Yes, yet another visit to the legendary location that is Caffeine & Machine. Once again, I had been up in the Coventry area for non car related reasons on a Friday night and stayed over, but then had a clear diary before a Sunday event near home, so it seemed like an opportunity not to miss to stop off at this popular venue for a few hours en route home. With autumn now well upon us, the parking is now confined to those areas of hard-standing which reduces the capacity a bit, but equally, demand for places even at the weekend tends be less as people are less eager to spend time outdoors and some of their beloved classics are tucked away on a SORN for the winter. That said, I have seen cars that are special or rare here in the winter months just as you do in the summer. There was no difficulty in getting a ticket for the Saturday morning slot, even with a dry day in forecast, so I booked up and duly arrived not long after the start of the morning session. I stayed all morning, and here is what caught my eye during that time:
Having used the legendary 695 badging from the 1960s on the Tributo cars, at the 2012 Geneva Show, Abarth dusted off the 595 name that had been used on the less powerful of the Nuova 500 based cars of the same generation, and created two new versions which we should think of as Series 2 cars, the 595 Turismo and Competizione, both of which could be bought in either closed or open top C guise, with either the 5 speed manual or robotised automated gearshifts. Both models had the 160 bhp engine as standard. Effectively they were a replacement for the Esseesse kit, and it meant that the cars were produced complete at the factory, rather than needing the dealer to undertake the upgrade (and the associated paperwork), though Abarth did not withdraw the Esseesse kits from the market for some while. Turismo, as the name suggests was aimed slightly less extreme in intent, featuring standard leather upholstery, upgraded dampers and climate control, Xenon headlights and Alutex interior details. The sportier Abarth 595 Competizione replaced the leather seats with Sabelt cloth sport seats and Alutex with aluminium, while adding p-cross-drilled brakes and the Record Monza dual-mode exhaust.
What is known as the Series 4 version of the familiar 595 reached the markets in the middle of 2016. After rumours had circulated all winter following the launch of the facelifted Fiat 500 last year, Abarth finally unveiled the Series 4 at the end of May 2016. Initially, we were told that the cars would not be available in the UK until September, but that came forward somewhat, with dealers all receiving demo cars in June, and the first customers taking delivery in July. Three regular production versions of both the closed car and the open-topped C were initially available, all badged 595, and called Custom, Turismo and Competizione, as before, though numerous limited edition models have since appeared and in most case disappeared. The most significant changes with the Series 4 are visual, with a couple of new colours, including the much asked for Modena Yellow and a different red, called Abarth Red, which replaces both the non-metallic Officina and – slightly surprisingly – the tri-coat pearlescent Cordolo Red. as well as styling changes front and rear. The jury is still out on these, with many, me included, remaining to be convinced. At the front, the new air intake does apparently allow around 15 – 20 % more air in and out, which will be welcome, as these cars do generate quite a lot of heat under the bonnet. Competizione models for the UK retain the old style headlights, as they have Xenon lights as standard, whereas the Custom and Turismo cars have reshaped units. At the back, there are new light clusters and a new rear bumper and diffuser. Inside, the most notable change is the replacement of the Blue & Me system with a more modern uConnect Audio set up, which brings a new colour screen to the dash. Mechanically, there is an additional 5 bhp on the Custom (now 145) and Turismo (now 165 bhp) and the option of a Limited Slip Diff for the Competizione, which is likely to prove a popular option. Details of the interior trim have changed, with a filled-in glovebox like the US market cars have always had, and electric windows switches that are like the US ones, as well as a part Alcantara trim to the steering wheel in Competizione cars.
The Alpina B5 and D5 (F10) (also called the B5/D5 Bi-Turbo) are a series of high performance executive cars manufactured by German automobile manufacturer Alpina from 2011 to 2016. Introduced at the 2010 Goodwood Festival of Speed, the car is the second generation of the B5 and succeeds the B5 (E60). Based on the BMW 5 Series (F10), the car was available in saloon and wagon bodystyles. The B5 is based on the 550i and uses a modified variant of its 4.4-litre twin-turbocharged N63 V8 engine. The modifications include large 44 mm (2 in) Honeywell turbochargers, reinforced cylinder heads, NGK spark plugs, high strength MAHLE pistons and an Alpina specific ECU. The maximum boost pressure of the turbochargers is increased to 14.5 psi. These modifications allow the engine to generate a power output of 507 PS (500 bhp) at 5,500 rpm and 700 Nm (516 lb/ft) of torque. The same engine is also shared with the B7 and the B6 convertible. The engine is mated to a modified 8-speed automatic transmission manufactured by ZF Friedrichshafen called the “Switch Tronic” gearbox by Alpina. The transmission has a manual shifting mode which allows the driver to change gears using two aluminium buttons on the back of the steering wheel. The engine and transmission in conjunction allow the B5 to achieve a fuel economy of 10.8 litres/100 km. The B5 came with a softer suspension system which has shorter springs and modified dampers along with suspension arms. The dampers are electronically adjustable and have four settings namely Normal, Comfort, Sport and Sport +. The car has 20-inch multi-spoke alloy wheels with Michelin Pilot Sport tyres having sizes of 255/35ZR20 at the front and 285/30ZR20 at the rear. The steering system of the 550i was also modified in order for smoother handling and elimination of under and oversteer. The exhaust system, shared with the B6, is a titanium unit from Akrapovic with quad-exhaust tips and electronically controlled bypass valves. The B5 has an aerodynamic kit that includes a carbon-fibre front spoiler with an integrated front splitter along with an integrated NACA brake cooling duct, a rear lip spoiler and an optional rear diffuser. The car has Lavalina leather interior upholstery and myrtle wood trim as standard. The interior has Alpina logos and emblems throughout along with illuminated door sills, a panoramic roof, Alpina gauges, BMW driver assistance including active blind spot detection and a sports steering wheel. Manufacturer estimated performance figures include a 0–100 km/h (0–62 mph) acceleration time of 4.7 seconds (4.8 seconds for the wagon) and a top speed of 307 km/h (191 mph) (303 km/h (188 mph) for the wagon). The B5 was updated in 2012 and was now based on the LCI 550i. The updated variant was unveiled at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show. The engine was modified and has a power output of 540 PS (533 bhp) between 5,200 and 6,250 rpm and 733 Nm (541 lb/ft) of torque at 2,800 rpm. A notable feature of the engine was the use of direct fuel injection which reduced gear shift timing to 180 milliseconds. Other components, such as the aero kit and the transmission were un-altered. The modifications to the engine allowed the B5 to accelerate to 100 km/h (62 mph) in of 4.5 seconds (4.6 seconds for the wagon) and a top speed of 319 km/h (198 mph) (315 km/h (196 mph) for the wagon). The B5 was updated again in 2016 and now shared the same enhancements as the B5 Edition 50 (described below) resulting to the same performance as the limited edition model. The D5 is the diesel powered variant of the B5. Based on the 535d, the D5 uses a modified variant of the 3.0-litre turbodiesel N57 straight-6 engine. The engine has a power output of 352 PS (347 bhp) and 700 Nm (516 lb/ft) of torque and has a red-line of 5,000 rpm. The aerodynamic kit, interior and transmission are shared with the B5. The D5 can accelerate to 100 km/h (62 mph) from a standstill in 5.1 seconds and can attain a top speed of 275 km/h (171 mph).
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
This is 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.
The Fiat 124 Spider (Type 348) is a front-engine, rear-drive, two-passenger roadster manufactured by Mazda for FCA, having debuted at the 2015 LA Auto Show for model year 2016. Largely based on the fourth generation Mazda MX-5 Miata roadster, and manufactured alongside the MX-5 at Mazda’s Hiroshima plant, the 124 shares its platform, mechanicals, interior and top mechanism with the MX-5 — it is distinguished by an FCA engineered and manufactured turbocharged Multiair engine, uniquely tuned shock absorbers, unique exterior styling and slightly increased length and cargo capacity over the MX-5. In May 2012, Mazda and Alfa Romeo — at the time a subsidiary of the Fiat Group, now Stellantis — announced a joint venture to manufacture a common rear wheel drive platform. The companies would “develop two differentiated, distinctly styled, iconic and brand specific, lightweight roadsters featuring rear wheel drive”, with the two variants offering proprietary engines unique to each brand. In December 2014, FCA’s Sergio Marchionne determined Alfa Romeos would be manufactured only in Italy, saying “some things belong to a place. Alfa belongs to Italy,” adding “I remain committed to that architecture, with our powertrain. I’m not sure it will be with Alfa. But it will be with one of our brands.” At the time, Alfa Romeos were manufactured only in Italy, while Fiats were manufactured in Italy, but also globally — from Tychy, Poland, to Toluca, Mexico. With their prior agreement in place — for FCA to market a roadster based on the MX-5 to be manufactured by Mazda at its Hiroshima factory — FCA conceived of marketing a Fiat badged variant in lieu of the Alfa Romeo variant. In August 2016, FCA formally announced the Fiat 124 Spider based on the Mazda ND platform. In December 2016, the Detroit News said “in partnering with Mazda’s MX-5 Miata to resurrect the classic Fiat 124 Spider, Fiat Chrysler not only gained a halo sports car for its struggling Italian brand, but likely saved the most celebrated small sports car of the past 25 years (the MX-5)” — citing the markedly increased cost of developing a new car at the time and “the costliest wave of government regulation since the 1970s.” The 124 Spider was powered by Fiat’s 1.4 litre MultiAir turbocharged inline-four, producing 140 PS (138 bhp) and 240 Nm (177 lb/ft) of torque in European specification—and 160 bhp and 184 lb/ft (249 Nm) of torque in North American specification. The 124 manual transmission is from the third generation MX-5’s six speed transmission to cope with the turbo’s torque. Multiair is a hydraulically actuated variable valve timing (VVT) engine technology enabling “cylinder by cylinder, stroke by stroke” control of intake air directly via a gasoline engine’s inlet valves. Developed by Fiat Powertrain Technologies, the technology bypasses a primary engine inefficiency: pumping losses caused by restriction of the intake passage by the throttle plate, used to regulate air feeding the cylinders. At the 124’s debut, Fiat marketed a 124 Spider Anniversary edition, with 124 units carrying the designation—to commemorate the 50th anniversary of original 124 Sport Spider. Including features of the 124 Spider Lusso Plus trim, the edition also includes chromed mirrors, red ‘124’ badge on the front grille, interior numbered plaque, red exterior and black leather interior. In January 2019, FCA announced the Fiat 124 Spider was to be withdrawn from the market in the United Kingdom with immediate effect. The Abarth 124 Spider continued to be sold, but this too was withdrawn from the UK market in April 2019. On December 23, 2020, Stellantis announced the 124 Spider and 500 were to be withdrawn from their North American model lineup after the 2020 model year and would not return for 2021, as is the situation with 500L. These models were expected to sell into 2021 until stock depletion.
The Mark I Ford Escort was introduced in the UK at the end of 1967, making its show debut at Brussels Motor Show in January 1968, replacing the successful, long-running Anglia. The car was presented in continental Europe as a product of Ford’s European operation. Escort production commenced at the Halewood plant in England during the closing months of 1967, and for left hand drive markets during September 1968 at the Ford plant in Genk. Initially the continental Escorts differed slightly from the UK built ones under the skin. The front suspension and steering gear were differently configured and the brakes were fitted with dual hydraulic circuits; also the wheels fitted on the Genk-built Escorts had wider rims. At the beginning of 1970, continental European production transferred to a new plant on the edge of Saarlouis, West Germany. The Escort was a commercial success in several parts of western Europe, but nowhere more than in the UK, where the national best seller of the 1960s, BMC’s Austin/Morris 1100 was beginning to show its age while Ford’s own Cortina had grown, both in dimensions and in price, beyond the market niche at which it had originally been pitched. In June 1974, six years into the car’s UK introduction, Ford announced the completion of the two millionth Ford Escort, a milestone hitherto unmatched by any Ford model outside the US. It was also stated that 60% of the two million Escorts had been built in Britain. In West Germany cars were built at a slower rate of around 150,000 cars per year, slumping to 78,604 in 1974 which was the last year for the Escort Mark I. Many of the German built Escorts were exported, notably to Benelux and Italy; from the West German domestic market perspective the car was cramped and uncomfortable when compared with the well-established and comparably priced Opel Kadett, and it was technically primitive when set against the successful imported Fiat 128 and Renault 12. Subsequent generations of the Escort made up some of the ground foregone by the original model, but in Europe’s largest auto-market the Escort sales volumes always came in well behind those of the General Motors Kadett and its Astra successor. The Escort had conventional rear-wheel drive and a four-speed manual gearbox, or three-speed automatic transmission. The suspension consisted of MacPherson strut front suspension and a simple live axle mounted on leaf springs. The Escort was the first small Ford to use rack-and-pinion steering. The Mark I featured contemporary styling cues in tune with its time: a subtle Detroit-inspired “Coke bottle” waistline and the “dogbone” shaped front grille – arguably the car’s main stylistic feature. Similar Coke bottle styling featured in the larger Cortina Mark III (also built in West Germany as the Taunus) launched in 1970. Initially, the Escort was sold as a two-door saloon (with circular front headlights and rubber flooring on the “De Luxe” model). The “Super” model featured rectangular headlights, carpets, a cigar lighter and a water temperature gauge. A two-door estate was introduced at the end of March 1968 which, with the back seat folded down, provided a 40% increase in maximum load space over the old Anglia 105E estate, according to the manufacturer. The estate featured the same engine options as the saloon, but it also included a larger, 7 1⁄2-inch-diameter clutch, stiffer rear springs and in most configurations slightly larger brake drums or discs than the saloon. A panel van appeared in April 1968 and the 4-door saloon (a bodystyle the Anglia was never available in for UK market) in 1969. Underneath the bonnet was the Kent Crossflow engine in 1.1 and 1.3 litre versions. A 940 cc engine was also available in some export markets such as Italy and France. This tiny engine remained popular in Italy, where it was carried over for the Escort Mark II, but in France it was discontinued during 1972. There was a 1300GT performance version, with a tuned 1.3 L Crossflow (OHV) engine with a Weber carburettor and uprated suspension. This version featured additional instrumentation with a tachometer, battery charge indicator, and oil pressure gauge. The same tuned 1.3 L engine was also used in a variation sold as the Escort Sport, that used the flared front wings from the AVO range of cars, but featured trim from the more basic models. Later, an “executive” version of the Escort was produced known as the “1300E”. This featured the same 13″ road wheels and flared wings of the Sport, but was trimmed in an upmarket, for that time, fashion with wood trim on the dashboard and door cappings. A higher performance version for rallies and racing was available, the Escort Twin Cam, built for Group 2 international rallying. It had an engine with a Lotus-made eight-valve twin camshaft head fitted to the 1.5 L non-crossflow block, which had a bigger bore than usual to give a capacity of 1,557 cc. This engine had originally been developed for the Lotus Elan. Production of the Twin Cam, which was originally produced at Halewood, was phased out as the Cosworth-engined RS1600 (RS denoting Rallye Sport) production began. The most famous edition of the Twin Cam was raced on behalf of Ford by Alan Mann Racing in the British Saloon Car Championship in 1968 and 1969, sporting a full Formula 2 Ford FVC 16-valve engine producing over 200 hp. The Escort, driven by Australian driver Frank Gardner went on to comfortably win the 1968 championship. The Mark I Escorts became successful as a rally car, and they eventually went on to become one of the most successful rally cars of all time. The Ford works team was practically unbeatable in the late 1960s / early 1970s, and arguably the Escort’s greatest victory was in the 1970 London to Mexico World Cup Rally, co-driven by Finnish legend Hannu Mikkola and Swedish co-driver Gunnar Palm. This gave rise to the Escort Mexico (1598cc “crossflow”-engined) special edition road versions in honour of the rally car. Introduced in November 1970, 10,352 Mexico Mark I’s were built. In addition to the Mexico, the RS1600 was developed with 1,601 cc Cosworth BDA which used a Crossflow block with a 16-valve Cosworth cylinder head, named for “Belt Drive A Series”. Both the Mexico and RS1600 were built at Ford’s Advanced Vehicle Operations (AVO) facility located at the Aveley Plant in South Essex. As well as higher performance engines and sports suspension, these models featured strengthened bodyshells utilising seam welding in places of spot welding, making them more suitable for competition. After updating the factory team cars with a larger 1701 cc Cosworth BDB engine in 1972 and then with fuel injected BDC, Ford also produced an RS2000 model as an alternative to the somewhat temperamental RS1600, featuring a 2.0 litre Pinto (OHC) engine. This also clocked up some rally and racing victories; and pre-empted the hot hatch market as a desirable but affordable performance road car. Like the Mexico and RS1600, this car was produced at the Aveley plant. Seen here was a Mexico.
Codenamed “Erika”, the third generation Escort was launched in September 1980. The car, Ford Europe’s second front-wheel drive model, was originally meant to be called the “Ford Erika”, but ended up retaining the Escort name. Some say this was due to British consumers’ reluctance to let go of the “Escort” badge (as the first two generations of Escort had been among Britain’s most popular cars, with the Mk II being Britain’s best selling car in 1976), and some say that the Germans were concerned with the song Erika, which was a famous battlemarch of the German armed forces during World War II. The North American Escort introduced at this time was a distantly related derivative. Sales in the United Kingdom increased, and by 1982 it had overtaken the ageing Cortina as the nation’s best-selling car, beginning an eight-year run as Britain’s best selling car. Unlike the Mark II, which had essentially been a reskin of the original 1968 platform, the Mark III was a completely new design, and was conceived as a hi-tech, high-efficiency vehicle which would compete with the Volkswagen Golf and Honda Civic – considered at the time the class benchmarks. The Mark III was therefore a major engineering and stylistic departure from the two previous models; the biggest changes being the adoption of front-wheel drive, the new hatchback body and the all-new CVH overhead camshaft engines. The suspension was fully independent all around, departing from the archaic leaf spring arrangement found on its predecessors and the bodyshell was on average, 75kg lighter than that of the Mk II, yet Ford claimed was stiffer than the outgoing car. Ford however, was conscious that loyal customers of the previous generation Escorts may be deterred by the Mk III’s advanced design, and hence the car was marketed in the United Kingdom with the strapline “Simple is Efficient”. It was Ford Europe’s second front-wheel drive model launch, the first being the smaller Fiesta in 1976. The car used Ford’s contemporary design language of the period with the black louvred radiator grille and straked rear lamp clusters, as well as introducing the aerodynamic “bustle-back” bootlid stump (trademarked by Ford as Aeroback) which would be further developed in the forthcoming Sierra and Scorpio; the stump was proven to reduce the car’s aerodynamic drag co-efficient significantly, which was a class-leading 0.38 at launch. New were the overhead camshaft CVH engines in 1.3 L and 1.6 L formats, with the older Ford Kent-based “Valencia” engine from the Fiesta powering the 1.1 L derivative, although there was a short-lived 1.1 version of the CVH engine sold in certain markets before it was discontinued in 1982. The Escort Mark III was voted European Car of the Year in 1981, fighting off stiff competition from Italy’s Fiat Panda and British Leyland’s Austin Metro. From launch, the car was available in base (Popular), L, GL, Ghia and XR3 trim. As was common for Ford during this period, there were different dashboard mouldings for “high” and “low” series trim levels. GL and above models had a slush-moulded dashboard with ‘soft feel’ covering, and faux chrome embellishment. Base and L specification models had a ‘hard feel’ injection moulded dashboard with fewer holes for switches – the base dashboard was a sub-variation of this which omitted the centre air vents, glovebox, side demister vents and speaker grille and only a two-position blower fan switch. These lead-in models were extremely basic even for their time; in addition to the aforementioned dashboard, they came with just partial door cards with no armrests, vinyl seats (cloth was an optional extra), and no rear parcel tray or push button tailgate release. Consequently, these models sold very poorly and most buyers opted for at least the L specification. From mid-1982, a five-speed manual gearbox was introduced across the range. This was now standard on the 1.6 L versions and could be specified as an option on most 1.3 L engines. A selection of features was available, either as standard fitment or optional extras depending on model, including a tilt-and-slide sunroof, central locking, and electric windows. All models except for base and L were fitted with a check-light system for low fuel, low oil, low coolant, low screenwash, and worn out brake pads. Power steering was not available on European Escorts although it was available on the US Escort. The 1983 model year saw the Ford ATX three-speed automatic transmission (developed primarily for the US version) becoming available on the 1.6 L engine, and the base models now had cloth seat trim as standard. The Escort estate was initially only available with three doors, but a five-door version was introduced in 1983. In that year, a saloon version of the Escort, the Orion, was launched. It used the same mechanicals as the hatchback, but had a more upmarket image and was not available with the smaller 1.1 L engine. It was also directed at buyers of the earlier Cortina, which had ceased production in 1982, with its Sierra successor not available as a saloon at the time. However, the car attracted criticism from the motoring press at launch due to its suspension, with positive camber on the front wheels and negative camber at the rear, giving rise to the Mark III’s infamous “knock-kneed” stance. The Mark III soon had a reputation for a harsh, unforgiving ride. In September 1983 the revised suspension mounts from the Escort-based Orion and the larger Sierra steering rack were introduced as running changes for the 1984 model year which also coincided with other minor upgrades across the range, which included revised trim and steering wheels, new style badging and improved sound systems across the range, whilst the austere base models were finally given the “L” specification dashboard and improved seat trim. Another engine, introduced in August 1983, was the diesel engine. Developed in Dagenham, it was remarkably economical for its time, and still is to this day, managing over 70 mpg. It was available on the L and GL models. However, the performance was worse than the 1.1 L petrol version, with only 54 bhp and a top speed of barely 90 mph (140 km/h) – which prompted Ford to eventually enlarge the engine to 1.8 L some years later in the facelifted Escort. The Mk III model (1980–1986), was the most common type of car on British roads in December 1989, with almost 1,500,000 examples registered. A convertible version, made by coachbuilder Karmann, appeared the same year as the five-door estate (1983). It was the first drop-top car produced by Ford Europe since the Corsair of the 1960s. The Escort Cabriolet was initially available in both XR3i and Ghia specification, but the Ghia variant was later dropped.
A sporting version of Ford’s front wheel drive Escort was announced at the same time as the “cooking” 1.1, 1.,3 and 1,6 litre cars in October 1980. This was the XR3, and it came initially with a carb fed 1.6 litre engine generating 105 bhp and had a four speed gearbox. Fuel injection finally arrived in October 1982 (creating the XR3i), eight months behind the limited edition (8,659 examples), racetrack-influenced RS 1600i. The Cologne-developed RS received a more powerful engine with 115 PS, thanks to computerised ignition and a modified head as well as the fuel injection. For 1983, the XR3i was upgraded to 115bhp thanks to the use of fuel injection and a five speed transmission had been standardised. Both variants proved very popular, getting a significant percentage of Escort sales and also as a slightly more affordable alternative to a Golf GTi. For those for whom the performance was not quite enough, Ford had an answer, withe the RS Turbo. This 132 PS car was shown in October 1984, as a top of the range car, offering more power than the big-selling XR3i and the limited production RS1600i. Going on sale in the spring of 1985, it proved to be somewhat of a disappointment, with the chassis coming in for severe criticism. The RS Turbo Series 1 was only marketed in a few European nations as production was limited to 5,000 examples, all in white. They were well equipped, with the alloy wheels from the limited production RS 1600i, Recaro seats, and a limited slip differential. One car only was finished in black; it was built especially for Lady Diana. Ford facelifted the entire Escort range in January 1986, and a few months later, a revised Series 2 RS Turbo emerged, which adopted the styling changes of the less potent models, and the new dashboard, as well as undergoing a mechanical revision and the addition of more equipment including anti-lock brakes. The Series 2 cars were available in a wider range of colours.
Ford did not make the same mistake with the Focus as they had with its predecessor, so even the ordinary models were good to drive. There was a long wait for a truly sporting flagship, but when it arrived, in late 2002, the Focus RS proved to be rather special. Originally it was to be released as the Racing Focus, however after the poor selling Racing Puma, Ford decided to revive the RS badge. The car was largely built on its own assembly line in Ford’s Saarlouis plant, with some additional specialist off-line assembly performed by the ACÜ group at Überhern. The RS was offered all over Europe, with production limited to 4501 units. 2147 of these were sold in the United Kingdom, by far its largest of the 21 markets where it was available. The development of the Focus RS was undertaken by a mixed team of mainstream Ford engineers (not SVE or the TeamRS group which replaced it later on) and Tickford Engineering in Milton Keynes, United Kingdom. More bespoke than the prior Focus ST170, the Focus RS upgraded or replaced 70% of the standard Focus mechanicals. The turbocharged straight-4 engine produced a minimum of 212 bhp and 310 Nm (229 lb/ft) of torque, which was then mated to the 5-speed MTX-75 and not the Getrag transmission used in the ST 170. Mechanically, most notably, the car incorporated a Quaife automatic torque biasing differential to improve traction from the front-wheel drive setup. The steering used a similar quick-ratio rack as the ST170 while the brakes used fixed-caliper, four-piston Brembo units with 12.8 in discs at the front and single-piston floating calipers and 11.0 in discs at the back. Wheels were 18″ alloys specially developed by OZ Racing. The engine was heavily modified with forged aluminium pistons, hardened valve seats, sodium-filled exhaust valves, stainless steel exhaust system. The forced induction system comprised a Garrett turbocharger with a water-cooled charge air cooler and an electric water pump. To transmit the higher torque an upgraded AP clutch was used. It could generate a steady 0.98G in lateral acceleration due to racing parts such as Sachs dampers, lightweight O.Z Alloy Wheels and a Quaife ATB Differential. It would also allow 1.0G of braking force due to the standard Brembo braking system. The Focus RS was available in one metallic colour, Imperial Blue. The body looked similar to the standard Focus or to the ST170, although the RS featured unique front and rear bumper assemblies required for the wider wheel arches which accommodated the 65 mm (2.6 in) wider front track. Internally, the theme is blue and black with sections of blue leather trim on the door trim panels, the steering wheel and the Sparco seats which were trimmed in blue/black leather and Alcantara. A green starter button starts the engine. The instruments have a blue background and in place of the coolant temperature gauge, the RS was equipped with a boost pressure indicator (up to 1.5 bar). The gear lever knob, handbrake lever, and pedals were all custom made by Sparco. All-around performance was roughly equal or better to its other competitors, including hatchbacks such as the Honda Civic Type-R and some four-wheel drive cars in the same price field. Power was a diminished priority and the handling on a track, courtesy of the front differential, was considered by most observers to be its strongest characteristic. In a Top Gear review, Jeremy Clarkson noted that “it lacks the straightforward oomph of a Subaru Impreza. […] The reason it was quick round our track is simple: this car handles like it’s in a cartoon.” Clarkson and other motor journalists also commented on the car’s torque steer on bumpy British roads. Well preserved examples – and that’s not all of them, by any means, now – are worth decent money and will likely increase in value over time.
There was an even longer wait for an RS version of the second generation Focus. The regular cars were released in late 2004. An ST version followed very quickly, and for a long time, Ford maintained that was the only sporty Focus there was going to be. Finally, on December 17, 2007 Ford of Europe confirmed that a Mk 2 Focus RS would be launched in 2009, with a concept version due in mid-2008. with an upgraded Duratec ST engine with 305PS Duratec RS, gearbox, suspension, and LSD. In 2008, Ford revealed the new Focus RS in “concept” form at the British International Motor Show. Contrary to numerous rumours and speculation, the RS was announced by Ford to have a conventional FWD layout. The Duratec RS engine was upgraded to produce 301 bhp and 325 lb/ft of torque. 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) acceleration was quoted to be under 6 seconds. The RS used a modified Volvo -engineered 2,522cc five-cylinder engine found in the Focus ST. A larger Borg Warner K16 turbo now delivers up to 20.3-psi of boost. A new air-to-air intercooler has been developed as a complement, while the forged crankshaft, silicon-aluminium pistons, graphite-coated cylinder bores, 8.5:1 compression ratio and variable valve timing also up the power output. The car remained front wheel drive, but to reduce torque steer used a Quaife Automatic Torque Biasing LSD, and a specially designed MacPherson strut suspension at the front called RevoKnuckle, which provided a lower scrub radius and kingpin offset than traditional designs while avoiding the increased weight and complexity of double wishbone and multi-link suspension setups. Ford UK claim: “It’s as close as you’ll come to driving a full-spec rally car (Ford Focus RS WRC). The production car was finally unveiled on 5 January 2009. It looked very distinctive, as at the rear a large venturi tunnel and a dramatic rear spoiler created a purposeful look. It was available in three expressive exterior colours: Ultimate Green, Performance Blue and Frozen White. The ‘Ultimate’ Green was a modern reinterpretation of the classic 1970s Ford Le Mans Green of the Ford Escort RS1600 era.
Final Ford of note was an example of the current Fiesta ST
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.
Increasingly collectible are classic Land Rover models including even the relatively recent models, like this Defender 90.
A third Series Elise was debuted in 2010 and the car has undergone almost constant enhancements ever since, with power outputs boosted considerably on the way. Revealed in November 2015, the Lotus Elise Sport and Sport 220 joined the two-seater sports car’s line-up, with the two models replacing the outgoing Elise and Elise S. The models mark a return for the ‘Sport’ name to a Lotus, with the badge last appearing on the Lotus Esprit. The two cars get a weight reduction of 10kg, with the Elise Sport now down to 866kg and the Sport 220 now 914kg. The reduced weight doesn’t improve performance but it does bring a marginal boost in claimed economy, with the Sport now managing 45.0mpg the Sport 220 improving to 37.5mpg. The changes are marginal enough that the CO2 emissions remain unchanged. Both cars also come with lightweight sports seats, which are available with optional tartan trim that harks back to the 1970s Esprit S1. Other visual upgrades and options include lightweight silver or black cast wheels, which are 16 inch at the front and 17 inch at the rear. Optional lightweight wheels can shave another 5kg off the car’s weight. A black rear diffuser is standard, along with a choice of 10 different colours. Other options include a hard roof, air conditioning, cruise control and an upgraded Clarion stereo system. The engines remained unchanged. The Sport comes with a 1.6-litre petrol engine with 134 bhp and 160 Nm (118 lb/ft) of torque. It can go 0-62mph in 6.5 seconds, and has a top speed of 127mph. The Sport 220’s 1.8-litre engine can develop 217 bhp (220 PS) and 250 Nm (184 lb/ft) of torque. It can go 0-62mph in 4.6 seconds and has a 145mph of top speed. Both come with a six-speed manual transmission. The pricing has also been trimmed, with the Elise Sport model starting at £29,900 and the Elise Sport 220 priced at £36,500. Both cars will go on sale from December 2015 in Europe and the rest of the world from January 2016. At the 2016 Geneva Motor Show, Lotus revealed the high performance version of the Elise called the Cup 250. The Cup 250 is a more track focused and hardcore version of the standard Elise. It has a 1.8 litre supercharged Toyota 2ZR-FE Inline-4 engine with a 6-speed Toyota EC60 manual gearbox with sport ratios, developing 243 bhp at 7200 rpm, giving a 0-60 mph time of 3.9 seconds and a Top speed of 154 mph. In October 2017, Lotus unveiled a hardcore version of the Elise called the Elise Cup 260. It is inspired by the two hardcore variants of the Evora and Exige line up, the Sport 380 and the GT430 respectively. It features the double taillight units and rear wing from the Exige Sport 380 and the Lotus 3-Eleven respectively. Power has also been uprated and is now 250 hp thanks to a revised supercharger. Other changes include increased top speed, acceleration, low weight and high downforce due to added aero elements. Performance was marginally improved over the 220 version. In March 2017, Lotus announced the special edition ‘Sprint’ models of the Elise. For the Elise Sprint, Lotus used several weight-saving techniques to cut the car’s weight down to 798 kg (1,759 lb). To achieve the 40 kg (88 lb) weight saving, some body parts are made in carbon, as well as the seats. The backlight glass is made of polycarbonate, and the lightweight battery is a Lithium-ion model. Wheels are the usual size, but forged instead of cast alloy. The Sprint can be had with either a 1.6-litre naturally aspirated engine, or a 1.8-litre supercharged engine, available for the Sprint 220 version. The former has a 0–60 mph of 5.9 seconds, while the Sprint 220 can accelerate from 0–60 mph in 4.1 seconds. Dampers are uprated, as on the Elise Cup models. On 9 February 2021, Lotus unveiled two final editions line-up models of Elise on online platforms. Opening the range is the Elise Sport 240 Final Edition, which sees the existing Sport 220’s 1.8-litre supercharged four-cylinder engine uprated to develop 240 bhp and 244 Nm (180 lb/ft), permitting a zero to 100km/h time of 4.5 seconds. When fully specified with weight-saving options – namely carbon-fibre sill and engine covers, a lithium-ion starter battery and a polycarbonate rear window – the Sport 240 is the lightest car on offer, tipping the scales in at just 898kg. A set of 10-spoke forged alloy wheels fill the arches, measuring 16 inches in diameter up front and 17 inches at the rear, wrapped in Yokohama Y105 tyres. Lotus claims the new wheels are 0.5kg lighter than the examples fitted to the outgoing Sport 220. The Elise Cup 250 Final Edition features a variant of the Sport 240’s 1.8-litre four-cylinder, now tuned to produce 245 bhp and 244 Nm (180 lb/ft). Lotus claims a 4.3-second 0-100km/h sprint time. This model gets an optimised aerodynamic package allowing for 155kg of downforce at its top speed of 248km/h, along with 10-spoke M Sport forged alloy wheels, Yokohama A052 tyres, Bilstein dampers and adjustable anti-roll bars. A lightweight lithium-ion battery and polycarbonate rear window are also fitted as standard for increased weight saving, and, in top spec layout, the car weighs 931kg. The Elise story came to an end late in 2021 when production of the model ceased after 25 years.
There was just the one Maserati here, my Ghibli.
The third-generation RX‑7, FD (chassis code FD3S for Japan and JM1FD for the North America), featured an updated body design. The 13B-REW was the first-ever mass-produced sequential twin-turbocharger system to be exported from Japan, boosting power to 255 PS (252 bhp) in 1992 and finally to 280 PS (276 bhp) by the time production ended in Japan in 2002. The RX-7 FD’s chief designer was Yoichi Sato (佐藤 洋一, Satō Yōichi). Another key designer was Wu-huang Chin (秦無荒), a Taiwanese automotive artist who also worked on the Mazda MX-5 Miata. In Japan, sales were affected by this series’ non-compliance with Japanese dimension regulations and Japanese buyers paid annual taxes for the car’s non-compliant width. As the RX‑7 was now considered an upper-level luxury sports car due to the increased width dimensions, Mazda also offered two smaller offerings, the Eunos Roadster, and the Eunos Presso hatchback. The sequential twin turbocharging system, introduced in 1992, was extremely complex and was developed with the aid of Hitachi. It was previously used on the exclusive-to-Japan Cosmo JC Series. The system used two turbochargers, one to provide 10 psi (0.69 bar) of boost from 1,800 rpm. The second turbocharger activated in the upper half of the rpm range, during full-throttle acceleration – at 4,000 rpm to maintain 10 psi (0.69 bar) until redline. The changeover process occurred at 4,500 rpm, with a momentary dip in pressure to 8 psi (0.55 bar), and provided semi-linear acceleration from a wide torque curve throughout the entire rev range under normal operation. Under high-speed-driving conditions, the changeover process produced a significant increase in power output and forced technical drivers to adjust their driving style to anticipate and mitigate any over-steer during cornering. The standard turbo control system used 4 control solenoids, 4 actuators, both a vacuum and pressure chamber, and several feet of preformed vacuum/pressure hoses, all of which were prone to failure in part due to complexity and the inherent high temperatures of the rotary engine. The initial Series 6 was produced from 1992-1995, and was exported throughout the world and had the highest sales. In Japan, Mazda sold the RX-7 through its ɛ̃fini brand as the ɛ̃fini RX-7. Models in Japan included the Type S, the base model, Type R, the lightweight sports model, Type RZ, Type RB, A-spec and the Touring X, which came with a four-speed automatic transmission. The RX-7 was sold in 1993–1995 in the U.S. and Canada. The Series 6 was rated at 255 PS (252 hp) and 294 Nm (217 lb/ft). In the United Kingdom, for 1992, customers were offered only one version of the FD, which was based on a combination of the US touring and the base model. For the following year, in a bid to speed up sales, Mazda reduced the price of the RX-7 to £25,000, down from £32,000, and refunded the difference to those who bought the car before that was announced. From 1992 to 1995, only 210 FD RX-7s were officially sold in the UK. The FD continued to be imported to the UK until 1996. In 1998, for a car that had suffered from slow sales when it was officially sold, with a surge of interest and the benefit of a newly introduced SVA scheme, the FD would become so popular that there were more parallel and grey imported models brought into the country than Mazda UK had ever imported. The Series 7 ran from 1996-1998 and included minor changes to the car. Updates included a simplified vacuum routing manifold and a 16-bit ECU which combined with an improved intake system netted an extra 10 PS. This additional horsepower was only available on manual transmission cars as the increase in power was only seen above 7,000 rpm, which was the redline for automatic transmission equipped cars. The rear spoiler and tail lights were also redesigned. The Type RZ model was now equipped with larger brake rotors as well as 17-inch BBS wheels. In Japan, the Series 7 RX-7 was marketed under the Mazda and ɛ̃fini brand name. Series 7 RX-7s were also sold in Australia, New Zealand and the UK. Series 7 models were produced only with right-hand drive (RHD), which likely explains why they were only exported to these RHD markets. Sold from 1998-2002, the series 8 was the final series, and was only available in the Japanese market. More efficient turbochargers were available on certain models, while improved intercooling and radiator cooling was made possible by a redesigned front fascia with larger openings. The seats, steering wheel, and instrument cluster were all changed. The rear spoiler was modified and gained adjustability on certain models. Three horsepower levels are available: 255 PS (252 bhp) for automatic transmission equipped cars, 265 PS (261 bhp) for the Type RB, and 280 PS (276 bhp) available on the top-of-the-line sporting models. The high-end “Type RS” came equipped with Bilstein suspension and 17-inch wheels as standard equipment, and reduced weight to 1,280 kg (2,822 lb). Power was increased with the addition of a less restrictive muffler and more efficient turbochargers which featured abradable compressor seals, 280 PS (276 bhp) at 6,500 rpm and 314 Nm (232 lb/ft) of torque at 5000 rpm as per the maximum Japanese limit. The Type RS had a brake upgrade by increasing rotor diameter front and rear to 314 mm (12.4 in) and front rotor thickness from 22 mm (0.9 in) to 32 mm (1.3 in). The Type RS version also sported a 4.30 final drive ratio, providing a significant reduction in its 0–100 km/h (62 mph) time. The gearbox was also modified, 5th gear was made longer to reduce cruising rpm and improve fuel efficiency. The very limited edition Type RZ version included all the features of the Type RS, but at a lighter weight, at 1,270 kg (2,800 lb). It also featured gun-metal coloured BBS wheels and a red racing themed interior. An improved ABS system worked by braking differently on each wheel, allowing the car better turning during braking. The effective result made for safer driving for the average buyer. Easily the most collectible of all the RX-7s was the last model limited to 1,500 units. Dubbed the “Spirit R”, they combined all the extra features Mazda had used on previous limited-run specials with new exclusive features like cross-drilled brake rotors. Sticker prices when new were 3,998,000 yen for Type-A and B and 3,398,000 yen for Type-C. Mazda’s press release said “The Type-A Spirit R model is the ultimate RX-7, boasting the most outstanding driving performance in its history.” There are three models of “Spirit R”: the “Type A”, “Type B”, and “Type C”. The “Type A” is a two-seater with a 5-speed manual transmission. It features lightweight red trim Recaro front seats as seen in the earlier RZ models. The “Type B” shares all features of the “Type A” but with a 2+2 seat configuration. The “Type C” is also a 2+2, but has a four-speed automatic transmission. Of the 1504 Spirit R’s made, 1044 were Type A, 420 Type B and 40 Type C. An exclusive Spirit R paint colour, Titanium Grey, adorned 719 of the 1504 cars produced.
The 911 continued to evolve throughout the 1960s and early 1970s, though changes initially were quite small. The SC appeared in the autumn of 1977, proving that any earlier plans there had been to replace the car with the front engined 924 and 928 had been shelved. The SC followed on from the Carrera 3.0 of 1967 and 1977. It had the same 3 litre engine, with a lower compression ratio and detuned to provide 180 PS . The “SC” designation was reintroduced by Porsche for the first time since the 356 SC. No Carrera versions were produced though the 930 Turbo remained at the top of the range. Porsche’s engineers felt that the weight of the extra luxury, safety and emissions equipment on these cars was blunting performance compared to the earlier, lighter cars with the same power output, so in non-US cars, power was increased to 188 PS for 1980, then finally to 204 PS. However, cars sold in the US market retained their lower-compression 180 PS engines throughout. This enabled them to be run on lower-octane fuel. In model year 1980, Porsche offered a Weissach special edition version of the 911 SC, named after the town in Germany where Porsche has their research centre. Designated M439, it was offered in two colours with the turbo whale tail & front chin spoiler, body colour-matched Fuchs alloy wheels and other convenience features as standard. 408 cars were built for North America. In 1982, a Ferry Porsche Edition was made and a total of 200 cars were sold with this cosmetic package. SCs sold in the UK could be specified with the Sport Group Package (UK) which added stiffer suspension, the rear spoiler, front rubber lip and black Fuchs wheels. In 1981 a Cabriolet concept car was shown at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Not only was the car a true convertible, but it also featured four-wheel drive, although this was dropped in the production version. The first 911 Cabriolet debuted in late 1982, as a 1983 model. This was Porsche’s first cabriolet since the 356 of the mid-1960s. It proved very popular with 4,214 sold in its introductory year, despite its premium price relative to the open-top targa. Cabriolet versions of the 911 have been offered ever since. 911 SC sales totalled 58,914 cars before the next iteration, the 3.2 Carrera, which was introduced for the 1984 model year. Coupe models outsold the Targa topped cars by a big margin.
The first generation Mégane RS was introduced in September 2004 and is based on the Renault Mégane II small family car. The Mégane II RS was available in three-door and five-door hatchback versions, both with the same engine and was built at Renault’s Dieppe factory by using body shells made in Palencia, Spain. The Mégane Renault Sport 225 uses double-axis strut suspension with independent steering axis at the front and an electric power steering. The RS uses a turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine that produces 225 PS, allowing the car to achieve 0–100 km/h in 6.5 seconds (0–60 mph in 6.5 seconds), with a top speed of about 240 km/h (149 mph). Ninety percent of the engine’s torque is available from 2,000 rpm until redline. A twin-scroll turbocharger minimizes turbo lag, especially when throttle is applied at over 2,000 rpm. The turbocharge functions at 1,800 rpm. The transmission is a six-speed manual. Renault’s claimed combined economy is 8.8 L/100 km (32 mpg). The Mégane Renault Sport has a speed-limiter, which prevents the car from passing a user-determined speed. It can be disabled or recalled with a button-press, and is set in the same way as the cruise control. The Mégane RS is equipped with leather/cloth seats, seat belts with red stitching, 18-inch alloy wheels, dual sunroof, eight airbags and xenon headlights with headlight washers and Brembo brake discs. Other features include automatic double optic headlights, 18-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, ABS with EBD and electronic stability control. The Lux models feature metallic paint, hands free Renault card, electronic folding mirrors, tyre pressure monitor, electronic front and rear windows, climate control, leather upholstery, 4x15W RDS radio with CD-MP3 player and 6 speakers, front carpet mats, electronic rear view mirror, rear spoiler (petrol engine models only) and 18-inch alloy wheels over the base model. Introduced in 2005, the Megane Renault Sport 225 Cup includes the Cup Chassis option, which adds drilled brake discs, red front and rear brake calipers and increased brake master cylinder diameter, different 18-inch wheels plus revised stiffened steering. Other features include carbon grey interior upholstery with silver stitching. The car is 10 kg (22 lb) lighter than the 225 Sport Hatch and has a gross weight of 1,790 kg (3,946 lb). The handling improvements featured on the Cup were made to the standard Mégane, beginning in late 2005. The Mégane RS received a facelift in July 2006. The facelifted model introduced new safety features and minor exterior changes such as new tapered headlights, a revised front grille and bumpers along with translucent taillights. The Megane Renault Sport 230 Renault F1 Team R26 is a version that commemorates the success of Renault in the Formula 1 World Championship with the 2005 and 2006 Constructors’ and Drivers’ Championship titles and is named after the 2006 F1 car (R26). It is based on the facelifted Mégane RS. The engine is rated at 227 hp at 5,500 rpm and 310 Nm (229 lb/ft) at 3,000 rpm. It incorporates the improved version of the Cup Chassis package now with a limited slip differential fitted for the first time in addition to 18-inch Anthracite spoked alloy wheels with Michelin Pilot Sport 2 235/40 R18 tyres, Brembo front and rear red brake calipers and an increased brake master cylinder diameter, plus revised stiffened steering. Other features include a sport exhaust, Recaro seats, climate control, 4×15-watt RDS radio single CD/MP3 player with 6 speakers, Renault F1 decals, numbered plaque, limited slip differential and a rear spoiler. The car weights 1,355 kg (2,987 lb) kerb, 1,820 kg (4,012 lb) gross. The Megane Renault Sport dCi 175 is a version with a 2.0-litre diesel engine. Engine is rated at 173 bhp at 3,750 rpm and 360 Nm (270 lb/ft) at 2,000 rpm. The Cup Chassis option (available for dCi 175 Lux) includes tyre pressure monitor deletion, 18-inch anthracite alloy wheels with 225/45R18 Continental SportContact 2 tires, retuned dampers and spring rates, disconnectable ESP and anthracite coloured door mirror housings. The Sport Hatch version includes Recaro front seats, and the vehicle is 20 kg (44 lb) lighter (1470 kg kerb, 1,875 kg (4,134 lb) gross). The R26.R is based on the Mégane Renault Sport 230 F1 Team R26, but it is 123 kg (271 lb) lighter. Weight reduction is achieved via the removal of the rear seats and seat belts, passenger airbag and curtain airbags (the driver’s airbag remains), climate control (air conditioning remains as standard), rear wash/wipe and heated rear window, front fog lamps, headlamp washers, radio/CD player and most of the soundproofing. Other features include a carbon fibre bonnet, polycarbonate tailgate and rear side windows, Sabelt seats with carbon fibre shell and aluminium base, 6-point harnesses, a rear spoiler, optional roll cage and an optional titanium exhaust. New parts include new front springs (14 mm/100 kg), new rear springs (16.2 mm/100 kg), recalibrated shock absorber settings, grooved brake discs, new alloy wheels are fitted with a different offset increasing the track by 4 mm (0.2 in), optional Toyo Proxes R888 225/40R18 tyres (Michelin Pilot Sport 2 235/40R18 standard) and stiffer lower arm bushes. The car was unveiled at the 2008 British International Motor Show and went on sale in October 2008 at just under £23,000. 450 vehicles were made with 230 destined for the UK market though Renault struggled to sell them all and some were returned to France.
Expectations were high for another class-leading sporty Clio when Renault debuted the third generation model in 2005, and enthusiasts were not disappointed when Renault premiered the car, which was called the Clio RS 197. The new Clio III drew technology from Formula One, including a rear diffuser and brake cooling side vents, they upgraded the engine, now to 194 bhp (197 PS). The car is heavier than its predecessor, but the acceleration figures are slightly improved due to a combination of more power, torque and the new six-speed gearbox with shorter gearing according to the official figures published on the Renaultsport website. The facelifted Clio III was further enhanced with the inclusion of a front splitter and the engine now produced 197 bhp (200 PS). This has been made possible by tweaks to the exhaust system, valve timing and ECU also stated to give a slight increase in fuel economy. Acceleration figures were slightly improved due to shorter gearing in 1, 2 and 3 and enhancements have been made to the cup chassis including making the steering rack more responsive. Cosmetic enhancements include the addition of larger tailpipes protruding slightly from the rear diffuser, i.d. coloured front bumper insert, wing mirror covers and rear diffuser and i.d. interior trim. Renault also introduced a new i.d. paint option of Alien Green. The 200 is highly regarded by EVO magazine, remaining their hot hatch of choice since 2009. “After the mild disappointment of the Clio 197, Renaultsport has got the Clio back to its very best, producing a cracking small hot hatch more than capable of chasing down supercars on eCOTY 2009 for a top five finish”. It was hailed by CAR Magazine as “the 911 GT3 of hot hatches” and remained CAR Magazine’s “Best in Class” since its release in 2009. Renault produced a significant number of limited edition variants during the model’s life cycle. Production ceased in 2012 when the fourth generation was launched.
At the Frankfurt Motor Show in September 2007, Volkswagen launched the ‘R line’ R36, created by Volkswagen Individual GmbH. The R36 uses a 3.6 litre VR6 engine rated 300 PS (296 bhp) and 350 Nm (258 lb/ft) of torque, which pushes the saloon and Variant (estate/wagon) to 100 km/h (62.1 mph) in 5.6 and 5.8 seconds respectively. The name “R36″ is derived from the engine displacement, 3.6-litres. The R36 features redesigned front and rear spoilers, 4 wheel drive, DSG gearbox with paddleshift on the flat-bottom steering wheel, 18” Omanyt aluminium alloy wheels, 20 mm (0.8 in) lowered suspension, ‘R’ engraved stainless steel pedals, Recaro seats with R36 logo, heated front and rear seats, Bi-Xenon headlights with cornering function, and twin rear muffler tailpipes. In July 2008, Volkswagen launched the R36 version in the Middle East. The car did not sell well, and was not directly replaced and you rarely see them in the UK these days.
Although the basic formula of Caffeine & Machine does not change so at one level you know exactly what to expect, you don’t ever know precisely what cars you will find there, or even how many of them. So whilst this was definitely a rather quieter visit than usual, I still enjoyed it, with a good mix of camera-worthy cars and the chance to grab a coffee and a bite to eat being one I am always happy to take. Looking at he diary, I will be back again soon. Let’s hope that there are just a few more cars on site to make it an even better experience.