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The Motorists Guide

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  1. Old car prices are still rising, but some by more than others Want to know how much your ageing pride and joy is worth? Then roll along to one of Hagerty’s valuation surgeries With the right lighting, a dash of make-up and a pair of 10-inch heels, Marcus Atkinson could pass for Fiona Bruce hosting an episode of TV’s Antiques Roadshow. But while the popular presenter gets to swan about in country houses with a TV crew in close attendance, Atkinson is, when I meet him, standing in what looks like a cattle shed off a busy roundabout near Leominster, with some colleagues and a clipboard. No matter; like Fiona, he too has a queue of antique lovers to deal with, although rather than bringing him an old trouser press or a teapot for valuation, they’ve actually arrived in their heirlooms and collectables. Cedric Egby is one such antique lover. The 76-year-old former Electricity Board accountant has motored 20 miles from his home in Knighton in Wales at the wheel of his 1969 Series 2 Jaguar E-Type 4.2 convertible, ostensibly for a chat and a coffee with like-minded enthusiasts, but really to hear what Atkinson’s team think his Jag is worth. “The E-Type is still the world’s most beautiful car,” he assures me, patting its bonnet. “This one was imported from the US in the 1990s when prices went loopy, and converted from left- to right-hand drive. I paid £38,000 for it seven years ago. It was a boyhood dream come true.” The ‘cattle shed’ we’re standing in is actually one of the smart new buildings at Brightwells Auctioneers and Valuers, a long-established business based in Leominster that holds regular auctions of everything from modern and classic cars, through plant machinery to antiques, horses, houses and fine wines. It’s the perfect base for Atkinson and his team from Hagerty, an insurer specialising in classic cars. They’re here for the day and have invited classic car enthusiasts like Cedric to bring their precious motors for an inspection and valuation. It’s a service Hagerty performs across the country at club events and shows. An owner registers their car and for £15, which the insurer donates to charity, Atkinson and his experts produce a detailed five-page report on it. Individual components are rated and photographed, following which the car is awarded a condition status across five levels ranging from project to concours. And then comes the bit the owner has been waiting for: the Hagerty valuation, a figure calculated with reference to the car’s condition and to the insurer’s vast database of classic car prices. Why does the company bother? In short, because it insures its customers’ cars on an agreed value basis. This means that should it have to write off a vehicle, it will pay out the value agreed at the policy’s commencement, rather than a portion of it, as is the case with typical motor insurance policies. It’s in Hagerty’s interests to know precisely what each car it’s insuring is worth at the outset. Thirty-five owners registered for today’s inspection and valuation. Cars include a few E-Types, an Alfa Romeo GT Junior, a Daimler E20 and a Porsche 911 (996). In an inspection bay, Charlie Patterson, one of Hagerty’s valuations underwriters, is scrutinising the engine of a 1972 Rover P6 3.5 V8 S. “Clues to a fastidious owner are how wiring is routed, whether bolts match and the quality of rubber hoses and clips,” he says. “Everything on this car points to careful maintenance. It’s in excellent condition.” Waiting its turn behind the Rover is what looks like a Citroën DS 21 convertible. Patterson raises its bonnet and we marvel at the lovingly crafted VIN plate on the bulkhead. “It says it’s a coachbuilt Henri Chapron DS,” he purrs. “They’re very rare.” In fact, it’s even rarer than that, as the car’s owner, Simon Haskew, explains: “It’s one of three replicas made by a British company. I paid £26,000 for it in 2006. The VIN plate was a little touch I added later.” Elsewhere, Atkinson is inspecting a pretty Triumph GT6. Its owner bought it as a wreck six years ago and had it restored. The man from Hagerty likes it a lot, pleasing its owner who plans to sell it. He may need all the luck he can get. The Hagerty Classic Index tracks the values of 50 benchmark models. From April to December last year, they rose just 1.07% compared with the year before. It was the smallest increase since 2012, when the index was launched. “The market’s in an odd place at present,” says John Mayhead, editor of the Hagerty price guide that contains more than 2000 models and over 40,000 individual values. “People are being cautious and prices that were beginning to overheat last year are now starting to cool. “On the one hand, stars such as the Lancia Delta Integrale continue to outperform the market and others, such as the Porsche 924 and Mercedes SL R107, are gathering pace. On the other, values for some former stars such as the Ferrari Testarossa and 308, Aston Martin DB4 and Jaguar E-Type are cooling off rapidly. In fact, of the 2000 models we tracked at the end of 2018, a quarter of them had fallen in value.” Nevertheless, Mayhead is optimistic about the year ahead: “Classics that are usable, either as a family car or for rallying and racing, are still in demand. The market is a canny one now and buyers want value for money.” If you fancy a flutter, Mayhead’s tip is to get into an ordinary but interesting car from the late 1980s and early 1990s. He says: “We’ve a contact who’s just bought eight Peugeot 309s of all types, not just the GTI. It doesn’t have to be the performance version of a car these days. If it’s interesting, a bit rare and good value, there’s a market for it.” But is there a market for Cedric’s E-Type? The retired accountant sips nervously from a cup of coffee as Atkinson examines his car. “It’s good,” he declares. In Hagerty-speak that means it runs well, would pass an MOT and looks good to the inexpert eye. It sounds like faint praise to me, but then Atkinson does his Antiques Roadshow thing and announces his valuation: “£65,000.” Cedric grins. He’s looking forward to his drive back to Knighton. Read more Used car buying guide: Jaguar E-Type The good cars that were treated unfairly​ The man who buys the Ferraris you really shouldn't View the full article
  2. Matra Rancho We dive into the moulded world of resin bodywork to recall the memorably cool, quirky and in some cases oddly inspirational creations The chances are you won’t have heard of the Glasspar G2. It was 70 years ago that the American two-seat sports car was built by Bill Tritt, a boat builder who took a fancy to creating a car for a friend. Tritt’s experience with fibreglass allowed him to sculpt a car similar in proportions and style to the later MGA. It was built on a bastardised Willys Jeep chassis and muscled along by a Ford V8. Soon enough, his G2 was spotted by a supplier of Vibrin resin, and a bespoke commission was made, with the resultant Alembic I gaining coverage in Life magazine and winning the attention of engineers at GM. In the passing 70 years, there has been no shortage of weird and wonderful cars that have featured a fibreglass body or, in some cases, monocoque as well. The best known in the UK is the Reliant Robin, the three-wheeler of Only Fools and Horses fame, even if it was actually the Regal van version. Some engineers might look down their nose at fibreglass, but there have been significant cars with the whiff of epoxy resin that the world would have been a duller place without. Here are 10 of the best. Alpine A610 Years: 1991-1995 Alpine came within a feeler-gauge gap of blowing Porsche and Mazda away with the A610. Here was a 160mph, mid-rear-engined sports car that delivered a tactile driving experience and got road testers excited (Richard Bremner said it was “simply brilliant fun”) but failed to persuade Britain’s drivers to buy one. Essentially a reworked GTA, the A610 finally got the basics right by shifting the mass of the turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 (shared with Peugeot and Volvo) further towards the bulkhead, so the A610’s weight distribution was 43:57 front to rear, compared with 37:63 of its less powerful predecessor. With the A610’s 250bhp, good traction and feelsome steering, the few buyers who took the plunge were able to push the stiffened steel chassis right to the limit without suffering a nervous tick. Chevrolet Corvette (C7) Years: 2014-2019 When Chevrolet decided to sell the Corvette beyond the land of the free, it knew it must match the credentials of European sports cars. The C7 was the result, and it moved the game on significantly for the Stingray. The bodywork was mostly reinforced plastic, with carbonfibre used for its bonnet and removable roof panel, on a new aluminium platform that helped shed weight. However, the engine remained the full-fat, super-size experience that has marked out the Corvette since the 1950s, a 6.2-litre lump kicking out a lazy 75bhp per litre. The result was a Vette that blew away preconceptions almost as quickly as it guzzled gas. Noble M12 GTO Year: 2000 Lee Noble, a serial designer and engineer of sports cars, took the world by surprise when he released his first car, the M10. We wrote at the time that it could be “one of the most complete and exciting British mid-engined two-seaters we’ve driven” and before long Noble answered what few criticisms there were by releasing the M12 GTO. Its fibreglass body was laid over a steel spaceframe chassis with a twin-turbo Ford V6 in the middle, and the whole lot was assembled in South Africa. Lee Noble would later sell the rights to the car to Rossion Automotive in America. It was our loss and their gain. Lancia Stratos Years: 1973-1978 In 1973, Marcello Gandini’s Stratos must have looked like it had driven off the stage of a Ziggy Stardust David Bowie gig – because it still does today. The mid-engined machine was created for rallying, and featured clamshell nose and tail sections, fashioned from fibreglass, that pivoted up towards the sky, while sat in the engine bay was the 2.4-litre V6 from Ferrari’s Dino. Gandini got the gig after Nuccio Bertone bought a friend’s Lancia Fulvia and set about creating a concept for the Stratos, hopeful of winning design work with Lancia over arch-rival Pininfarina. The result was the Stratos Zero, a car so low that Bertone personally drove it to Lancia’s works racing HQ, and passed straight under the security barrier – to the applause of onlookers. Caterham Seven Years: 1973-present No, the body of a Seven isn’t all glassfibre, but the bits that need replacing most often (the nose cone and wings) are – something anyone who has raced one will be grateful for. So it scrapes onto this list, and anyone who’s ever hopped, skipped and jumped their way along a bumpy B-road in a Seven couldn’t begrudge its inclusion. As distinctive as a bowler hat, the British lightweight had roots in the Lotus Seven of 1957, and over the years there have been more variations on the Seven theme than bees in a swarming hive. Happily, though, at the heart of every model is a purity that has never been bettered. Ferrari 308 GTB Years: 1975-1977 The 308 is best known to Ferrari fans above a certain age as the co-star to Tom Selleck in the US TV crime caper Magnum PI. Before the on-screen chemistry formed in 1980, however, the 308 was notable for less glamorous reasons: the GTB version was the first Ferrari to wear a fibreglass body. The design was the handiwork of Pininfarina, and the car was built across the road from the Modena factory, at Carrozzeria Scaglietti – Enzo’s favoured coachbuilder. It is believed only 712 were made, before Ferrari switched to steel and aluminium bodywork. Lotus Elise S1 Years: 1996-2000 Lotus was one of the early pioneers in fibreglass. The oh-so-pretty 1957 Elite used it for its monocoque – an unusual approach, and one that would have benefited from further research and development; on early cars, the suspension would detach itself from the monocoque. There were plenty of teething problems with the Mk1 Elise, too, but it was such a hit, it defined Lotus into the new century. The adaptable extruded aluminium platform and fibreglass body (styled by Julian Thomson) put a modern spin on Lotus’s ‘less is more’ philosophy and provided Lotus with a lifeline that as good as ensured it is with us today. TVR Griffith Years: 1991-2002 Choosing a favourite TVR is like trying to pick a favourite child but, when push comes to shove, surely the car that the company will be best remembered for is the Griffith. It had it all. Coke-bottle curves, a bellowing V8, wrap-around cockpit and road-holding that was just about on the right side of ‘lively’. It was also significant for pre-dating the era when the Blackpool-based manufacturer decided that it would make everything itself – from the engines to silly electrically operated door releases – after which reliability became a fractious issue that led to owners’ patience being tested harder than the cars’ rear tyres. Matra Rancho Years: 1977-1984 The Rancho was ahead of its time, and not just for its fibreglass body and ‘rough ’n’ tumble’ plastic cladding. It was a precursor to the modern-day SUV and crossover, a car that looked like a 4x4 but was actually two-wheel drive and based on the floorpan of a Simca 1100. Matra borrowed a 1.4-litre engine from its Chrysler extended family. Pick the Grand Raid version and you got a limited-slip diff, skid plates, a winch and an extra spare wheel, perched on the roof. Whether or not this made a blind bit of difference to its poor all-terrain capability is neither here nor there. An unlikely inspiration for SUVs? Could be. Renault Espace (Mk1) Years: 1984-1991 It might not stir the emotions or quicken the pulse, but the Renault Espace was a clever concept that remains one of the most practical and versatile types of car. Europe’s original people carrier, it offered seven independent seats, and the rear five could be folded or lifted out (something of a back-straining exercise), while the front pair would spin around, should you wish to win a dare with friends or, more sensibly, stop to have a picnic. The brainchild of Matra, its steel and fibreglass construction helped offset the height of the monobox body, meaning it was surprisingly sprightly for its size. James Mills Read more Used car buying guide: TVR Griffith​ Top 10 best lightweights 2019 Lancia Stratos concept review View the full article
  3. You might know what was number one in the charts when you were born, but what was rocking the motoring world? Six of our writers, young and not so young, hook up with cars of the same vintage to discover the greatest year in motoring history Can you stop doing this, please?” requested colleague and friend Richard Bremner. He’s got a point. This is the second feature in a year that has involved Bremner and I getting together with some of the younger members of the Autocar team and some iconic cars of varying vintage. It’s fun but it does make us feel rather ancient. So here we are again. The challenge this time is for half a dozen of us, representing a broad sweep of ages on the magazine, to choose our favourite from cars that were launched in the year we were born. You can now appreciate Bremner’s anxiety, not least because he’s the oldest. As you will read, the exercise has brought together a truly fascinating line-up of cars; a group so varied that they would be unlikely to appear together in a feature in a classic car magazine. They’re from a wide range of years, too. Bremner starts us off in 1958, followed soon after by me in 1962 and stretching right up to Simon Davis, who the stork deposited on the earth in 1993. In between, we have Matt Prior in 1975, Matt Saunders in 1981 and Mark Tisshaw in 1989. The cars are interesting in their own right, but they also mark moments in time and put into context the companies and industry that produced them. My choice, as you’ll see, and Tisshaw’s, are extremely closely linked despite being 27 years apart in age. Prior’s and Saunders’ cars also narrate a telling tale about the British motor industry, straddling the old world and foreshadowing the new one. Who out of the six was born in the best year for cars? We’ll be tackling that thorny one, but I’ll tell you right now: from memory and from checking on Wikipedia, I can’t see how Saunders will be able to put forward a case for 1981. So follow us on this journey back to the crib. I’ll wager that all of you will be poring over the list of cars launched in the year of your birth to see if you’re from a vintage year or one in which the grapes died on the vine. Richard Bremner - 1964 Aston Martin DB4 Quite surprisingly, the DB4 is the best-known new car that 1958 produced. Well, almost – it’s the succeeding but largely identical DB5 that’s familiar throughout much of the world as the Aston Martin of James Bond. But there would have been no inkling of this at the time. Only 1110 DB4s were produced, the car’s price ensuring it a rarefied clientele and infrequent sightings for the rest of us. Miles certainly aren’t drawn out in a DB4. This coupé had 240bhp to deploy 61 years ago – massive, compared with the 37bhp of a Morris Minor 1000. Not that sterile statistics make it my choice among the class of ’58. Rather obviously, it’s the exquisite beauty of its superleggera aluminium skin that makes this the irresistible fantasy choice. Designed by coachbuilders Touring of Milan, its complex construction consisted of a steel chassis, a tubular steel framework from which were hung hand-wrought aluminium panels that with rain and time provide an expensive demonstration of electrolytic corrosion. But the alloy panels also reduced the Aston’s weight, its 1311kg not so bad given the size and the heft of the twin-cam six-cylinder lying beneath its letterbox-scooped bonnet. In the unlikely event that you tire of admiring the DB4’s just-so lines, opening the bonnet also presents you with a beautifully sculpted cluster of machinery. The low walls of the cam covers that house neatly arrayed spark plug leads, the bell-shaped domes of the twin SU carburettors and the absence of plastic mouldings make this a sight to admire even if you don’t understand the combustive forces that occur within. When it was new, those forces were sufficient to thrust the elegant nose past 60mph in 9.0sec. Slightly disappointing today, perhaps, if scaldingly fast compared with a Minor 1000. Many of these earliest of DB4s – the Series 1 you see here the first of five mild evolutions – have had their cylinder blocks bored out of necessity, the pistons and liners required to renew them unavailable for decades. The only solution was to expand the engine to 4.2 litres, yielding 280 horsepower, and of more believable strength than the original 240bhp. More realistic, says this car’s owner Bryan Smart, is 215bhp. Despite his installing a longer-legged axle ratio to counter the lack of overdrive, this DB4 bounds away, and will quite effortlessly travel at 30mph in first should you need it. That makes it more than able to keep up with, and outpace, many moderns, providing you master a gearchange that requires a sometimes brutally firm hand to gift first gear. The rest submit more easily, and with rewardingly mechanical engagement once their oils are warmed. The chassis sometimes feels quite mechanical too, from the resistant heavy steering to a suspension prone to sudden, vintage jerks and geometry that allows topography-induced wander. So you need to pay attention. Paying attention to curves and throttle brings reward too, the Aston’s urge to run wide snuffed out with a keenly – and carefully – applied throttle. It’s swift and satisfying, revealing a car as beautiful in motion as it is when dormant. One to forget Edsel: Bremner’s year of birth was quite a good one for new cars, but one launch that still brings out the sweats in car maker boardrooms is the Edsel. Yes, Ford’s ill-fated sub-brand was launched that year. It survived only two years and lost Ford $250 million. And you thought Maybach wasn’t successful… Matt Saunders - 1981 Triumph Acclaim My maternal grandfather’s knowledge of the British car industry will always be a matter of supposition to me – but you’re looking at evidence to suggest that he knew it well enough when it mattered. When the time came, in September 1981, for George Sandford to buy an affordable saloon to ‘see him out’ – the very last new car he would ever buy – he bought a Triumph Acclaim. Not a Ford, a Vauxhall or an Austin, but the UK’s very first Japanese transplant. And see him out it duly did, before going on to do a whole lot more besides. George got something else that year as well: a second grandson who would eventually inherit his sage purchase, still going strong and with less than 30,000 on the clock, at the not-so-tender age of seventeen. I then used the Acclaim to ‘see out’ my A-levels and my university degree, and even to start work at the age of 21. I also put Hella spotlights on the front bumper and a pair of six-by-nines on the back shelf (sorry, Grandad): items that, I was disappointed to note, don’t feature on the British Motor Museum’s example, although it’s otherwise wonderful. You can probably appreciate why picking a birthday car didn’t take me long. It’s not a flash one; nothing to hold a candle to Bremner’s gorgeous DB4 or Goodwin’s fanciable Lotus. But then 1981 was bit of a desert for the introduction of interesting, world-beating passenger cars. When Google turned up the news that the Acclaim was introduced in the right year, I was suddenly uncharacteristically uninterested in the Maserati Biturbo or Lamborghini Jalpa that might have stood in for it. The Acclaim was a car that didn’t sell in chart-dominating volume and didn’t attract the attention of enthusiasts like its immediate rear-driven forebear, the Dolomite. Some will tell you it was Triumph’s lowest ebb: a rebadged Honda Ballade used as a stopgap by British Leyland, with just enough UK-sourced content to count as ‘locally produced’. It filled a gap for BL in the early 1980s, in the build-up to the launch of what was expected to be a world-beating, all-new mid-sized hatchback: the Maestro. Like it or not, though, the Acclaim was significant. It was how Japanese car design and production techniques first had an influence on UK car making. Without that influence, volume car making on these shores would have died a death a long, long time ago. The Acclaim was rightly celebrated for reliability, setting record lows for warranty payouts for BL. We had a Hillman Avenger before Mum took on Grandad’s Acclaim: a typical example of how UK volume car making had been. It broke down fairly regularly, wore twice as quickly, had much less room in it, leaked and stank (either of damp upholstery or exhaust fumes, depending mainly on the weather). The Acclaim must have been like a revelation for its owners by comparison: it was comfy, compact, well-packaged, drivable, economical and pretty refined. You might say that it was the beginning of the redeeming modernisation of the UK car industry. But here’s the plain truth: if my grandad had bought almost any other British-built car in his price range back in 1981, I reckon I’d have been getting the bus to my Post-modernist Literature seminars in 2001. And since you can’t offer lifts to girls when you’re on the bus, I was very grateful that Grandad George chose so well. One to forget Maserati Biturbo: Harsh, but I’d say the Maserati Biturbo would be one to forget from 1981. It certainly would have been if you’d bought one new then. Air-cooled turbos had a habit of cooking their oil and seizing up. Plus the car’s styling didn’t do justice to the badge. Not if you were old enough to remember cars like the Ghibli and Bora. Mark Tisshaw - 1989 Mazda MX-5 Think 1989 and you picture Japan. Not only for the cool gadgets that were emerging at the time – from Game Boys and pocket-sized mobile phones to robots that supposedly could clean your home/make your job redundant/run off with your wife – but for the country’s coming of age as a maker of cars you craved for more than just build quality and reliability. This was the year that Honda revealed the NSX, a supercar to rock the establishment and prove that the breed could be usable as well as breathtaking to drive. Toyota and Nissan, meanwhile, launched luxury brands in Lexus and Infiniti to show it could make cars to compete at the sharpest end of the global car world (okay, we’re still waiting for Infiniti to do that…). Elsewhere, Mitsubishi and Subaru gave us signs of the exciting things to come in the decade ahead with the 3000GT and SVX. The 1989 Japanese Grand Prix was about as memorable as they come, too, with Alain Prost ‘turning in’ on his McLaren team-mate Ayrton Senna at the chicane at Suzuka to seal the world championship. And then there’s the car you see before you: the Mazda MX-5. The story of the MX-5 is so well told, I won’t repeat it in detail, as you already know what it’s all about: front-engined, rear-wheel drive, convertible roof, affordable price, brilliant handling, accessible performance… all adding up to a sports car formula that feels as right today as it did back then. Along the way, it’s often been imitated but never bettered – you know when you’re onto something when every other car maker’s attempt to take you on is known as an ‘MX-5 rival’. Few other cars can claim a similar billing: 911, 3 Series, Defender, Golf. What that group also have in common with the MX-5 is an appearance in our recent Icon of Icons feature, where we aimed to pick the car whose significance has been unsurpassed in the automotive world. Of the cars assembled here today, just the MX-5 was on that shortlist, as it’s the only one whose appeal has endured and that has remained relevant beyond the time at which it was conceived. Japan, of course, wasn’t the only place in the car world where stuff was going down in 1989. Quite literally in the case of the Berlin Wall, whose demise began the process of reunifying Germany and allowing its national car makers to think bigger and look further afield than ever before. Also going down was our industry back home, where British Aerospace’s taking of what was British Leyland into private hands a year earlier led to the creation of the Rover Group that had only Rover, MG and Land Rover left as its brands. It was also the year that Ford bought Jaguar, having purchased Aston Martin two years earlier. While other national car industries were growing in strength and expanding their horizons, Britain’s had become fragmented. The MX-5 was the type of car Britain should have been creating to successfully build on the Lotus Elan and others of the 1960s, yet we’re all grateful Japan picked up where we left off. One to forget Aston Martin Virage: Without question. Dull styling, very average to drive and not very well made. I had the suspension collapse at 150mph on Millbrook’s high-speed bowl. It staggers me how much money they fetch today. Give me a Jaguar XJ-S any time. Colin Goodwin - 1962 Lotus Elan Well that’s a good start. I’ve only been alive for eight weeks and we’re going to have a nuclear war. Or it certainly looked like we might as warheads were on their way to Cuba on Russian ships. At least while Nikita Khrushchev and John F Kennedy were playing out their deadly chess game, I was blissfully unaware. I was also in the dark about another frightful situation closer to home: neither of my parents had a driving licence. At this stage it wasn’t a big issue, but it would later become one. But while the world was about to self-destruct and I was destined to spend the first 17 years of my life on public transport, there was good news elsewhere. It was a terrific year for car launches. We could open with the birth of the Ferrari 250 GTO, but that was virtually a racing car. Most were road-registered and competed in events like the Tour de France, which included long distances on public roads. The GTO was, however, hideously expensive. No, the standout launch of 1962 for me was of the Lotus Elan. The MGB and Triumph Spitfire were also unveiled this year, but the Lotus is a league above and is considered by Gordon Murray the best sports car yet made (he owns two and has never been without one). Like the GTO, the Elan was made by a company that was born to race and only sold road cars so that it could do so. The Elan we have here has been lent to us for the day by Paul Matty, the Midlands-based Lotus guru who has been supported for many years by Steve Cropley (who only recently posted off a fat cheque to Matty for a Lotus Cortina). This Elan, recently bought by a very lucky customer, is a jewel. The Elite that went before it was groundbreaking for its glassfibre monocoque, but it was expensive to make and didn’t turn a big profit for Lotus. The Elan, with its steel backbone chassis and glassfibre body – designed by Ron Hickman, who was later the father of the Black & Decker Workmate – was a profitable car. I’m not sure if this Elan was factory-built or made from a kit (many were, to dodge purchase tax). It has been restored since and Matty has just fitted a new chassis to it. This car is tiny. When launched, it weighed 640kg and crept up to 674kg as it became the S2 in 1964. The first cars were simply called Elan 1500 (of which only 22 were made) and then Elan 1600. Our car is actually an S2, but you’d have to be sharp to tell it apart from a ’62 car. A few days ago, I was driving a new BMW 8 Series. Wide, heavy and a steering wheel so fat, I could hardly wrap my fingers around it. Contrast against the Elan’s delicate wheel, itself connected to the most sensitive and accurate steering ever fitted to a car. This is the thing about the Elan: if you drive one today, you wonder where it all went wrong. Well, we didn’t all go up in a mushroom cloud. The Elan took to the world’s race tracks, giving Paul Newman his first racing experience, was owned by ’60s icons Peter Sellers and Noel Redding, and finally ended production in 1973. In 1987, my mum got her driving licence, aged 59, and I started work at a motoring magazine. Within the next five years, I will own an Elan. I’ve promised Paul Matty. One to forget Austin Freeway: Honestly, it was a fantastic year. I’ve had to delve quite deeply to find a duffer and it’s required going to Australia to do it. I give you the Austin Freeway, an Aussie version of our A60 Cambridge. I did many miles in a Cambridge as a kid and even then I thought it was horrible Matt Prior - 1975 Triumph TR7 Ah, the mid-1970s and the British automotive industry in crisis, churning out more than its share of spudders. Contributor Bremner is bound to have owned some of those, I joked to Goodwin. Turns out he still does. This is his Triumph TR7, a car so radically styled that on seeing it at the Geneva motor show, it’s claimed designer Giorgetto Giugiaro walked from one angle to another and said: “Oh God, they’ve done it to the other side as well.” A good yarn, if true. Or even if not. But it’s not the only way the TR7 raised eyebrows at its 1975 launch. It replaced the TR6, a six-cylinder drop-head with independent rear suspension, but only sported a four-cylinder motor and a live rear axle. And a roof. Sophisticated it wasn’t. Partly Triumph opted for simple mechanicals so the TR7 would appeal in the US, the car’s biggest market. In fact, while the TR7 was launched in the US in 1975, to meet demand there it wasn’t made available to UK buyers until the following year. That American focus is one of the reasons the TR7 looked the way it did, too. Incoming roll-over crash protection legislation appeared that it might outlaw convertibles for good in the US (though it never did), so the Triumph was designed with high roll-over protection in mind. Its rakish body also incorporated America’s impact bumpers more neatly than some rivals. That gave the TR7 the appearance of a mid-engined sports car – perhaps a problem given it was no such thing when the Porsche 914 and Fiat X1/9 were – while its 2.0-litre eight-valve engine, even in 105bhp form (federal emissions regulations meant it produced considerably less in America), was no match for a contemporary Ford Capri. A mildly disappointing British product of 1975, then, that may not have improved with time. I empathise entirely. Nevertheless, the TR7 sold rather well – the best-selling TR ever, in fact. Its development team, led by Spen King, were known for making cars more than the sum of their parts and, despite the mechanical drawbacks, the TR7 was considered, by the august publication you’re reading now, as quite adept on country roads. Previous TRs had better engines than chassis. This had the opposite. I sink into a surprisingly agreeably appointed cabin. The TR7 has good visibility – although I’ve managed to break a door mirror before even setting bum inside it (sorry, Richard) – and not a bad driving position. It cruises nicely, too, I find on the M40, spring sunshine warming my head through the sunroof, and it has low cruising noise levels and a torquey engine. On more challenging roads, it’s softly sprung by today’s standards – what isn’t? – but there’s fun to be had. It’s compact, absorbent but composed enough, steers well and shows a decent balance. In its time, the TR7 wanted a better engine and, in the form of the V8-powered soft-top TR8, which was reserved for the US only, it got one. The UK TR7 convertible remained a four-cylinder. Then, after six years and having been built in three different factories, with sophisticated rivals outclassing it and no replacement lined up, production ended. Which means Bremner’s tidy red TR7 is perhaps more appealing now, as an odd but mildly charming curio, than it was in the early 1980s. One to forget Hyundai Pony: While the AMC Pacer is an obvious candidate for the title ‘Runt of 1975’, it’s actually too interesting a car. Well, it is compared with the Hyundai Pony. It was South Korea’s first mass-produced car and obviously didn’t make much of an impact on the world stage. Just you wait, said Hyundai. Simon Davis - 1993 Fiat Coupé I actually used to own a Fiat Coupé. Admittedly, it was on the Gran Turismo 3 video game and I would have been about nine or 10 at the time, but I remember it distinctly. It was yellow, just like this one, and it completely changed how my young mind perceived the Fiat brand. You see, Fiats were a rare sight when I was growing up in New Zealand. What would become the hyper-popular reimagined 500 was yet to be, well, reimagined, and I hadn’t been educated on the likes of the 124 Spider and the X1/9. In fact, the only Fiat I was aware of at the time was the first-generation Multipla. And seeing one of those for the first time didn’t make for a particularly favourable formative experience. The Fiat Coupé, on the other hand, taught me that Fiats could look great – even in pixelated, digital form on a television screen. And you know what? I think it still looks great today – although not quite as glorious as Richard Bremner’s DB4 – some 26 years after its original reveal in 1993. Penned by Chris Bangle, and with an interior designed by Pininfarina, the Coupé might not have been the purist’s sports car of choice, owing to its front-drive configuration. But a limited-slip diff helped ensure it was still a sharp-handling steer. It was a quick one, too. Originally, it came with a 2.0-litre, 16-valve four-cylinder Lampredi engine that in turbocharged form developed some 187bhp. Five-cylinder engines were introduced further down the line, and saw power rise as high as 217bhp. This one, however, makes use of the Lampredi unit. It might not be as sophisticated as the engines of today, but there’s a special type of pleasure that comes from driving cars with older turbocharged motors. This one is no exception. Initial pick-up is smooth and brisk, but as soon as the tacho needle strays past 3500rpm and the boost has built up, the surge of additional acceleration released is hilarious. It’s not as brutal as it might be in an old Evo or Impreza, but it still feels fast. It corners well, too, while the gearbox is light and reasonably snappy in its action. Admittedly, the driving position isn’t amazing (for me, anyway), and this one’s brakes perhaps aren’t as effective as they once might have been. Regardless, driving N96 LAP confirms the opinion I held as a child: the Fiat Coupé is an awesome little car. Of course, the Coupé isn’t the only iconic car to have been launched in 1993. There was the 993-series Porsche 911 and its GT2 sibling; the Lister Storm with its 7.0-litre V12 derived from that used in the Jaguar XJR-19 race car; and, at the other end of the automotive spectrum, the first Mercedes C-Class and the BMW 3 Series Coupe. The Aston Martin DB7 made its debut in ’93, too. Not a bad innings, really. One to forget Seat Cordoba: Quite a few duffers to choose from, but the Cordoba was a particular dullard. We had a long-termer for a year and I don’t remember ever sprinting for the keys. I’d forgotten it existed until I wrote this. So what was the best year ever? It’s 1962. How could anyone argue against it? Great Britain still ruled the motoring world. Well, a bit of it. An important bit, in fact, because cars like the MGB and Triumph Spitfire put hundreds of thousands of people behind the wheel of a cheap, half-decent sports car. Another legend broke ground in ’62: the Ford Cortina. We had to wait a year before Colin Chapman waved his wand over it, but even humble versions were good cars. If they were a bit mundane for you, how about the AC Cobra? Yes, it was a joint effort with the US, but it’s still an iconic car. Read more Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato: reborn classic headed to Le Mans​ Greatest car flops of all time​ 30 years of the Mazda MX-5​ View the full article
  4. S65's V12 is based on the normally aspirated 1998 M137 5.8-litre engine first used in the S600, in which it developed just 362bhp and 391lb ft of torque The days of the V12 are numbered. We prepare to bid farewell to this most glorious of engine configurations and look at why it’s so special Sometimes it seems we’re drinking in the Last Chance saloon where engines we actually want in our cars are concerned. But, of course, we’re not. A last chance offers at least the hope of redemption, an opportunity to mend our wicked ways. But so far as the V12 engine is concerned, it’s the No Chance saloon, the place you go to get absolutely plastered before being wiped off the face of the planet. Which is why there are so many of them. If I can be allowed to mix my metaphors, it’s called making hay while the sun shines, because everyone can see it’s about to slip beneath the horizon, never to return. BMW has one, as does Bentley (okay, a W12 but let’s not sweat the small stuff here), Aston Martin, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Rolls-Royce and Mercedes-Benz, such as that fitted to this S65. And let’s not forget that Cosworth has recently been commissioned to design from scratch brand-new V12s for both Aston Martin’s Valkyrie and Gordon Murray Automotive’s T.50. You’d barely believe there was a problem at all. But now ask yourself how many will still exist five years from now. Well, the Cosworths will have been and gone, I doubt BMW will persevere with its one and we know the Mercedes motor is right on the point of quitting and will not be replaced. Which leaves the Italian supercar manufacturers, both of which have been defined by the V12 from the very day they were founded, Rolls-Royce, which, I imagine, will be heading down the all-electric route long before then, and Aston Martin. We know Aston’s twin-turbo V12 won’t be going into any Lagonda and we also know the company is heading rapidly down the hybrid route and designing its own in-house petrol-electric V6. I expect it will keep the V12 for as long as demand remains or legislation allows, but will it be replaced? Given how relatively new it still is, I doubt it. But what is it about the V12 that has made it the most revered engine configuration of all? I think it is the rather wonderful confluence of two factors that lend unique qualities to the V12, as even a short drive in the S65 illustrates rather well. First, there is the refinement. A six-cylinder engine enjoys perfect primary and secondary balance and so, therefore, does a V12, but with twice as many cylinders for any given capacity, the V12 is smoother still, which is why it was favoured by luxury car manufacturers long before it was recognised for its sporting potential. Packard was first to offer a V12 in a standard production car as early as 1916 and soon all the real quality US brands – Cadillac, Auburn, Lincoln and Pierce-Arrow – were at it. The first British production V12 was fitted to the Rolls-Royce Phantom III in 1936. But V12s aren’t just smooth. For any given capacity, they should produce more power than a V8 or V10 of the same capacity, not least because their moving parts are smaller, have less reciprocating mass and can therefore rev higher and produce more power. That’s why Ferrari has had a V12 on its books for every one of its 71 years on earth. And then there’s the sound. There have been some amazing-sounding cars with different engine configurations over the years – flat sixes, V8s, V10s and V16s among them – but more of the sounds I’d like played at my funeral have been made by V12s than everything else put together. The way a V12 can sound so multifaceted at low to medium revs yet combine them all into a scalp-itching single-note howl at the redline is unique. Listen to a Colombo V12 in a Ferrari 250 GTO, a 7.0-litre Jaguar V12 in an XJR-9 Le Mans car and the Matra V12 used in Formula 1 and sports racing cars in the 1970s and you’ll hear what I mean. But even in a luxury saloon like this, a V12 adds another dimension. By all objective assessment, the V12 in this Mercedes should have been discarded years ago. Not only is it ancient – its original architecture dates from the mid-1990s – but Mercedes also has far more suitable units at its disposal. The 4.0-litre V8 in the S63 is only a fraction less powerful than this aged 6.0-litre V12 (the one in the GT 63 S 4-Door Coupé is actually more powerful), uses a fraction of the fuel and can be hooked up to a new nine-speed gearbox, unlike the S65, whose old seven-speeder is the only thing on the Mercedes shelf that will take the torque. Benz claims the S65 is a fraction quicker, but there’s no reason to think so: the V12 is so heavy that the S63 has the better power-to-weight and torque-to-weight ratios. Yet when I went to Mercedes-AMG’s Affalterbach HQ and saw burly men hauling antediluvian V12s around on trolleys and asked why the firm still bothered, the answer was simple: people still wanted them. They didn’t care about the performance figures or power outputs. The only number in which they were interested was the one on the badge on the side of the car. They wanted to have 12 cylinders. It’s not hard to see why. Clearly, there’s a status thing going on here, which, being honest, doesn’t interest me very much. But the way a V12 delivers its power does. The S65 doesn’t need nine gears, nor even the seven it has. I reckon three would suffice. The smoothness of this long-toothed motor is something to behold: at low speeds, it’s almost like an electrified powertrain insofar as you’re not really aware of what it is that’s sweeping you along with no apparent effort. But as speeds rise and electric cars start to struggle, a new side to the S65’s character, magnificent in its grandeur, starts to emerge. You start to really hear the engine and, here’s the thing, feel it, too. It’s not a howl like that made by the best six-cylinder motors, nor the rumble and thunder of a crossplane-crank V8. In fact, it’s almost impossible to define without resorting to the kind of terms that have become clichés because they describe so well what you’re hearing. So, yes, it is musical, orchestral even, and fascinating. It is a sound that moves you literally and figuratively. It may not be as exciting as a V8, but nor to most was Beethoven as exciting as the Beatles and I think both have earned their place in history. To me, the V12 is the engine configuration: the purest, the most classy, the best sounding, the best. Any car, however flawed, however dull it may be in other ways, is rendered instantly interesting if it has a bent 12 beneath the bonnet. I don’t know any better than you how many years it actually has left, but I’m guessing not many. But I intend to have a few more drinks in the No Chance saloon before it goes. The greatest V12s ever made Ferrari Colombo V12: This engine powered all Ferrari road cars for its first 20 years and many of its most famous racers, too. It started as a single-camshaft-per-bank 1.5-litre motor and ended up as a four-cam 3.3. Think Testa Rossa, GTO, Tour de France, 250 SWB, 250 LM and 275 GTB/4 and you’re thinking of Colombo-powered cars. Lamborghini Bizzarrini V12: This powered every Lambo from the original 1963 350 GT to the last Murciélago in 2011, with capacities from 3.5 to 6.5 litres, making it one of the most enduring and versatile engines. A second lease of life was provided by four-valve heads on the 1985 Countach Quattrovalvole. McLaren-BMW V12: Arguments still rage about just how much off-the-peg content was in the McLaren F1 engine but it was certainly more than two M3 engines on a common crank. It was also one of the most characterful and thrilling V12s ever created, not to mention being, at the time, easily the most powerful engine in production. Rolls-Royce Merlin: Okay, so I’m cheating, but a few delightfully unhinged loons have put this quad-cam, 48-valve, supercharged, 27-litre aero engine into cars so I’m counting it. In period, it powered the greatest British warbirds of WW2, including the Spitfire, Hurricane, Mosquito and Lancaster. Ferrari Flat 12: Probably the smoothest, most cultured of all road-going production V12s. And, yes, it is a V12 with a 180deg vee angle, and not a ‘boxer’ engine, because its pistons are not horizontally opposed. Read more Mercedes-AMG S65 Final Edition could be Stuttgart's last V12​ Aston Martin Valkyrie hypercar debuts at British GP​ All-new Rolls-Royce Ghost to take fight to Bentley in 2020​ View the full article
  5. The two firms are set to extend recently agreed deal into sharing petrol, diesel and hybrid engines, according to Autocar sources The recently agreed alliance between Jaguar Land Rover and BMW is set to be extended to include internal combustion engines, a source with knowledge of recent high-level discussions between the two car makers has told Autocar. The two firms initially agreed to work together on the development of electrified powertrains, but according to sources they have now agreed terms on what is described as a “more far-reaching deal involving petrol, diesel and hybridised drivelines” for a wide range of models. According to Autocar’s sources, BMW is to supply Jaguar Land Rover with internal combustion engines, including in-line four- and six-cylinder units “both with and without electrically-assisted hybrid functions”. The move is said to be aimed at allowing Jaguar Land Rover to reduce its on-going investment in petrol, diesel and hybrid drivelines and instead focus its research and development spending on the electric drivelines in partnership with BMW. For BMW the deal safeguards existing research and development, procurement and production operations by adding volume beyond its own brands, BMW, Mini and Rolls-Royce. News of the internal combustion engine deal being forged by Jaguar Land Rover and BMW comes at a time when regulatory authorities in key global markets are raising emission standards with particular focus on CO2 and NOx levels to combat air pollution. Thus raising the level of spending required to engineer petrol, diesel and hybrid drivelines. By joining forces on both electric and internal combustion engine drivelines, Jaguar Land Rover and BMW hope to reap the rewards of increased economies of scale while sharing development costs to remain competitive. Last month the two companies announced they would jointly invest in research and development, engineering and procurement of drivelines for volume production electric cars. Read more Jaguar Land Rover and BMW join forces to develop electrified vehicles Analysis: Why Jaguar Land Rover faces tough times BMW names Oliver Zipse as new CEO View the full article
  6. British brand celebrates the launch of its new luxury saloon with £200,000 limited-edition variant Bentley has revealed the limited-run First Edition version of its new Flying Spur saloon, which includes unique design elements to mark it out from the standard model. The model is expected to be available from around £200,000 – some £15,000 more than the Flying Spur's starting price. First Edition badging celebrates the company’s British heritage, with the theme carried over to the interior in the form of bespoke treadplate and headrest designs. The First Edition sits on new 22in alloy wheels designed by in-house customisation firm Mulliner and is fitted as standard with the Touring package, which adds lane-keeping assistance, adaptive cruise control, traffic jam assistance and night vision. The First Edition also receives a panoramic sunroof, interior mood lighting, colour-matched blinds and two-tone interior trim. It's powered by the same 6.0-litre W12 as the standard Flying Spur, meaning it can accelerate from 0-60mph in 3.7sec and on to a top speed of 207mph. Power is sent to all four wheels through an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. The 12-month production run will get underway with the auctioning of the first example at the Elton John AIDS Foundation Gala in Italy on 24 July. Proceeds from the sale will be donated to the charity. The winning bidder will be offered the chance to work alongside Bentley’s design team in creating their car. The company says this will allow them to build “a truly personalised Flying Spur from a wealth of available exterior and interior options”. The new Flying Spur recently made its public debut at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, where Bentley celebrated its 100th anniversary with a dynamic display of its most revered models. Recently revealed limited-run versions of the Continental GT, Mulsanne and Bentayga have taken inspiration from Bentley's motorsport successes and design heritage. Read more New Bentley Flying Spur: 207mph luxury sports saloon shown at Goodwood​ Bentley rounds off centenary trio with Continental Number 1 Edition​ Goodwood Festival of Speed 2019: Bentley's centenary celebration​ View the full article
  7. The complete history of one of the most famous 4x4s of all time The Land Cruiser is Toyota’s longest continually produced model. From its start as a utility vehicle built during a period of economic gloom and uncertainty after the Second World War, it is now a well-equipped, luxurious and highly capable prestige SUV. This book covers all the changes that have taken place over the years to provide a complete history of the Land Cruiser’s extraordinary heritage. The coverage includes the Land Cruiser’s outstanding success in some of the toughest environments of the world, and what it takes to modify it to meet the toughest of conditions. The author follows the extensive range history of the Land Cruiser from its earliest models, through the utility models, right up to the prestigious versions that exist today. The author draws on his considerable experience of both on-road and off-road testing to provide his informed professional judgement on this extraordinary vehicle. The first chapter deals with the origins of the Land Cruiser and how Military and Economic circumstances lead to the birth of a legend. The second chapter looks at the Land Cruiser range and how it varied over the years to accommodate the commercial and private markets. The third chapter looks at a specific model, the FJ40 and how it has evolved over the years to become one of the best 4WD vehicles ever built. The final chapter deals with modifying the Land Cruiser for expeditions, safari holidays and world speed record events! All in, this book is a fascinating read for any Land Cruiser enthusiasts and comprehensively covers the models from 1951 to present day. Numerous diagrams, data charts, photos (colour and mono) are used throughout to break up the written content making it easier the reader to pick up and put down as required and digest as much or as little information as desired. A very informative and attractively laid out book at a reasonable price! BIBLIOGRAPHIC INFORMATION Publisher: Amberley Publishing Publication: 15th December 2017 RRP: £14.99 ISBN: 978-1-4456-7173-4 Size: 234 x 165mm Binding: Paperback Extent: 96 pages Illustrations: 150 illustrations Rights: World, all languages Also available in Kindle, Kobo and iBook formats THE AUTHOR Nigel Fryatt is editor of the UK’s only multi-marque four-wheel drive publication, 4x4 Magazine. He has been a motoring journalist for over thirty years, having edited Sporting Cars, Cars and Car Conversions, and was also launch editor of MiniWorld, The Golf and Land Rover World. He has contributed to numerous international motoring publications. Nigel has been Publisher of IPC’s Specialist motoring titles and also Publisher at CH Publications and he is now a freelance editor and author. Besides editing 4x4 Magazine, he is currently a columnist and regular contributor to Classic Car Buyer.
  8. Author: Brian Laban (2016) Publisher: Crowood Press Hardback, 12 Chapters, 208 pages Retail Price: £25.00 A very well laid out book detailing the history of the XK range of Jaguars with many black & white and colour photographs, illustrations and supporting data. The Author has successfully covered the range of XKs from the inception in 1948 to the E-Type, with each chapter chronologically detailing the marque and history of the manufacturer’s technological evolution within that era. The Jaguar XK was incredibly successful in racing and this has been covered in detail with particular mention to the 24 Hours of Le Mans race when Jaguar dominated the Motorsport world in the 1950’s. The ‘Racing Cousins’ such as the Lightweight E-Types and the Lister Knobbly have also been covered with sufficient detail without going too in-depth to become a specialist publication of each variation. There are plenty of books available about each of the specialist racing Jaguars to satisfy the enquiring reader’s curiosity. At the end of each chapter is a summary of the specifications of each model from that particular era with technical and performance information. Overall, this book delivers a definitive overview of the variety of XK’s produced over a 22-year span. Buy the Book here
  9. Steve reviews Roadside Relics American's abandoned automobiles With over 250 large colour pictures Roadside Relics America's abandoned automobiles highlights some of America's lost or forgotten vehicles in breath taking locations, which the author has found on his many travels around the United States. The book has 208 pages which the author has used to cover most American vehicle manufacturers from AMC through to Willy's, and gives an insight into the manufacturer or vehicle model in question. About the author: Will Shiers is a motoring journalist who has written regular features for Classic American magazine and is currently the editor for Commercial Motor magazine. He has travelled the United States for over a decade collecting pictures for this book and the results speak for themselves. The Motorists Guide view: Needless to say I couldn't put the book down and thoroughly enjoyed reading every page. So whether you love classic cars, American cars or abandoned cars or locations then this is a must have for you. Bibliographic information: Publisher: Motorbooks Publication: 2010 RRP: 14.99 ISBN: 978-0-7603-3984-8 Binding: paperback Extent: 208 Illustrations: 250+ Also available on Kindle
  10. Steve reviews PT Cruiser Chrysler's classic design for a modern age The Chrysler PT cruiser is very much a Marmite car, you either love it or hate it. However what can not be disputed is the models success and how it brought a new wave of customers to the Chrysler brand. The automotive historian Robert Ackerson has written this superb book documenting the history of the PT cruiser from it's design phase up to 2007 which is when this book was released. The book is well written and the author has taken alot of time to carry out hid research. The book covers every PT cruiser model up to 2007 on 192 pages as well as being supported by colour pictures. Furthermore the author has listed ever conceivable optional extra available as well as including sales figures for the PT cruiser. About the author: Robert Ackerson grew up in Rockland county, 18 miles from New York City. He started working in the education sector before having a career change to become a writer automotive history. The Motorists Guide view: Whether you own a PT cruiser or have an interest for them then this book is a must have for any PT Cruiser enthusiast. I found the book very informative and the illustrations were of great quality. Overall the book was a pleasure to read and I'd happily read it again. Publisher: Veloce Publishing Publication: 2007 RRP: £19.99 ISBN: 978-184584039-6 Binding: paperback Extent: 192 Illustrations: 200+
  11. Steve reviews another book about abandoned automobiles, Sleeping Beauties USA This book is very similar to that of Roadside Relics, America’s Abandoned Automobiles as described in my previous review, however, that is where the similarities end. This book is shorter than Roadside Relics, but this does not make it any less interesting as each vehicle mentioned has a picture and description that covers two pages. Furthermore, Sleeping Beauties includes European manufacturers as well as the American counterparts which may increase its popularity. About the author Bjoern Marek lives in Miami, Florida and works as head of sales, public relations and marketing for the automotive company ABT as well as being a keen author. The Motorists Guide view: Just like the Roadside Relics book, Sleeping Beauties will appeal to anyone who has a keen interest in abandoned automobiles and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I found the pictures fantastic and many were of a better quality than those found in Roadside Relics. My only criticism of this book was that I found it not long enough and I was left wanting to read more but overall it was a great read. Bibliographic information: Publisher: Veloce Publication: 2010 RRP: 14.99 ISBN: 978-1-845843-46-5 Binding: hardback Extent: 96 Illustrations: 58
  12. Steve Q reviews a timeless classic which every beetle owner or enthusiast should own This book is probably one of the oldest books that I will get to review, however, the information contained within it is still relevant today and starts off by describing the history of the Volkswagen Beetle. It then goes on to provide a very useful buyers guide which is a must-read for anyone wishing to purchase a Volkswagen Beetle. This book will mainly appeal to those Beetle fans who have or want a Baja Beetle or Wizard roadster, as it provides step by step guides on how to build both. I appreciate that in this day and age enthusiasts would be less inclined to build either due to the price of Volkswagen Beetles but it will surely help those who are trying to restore either a Baja or Wizard Roadster. The VW Beetle Custom Handbook will also appeal to fans of the Cal Look as the author has gone into great detail to explain the Cal Look and the history behind it. Furthermore, this book examines the racing pedigree of the Volkswagen Beetle and the modifications owners can undertake to improve performance, stopping power and drivability of their pride and joys. About the author: Keith Seume has been on the air-cooled Volkswagen seen for over 30 years and is well known amongst air-cooled fans, partly due to him being an editor of Volksworld Magazine and the former Custom Car Magazine. Furthermore, during the 1980s he participated in drag racing in his 1952 turbocharged ragtop Beetle. Transporterama View: Despite this book being over 20 years old, it does not detract from the reading experience and is full of valuable information for Beetle enthusiasts. Not only were the guides useful, but the book is also full of pictures which would be invaluable to an enthusiast wishing to work on their Beetle at home. Bibliographic information: Publisher: Bay View Books LTD Publication: 1992 RRP: 12.95 ISBN: 1-870979-30-3 Binding: paperback Extent: 159 Illustrations: 250+
  13. Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Latest version of American classic launches with 6.2-litre V8 – but electrified versions will follow The new mid-engined Chevrolet Corvette will feature electrified powertrains in the future – with a full electric version under consideration. The new C8 version of the two-seater was launched in Los Angeles, with the initial Corvette Stingray model featuring a 495bhp, 470lb ft 6.2-litre naturally aspirated V8 engine. Chevrolet sources have confirmed the powertrain has been designed to allow for electrification, with insiders suggesting mild hybrid, plug-in hybrid and, while less likely, full electric versions were being considered. Asked if an electrified Corvette might feature a mild hybrid battery-based starter motor, or use a small electric engine to provide four-wheel drive, one project member said: “You would not look stupid if you said that.” When asked by Autocar about future electrified variants of the Corvette, the president of Chevrolet parent company General Motors, Mark Reuss, said: “The company is committed to a strategy of 0-0-0: zero emissions, zero crashes and zero congestion. All of the technology rolling into this vehicle is meant to support that. This platform can carry a lot of different things into the future for General Motors.” Pressed on whether a fully electric Corvette was under consideration, Reuss said: “We’ll see. Stay tuned.” Reuss did confirm that the Corvette would be produced in right-hand drive and will be sold in European markets, which will most likely include the UK. The outgoing C7 model was only available with a limited number of British dealers. Chevrolet sources have confirmed that a convertible version of the Corvette will follow the coupé “in relatively short order”. Paul Eisenstein Read more Mid-engine Chevrolet Corvette Stingray arrives with 495bhp A British farewell to the C7-generation Chevrolet Corvette Corvette-based Genovation GXE 220mph electric car revealed View the full article
  14. Electrification advocate succeeds Harald Kruger as the firm ramps up its EV development strategy BMW has named Oliver Zipse, one of the driving forces behind its bold electrification programme, as its new CEO, replacing outgoing boss Harald Krüger. Zipse, who will assume his new role on 16 August, joined the company in 1991 as a development trainee and became a member of the board of management in 2015. The 55-year-old, in his previous positions as head of technical planning and head of group planning and production strategy, has been a driving force in BMW’s transition to electrification. He has advocated in-house component production, rather than using external contractors, as a means of conserving the company’s workforce. He managed BMW’s Mini production facility in Oxford in 2007-2008, overseeing the increased robotisation of the plant’s production line and a significant boost in export rates. His appointment as CEO was welcomed by the company’s shareholders, with share prices rising 1.4% in the wake of the announcement. The chairman of BMW’s supervisory board, Norbert Reithofer, said: “With Oliver Zipse, a decisive strategic and analytical leader will assume the chair of the board of management of BMW AG. “He will provide the BMW Group with fresh momentum in shaping the mobility of the future.” Zipse, along with board member for R&D Klaus Fröhlich, was considered a favourite for the position when Krüger announced his plans to step down. Krüger’s departure comes following four years at the helm. The move was not unexpected, with the 53-year-old having a series of health problems since his appointment to the position in 2015. During his tenure, Krüger was criticised for neglecting BMW’s i electric vehicle sub-brand and was held partly accountable for a significant drop in global sales tht resulted in the firm losing its long-held position as the number one premium automotive brand to Mercedes-Benz. Reithofer expressed “sincere appreciation [to Krüger] for his many years of successful work within the BMW Group”. Read more BMW CEO Harald Kruger to step down: confirmed​ BMW iNext: advanced electric SUV begins testing​ Oxford could build the BMW 1 Series​ View the full article
  15. Penalty points for drivers who don't belt up are being considered The Department for Transport has unveiled a 74-point strategy aimed at reducing crash rates on Britain's roads The Department for Transport (DfT) has published a new road safety action plan as it sets out to reduce the number of fatal incidents that occur on Britain’s roads. The document details 74 proposed measures for implementation over the next two years, chief among which is a plan to increase penalties for drivers who fail to wear a seatbelt. Currently, drivers caught not wearing a seatbelt are liable to receive a £100 on-the-spot fine, which could rise to £500 if the case goes to court. The proposed revisions would see rule-breakers hit with penalty points as well, although it is unclear how many. Reinforcing the importance of wearing a seatbelt is viewed as a priority by the DfT. The organisation notes that 27% of road fatalities in 2017 involved drivers and passengers who weren’t belted up: “one in four car deaths could have been prevented”, it said. A planned graduated driver licensing scheme, detailed ahead of the document’s publication, could result in novice drivers being restricted to daytime driving, as part of a move to combat high accident rates occurring within a year of passing a test. Drink- and drug-driving rates could be minimised with the mandatory installation of ‘alcolocks’ to repeat offenders’ vehicles. These devices measure alcohol levels in a driver’s breath and prevent the vehicle from being started. Also detailed in the plan is a strategy to better educate young people with regard to staying safe on the roads. As well as encouraging larger numbers of pupils to cycle to school, the DfT has invested £200,000 in providing augmented reality training resources to primary schools across the UK, which will help pupils develop an awareness of road safety. Better education fot new drivers forms an integral part of the proposals; the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is developing “a behavioural change campaign designed to encourage learners to broaden the range of roads they practice and learn on”. The initiative aims to give learner drivers more experience of driving independently, in the dark, and in rural environments before they take their driving test. Additional measures include funding research into the implications of worsening eyesight in elderly drivers, liaison with commercial vehicle fleet operators to enhance awareness of work-related road safety, a ban on old tyres being fitted to heavy goods vehicles and promoting the importance of helmets for cyclists. Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “The UK has some of the safest roads in the world, but we are not complacent and continue to look at how we can make them safer. “Today’s action plan is a key milestone in our road safety work and sets out the important steps we are taking to reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured on our roads.” Read more Government proposes night-time ban on new drivers​ Behind the scenes with Surrey’s traffic cops: how to catch a caller View the full article
  16. Electric variant of next-generation Fiat 500 is undergoing testing ahead of a Geneva motor show reveal An all-new electric Fiat 500 city car, the 500e, has been spied testing in California, ahead of its launch at the Geneva motor show in 2020. The sighting of the camouflaged prototype comes just a week after Fiat said it would invest 700 million Euros on the electric city car, to include a new production line in Mirafiori, Italy. Fiat hopes to produce 80,000 examples of the new 500e. The car will be sold alongside the existing 500, which will continue to be powered by conventional petrol engines as well as receiving styling and technical updates. The all-new electric 500 will sit on a bespoke electric car platform, according to Fiat boss Olivier Francois, with the same platform potentially earmarked for use if the the new Panda-inspired Centoventi concept makes production. The electric 500 will be a key part of Fiat's transformation in Europe into a brand focusing on small electrified city cars. "The car will stay true to everything you know about the 500, but will be entirely new," said Francois. "Under the skin it will be radically different, but otherwise you will recognise the size and proportions. “But it is a big statement, starting our electric path with the 500. We are doing it with that car for reasons of pricing. It is clear that we cannot sell an electric 500 for the same entry price of today’s 500, but what’s clear is that more than half of our 500 customers today do not buy entry-level models. In fact, for them a 24,000 euro price is normal today. “If you look at our electric competition, they are priced around 32,000 euros. The leap then from 24,000 to 32,000 is not so much, especially if you factor in government grants for electric vehicles. Francois refused to be drawn on whether the electric 500 could be rear-wheel drive like the original, but said he would be open to the idea. He also said that an electric Abarth model could hold appeal. The electric car platform that the 500e will sit on will be FCA Group developed. Francois said he would personally be open to sharing the technology with partners - the 500 platform has previously been shared with the Ford Ka, for instance, but he stressed that any such decision would have to be made at a Group level. Fiat also confirmed the 500 lineup will be expanded with a 500 Giardiniera estate, although the firm didn't say if that version would also appear at next year's Geneva show. Ahead of the 500e arriving, a mild hybrid 500 is due to launch later this year. The aim is to consolidate the brand’s dominance of the city car segment - the 500 and Panda hold a third of this market - while developing technologies that allow these models to satisfy emission regulations. The 500 Giardiniera, which references the tiny wagon of 1960, will offer the best space efficiency in its class, says Fiat, and "unmistakable design". It too will get electric and mild hybrid variants. The 500’s new platform architecture can also cope with a mild hybrid system. That unit consists of a belt driven, 12V starter-generator, although little detail has been provided on the electric drivetrain to be used in the 500. Lower-emissions petrol engines will also be offered in the 500 and Panda. Francois conceded that the decision to develop the electric cars was driven "both by the desire to create a profitable electric car for our future, and to ensure we avoid the pressures of potential fines if we don't hit CO2 targets." Given the limited space for batteries and the 500’s urban appeal, range of the 500e is likely to be less than EVs such as the Nissan Leaf, which offers around 250 miles. The 500e will be a rival to a growing number of small EVs - Mini’s first series-production electric car is due in 2019, at the same time as the Honda Urban EV. The 500e will be one of four electric powertrains offered by FCA. It will sit use a ‘City Car’ powertrain, while a ‘Mainstream’ powertrain will be launched in the Jeep Grand Commander. A ‘Performance’ powertrain will feature in the 2020 Maserati Alfieri and a ‘Premium’ EV powertrain will power the 2022 Maserati Quattroporte. The push for electrification comes amid Fiat Chrysler’s abandonment of diesel; by 2022, there will be no diesel options in the FCA catalogue. These will be replaced by numerous hybrids, both full and plug-in, the first of which will be the new Jeep Grand Cherokee, landing in 2020. The production capacity released by the deletion of the Punto and other unspecified Fiat models - such as Tipo - will be used to build more Alfa Romeos and Maseratis, whose premium prices can withstand the electrification costs. Some Italian capacity will be used to build some plug-in hybrid models, including certain Jeeps for global sale. Additional reporting by Jim Holder and Richard Bremner Read more Mini Electric: first pictures of 'pivotal' zero-emission 2019 model Honda Urban EV due in 2019 with few changes Fiat to abandon production of its mass-market cars in Italy View the full article
  17. Quintessential America meets quintessential England Corvettes are built for American highways, so we said goodbye to the outgoing variant with a single-track trek across the South of England This is going to be a most pleasant day. I have been tasked with the challenge of driving from the Brooklands motor museum in Weybridge to Brighton without using a motorway and preferably not using a dual carriageway. “Is it still possible,” asked the editor, “to enjoy driving on Britain’s congested roads?” It most certainly is. A couple of weeks ago, I joined some friends on a navigational rally around the Surrey hills followed by a pleasant lunch. It helped that I was driving an Alpine A110, but it would have been a wonderful day out in a Morris Minor. Mid-engined Chevrolet Corvette C8 Stingray arrives with 495bhp V8 It’s going to help a great deal that today we are driving a brand new Corvette Grand Sport. The car has been loaned by Ian Allan Motors of Virginia Water who, as you have probably seen from their advertisements in the print version of Autocar, are the sole UK supplier of Corvettes and Camaros. More to the point, the Corvette has now been replaced by a new mid-engined C8 model and only a handful of EU type-approved cars are left. Allan has taken the immensely bold step of buying up 60 Corvettes and Camaros so that UK enthusiasts won’t go short. Including, on a temporary basis at least, this one. So let’s get cracking. Lovely weather but a few showers forecasted. Kevin Hurl at Ian Allan Motors had a red Grand Sport coupé lined up for us but someone bought it last week so he’s registered another Grand Sport from his secret stash. It’s red, it’s automatic and it’s a convertible. And he doesn’t want it back for several days. Goodwin is in his element. Not only did I grow up in Surrey but I was a motorbike courier based in Guildford for a year, so the Brooklands to Brighton route is right in my manor. I’m certainly not going to mess about with the car’s sat-nav and I probably won’t bother with the paper map that I’ve brought along. Our managing editor, Damien Smith, told me about a trip he’d done from Surrey to Williams’ headquarters near Wantage that inspired this feature. “I only,” he boasted proudly, “used a very short bit of dual carriageway.” I shall do better than that. I’m determined to not use an inch. By the time we’ve collected the Corvette and got to Brooklands, we are in the middle of what I call ‘the 10 o’clock sweet spot’. Van drivers are still loading up and mummies have dropped the kids off at school and have now put the X5 away and decamped to the coffee shop. And if you think I’m being sexist, come to Weybridge. The Corvette Grand Sport is wide, but the standard Stingray is actually two inches narrower than a Jaguar F-Type. Unlike the C6 model that we ran for one long-term test many years ago, it has straight edges on the top of its front wings so that it’s not too difficult to place on the road. Just as well because my route has taken us directly to some very narrow roads. We’ve crossed the A3 at Cobham and have run virtually parallel to it through the village of Ockham and then past the old Tyrrell Formula 1 factory. It’s now the home of an Italian cake decorations company. The buildings are as they were and even the old woodshed where Ken started it all is kept in perfect condition. Hard to imagine that a world championship-winning team was run from this small yard. Past another local motoring landmark, Bell & Colvill, the Lotus dealers in East Horsley. Bobby Bell and Martin Colvill often used to have one of their classics in the showroom – a GT40 or BRM P160, perhaps – so this is another one of my regular haunts. I also went for a job in their service department in the 1980s but fortunately didn’t get it. We’re now on the route of the Olympic cycling road race and it’s surprising that we’re not surrounded by retired men in Lycra. You get a view right across to London from the high ground up here, including the Shard. The entry-level Corvette is the Stingray, and like this Grand Sport it’s powered by a naturally aspirated version of the classic Chevrolet small-block pushrod V8 that produces 466bhp. The most powerful ’Vette is the Z06, which uses a 659bhp supercharged version of the same engine. More money, more weight and a few tenths knocked off the 0-60mph time, with a top speed of 193mph against our car’s 180mph. All meaningless figures. What matters is the emotional appeal of cars like this and the sense of occasion. We’re now in the chocolate-box village of Shere, busy as usual with ramblers. A pub called The William Bray has the builders in and here we have another connection with Tyrrell: the landlord used to be ex-Tyrrell driver Julian Bailey. I once saw a band play here that had Eddie Jordan on the drums. We’re on single-track lanes here, cut into the Surrey hills with steep banks and passing places. In a big car like the Corvette, you simply have to think ahead and be relaxed, happy to give way. I had a massive moment on these roads in a Beetle when I was a teenager. The brakes went and I had to use the handbrake and bounce the car off the earth embankments to try to slow it down. Past Eric Clapton’s house in Ewhurst, where you can sometimes spot the guitar god emerging in a Ferrari, and into Cranleigh. From here, we head towards Dunsfold and a village called Loxwood. The roads are now single carriageway, of course, much wider and ’Vette-sized. We bandy big horsepower figures about so casually these days that 466bhp doesn’t sound that much. And perhaps it isn’t compared with the big-hitter AMGs and BMW M cars that have power outputs starting with a 6, but the Corvette feels extremely quick. Partly because it isn’t that heavy. The Grand Sport tips the scales at 1562kg, which makes Jaguar’s 1720kg F-Type SVR look very heavy. The other reason why the Corvette feels so fast is because of the way the V8 delivers its power and the sound it makes doing it. This old-school pushrod motor sounds even better than Ford’s Mustang V8. We cross the A272 just after Loxwood, a road favoured by bikers. It’s busier than it used to be and in many places it’s dangerous to go fast. We’re heading south still, aiming to nudge eastwards to cross the A23 and enter Brighton via Ditchling Beacon. I think I might have to get the map out because I’m worried about accidentally finding myself on a dual carriageway. A reader recently wrote to Autocar in response to the debate about intelligent speed assistance systems being mandatory. He wrote that he didn’t realise driving fast was a qualification to be a car enthusiast. Although I’ve always loved speed, that comment hit home with me. Speed is just a part of the passion for driving and not an obligatory one. Anyway, times have changed and going very fast is simply not an option. Talking of speed, I wonder if winding our way through lanes is any quicker than taking the M25 and M23 to Brighton. It’s hard to say because motorway traffic is so unpredictable. That three-lane route should be quicker, but the M23 is being converted to the idiotic concept of a ‘smart motorway’ so is often clogged. As expected, I’ve had to use the road atlas. Henfield, Hurstpierpoint and into Ditchling village. The Corvette struggles with the mini roundabout in the middle of the village and I’m given some hard stares but generally this bright red sports car is attracting admiring glances. I can see the logic in putting the engine between the wheels in the new Corvette. Younger enthusiasts consider sports cars to be mid-engined, whereas my generation grew up lusting after Daytonas, Cobras and V8 Vantages. But will a Corvette still be a Corvette if it’s mid-engined? I’m not sure. It’s 99% certain that the C8 will be built in right-hand drive and that means it will be on the radar of many new customers, especially as it’s likely to be somewhat of a bargain. As is the current Corvette. It certainly is in America, but even after the sterling/dollar exchange rate has done its damage, the Grand Sport convertible costs £90,510. It seriously undercuts the 911 and the Stingray does so by an even greater margin (its price starts a few quid south of 70 grand). Start talking about servicing costs and replacement parts prices, and the ’Vette enters a different league of affordability. I’ve been up Ditchling Beacon on a bicycle and thought I was going to have a heart attack. It’s rather more relaxing behind the wheel of the Corvette. From the top, it’s a short squirt across open roads before we drop down into Brighton the back way. We’ve done it – not a millimetre of dual carriageway covered. In a car that oozes character and doesn’t have to be driven fast to be enjoyed. As I’ve been saying for some years, enjoying cars is still very much possible: you just have to make an effort to do so. Three great Corvettes 1963 Split Window: Considered by many to be the most beautiful of all Corvettes, the split-window coupé was only made in 1963. It was the first year of the C2 generation and featured independent rear suspension. It was also the first use of the ‘Sting Ray’ name. A fuel-injected engine was an option and so was electronic ignition. 1967 L88: The L88 option was a 427-cubic-inch engine with aluminium cylinder heads. Officially rated at 430bhp but was reckoned in reality to produce more than 550bhp. Only 20 L88 Corvettes were built in 1967 (production stopped at the end of 1969). Today, a 1967 L88 Corvette will fetch upwards of $3.5 million (£2.8m) at auction. 1990 ZR1: The only Corvette to be built with an overhead cam engine. The ZR1’s quad cam motor was designed by Lotus and built by Mercury Marine. Today this 170mph car commands prices north of £30,000. Three great single-carriageway roads The Fosse Way: This Roman road originally ran from Lincoln to Exeter, but today the best bits for driving run between Leicester and Cirencester. My best drive along it was actually a ride on a Ducati in the company of former MotoGP racers Niall Mackenzie and Jamie Whitham. Buttertubs Pass, Simonstone to Thwaite, Yorkshire Dales: The Yorkshire Dales is one of my favourite areas on the planet and this road is a cracker. It is challenging and demands great attention. You need to be very aware of cyclists who love this road (it was part of the Tour de France route in 2014) – and, besides, if you go fast, you’ll miss the views. Cheddar Gorge, B3135, Ashwick to Cheddar: I love driving through the gorge. It doesn’t take long and it’s not a quick road, but it emphasises the point that the UK has something of everything when it comes to great driving roads. In other words, you don’t have to head to Switzerland to experience driving between towering granite cliffs. Read more UK sales of Chevrolet Corvette and Camaro to end in August​ Mid-engined Chevrolet Corvette C8 Stingray arrives with 495bhp V8 The North American cars that Europeans loved​ View the full article
  18. French premium brand gets PSA’s new supermini platform first. Does it deliver against class leaders like the Mini Countryman and Audi Q2? PSA Group – car-making Goliath and parent of the Peugeot, Citroën and Vauxhall brands – invested €100 million in preparing its Poissy plant for DS 3 Crossback production.As a statistic, this is a blunt but effective measure of just how much stock is being placed in this bold-looking new car.A bold play it is, too. Following the larger DS 7 Crossback, this is only the second ground-up product from DS Automobiles, and is aimed at usurping traditional premium brands in the hugely popular and still growing B-SUV segment.Audi’s Q2 and the Mini Countryman are the cars in the firing line but, unlike those manufacturers, DS is still establishing its credentials and remains a relatively unknown quantity to the majority of drivers.The earliest DS specimens of the modern era were, of course, derived from existing Citroën models – and most enjoyed limited success. In fact, the likeable DS3 hatchback aside, it’s no stretch to say that DS Automobiles has endured heavy commercial weather, even since it was established as an independent entity in 2015.The DS 7 Crossback would seem to be leading a revival and today’s road test subject needs to bolster those sales and deliver much more besides. This car could be seen as one of a number of raised ride-height supermini SUVs currently supplanting their hatchback forebears.It’s a car very much of its time in other ways, too. The CMP platform on which it’s based has been co-developed with PSA’s Chinese partner, Dongfeng Motor; there is an electric version arriving shortly; an emphasis has been placed on style and ambience; and much is being made of its segment-leading driver-assistance technology.Price £29,455 Power 153bhp Torque 177lb ft 0-60mph 8.8sec 30-70mph in fourth 10.5sec Fuel economy 40.6mpg CO2 emissions 114-121g/km 70-0mph 48.7mThe DS 3 Crossback range at a glanceThere is a choice of automatic or manual transmissions, but it is engine dependant. There’s no four-wheel drive option. Equipment-boosting ‘Plus’ packages are available on mid-range PerformanceLine and Prestige trim levels, while a launch edition called La Première comes almost fully loaded. View the full article
  19. TOM BARNARD - 'I GATHERED NO MOSS' Tom Barnard, a local author, racing driver, engineer, boat builder, track designer, car designer along with a string of other accomplishments. His book 'I gathered no moss', an autobiography detailing his fascinating life story. His book starts with the advent of WW1 when his father returned from the war and purchased Bluepool at Furzebrooke. He then set about landscaping the grounds with rare plants and trees. Soon enough, tourists started flocking to this wonderful place of tranquillity. WW2 then disrupted proceedings and Tom writes about the Army taking over the land and buildings, overhead dogfights and near misses from exploding bombs. After the war, he schooled at Eton and entered into a social life in London. Around this time, he got interested in Engineering but also in Motor Racing. This was the golden era for racing and he was fortunate enough to compete in races with the likes of Mike Hawthorn, Stirling Moss and driving cars for Colin Chapman at Lotus. A few years later on, he decided to adapt his engineering business to produce small scale racing cars that children (or an adult) could race on any track, The Barnard Formula Six. The car could be adapted so that it was safe for any youngster to drive at a very early age and the controls were in reach of a supervising adult. His early childhood, first in South Africa and then in South Dorset was suddenly interrupted by World War Two. The Barnards were evicted from their house, which became a military hospital, and bombs soon became part of daily life. After schooling near Swanage, and then at Eton, Tom was called up for National Service in the Army. He then spent sixteen years in his chosen profession of engineering but managed, during this time, to fit in seven years as a racing driver, mostly with Lotus. His invention of the Barnard Formula Six miniature racing car earned him enormous publicity in the UK and abroad with over four hundred models sold. This was followed by boat building, classic car restoration and then four years helping to develop Silverstone Circuit. His success with race track designing led to projects in a dozen countries spread over a further twelve years. Finally, with a quiet life in mind, he began a study of his family history and the writing of his book. The fourteen chapters confirm that the title is fully justified. He has been throughout his life, a true rolling stone.
  20. Would you fork out £6500 for a clean example of America's Defender? The seller of this charming Jeep Wrangler TJ is being cautiously optimistic with their price, but it could still be a good deal We’ve had a soft spot for the Wrangler TJ of 1996- 2006 ever since we ran one here as a long-termer. It was the popular 4.0 Sahara with a removable hard-top. There’s a 2.5 petrol, too, but the 4.0-litre, although thirstier, is the engine to have. Jeep Wrangler TJ 4.0 Sahara, £6500: We found a 2001/51-reg 4.0 Sahara with 89,000 miles for £6500. It sounds like strong money for a private sale, but never underestimate the power of a handful of readies and a determined stare. It has a full service history, too, the last fettle being a major seeing-to less than 100 miles ago. Surprisingly, the seller hasn’t thought to put a year’s MOT on it. It expires this month. That’s fine: it’s the perfect excuse to chip the price further still. So we’re interested. Time to poke around. First, we’ll check the water pump isn’t leaking and that oil isn’t weeping from the engine’s rear main seal and crankcase vents. We’ll inspect the exhaust manifold for cracks and the radiator seams for splits and leaks. Turning to the transmission, we’ll check the synchros are sound (early ’boxes can have issues here). The TJ hasn’t the ground clearance of a Defender, so we’ll peer underneath, looking for dents on the fuel tank. The coil springs can sag and the ball joints on the ends of the Panhard rods wear. On the test drive, we’ll feel for the infamous death wobble caused by a poor front steering and suspension set-up. The TJ has a galvanised body, so things should be rust-free there. The chassis may show some light rusting, but the rear end of the frame and the rear axle can suffer badly. Generally, imports aren’t as well protected as official UK-bound cars. Audi RS2, £39,950: RS2 prices have been rising fast, so we weren’t surprised by what this private seller is asking for his minter. The mileage is high – 162,000 – but it’s a much-fancied car with full specialist history, plus it has been displayed at Goodwood. Kia Magentis GS 2.0, £1795: The old Magentis of 2006-09 was a competent family saloon that never let anyone down. We found a sweet 2009/09-reg car with 58,000 miles and full service history for £1795. If you want to get from A to B every day, this is what you need. Vauxhall Astra GTC VXR, £10,999: Great looking and with a 276bhp turbo motor, the GTC VXR isn’t as sharp to drive as the best in class, but it’s quick and grippy on B-roads and a comfortable motorway cruiser. This 2012/62-reg car with 26,000 miles is a pound shy of £11,000. Peugeot 3008 1.2 PureTech Active, £16,995: The 3008 is credited with polishing Peugeot’s image, and used ones are holding their prices well. Still, this approved used 12,000-mile, 2017/67 1.2 PureTech Active looks good at £16,995. We also found an 11k-mile 2017/66 1.6 BlueHDi for £16,000. Auction watch BMW 316: Here’s a sweet E30, in this case the cooking 316 two-door. It was registered in 1989 and has done 105,000 miles but is none the worse for it. The car was owned by an Aston Martin engineer for much of its life and arrived in the ring in, it’s claimed, ‘superb’ condition. The E30 will forever be associated with the getrich-quick yuppie generation, with their shoulder pads and brick-sized phones. Can’t imagine what they saw in it given that the little BMW is perfectly proportioned and as honest in concept and execution as they come. This one went for £3679. Get it while you can Volkswagen e-Up, price new - £20,150 (after plug-in grant), price now - £8990: Volkswagen’s new ID 3 electric hatchback, due next year, is likely to cost from around £26,000. If, however, you’re itching to get into an electric Vee-Dub ASAP but only have a few grand in the bank, what is there? We turned up an e-Up, VW’s titchy electric city car, for £8990. The approved used motor, which until recently was priced at £9990, was registered in 2014. It’s done 45,000 miles, proving, to some extent, that it’s a credible daily driver. New, it had a three-year warranty, but the battery was covered for eight, which is reassuring. Clash of the classifieds Brief: Find me a wild camping motor for £6000. 1989 Citroen 2CV, £4500 2000 Toyota Land Cruiser Colorado, £3995 Mark Pearson: Nothing has the simplistic majesty of a 2CV. It’s a rural masterpiece, unlike your hideously butch Toyota. Max Adams: I’ve gone with this lovely Land Cruiser simply because you can’t go camping without a compass, and this car has one built into the dashboard. MP: Whatever. My car has removable seats and long-travel suspension and it can traverse a ploughed field without breaking any eggs – an invaluable asset on a camping trip. MA: I think you’re going to get egg on your face, because that’s a perishable food item. You need tinned food for camping, and my car can carry an apocalypse-worth of food across any sort of terrain, because it’s got four-wheel drive and diff locks. MP: More to go wrong. You’ll never make it to the campsite. MA: Reliability is Toyota’s bread and butter. Mine will make it to any campsite in the world. Even that one on Everest. Probably. MP: I have a fold-back roof for sunny days and a flat-twin engine of immense charm – and charm is what camping is all about. That Toyota is no picnic! MA: It always rains when you go for a picnic, so what you need is a torquey 3.0-litre diesel engine to get you out of the mud. Nice ref to that old Toyota MPV, though. Verdict: Wild not mild camping, Mark, and into the wild is exactly where the Colorado was built to go. Read more Used car buying guide: Jeep Wrangler​ Volkswagen ID 3 2020 review​ Audi RS history – 25 years of Audi Sport models​ View the full article
  21. New mid-engined layout, a first for a production 'Vette, to take on European rivals The new eighth-generation Chevrolet Corvette has been revealed, featuring a mid-engine layout for the first time in a bid to take on European rivals such as Porsche and Ferrari. Since the first version of the two-seater was launched in 1953, Corvettes have featured a front-engined, rear-drive layout – but the 495bhp 6.2-litre V8 in the new C8 machine is mounted behind the driver for the first time. Mark Reuss, the president of Chevrolet parent firm General Motors, said that “the traditional front-engined vehicle reached its limits of performance, necessitating the new layout.” He added that: “in terms of comfort and fun, it still looks and feels like a Corvette, but drives better than any vehicle in Corvette history.” The entry level version of the new machine will be dubbed Stingray, reviving a badge first used in 1963, and will be able to reach 0-60mph in under three seconds, making it the fastest base-level Corvette ever. More powerful variants are due to follow. Switching to a mid-engine layout has increased the length of the new model by 137mm to 4630mm, with the wheelbase stretched to 2723mm. It is 1933mm wide, 56mm wider than the previous C7 model, although at 1234mm it is marginally lower. The new Corvette weighs 1527kg, 166kg more than previously. While retaining some familiar design cues, the new Corvette will have a more ‘global’ look due to the new layout, with echoes of recent two-seat McLaren and Ferrari machines. Chevrolet also promised a more ‘driver-centric’ interior design, with the shorter bonnet bringing increased visibility. When it was introduced in 1953, the original Corvette was a striking alternative to the hefty behemoths that dominated American roads, with its lightweight fibreglass body and two-seat cabin. Zora Arkus-Duntov, considered the ‘father’ of the Corvette, had long pushed for a mid-engine layout, but, while several prototypes were built, this is the first production version to make the switch. To underscore the switch, the C8 Corvette features a glass cover to highlight its engine, which produces 40bhp more than in the previous model. It also develops 470lb ft of torque, 10lb ft more than previously. It will also be the first Corvette since the sports car's early years to forego a manual gearbox in favour of an all-new eight-speed dual-clutch transmission with paddle-shifters. It includes a new feature called double-paddle de-clutch, which allows the driver to decouple the clutch for greater manual control. The gearshifter is electronically linked to the transmission, freeing up space, and an array of key controls line up, Porsche-style, along the edge of the centre console. A new customisable display will be visible through the squared-off steering wheel, while the infotainment screen now angles towards the driver. As with the C7, the new C8 Stingray will feature Magnetic Ride Control, which uses a special, magnetically sensitive fluid that allows the suspension dampers to be quickly adjusted. A performance traction management system is also available, with an electronic limited slip differential standard on the entry-level car. A front splitter and open two-piece rear spoiler work together to generate as much as 400 pounds of downforce under aggressive cornering. Buyers will have the option of all-season Michelin Pilot Sport ALS tyres – which Chevrolet claims can manage nearly 1G cornering – or the Z51 package’s Michelin Pilot Sport 4S. Front tyres are 245/35ZR19s, with 305/30ZR20s at the rear. Like all recent generations of the Corvette, the C8 will be assembled in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Pricing, top speed and fuel economy numbers won’t be released until later this year. Chevy is expected to try to increase the 2020 Corvette’s presence around the world, much as rival Ford has done with the latest-generation Mustang. Upgraded versions likely to retain familiar designations like Z06 and ZR1 will be following over the next few years, rumors suggesting the C8 could eventually nudge towards 1,000nhp. READ MORE The long & winding road to the mid-engine Corvette UK sales of Chevrolet Corvette C7 and Camaro to end in August Ford Mustang versus Chevrolet Camaro: muscle car twin test View the full article
  22. Renault Mégane RS Trophy-R is an exceptional car The new Renault Megane RS Trophy-R will likely cost a whopping £50,000 - but that's not so shocking after you've driven it A colleague – let’s call him Mark – reads a proof of the Renault Mégane RS Trophy-R review with an intake of breath and a question: “Should a hot hatchback really cost £50,000?” I see the point. Hot hatchbacks are meant to be sports cars for the masses, cars that bring fun down to a level that those of us with more modest means can enjoy. And enjoy often. On this I agree. And the Trophy-R is likely to cost £50,000 when pricing is announced, a number that isn’t notably approachable. At the same time, I don’t have quite as much of a problem it, although my eyebrows, too, might have raised when I was first told. But I’ve since seen the true extent of the changes, I know how long and lovingly the Trophy-R has been developed and, crucially, I know how it makes you feel when you drive it: line up every supercar on sale today and there are quite a lot of them I’d walk past to get into the Renault. And I suppose the nub of it is that the Trophy-R doesn’t feel cynically priced. I mean it is still hot and it does still have a hatch rear end. But when writing out what its rivals are for the review, I would have felt no less comfortable writing ‘Porsche 911 GT3’ instead of ‘Honda Civic Type R’, despite the Renault’s outright performance being much closer to the Honda’s than the Porsche’s. That’s just the kind of car it is. It’s a rare groove, designed with a niche purpose – hence only 30 will come to the UK – and a car that, I feel, has more in common with, say, a Ford Ranger Raptor or a Polestar 1 than a Ford Fiesta ST or Seat Leon Cupra. I’m not exaggerating when I think the list of best-ever front-drive cars now needs a rethink. Question is: just how high would the new Trophy-R sit? It could even make my top one. So maybe don’t think of the Trophy-R as a £50,000 hot hatchback. What was the rear seat space is now meant for strapping track-day tyres into, after all. How much is too much for a hot van? Driven to distraction Perhaps the Trophy-R is in the top one of best front-drive cars? Perhaps. The problem with ‘best ever’ lists, whether it’s films or books or music or cars, is that quite often they get swept up with the new and lack the context of somebody being there at the time of the older things. I’ve driven a Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk1, but not until it was several decades old. And classic cars rarely feel as fresh as, I suspect, they did when they rolled off the line. Also, I’m talking about the best front-drive driver’s cars, not the best front-drive cars, full stop. (Traction Avant? Mini?) Every time I think about those, I’m reminded there was a sign at Longbridge, painted above the doors at the end of the Rover 75 production line, during the years when BMW owned MG Rover. ‘You are building the best front-wheel-drive car in the world,’ it read. A nice compliment from the owners of the time, unless you inferred an undertone. Yes, guys, you make a very good front-wheel-drive car. Very good. But, of course, not as good as the rear-wheel-drive cars we make here in Munich. Read more Renault Megane RS Trophy-R 2019 review​ Top 10 best hot hatches 2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI: which generation beats them all?​ View the full article
  23. Large wheels are among forward-thinking concept's most prominent design features High-riding 19_19 concept is overtly futuristic, but not entirely unrealistic, according to company boss Linda Jackson The huge wheels of Citroen’s radical 19_19 concept car, built to celebrate the marque’s 100th year, are likely to appear on new models during the 2020s. “People are bored,’ said Citroen CEO Linda Jackson at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. “They need a new look, and with the big wheels you get a different posture. The biggest impact of electrification will be on SUVs”. The 19_19 indicates a return to the more radical thinking that Citroen has been famous for, and while much of this car has been conceived for 2030, Jackson says “I only do concepts where I can test things.” Among its defining characteristics are its high-riding shape and the massive, 30in wheels that deliver this, its full electric drive, the motor and battery packaged into a skateboard structure, its full autonomy – with the option to drive – and lounge-style seating arrangements. “The 19_19 has high seating and next-generation tyres developed with Goodyear,” says design director Pierre Leclercq. The freedom to repackage the car around a skateboard is allowing Citroen to experiment, the big wheels concept providing plenty of potential benefits. One is that the occupants ride higher without the need to build up the vehicle’s bodywork, while also providing plenty of ground clearance. Narrow wheels are more aerodynamic, the frontal area of the exposed lower portion of the tyre much smaller, while the reduced width of the contact patch is to some extent compensated for by the patch’s greater length. Large wheels also allow for the installation of in-wheel motors, besides dramatically altering the proportions and stance of the car. A drawback is the potential compromise of ride comfort – a major Citroen signature – which is why Goodyear was enlisted to help with their development. “They spent a lot of money on the concept,” says Leclerq. “The next five years is not just going to be an evolution – I want it to be more than that. We’re facing the biggest change in the car industry with the changes in technology.” Citroen product chief Xavier Peugeot says that Citroen’s “next cars will challenge their class codes, as SUVs have done.” Peugeot adds that “it’s too early to explain the recipe,” but when asked about the benefits of using tall, narrower tyres, says “I agree. We need different silhouettes in the coming years.” Read more First drive: Citroen 19_19 concept review​ Linda Jackson: a day in the life of Citroen's charismatic CEO Goodwood Festival of Speed 2019: Citroen turns 100​ View the full article
  24. Book Reviews & News We intend to bring you news and reviews of the books retailing through Transporterama and hopefully share our passion for books and all things 'Transport' related with you. If you are a collector or an avid reader of motoring and transport related books then we will endeavour to feed your enthusiasm by bringing you more information than we can provide through the store. Any suggestions for future inclusions or if you have a book that you have written then please feel free to contact us to discuss how we can feature it through this site. Thank you for visiting the store and reading the reviews READ REVIEWS
  25. Audi A5 rival will arrive in early 2020, packing a range of petrol, diesel and hybrid powertrains The second-generation BMW 4 Series Coupé has been spied with a reduced level of disguise, giving an early hint of the styling of the new two-door Audi A5 Coupe and Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe rival due on sale early next year. The new BMW model, spied while being loaded on to the back of a truck near the German car maker’s engineering headquarters in Munich, displays a clear family resemblance with the larger 8 Series. It features a pronounced bonnet, heavy curved roofline, angled rear window and a pronounced shoulder-line over the rear wheels. Alongside the coupé model spied here, BMW is also developing a successor model to the 4 Series Cabriolet featuring a fabric roof in place of the metal structure used by the current generation, as well as a follow-up to the four-door 4 Series Gran Coupe. The 4 Series Coupe is based on the latest variant of BMW’s CLAR (cluster architecture) platform. It supports both rear-wheel drive and four-wheel drive, though unlike the larger 8 Series, developments such as air suspension and four-wheel steering are not planned to be offered as part of its planned seven-year life cycle. The engine line-up will be similar to that of the latest 3 Series with an extended range of 2.0-litre four-cylinder and 3.0-litre six-cylinder powerplants to be offered from the outset of sales. BMW insiders confirm plans for 420i, 430i and M440i xDrive petrol models together with 420d and 430d diesels. There will also be a new 430e plug-in hybrid model, featuring a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and gearbox-mounted electric motor developing a combined 248bhp and 309lb ft. The 420i, 430i, 420d and 430d, all with standard rear-wheel drive, will be offered with optional xDrive four-wheel drive, which will be standard on the M440 xDrive. Heading the new line-up will be the second-generation M4, which is set to run a powered-up version of BMW M’s new twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre six-cylinder petrol engine developing 503bhp and 442lb ft of torque together with an eight-speed automatic gearbox and fully variable four-wheel-drive system in top-of-the-line M4 Competition guise. Read more New 500bhp BMW M4 seen for first time in cabriolet form​ BMW 4 Series review New BMW 4 Series Convertible spotted with fabric roof​ View the full article
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