Wheels on Wednesday – 19th July 2023

The “Wheels on Wednesday” are now a very well established event, taking place roughly once a month, as the name suggests, on a Wednesday evening, as well as some additional Sunday morning ones which have adopted the same branding, at Spetchley Park, located just outside Worcester and easily accessible from the M5. I leaner a while ago that some people’s interpretation of the word “evening” has changed over the years, and apparently the first cars arrive more like mid-afternoon. My diary rarely permits that, as this is a work day, but it does mean that by the time I can make it on site there are usually several rows of cars already parked up, so there is plenty to look at right from the outset. Cars continue to arrive for some time after this, as clearly others are also constrained by when they finish their working day, so whilst some of those early arrivals do depart quite early there is still plenty to look at until well gone 8pm, by which time the food has more or less run out and it is time to head home. The first 2024 event did not take place until the very end of May thanks to the ground being not in a fit state to cope with a lot of cars before then, but it has now dried out, and the grass has been cut, so this is great venue, blessed with some welcome evening sunshine, was at its best for the mid July event, which is covered here. It was not quite such a bumper turn out as there had been in May, but that was probably something of a relief for everyone, as that evening was just crazy, but there was more than enough to interest me, with a mix of event regulars and some cars I’d not seen here before. Read on to see what attracted my camera:

ABARTH

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.

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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.

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The Punto Evo was launched at the 2010 Geneva Show, with the cars reaching UK buyers in the summer of that year, and it incorporated many of the changes which had been seen a few months earlier on the associated Fiat models, the visual alterations being the most obvious, with the car taking on the nose of the associated Fiat, but adapted to make it distinctively Abarth, new rear lights and new badging. There was more to it than this, though, as under the bonnet, the T-Jet unit was swapped for the 1.4 litre Multi-Air, coupled to a 6 speed gearbox, which meant that the car now had 165 bhp at its disposal. Eventually, Abarth offered an Esseesse kit for these cars, though these are exceedingly rare. Part of the Punto Evo family is the SuperSport, usually identified by the distinctive black bonnet, though not all cars feature it. Just 199 of the SuperSport versions were built, of which around 120 are registered on UK roads. These cars had many of the options from the Punto Evo included as standard. Power came from the the 1.4-litre MultiAir turbo engine, tuned to produce 178bhp and 199lb ft of torque, up from 165 of the standard Punto Evo, giving the SuperSport  a 0-62 time of  7.5 seconds and a  top speed of over 132mph. To help put the power down, the SuperSport was fitted with wider 18″ wheels and optional Koni FSD dampers. Standard equipment included the Blue&Me infotainment system with steering wheel controls, automatic climate control and a popular option was the  ‘Abarth Corsa by Sabelt’ sports leather seats. The SuperSport was available in the same colours as the regular Punto Evo, which means white, grey, black and red.

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Eagerly awaited, the 124 Spider went on sale in September 2016. A quick reminder as to what this car is: The Abarth 124 Spider was developed in parallel with the Fiat model. It does cost a lot more, and there are those who think you don’t get enough extra for your money, but those who have driven it will tell you otherwise. You certainly get more power. The 1.4 MultiAir turbo unit jumps up from 138bhp to 168bhp, while torque also increases by a modest 10Nm to 250Nm, which gives it a  0-62mph time of  6.8 seconds, which is half a second quicker than the 2.0-litre Mazda MX-5. The top speed is 143mph. It weighs just 1060kg meaning a power-to-weight ratio of 158bhp-per-tonne, and with the new Record Monza exhaust system it sounds great even at idle. The Abarth version gets a stiffer suspension setup than the regular Fiat 124 Spider, with Bilstein dampers and beefed-up anti-roll bars. Bigger Brembo brakes also feature, with aluminium calipers. It can be had with a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission with paddles, and the latter gets a Sport mode for quicker shifts. Many of the UK cars sport the ‘Heritage Look’ pack, which is a no-cost option. It brings a matt black bonnet and bootlid, plus red exterior trim detailing and has proved popular. The £29,565 starting price gets you standard equipment such as cruise control, climate control, Bluetooth, a DAB radio and satnav, plus Alcantara black and red (or pure black) seat trim. The automatic gearbox is a £2,035 extra, while an optional visibility pack brings LED DRLs, auto lights and wipers and rear parking sensors.

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AC

Original AC Cobra cars are few and far between, but there are plenty of recreations, replicas and continuation cars, so there are Cobra-esque cars at many meets. This one was produced by Gardner Douglas, a Grantham-based company who specialise in recreations of the Cobra and the Lola T70. Based on the AC Mk.3 289, the Mk.3 comes with two chassis options. The first utilises refurbished Jaguar suspension whereas the second “Euro” option uses bespoke racing suspension, with double wishbone coilover suspension and cast alloy uprights. The chassis is a steel triangulated backbone type with a GRP semi-monocoque body mounted on top. It’s available as a factory built car or in component form for self-assembly. Demand for AC Cobra 427 replicas saw the launch of the Mk.IV. With the same proven chassis, the Mk.IV enables owners to specify sidepipes which were difficult to fit on the earlier model. Component form for self-assembly is available and allows many types of engine to be fitted including Rover, Ford and Chevrolet small block V8’s. As of 2003, the standard factory fitted engine is the GM LS series V8 with five and six speed transmissions options.

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ALFA ROMEO

There’s a complex history to this much-loved classic. The first car was called the Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GT, and was revealed at a press event held at the then newly opened Arese plant on 9 September 1963, and displayed later the same month at the Frankfurt Motor Show. In its original form the Bertone body is known as scalino (step) or “step front”, because of the leading edge of the engine compartment lid which sat 1/4 an inch above the nose of the car. The Giulia Sprint GT can be distinguished from the later models by a number of features including: Exterior badging: Alfa Romeo logo on the front grille, a chrome script reading “Giulia Sprint GT” on the boot lid, and rectangular “Disegno di Bertone” badges aft of the front wheel arches; flat, chrome grille in plain, wide rectangular mesh without additional chrome bars; single-piece chrome bumpers; no overriders. Inside the cabin the padded vinyl dashboard was characterised by a concave horizontal fascia, finished in grey anti-glare crackle-effect paint. Four round instruments were inset in the fascia in front of the driver. The steering wheel was non-dished, with three aluminium spokes, a thin bakelite rim and a centre horn button. Vinyl-covered seats with cloth centres and a fully carpeted floor were standard, while leather upholstery was an extra-cost option. After initially marketing it as a four-seater, Alfa Romeo soon changed its definition of the car to a more realistic 2+2. The Giulia Sprint GT was fitted with the 1,570 cc version of Alfa Romeo’s all-aluminium twin cam inline four (78 mm bore × 82 mm stroke), which had first debuted on the 1962 Giulia Berlina. Breathing through two twin-choke Weber 40 DCOE 4 carburettors, on the Sprint GT this engine produced 105 hp at 6,000 rpm. Like all subsequent models, the Sprint GT was equipped with an all-synchromesh 5-speed manual transmission. The braking system comprised four Dunlop disc brakes and a vacuum servo. The rear brakes featured an unusual arrangement with the slave cylinders mounted on the axle tubes, operating the calipers by a system of levers and cranks. According to Alfa Romeo the car could reach a top speed of “over 180 km/h (112 mph)”. In total 21,902 Giulia Sprint GT were produced from 1963 to 1965, when the model was superceded by the Giulia Sprint GT Veloce. Of these 2,274 were right hand drive: 1,354 cars fully finished in Arese, and 920 shipped in complete knock-down kit form for foreign assembly. For 1966, the Giulia Sprint GT was replaced by the Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GT Veloce, which was very similar but featuring a number of improvements: a revised engine—slightly more powerful and with more torque—better interior fittings and changes to the exterior trim. Alongside the brand new 1750 Spider Veloce which shared its updated engine the Sprint GT Veloce was introduced at the 36th Geneva Motor Show in March 1966, and then tested by the international specialist press in Gardone on the Garda Lake.  Production had began in 1965 and ended in 1968. The Giulia Sprint GT Veloce can be most easily distinguished from other models by the following features: badging as per Giulia Sprint GT, with the addition of round enamel badges on the C-pillar—a green Quadrifoglio (four-leaf clover) on an ivory background—and a chrome “Veloce” script on the tail panel; black mesh grille with three horizontal chrome bars; the grille heart has 7 bars instead of 6; stainless steel bumpers, as opposed to the chromed mild steel bumpers on the Giulia Sprint GT. The bumpers are the same shape, but are made in two pieces (front) and three pieces (rear) with small covers hiding the joining rivets. Inside the main changes from the Giulia Sprint GT were imitation wood dashboard fascia instead of the previous anti-glare grey finish, front seats revised to a mild “bucket” design, and a dished three aluminium spoke steering wheel, with a black rim and horn buttons through the spokes. The Veloce’s type 00536 engine, identical to the Spider 1600 Duetto’s, featured modifications compared to the Giulia Sprint GT’s type 00502—such as larger diameter exhaust valves. As a result it produced 108 hp at 6,000 rpm, an increase of 3 hp over the previous model, and significantly more torque. The top speed now exceeded 185 km/h (115 mph). Early Giulia Sprint GT Veloces featured the same Dunlop disc brake system as the Giulia Sprint GT, while later cars substituted ATE disc brakes as pioneered on the GT 1300 Junior in 1966. The ATE brakes featured an handbrake system entirely separate from the pedal brakes, using drum brakes incorporated in the rear disc castings. Though the Sprint GT Veloce’s replacement—the 1750 GT Veloce—was introduced in 1967, production continued throughout the year and thirty final cars were completed in 1968.  By then total Giulia Sprint GT Veloce production amounted to 14,240 examples. 1,407 of these were right hand drive cars, and 332 right hand drive complete knock-down kits. The Alfa Romeo 1750 GT Veloce (also known as 1750 GTV) appeared in 1967 along with the 1750 Berlina sedan and 1750 Spider. The same type of engine was used to power all three versions; this rationalisation was a first for Alfa Romeo. The 1750 GTV replaced the Giulia Sprint GT Veloce and introduced many updates and modifications. Most significantly, the engine capacity was increased to 1779 cc displacement. Peak power from the engine was increased to 120 hp at 5500 rpm. The stroke was lengthened from 82 to 88.5 mm over the 1600 engine, and a reduced rev limit from 7000 rpm to 6000 rpm. Maximum torque was increased to 137 lb·ft at 3000 rpm. A higher ratio final drive was fitted (10/41 instead of 9/41) but the same gearbox ratios were retained. The result was that, on paper, the car had only slightly improved performance compared to the Giulia Sprint GT Veloce, but on the road it was much more flexible to drive and it was easier to maintain higher average speeds for fast touring. For the United States market, the 1779 cc engine was fitted with a fuel injection system made by Alfa Romeo subsidiary SPICA, to meet emission control laws that were coming into effect at the time. Fuel injection was also featured on Canadian market cars after 1971. Carburettors were retained for other markets. The chassis was also significantly modified. Tyre size went to 165/14 from 155/15 and wheel size to 5 1/2J x 14 instead of 5J x 15, giving a wider section and slightly smaller rolling diameter. The suspension geometry was also revised, and an anti-roll bar was fitted to the rear suspension. ATE disc brakes were fitted from the outset, but with bigger front discs and calipers than the ones fitted to GT 1300 Juniors and late Giulia Sprint GT Veloces. The changes resulted in significant improvements to the handling and braking, which once again made it easier for the driver to maintain high average speeds for fast touring. The 1750 GTV also departed significantly from the earlier cars externally. New nose styling eliminated the “stepped” bonnet of the Giulia Sprint GT, GTC, GTA and early GT 1300 Juniors and incorporated four headlamps. For the 1971 model year, United States market 1750 GTV’s also featured larger rear light clusters (there were no 1970 model year Alfas on the US market). Besides the chrome “1750” badge on the bootlid, there was also a round Alfa Romeo badge. Similar Quadrofoglio badges to those on the Giulia Sprint GT Veloce were fitted on C pillars, but the Quadrofoglio was coloured gold instead of green. The car also adopted the higher rear wheelarches first seen on the GT 1300 Junior. The interior was also much modified over that of earlier cars. There was a new dashboard with large speedometer and tachometer instruments in twin binnacles closer to the driver’s line of sight. The instruments were mounted at a more conventional angle, avoiding the reflections caused by the upward angled flat dash of earlier cars. Conversely, auxiliary instruments were moved to angled bezels in the centre console, further from the driver’s line of sight than before. The new seats introduced adjustable headrests which merged with the top of the seat when fully down. The window winder levers, the door release levers and the quarterlight vent knobs were also restyled. The remote release for the boot lid, located on the inside of the door opening on the B-post just under the door lock striker, was moved from the right hand side of the car to the left hand side. The location of this item was always independent of whether the car was left hand drive or right hand drive. Early (Series 1) 1750 GTV’s featured the same bumpers as the Giulia Sprint GT Veloce, with the front bumper modified to mount the indicator / sidelight units on the top of its corners, or under the bumper on US market cars. The Series 2 1750 GTV of 1970 introduced other mechanical changes, including a dual circuit braking system (split front and rear, with separate servos). The brake and clutch pedals on left hand drive cars were also of an improved pendant design, instead of the earlier floor-hinged type. On right hand drive cars the floor-hinged pedals were retained, as there was no space for the pedal box behind the carburettors. Externally, the series 2 1750 GTV is identified by new, slimmer bumpers with front and rear overriders. The combined front indicator and sidelight units were now mounted to the front panel instead of the front bumper, except again on the 1971-72 US/Canadian market cars. The interior was slightly modified, with the seats retaining the same basic outline but following a simpler design. 44,269 1750 GTVs were made before their replacement came along. That car was the 2000GTV. Introduced in 1971, together with the 2000 Berlina sedan and 2000 Spider, the 2 litre cars were replacements for the 1750 range. The engine displacement was increased to 1962 cc. The North American market cars had fuel injection, but everyone else retained carburettors.  Officially, both versions generated the same power, 130 hp at 5500 rpm. The interior trim was changed, with the most notable differences being the introduction of a separate instrument cluster, instead of the gauges installed in the dash panel in earlier cars. Externally the 2000 GTV is most easily distinguished by its grille with horizontal chrome bars, featuring protruding blocks forming the familiar Alfa heart in outline, smaller hubcaps with exposed wheel nuts, optional aluminium alloy wheels of the same size as the standard 5. 1/2J × 14 steel items, styled to the “turbina” design first seen on the alloy wheels of the Alfa Romeo Montreal, and the larger rear light clusters first fitted to United States market 1750 GTV’s were standard for all markets. From 1974 on, the 105 Series coupé models were rationalised and these external features became common to post-1974 GT 1300 Junior and GT 1600 Junior models, with only few distinguishing features marking the difference between models. 37,459 2000 GTVs were made before production ended and these days they are very sought after with prices having sky-rocketed in recent years.

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ASTON MARTIN

This is a DBS. Aston Martin had used the DBS name once before on their 1967–72 grand tourer coupe. The modern car replaced the 2004 Vanquish S as the flagship of the marque, and was a V12-engined super grand tourer based on the DB9.  The DBS was officially unveiled at the 2007 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance on 16 August 2007, which featured a brand new exterior colour (graphite grey with a blue tint) which has been dubbed “Lightning Silver”, followed by an appearance at the 2007 Frankfurt motor show. Deliveries of the DBS began in Q1 2008. The convertible version of the DBS dubbed the DBS Volante was unveiled at the 2009 Geneva Motor Show on 3 March 2009. The DBS Volante includes a motorized retractable fabric roof controlled by a button in the centre console and can fold into the compartment located behind the seats in 14 seconds after the press of the button. The roof can be opened or closed while at speeds up to 48 km/h (30 mph). Apart from the roof, changes include a new wheel design available for both the coupé and volante versions and a 2+2 seating configuration also available for both versions. Other features include rear-mounted six-speed manual or optional six-speed ‘Touchtronic 2’ automatic gearbox, Bang & Olufsen BeoSound DBS in-car entertainment system with 13 speakers. Deliveries of the DBS Volante began in Q3 2009. The model was replaced by a new generation Vanquish in 2012.

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Following the unveiling of the AMV8 Vantage concept car in 2003 at the North American International Auto Show designed by Henrik Fisker, the production version, known as the V8 Vantage was introduced at the Geneva Motor Show in 2005. The two seat, two-door coupé had a bonded aluminium structure for strength and lightness. The 172.5 inch (4.38 m) long car featured a hatchback-style tailgate for practicality, with a large luggage shelf behind the seats. In addition to the coupé, a convertible, known as the V8 Vantage Roadster, was introduced later in that year. The V8 Vantage was initially powered by a 4.3 litre quad-cam 32-valve V8 which produced 380 bhp at 7,300 rpm and 409 Nm (302 lb/ft) at 5,000 rpm. However, models produced after 2008 had a 4.7-litre V8 with 420 bhp and 470 Nm (347 lbft) of torque. Though based loosely on Jaguar’s AJ-V8 engine architecture, this engine was unique to Aston Martin and featured race-style dry-sump lubrication, which enabled it to be mounted low in the chassis for an improved centre of gravity. The cylinder block and heads, crankshaft, connecting rods, pistons, camshafts, inlet and exhaust manifolds, lubrication system and engine management were all designed in house by Aston Martin and the engine was assembled by hand at the AM facility in Cologne, Germany, which also built the V12 engine for the DB9 and Vanquish. The engine was front mid-mounted with a rear-mounted transaxle, giving a 49/51 front/rear weight distribution. Slotted Brembo brakes were also standard. The original V8 Vantage could accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds before topping out at 175 mph. In 2008, Aston Martin introduced an aftermarket dealer approved upgrade package for power and handling of the 4.3-litre variants that maintained the warranty with the company. The power upgrade was called the V8 Vantage Power Upgrade, creating a more potent version of the Aston Martin 4.3-litre V8 engine with an increase in peak power of 20 bhp to 400 bhp while peak torque increased by 10 Nm to 420 Nm (310 lb/ft). This consists of the fitting of the following revised components; manifold assembly (painted Crackle Black), valved air box, right and left hand side vacuum hose assemblies, engine bay fuse box link lead (ECU to fuse box), throttle body to manifold gasket, intake manifold gasket, fuel injector to manifold seal and a manifold badge. The V8 Vantage had a retail price of GB£79,000, US$110,000, or €104,000 in 2006, Aston Martin planned to build up to 3,000 per year. Included was a 6-speed manual transmission and leather-upholstery for the seats, dash board, steering-wheel, and shift-knob. A new 6-speed sequential manual transmission, similar to those produced by Ferrari and Lamborghini, called Sportshift was introduced later as an option. An open-topped model was added to the range in 2006 and then in the quest for more power a V12 Vantage joined the range not long after. There were no fewer than 18 different versions of the car produced over its model life

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The latest and still current Aston Martin Vantage was unveiled on 21 November 2017 with production starting in June 2018, replacing the previous model which had been in production for 12 years. It introduced a new styling direction but this was not universally well received and the car had a hefty price increase over its predecessor. Muted press enthusiasm did not help and sales have been disappointing. Aston Martin have continued to develop the model with a number of new versions introduced, to try to improve demand. The Vantage AMR is a track-focused variant of the Vantage. The main highlight of the model is the replacement of the ZF 8-speed automatic transmission with a dog-leg Graziano Trasmissioni 7-speed manual transmission previously used on the V12 Vantage S. The AMR also comes with a driver-selectable AMSHIFT system which controls the throttle during gear shifting. A new limited-slip differential ensures linear delivery of power. The power-band of the engine is wider and the unit is designed to deliver 625 N⋅m (461 lb⋅ft) of torque from 2,000 rpm to 5,000 rpm. The use of a manual transmission and carbon-ceramic brakes reduce the weight by 95 kg (209 lb). New adaptive dampers with the section of Sport, Sport + and Track modes improve handling. Performance figures include a 0–97 km/h (60 mph) acceleration time of 3.9 seconds, half a second more than the standard Vantage while the top speed remains the same as the standard model. Visual changes include 20-inch forged wheels as available on the Rapide AMR, new carbon fibre side vents and cooling vents present on the hood a sports exhaust system with quad tailpipes and racing bucket seats. Production of the AMR will be limited to 200 units worldwide. Available exterior colours for the AMR include Sabiro Blue, Pnyx Black, China Grey and White Stone. The final 59 cars will be finished in a Sterling Green exterior colour with Lime accents and will pay homage to the 1959 24 Hours of LeMans victory of Aston Martin. Once the production of the AMR ceases, the 7-speed manual transmission will become available on the standard Vantage. The vehicle went on sale in May 2019, with delivery set to begin in Q4 2019. Revealed in February 2020, the Vantage Roadster is a convertible version of the V8 Coupe with a fabric roof. The roof claimed to be the fastest of any automotive automatic convertible system, takes 6.7 seconds to lower and 6.8 seconds to raise and can be operated at speeds of up to 50 km/h (31 mph). The Vantage Roadster has a dry weight of 1,628 kg (3,589 lb). The F1 Edition is a version of the V8 Coupe and V8 Roadster commemorating Aston Martin’s return to Formula One after 61 years. The car features a fixed rear wing at the back, increased engine power to 535 PS (528 bhp), a top speed of 314 km/h (195 mph), new 21-inch wheel rims, and a 0–100 km/h (0–62 mph) acceleration time of 3.5 seconds. The car is available in three colours: Aston Martin Racing Green, Jet Black, and Lunar White. A convertible version called the Roadster is also available. Delivery began in May 2021.

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AUDI

In September 1986, Audi released a new Typ 89 Audi 80 for the 1987 model year on the European market and introduced it elsewhere within a year. It was based on a new platform which broke the relationship between the 80 and the Volkswagen Passat, the corresponding third generation of which used the transverse-engined Volkswagen B3 platform, whilst Audi stuck with the longitudinal front wheel drive layout for the B3-series 80. Production codes were Typ 89 from 1987 to 1989, and Typ 8A from 1990 onwards (in line with a restructuring of many VW platform designations). It introduced a new aerodynamic look and a fully zinc coated galvanised bodyshell. Unlike its predecessor, the B3 was marketed worldwide only as the Audi 80 or Audi 90. Initially, Audi transferred existing powertrain concepts to the new model although fuel injection was now available for some engines. A range of new petrol and diesel inline four-cylinder engines became available to European customers along with the procon-ten safety system which became standard fitment from 1991. Procon-ten was a notable safety feature comprising a series of hidden steel cables routed behind the gearbox, attached to the steering wheel and front seatbelt inertia reels. In the event of a front impact, the engine and gearbox are forced rearwards, pulling on these cables. This action simultaneously pulls the steering wheel into the dashboard to prevent the driver colliding with it while tightening the front seatbelts. This innovation was a precursor to the airbag, which became popular on mass produced cars during the 1990s after being patented by Mercedes-Benz in 1982. In 1987, the Audi 90 was reintroduced as an upmarket, more luxurious variant of the 80. To begin with it would again feature a choice of 10-valve inline five-cylinder petrol engines, and could be specified with or without quattro. The 90 differs visually to the 80 by a full width tail-light panel; headlights which featured additional high-beam lights and a slightly different front grille. Indicator lamps were moved from beside the headlights to the bumpers next to the fog lights, which were standard fitment on the 90. Brightwork surrounds for the windows, tops of the bumpers and side rubbing strips were also standard. Interiors were upgraded over the 80 featuring velour seat coverings and a slightly more generous level of equipment. The then range-topping 2.2E offered a boot spoiler, alloy wheels, leather steering wheel and sports front seats. Switchable ABS was standard on quattro versions. From 1989 to 1991 the Audi 90 offered the first 20-valve engine from Audi since the turbocharged engine used in the Audi Sport Quattro. This new 2.3L engine produced 170 PS and featured in the front wheel drive 20V, 20V Sport and four-wheel drive 20V quattro derivatives. The non-quattro 20V models were 120 kg lighter. Externally, Sport versions of the 90 were visually distinguished by the deletion of brightwork in favour of satin black window surrounds, bumper cappings and thinner side mouldings. A raised aluminium boot spoiler, lowered suspension and uprated brakes were fitted as standard, Speedline wheels were also standard fitment in the UK. In October 1988 a Coupé version based on the 80/90 appeared, called simply the Audi Coupé (typ 8B). This had completely different three-door liftback bodywork and replaced the earlier, B2-based Coupé which had been manufactured into early 1988. This version remained in production until 1996, in parallel with the succeeding B4 generation Audi 80.

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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

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AUSTIN

With the ADO17 Austin/Morris 1800 cars having ended up two classes above the volume selling 1100/1300 cars, BL needed a true mid-sized car, and that is where ADO15 came in. Developed during the mid 1960s, the car eventually made its debut as the Maxi on 1st May 1969. Promoted as the “5 of everything” car, it had 5 doors, 5 gears (both unusual in the market in those days) as well as 5 seats. It also featured a brand new engine, the 1500cc E Series, which was not really up to the task. It was also saddled with what by common consent was one of the most recalcitrant gearchanges ever inflicted on a production car, with a lever operated by rods which had to be carefully lined up to persuade the next gear to engage. That aside, the car had huge potential and a vast amount of space in a footprint that measures less than 14 feet in length. A revised version was launched in the autumn of 1970, with a cable operated gearchange and the option of a more powerful and torquey 1750cc engine. Sadly, apart from adding the twin carburettor HLS version to the range in 1972, that was about all that BL did to the design in the next 10 years. Talk about starving a model of its full potential. The last few cars were branded Series 2 and had new bumpers and interior trim, but that was about it. What a wasted opportunity!

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AUSTIN HEALEY

Donald Healey had been producing a range of expensive sports cars from the 1940s, cars such as the Silverstone, the Abbott and the Farnham. For the 1952 London Motor Show, he produced a new design, which was called the Healey Hundred, based on Austin A90 mechanicals, which he intended to produce in-house at his small car company in Warwick. It was one of the stars of the 1952 Show, and it so impressed Leonard Lord, the Managing Director of Austin, who was looking for a replacement to the unsuccessful A90. that Lord struck a deal with Healey on the spot, to build it in quantity. Bodies made by Jensen Motors would be given Austin mechanical components at Austin’s Longbridge factory. The car was renamed the Austin-Healey 100, in reference to the fact that the car had a top speed of 100 mph. Production got under way in 1953, with Austin-Healey 100s being finished at Austin’s Longbridge plant alongside the A90 and based on fully trimmed and painted body/chassis units produced by Jensen in West Bromwich—in an arrangement the two companies previously had explored with the Austin A40 Sports. By early 1956, production was running at 200 cars a month, 150 of which were being sold in California. Between 1953 and 1956, 14,634 Austin-Healey 100s were produced, the vast majority of them, as was the case for most cars in this post war era, going for export. The car was replaced by an updated model in 1956, called the 100-6. It had a longer wheelbase,  redesigned bodywork with an oval shaped grille, a fixed windscreen and two occasional seats added (which in 1958 became an option with the introduction of the two-seat BN6 produced in parallel with the 2+2 BN4), and the engine was replaced by one based on the six-cylinder BMC C-Series engine. In 1959, the engine capacity was increased from 2.6 to 2.9 litres and the car renamed the Austin-Healey 3000. Both 2-seat and 2+2 variants were offered. It continued in this form until production ceased in late 1967. The Big Healey, as the car became known after the 1958 launch of the much smaller Austin-Healey Sprite, is a popular classic now. You come across the 3000 models more frequently than the 100s, as they accounted for more than 60% of all Big Healey production.

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BENTLEY

Sole Bentley model of the event was this open-topped Continental GTC.

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BMW

The M2 was first revealed in Need for Speed: No Limits on November 2015, before later premiering at the North American International Auto Show in January 2016. Production commenced in October 2015 and is only available as a rear-wheel drive coupé. The M2 is powered by the turbocharged 3.0-litre N55B30T0 straight-six engine producing 365 bhp at 6,500 rpm and 465 Nm (343 lb/ft) between 1,450–4,750 rpm, while an overboost function temporarily increases torque to 500 Nm (369 lb/ft). The M2 features pistons from the F80 M3 and F82 M4, and has lighter aluminium front and rear suspension components resulting in a 5 kg (11 lb) weight reduction. The M2 is available with a 6-speed manual or with a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission which features a ‘Smokey Burnout’ mode. 0-100 km/h acceleration times are 4.5 seconds manual transmission models and 4.3 seconds for models equipped with the 7-speed dual clutch transmission. Top speed is limited to 250 km/h (155 mph) but can be extended to 270 km/h (168 mph) with the optional M Driver’s package. The M2 Competition was introduced at the 2018 Beijing Auto Show and succeeded the standard M2 Coupé. Production began in July 2018. The M2 Competition uses the high performance S55 engine which is a variant of the 3.0-litre twin turbocharged straight six engine found in the F80 M3 and F82 M4. The engine features a redesigned oil supply system and modified cooling system from the BMW M4 with the Competition Package, and also features a gasoline particulate filter in certain European Union countries to reduce emissions. Compared to the standard M2, the S55 produces an additional 30 kW (40 hp) and 85 Nm (63 lb/ft), resulting in a larger and more sustained power output of 405 bhp between 5,370–7,200 rpm, and 550 N⋅m (406 lb/ft) at 2,350–5,230 rpm. The 0-100 km/h acceleration time is 4.4 seconds for six-speed manual transmission models, and 4.2 seconds for models with the 7-speed dual clutch transmission. Top speed is electronically limited to 250 km/h (155 mph), but the M Driver’s package can extend the limit to 280 km/h (174 mph) which is 10 km/h (6 mph) further than in the M2. The M2 Competition also has a carbon-fibre reinforced plastic strut bar, enlarged kidney grilles, and larger brake discs of 400 mm (15.7 in) in the front axle and 380 mm (15.0 in) in the rear axle. Because of the new engine and cooling system, the M2 Competition is 55 kg (121 lb) heavier than the standard M2 at 1,550 kg (3,417 lb) for manual transmission models and 1,575 kg (3,472 lb) for dual-clutch transmission models. Production recently ended in anticipation of the next generation car.

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Also here was an example of the recently launched and eagerly awaited M3 Touring.

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CHEVROLET

The third generation Corvette, which was patterned after the Mako Shark II concept car, and made its debut for the 1968 model year, then staying in production until 1982. C3 coupes featured the first use of T-top removable roof panels. The C3 introduced monikers that were later revived, such as LT-1, ZR-1, Z07 and Collector Edition. In 1978, the Corvette’s 25th anniversary was celebrated with a two-tone Silver Anniversary Edition and an Indy Pace Car replica edition of the C3. This was also the first time that a Corvette was used as a Pace Car for the Indianapolis 500. Engines and chassis components were mostly carried over from the C2, but the body and interior were new. The 350 cu in (5.7 litre) engine replaced the old 327 cu in (5.36 litre) as the base engine in 1969, but power remained at 300 bhp. 1969 was the only year for a C3 to optionally offer either a factory installed side exhaust or normal rear exit with chrome tips. The all-aluminium ZL1 engine was also new for 1969; the special big-block engine was listed at 430-hp but was reported to produce 560 hp and propelled a ZL1 through the 1/4 mile in 10.89 seconds. There was an extended production run for the 1969 model year due a lengthy labour strike, which meant sales were down on the 1970 models, to 17,316. 1970 small-block power peaked with the optional high compression, high-revving LT-1 that produced 370 bhp. The 427 big-block was enlarged to 454 cu in (7.44 litre) with a 390 bhp rating. The ZR-1 special package was an option available on the 1970 through 1972 model years, and included the LT-1 engine combined with special racing equipment. Only 53 ZR-1’s were built. In 1971, to accommodate regular low-lead fuel with lower anti-knock properties, the engine compression ratios were lowered which resulted in reduced power ratings. The power rating for the 350 cu in (5.7 litre) L48 base engine decreased from 300 to 270 hp and the optional special high performance LT1 engine decreased from 370 to 330 hp. The big-block LS6 454 was reduced from 450 to 425 bhp, though it was not used in Corvettes for 1970; it was used in the Chevelle SS. For the 1972 model year, GM moved to the SAE Net measurement which resulted in further reduced, but more realistic, power ratings than the previous SAE Gross standard. Although the 1972 model’s 350 cu in horsepower was actually the same as that for the 1971 model year, the lower net horsepower numbers were used instead of gross horsepower. The L48 base engine was now rated at 200 bhp and the optional LT1 engine was now rated at 270 bhp. 1974 models had the last true dual exhaust system that was dropped on the 1975 models with the introduction of catalytic converters requiring the use of no-lead fuel. Engine power decreased with the base ZQ3 engine producing 165 bhp, the optional L82’s output 250 bhp, while the 454 big-block engine was discontinued. Gradual power increases after 1975 peaked with the 1980 model’s optional L82 producing 230 bhp. Styling changed subtly throughout the generation until 1978 for the car’s 25th anniversary. The Sting Ray nameplate was not used on the 1968 model, but Chevrolet still referred to the Corvette as a Sting Ray; however, the 1969 (through 1976) models used the “Stingray” name as one word, without the space. In 1970, the body design was updated including fender flares, and interiors were refined, which included redesigned seats, and indication lights near the gear shift that were an early use of fibre optics . Due to government regulation, the 1973 Corvette’s chrome front bumper was changed to a 5 mph system with a urethane bumper cover. 1973 Corvettes are unique in that sense, as they are the only year where the front bumper was polyurethane and the rear retained the chrome two-piece bumper set. 1973 was also the last year chrome bumpers were used. The optional wire-spoked wheel covers were offered for the last time in 1973. Only 45 Z07 were built in 1973. From 1974 onwards both the front and rear bumpers were polyurethane. In 1974, a 5-mph rear bumper system with a two-piece, tapering urethane bumper cover replaced the Kamm-tail and chrome bumper blades, and matched the new front design from the previous year. 1975 was the last year for the convertible, (which did not return for 11 years). For the 1976 models the fibreglass floor was replaced with steel panels to provide protection from the catalytic converter’s high operating temperature. 1977 was last year the tunnelled roof treatment with vertical back window was used, in addition leather seats were available at no additional cost for the first time. The 1978 25th Anniversary model introduced the fastback glass rear window and featured a new interior and dashboard. Corvette’s 25th anniversary was celebrated with the Indy 500 Pace Car limited edition and a Silver Anniversary model featuring silver over gray lower body paint. All 1979 models featured the previous year’s pace car seats and offered the front and rear spoilers as optional equipment.  53,807 were produced for the model year, making 1979 the peak production year for all versions of the Corvette. Sales have trended downward since then. In 1980, the Corvette received an integrated aerodynamic redesign that resulted in a significant reduction in drag. After several years of weight increases, 1980 Corvettes were lighter as engineers trimmed both body and chassis weight.  In mid-1981, production shifted from St. Louis, Missouri to Bowling Green, Kentucky, and several two-tone paint options were offered. The 1981 models were the last available with a manual transmission until well into the 1984 production run. In 1982, a fuel-injected engine returned, and a final C3 tribute Collectors Edition featured an exclusive, opening rear window hatch.

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This is an example of the fourth generation Corvette to near the name. It was the first complete redesign of the Corvette since 1963. Production was to begin for the 1983 model year but quality issues and part delays resulted in only 43 prototypes for the 1983 model year being produced that were never sold. All of the 1983 prototypes were destroyed or serialised to 1984 except one with a white exterior, medium blue interior, L83 350 ci, 205 bhp V8, and 4-speed automatic transmission. After extensive testing and modifications were completed, it was initially retired as a display sitting in an external wall over the Bowling Green Assembly Plant’s employee entrance. Later this only surviving 1983 prototype was removed, restored and is now on public display at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky. It is still owned by GM. On February 12, 2014, it was nearly lost to a sinkhole which opened up under the museum. Regular fourth generation production began on January 3, 1983; the 1984 model year and delivery to customers began in March 1983. The 1984 model carried over the 350 cu in (5.7 litre) L83 slightly more powerful (5 bhp) “Crossfire” V8 engine from the final 1982 third generation model. New chassis features were aluminium brake calipers and an all-aluminium suspension for weight savings and rigidity. The new one piece targa top had no centre reinforcement. A new electronic dashboard with digital liquid crystal displays for the speedometer and tachometer was standard. Beginning in 1985, the 230 bhp L98 engine with tuned port fuel injection became the standard engine. September 1984 through 1988 Corvettes offered a Doug Nash designed “4+3” transmission – a 4-speed manual coupled to an automatic overdrive on the top three gears. It was designed to help the Corvette meet U.S. fuel economy standards. Since 1981, when it was last offered, a manual transmission returned to the Corvette starting with production in late-1984. The transmission proved to be problematic and was replaced by a modern ZF 6-speed manual transmission in 1989. In 1986, the second Corvette Indy Pace Car was released. It was the first convertible Corvette since 1975. A Centre High Mounted Signal Light – a third centre brake light – was added in 1986 to comply with safety regulations. While the colour of the pace car used in the race was yellow, all 1986 convertibles also had an Indy 500 emblem mounted on the console, making any colour a “pace car edition”. In 1987, the B2K twin-turbo option became available from the factory. The Callaway Corvette was a Regular Production Option (RPO B2K). The B2K option coexisted from 1990 to 1991 with the ZR-1 option, which then replaced it. Early B2Ks produced 345 bhp and 450 lb·ft later versions boasted 450 bhp and 613 lb·ft .1988 saw the 35th Anniversary Edition of the Corvette. Each of these featured a special badge with an identification number mounted next to the gear selector, and were finished with a white exterior, wheels, and interior.  In 1991, all Corvettes received updates to the body, interior, and wheels. The convex rear fascia that set the 1990 ZR-1 apart from the base model was now included on L98 Corvettes, making the styling of the expensive ZR-1 even closer to that of the base cars. The most obvious difference remaining between the base and ZR-1 models besides the wider rear wheels was the location of the CHMSL, which was integrated into the new rear fascia used on the base model, but remained at the top of the rear-hatch on the ZR-1’s. For the 1992 model year, the 300 bhp LT1 engine was introduced, an increase of 50 bhp over 1991’s L98 engine. This engine featured reverse-flow cooling (the heads were cooled before the block), which allowed for a higher compression ratio of 10.5:1. A new distributor was also debuted. Called “Optispark”, the distributor was driven directly off the front of the camshaft and mounted in front of the timing cover, just above the crankshaft and harmonic balancer. Also new for 1992 was Acceleration Slip Regulation (ASR), a form of traction control which utilised the Corvette’s brakes, spark retard, and throttle close-down to prevent excessive rear wheel spin and possible loss of control. The traction control device could be switched off if desired. A special 40th Anniversary Edition was released in 1993, which featured a commemorative Ruby Red colour, 40th anniversary badges, and embroidered seat backs. The 1993 Corvette also marked the introduction of the Passive Keyless Entry System, making it the first GM car to feature it. Production of the ZR-1 ended in 1995, after 6,939 cars had been built. 1996 was the final year of C4 production, and featured special models and options, including the Grand Sport and Collector Edition, OBD II (On-Board Diagnostics), run flat tyres, and the LT4 engine. The 330 bhp LT4 V8 was available only with a manual transmission, while all 300 bhp LT1 Corvettes used automatic transmissions. Chevrolet released the Grand Sport (GS) version in 1996 to mark the end of production of the C4 Corvette. The Grand Sport moniker was a nod to the original Grand Sport model produced in 1963. A total of 1,000 GS Corvettes were produced, 810 as coupes and 190 as convertibles. The 1996 GS came with the high-performance LT4 V8 engine, producing 330 bhp and 340 lb/ft. The Grand Sport came only in Admiral Blue with a white stripe down the middle, and black wheels and two red stripes on the front left wheel arch.

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FIAT

Known as project 110, the brief for the Nuova 500 was to create a micro-car that would not only carry on the tradition of the earlier Topolino, but which would also take sales away from the ever popular Lambretta and Vespa scooters of the day. It clearly needed to be smaller than the 600 which had been released with a conventional 4 cylinder engine. Not an easy task, but development started in 1953 and by August 1954, two designs were ready to be shown to Fiat management. They selected one, and serious development began. At first the car was referred to as the 400, as it was going to have a 400cc engine, but it was soon realised that this was just too small, so a larger 500cc air-cooled engine was developed. It was signed off in January 1956, with production starting in March 1957 in advance of a June launch. Fiat’s marketing department got busy, with hundreds of the new car taking to the streets of Turin, each with a pretty girl standing through the open sunroof that was a feature of all the early cars. The press loved it. 50 units were shipped to Britain, where the car made its debut at Brands Hatch, and again the reception was enthusiastic. But the orders just did not come in. Fiat went for a hasty rethink, relaunching the car at the Turin Show later that year. power was increased from 13 to 15 bhp, and the poverty spec was lessened a little, with headlight bezels, brightwork on the side and chrome hubcaps, a Nuova500 badge on the engine cover, winding side windows (the launch cars just had opening quarterlights) and the option of a heater fan. It was enough to get sales moving. The original car was still offered, at a lower price, called the Economy. In the first year of production, 28,452 Fiat 500s were made. Over the next 19 years, the car changed little in overall appearance, but there were a number of updates with more power and equipment added. A 500 Sport was launched in August 1958, with a more powerful version of the 499cc engine. It lost the soft top, having a ridged steel roof, to increase strength of the body. It was only available in grey with a red side flash. The first major changes came in 1960 with the 500D. This looks very similar to the Nuova, but with two key differences. One is the engine size: the D features an uprated 499 cc engine producing 17 bhp as standard, an engine which would be used right through until the end of the L in 1973; and the other is the roof: the standard D roof does not fold back as far as the roof on the Nuova, though it was also available as the “Transformable” with the same roof as the Nuova. The D still featured “suicide doors”. There were larger rear light clusters, more space in the front boot thanks to a redesign of the fuel tank and new indicators under the headlights. A year later, Fiat added a light on the rear-view mirrors and a windscreen washer, but the car still lacked a fuel gauge. Sales increased from 20,900 in 1960 to 87.000 in 1961, 132,000 in 1962 and by 1964, the last year of production, they hit 194,000 units. The D was replaced in 1965 by the 500F, which finally moved the door hinges from back to the front, owing to changes in Italian safety laws. There was a deeper windscreen and thinner door pillars, which increased the height of the car by 10mm, improving visibility for the driver. The 500F ran through to 1975, from 1968 alongside the more luxurious 500L which was added to the range in 1968. The L is easy to tell apart, with its bumper overriders. The final updates created the 500R, which incorporated many changes from the 126 under the skin of the classic shape, and in this form production continued alongside the newer 126 until 1976.

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FORD

One of the shortest lived of all Ford models is the Consul Classic and Capri range. The Ford Consul Classic is a mid-sized car that was launched in May 1961 and built by Ford UK from 1961 to 1963. It was available in two or four door saloon form, in Standard or De Luxe versions, and with floor or column gearshift. The name Ford Consul 315 was used for export markets. The Ford Consul Capri was a 2-door coupé version of the Classic, and was available from 1961 until 1964. The 1,340 cc four-cylinder engine was replaced in August 1962 by an over-square 1,498 cc engine with a new five-bearing crankshaft and a new gearbox with syncromesh on all four forward ratios. Steering and suspension also received “greased for life” joints. The Classic (and related Consul Capri) had the right-hand-drive and home market Ford code of 109E (but 110E if L.H.D.) for 1961–1962 models with 1340cc engines, or 116E (but 117E for L.H.D.) for 1962–63 manufacture with 1500cc engines. Those codes also distinguish the gearboxes and steering components which are not greasable on later cars, so cutting first-user servicing costs. Despite all these codes the cars all looked the same throughout production 1961–1963, the visual distinctions being the number of doors, the trim & equipment level between Standard and De Luxe and the choice of colours. The Classic was made by Ford to be “suitable for the golf club car park”, and was originally intended for introduction earlier and deletion later than actually occurred. The styling exercises were mainly undertaken in 1956 under Colin Neale. The main styling cues came straight from Dearborn, as they so often did, defining the car as a scaled-down Galaxie 500, from the waist down, topped with a Lincoln Continental roofline. Other aspects of R&D followed, and it is likely that a recognisably similar car could have been introduced in 1959 subject to different senior management decisions. In practice the run-away early success of the Anglia (1959 on) used up most of the car manufacturing capacity at Dagenham, vindicating the decision to compete against the BMC Mini (the Halewood plant did not open until 1963). Ford therefore entered the 1960s with the small Anglia, Popular and Prefect, the big “three graces” launched back in 1956, and not the mid-size market Classic. The Ford Classic was similar in appearance to the more popular Ford Anglia, featuring the same distinctive reverse-rake rear window. This feature was imported from the 1958 Lincoln Continental where it was necessitated by the design requirement for an opening (“breezeway”) rear window. With quad headlamps and different frontal treatment it was longer, wider and so heavier than the Anglia. In fact, from the windows down the body design was a scaled-down version of Ford’s large, US Ford Galaxie. Inside, the separate front seats and rear bench had a standard covering of PVC but leather was available as an option. There was a choice of floor-mounted or column-mounted gear change. Single or two-tone paint schemes were offered. Several of the car’s features, unusual at the time, have subsequently become mainstream such as the headlight flasher (“found on many Continental cars”) and the variable speed windscreen wipers. The boot or trunk capacity was exceptionally large, with a side-stowed spare-wheel well, and more important, the huge high-lift sprung lid allowed a great variety of loads to be both contemplated and packed. At 21 cubic feet, this was 15% larger than the Zodiac MK2 and had obvious advantages for business use. The Consul Classic was also mechanically similar to the Anglia, and used slightly larger 1340 cc and, from 1962, 1498 cc, variants of the Ford Kent Engine. The car had front 9.5 in (241 mm) disc brakes and was fitted with a four-speed gearbox: early cars provided synchromesh on the top three ratios, while the arrival of the 1498 cc version coincided with the provision of synchromesh on all forward gears.  Suspension was independent at the front using MacPherson struts, and at the rear the live axle used semi elliptic leaf springs. A contemporary road tester was impressed, noting that “probably the most impressive thing about the Classic is its road holding”. The Consul Classic was complex and expensive to produce and was replaced in 1963 by the Ford Corsair which was largely based on Ford Cortina components.  Only 111,225 Classics and 18,716 Capris were produced (Including 2002 ‘GT’ Versions). These are small numbers by Ford standards, and probably indicative of the public not taking to the controversial styling along with the availability of the cheaper, similar-sized Cortina.

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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.

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Production of the Capri began on 14 December 1968 in Ford’s Dagenham plant in the UK and on 16 December 1968 at the Cologne plant in West Germany, before its unveiling in January 1969 at the Brussels Motor Show, and sales starting the following month. The intention was to reproduce in Europe the success Ford had had with the North American Ford Mustang; to produce a European pony car. It was mechanically based on the Cortina and built in Europe at the Dagenham and Halewood plants in the United Kingdom, the Genk plant in Belgium, and the Saarlouis and Cologne plants in Germany. The car was named Colt during its development stage, but Ford was unable to use the name, as it was trademarked by Mitsubishi. Although a fastback coupé, Ford wanted the Capri Mk I to be affordable for a broad spectrum of potential buyers. To help achieve that, it was available with a variety of engines. The British and German factories produced different line-ups. The continental model used the Ford Taunus V4 engine in 1.3, 1.5 and 1.7 litre displacements, while the British versions were powered by the Ford Kent straight-four in 1.3 and 1.6 litre forms. The Ford Essex V4 engine 2.0 litre (British built) and Cologne V6 2.0 litre (German built) served as initial range-toppers. At the end of the year, new sports versions were added: the 2300 GT in Germany, using a double-barrel carburettor with 125 PS, and in September 1969 the 3000 GT in the UK, with the Essex V6, capable of 138 hp. Under the new body, the running gear was very similar to the 1966 Cortina. The rear suspension employed a live axle supported on leaf springs with short radius rods. MacPherson struts were featured at the front in combination with rack and pinion steering which employed a steering column that would collapse in response to a collision. The initial reception of the car was broadly favourable.The range continued to be broadened, with another 3.0 variant, the Capri 3000E introduced from the British plant in March 1970, offering “more luxurious interior trim”. Sales in other global markets got underway with the Capri reaching Australia in May 1969 and in April 1970 it was released in the North American and South African markets. These versions all used the underpowered Kent 1.6 engine although a Pinto straight-four 2.0 litre replaced it in some markets in 1971. The Capri proved highly successful, with 400,000 cars sold in its first two years. Ford revised it in 1972. It received new and more comfortable suspension, enlarged tail-lights and new seats. Larger headlamps with separate indicators were also fitted, with quad headlamps now featured on the 3000GXL model. The Kent engines were replaced by the Ford Pinto engine and the previously UK-only 3000 GT joined the German line-up. In the UK the 2.0 litre V4 remained in use. In 1973, the Capri saw the highest sales total it would ever attain, at 233,000 vehicles: the 1,000,000th Capri, an RS 2600, was completed on 29 August. A replacement model, the Capri II was launched in February 1974.

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The fourth-generation Cortina was a more conventional design than its predecessor, but this was largely appreciated by fleet buyers. Generally a rebody of the Mark III, as an integration of Ford’s model range, this car was really a rebadged Ford Taunus. However, although the updated Taunus was introduced to Continental Europe in January 1976, Ford were able to continue selling the Cortina Mark III in undiminished numbers in the UK until they were ready to launch its successor as the Dagenham built Cortina Mark IV, which went on sale on 29 September 1976. Many parts were carried over, most notably the running gear. The raised driving position and the new instrument panel had, along with some of the suspension upgrades, already been introduced to the Cortina Mark III in 1975, so that from the driving position the new car looked much more familiar to owners of recent existing Cortinas than from the outside. Cinema audiences received an early glimpse of the new Cortina (or Taunus) through its appearance in the James Bond The Spy Who Loved Me 1977 film. The most obvious change was the new body, which achieved the marketing department objective of larger windows giving a better view out and a brighter feel to the cabin, but at the expense of body weight which was increased, albeit only marginally, by approximately 30 lb. Ford claimed an overall increase in window area of some 15%, with “40% better visibility” through the wider deeper back window. Regardless of how these figures were computed, there must have been substantial weight-saving gains through reduced steel usage in the design, given the unavoidable extra weight of glass. This series spawned the first Ghia top-of-the-range model, which replaced the 2000E. The 2.3 litre Ford Cologne V6 engine was introduced in 1977 as an engine above the 2.0 litre Pinto engine, already a staple of the Capri and Granada ranges. However, 2.3 litre Cortinas never sold particularly well in the UK. The Cologne V6 was certainly a much smoother and more refined power unit than the Pinto, but the V6 models were more expensive to fuel and insure and were only slightly faster, being about 0.5 seconds faster from 0–60 and having a top speed of about 109 mph compared to the 104 mph of the 2.0 litre models. The 2.0 litre Ford Cologne V6 engine continued to be offered on Taunus badged cars in parallel with the Pinto unit, and offers here an interesting comparison with the similarly sized in-line four-cylinder Pinto engine. The V6 with a lower compression ratio offered less power and less performance, needing over an extra second to reach 50 mph.It did, however, consume 12½% less fuel and was considered by motor journalists to be a far quieter and smoother unit. The 2.3 litre was available to the GL, S and Ghia variants. A 1.6 litre Ghia option was also introduced at the same time as the 2.3 litre V6 models in response to private and fleet buyers who wanted Ghia refinements with the improved fuel economy of the smaller 1.6 litre Pinto engine. Few cars were sold with the 1.6 litre engine though, the 2.0 litre Pinto was always by far the most common engine option for Ghia models. Two-door and four-door saloons and a five-door estate were offered with all other engines being carried over. However, at launch only 1.3 litre engined cars could be ordered in the UK with the two-door body, and then only with “standard” or “L” equipment packages. In practice, relatively few two-door Mark IV Cortinas were sold. In some markets, the two-door saloon was marketed as a coupe, but this was not the case in Britain. Ford already competed in the coupe sector in Europe with the Capri, which was particularly successful on the British market. There was a choice of base, L, GL, S and Ghia trims, again not universal to all engines and body styles. Rostyle wheels were fitted as standard to all Mark IV GL, S and Ghia models, with alloy wheels available as an extra cost option. The dashboard was carried over intact from the last of the Mark III Cortinas while the estate used the rear body pressings of the previous 1970 release Taunus. Despite its status as Britain’s bestselling car throughout its production run the Mark IV is now the rarest Cortina, with poor rustproofing and the model’s popularity with banger racers cited as being the main reasons for its demise.

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In the early-1980s, Ford’s model line-up and image was changing, reflecting shifting patterns in the new car market across Western Europe at this time, as front-wheel drive gradually became more popular than rear-wheel drive and hatchbacks began to eclipse traditional saloons and estates. The company’s older saloon line-up was replaced mainly by hatchbacks, starting with the Escort MK3 in 1980 and the new Sierra which replaced the Cortina in 1982. By 1985, even the executive-class Granada would offer a hatchback bodystyle, with the saloon and estate models not being released until 1990 and 1992 respectively, while a saloon version of the Sierra, called the Sapphire, was finally launched in 1987. The Orion was developed under the codename “Apollo.” Launched in September 1983, the Orion was designed to fill the market demand for a traditional four-door saloon which had been absent from the Escort range since the end of MK2 production in 1980 and also in larger cars by the demise of the hugely popular Cortina in 1982. The Orion looked similar to a contemporary Escort at the front apart from the different grille design, but the rear of the Orion had a long flat boot (making the car a three-box saloon design) rather than a hatchback or estate body like the Escort. Although the Orion’s length was similar to that of the contemporary Ford Sierra (then only available as a hatchback or an estate) it had more rear legroom and a larger boot. This concept was similar to the Volkswagen Jetta, the saloon version of the Golf hatchback which had been on sale since 1979. Ford initially offered the Orion in only GL and Ghia trim levels, missing out on the lower specification levels available on the Escort, as well as the basic 1100cc engine. Only 1300 cc and 1600 cc CVH engine options were available from launch (though with both carburettor and fuel injection options on the 1.6 Ghia). A lower specification L model was introduced in 1984, as was the option of a 1.6 diesel engine on L and GL models. The Orion Ghia 1.6i standard features included: central locking, sunroof, sport front seats, electric windows, rear head restraints, tachometer and an information binnacle informing the driver when the vehicle needed maintenance. All of these features were rare equipment on a small family car in the 1980s, giving the Orion upmarket pretensions. The Orion 1.6i shared an engine with the Escort XR3i and offered similar performance and handling without the insurance unfriendly tag that the XR badge started to command in the late-1980s due to its popularity with car thieves – and it was also less frequently targeted by thieves than the Escort XR3i or RS Turbo. The 1.6i was topped by a luxury limited edition called the 1600E in the autumn of 1988, the 1600E name harking back to the Mark II Ford Cortina 1600E from twenty years earlier, as both were considered to be well-equipped saloon cars with decent performance for the working man. The Orion 1600E was available in black, white and metallic grey and had RS alloys, wood cappings on the dashboard and doors, and grey leather seats. Only 1,600 were made, of which 1,000 had leather trim. With the facelift in 1986, Ford brought the styling and engineering of the Orion closer to the Escort’s and lower-specification models crept into the range along with equipment levels being brought together between the two cars, and helped Orion sales increase further. The Orion also gained the new 1.4 “lean burn” petrol engine which was added to the Escort at this time. The success of the Orion across Europe, particularly in the UK (where it was amongst the top 10 best-selling cars every year from 1984 to 1990), was followed by several other manufacturers launching saloon versions of their popular hatchbacks. By 1986, General Motors had launched a saloon version of its Opel Kadett/Vauxhall Astra hatchback, which was sold as the Vauxhall Belmont on the British market. Austin Rover, on the other hand, made use of a Honda design for its new Rover 200 Series saloon, which was launched in 1984 and gave buyers a booted alternative to the Maestro hatchback, although with a totally different platform; as the true booted variant of the Maestro was the larger and more upmarket Austin Montego. The Orion was launched around the same time as the Fiat Regata, saloon and estate versions of the Ritmo (sold under name “Strada” in the UK), although the Regata was aimed further upmarket at cars like the Ford Sierra. The Orion was a strong seller in the UK, peaking as the seventh-best-selling car in 1987 and 1988 with over 70,000 sales each time. March 1986 saw the Orion getting the same facelift as the Escort. Internally within Ford it is regarded as an updated model (Apollo-86) rather than a new generation, although it is popularly known as the Mark II.

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In 2005 Ford unveiled a hot hatch version of the Mk 2 Focus. Called Focus ST, and available in either three or five-door hatchback variant, the car uses the Volvo Modular engine, a turbocharged 2.5 L 5-cylinder engine producing 225 bhp. Ford however rebadged it as the Ford Duratec ST, applied variable valve timing to both camshafts, applied a lighter flywheel and performed a throttle recalibration. The Ford Focus Mk 2 ST is also known as the XR5 Turbo in the Australian and New Zealand market, but is sold as a five-door hatchback only. In 2008 Ford, in conjunction with Mountune Racing, unveiled a power upgrade kit which raises the power output to 260 bhp the kit consists of: a K&N panel filter, larger intercooler and a re-map. Although the platform is the same, no saloon version was ever released. Sales ceased when the third generation Focus was released in 2011.

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The regular second generation Focus cars were released in late 2004. An ST version followed very quickly, and for a long time, Ford maintained that was the only sporty Focus there was going to be. Finally, on December 17, 2007 Ford of Europe confirmed that a Mk 2 Focus RS would be launched in 2009, with a concept version due in mid-2008. t with an upgraded Duratec ST engine with 305PS Duratec RS, gearbox, suspension, and LSD. In 2008, Ford revealed the new Focus RS in “concept” form at the British International Motor Show. Contrary to numerous rumours and speculation, the RS was announced by Ford to have a conventional FWD layout. The Duratec RS engine was upgraded to produce 301 bhp and 325 lb/ft of torque. 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) acceleration was quoted to be under 6 seconds. The RS used a modified Volvo -engineered 2,522cc five-cylinder engine found in the Focus ST. A larger Borg Warner K16 turbo now delivers up to 20.3-psi of boost. A new air-to-air intercooler has been developed as a complement, while the forged crankshaft, silicon-aluminum pistons, graphite-coated cylinder bores, 8.5:1 compression ratio and variable valve timing also up the power output. The car remained front wheel drive, but to reduce torque steer used a Quaife Automatic Torque Biasing LSD, and a specially designed MacPherson strut suspension at the front called RevoKnuckle, which provided a lower scrub radius and kingpin offset than traditional designs while avoiding the increased weight and complexity of double wishbone and multi-link suspension setups. Ford UK claim: “It’s as close as you’ll come to driving a full-spec rally car (Ford Focus RS WRC). The production car was finally unveiled on 5 January 2009. It looked very distinctive, as at the rear a large venturi tunnel and a dramatic rear spoiler created a purposeful look. It was available in three expressive exterior colours: Ultimate Green, Performance Blue and Frozen White. The ‘Ultimate’ Green was a modern reinterpretation of the classic 1970s Ford Le Mans Green of the Ford Escort RS1600 era.

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Ford played much the same guessing game about whether there would be an RS version of the third generation Focus as they had done with the earlier versions. Production of the regular cars started in late 2010, but it was not until the 2015 Geneva Motor Show before the production ready MKIII Ford Focus RS was unveiled. It came packing the turbocharged 2.3-litre inline-four engine found in the Mustang EcoBoost. In the Focus RS, the engine itself produces 350 hp. Power is sent to all four wheels via Ford’s all-new Torque-Vectoring All-Wheel-Drive system with a rear drive unit designed by GKN, as well as upgraded suspension and brakes. As well as that, the new Focus RS will be fitted with Drive Modes – including an industry-first Drift Mode that allows controlled oversteer drifts – and Launch Control. The RS will boast a model specific aerodynamic package that helps to differentiate it from other Focus models. The RS is capable of accelerating to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 4.7 seconds. Sales finally started in mid 2016, with long waiting lists having been created, though Ford did eventually catch up with expanded production levels allowing them to meet the demand

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FRAZER NASH

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HOLDEN

The Holden Caprice is a full-size car which was produced by Holden in Australia from 1990 to October 2017. The similar Holden Statesman, which was also introduced in 1990 as a model below the Caprice, was discontinued in September 2010. Between 1971 and 1984, Holden marketed their long-wheelbase sedans under the Statesman marque. Statesman and Caprice are essentially long-wheelbase variants of the Commodore range, and as of 2006, were the largest rear-wheel drive sedans offered by GM. Internationally, Statesmans and Caprices have been rebadged as the Buick Royaum, Daewoo Statesman, and Chevrolet Caprice. In addition, these cars have formed the basis of the Chinese-built Buick Park Avenue and the Bitter Vero, a rebodied version from Germany. The main difference between the Statesman and the Caprice lies within their equipment packages. Moreover, Caprices are commonly powered by V8 engines rather than V6s and, whilst modern Caprices may be mistaken as fully specified versions of the cheaper Statesman, the two were separate Holden models in the past. In appearance, Caprices can be distinguished by their unique interior and exterior trim such as the grille insert. In addition to the large V8 engine, in latter years, the Caprice suspension was often more sport-oriented (from the 2003 WK series). Traditionally in Australia, the Statesman and Caprice have been direct rivals to the Ford Fairlane and LTD, respectively. However, Ford’s decision to discontinue these models in 2007 left Holden with the Chrysler 300C as the only direct competition at pricing point occupied, at least until the launch of the Hyundai Genesis in 2015. As announced by Holden in 2014, its entire Australian production comprising the Caprice ceased in 2017. The version seen here, a WH Series model came in June 1999, two years after the launch of the all-new VT Commodore from which the new WH was initially based. The WH series saw Holden return to a standalone model designation, rather than adopting the same used by the short-wheelbase Commodore. Models followed much the same pattern as the previous car: a standard Statesman, a special edition Statesman International, and the Caprice as flagship. The doors and front windscreen were again shared with the mainstream Commodore while wheelbase was increased to 2,939 mm (116 in). WH Series I cars built between 1999 and 2000 had more in common with VT II Commodore, while 2000 onwards bore more resemblance to the updated VX Commodore in parts and finish. Engines were as per the Commodore, so a 3.8-litre V6 Ecotec unit, a supercharged version of the same, and a new 5.7-litre Generation III V8, rated at 295 bhp. A Series II revision in August 2001 brought a 6.7 bhp power increase for the Ecotec V6 bringing it up to 204 bhp. Since the WH, which was engineered for both right- and left-hand drive, the Statesman has been exported to the Middle East as the Chevrolet Caprice, following the same model changes as the Holden. Compared to the previous model, stability improved through the use of wider tracks a longer wheelbase and four-channel ABS disc brakes with traction control. Usable boot space increased to 541 litres. Cornering lights were provided integrated into the front fog light assembly- these cornering lights were illuminated whenever the indicator was operating on that side of the car, illuminating a turning path for the driver. Electrochromatic rear view mirror sensed headlight glare from vehicles travelling behind, and automatically adjusts mirror glass tint level to reduce driver glare. Dual zone climate control was a standard feature across the WH range, as was 12-mode trip computer integrated into the instrument cluster. Caprice including rear roof mounted climate control and stereo controls for rear passengers- rear passengers were also provided with two headphone jacks in the rear parcel shelf and could listen to a different audio source to the front occupants. A rear flip down table was incorporated into the rear armrest, complete with storage pocket and cup holders. The exclusive-to-Caprice options included standard Howe leather seats, 260-watt 12-speaker DSP audio system, individual ignition key memory (not available in Statesman- stereo settings, seating position) for three drivers, upright Holden crest logo on the bonnet, chrome exterior door handles, as well as heated side view mirrors and auto dipping passenger side view mirror to avoid alloy wheel damage when reversing. Headlights could be set to automatically sense low light levels and turn on without driver input. Caprice featured a fine chrome vertical bar grille, while Statesman used a chrome matrix style front grille design, and lacked chrome exterior door handles. HSV branded special order options included electric tilt and slide glass sunroof, VDO MS5000 satellite navigation system in place of front console ashtray, HSV alloy pedals, limited slip differential, rear deck spoiler and choice of two 17-inch alloy wheel styles. Vehicles specially ordered with any HSV optional extras received a Holden-by-Design individually numbered build plate in the engine bay. The use of self-levelling rear air suspension available in Caprice brought advantages when hauling heavy loads and improved vehicle dynamics when towing. Safety in the WH model was also enhanced, with the addition of side impact head & torso airbags and pyrotechnic seat belt pretensioners along with drivers steering wheel and passenger dashboard airbags all as standard. If the seat belt pretensioners trigger, the doors automatically unlock, both engine and fuel pump shut down and all interior lights will switch on. Also new to the WH are the electric wing mirrors, which when reversing, the passenger mirror faces downwards to assist the driver when parking, thus preventing kerbside wheel damage. Released in June 1999, the HSV Grange (WH) received modifications to the Statesman’s specification (Statesman VINs begin with “6H8WHY”, whereas the VIN of a Caprice is “6H8WHZ”; the Grange shares the “Y” digit in its VIN with Statesman). Again, the Grange was finished by HSV in Clayton, Victoria. It was available with the 3.8-litre supercharged V6 and 5.7-litre V8 engines. The WH Grange had HSV’s “Prestige” suspension tune, specially-developed Monroe Sensatrac shock absorbers, a front anti-roll bar, a rear anti-roll bar and a self-levelling function for the rear suspension (shared with Caprice). Standard features for the WH Grange included 18-inch ten-spoke alloy wheels, a 260-watt sound system with ten speakers and a six-disc CD changer, climate control air conditioning, eight-way power adjustable front seats, leather upholstery, cruise control, front fog lights, leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, remote central locking, power windows and mirrors, a height and reach adjustable steering wheel, driver seat and mirror memory settings, an electrochromatic rear view mirror, trip computer and an immobiliser. The Grange was also fitted with a limited slip rear differential as well as a choice of two higher performance brake packages, increased diameter front and rear swaybars and an exclusive-to-Grange HSV body kit consisting of front bumper with enlarged cooling intake, unique stainless steel meshed intake grille with HSV logo in the centre, flared deep side skirts, deep skirted three-piece rear bumper, rear decklid spoiler and rear HSV badging. A revised WK model arrived in 2003.

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HONDA

Introduced on 7 November 1996, the fifth generation Prelude retained an FF layout with an independent front suspension and 63/37 weight distribution. Most fifth-generation Honda Preludes came with 16-inch alloy wheels with all-season 205/50 R16 87V tyres, featured the 11.1-inch front brakes like the 1996 VTEC model, and most Preludes also received a 5-lug hub (not the 4-lug wheel hub of older models). The Prelude was only available in three models for Canada and two models for the US (the Base and Type SH). All models came with 16-inch alloy wheels and 200HP (203 PS). The 2.0i and JDM Si trims came with 195/60 R15 steel wheel, and the JDM Xi came with 14-inch steel wheels. Unlike the North American market Preludes, JDM Preludes came with rear windscreen wipers, except for the Xi. Australian and JDM Preludes weigh less than American and European models: VTi-R manual weighs 1,268 kg (2,795 lb), autos weigh 1,298 kg (2,862 lb), and the ATTS weighs 1,308 kg (2,884 lb). The ATTS model received Honda’s Active Torque Transfer System; the equivalent model was called the Type S in Japan, VTi-S in Europe, and Type SH (“Super Handling”) in North America. ATTS was designed to counteract the understeer inherent in a front-wheel drive car, but the Prelude’s 63.1 percent front weight distribution was too much for the system to successfully mask. The fifth-generation Prelude marked a return to the more square bodystyle of the third generation (1987–1991), in an attempt to curb slumping sales of the fourth-generation bodystyle. All models and trim packages stayed within the BB-chassis code (BB5-BB9) and housed either an H-series or F-Series engine: For the 1999 model year, the Prelude received a mid-cycle refresh; this included a 5 bhp increase in power for manual (200 bhp) from 195 bhp and automatic (195 bhp) from 190 bhp transmission models, a new front grille featuring a small “Prelude” badge, an access door to the cabin air filtration system allowing for cabin air filter replacement without modifications, and changes to available colours. Sales weakened beginning with the third generation Prelude, particularly due to competition from Honda’s other offerings. The sixth-generation Accord coupe received an exclusive front fascia, rear tail lights, wheels and many other body panels, now being marketed alongside the Prelude with shared brochures in Canada, yet its sedan roots gave it much more utility than the comparatively cramped Prelude, and the option of a V6 engine gave North American buyers an appealing alternative. The sixth-generation Civic Si coupe was considerably less expensive than the Prelude as well, while also providing better fuel economy ratings. The Honda S2000 was another offering that while more expensive than the Prelude, offered rear wheel drive, a six-speed transmission, 40 extra horsepower, and a convertible top. The exterior dimensions of the Prelude were no longer in compliance with Japanese government regulations, and the additional costs resulting from this contributed to the popularity of smaller Honda products. Production ceased in late 2001.

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This is an Integra type R and is from the fourth and final generation of the car, often referred to as the DC5, which is the Honda internal reference fro the car. The fourth generation Integra was introduced in Japan on April 13, 2001 and produced from July 2001 to July 2006. For North America (United States and Canada), it was introduced as the Acura RSX in accordance with Acura’s new alphabetical naming scheme. It also had an entirely new engine, the K-series. The Integra came in two models in the United States, the RSX and the RSX Type-S boasting the K20A2 engine from 2002 to 2004, while the 2005 and 2006 RSX-S came with a K20Z1. The RSX was sold as a Honda Integra in Japan and Australia, markets where Acura did not exist. In March 2006, Honda announced that the Integra would be discontinued in June after its final 300 cars were sold, due to the shrinkage of the coupe market. The reaction of the consumers towards the discontinuation, however, forced Honda to extend production until July 2006 and produce 150 more Integras. The Acura RSX was discontinued as well, as the RSX did not fit within the confines of Acura’s re-structured market strategy. This left the Acura TSX as Acura’s entry-level vehicle. Also, the introduction of the similarly powerful and less expensive 2006 model-year Honda Civic Si was there to fill in the gap left by the RSX. The DC5 Type R (Japanese market only) comes standard with a K20A 220 hp 2.0 litre DOHC i-VTEC four-cylinder engine. The “i” in i-VTEC stands for intelligent VTEC, which employs VTC (Variable Timing Control) to advance or retard the intake cam timing within a 50 degree range. The Integra Type R comes equipped with Recaro seats, four-piston Brembo front brakes, a close ratio six-speed manual transmission, a limited-slip differential, variable back-pressure exhaust system, and a stiffer suspension..

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In December 2007, Acura announced plans to launch a NSX successor by 2010, based on the styling of the front V10-engined Acura ASCC (Advanced Sports Car Concept). Despite prototypes being tested for production, just a year later, Honda announced that plans had been cancelled due to poor economic conditions. Instead, in March 2010, Honda unveiled the HSV-010 GT for participation in the Japanese SuperGT Championship. This car never reached production as a street-legal car. Reports that Honda was again developing a successor to the NSX remerged in April 2011. By December 2011, Honda officially announced a second generation NSX concept, which was unveiled the following month at the 2012 North American International Auto Show as the Acura NSX Concept. The production model was displayed three years later at the 2015 North American International Auto Show, for sale in 2016. Although the original name was retained, this time it was defined as “New Sports eXperience”. Unlike the first generation NSX which was manufactured in Japan, the new NSX was designed and engineered in Marysville, Ohio, at Honda’s plant, led by chief engineer Ted Klaus. The new NSX has a hybrid electric powertrain, with a 3.5 L twin-turbocharged V6 engine and three electric motors, two of which form part of the “SH-AWD” all wheel drive drivetrain, altogether capable of close to 600 hp. The transmission is a 9-speed dual-clutch automatic. Its body utilizes a space frame design—which is made from aluminium, ultra-high-strength steel, and other rigid and lightweight materials, some of which are the world’s first applications. The first production vehicle with VIN #001 was auctioned off by Barrett Jackson on 29 January 2016. NASCAR team owner Rick Hendrick won the auction with a bid for US$1,200,000. The entire bid was donated to the charities Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation and Camp Southern Ground. The first NSX rolled off the line in Ohio on 27 May 2016. Hendrick was there to drive it off. The first sales of the new NSX were registered in the second half of 2016

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JAGUAR

Jaguar stunned the world with the XK120 that was the star of the Earls Court Motor Show in 1948. Seen in open two seater form, the car was a testbed and show car for the new Jaguar XK engine. The display car was the first prototype, chassis number 670001. It looked almost identical to the production cars except that the straight outer pillars of its windscreen would be curved on the production version. The roadster caused a sensation, which persuaded Jaguar founder and design boss William Lyons to put it into production. Beginning in 1948, the first 242 cars wore wood-framed open 2-seater bodies with aluminium panels. Production switched to the 112 lb heavier all-steel in early 1950. The “120” in the name referred to the aluminium car’s 120 mph top speed, which was faster with the windscreen removed. This made it the world’s fastest production car at the time of its launch. Indeed, on 30 May 1949, on the empty Ostend-Jabbeke motorway in Belgium, a prototype XK120 timed by the officials of the Royal Automobile Club of Belgium achieved an average of runs in opposing directions of 132.6 mph with the windscreen replaced by just one small aeroscreen and a catalogued alternative top gear ratio, and 135 mph with a passenger-side tonneau cover in place. In 1950 and 1951, at a banked oval track in France, XK120 roadsters averaged over 100 mph for 24 hours and over 130 mph for an hour, and in 1952 a fixed-head coupé took numerous world records for speed and distance when it averaged 100 mph for a week. Roadsters were also successful in racing and rallying. The first production roadster, chassis number 670003, was delivered to Clark Gable in 1949. The XK120 was ultimately available in two open versions, first as an open 2-seater described in the US market as the roadster (and designated OTS, for open two-seater, in America), and from 1953 as a drophead coupé (DHC); as well as a closed, or fixed head coupé (FHC) from 1951.  A smaller-engined version with 2-litres and 4 cylinders, intended for the UK market, was cancelled prior to production.

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One of the most loved Jaguars of all time, both when it was new, and still now, is the Mark 2 saloon. Many will tell you that it is not the 3 Series BMW that “invented” the “compact sports saloon” car class, but this model, which dates back to 1959. A thorough revision of the small Jaguar saloon that had joined the range in 1955, the Mark 2 was notable in that it was the first car to use the Arabic numeral in its name, as opposed to the Roman numerals of the larger Jaguar models. At launch, the earlier model which had hitherto been known by its engine size was christened the Mark 1. Although clearly based on that car, the updated car looked significantly different, with an increase of 18% in cabin glass area greatly improving visibility. The car was re-engineered above the waistline. Slender front pillars allowed a wider windscreen and the rear window almost wrapped around to the enlarged side windows now with the familiar Jaguar D-shape above the back door and fully chromed frames for all the side windows. The radiator grille was amended and larger side, tail and fog lamps repositioned. Inside a new heating system was fitted and ducted to the rear compartment (although still notoriously ineffective). There was an improved instrument layout that became standard for all Jaguar cars until the XJ Series II of 1973. As well as the familiar 2.4 and 3.4 litre engines, what made this car particularly special was that it was also offered with the potent 220 bhp 3.8 litre unit that was fitted to the XK150 and which would later see service in the E Type. This gave the car a 0 – 60 time of around 8.5 seconds and a top speed of 125 mph. No wonder that the Mark 2 became popular as a get-away car for the criminal fraternity, and to keep up with and catch them, many police forces bought the car as well. With revised suspension and standard four wheel disc brakes, the car was effective on the track, taking plenty of class wins when new, and it is still popular in historic racing circles today. The quickest and most successful private entries came from John Coombs, a man with significant race experience who operated a large Jaguar dealership in Guildford. Coombs would undertake modifications to meet the demands of his customers, so not all the cars that he worked on are the same. Jaguar replaced the Mark 2 with simplified and slightly more cheaply finished 240 and 340 models, as an interim measure until an all-new model was ready to take over from them. The 3.8 litre disappeared from the range at this time, but in the 7 years it had been in production, it had been the best seller of the range, with around 30,000 cars produced, as compared to 28,666 of the 3.4 litre and 25,741 of the 2.4 litre model.

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The “X300” model was the first XJ produced entirely under Ford ownership, and can be considered an evolution of the outgoing XJ40 generation. Like all previous XJ generations, it featured the Jaguar independent rear suspension arrangement. The design of the X300 placed emphasis on improved build quality, improved reliability, and a return to traditional Jaguar styling elements. At the car’s launch in October 1994 at the Paris Motor Show, Jaguar marketing material made use of the phrase “New Series XJ” to describe the X300 models. The X300 series represented the result of a £200 million facilities renewal program by Ford. which included the introduction of state-of-the-art automated body welding robots manufactured by Nissan. Aesthetically, the X300 received several updates in the design refresh led by Geoff Lawson in 1991. The mostly flat bonnet of the XJ40 was replaced with a fluted, curvaceous design that accentuated the four separate round headlamps. Rear wings were reshaped to accommodate the new wrap-around rear light clusters. Also, the separate black-rubber bumper bar of the XJ40 were  replaced with a fully integrated body-coloured bumper. The interior of the X300 was similar to that found in the XJ40, with some revisions. The seats were updated to have a more rounded profile, wood trim was updated with bevelled edges, and the steering wheel was redesigned. Jaguar’s V12 engine and AJ6 inline-six (AJ16) engine were both available in various X300 models, although they received significant updates. Both engines were fitted with distributorless electronic engine management systems. The Jaguar X308 first appeared in 1997 and was produced until 2003. It was an evolution of the outgoing X300 platform, and the exterior styling is nearly identical between the two generations, though there are quite a few detailed differences if you know what to look for. The major change was the under the bonnet. Having discontinued production of both the AJ16 inline-six and V12 engines, Jaguar offered only its newly designed V8 engine (named the AJ-V8.) It was available in either 3.2 or 4.0 litre forms, although certain markets, such as the United States, only received cars powered by the 4.0 litre version. The 4.0 litre version was also supercharged in certain models. Equipment levels were notably more generous than had previously been the case.

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JENSEN

The Jensen 541 was first exhibited at the London Motor Show in October 1953, and production started in 1954. The 541 used fibreglass bodywork mounted on a steel chassis and was fitted with a straight-six engine, three SU carburettor version of the 4-litre Austin engine and four speed transmission with optional Laycock de Normanville overdrive. The body consisted of three major mouldings and the entire front was rear hinged and could be raised for engine access. The doors were aluminium. Suspension was independent at the front using coil springs with a Panhard rod located rigid axle and leaf springs at the rear. A choice of wire spoked or steel disc wheels with centre lock fitting was offered. At first the car had servo assisted 11 in drum brakes but from 1956, the newly introduced 541 Deluxe version featured Dunlop disc brakes both front and rear—the first British four seater thus equipped. It was also a luxurious car with the well equipped interior featuring leather seats as standard. The individual seats in front separated by a high transmission tunnel and the rear seats had a small centre armrest and could also be tilted forwards to increase luggage space. Standard colours (1955) were black, ivory, imperial crimson, moonbeam grey, Boticelli blue, deep green and Tampico beige. By employing lightweight materials, Jensen managed to make the car significantly lighter than their contemporary Interceptor model, with a dry weight of 1,220 kg (2,690 lb) as against the older design’s 1,370 kg (3,020 lb). Performance benefitted. In 1957 the 541 R was introduced, and in 1960 the 541 S arrived with wider bodywork and revised grill styling. Production of the Jensen 541 ended in 1959 and the 541 S early 1963 when the range was replaced by the C-V8.

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An enduring classic that has far more appeal now than when it was new (not an uncommon story) is the Jensen Interceptor,  launched as a replacement for the rather gawky looking CV8 of the early 1960s. After a false start when a car with the same name was shown in 1965, which received a massive “thumbs down”, Jensen went to Italy to find a new stylist for another attempt. They ended up with Carozzeria Touring, who produced a stunning looking grand tourer which, although sharing some styling cues with other models that they had designed, had a style all of its own, and they then approached another,  Vignale,  to build the bodies before they would be shipped back to West Bromwich for final assembly. As with the CV8, motive power came from a large Chrysler V8 engine, which gave the car effortless performance, and a somewhat prodigious thirst. The original specification included electric windows, reclining front seats, a wood rimmed steering wheel, radio with twin speakers, reversing lights and an electric clock. Power steering was included as standard from September 1968. The Mark II was announced in October 1969, with slightly revised styling around the headlamps, front grille and bumper and revised rear lights. The interior was substantially revised in order to meet US regulations, and air conditioning was an option. The Mark III, introduced in 1971, revised the front grille, headlamp finishers and bumper treatment again. It had GKN alloy wheels and air conditioning as standard, and revised seats. It was divided into G-, H-, and J-series depending on the production year. The 6.3 litre engine was superseded by the 7.2 litre in 1971. A Convertible version was premiered in 1974,. but just 267 were built, and then in 1975 a Coupe model was shown, effectively a fixed roof version of the Convertible, just 60 of which were made as by this time, the company had fallen on hard times due to the then world-wide recession, and massive and costly reliability problems with its Jensen-Healey sports car. It was placed into receivership and the receivers allowed production to be wrapped up using the available cache of parts. Production of the Interceptor ended in 1976. Enthusiasm for the car remained, though, so in the late 1980s, a group of investors stepped in and re-launched production of the Interceptor, as the Series 4, back as a low-volume hand built and bespoke affair, marketed in a similar way to Bristol, with a price (£70,000 and more) to match. Though the body remained essentially the same as the last of the main production run of series 3; the engine was a much smaller Chrysler supplied 5.9 litre unit which used more modern controls to reduce emissions comparatively and still produce about 230 hp. In addition, the interior was slightly re-designed with the addition of modern “sports” front seats as opposed to the armchair style of the earlier models, as well as a revised dashboard and electronics. The then owner sold up in 1990 to an engineering company believed to be in a stronger position to manufacture the car which lasted until 1993 with approximately 36 cars built, and while work commenced on development of a Series 5 Interceptor, once again receivers were called in and the company was liquidated. Even that was not quite the end of the story, as the Jensen specialist based at Cropredy Bridge has made a business out of rebuilding original Interceptors using modern components, with a General Motors supplied 6.2 litre LS3 engine and transmission from a Chevrolet Corvette. In May 2010, Jensen International Automotive was set up, with the financial backing and know-how of Carphone Warehouse founder and chairman Charles Dunstone who joined its board of directors. A small number of Jensen Interceptor Ss, which had started production under a previous company, are being completed by Jensen International Automotive (JIA), in parallel with JIA’s own production of the new Jensen Interceptor R; deliveries of the latter started at the beginning of 2011.

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LAGONDA

The Lagonda 2.6-Litre was an automobile produced in England by Lagonda from 1948 to 1953. It was the first model from that company following its purchase by David Brown in 1947, and was named for the new straight-6 engine which debuted with the car. The Lagonda straight-6 engine was designed by W. O. Bentley and would propel Lagonda’s new parent company, Aston Martin, to fame. The 2.6-Litre (105 bhp) was a larger car than the Aston Martin models which were being produced under David Brown’s ownership and was available as a 4-door saloon and, from 1949, as 2-door drophead coupé, both with 4 seats. The drophead was bodied by Tickford, at the time not part of Aston Martin. A Mark II version appeared in 1952, in saloon form only, with engine power increased to 125 bhp. The car had a separate chassis and all independent suspension using coil springs at the front and torsion bars at the rear. At introduction it was believed to be the only all-independently sprung British car. The Lockheed brakes had 12 in (305 mm) drums at the front and 11 in (279 mm) at the rear with the latter being mounted inboard. Rack and pinion steering was used. A drophead version tested by The Motor magazine in 1949 had a top speed of 90.2 mph (145.2 km/h) and could accelerate from 0-60 mph in 17.6 seconds. A fuel consumption of 17 mpg imperial (17 L/100 km; 14 mpg‑US) was recorded. The test car cost £3,420 including taxes. The car sold reasonably well, in spite of being an expensive car and being launched so soon after the war, with 510 examples made when production ended in 1953.

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LAMBORGHINI

The Lamborghini Gallardo is a sports car built by the Italian automotive manufacturer Lamborghini from 2003 to 2013. Named after a famous breed of fighting bull, the V10 powered Gallardo has been Lamborghini’s sales leader and stable-mate to a succession of V12 flagship models—first to the Murciélago (4,099 built between 2001 and 2010), then to the current flagship, the Aventador. The first generation of the Gallardo was powered with an even firing 4,961 cc (5.0 L) 90 degree V10 engine generating a maximum power output of 500 PS at 7500 rpm and 510 Nm (376 lb/ft) of torque at 4500 rpm. The Gallardo was offered with two choices of transmission; a conventional (H-pattern) six-speed manual transmission, and a six-speed electro-hydraulically actuated single-clutch automated manual transmission that Lamborghini called “E-gear”. The “E-gear” transmission provides gear changes more quickly than could be achieved through a manual shift. The driver shifts up and down via paddles behind the steering wheel, but can also change to an automatic mode via the gear selector located in place of the gear shift lever. The vehicle was designed by Luc Donckerwolke and was based on the 1995 Calà prototype designed by Italdesign Giugiaro. For the 2006 model year (launched in late 2005), Lamborghini introduced many changes to the car to counter some criticisms garnered from the press and owners. The exhaust system was changed to a more sporty one (including a flap to make it quieter during city driving), the suspension was revised, a new steering rack was fitted, the engine power was increased by 20 PS to a maximum of 520 PS and the biggest change was overall lower gearing ratios, especially in 1st to 5th gear. These changes gave the car a much better performance than the original and were also included in the limited edition Gallardo SE.  The convertible variant of the Gallardo, called the Gallardo Spyder, was unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show in January 2006. It was considered by the company to be an entirely new model, with the engine having a power output of 520 PS (513 bhp) and a low-ratio six-speed manual transmission. The Spyder has a retractable soft-top. At the 2007 Geneva Auto Show, Lamborghini unveiled the Gallardo Superleggera. The name paid tribute to the construction style of the first Lamborghini production model, the 350 GT, designed and built by Carrozzeria Touring and its emphasis on weight reduction. The Superleggera is lighter than the base model by 100 kg (220 lb) due to the use of carbon fibre panels for the rear diffuser, undertray, the rearview-mirror housings, the interior door panels, the central tunnel, engine cover; titanium wheel nuts and carbon fibre sports seats. The engine power was uprated by 10 PS courtesy of an improved intake, exhaust and ECU for a total power output of 530 PS. The 6-speed E-Gear transmission was standard on US spec models with the 6-speed manual transmission offered as a no cost option. Production of the Superleggera amounted to 618 units worldwide. Presented at the 2008 Geneva Motor Show, the Gallardo LP 560-4 was a significant update of the Gallardo, powered by a new, uneven firing 5,200 cc  V10 engine that produces 560 PS at 8,000 rpm and 540 Nm (398 lb/ft) of torque at 6,500 rpm. Featuring “Iniezione Diretta Stratificata” direct fuel injection system to improve efficiency; fuel consumption and CO2 emissions have been reduced by 18% despite the increase in performance. The car was redesigned, inspired by the Murciélago LP 640 and Reventón. The new engine, 40 PS more powerful than in the previous car, comes with two transmission choices: a 6-speed manual or 6-speed E-gear, the latter of which was revised to offer a Corsa mode which makes 40% quicker shifts than before and decreases traction control restrictions, a Thrust Mode launch control system was also added. Accompanied with a 20 kg (44 lb) weight reduction. All the improvements add up to a claimed performance of 0-100 km/h (62 mph) in 3.7 seconds, 0-200 km/h (124 mph) of 11.8 and a top speed of 325 km/h (202 mph). The MSRP base price was $198,000 in the US and £147,330 (including NavTrak vehicle tracking system and delivery package) in the UK. The first US car was sold in the 16th Annual Race to Erase MS charity auction for $198,000 to former True Religion Jeans co-founder/co-creator Kymberly Gold and music producer Victor Newman. The Lamborghini Gallardo LP 560-4 Spyder was unveiled at the 2008 LA Auto Show.as the replacement for the previous Gallardo Spyder. It is the convertible model of the Gallardo LP 560-4 and as such possess all of its features like the new uneven firing 5.2 L V10 engine, improved E-gear transmission and 20 kg (44 lb) weight reduction. Performance has been improved to 0-100 km/h (62 mph) in 3.8 seconds, 0-200 km/h (124 mph) of 13.1 and a top speed of 324 km/h (201 mph) In March 2010, Lamborghini announced the release of the Gallardo LP 570-4 Superleggera, a lightweight and more powerful version of the Gallardo LP 560–4 in the same vein as the previous Superleggera. With carbon fibre used extensively inside and out to reduce weight to just 1,340 kg (2,954 lb) making it the lightest road-going Lamborghini in the range. The odd firing 5.2 L V10 on the LP 570-4 gets a power bump over the standard Gallardo to 570 PS at 8,000 rpm and 540 Nm (398 lb/ft) at 6,500 rpm of torque. Performance has been improved to 0-100 km/h (62 mph) in 3.2 seconds, and a 329 km/h (204 mph) top speed.  The Gallardo became Lamborghini’s best-selling model with 14,022 built throughout its production run. On 25 November 2013, the last Gallardo was rolled off the production line. The Gallardo was replaced by the Huracán in 2014

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The Lamborghini Huracán (Spanish for “hurricane”; [uɾaˈkan]) is a sports car replacing the previous V10 offering, the Gallardo. The Huracán was revealed online in December 2013, making its worldwide debut at the 2014 Geneva Auto Show, and was released in the market in the second quarter of 2014. The Huracán’s name (huracán being the Spanish word for hurricane) is inspired by a Spanish fighting bull. Historic Spanish fighting bulls have traditionally provided the names of most Lamborghini car models. Huracán was a bull known for its courage that fought in 1879. The Huracán maintains the 5.2-litre naturally aspirated Audi/Lamborghini V10 engine with an additional 0.2 litres, compared to the Gallardo, tuned to generate a maximum power output of 602 bhp/610 PS. To ensure its balance and performance, the car is mid-engined. The engine has both direct fuel injection and multi-point fuel injection. It combines the benefits of both of these systems; it is the first time this combination is used in a V10 engine. To increase its efficiency, the Huracán’s engine also includes a start-stop system. The firing order of the engine is 1, 6, 5, 10, 2, 7, 3, 8, 4, 9. This is printed on a metal plate on the top of the engine, as with all other Lamborghini models. The drag coefficient of Cd=0.39 was undisclosed until 2021. The LP 610-4 designation comes from the car having 610 PS and four-wheel drive, while LP stands for “Longitudinale Posteriore”, which refers to the longitudinal mid-rear engine position. Changes from the Gallardo include full LED illumination, a 12.3 inch full-colour TFT instrument panel, fine napa leather and Alcantara interior upholstery, redesigned dashboard and central tunnel, Iniezione Diretta Stratificata (IDS, essentially an adapted version of parent Audi’s Fuel Stratified Injection) direct and indirect gasoline injections, engine Stop & Start technology, EU6 emissions regulation compliance, Lamborghini Doppia Frizione (LDF) 7-speed dual-clutch transmission with 3 modes (STRADA, SPORT and CORSA), 20-inch wheels, carbon-ceramic braking system, optional Lamborghini Dynamic Steering variable steering system and MagneRide electromagnetic damper control. The main competitors of the Huracán include the McLaren 650S (as well as the 720S), the Audi R8, the Ferrari 458 Speciale and the 488 GTB. Extra options that increase the price of the car include interior enhancements, special paint schemes, improved suspension, and a lifting system, as well as multiple components optionally available in carbon fibre, rather than aluminium. The convertible variant of the Huracán LP 610-4 was revealed at the Frankfurt Motor Show on 14 September 2015. The 5.2-litre naturally-aspirated V10 engine is the same as the coupé and generates a maximum power output of 602 bhp/610 PS. Acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) takes 3.4 seconds and the top speed is 323 km/h (201 mph). It has the same 7-speed Lamborghini Doppia Frizione (LDF) dual-clutch transmission as that of the coupé. The Spyder has a dry weight of 1,542 kg (3,400 lb) which is 120 kg (265 lb) more than the coupé due to chassis reinforcing components. The Spyder has a CO2 emission of about 280 g/km. Unveiled at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show, the Huracán LP 580-2 is a lower cost derivative of the Huracán LP 610-4 that differs mostly in having the 5.2 L V10 engine detuned to 572 bhp/580 PS and 533 Nm (393 lb/ft) of torque along with having a rear wheel drive drivetrain instead of the all-wheel drive drivetrain found in the standard Huracán. Lamborghini claims the car will accelerate from 0–100 km/h (0–62 mph) in 3.4 seconds and 0–200 km/h (0–124 mph) in 10.1 seconds. The top speed is claimed to be as high as 320 km/h (199 mph). It also features slight visual differences to the standard variant of the car – with a different front fascia and larger air vents at the rear of the car for improved brake cooling. The seven-speed dual-clutch transmission is the same as used in the standard LP 610–4. The base level LP 580-2 costs US$201,100, about US$40,000 less than the base level LP 610–4. A convertible variant of the Huracán LP 580-2 was unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show on 16 November 2016. The 5.2-litre naturally-aspirated V10 engine is the same as in the coupé, and generates a maximum power output of 572 bhp/580 PS. 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) takes 3.6 seconds and the top speed is 320 km/h (199 mph). A track oriented variant of the Huracán, called the Performante, was unveiled at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show. The Performante underwent various exterior changes with the most noticeable being the front and rear bumpers. Carbon fibre is used for the bumpers and the side skirts. An adjustable carbon fibre rear wing has been added to increase downforce. The position of the exhaust has also been changed, and is now just a bit above the rear diffuser. The interior also underwent noticeable changes, now sporting new seats and a new digital speedometer (similar to that of the Aventador SV’s speedometer). The Performante’s 5.2-litre V10 has been tuned to have a power output of 631 bhp/640 PS at 8,000 rpm and 601 Nm (443 lb/ft) of torque at 6,500 rpm. The weight has also decreased by 40 kg (88 lb), courtesy of the forged aluminium and forged carbon fibre body components (first used in the construction of the Sesto Elemento). All the new aero components on the car have active aerodynamic capability and help keep the car stable at high speeds. The Performante is capable of accelerating from 0–100 km/h (0–62 mph) in 2.9 seconds, 0–200 km/h (0–124 mph) in 8.9 seconds. It also has a theoretical top speed of 325 km/h (200 mph). The car has been stiffened by 10% with new springs, roll bars, and radial axial arm bushings. The magnetorheological suspension has been reworked to give a driver a serious track experience. The Lamborghini Dynamic Steering has been re-calibrated. The Performante utilises Lamborghini’s new ALA (Aerodinamica Lamborghini Attiva) system, which is said to be 80% lighter than regular sports car hydraulic systems. According to Lamborghini, ALA is also said to provide 750% more downforce than the standard Huracán. The Lamborghini Huracán Performante Spyder was unveiled at the 2018 Geneva Motor Show. It takes much of the styling inspiration from the coupé and the outgoing LP 610-4 Spyder. The Spyder is identical to the coupé from performance and technological standpoint, but the acceleration time from 0–60 mph has risen by one-tenth of a second and stands at 3.1 seconds while the 0–200 km/h (0–124 mph) has risen by four-tenths of a second and stands at 9.3 seconds. Due to the loss of the roof, the Spyder weighs 125 kg (276 lb) more than the coupé due to chassis reinforcing components. Top speed remains the same as well and stands at 325 km/h (202 mph). Deliveries of the Spyder began in the fourth quarter of 2018. The Huracán received a mid-cycle update in 2019, now being called the Huracán Evo. It now shares its engine and some of the technology with the Performante variant. The updated version of the Huracán has a more aggressive design language, the new front bumper has integrated aeroblades for improved downforce along with the rear styling inspired by the Performante variant, having the same rear diffuser, exhaust pipe position and radiators. A new ducktail spoiler improves downforce by 5 times as compared to the outgoing model. The engine is shared with the Performante and generates 631 bhp/640 PS at 8,000 rpm and 601 Nm (443 lb/ft) of torque at 6,500 rpm. The exhaust system is more refined and has titanium intake valves. This allows the car to achieve a 0–60 mph) acceleration time of 2.9 seconds, 0–200 km/h (0–124 mph) acceleration time of 9 seconds and a top speed of 325 km/h (202 mph). The car has a braking distance from 100–0 km/h (62–0 mph) of 104 ft (32 m). The Huracán Evo has a rear-wheel steering system for improved handling and a torque vectoring system. A new central processing unit controls the various functions of the car and monitors various settings. The control system is controlled by the new infotainment system (via an 8.4 inch touchscreen) dubbed the Lamborghini Dinamica Veicolo Integrata which has integrated both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The infotainment system predicts the driving modes by a feed forward logic. The feed forward logic works by sensors monitoring the lateral, longitudinal and vertical accelerations, as well as roll, pitch and yaw rate to predict the best possible driving mode for the driver. The magnetorheological suspension is also revised and now uses electromagnetic current to adjust the suspension system in accordance with the driving mode. The transmission system from the outgoing model is retained which transfers power to all four wheels. A new Ego mode allows the driver to change driving settings to their own preference. The Huracán Evo Spyder was introduced online in February 2019. The Spyder has the same enhancements as the coupé but is 100 kg (220 lb) heavier due to the addition of chassis reinforcement components owing to the loss of the roof. The car has the same canvas folding soft top as the outgoing model which takes 17 seconds for operation and is operable at speeds up to 50 km/h (31 mph). The Spyder can accelerate to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 3.1 seconds from a standstill, to 200 km/h (124 mph) in 9.3 seconds and can attain a top speed of 325 km/h (202 mph). A rear-wheel drive variant of the Evo debuted in January 2020, replacing the LP 580–2. The front splitter has been reshaped and generates more airflow, which is directed to the revised diffuser. Unique to the RWD model is P-TCS (Performance Traction Control System) that ensures that torque is not cut off abruptly; Lamborghini claims this increases oversteer by 30 percent compared to the LP 580–2. The engine is detuned and is now rated at 602 bhp/610 PS. Due to the detuned engine, the car is slower than the standard Huracán Evo accelerating to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 3.3 seconds while having the same top speed. The car also receives a unique paint option, Giallo Belenus, along with a matching interior upholstered in leather and microsuede. A convertible version of the rear-wheel drive variant of the Evo was showcased in May 2020, replacing the LP 580-2 Spyder. Like the Coupé variant, the convertible has a power output of 602 bhp/610 PS. The convertible has a 0– 60 mph acceleration time of 3.5 seconds and has a claimed top speed of 323 km/h (201 mph). Unveiled on April 12, 2022, The Huracán Tecnica sits between the EVO RWD and the track-focused STO. It is 6.1 cm (2.4 in) longer than the EVO, but is the same height and width. It uses the naturally-aspirated V10 engine from the STO and has a top speed of 325 km/h (202 mph) and an acceleration time of 0–100 km/h (0–62 mph) in 3.2 seconds. According to Lamborghini, the Tecnica’s aerodynamic changes increase downforce 35 percent and reduce drag by 20 percent compared to the EVO. It is expected that production will end in 2024.

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LOTUS

It is now over 20 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.

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At the Frankfurt 2011 Show, the 2012 version of the Exige S was announced. It features a supercharged 3.5 litre V6 engine (from the Evora S) rated at 345 hp. In 2013, a roadster version was introduced with only minor changes to the design for the removable top. The engine and performance were virtually unchanged from the coupe. To accommodate the V6 engine, the new model is approximately 25 cm (9.8 inches) longer and 5 cm (2.0 in) wider (exterior bodywise) than the model with the inline-four engine, being 4,052 mm (159.5 inches) long, 1,802 mm (70.9 in) wide (not counting the mirrors) and 1,153 mm (45.4 in) tall. The drag coefficient is 0.433. Since that time there have been a bewildering array of different versions and you need to be a real marque expert to tell them all apart. The policy has worked, though, as sales have remained steady whilst Lotus try to amass the finances to develop any all new models. The Exige V6 Cup is a track oriented version of the Exige S while the Exige CupR is the track-only version of Exige V6 Cup. The Exige V6 Cup is offered for sale in the United States as a track only car. If purchased, US Lotus Dealers will only provide a bill of sale instead of a title. The vehicles were unveiled at the 2013 Autosport International motor show. Limited to 50 examples, the Lotus Exige 360 Cup was revealed on 14 August 2015. The car is powered by a 3.5-liter supercharged Toyota V6 delivering 355 hp. The Lotus Exige Sport 380 is a track focused and more powerful version of the Lotus Exige lineup. It was unveiled on 23 November 2016. Lotus’ CEO, Jean-Marc Gales describes it as, “The Exige Sport 380 is so good, that it is no longer the best in class, it’s now in a class of its own”, and it fulfills this statement by taking on some of the powerful and expensive super cars both on the track and the streets. The 3.5-litre, super-charged V6 engine is now uprated and produces 375 hp and 410 Nm (302 lb/ft) of torque with a 6500 rpm red line achieved by revised supercharger and ECU. It can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds and has a top speed of 178 mph (286 km/h). The interior is also stripped out and features necessary driver aids. The Exige Sport 380 weighs 1,076 kg (2,372 lb), thanks to the extensive use of carbon fibre on the exterior as well as the interior, the application of polycarbonate windows instead of traditional glass windows and a newly designed rear transom panel which features two rear lights instead of four.The Lotus Exige Cup 380 is a more hardcore variant of the Exige Sport 380. Performance of the car remains the same as the Sport 380 but it features more aero components and a larger rear wing to produce more downforce at high speeds. The Exige Cup 380 generates 200 kg (441 lb) of downforce at its maximum speed of 175 mph (282 km/h); the top speed is reduced due to excess downforce and more drag. It features a more stripped out interior in order to save weight and other light weight carbon fiber components, Lotus states a lowest possible dry weight of only 1,057 kg (2,330 lb). On 9 November 2017, Lotus unveiled the most powerful version of the Exige to date called the Exige Cup 430, producing 430 PS (424 hp) and using the Evora GT430’s powertrain, modified to fit in the smaller Exige. The car body can produce 220 kg (485 lb) of downforce. The Cup 430 is 19 kg (42 lb) lighter than the Sport 380 due to the use of carbon fibre in body panels and interior and a titanium exhaust. The gearbox allows quicker gearshifts than the previous model. The Cup 430 is not offered with an automatic gearbox. The Lotus Exige Cup 430 is capable of covering the Hethel circuit in 1 minute 24.8 seconds – the fastest production car to lap the circuit – 1.2 seconds faster than the road going Lotus 3-Eleven.

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MASERATI

After producing BiTurbo based cars for 17 years, Maserati replaced their entire range with a new model in July 1998, the 3200 GT. This very elegant 2+2 grand tourer was styled by Italdesign, whose founder and head Giorgetto Giugiaro had previously designed, among others, the Ghibli, Bora and Merak. The interior design was commissioned to Enrico Fumia. Its name honoured the Maserati 3500 GT, the Trident’s first series production grand tourer. Sold mainly in Europe, the 3200 GT was powered by the twin-turbo, 32-valve, dual overhead cam 3.2-litre V8 engine featured in the Quattroporte Evoluzione, set up to develop 370 PS (365 hp). The car was praised for its styling, with the distinctive array of tail-lights, consisting of LEDs, arranged in the shape of boomerang being particularly worthy of comment. The outer layer of the ‘boomerang’ provided the brake light, with the inner layer providing the directional indicator. The car was also reviewed quite well by the press when they got to drive it in early 1999, though it was clear that they expected more power and excitement. That came after  4,795 cars had been produced, in 2001, with the launch of the 4200 models. Officially called the Coupé and joined by an open-topped  Spyder (Tipo M138 in Maserati speak), these models had larger 4.2 litre engines and had been engineered so the cars could be sold in America, marking the return to that market for Maserati after an 11 year gap. There were some detailed styling changes, most notable of which were the replacement of the boomerang rear lights with conventional rectangular units. Few felt that this was an improvement. The cars proved popular, though, selling strongly up until 2007 when they were replaced by the next generation of Maserati. Minor changes were made to the model during its six year production, but more significant was the launch at the 2004 Geneva Show of the GranSport which sported aerodynamic body cladding, a chrome mesh grille, carbon fibre interior trim, and special 19-inch wheels. It used the Skyhook active suspension, with a 0.4 inch lower ride height, and the Cambiocorsa transmission recalibrated for quicker shifts. The exhaust was specially tuned to “growl” on start-up and full throttle. The GranSport was powered by the same 4244 cc, 90° V8 petrol engine used on the Coupé and Spyder, but developing 400 PS (395 hp) at 7000 rpm due primarily to a different exhaust system and improvements on the intake manifolds and valve seats. A six-speed paddle shift transmission came as standard. The GranSport has a claimed top speed of 180 mph (290 km/h) and a 0–62 mph (0–100 km/h) time of 4.8 seconds.

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McLAREN

Sitting below the 720 in the range are the 540 and 570 models. The first of these were revealed at the 2015 New York Auto Show, going on sale towards the end of that year. These were labelled as part of McLaren’s Sports Series. This mid-engine sportscar features the lightweight carbon fibre MonoCell II chassis, and a highly efficient 3.8-litre twin turbo V8 engine generating 562bhp and 443lb/ft of torque. Although the model has been conceived with a greater focus on day-to-day usability and refinement, but it is still very much a pure McLaren, boasting a class-leading power-to-weight ratio of 434PS per tonne, and electrifying performance. The 570S Coupé accelerates from 0 to 100km/h in just 3.2 seconds, reaches 200km/h (124mph) in 9.5 seconds, and on to a top speed of 204mph. Pricing for the 570S Coupé started at £143,250, though like all cars of this type, that figure can quickly rise once you raid the options list.

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MERCEDES-BENZ

Designed in 1984, and launched in 1989, the R129 was based on the shortened floorpan of the Mercedes-Benz W124 and featured many innovative details for the time, for instance electronically controlled damping (Adaptive Damping System ADS, optional) and a hidden, automatically extending roll-over bar. The R107’s somewhat dated rear suspension with semi-trailing arms gave way to a modern multi-link axle. The number of standard features was high, with electric action for the windows, mirrors, seats and hydraulic convertible top. This car has the distinction of being the first passenger vehicle to have seat belts integrated into the seats as opposed to anchoring to the floor, B-pillar, and transmission tunnel. Initially, there were three different engines available: 300 SL with a M103 3.0 L 12-valve SOHC I6 (188 bhp), a 300 SL-24 with a M104 3.0 L 24-valve DOHC I6 (228 bhp)  and the 500 SL with a M119 5.0 L 32-valve DOHC V8 (322 bhp) . These were joined in July 1992 by the 600 SL with a M120 6.0 L 48-valve DOHC V12 (389 bhp). There was a choice of 5-speed manual or 4–5 speed automatic for the six-cylinder cars; the V8 and V12 could only be ordered with a 4-speed automatic gearbox. In autumn 1993 Mercedes-Benz rearranged names and models. Also, the 300 SL and 300 SL-24 were respectively replaced by:  SL 280 with a M104 2.8 L 24-valve DOHC I6 (190 bhp) and the SL 320 with a M104 3.2 L 24-valve DOHC I6 (228 bhp). Only the 280 was available with a manual gearbox. SL 500 and 600 continued with their respective engines. Starting in 1993, the cars were re-designated. For example, 500 SL became SL 500. Starting in model year 1994, Mercedes-Benz offered special SL models from time to time, such as the Mille Miglia edition cars of model year 1994 or the SL edition of model year 2000. 1994 cars had minor updates for the car and then in 1995 there was a minor facelift for the car, with the front fender vents updated to only 2 rounded slots, rather than 3 squared slots, and bumpers in body colour. The V8 and V12s were upgraded to 5 speed electronic transmission, the previous transmission was hydraulic 4-speed. A second facelift occurred in 1998 with many detailed changes applied, including  new external mirrors, 17″ wheels and new bumpers. Also new were the engines, a SL 280 with a M112 2.8 L 18-valve SOHC V6 (201 bhp);  SL 320 with a M112 3.2 L 18-valve SOHC V6 (221 bhp) and a  SL 500 with a M113 5.0 L 24-valve SOHC V8 (302 bhp). The V12 engine remained unchanged. The car was replaced by the R230 generation SL in 2001, after 213,089 had been built.

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The only other Mercedes of note was this example of the AMG GT.

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MG

Launched in October 1962, the MGB was produced for the next 18 years and it went on to become Britain’s best selling sports car.  When first announced, the MGB was an innovative, modern design, with a monocoque structure instead of the traditional body-on-frame construction used on both the MGA and MG T-types and the MGB’s rival, the Triumph TR series, though components such as the brakes and suspension were developments of the earlier 1955 MGA and the B-Series engine had its origins back in 1947. The lightweight design reduced manufacturing costs while adding to overall vehicle strength, and with a 95hp 3-bearing 1798cc engine under the bonnet, performance was quite respectable with a 0–60 mph time of just over 11 seconds. The car was rather more civilised than its predecessor, with wind-up windows now fitted as standard, and a comfortable driver’s compartment offered plenty of legroom. The roadster was the first of the MGB range to be produced. The body was a pure two-seater but a small rear seat was a rare option at one point. By making better use of space the MGB was able to offer more passenger and luggage accommodation than the earlier MGA while being 3 inches shorter overall. The suspension was also softer, giving a smoother ride, and the larger engine gave a slightly higher top speed. The four-speed gearbox was an uprated version of the one used in the MGA with an optional (electrically activated) overdrive transmission. A five-bearing engine was introduced in 1964 and a number of other modifications crept into the specification. In late 1967, sufficient changes were introduced for the factory to define a Mark II model. Alterations included synchromesh on all 4 gears with revised ratios, an optional Borg-Warner automatic gearbox, a new rear axle, and an alternator in place of the dynamo with a change to a negative earth system. To accommodate the new gearboxes there were significant changes to the sheet metal in the floorpan, and a new flat-topped transmission tunnel. US market cars got a new safety padded dashboard, but the steel item continued for the rest of the world. Rostyle wheels were introduced to replace the previous pressed steel versions in 1969 and reclining seats were standardised. 1970 also saw a new front grille, recessed, in black aluminium. The more traditional-looking polished grille returned in 1973 with a black “honeycomb” insert. Further changes in 1972 were to the interior with a new fascia. To meet impact regulations, in late 1974, the chrome bumpers were replaced with new, steel-reinforced black rubber bumpers, the one at the front incorporating the grille area as well, giving a major restyling to the B’s nose, and a matching rear bumper completed the change. New US headlight height regulations also meant that the headlamps were now too low. Rather than redesign the front of the car, British Leyland raised the car’s suspension by 1-inch. This, in combination with the new, far heavier bumpers resulted in significantly poorer handling. For the 1975 model year only, the front anti-roll bar was deleted as a cost-saving measure (though still available as an option). The damage done by the British Leyland response to US legislation was partially alleviated by revisions to the suspension geometry in 1977, when a rear anti-roll bar was made standard equipment on all models. US emissions regulations also reduced horsepower. In March 1979 British Leyland started the production of black painted limited edition MGB roadsters for the US market, meant for a total of 500 examples, but due to a high demand, production ended with 6682 examples. The United Kingdom received bronze painted roadsters and a silver GT model limited editions. The production run of home market limited edition MGBs was split between 421 roadsters and 579 GTs. Meanwhile, the fixed-roof MGB GT had been introduced in October 1965, and production continued until 1980, although export to the US ceased in 1974. The MGB GT sported a ground-breaking greenhouse designed by Pininfarina and launched the sporty “hatchback” style. By combining the sloping rear window with the rear deck lid, the B GT offered the utility of a station wagon while retaining the style and shape of a coupe. This new configuration was a 2+2 design with a right-angled rear bench seat and far more luggage space than in the roadster. Relatively few components differed, although the MGB GT did receive different suspension springs and anti-roll bars and a different windscreen which was more easily and inexpensively serviceable. Although acceleration of the GT was slightly slower than that of the roadster, owing to its increased weight, top speed improved by 5 mph to 105 mph because of better aerodynamics. 523,826 examples of the MGB of all model types were built, and although many of these were initially sold new in North America, a lot have been repatriated here.

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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, the MG ZT 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.

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In mid 2001, an MG version of the 45 had been launched, called the ZS, which gave MG a range of 3 different models as well as the TF sports car. The view of the press was that the suspension and steering alterations completely transformed the car, but this model was in a difficult part of the market, compared to the smaller ZR and is found fewer buyers. Those who did sample the ZS, especially in ZS 180 guise with the 2.5 litre KV6 got an absolutely cracking car though. It sported a V6 with all the aural benefits when all its rivals had 4 cylinder turbo engines. Later cars were facelifted to distinguish them more clearly from the Rover 45, with elements of the X Power bodykit being made standard.

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MINI

A rare Mini present was one of the Cabriolet models. Although there had been conversions done before – notably by Crayford in the early 1960s – this was the first one that was sold new through Austin-Rover dealers. It dates from 1991. Initially, 100 cars were produced by LAMM Autohaus, with their own body kit on the car, and they were all painted in Cherry red. A further 25 were ordered, before Rover committed to a greater volume, and in a wider variety of colours. They were based on the Cooper, and had upgraded trim, with a leather steering wheel, and wood-grained dash, door cappings and gear knob as well as bespoke badging, to help to justify the rather steep price tag of £12,250.

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The Mini was the model that refused to die, with sales continuing after the launch of the Metro in 1980, and gathering momentum again in the 1990s, thanks in no small part to interest from Japan and because Rover Group decided to produce some more Cooper models. The first series of Cooper cars had been discontinued in 1971, replaced by the cheaper to build 1275GT, but when a limited edition model was produced in 1990, complete with full endorsement from John Cooper, the model was a sell out almost overnight, which prompted the decision to make it a permanent addition to the range. A number of refinements were made during the 90s, with fuel injection adding more power, a front mounted radiator and more sound deadening making the car quieter and new seats adding more comfort and a new dash making the car look less spartan inside.

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MITSUBISHI

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.

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MORGAN

Following the success of the Three Wheeler of 2011, Morgan have developed the car, changing just about everything apart from the fun element with the Super 3, an example of which was here.

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NISSAN

The Z32 version of the 300ZX was a new design, approved in final form by Nissan management on October 1, 1986 and designed by Isao Sono and Toshio Yamashita. The body was wider with a rounder profile and fewer hard edges. It had a marginally increased drag coefficient of .31 compared to the Z31’s .30. Unchanged from the previous generation 300ZX was the displacement of the 2,960 cc VG30 V6 engine, now with DOHC and variable valve timing (N-VCT), producing 222 bhp at 6,400 rpm and 198 lb/ft (268 Nm) at 4,800 rpm in naturally aspirated (NA) form. The twin turbocharged (TT) variant was upgraded with Garrett AiResearch parallel twin-turbochargers and dual intercoolers producing 300 bhp at 6,400 rpm and 283 lb/ft (384 Nm) of torque at 3,600 rpm. The Z32 was the first car to be marketed following the introduction of the 280 PS power ceiling imposed by JAMA that remained until 2004. Performance varied from 0-60 mph times of 5.0-6.0 seconds depending on the source, and a governed top speed of 155 mph (249 km/h). Twin Turbocharged Z32s also featured adjustable two mode suspension and the four-wheel steering systems called “Super HICAS” (High Capacity Actively Controlled Steering), first introduced on the R31 Nissan Skyline. Nissan utilized the Cray-2 supercomputer to design the new Z32 with a form of CAD software making it one of the first production cars to utilize this tool. Like previous generations, Nissan offered a 4-seater (2+2) model with the Z32. Most Z32s now featured T-tops as standard. A hardtop (Slicktop) model was available in North America, only in Naturally Aspirated guise, and in Japan was available as Naturally Aspirated as well as an extremely rare Twin Turbo model (Japan-only). All “Slicktops” were 2 seaters (2+0). In 1992, a 2-seat convertible version (produced by ASC) was introduced for the first time, in response to after-market conversions. In 1990, Motorsports International of Waco, Texas collaborated with Japanese tuning company HKS to create the SR-71 Z32. The cars were upgraded with larger Garrett turbochargers, HKS electronics and a Kaminari body kit designed for the SR-71 by Pete Brock. The SR-71 was California CARB certified and was to be sold through a select dealer network and Japanese performance tuning shops located within the United States. It was planned to build 500 cars per year through 1993. One hundred orders were already in hand. The exact number is not known. The SR-71 claimed the title of the third fastest production car in the world in 1990 for a fraction of the price of a Lamborghini Diablo and Ferrari F40 according to the designer Randy Ball. The base price was $65,000 for the Z32 and SR-71 conversion. In 1995 and 1996, Steve Millen Motorsports (Stillen), developed a SMZ model with Nissan North America that were sold throughout the U.S. and Canada through designated Nissan dealerships. The performance upgrades were covered by the factory warranty. Each vehicle was numbered in the engine bay and interior. A total of 104 SMZs were produced at $14,000 more than the standard Nissan Z32 Twin Turbo. American Z-car sales reached one million sales during the 1990 model year, making it at that time the best selling sports car. In America the 300ZX faced the same fate of many Japanese sports cars of the time. While the 1989 300ZX was priced at around $30,000, its final model year price increased to about $50,000. The mid-1990s marketplace trends toward SUVs and the rising Yen:Dollar ratio contributed to the end of North American 300ZX sales in 1996 with over 80,000 in sales. A Commemorative Edition for the final 300 units shipped to America included decals and certificates of authenticity. In the UK & Europe, all Z32s offered were in 2+2 TT form between 1990 and 1996 (1990-1994 for UK). They were sold through dealerships in the UK, France, Germany, Belgium and Italy. In Australia, all Z32s offered were in 2+2 NA form between 1990 to 1995. In Japan, the 300ZX continued until August 2000. The Japanese Domestic Market was offered a number of variants unavailable to the international market such as the “Version S” (Spec Model), “Version R” (Ready Model) and Slicktop Twin Turbo (the most expensive trim option only available in Version S guise). The facelift of late 1998 featured a new front fascia, tail lights, optional Xenon HID headlights, optional rear spoiler, optional BBS mesh wheels, orange rear corner lights and an instrument cluster with white dials as well as other minor changes. Early model Z32s (made pre-1994) and sold in Japan did not have Exhaust Gas Recirculation systems nor Air Injection Valve systems. All JDM Z32s used a front rebar system made out of fiberglass rather than steel (like their American Market counterparts), and also had different exhaust systems with lighter weight Catalytic Converters (with only one set on the JDM Twin Turbo model vs. two sets on the USDM Twin Turbo models). Given the lack of these regulatory items, JDM Z32s often weighed 100+lbs (45+kg) less than their American specification counterparts. The Z32 chassis underwent some changes during its production run between 1989 and 2000 (Japan) and 1990 to 1996 (US). The Z32’s extended model year sales in 1990 reached 39,290 units.

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The Nissan Stagea is a station wagon produced by Nissan from 1996 to 2007. It was originally produced by Nissan in 1996 as direct competition for the Subaru Legacy Touring wagon in Japan, and was exclusive to Nissan Prince Store Japanese dealerships. The Stagea shares many mechanical parts with the Nissan Skyline and Nissan Laurel. There are 4 different versions of the Stagea: the WC34 Series 1 (September 1996 to July 1997), the WC34 Series 1.5 (August 1997 to July 1998), the WC34 Series 2 (August 1998 to March 2001), and the M35 Series (2001 to 2007). The M35 series, seen here, looks very different from the previous C34 models and is derived from the Skyline/G35 sedan (V35 platform). As per the Skyline the engine was changed from the RB series straight-six to the VQ series V6 engine. Production ceased in 2007.

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PEUGEOT

Before the 205, Peugeot was considered the most conservative of France’s “big three” car manufacturers, producing large saloons such as the 504 and 505, although it had entered the modern supermini market in 1973 with the Peugeot 104. The genesis of the 205 lay within Peugeot’s takeover in 1978 of Chrysler’s European divisions Simca and the former Rootes Group, which had the necessary expertise in making small cars including the Simca 1100 in France and Hillman Imp in Britain. It was around this time that Peugeot began to work on the development of a new supermini for the 1980s. It was launched on 24 February 1983, and was launched in right-hand drive form for the UK market in September that year. Shortly after its launch, it was narrowly pipped to the European Car of the Year award by the similar sized Fiat Uno, but ultimately (according to the award organizers) it would enjoy a better image and a longer high market demand than its Italian competitor. It was one of five important small cars to be launched onto the European market within a year of each other: the other four were the Uno, the second generation Ford Fiesta, the original Opel Corsa (sold as the Vauxhall Nova on the British market) and the original Nissan Micra. Its launch also closely followed that of the Austin Metro and Volkswagen Polo Mk2. The styling of the 205 is often thought to be a Pininfarina design, although Gerard Welter claims that it is an in-house design; Pininfarina only styled the Cabriolet. It is often credited as the car that turned Peugeot’s fortunes around. The fully independent suspension used the now standard PSA Peugeot Citroën layout that had debuted in the Peugeot 305 estate. A key ingredient of the success of the 205, it had MacPherson struts at the front and trailing arms with torsion bars at the rear. The rear suspension was very compact, designed to minimise suspension intrusion into the boot, giving a wide flat loadspace, while providing excellent ride and handling. Early 205s used the X petrol engine [n 1] from the older Peugeot 104, although these were later (1987–1988) replaced with the newer XU and TU-series engines, which were of PSA design. Engines ranged in displacement from 954 cc to 1905 cc, in carburettor or fuel injected versions. The diesel models employed the PSA XUD engine, lifted from the Citroën BX which was introduced in September 1982. These engines had a capacity of 1769 cc (XUD7) and 1905 cc (XUD9) and are closely related to the XU5 and XU9 petrol engines in the BX16 and BX19 of the time. The diesel engines were world-beating and so petrol-like that many buyers were won over by petrol car performance combined with diesel economy. For instance, the 205 GRD (1.8 Diesel, 59 bhp, 78 lb/ft (105.8 Nm)) was as fast as, yet smoother than, the 205 GR (1.4 Petrol, 59 bhp, 78 lb/ft (105.8 Nm)), due to the engine developing peak torque at much lower rpm, while using much less fuel. There were various versions intended for commercial use, such as the two-seater XA-series. There was also the “205 Multi”, a tall-bodied special version on XA or XE-basis built by independent coachbuilders like Gruau and Durisotti. Gruau called their XA-based two-seater version the “VU”, while the five-seat XE-based version was called the “VP”. Durisotti began building the 205 Multi in 1986; it was called the “205 Multi New Look”. The 205 was an instant hit, and its styling was echoed in every Peugeot model that was to follow. The exterior styling was never facelifted or significantly altered in its 15-year production run. There was a dashboard redesign for the 1988 model year, and in late 1990 the 205 received new door design and cards, clear front indicators, new ‘smoked’ rear light clusters, single point petrol injection and catalytic converters were introduced, to meet the new 1992 pollution limits. These updates came at a crucial time, as 1990 also saw the arrival of a completely new French competitor, the Renault Clio, while the Rover Metro and Volkswagen Polo were also heavily updated, and Ford had already replaced its Fiesta with a third generation model. Still, the 205 was still widely regarded in the motoring press as the benchmark car in this sector by 1990. At the beginning of 1993, Peugeot launched the 306, which officially replaced the 309; the arrival of this car also diminished the 205’s role (and its sales figures) in the Peugeot range, as had the arrival of the smaller 106 in September 1991 – although the final demise of the 205 was still some years away. The engines were continuously updated, with the new TU engines introduced in 1988. In 1991, the 205 dTurbo was launched with a powerful turbocharged version of the 1,769 cc xud diesel engine. After several years of gradually declining sales, the Peugeot 205 was discontinued in the United Kingdom in 1996. The Peugeot 205 was still offered in the “Sacré Numéro” and “Génération” models until the end of the production in 1998. The last models were GLD 1.8 configuration and were sold in Argentina. Most of the later European versions were only sold in France. Due to the pressure from the market, with buyers wanting a Peugeot supermini in the mould of the 205 again, the company finally built a direct replacement in the 206, which was launched in 1998. 5,278,050 Peugeot 205s have been sold, and a significant percentage of them were still in circulation as of 2009. By 2014, there were still as many as 14,000 on the road in the United Kingdom, compared to the peak high of 374,773 in 1994. With potentially as many 400,000 sales in the UK, it became the best selling car ever sold by Peugeot in the UK – although its success was emulated a few years later by the larger 306 and later by the 206. It also helped boost the popularity of the Peugeot brand there, and was at least a factor in Peugeot’s decision to phase out the Talbot brand in the mid 1980s when launching new models to be built at the former Rootes Group plant near Coventry and the former Simca plant at Poissy.

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In 1999, Peugeot Sport unveiled the 206 WRC, and it competed for the first time in that year’s World Rally Championship, with French tarmac veteran and long-time marque stalwart Gilles Panizzi narrowly failing, against a resurgent reigning champion in Mitsubishi’s Tommi Mäkinen, to win the Rallye Sanremo. The car was soon a success, however, and won both the manufacturers’ and drivers’ championships in 2000, Peugeot’s first such accolades since their withdrawal from the WRC after Group B was banned after the 1986 season, and achieved in the hands of Panizzi, Francois Delecour and Mäkinen’s successor as drivers’ world champion, Marcus Grönholm. For 2001, Grönholm competed alongside two refugees of SEAT’s exit from the championship at the end of 2000; compatriot Harri Rovanperä and the French 1994 world champion, Didier Auriol. Rovanperä and Auriol each contributed single wins, on Swedish Rally and Rally Catalunya respectively (the former to be a sole career win for the Finn, and the latter victory helped by assorted problems for the blisteringly quick debuting Citroën Xsara WRCs), before Auriol left the team at the end of the season. Grönholm, meanwhile, suffered sufficient reliability woes in the first half of the year such that he could manage no higher than fourth overall in the series, although Peugeot did fend off Ford, with a 1–2 result by the two Finns on the season-ending Rally of Great Britain to successfully defend the constructors’ championship title. In 2002, Grönholm – despite now being paired in the factory line-up with defending 2001 champion from Subaru, the Briton Richard Burns – led Peugeot to a repeat of the WRC title double aboard his 206 WRC. His dominance that year was compared to Michael Schumacher’s dominance of Formula One. In summary, Peugeot won two drivers’ championships, in 2000 and 2002, and three manufacturers’ titles in a row between 2000 and 2002. However, by 2003 the 206 WRC was beginning to show its age and was less effective against the competition, notably the newer Xsara WRC and the Subaru Impreza WRC, so it was retired from competition at the end of the season, to be replaced with the 307 WRC, albeit, unlike its predecessor, based not on the production version’s hatchback, but its coupé cabriolet body style. The Peugeot 206 WRC was awarded the Autosport “Rally Car of the Year” in 2002, preceded by the Ford Focus RS WRC and followed by the Citroën Xsara WRC. In 2002, Peugeot GB created the Peugeot 206 Cup, a one-make rally championship aimed at young drivers. The championship was created to help young drivers develop their careers. The cars were built by Vic Lee Racing and drivers such as Tom Boardman, Luke Pinder and Garry Jennings all drove in the championship.[citation needed] A similar championship also existed in France. This car – seen quite regularly at events in this area – is best described as an homage to the WRC cars.

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PORSCHE

The 911 traces its roots to sketches drawn by Ferdinand “Butzi” Porsche in 1959. The Porsche 911 was developed as a more powerful, larger and a more comfortable replacement for the 356, the company’s first model. The new car made its public debut at the 1963 Frankfurt Motor Show.  The car was developed with the proof-of-concept twin-fan Type 745 flat-six engine, but the car presented at the auto show had a non-operational mockup of the single-fan 901 engine, receiving a working unit in February 1964. It originally was designated as the “Porsche 901” (901 being its internal project number). A total of 82 cars were built as which were badges as 901s. However, French automobile manufacturer Peugeot protested on the grounds that in France it had exclusive rights to car names formed by three numbers with a zero in the middle. Instead of selling the new model with a different name in France, Porsche changed the name to 911. Internally, the cars’ part numbers carried on the prefix 901 for years. Production began in September 1964, with the first 911s exported to the US in February 1965. The first models of the 911 had a rear-mounted 130 hp Type 901/01 flat-6 engine, in the “boxer” configuration like the 356, the engine is air-cooled and displaces 1,991 cc  as compared to the 356’s four-cylinder, 1,582 cc unit. The car had four seats although the rear seats were small, thus it is usually called a 2+2 rather than a four-seater (the 356 was also a 2+2). A four or five-speed “Type 901” manual transmission was available. The styling was largely penned by Ferdinand “Butzi” Porsche, son of Ferdinand “Ferry” Porsche. Butzi Porsche initially came up with a notchback design with proper space for seating two rear passengers but Ferry Porsche insisted that the 356’s successor was to use its fastback styling. 7 prototypes were built based on Butzi Porsche’s original design and were internally called the Porsche 754 T7.  Erwin Komenda, the leader of the Porsche car body construction department who initially objected, was also involved later in the design. In 1966, Porsche introduced the more powerful 911S with Type 901/02 engine having a power output of 160 PS. Forged aluminum alloy wheels from Fuchsfelge, with a 5-spoke design, were offered for the first time. In motorsport at the same time, the engine was developed into the Type 901/20 and was installed in the mid-engine 904 and 906 with an increased power output of 210 PS, as well as fuel injected Type 901/21 installed in later variants of the 906 and 910 with a power output of 220 PS. In August 1967, the A series went into production with dual brake circuits and widened (5.5J-15) wheels still fitted with Pirelli Cinturato 165HR15 CA67 tyres. and the previously standard gasoline-burning heater became optional. The Targa version was introduced. The Targa had a stainless steel-clad roll bar, as automakers believed that proposed rollover safety requirements by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) would make it difficult for fully open convertibles to meet regulations for sale in the US, an important market for the 911. The name “Targa” came from the Targa Florio sports car road race in Sicily, Italy in which Porsche had several victories until 1973. The last win in the subsequently discontinued event was scored with a 911 Carrera RS against prototypes entered by Ferrari and Alfa Romeo. The road going Targa was equipped with a removable roof panel and a removable plastic rear window (although a fixed glass version was offered from 1968). The 110 PS  911T was also launched in 1967 with Type 901/03 engine. The 130 PS model was renamed the 911L with Type 901/06 engine and ventilated front disc brakes. The brakes had been introduced on the previous 911S. The 911R with 901/22 engine had a limited production (20 in all), as this was a lightweight racing version with thin fibreglass reinforced plastic doors, a magnesium crankcase, twin overhead camshafts, and a power output of 210 PS. A clutchless semi-automatic Sportomatic model, composed of a torque converter, an automatic clutch, and the four-speed transmission was added in Autumn 1967. It was cancelled after the 1980 model year partly because of the elimination of a forward gear to make it a three-speed. The B series went into production in August 1968, replacing the 911L model with 911E with fuel injection. It remained in production until July 1969. The 911E gained 185/70VR15 Pirelli Cinturato CN36. and 6J-15 wheels. The C series was introduced in August 1969 with an enlarged 2.2-litre engine. The wheelbase for all 911 and 912 models was increased from 2,211–2,268 mm (87.0–89.3 in), to help as a remedy to the car’s nervous handling at the limit. The overall length of the car did not change, but the rear wheels were relocated further back. Fuel injection arrived for the 911S (901/10 engine) and for a new middle model, 911E (901/09 engine). The D series was produced from Aug. 1970 to July 1971. The 2.2-litre 911E (C and D series) had lower power output of the 911/01 engine (155 PS) compared to the 911S’s Type 911/02 (180 PS, but 911E was quicker in acceleration up to 160 km/h. The E series for 1972–1973 model years (August 1971 to July 1972 production) consisted of the same models, but with a new, larger 2,341 cc engine. This is known as the “2.4 L” engine, despite its displacement being closer to 2.3 litres. The 911E (Type 911/52 engine) and 911S (Type 911/53) used Bosch mechanical fuel injection (MFI) in all markets. For 1972 the 911T (Type 911/57) was carbureted, except in the US and some Asian markets where the 911T also came with (MFI) mechanical fuel injection (Type 911/51 engine) with power increase over European models (130 hp) to 140 hp commonly known as a 911T/E. With power and torque increase, the 2.4-litre cars also got a newer, stronger transmission, identified by its Porsche type number 915. Derived from the transmission in the 908 race car, the 915 did away with the 901 transmission’s “dog-leg” style first gear arrangement, opting for a traditional H pattern with first gear up to the left, second gear underneath first, etc. The E series had the unusual oil filler behind the right side door, with the dry sump oil tank relocated from behind the right rear wheel to the front of it in an attempt to move the center of gravity slightly forward for better handling. An extra oil filler/inspection flap was located on the rear wing, for this reason it became known as an “Oil Klapper”, “Ölklappe” or “Vierte Tür (4th door)”. The F series (August 1972 to July 1973 production) moved the oil tank back to the original behind-the-wheel location. This change was in response to complaints that gas-station attendants often filled gasoline into the oil tank. In January 1973, US 911Ts were switched to the new K-Jetronic CIS (Continuous Fuel Injection) system from Bosch on Type 911/91 engine. 911S models also gained a small spoiler under the front bumper to improve high-speed stability. The cars weighed 1,050 kg (2,310 lb). The 911 ST was produced in small numbers for racing (the production run for the ST lasted from 1970 to 1971). The cars were available with engines of either 1,987 cc or 2,404 cc, having a power output of 270 PS at 8,000 rpm. Weight was down to 960 kg (2,120 lb). The cars had success at the Daytona 6 Hours, the Sebring 12 Hours, the 1000 km Nürburgring, and the Targa Florio. The G Series cars, with revised bodies and larger impact-absorbing bumpers arrived in the autumn of 1973 and would continue in production with few visual changes but plenty of mechanical ones for a further 16 years.

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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.

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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.

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The 996 was replaced with the 997 in 2005. It retains the 996’s basic profile, with an even lower 0.28 drag coefficient, but draws on the 993 for detailing. In addition, the new headlights revert to the original bug-eye design from the teardrop scheme of the 996. Its interior is also similarly revised, with strong links to the earlier 911 interiors while at the same time looking fresh and modern. The 997 shares less than a third of its parts with the outgoing 996, but is still technically similar to it. Initially, two versions of the 997 were introduced— the rear-wheel-drive Carrera and Carrera S. While the base 997 Carrera had a power output of 321 hp from its 3.6 L Flat 6, a more powerful 3.8 L 350 hp Flat 6 powers the Carrera S. Besides a more powerful engine, the Carrera S also comes standard with 19 inch “Lobster Fork” style wheels, more powerful and larger brakes (with red calipers), lowered suspension with PASM (Porsche Active Suspension Management: dynamically adjustable dampers), Xenon headlamps, and a sports steering wheel. In late 2005, Porsche introduced the all-wheel-drive versions to the 997 lineup. Carrera 4 models (both Carrera 4 and Carrera 4S) were announced as 2006 models. Both Carrera 4 models are wider than their rear-wheel-drive counterparts by 1.76 inches (32 mm) to cover wider rear tyres. The 0–100 km/h (62 mph) acceleration time for the Carrera 4S with the 350 hp engine equipped with a manual transmission was reported at 4.8 seconds. The 0–100 km/h (62 mph) acceleration for the Carrera S with the 350 hp was noted to be as fast as 4.2 seconds in a Motor Trend comparison, and Road & Track has timed it at 3.8 seconds. The 997 lineup includes both 2- and 4-wheel-drive variants, named Carrera and Carrera 4 respectively. The Targas (4 and 4S), released in November 2006, are 4-wheel-drive versions that divide the difference between the coupés and the cabriolets with their dual, sliding glass tops. The 997 received a larger air intake in the front bumper, new headlights, new rear taillights, new clean-sheet design direct fuel injection engines, and the introduction of a dual-clutch gearbox called PDK for the 2009 model year. They were also equipped with Bluetooth support. The change to the 7th generation (991) took place in the middle of the 2012 model year. A 2012 Porsche 911 can either be a 997 or a 991, depending on the month of the production.

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The 991 introduced in 2012 is an entirely new platform, only the third since the original 911. Porsche revealed basic information on the new Carrera and Carrera S models on 23 August 2011. The Carrera is powered by a 350 hp 3.4-litre engine. The Carrera S features a 3.8-litre engine rated at 400 hp. A Power Kit (option X51) is available for the Carrera S, increasing power output to 430 hp. The new 991’s overall length grows by 56 mm (2.2 in) and wheelbase grows by 99 mm (3.9 in) (now 96.5 in.) Overhangs are trimmed and the rear axle moves rearward at roughly 76 mm (3 in) towards the engine (made possible by new 3-shaft transmissions whose output flanges are moved closer to the engine). There is a wider front track (51 mm (2 in) wider for the Carrera S). The design team for the 991 was headed by Michael Mauer. At the front, the new 991 has wide-set headlights that are more three-dimensional. The front fender peaks are a bit more prominent, and wedgy directionals now appear to float above the intakes for the twin coolant radiators. The stretched rear 3/4 view has changed the most, with a slightly more voluminous form and thin taillights capped with the protruding lip of the bodywork. The biggest and main change in the interior is the center console, inspired by the Carrera GT and adopted by the Panamera. The 991 is the first 911 to use a predominantly aluminium construction. This means that even though the car is larger than the outgoing model, it is still up to 50 kilograms (110 lb) lighter. The reduced weight and increased power means that both the Carrera and Carrera S are appreciably faster than the outgoing models. The 0–60 mph acceleration time for the manual transmission cars are 4.6 seconds for the Carrera and 4.3 seconds for the Carrera S. When equipped with the PDK transmission, the two 991 models can accelerate from 0–97 km/h in 4.4 seconds and 4.1 seconds. With the optional sports chrono package, available for the cars with the PDK transmission, the 991 Carrera can accelerate from 0–97 km/h in as little as 4.2 seconds and the Carrera S can do the same in 3.9 seconds. Apart from the reworked PDK transmission, the new 991 is also equipped with an industry-first 7-speed manual transmission. On vehicles produced in late 2012 (2013 model year) Rev Matching is available on the 7-speed manual transmission when equipped with the Sport Chrono package. Rev-Matching is a new feature with the manual transmission that blips the throttle during downshifts (if in Sport Plus mode). Also, the 7th gear cannot be engaged unless the car is already in 5th or 6th gear. One of Porsche’s primary objectives with the new model was to improve fuel economy as well as increase performance. In order to meet these objectives, Porsche introduced a number of new technologies in the 911. One of the most controversial of these is the introduction of electromechanical power steering instead of the previous hydraulic steering. This steering helps reduce fuel consumption, but some enthusiasts feel that the precise steering feedback for which the 911 is famous is reduced with the new system. The cars also feature an engine stop/start system that turns the engine off at red lights, as well as a coasting system that allows the engine to idle while maintaining speed on downhill gradients on highways. This allows for up to a 16% reduction in fuel consumption and emissions over the outgoing models. The new cars also have a number of technologies aimed at improving handling. The cars include a torque vectoring system (standard on the Carrera S and optional on the Carrera) which brakes the inner wheel of the car when going into turns. This helps the car to turn in quicker and with more precision. The cars also feature hydraulic engine mounts (which help reduce the inertia of the engine when going into turns) as part of the optional sports chrono package. Active suspension management is standard on the Carrera S and optional on the Carrera. This helps improve ride quality on straights while stiffening the suspension during aggressive driving. The new 991 is also equipped with a new feature called Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC). Porsche claims that this new feature alone has shaved 4 seconds off the standard car’s lap time around the Nürburgring. PDCC helps the car corner flat and is said to improve high-speed directional stability and outright lateral body control, but according to several reviews, the car is more prone to understeer when equipped with this new technology. In January 2013, Porsche introduced the all-wheel-drive variants of the Carrera models. The ‘4’ and ‘4S’ models are distinguishable by wider tyres, marginally wider rear body-work and a red-reflector strip that sits in between the tail-lights. In terms of technology, the 4 and 4S models are equipped with an all-new variable all-wheel-drive system that sends power to the front wheels only when needed, giving the driver a sense of being in a rear-wheel-drive 911. In May 2013, Porsche announced changes to the model year 2014 911 Turbo and Turbo S models, increasing their power to 513 hp on the ‘Turbo’, and 552 hp on the ‘Turbo S’, giving them a 0–97 km/h acceleration time of 3.2 and 2.9 seconds, respectively. A rear-wheel steering system has also been incorporated on the Turbo models that steers the rear wheels in the opposite direction at low speeds or the same direction at high speeds to improve handling. During low-speed manoeuvres, this has the virtual effect of shortening the wheelbase, while at high speeds, it is virtually extending the wheelbase for higher driving stability and agility. In January 2014, Porsche introduced the new model year 2015 Targa 4 and Targa 4S models. These new models come equipped with an all-new roof technology with the original Targa design, now with an all-electric cabriolet roof along with the B-pillar and the glass ‘dome’ at the rear. In September 2015, Porsche introduced the second generation of 991 Carrera models at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Both Carrera and Carrera S models break with previous tradition by featuring a 3.0-litre turbocharged 6-cylinder boxer engine, marking the first time that a forced induction engine has been fitted to the base models within the 911 range

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Much rumoured for some time, the Cayman GT4 was officially launched at the 2015 Geneva Show, positioned to sit  between the Cayman GTS and the 911 GT3. By the time of the official unveiling, the car was supposedly sold out many times over, though more recently it has become apparent that at least some Porsche dealers have been holding onto cars claiming that the first purchaser changed their mind, and then offering them to those who did not get one of the allocation a year ago, at vastly inflated prices. If true, this is very sharp practice indeed, but seems to be the sort to tricks that are becoming increasingly common as enthusiasts are being fleeced in the name of extra profit. For a starting price of around £65,000 in the UK, the lucky customer would get a car which used used a stiffened and strengthened Cayman bodyshell as a starting point, but lowered by 30mm . Porsche say that in fitting as many GT parts as possible, they did not  make it out of a Cayman GTS, but rather they produced an entry-level mid-engined GT3 car. That sounds like PR spin to me, as of course the car does use an awful lot of parts from the regular Cayman. However, plenty is changed, too. There is a reworked version of the Carrera S’s 3.8-litre flat six engine, producing  380bhp at 7400rpm and 310lb ft at 4750-6000rpm, hooked up to a modified version of the Cayman GTS’s six-speed manual gearbox. A PDK dual-clutch automatic was considered but rejected, meaning the Cayman GT4 is manual only. This is enough to mean that the 0-62mph sprint takes 4.4sec and the top speed is 183mph, with combined fuel economy of 27.4mpg and CO2 emissions rated at 238g/km. The front axle and suspension are borrowed from the 911 GT3 and the rear axle and forged aluminium double wishbone suspension are completely new. Dampers are taken from the 911 GT3. The electric steering system from the 911 GT3 does make it onto the Cayman GT4 but is given new software. Stopping power is provided by standard steel brakes, or optional carbon-ceramics from the 911 GT3. The forged 20in alloy wheels were new and are shod with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres. The rear 295/30 ZR20 tyres are bespoke, but the front 245/35 ZR20s were borrowed from the 911 GT3 as they were “a perfect match”. design-wise, the goal was to create a “zero lift car”, but thanks to the extensive aerodynamic and cooling package on the car – which includes a front splitter, a larger front grille and increased frontal air intakes, side air intakes, not one but two rear spoilers and a fully functional diffuser – the Cayman GT4 produces as much downforce at speed (100kg) as the 911 GT3. Every single part on the Cayman GT4 has a functional use. Other design features include  “cool” black glass on the front and rear lights, blackened twin central exhausts and quality stitching on the twin lightweight bucket seats, taken from the 918 Spyder, as small details adding to that ‘want factor’.Despite all the extra equipment, the Cayman GT4 weighs no more than a Cayman GTS, tipping the scales at 1340kg dry. You could delete items such as the sat-nav and air-con to save weight, but few customers did, just as with the 911 GT3 RS were just 2% of buyers deleted the air-con. Inside, the steering wheel was new. The sports seats were trimmed in both leather and Alcantara. Standard equipment included bi-xenon headlights, a sports exhaust system, a Sport Chrono Package with dynamic engine mounts, the Porsche Torque Vectoring system, a mechanical limited-slip differential at the rear and the Porsche Stability Management system. On the options list were items such as carbonfibre-reinforced, plastic-backed seats for the two-seat interior. These weigh just 15kg each and were inspired by the 918 Spyder. A customised version of the Sport Chrono Package was offered, as is a Club Sport Package. Initially it was declared that production would be very limited, but Porsche soon relented and far more were built than had originally been declared.

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The 718 Cayman GT4 and 718 Spyder (previously named the Boxster Spyder) were revealed in June 2019. Both are differentiated from less powerful models by more aggressive bodywork, including a lower stance, new front bumper, a large new diffuser, and exhaust pipes that are spaced farther apart. The GT4 also features larger side intakes and an adjustable wing, the latter of which helps it generate up to 150 kg (330 lb) of downforce, 50 percent more than its predecessor. Both have a naturally aspirated 4.0-litre flat-6 derived from the 992’s 3.0-litre 9A2EVO engine, which is rated at 414 bhp/420 PS at 7,600 rpm and 420 Nm (310 lb/ft) of torque at 5,000–6,800 rpm. The engine has cylinder deactivation, a first for Porsche. Porsche claims a top speed of 304 km/h (189 mph) for the GT4, and 301 km/h (187 mph) for the Spyder. The front suspension and brakes are borrowed from the 911 GT3, and the adaptive dampers, ABS and stability-control programming are borrowed from the 911 GT3 RS. The anti-roll bar end links, camber and toe can be manually adjusted, but the ride height–3 cm (1.2 in) lower than a standard 718–is fixed. Both are around 15 kg heavier than the GTS models. Sales commenced in the spring of 2020. For the 2021 model year, the GT4 and Spyder became available with the 7-speed PDK dual-clutch transmission as an option. It reduces the acceleration time of 0-60 mph (97 km/h) from 4.3 seconds to 3.7 seconds. In March of 2023, Porsche announced that 718 GT4 and Spyder Models would cease production as of the 2024 model year.

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There was also an example of the current 982-generation Boxster here.

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RENAULT

Attracting a lot of interest was this immaculate looking 4CV. There seem to be several different accounts surrounding the conception of the car, one being that  it was originally conceived and designed covertly by Renault engineers during the World War II German occupation of France, when the manufacturer was under strict orders to design and produce only commercial and military vehicles, in defiance of the direction of the boss, Louis Renault, whereas another version says that in 1940, he had directed his engineering team to “make him a car like the Germans’. Regardless, the truth is that work did go on during the war, with the occupying Germans who were keeping a watch on the company turning a blind eye to what came to be known as Project 106E. Certainly those working on the project were looking closely at the Volkswagen and their new  car had a similar  overall architecture to that,  while recalling the modern designs of the fashionable front-engined passenger cars produced in Detroit during the earlier 1940s. The first prototype had only two doors and was completed in 1942, and two more prototypes were produced in the following three years. An important part of the 4CV’s success was due to the new methodologies used in its manufacture, pioneered by Pierre Bézier, who had begun his 42-year tenure at Renault as a tool setter, moving up to tool designer and then becoming head of the Tool Design Office. As Director of Production Engineering in 1949, he designed the transfer lines (or transfer machines) producing most of the mechanical parts for the 4CV. The transfer machines were high-performance work tools designed to machine engine blocks. While imprisoned during World War II, Bézier developed and improved on the automatic machine principle, introduced before the war by GM. The new transfer station with multiple workstations and electromagnetic heads (antecedents to robots), enabled different operations on a single part to be consecutively performed by transferring the part from one station to another. The 4CV was ultimately presented to the public and media at the 1946 Paris Motor Show and went on sale a year later. Volume production was said to have commenced at the company’s Billancourt plant a few weeks before the Paris Motor Show of October 1947, although the cars were in very short supply for the next year or so. Renault’s advertising highlighted the hundreds of machine-tools installed and processes adopted for the assembly of the first high volume car to be produced since the war, boasting that the little car was now no longer a prototype but a reality. On the 4CV’s launch, it was nicknamed “La motte de beurre” (the lump of butter); this was due to the combination of its shape and the fact that early deliveries all used surplus paint from the German Army vehicles of Rommel’s Afrika Korps, which were a sand-yellow colour. Later it was known affectionately as the “quatre pattes”, “four paws”. The 4CV was initially powered by a 760 cc rear-mounted four-cylinder engine coupled to a three-speed manual transmission. In 1950, the 760 cc unit was replaced by a 747 cc version of the “Ventoux” engine producing 17 hp. Despite an initial period of uncertainty and poor sales due to the ravaged state of the French economy, the 4CV had sold 37,000 units by mid-1949 and was the most popular car in France. Across the Rhine 1,760 4CVs were sold in West Germany in 1950, accounting for 23% of that country’s imported cars, and ranking second only to the Fiat 500 on the list. The car remained in production for more than another decade. Claimed power output increased subsequently to 21 hp as increased fuel octanes allowed for higher compression ratios, which along with the relatively low weight of the car (620 kg) enabled the manufacturers to report a 0–90 km/h (0–56 mph) time of 38 seconds and a top speed barely under 100 km/h (62 mph) The engine was notable also for its elasticity, the second and top gear both being usable for speeds between 5 and 100 km/h (3 and 62 mph); the absence of synchromesh on first gear would presumably have discouraged use of the bottom gear except when starting from rest. The rear mounting of the engine meant that the steering could be highly geared while remaining relatively light; in the early cars, only 2¼ turns were needed from lock to lock. The unusually direct steering no doubt delighted some keen drivers, but road tests of the time nonetheless included warnings to take great care with the car’s handling on wet roads. In due course, the manufacturers switched from one extreme to the other, and on later cars 4½ turns were needed to turn the steering wheel from lock to lock. Early in 1953, Renault launched a stripped-down version of the 4CV bereft of anything which might be considered a luxury. Tyre width was reduced, and the dummy grille was removed from the front of the car along with the chrome headlamp surrounds. The seats were simplified and the number of bars incorporated in the steering wheel reduced from three to two. The only colour offered was grey. The car achieved its objective of retailing for less than 400,000 Francs. With the Dauphine already at an advanced stage of development it may have made sense to try and expand the 4CV’s own market coverage downwards in order to open up a clearer gap between the two models which would be produced in parallel for several years, but reaction to the down-market 4 CV, branded as the “Renault 4CV Service”, must have disappointed Renault as this version disappeared from the Renault showrooms after less than a year. The poor sales performance may have been linked to the growing popularity of the Citroën 2CV: although at this stage powered by an engine of just 375 cc and offering sclerotic performance, the 2CV was bigger than the Renault and in 1952 came with a starting price of just 341,870 francs The 4CV’s direct replacement was the Dauphine, launched in 1956, but the 4CV in fact remained in production until 1961. The 4CV was replaced by the Renault 4 which used the same engine as the 4CV and sold for a similar price.

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In 1999 Renault presented the first officially branded RenaultSport Clio, this was the third Clio produced by the RenaultSport division succeeding the Clio 16V and Clio Williams. This new Clio, the 172 was based on the 3 door Clio II shell however had numerous features over the standard car including wider arches, restyled bumpers, side skirts and 15-inch OZ F1 alloy wheels. Power was delivered by the F4R730 engine, a 2.0-litre 16-valve Inline 4 engine with a Variable valve timing (VVT) system via a dephaser on the intake camshaft pulley. The engine was a modified version of the F4R used in models such as the Laguna and Espace and was modified by Mecachrome to deliver a power output of 172 PS. Power was delivered to the wheels via a JC5-089 five-speed manual gearbox. The 172 also featured interior changes over the standard car including Half Leather, Half Alcantara seats embossed with the RenaultSport logo and the car also came standard with manually controlled Air Conditioning. A limited edition of the Phase 1 172 was produced and known as the Clio 172 Exclusive. This was limited to 172 units, all 172 of this “Exclusive” edition were 296 Scarab Green, featured BBS alloy wheels and a full leather interior as opposed to the half-leather half Alcantara seats featured in the standard car. In 2001 the interior and exterior of the Clio II were face-lifted, the Clio RS followed suit shortly after. This facelift of the Clio 172 included redesigned front and rear bumpers, the front bumper falling in line with the style of the face-lifted Clio II. The rear bumper was now less rounded and featured a strip of ABS plastic effectively splitting the bumper into two. The lights, bonnet and boot lid were also matched to the face-lifted Clio II. The interior was also changed to closer match that of the face-lifted Clio II, the seats were slightly revised however still featured the same Half Leather, Half Alcantara fabrics and the embossed RenaultSport logo. One new feature that the Phase 2 172 featured was automatic climate control as opposed to the manual air-conditioning featured in the Phase 1. The dashboard featured Silver interior trims and the steering wheel included a plastic insert featuring the RenaultSport logo. The gear shifter was changed from the metal ball featured on the Phase 1 to a Leather wrapped shifter with a silver coloured insert on the top. The Phase 2 172 also featured increased equipment including automatic Xenon headlights and headlight washers, Rain Sensing wipers a six-disc CD changer, and it also included side-impact airbags integrated into the seats. The 15-inch OZ F1 alloy wheels were also replaced with a 16-inch Alloy Wheel of Renault’s own design. The facelift of the 172 also brought about a number of changes to the engine of the car. A revised version of the F4R used, the F4R 736, this featured a revised cylinder head with the exhaust ports being approximately 30% smaller than those featured on the Phase 1 172. The airbox was also redesigned to be much more square than the original airbox. A revised version of the JC5 gearbox, the JC5-129 was introduced in this version of the Clio 172, which revised JC5 featured a shorter final drive to counter the increased weight of the face-lifted 172. The catalytic converter, which on the PH1 172 had been dual barrel was reduced to a single barrel and featured 2 lambda sensors, one before and one after the catalytic converter. The biggest change to the PH2 172 over the PH1 was the introduction of an electric throttle. This meant the Idle Control Valve of the PH1 was no longer required leading to a minor redesign of the intake manifold. In 2002 Renault released the 172 Cup, which bore the chassis code CB1N and was known by Renault as the “sport lightweight version”. The vast majority of cars were produced in D43 Mondial Blue (metallic) with a limited run of around 90 cars being produced in 640 Iceberg Silver (metallic). The Cup, originally built for Gr.N homologation of the Clio 172 was differentiated from the “non cup” 172 by its lack of many of the luxuries included in the regular car. Instead of the leather / Alcantara seats instead the same style seat was upholstered in a durable but low-cost fabric, the automatic Xenon headlights were replaced by manually controlled halogen units and the washer jets replaced with blanks. The rain sensing wipers and solar reflective coated windscreen were also omitted from the 172 Cup. However the car had features not before seen on a production version of the 172, which included lightweight 16-inch Speedline Turini alloy wheels, matte blue door strips, ABS plastic “Cup” front splitter and a restyled “Cup” rear spoiler. The dash strips which were silver on the regular car were painted to match the outside of the car. One of the main features of the 172 Cup was its significant weight saving, having a kerb weight of 1021 kg, making it the lightest of 172 versions produced. This was achieved by the removal of a majority of sound deadening from the car alongside thinner glass to reduce weight even further. One large difference was also the lack of air conditioning which was a standard fit component on the regular 172, which typically led to the cup producing more power due to the engine having less ancillaries to drive. This however was reintroduced as an optional extra later in the production run of the Cup. The 0–60 time of the 172 Cup was officially marketed by Renault as being 6.5 seconds; however AutoCar Magazine reportedly timed the 0–60 at 6.2 seconds which if this were the case would make the 172 Cup the second fastest road going Clio produced at the time of this article, second to only the V6. Many enthusiasts regard the 172 Cup as the last “hardcore” hot hatch due to its lack of anti-lock brakes; the car also featured modified suspension which gave it a wider track thanks to modified wishbones, the car also sat lower than standard and featured stiffer shocks and springs, the suspension geometry was revised to suit these components and to mean that the steering response was increased, this also lead to an increase in oversteer thanks to the lack of weight and revised geometry. Due to the lack of ABS the brake bias of the car was fixed by way of disconnecting the rear axle compensator, within the UK this often lead to the cars failing the MOT test, VOSA eventually issued an advisory to prevent this from happening. 2004 marked yet another refresh of the Clio II. The inserts of the headlights were changed from Black to Grey, new wheels styles were introduced and new colour options were added with others being dropped. The basic design of the car stayed the same with only minor changes. The Six-Disc CD changer was dropped as standard equipment however was still available as a cost option. This refresh marked the introduction of cruise control and Electronic Stability Program (ESP) as standard equipment. The Clio RS featured a lot more changes than the regular Clio. The engine was again revised and became the F4R 738. The difference between the F4R 738 and F4R 736 was a revised oil breather setup meaning the intake manifold found on a 172 would not fit a 182. Thanks to a number of other changes this engine produced 182 PS. This increase in power was thanks to the addition of a 4-2-1 Manifold and high flow 200 cell sports catalytic converter. The spare wheel well was removed and replaced with a flat floor to make way for the new dual exit exhaust featured on the 182. Minor revisions were made to the interior, the perforated texture of the Alcantara on the seats now featured white dots. The car also featured a new 8 spoke wheel design which came in Silver on a regular car and Anthracite on a “Cup Packed” car. The rarest optional extra available was the Carminat Sat-Nav which was fitted to very few cars. However, the unit wasn’t a popular option due to its high cost and rumoured poor performance compared to aftermarket options. The “Cup” Front Splitter and “Cup” Spoiler originally fitted to the 172 Cup made a reappearance as a cost option known as the Cup Style Pack. This was one of two cup packs available, the other being the Cup Chassis. This Cup Chassis pack included a strengthened hub with 60mm spacing on the strut bolt holes as opposed 54mm on non cup packed cars. The Cup Chassis also featured lowered suspension with stiffer shocks and springs and an anthracite version of the standard alloy wheels. The Clio 182 could also be ordered in a more race focused than ‘base’ RS model called “Cup Specification”, this was available in just two colours, J45 Racing Blue and D38 Inferno Orange, however came as Standard with the Cup Chassis and Cup Style Pack. The 182 Cup lacked the automatic Xenon headlights and headlight washer jets, climate control (rear footwell heater vents were also removed), illuminated sun visors, Solar Reflective Windscreen and Automatic Wipers. The leather / Alcantara seats were replaced with cloth items and the rear bench was downgraded to match. The engine cover and sill plates were removed and the steering wheel was downgraded to no longer include the RenaultSport Logo or rubber thumb grips. Carpet and headlining were downgraded to basic specification and even the documentation wallet was changed from faux leather to cloth. Sound deadening was removed from the 182 Cup, the horn was downgraded from a twin to single unit and the interior light no longer included a map reading function. Despite all of these reductions in specification the 182 Cup was still considerably heavier than the previous 172 Cup, meaning this version of the Clio II RS was considered one of the least desirable versions. The final version of the Clio 182 was known as the 182 Trophy. This version was based on the 182 Cup and featured the same strengthened hubs with 60 mm bolt spacing. Originally only 500 cars were to be produced for the UK market however an additional 50 were produced to be sold in Switzerland. At the time, believing there was no market for this version of the Clio, the Marketing Department of Renault France failed to order a 182 Trophy. The 182 Trophy included 16 Inch Speedline Turini Alloy wheels as seen on the 172 Cup, the Spoiler from the Clio 255 V6, Recaro Trendline seats and exclusive 727 Capsicum Red Paint with Trophy Decals lacquered onto the Side skirts. Each car had an individually numbered plaque on the base of the driver’s seat. The biggest difference however between the 182 Cup and 182 Trophy was the inclusion of Sachs Remote-Reservoir dampers. The basic principle of a Remote-Reservoir damper is that because there is a separate reservoir for the gas or oil which fills the shock they can either be of a reduced length or can house a longer rod, this means that the sizing of the shock can be optimised for the application in which it is being used. These changes definitely made a big difference to the 182 Trophy and have led to its being heralded as one of the best hot hatches of all time and it won Evo Magazine’s “People’s Performance Car of The Year” 2005, whilst also beating off rivals such as the Lamborghini Gallardo and other exotica in an Evo Magazine Group Test. AutoCar Magazine’s front cover from 5 July 2005 simply stated “World’s Greatest Hot Hatch”.

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RILEY

The Riley One-Point-Five and similar Wolseley 1500 were produced from 1957 to 1965. They utilised the Morris Minor floorpan, suspension and steering but were fitted with the larger 1,489 cc B-Series engine and MG Magnette gearbox. The two models were differentiated by nearly 20 bhp, the Riley having twin SU carburettors giving it the more power at 68 bhp. The Wolseley was released in April 1957 and the Riley was launched in November, directly after the 1957 London Motor Show. The Series II was released in May 1960. The most notable external difference was the hidden boot and bonnet hinges. Interior storage was improved with the fitting of a full width parcel shelf directly beneath the fascia. The Series III was introduced in October 1961, featuring revisions to the grille and rear lights. In October 1962 the cars received the more robust crank, bearing and other details of the larger 1,622 cc unit now being fitted in the Austin Cambridge and its “Farina” styled clones. Unlike the Farina models, however, the Wolseley 1500 and Riley One-Point-Five retained the 1,489cc engine size with which they had been launched back in 1957. Production ended in 1965 with 39,568 Rileys and 103,394 Wolseleys made.

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SMART

The Smart Roadster and Roadster Coupé were introduced in 2003, based on a stretched platform of the Fortwo with a full length of 3427 mm. The two variants are meant to be reminiscent of the British roadster of yore, such as the Triumph Spitfire or the MG B. Both the Roadster and Roadster Coupé are available with a removable Targa roof or an electrical softtop. The Roadster is powered by 61 or 82 PS versions of the turbocharged 698cc 3-cylinder Suprex engine in the rear, which is engineered by Mercedes-Benz. The Roadster Coupé has only the more powerful 80 bhp engine. A steering wheel with Formula 1-style paddle-shifters, to control the single-clutch automated manual transmission, is optional. Weighing as little as 790 kg (1,742 lb), the Roadster is intended to provide the emotion of driving a sports car at an affordable cost. Both the Roadster and Roadster Coupé are available in Brabus-tuned versions with power increased to 99 bhp. The Brabus versions have a different twin sports exhaust, lower suspension, polished six-spoke aluminium alloy Monoblock VI 17″ wheels (205/40 ZR17 at the front and 225/35 ZR17 at the rear), front spoiler, side skirts and radiator grille. Exclusive Brabus (Xclusive) interior includes a leather-trimmed dashboard, alloy-effect accent parts, instrument graphics, leather/aluminium gearshift with Brabus labelled starter button, aluminium handbrake handle (which fouls the central armrest), aluminium pedals and Brabus labeled floor mats. The Brabus version also features stronger clamping of the clutch plates and a faster gearchange. The Monoblock wheels are known to be very soft and as a result, are very easy to buckle. The lacquer on these wheels is also very poor, and corrosion can occur very early in the life of the wheel. Despite a projected break-even of only 8-10,000 units per year, first-year sales almost doubled this estimate. However, some Smart Roadsters leaked and production ceased due to the warranty work and other costs reaching an average of €3000 per vehicle. While a critical success, the Smart Roadster was, due to these costs, an economic failure for the company. Influential British motoring television show and magazine Top Gear praised the Roadster, awarding it Fun Car Of The Year for 2005. 43,091 Roadsters were built and put on the shop fronts, with chassis numbers ranging from 00,001 to around 43,400.

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SUBARU

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.

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TOYOTA

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.

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The MR2 derived from a 1976 Toyota design project with the goal of a car which would be enjoyable to drive, yet still provide good fuel economy – not necessarily a sports car. Design work began in 1979 when Akio Yoshida from Toyota’s testing department started to evaluate alternatives for engine placement and drive method, finalising a mid-transverse engine placement. Toyota called the 1981 prototype SA-X. From its original design, the car evolved into a sports car, and further prototypes were tested both in Japan and in the US. Significant testing was performed on race circuits including Willow Springs, where former Formula One driver Dan Gurney tested the car. All three generations were in compliance with Japanese government regulations concerning exterior dimensions and engine displacement. The MR2 appeared around the same time as the Honda CR-X, the Nissan EXA, the VW Scirocco from Europe, and the Pontiac Fiero and Ford EXP from North America. Toyota debuted its SV-3 concept car in October 1983 at the Tokyo Motor Show, gathering press and audience publicity. The car was scheduled for a Japanese launch in the second quarter of 1984 under the name MR2. Toyota introduced the first-generation MR2 in 1984, designating it the model code “W10”. When fitted with the 1.5-litre 3A engine, it was known as the “AW10”. Likewise, the 1.6-litre 4A version is identified by the “AW11” code. The MR2’s suspension and handling were designed by Toyota with the help of Lotus engineer Roger Becker. Toyota’s cooperation with Lotus during the prototype phase can be seen in the AW11, and it owes much to Lotus’s sports cars of the 1960s and 1970s. Toyota’s active suspension technology, called TEMS, was not installed. With five structural bulkheads, the MR2 was quite heavy for a two-seater of its size. Toyota employed the naturally aspirated 4A-GE 1,587 cc inline-four engine, a DOHC four-valve-per-cylinder motor, borrowed from the E80 series Corolla. This engine was also equipped with Denso electronic port fuel injection and T-VIS variable intake geometry, giving the engine a maximum power output of 112 hp in the US, 128 hp in the UK, 116 or 124 PS (114 or 122 hp) in Europe (with or without catalytic converter), 118 hp in Australia and 130 PS (128 hp) in Japan. Japanese models were later detuned to 120 PS (118 hp). A five-speed manual transmission was standard, with a four-speed automatic available as an option. In 1986 (1988 for the US market), Toyota introduced a supercharged engine for the MR2. Based on the same block and head, the 4A-GZE was equipped with a small Roots-type supercharger and a Denso intercooler. T-VIS was eliminated and the compression ratio was lowered to 8:1. It produced 145 hp at 6,400 rpm and 186 N⋅m; 137 lb⋅ft (19 kg⋅m) of torque at 4,400 rpm and accelerated the car from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 6.5 to 7.0 seconds. The supercharger was belt-driven but actuated by an electromagnetic clutch, so that it would not be driven except when needed, increasing fuel economy. Curb weight increased to as much as 2,494 lb (1,131 kg) for supercharged models, due to the weight of the supercharger equipment and a new, stronger transmission. A fuel selector switch was also added in some markets, to allow the car to run on regular unleaded fuel if required to. In addition to the new engine, the MR2 SC was also equipped with stiffer springs, and received special “tear-drop” aluminium wheels. The engine cover had two raised vents (only one of which was functional) that visually distinguished it from the naturally aspirated models. It was also labelled “SUPER CHARGER” on the rear trunk and body mouldings behind both doors. This model was never offered outside of the Japanese and North American markets, although some cars were privately imported to other countries. Toyota made detailed changes to the car every year until replacing it with a second generation model in 1989.

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Needing little introduction, perhaps, is this car, a 2nd generation MR2. Toyota proved that the market for small affordable sports cars was far from dead when they launched the first generation MR2 in 1984. As was the trend at the time among Japanese manufacturers, models were replaced on quite a regular 4/5 year cycle, so it was little surprise when a second generation car appeared in 1989. However, this one would go on to be produced for 10 years, The overall design changed little in that time, but there were lots of small details that were refined during that time. The car was generally well received, with its “mini Ferrari” looks proving quite an attraction, as were the willing engines and the entertaining handling. There are not that many nice clean examples left now, though.

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Also here, of course, was a Yaris GR.

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TRIUMPH

Based on the chassis and mechanicals of the Triumph Herald, the Spitfire was conceived as a rival to the Austin-Healey Sprite and MG Midget, which were launched a year earlier. The Triumph soon found a strong following, with many preferring it to the BMC cars which in time would become in-house stablemates. Mark II models arrived in 1965 and a more comprehensive facelift in 1967 with the distinctive “bone in mouth” front grille necessitated by US bumper height regulations also brought changes, but it was with the Mark IV that the greatest number of alterations would come about. The Mark IV featured a completely re-designed cut-off rear end, giving a strong family resemblance to the Triumph Stag and Triumph 2000 models, both of which were also Michelotti-designed. The front end was also cleaned up, with a new bonnet pressing losing the weld lines on top of the wings from the older models, and the doors were given recessed handles and squared-off glass in the top rear corner. The interior was much improved: a proper full-width dashboard was provided, putting the instruments ahead of the driver rather than over the centre console. This was initially black plastic however was replaced with wood in 1973. An all-new hardtop was also available, with rear quarter-lights and a flatter rear screen. By far the most significant change, however, was to the rear suspension, which was de-cambered and redesigned to eliminate the unfortunate tendencies of the original swing-axle design. The Triumph GT6 and Triumph Vitesse had already been modified, and the result on all these cars was safe and progressive handling even at the limit. The 75 hp engine was now rated at 63 hp (for UK market employing the 9:1 compression ratio and twin SU HS2 carburettors; the less powerful North American version still used a single Zenith Stromberg carburettor and an 8.5:1 compression ratio) due to the German DIN system; the actual output was the same for the early Mark IV. However, it was slightly slower than the previous Mark III due to carrying more weight, and employing a taller 3.89:1 final drive as opposed to the earlier 4.11:1. The engine continued at 1296 cc, but in 1973 was modified with larger big-end bearings to rationalise production with the TR6 2.5 litre engines, which somewhat decreased its “revvy” nature; there was some detuning, to meet new emissions laws, which resulted in the new car being a little tamer. With the overall weight also increasing to 1,717 lb (779 kg) the performance dropped as a consequence, 0 to 60 mph now being achieved in 15.8 seconds and the top speed reducing to 90 mph. The overall fuel economy also dipped to 32mpg. The gearbox gained synchromesh on its bottom gear. The Mark IV went on sale in the UK at the end of 1970 with a base price of £735. In 1973 in the United States and Canada, and 1975 in the rest of the world, the 1500 engine was used to make the Spitfire 1500. Although in this final incarnation the engine was rather rougher and more prone to failure than the earlier units, torque was greatly increased by increasing the cylinder stroke to 87.5 mm, which made it much more drivable in traffic. While the rest of the world saw 1500s with the compression ratio reduced to 8.0:1, the American market model was fitted with a single Zenith-Stromberg carburettor and a compression ratio reduced to 7.5:1 to allow it to run on lower octane unleaded fuel, and after adding a catalytic converter and exhaust gas recirculating system, the engine only delivered 53 bhp with a slower 0–60 time of 16.3 seconds. The notable exception to this was the 1976 model year, where the compression ratio was raised to 9.1:1. This improvement was short-lived, however, as the ratio was again reduced to 7.5:1 for the remaining years of production. In the UK the 9:1 compression ratio, less restrictive emissions control equipment, and the Type HS2 SU carburettors now being replaced with larger Type HS4 models, led to the most powerful variant to date. The 1500 Spitfire now produced 71hp (DIN) at 5500 rpm, and produced 82 lb/ft of torque at 3000 rpm. Top speed was now at the magical 100 mph mark, and 0 to 60 mph was reached in 13.2 seconds. Fuel economy was reduced to 29mpg. Further improvements to the suspension followed with the 1500 included longer swing axles and a lowered spring mounting point for more negative camber and a wider rear track. The wider, lower stance gave an impressive skid pad result of 0.87g average. This put the Spitfire head and shoulders over its competition in handling. The American market Spitfire 1500 is easily identified by the big plastic over-riders and wing mounted reflectors on the front and back wings. The US specification models up to 1978 still had chrome bumpers, but on the 1979 and 1980 models these were replaced by black rubber bumpers with built-in over-riders. Chassis extensions were also fitted under the boot to support the bumpers. Detail improvements continued to be made throughout the life of the Mark IV, and included reclining seats with “chequered brushed nylon centre panels” and head restraints, introduced for domestic market cars early in 1977 along with a new set of column stalk operated minor controls (as fitted already in the TR7) replacing the old dashboard mounted knobs and switches. Also added for the model’s final years were a wood dash, hazard flashers and an electric screen washer, in place of the previous manual pump operated ones.  Options such as the hard top, tonneau cover, map light and overdrive continued to be popular, but wire wheels ceased to be available. The 1980 model was the last and the heaviest of the entire run, weighing 1,875 lb (850.5 kg). Base prices for the 1980 model year was £3,631 in the UK. The last Spitfire, an Inca Yellow UK-market model with hardtop and overdrive, rolled off the assembly line at Canley in August 1980, shortly before the factory closed. It was never sold and is now displayed at the museum at Gaydon.

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Contemporary Triumph marketing advertised the GT6 as being developed from the “race winning Le Mans Spitfires” to capitalise on their aesthetic similarities, whereas the Le Mans Spitfires and the GT6 were actually two entirely separate development programmes (the GT programme pre-dating the racing programme). However, the marketing spin was so successful that many people erroneously believed the Le Mans Spitfires to actually be GT6s. The production car was introduced in 1966 and called the Triumph GT6. The new body was a sleek fastback design with an opening rear hatch which gave the GT6 the nickname “Poor man’s E-Type”.  It was really a 2-seater, but a small extra rear seat could be ordered if required and was large enough for small children. The family resemblance to the Spitfire Mk II was strong, the longer 6-cylinder engine necessitated a new bonnet top with a power bulge and the doors were provided with opening quarter light windows and squared-off glass in the top rear corner. The 6-cylinder engine was tuned to develop 95 bhp at 5000 rpm, and produced 117 lb·ft of torque at 3000 rpm. The increased power necessitated certain changes to the Spitfire mechanics; the radiator was new and mounted further forward in the car and the gearbox was the stronger unit from the Vitesse, with optional overdrive. Front springs were uprated to cope with the extra weight of the new engine. The overall vehicle weight unladed was 1,904 lb (864 kg). The interior of the GT6 was well equipped; a wooden dashboard housed a full complement of instruments, with carpets and heater included as standard. The new car had some very strong selling points. The new engine provided a 106 mph top speed and 0–60 mph in 12 seconds, a little better than the MGB GT. Moreover, the unit was comparatively smooth and tractable, in marked contrast to the MG’s rather harsh 4-cylinder engine. Fuel economy was very reasonable for the period at 20mpg, and the interior well up to the competition. The only major criticism was of its rear suspension; the GT6 inherited the swing-axle system from the Spitfire, which in turn was copied from the Herald small saloon. In the saloon it was tolerated, in the little Spitfire it was not liked and in the powerful GT6 it was heavily criticised. Triumph had done nothing to improve the system for the GT6 and the tendency to break away if the driver lifted off the power mid-corner was not helped at all by the increased weight at the front of the car. The handling was most bitterly criticised in the USA, an important export market for Triumph, where they were traditionally very strong. Similar criticism was being levelled at the Vitesse saloon, which shared the GT6’s engine and its handling problems. Triumph realised that they needed to find an answer to the handling problem, if only to maintain their reputation in the USA. Their response came with the 1969 model year, with the introduction of the GT6 Mk II, known in the States as the GT6+. The rear suspension was significantly re-engineered using reversed lower wishbones and Rotoflex driveshaft couplings, taming the handling and turning the Triumph into an MGB beater. The Vitesse was also modified, but the Spitfire had to wait until 1970 for any improvements to be made. There were other changes for the Mk II; the front bumper was raised (in common with the Spitfire Mk.3) to conform to new crash regulations, necessitating a revised front end, and side vents were added to the front wings and rear pillars. Under the bonnet, the engine was uprated to develop 104 bhp with a new cylinder head, camshaft, and manifolds. Performance improved to 107 mph but perhaps more noteworthy the 0–60 mph time dropped to 10 seconds.  The fuel economy was also improved to 25 mpg. The interior was updated with a new dashboard and better ventilation, a two-speed heater fan and a black headlining. Overdrive remained a popular option for the manual transmission. A further update to the Series 3 came in the autumn of 1970, at the same time as the Spitfire Mark IV was launched, but sales remained low and the car was deleted in the autumn of 1973 with production having reached 40,926 examples.

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What turned out to be the final TR model was launched in January 1975, and this time it really was all new. A dramatic Harris Mann wedge shaped was shock enough for the purists, but the fact that at launch it only came as a Fixed Head Coupe was almost too much for some to bear. In the end, though. more TR7s were sold than any other TR model, so it really cannot have been all that bad even if the car had a somewhat bumpy existence, moving production plant from Speke, Liverpool where the early cars were made, to Canley, Coventry in 1978 and then finally to the Rover Solihull plant in 1980. An open topped model did join the range in 1980 and small numbers of factory built TR8s with the 135 bhp Rover V8 engine under the bonnet were made, but the proposed 2+2 Lynx model, and a version with the 16 valve Dolomite Sprint engine and the 2 litre O Series unit never made production. The car was launched in the United States in January 1975, with its UK home market debut in May 1976. The UK launch was delayed at least twice because of high demand for the vehicle in the US, with final sales of new TR7s continuing into 1982. The TR7 was characterised by its “wedge” shape, which was commonly advertised as: “The Shape of Things to Come”, and by a swage line sweeping down from the rear wing to just behind the front wheel. It had an overall length of 160 inches, width of 66 inches, wheelbase of 85 inches and height of 49.5 inches, and a kerbside weight of 2205 pounds, exactly 1000 kg. During development, the TR7 was referred to by the code name “Bullet”. The original full size model wore MG logos because it was styled at Longbridge, which was not a Triumph factory. Power was provided by a 105 bhp 1,998 cc eight-valve four-cylinder engine that shared the same basic design as the Triumph Dolomite Sprint engine, mounted in-line at the front of the car. Drive was to the rear wheels via a four-speed gearbox initially with optional five-speed manual gearbox, or three-speed automatic from 1976. The front independent suspension used coil spring and damper struts and lower single link at the front, and at the rear was a four-link system, again with coil springs. There were front and rear anti roll bars, with disc brakes at the front and drums at the rear. The interior trim was revised in March 1977, with the broadcord seat covers being replaced with red or green “tartan” check inserts with black leather effect vinyl edging, which looks so very period. now The tartan trim was also reflected in the door cards in padded matching red or green tartan cloth inserts in the black leather effect vinyl. A number of other detailed changes were made, partly to ensure commonality of parts in future models, such as the Convertible and the TR8, and also based on what else was available from the corporate parts bin. Badging changed a number of times, but there were no other significant alterations before the end of production in 1981. In total approximately 115,000 TR7 models were built which includes 28,864 soft top/convertibles, and approximately 2,800 TR8 models.

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TVR

With something of a retro look, the S Series was announced at the 1986 British International Motor Show, initially as a concept. Due to a massive positive response, the car went into production in less than 12 months, with 250 pre-manufacture orders. This was Peter Wheeler’s first major development since buying the company from Martin Lilley, and the turning point in TVR’s fortunes, which had struggled with the “Wedge” based cars that had been introduced in 1980 to replace the long running M Series models. With styling which looked more like these popular M Series cars, the first  S Series cars used Ford’s Cologne V6 in 2.8 litre 160 hp and for the later S2 to S4 had the later 2.9 litre 170 hp unit.  TVR made frequent updates to the cars, moving from those retrospectively called the S1 to S2 and later S3 and S4 in short succession. The S3 and S4 received longer doors, although some late S2’s were also thus equipped. Vehicle models ending with “C” were used to denote vehicles which were fitted with a catalytic converter. Only the S3 and S4 were fitted with catalysts. The Cat was only introduced to the UK in August 1992, at “K” registration, but catalysed cars were produced before that,  intended for export to markets with tighter emissions standards. Just as they had done with the “wedges”, TVR found more excitement by putting the Rover V8 engine under the bonnet of the car in lieu of the Ford unit, though the two models were offered in parallel. The V8S used a 4.0 litre fuel-injected Rover V8 engine, with gas-flowed cylinder heads, higher lift camshaft, compression ratio upped to 10:5:1, revised manifold, new chip for the engine management system and a limited slip differential. The result was 240 bhp at 5250 rpm and 270 lb/ft of torque at 3000 rpm. The V8S had a number of cosmetic differences over the V6. The bonnet had a large hump – created to house the Italian specification supercharger but carried over to all V8S models. The V8S had a small vent facing the windscreen, whereas S1 to S3 models face forward. Very late S3 and S4 models had no hump at all. As with all TVR’s there is no specific point in time when they changed styles, probably when they ran out! The suspension track was slightly wider on the V8S achieved with revised wishbones at the front and revised trailing arms at the rear. Disc brakes are fitted all round. The standard specification of the V8S included ½ hide leather interior, walnut trim, mohair hood, OZ alloy wheels, driving lamps, electric windows and door mirrors. 0-60 mph could be achieved in 4.9 seconds and 0-100 mph in 12.9 seconds. It was faster than an Aston Martin Virage, a Ferrari Testarossa, Lotus Esprit Turbo SE and Porsche Carrera 2 the supercars of the early 1990s. Between 1986 and 1994 2,604 S Series cars were made; 410 of these were of the V8S variety.

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VAUXHALL

The HC Viva, one example of which was here, was mechanically the same as the HB but had more modern styling and greater interior space due to redesigned seating and positioning of bulkheads. It offered 2- and 4-door saloons and a fastback estate with the choice of either standard 1,159 cc, 90 tuned 1,159 cc or 1,600 cc overhead cam power. No 2.0 GT version was offered with the new range, although the 2.0 became the sole engine offering for Canada, where the HC became the Firenza, marketed by Pontiac/Buick dealers without the Vauxhall name. The cloned Envoy Epic was dropped as Chevrolet dealers now carried the domestic Chevrolet Vega. The HC was pulled from the Canadian market after two model years amidst consumer anger over corrosion and reliability issues. A class action lawsuit launched against General Motors of Canada by dissatisfied owners was not settled until the early 1980s. The American influence was still obvious on the design, with narrow horizontal rear lamp clusters, flat dashboard with a “letterbox” style speedometer, and a pronounced mid bonnet hump that was echoed in the front bumper. A coupé version called the Firenza was introduced in early 1971 to compete with the Ford Capri and forthcoming Morris Marina Coupé. It was available in deluxe and SL forms, with the latter sporting four headlights and finally resurrecting the missing 2.0 twin-carburettor engine from the HB Viva GT. The basic 1,159 cc engine was enlarged to 1,256 cc in late 1971 and with this the 90 version was removed from the line-up. The overhead cam engines were upgraded in early 1972, the 1.6 becoming a 1.8 and the 2.0 twin carburettor became a 2.3 (2,279 cc). At this time, the Viva 2300 SL and Firenza Sport SL did away with the letter-box speedometer and substituted an attractive seven-dial instrument pack. Firenza SLs had a two round-dial pack, though all other Vivas and Firenzas stuck with the original presentation. In September 1973, the Viva range was divided, the entry 1,256 cc models staying as Vivas, with an optional 1.8 litre engine if automatic transmission was chosen. The 1.8 and 2.3 litre models took on more luxurious trim and were rebadged as the Magnum. At the same time, the Firenza coupe was given a radical makeover with an aerodynamic nose and beefed up 2.3 litre twin carb engine mated to a ZF five-speed gearbox, turning it into the HP (High Performance) Firenza. The Viva was again revised in 1975, with trim levels becoming the E (for Economy), L and SL. The E was Vauxhall’s answer to the Ford Popular and was first offered as a promotional edition two-door coupe using surplus Firenza body shells, before becoming a permanent Viva model in two-door saloon form. It was the only Viva to still have the strip speedometer after this as the L and SL adopted the Firenza SL’s two round dial set up. As of the autumn of 1975 the 1800 engine was also upgraded, increasing power from 77 to 88 hp. For 1977, the SL was replaced by the GLS, essentially marrying the plusher Magnum trim and equipment with the base 1,256 cc pushrod ohv engine. These models all had the full seven dial instrument panel, velour seating and Rostyle wheels, among many other upgrades. Viva production was scaled down after the launch of the Chevette in spring 1975. Originally a three-door hatchback, the Chevette offered two- and four-door saloons and a three-door estate in 1976 that all usurped the Viva’s position as Vauxhall’s small car entry. The Chevette hatch was also sold as the Opel Kadett City, but the Viva remained on sale until the later part of 1979, with 640,863 cars having been made. The Viva was effectively replaced by the new Vauxhall Astra, a variant of the front-wheel-drive Opel Kadett. By that time it was dated in comparison with more modern rivals like the Volkswagen Golf.

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The front-wheel drive Opel Corsa was first launched in September 1982. It went on sale first in France, Italy, and Spain – markets where small cars represented from 34 to 43 percent of sales. Built-in Zaragoza, Spain, the first Corsas were three-door hatchback and two-door saloon models, with four-door and five-door versions arriving in 1984. In certain markets, commercial “van” models were also sold, with or without rear windows depending on local requirements. In mainland Europe, the saloon versions were known as the “Corsa TR” until May 1985 and received an egg-crate grille rather than the four slits used on hatchbacks. The saloons were intended to appeal to customers of the Opel Kadett C and its sister the Vauxhall Chevette who still desired a traditional 3-box sedan shape – but it did not sell particularly well in most of Europe but were popular in Spain and Portugal, among other markets. While only taking ten percent of French Corsa sales during the car’s first half-year, the TR represented half of all Corsas sold in Spain. The basic trim level was called just the Corsa, which was followed by the Corsa Luxus, Corsa Berlina, and the sporty Corsa SR. The SR receives a spoiler which surrounds the rear window, alloy wheels, checkered sport seats, and a somewhat more powerful 70 PS engine. Six years later, the Corsa received a facelift, which included a new front fascia and some other minor changes. The models were called LS, GL, GLS, and GT. The Corsa A was known in the United Kingdom market as the Vauxhall Nova (as it was considered that Corsa sounded too much like “coarser”), where it was launched in April 1983, following a seven-month-long union dispute due to British workers being angry about the car not being built there, in contrast to the rival Ford Fiesta, Austin Metro and Talbot Samba. In addition, there was also a dispute about the disparity of import tariffs, as while cars exported from Spain to the European Community were subject to tariffs of only 4.4 per cent, those exported in the other direction were subject to tariffs as high as 36.7 per cent. Power first came from 1.0 L 45 hp, 1.2 L 55 hp, and 1.3 L 70 hp petrol engines. (The first engines were all equipped with carburettors; fuel injection came later, but never for the 1.0.) The engines were based on the well proven Family II design, except for the 1.0 L and early 1.2 L engines, which were based on the OHV unit from the Kadett C. There was also an Isuzu-built, 67 PS 1.5 L turbo diesel engine available, which was also used in the Isuzu Gemini at around the same time. The diesel joined the line up in May 1987, at the Frankfurt Motor Show, along with the sporty GSi. The engines and most of the mechanical componentry were derived from those used in the Astra/Kadett. In September 1987 the Corsa received a light facelift, with a new grille that was now the same on hatchbacks and sedans, an updated interior, and other slight changes. For the 1989 model year, the 1.3 was bored out to 1.4 litres. Power remained the same, although torque increased. A rare “Sport” model was produced in 1985 to homologate for the sub 1,300 cc class of Group A for the British Rally Championship. These Sport models were white and came with unique vinyl decals, a 13SB engine with twin Weber 40 DCOE carburettors, an optional bespoke camshaft, a replacement rear silencer, and few luxuries. This gave 93 hp and a top speed of 112 mph (180 km/h) with a 0–60 mph time of 8.9 seconds. These are by far the rarest models (500 produced) and thus acquire a high market price if one does become available. A 1.6 L multi point fuel-injected engine with 101 PS at 5600 rpm (98 PS in the catalysed version) and capable of 186 km/h (116 mph) was added to the Corsa/Nova at the 1987 Frankfurt Motor Show, giving decent performance and being badged as a GSi (“Nova GTE” in pre-facelift models in the United Kingdom, later models were all called GSi). The GSi’s engine mapping had been carried out by Opel tuning specialists Irmscher. A model with the 82 PS 1.4 L multi-point fuel-injected engine, which was otherwise mechanically identical to the GSi, also became available as the Nova SRi in the United Kingdom. In January 1988, a turbocharged version of the Isuzu diesel engine was introduced, with power increased to 67 PS. The design was freshened in September 1990, with new bumpers, headlights, grille, and interior, but it was clearly recognisable as a gentle makeover of an early 1980s design when it had to compete with the latest two all-new superminis in Europe – the Peugeot 106 and the Renault Clio. The car was finally replaced in the spring of 1993.  Nearly 500,000 Novas were sold in Britain over its ten years on sale. In its best year, 1989, it was Britain’s seventh best selling car with more than 70,000 sales, but by February 2016, only 1,757 were still on the road.

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The Vectra B, was introduced in October 1995 for the 1996 model year, at the Frankfurt Motor Show, and the model range came to include an estate version for the first time. This model replaced the Vauxhall Cavalier in the United Kingdom. The five-door estate version premiered in September 1996, with the tagline ‘One step ahead of the Mob’. The Vauxhall badged Vectra B was the last Vauxhall to be produced at the company’s Luton plant, where the end of automobile production was announced in December 2000, taking effect just over a year later. Car production at the site finished in March 2002, although production of commercial vehicles continued. The Vectra B was replaced by the Vectra C in September 2002, which was branded as the Holden Vectra in Australia and New Zealand. Between 1998 and 2001, Holden assembled the Vectra for export to other RHD markets in the region, with a view to exporting 60 per cent of output, although this was adversely affected by the Asian economic crisis. Engines started from the 75 PS 1.6 L, Family 1 but eventually the 8-valve engines were all replaced by 16-valve powerplants. The 2.0 L Family II engine, with 136 PS (was developed as a basis for touring car racing (later in Australia, 2.2 L 108 kW), but the top of the line was a 2.5 L V6 with 170 PS. Diesel power came once again from Isuzu, with 1.7 liters and 82 PS, also a 2.0 L Ecotec with either 82 PS or 101 PS and 2.2 L Ecotec with 125 PS. In 2001, the all new 2.2 L petrol engine, as carried over to the Vectra C, was introduced with the 2.5 L petrol in its last incarnation being upgraded to a 2.6 L to accommodate emissions improvements. In April 1999, the Vectra was updated, receiving a mildly modified body (that can be identified by the single piece headlight units and body coloured bumpers) together with somewhat improved handling and better equipment. Sporting limited edition models included the touring car championship inspired i500, Super Touring and GSi. The first model was developed in Germany by Opel Motorsport, with the V6 engine’s power increased to 195 PS, and the other two were created in Milton Keynes by Motor Sport Developments.

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The VX220 is the only true sports car that the marque has produced in the last 90 years. Quite unlike any Vauxhall that had ever come before it, the VX220 was the result of a deal between GM and Lotus, struck to generate enough funding for the latter to be able to develop a replacement for their Elise model, something forced on them owing to changes in European crash safety regulations for the 2000 model year. Lotus agreed to develop and produce a 2 seater sports car for GM, on the new Series 2 Elise chassis, with a concept version of the proposed GM model being shown at the Geneva Motor Show in 1999. Although the body styling was different, clearly the economies would only work if as much else could be shared, and that presented a challenge as it was planned to use a 1.8-litre Toyota engine, similar to that found in the Toyota Celica, in the second generation Elise, whereas the GM cars clearly had to use a GM engine, namely the  2.2-litre GM Ecotec engine from the Astra. As neither engine had been used in the original Elise, which had been fitted with a 1.8-litre Rover K-Series engine, this simply became one of the many design challenges .In order to accommodate the production of the new cars, Lotus expanded its Hethel factory to a capacity of 10,000 cars, with around 3,500 slots allocated to Speedster production. Production of the Speedster commenced in 2000. The car was hailed by the motoring press as a great drivers’ car and won several accolades, including Top Gear’s Car of the Year in 2003. The lesser naturally aspirated 2.2 version was considered easier to drive than the potent Turbo model, and some journalists suggested that the Opel/Vauxhall car was better value for money than the Lotus, among them one Jeremy Clarkson in his 2003 DVD Shoot Out. However, the market did not really agree, and sales were limited. The car was deleted in 2005, with no successor.

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VOLKSWAGEN

As with the Mk2 Golf, Volkswagen did not make a convertible version of the Mk4 Golf. Instead, they facelifted the front bumper, fenders, hood, and headlights of the Mk3 Golf Cabrio to resemble the styling of the Mk4 Golf (colloquially referred to as the Mk3.5). Changes to the rear included a redesigned hatch, which moved the number plate tub to a restyled rear bumper, in addition to a handle and larger VW emblem more closely resembling the rear of a Mk4 Golf. VW incorporated other non-structural parts from the Mk4 as well, such as fender repeaters, grille, side mirror caps, etc. The interior remained largely similar to the Mk3 interior save for a Mk4 style three-spoke leather steering wheel and airbag, a textured dashboard (also known as “dimpled dash” or “shark skin dash”), heavily bolstered front seats with incorporated side airbags, and a chromed finish on several parts, such as the inner door handles, emergency brake button, door strikers, front seat-belt anchors, key lock cylinders, and shifter button in automatic transmission equipped cars. The instrument panel was updated with a relocated hazard light switch and blue and red backlighting, as found in the Mk4. Technical updates include the immobilizer and engine computer from the Mk4 Golf being retrofit to the older Mk3 engine mechanicals.

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VW had enjoyed considerable success with the Scirocco, a front wheel drive Hatch that was based on the Golf, and offered a stylish modern alternative to the Ford Capri and Opel Manta. the second generation car did not quite the same favour as the first, but even so there was eager anticipation of what was initially thought would be the third generation car. But as VW looked to push the model further upmarket, they opted for a new name, choosing Corrado for the car, which debuted in 1988. Although the new car’s floorpan was based on that of the Mark 2 Golf/Jetta, there had been a plan that the model would actually replace the Porsche 944. That idea came to nought and the car, built by Karmann, as the Scirocco had been, took its place in the VW range, alongside the Scirocco which remained in production for a further three years. All Corrados were front-wheel drive and featured petrol engines, the car debuting with two engine choices: a 1.8 litre 16-valve inline-four with 136 hp and a troublesome supercharged 1.8 litre eight-valve inline-four, marketed as the G60 and delivering 160 hp. The Corrado G60 was named for the G-Lader with which it was equipped, a scroll supercharger whose interior resembles the letter “G”. Volkswagen introduced two new engines for 1992. The first was a naturally-aspirated 2.0 litre 16-valve 136 bhp inline-four, basically a further development of the 1.8 litre engine; this engine was not made available to the North American market. The second was the 12-valve VR6 engine, which came in two variants: a 2.8 litre 179 bhp model for the US and Canadian markets and a 2.9 litre 187 bhp version for the European market. Upon revising the engine, VW updated the styling with a new front grille and foglamps. With the introduction of the VR6 engine, the G60 engine disappeared from the North American market after 1992 and European market in 1993. The VR6 engine provided a compromise between both V-shaped and straight engines by placing the two cylinder banks at an angle of 15° with a single cylinder head. This design allowed engineers to fit a six-cylinder engine into roughly the same space that was previously occupied by four-cylinder engines, while closely approaching the smoothness of a straight-six design. By the time it was launched, VW had updated the Golf to the Mark 3,and some elements of its A3 platform was introduced on the Corrado with the VR6 announcement, including the suspension components, the rear axle assembly and some parts of the A3’s ‘plus’ type front axle assembly. The subsequent wider front wheel-track of the Corrado VR6 necessitated the fitting of new front wings with wider wheel arches and liners along with a new front bumper assembly. Together with a new raised-style bonnet to accommodate the VR6 engine, these body improvements were carried across the model range.  A 2.0 litre eight-valve model with 115 hp was produced in Europe in 1995. A UK-only limited production model, the Corrado Storm, was also sold. Some discreet “Storm” badging, a colour-keyed front grille, an additional Storm badge on the gear gaiter surround (an upgrade from the standard Karmann badge), 15 inch BBS “Solitude” alloy wheels, and standard fitment of some previously optional items (such as the leather heated front seats) were all that differentiated this model from the base Corrado VR6. Only 500 were produced: 250 in Classic Green with a cream leather interior, and 250 in Mystic Blue, a colour unique to the Storm, with a black leather interior. The Storm models are the most desirable of all these days. Production ended in 1995. Although the car was much praised for its handling, and the VR6 engine was sublime, t was costly, Karmann’s build quality was patchy and those who experienced the G60 versions had more than their fair share of reliability issues (A colleague of mine had at least 4 superchargers blow in the first 60,000 miles). All told, 97,521 Corrados were produced.

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I enjoyed this event very much, as I always do. It feels to be just the right size so there is a chance to get see everything, and chat to a few people and grab a bite to eat within the space of the two or three hours over which it runs. There are a few more of these in the calendar for the rest of the summer and I hope my diary and logistics is going to enable me to attend them all.

 

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