manufacturers. Japanese market models were now S-R, Z-R, GT-R, Active Sports (first Toyota with Toyota Active Control Suspension), and GT-Four. The S-R and Z-R were powered by a 3S-FE engine, while the GT-R and Active Sports came with a 3S-GE. The 3S-GTE in the GT-Four features an air-to-air intercooler and CT26 twin entry turbo to eliminate exhaust gas interference. The Japanese market GT-Four has (221 bhp and 304 Nm (224 lb/ft) of torque, a result of more aggressive ignition advance and ceramic turbine. The Full-time 4WD system in the GT-Four has viscous coupling limited slip centre differential and Torsen rear differential. Trim levels for the European Celica were 1.6 ST-i, 2.0 GT-i 16, and GT-Four. The 2.0 GT-i 16 cabriolet was offered only in certain European countries. Only the 2.0 GT-i 16 liftback and GT-Four were officially sold in the UK. The model was superceded by a sixth generation car in 1993.
This is an example of the sixth, and penultimate generation Celica. Launched in October 1993, the styling of this version was quite different from the car it replaced. Initially it was offered in notchback coupe or liftback form, with a convertible coming later, though the 2 door Coupe was not sold in the UK. ST and GT trims were offered, with the former using a new 1.8 litre 4 cylinder engine and the latter using the larger 2.2 litre that had been in its predecessor. There was also a GT-Four version, the most powerful Celica to date, which produced 239 hp in export versions from an updated 3S-GTE engine. Influenced strongly by Toyota Team Europe, Toyota’s factory team in the World Rally Championship, the final version of the GT-Four included improvements such as an all-aluminium bonnet to save weight, four-channel ABS (with G-force sensor), an improved turbocharger (incorrectly known by enthusiasts as the CT20B), and Super Strut Suspension. The 2500 homologation cars built to allow Toyota to enter the GT-Four as a Group A car in the World Rally Championship also sported extras such as all of the plumbing required to activate an anti-lag system, a water spray bar for the Intercooler’s front heat exchanger, a water injection system for detonation protection, a hood spoiler mounted in front of the windscreen to stop hood flex at high speed and the standard rear spoiler mounted on riser blocks. The car proved to be quite competitive in the 1995 World Championship. However, the team was banned from competition for a year after the car’s single victory due to turbocharger fixing – a device that meant there was no air path restriction on the intake – when the jubilee clip was undone this would flick back into place so as to go un-noticed by inspectors. Toyota has always claimed that they knew nothing of the fix – but opponents say it was one very cleverly engineered device. In some respects this car was a true sports car; in order to qualify for rallying it has a lot of special features and a unique strut arrangement. A minor facelift was applied for 1996, with new bumpers, a smaller air dam and revised rear spoiler. This version of the Celica was replaced in 1999 by the last car to bear the name.
In July 1999, Toyota began production of the seventh-generation Celica, with European sales beginning late that year. It closely resembled the XYR concept with the exception of the front bumper and rear spoiler, while omitting the previously available coupe body style. The 2000 model year Celica was an element of Toyota Project Genesis, an effort to bring younger buyers to the marque in the United States. Toyota took time to lighten the car and lower cost wherever possible. Power window and door lock controls were placed in the center console so only 1 set was necessary for both doors. Initial sunroofs were made of polymer plastic instead of the traditional glass. This generation was assembled by Kanto Auto Works at its Higashi-Fuji plant in Susono, Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan. The Celica came in only one Liftback body style with the choice of two different engines. The ZZT230 was powered by a relatively economical 1.8 L 4-cylinder 140 hp 1ZZ-FE engine and the ZZT231 powered by a higher-performance 1.8 L 4-cylinder 192 hp (in Europe and Japan) 2ZZ-GE version, co-developed with Yamaha, the latter featuring a two-step variable valve lift control in conjunction with its variable valve timing. In 2004, CNNMoney.com rated the Celica as one of the best cars to purchase for fuel economy. Exporting of the Celica ceased in July 2005. However, until mid-May, customers could still order one, although it was advised they took action before that time ended. The last Celica was rolled off production line on 21 April 2006, after 36 years and seven generations. In its last year, the Celica was only officially sold in Japan. There has been no direct successor to the Celica, however, the Scion tC (exclusive to North America) is seen by some people as the spiritual successor to the Celica.
This Supra, the fourth generation of the model, known as the A80. Design work began in February 1989 under various teams for design, product planning, and engineering. By the middle of 1990, a final A80 design concept from Toyota Technical Centre Aichi was approved and frozen for production in late 1990. The first test mules were hand-built in A70 bodies during late 1990, followed by the first A80 prototypes being hand-assembled in 1991. Again using subframe, suspension, and drivetrain assemblies from the Z30 Soarer (Lexus SC300/400), test model pre-production started in December 1992 with 20 models, and official mass production began in April 1993. This redesign saw Toyota placing great emphasis on a more serious high-performance car. The new Supra was completely redesigned, with rounded body styling and featured two new engines: a naturally aspirated Toyota 2JZ-GE producing 220 hp at 5800 rpm and 210 lb·ft at 4800 rpm of torque and a twin turbocharged Toyota 2JZ-GTE making 276 hp and 318 lb·ft of torque for the Japanese version. The styling, while modern, does seem to borrow some elements from Toyota’s first grand touring sports car, the Toyota 2000GT. For the export model (America/Europe) Toyota upgraded the Supra turbo’s engine which increased the power output to 320 hp at 5600 rpm and 315 lb·ft at 4000 rpm. The turbocharged variant could achieve 0–60 mph in as low as 4.6 seconds and 1/4-mile in 13.1 seconds at 109 mph. The turbo version was tested to reach over 285 km/h (177 mph), but the cars were restricted to just 180 km/h (112 mph) in Japan and 250 km/h (155 mph) elsewhere. The twin turbos operated in sequential mode, not parallel. Initially, all of the exhaust is routed to the first turbine for reduced lag. This resulted in boost and enhanced torque as early as 1800 rpm, where it already produced 300 lb·ft (410 N·m) of torque. At 3500 rpm, some of the exhaust is routed to the second turbine for a “pre-boost” mode, although none of the compressor output is used by the engine at this point. At 4000 rpm, the second turbo’s output is used to augment the first turbo’s output. Compared to the parallel mode, sequential mode turbos provide quicker low RPM response and increased high RPM boost. This high RPM boost was also aided with technology originally present in the 7M-GE in the form of the Acoustic Control Induction System (ACIS) which is a way of managing the air compression pulses within the intake piping as to increase power. For this generation, the Supra received a new 6-speed Getrag/Toyota V160 gearbox on the turbo models while the naturally aspirated models made do with a 5-speed manual W58, revised from the previous version. Each model was offered with a 4-speed automatic with manual shifting mode. All vehicles were equipped with 5-spoke aluminium alloy wheels, the naturally aspirated model had 16″ rims and the turbo models were 17″. The difference in wheel size was to accommodate the larger brakes equipped as standard onto the turbo model, but in Japan were optional extras. Both models had a space saver spare tire on a steel rim to save both space and weight. Toyota took measures to reduce the weight of this new model. Aluminium was used for the hood, targa top (when fitted), front crossmember, oil and transmission pans, and the suspension upper A-arms. Other measures included hollow carpet fibres, magnesium-alloy steering wheel, plastic gas tank and lid, gas injected rear spoiler, and a single pipe exhaust. Despite having more features such as dual airbags, traction control, larger brakes, wheels, tyres, and an additional turbo, the car was at least 200 lb lighter than its predecessor. The base model with a manual transmission had a curb weight of 3,210 lb (1,460 kg). The Sport Roof added 40 lb while the automatic transmission added 55 lb. It had a 51:49 (front:rear) weight distribution. The turbo model weighed 3,450 lb (1,560 kg) for the manual, automatic added another 10 lb (4.5 kg). Weight distribution was 53% front/47% rear. The Supra was heavier than the spartan Mazda RX-7 and all aluminium bodied Acura/Honda NSX, but it was lighter than the Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4. The Supra soon became something of a legend, establishing itself as an effective platform for drifting in Japan, and for roadracing, with several top 20 and top 10 One Lap of America finishes in the SSGT1 class. Despite its curb weight, in 1994 the A80 managed remarkable skidpad ratings of 0.95 lateral g’s (200 ft) and 0.98 lateral g’s (300 ft), and the car has proved popular even as it ages in the UK, with several “grey market” cars having been brought here over the years.
Also here were a couple of examples of the Yaris GR. The black one belongs to my friend Dan Duke. He lives locally but had never had the chance to take to the hill in anything faster than a convoy or parade, but such was his enthusiasm for the opportunity that he said he had been studying the available footage of the hill and trying to learn the optimum line so he could really have a serious go when his turns came, Needless to say. he loved it.
The TVR M Series cars were built between 1972 and 1979, replacing the Vixen and Tuscan models. The styling showed a clear resemblance to the models that the M replaced, with the centre section of the car being carried forward and conceptually, the cars were little different, with a front mid-engine, rear-wheel drive layout and body-on-frame construction. The bodies themselves were built from glass-reinforced plastic (GRP). The engines were bought in, sourced from Triumph and Ford, which resulted in a number of different models being made. These included the 1600M, 2500M, 3000M, 3000S, and Taimar, as well as turbocharged versions of the 3000M, 3000S, and Taimar. The first model to start production was the 2500M in March 1972, after being built as a prototype in 1971, which had the 2500cc engine from the Triumph 2.5PI and TR6 under the bonnet. Ford engined 1600M and 3000M models followed later. The American market was financially very important to TVR, and Gerry Sagerman oversaw import and distribution of the cars within the United States from his facility on Long Island. Approximately thirty dealers sold TVRs in the eastern part of the country. John Wadman handled distribution of the cars in Canada through his business, JAG Auto Enterprises.. A small number of 5.0 litre Ford V8-powered cars were finished or converted by the TVR North America importer; these were sold as the 5000M. A total of 2,465 M Series cars were built over the nine years of production. Because of the hand-built and low-volume nature of TVR production, there are many small and often-undocumented variations between cars of the same model that arise due to component availability and minor changes in the build process. The M Series was regarded by contemporary reviewers as being loud and fast and having excellent roadholding. This came at the expense of unusual ergonomics, and heating and ventilation systems that were sometimes problematic. The first major alteration to the M Series body was the hatchback Taimar, introduced at the October 1976 British International Motor Show and using the same mechanicals as the 3000M. The name was inspired by the name of Martin’s friend’s girlfriend, Tayma. The opening hatchback alleviated the previous difficulty of manoeuvering luggage over the seats to stow it in the cargo area, and the hatch itself was opened electrically via a solenoid-actuated latch triggered by a button on the driver’s doorjamb. Over its three-year production, a total of 395 normally aspirated Taimars were built. The final body style for the M Series, an open roadster, arrived in 1978 as the TVR 3000S (marketed in some places as the “Convertible”, and referred to at least once as the “Taimar Roadster”.) Like the Taimar, the 3000S was mechanically identical to the 3000M; the body, however, had undergone significant changes. Only the nose of the car was the same as the previous coupes, as the windscreen, doors, and rear end had all been reworked. The redesign of the doors precluded the possibility of using wind-up windows, so sliding sidecurtains were instead fitted. These could be removed entirely and stowed in the boot, which, for the first time on a TVR, was a separate compartment with its own lid. The boot lid was operated electrically in a manner similar to the Taimar’s hatch. Its design was not finalised by the time the first cars entered production, so the first several cars (including the prototype) were built with no cutout for boot access. The final styling tweaks and the production of moulds for the fibreglass were done by Topolec Ltd. of Norfolk. The styling of the 3000S was revived in a somewhat modernised form later, with the 1987 introduction of the TVR S Series (although the S Series shared almost no components with the M Series cars.) The windscreen and convertible top had been adapted from those used on the Jensen-Healey roadster. Because Jensen Motors had ceased operation in 1976, the windscreen and sidecurtain designs were done by a company named Jensen Special Products, which was run by former Jensen employees. The design for the convertible top was finalised by Car Hood Company in Coventry. One of the minor undocumented variations found on M Series cars is the presence of a map light built into the upper windscreen surround of the 3000S. It appears to have been included only on a very small number of cars built near the end of the production run. When production of the 3000S ended (with 258 cars built), it cost £8,730. Reportedly, 67 of these cars were in a left-hand drive configuration, and 49 were exported to North America.
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 in 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 Chimaera was originally intended to replace the Griffith but sufficient demand for both of the models led TVR continuing them. In 1994, TVR introduced the Chimaera 500, a high performance derivative of the Chimaera. The BorgWarner T5 manual transmission replaced the Rover LT77 unit on the rest of the range. A new alternator, power steering and a single Vee belt were fitted to improve reliability. The 4.3 litre engine option was replaced by the 4.0 litre High Compression option. The Chimaera was mildly updated in 1996. Updates included a rear bumper shared with the Cerbera, push button doors with the buttons located under the wing mirrors, a boot lid shared with the Cerbera and the replacement of the front mesh grille with a horizontal bar. The GKN differential was also replaced by a BTR unit. A 4.5 litre model was added to the lineup in 1997. It was originally intended to be fitted with the AJP8 V8 engine but due to the engine not being ready on time, a bored version of the Rover V8 was used instead. In 1998, the rear light styling and the number plate mounting angle was updated while the base 4.0 litre model was discontinued. In 2001, the Chimaera was again facelifted and now featured the Griffith’s headlights as well as seats from the Cerbera. The Chimaera was succeeded by the Tamora in 2002.
The TVR Tuscan Challenge is a one-make series dedicated to the second incarnation of the TVR Tuscan sports car (Initially developed as a road car and then built for the race series), and takes place throughout the United Kingdom. Inaugurated in 1989, its high power-to-weight ratio, capability of reaching 190 mph (310 km/h) and loud engine noise, combined with close racing in a field consisting of over 30 cars at its peak, made the series become, at the time, the premier one-make series in the UK with an extensive TV coverage; over the years, many drivers who competed in the series moved on in major championship series and many notable drivers have guest driven in a race. The company underwent management changes in 2005, and the TVR Tuscan Challenge was merged with its owner club’s series, which has been reformatted to allow for all TVR models. With the success of the S Series, TVR began development of the ES’, an S series sports car with a 4.4-litre Rover V8 engine. The car was unveiled in prototype form at the 1988 British Motorshow with plans for it to be developed for road use, but in order to attract public interests and stimulate sales, TVR resurrected the Tuscan name and at the same time instigated the one-make TVR Tuscan Challenge series. In order to attract more customers, TVR offered the first batch at a discount of £16,000 plus VAT for entrants with a condition that they commit themselves to compete at least six of the twelve races in the championship. Should that fail, the purchaser would agree to pay the discounted amount at the end of the season. With the instant success of the series in its first year in 1989, plans for a road car were cancelled as TVR was busy with the ‘S’ and the older wedge models as well as with the design and development work for the forthcoming Griffith and Chimaera models. The road car never went beyond the motor show prototype stage, and the Tuscans continued to be produced in small volumes as racing cars. The S based chassis had to be developed to cope with the large power output of the tuned Rover V8 engine; by the end of its development, it ended up being a completely new chassis with a wider track, increased wheelbase and much strengthening. From the debut race in 1989, Tuscan Challenge racers were powered by a TVR Power developed 4.5 litre variant of the Rover V8 with a power output of over 400 hp. This was transmitted through a Borg Warner T5 gearbox to its nine-inch (229 mm) wide sixteen-inch O.Z. split-rim wheels with Dunlop cross-ply racing tyres. In the early 1990, as the aging Rover V8 was getting beyond its development limits and Rover’s takeover by BMW, plus the then company owner Peter Wheeler’s rumoured refusal of having German engines in his cars, Wheeler commissioned engine designer Al Melling to develop the new AJPV8 engine, rated at a higher power output level than its Rover counterpart. With the new V8 engine, the car was capable accelerating to 97 km/h in over 3 seconds and 0-124 km/h in 6.9 seconds. The cars boasted of 536 hp per tonne with a claimed top speed in excess of 306 km/h (190 mph) All engines were factory supplied sealed units to ensure a levelled playing field. Dealers were usually encouraged to enter the series with company management including owner Peter Wheeler and managing director, Ben Samuelson also competing in the series. Wheeler used his expertise to develop the Speed 12. Many drivers who are now competing in the Le Mans Series, FIA GT Championship and 24 Hours of Le Mans, such as Jamie Campbell-Walter, Bobby Verdon-Roe, Martin Short and Michael Caine, developed their skills in the series. Nigel Mansell was to compete for a one off race at Donington Park in 1993 but was unable to after he was hospitalised following a BTCC incident. Other infamous drivers who have guest driven in the series throughout its history include Colin McRae, Andy Wallace, Tim Harvey, Anthony Reid, Tiff Needell and John Cleland. Carlube sponsored the series between 2002 and 2004. The series was now renamed Dunlop TVR Challenge. At the end of 2003, a version of the T350 known as the Sagaris was introduced with an intention to run alongside the racing Tuscan and to eventually replace them. But when Peter Wheeler sold the company to Nikolay Smolensky, the new owner abruptly ended factory support before the 2005 season had begun. TVR’s Motorsport Director acquired the rights and kept the series going but on a much smaller basis; by then, TVR had sold off all its racer cars. With waning entries, many of these cars had either been converted to road use or ended up in track days, the series would continue under a new format as it merged with the Toolsnstuff.co.uk/SIP TVRCC Challenge Cup, a smaller series that consists of a wide range of TVR models, meaning that the grid now featured a more diverse range of TVR models in one race and the series split into three categories. In 2006, the series acquired a new sponsor, Dunlop Tyres, which meant it provides the tyres, giving a leeway for drivers to decide if they want to compete on slicks, road or track tyres and not just restricted to TVR’s; the series now had an Invitation Class for any make of sports car providing that it complies with the MSA regulations for the original championship it was built to race in. Many of the race cars have found their way competing outside the series, and some of them have been converted into a Sagaris clone as they share similar parts and are the same dimensions. Driver Michel Mora used a Tuscan Challenge in the FFSA GT Championship from 1999 to 2001, before being joined by a second car from Massimo Cairati, developed by Fisconsult managed from Avv. Vito Gianfranco Truglia in order to promote the brand for road car sales on the Italian market. Cairati also ran Avv. Truglia’s car in select rounds of the Italian GT Championship that year, winning both manches in Mugello race and finishing ninth in the overall drivers championship and second in his class. Due to the Tuscan Challenge’s participation in national grand tourer series in the 1990s, the cars were made eligible for the GT90s Revival Series, a historic racing series. Two Tuscan Challenges raced at the series’ first round at Silverstone. The Tuscan was originally intended as a road car, and two road cars were produced with sales brochures printed. However, with the development of the Griffith and the success of the race series, plans to put the road car into production ceased. Despite this there was still a demand for road going Tuscan race cars and a number of owners have converted race cars for road use. Conversions includes installation of a speedometer (as racing cars do not have them), changes to the lighting system, having the chassis powder-coated, relocating the fuel tank from the original driver’s side to the rear of the car to allow for a passenger seat and conversions to protect the fuel cell in an event of an accident. Also installation of traction control is considered to be an option. However obtaining the car plus the prohibitive cost of conversion at £10,000 and the complication of the task makes finding such a model on a public road a rare find. Many of the converted Tuscans which house the AJP8 engines have engines that are commonly sourced from accident damaged Cerberas as race engines are leased by the factories, though the Rover V8s of the earlier cars can be easily sourced.
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.
This may look like a third generation Corsa, and indeed the outside is pretty standard apart from some changes at the front to allow for more cooling, but underneath it is anything but! A tuned 2 litre Vauxhall engine endows the car with around 300 bhp and because it is light, it is extremely rapid. It is also exceedingly loud!
In September 2005, the Mk5 Golf R32 went on sale in Europe. United Kingdom sales began in November that year. It features an updated 3.2-litre VR6 engine of that fitted to the previous Mk4 version, with an extra 10 PS due to a reworked inlet manifold. Maximum power is now 250 PS (247 bhp) at 6,300 rpm; torque is unchanged at 320 Nm (236 lb/ft). It reaches an electronically governed top speed of 250 km/h (155.3 mph). Going from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) will take 6.5 s, reduced to 6.2 s with the Direct-Shift Gearbox. Compared with the previous Mk4 R32, it is 0.1 seconds faster for the manual version, while the newer R32 is about 40 kg (88.2 lb) heavier. As with the previous R32; there is the Haldex Traction-based 4motion part-time four-wheel drive, now through 18″ Zolder 20-spoke alloy wheels. Stopping the R32 comes in the form of blue-painted brake calipers with 345 mm (13.58 in) discs at the front and 310 mm (12.20 in) disks at the rear. The car would be replaced by the sixth generation Golf R.
Also here were a couple of examples of the popular Golf GTi, from the fifth and seventh generations.
Another Club with a strong presence was that for the Westfield.
This was a very pleasant event, with a diverse array of cars to see and a nice relaxed atmosphere to the day. It was an ideal chance to catch up with a few friends who had also decided to come along and to take to the hill. It was not hugely busy, though, which in a way was good, as it meant that those who had paid for the runs up the hill did not have to wait too long before getting their chance to tackle the challenges of the ascent. The majority of the cars present did indeed take to the hill, so for these people, the event has to be deemed a success, but because this was a relatively small number compared to the capacity of the site, it will have limited the financial contribution of the day to the Prescott coffers. Even so, conversations afterwards with the GM and the Chair suggested that they thought it had achieved what they were hoping for and certainly been a hit with the clubs who participated, so there is a plan to repeat the event in the 2023. Look out for it in the schedule when that gets announced.