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2009-12-31: Three NART Ferraris; the good, the bad and the very beautiful ...
Ferrari 246 S Dino Fantuzzi High Tail Spyder In this final update of 2009, we highlight three Ferraris that have starred in the rich history of the North American Racing Team (NART). Run by Ferrari's long time North American importer and multiple Le Mans winner Luigi Chinetti, the NART was the Italian manufacturer's semi-official American racing arm. Chinetti was usually the first outside the factory to receive Works racing cars and in later years also commissioned and built various special road cars. In today's update we have included three very different machines that have passed through Chinetti's hands in the 1960s and '70s.
First up is the Ferrari 246 S Dino with a one-off, low drag body by Fantuzzi. Piloted by Phil Hill and Wolfgang von Trips, it finished second in the 1960 Targa Florio. Chinetti subsequently fielded it for the Rodriguez brothers at a wide variety of events. This last front-engined 'Dino' did not rack up any major victory in period but it has become a frequent winner in historic events. In the hands of Peter Hardman, Tony Dron, Nicky Leventis and Bobby Verdon-Roe, chassis 0784 has won races on many of Europe's most famous tracks. Most recently Leventis and Verdon-Roe clinched a spectacular victory in a one-hour enduro during the Goodwood Revival Meeting.
During the 1970s Ferrari had all but given up on GT racing, leaving the building and preparation of the production based racers to its clients like Chinetti. For the 1974 24 Hours of Le Mans, he built this 308 GT4/LM based on the Bertone styled 2+2 launched a few months earlier. Fitted with massive wings, it looked faster than it ever was. During the race it retired after just 30 laps. NART returned a year later with five cars, including the 308 GT4/LM. A dispute with the ACO over the odd looking machine eventually prompted Chinetti to withdraw all of his cars. It was the last we saw of the V8-engined racer until the present owner brought it out for some historic events, including the 2006 Le Mans Classic.
Chinetti's single most famous creation is no doubt the 275 GTB/4 NART Spyder. Built for a brief period and only in very small numbers, the NART Spyder ranks among the most beautiful and desirable Ferraris ever constructed. Our article includes details of two of the ten cars constructed. The first is the prototype, which was raced at Sebring and later starred alongside Steve McQueen in the Hollywood motion picture 'The Thomas Crown Affair'. In 2005 it was sold by Gooding at Pebble Beach for nearly $4 million.
  2009-12-29: All new 5-litre V8 for the Ford Mustang GT and the BOSS reborn ...
Ford Mustang GT Coupe When Ford revealed the new 305 bhp V6 Mustang at Los Angeles earlier this month, it was inevitable that upgraded V8 Mustang would follow suit. Ahead of its official at Detroit early next year, Ford has now released the first details of the revised Mustang GT. The V8 engine found under the bulbous hood is a fresh 5-litre, or 302 cu in design. Apart from a few basic elements, every major part of the engine is brand new. The V8 now features double overhead camshafts and four valves per cylinder. A variable valve system is also fitted to both increase performance and efficiency. All this has resulted in a formidable hike in power from 315 bhp to 412 bhp. Customers will have the choice of an automatic or manual six speed gearbox. The heavily revised drivetrain will be mounted in the updated Mustang introduced little over a year ago. Externally the 5.0 badges on the wings will distinguish the 2011 Mustang GT from the outgoing version. The first examples should reach customers in the Spring of 2010.
Following on the heels of the new road going V8 Mustang, is the Mustang BOSS 302R competition car. The factory built machine will be eligible for a wide variety of series, including Grand-Am, SCCA and NASA sanctioned events. The new BOSS 302R features race-specific equipment, including a roll cage, race seats, safety harness, data acquisition and race dampers/springs, and a Brembo brake and tire package.
2009-12-28: Beautifully restored Ferrari 375 America, Fioravanti F100 and new Lotus Exige S Type 72 ...
Ferrari 375 America Vignale Coupe At this year's Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance this Ferrari 375 America Vignale Coupe clinched a much coveted 'Best in Class' award. Much of that was owed to a beautiful restoration that was not executed by one of the many specialist companies but by the Swiss owner himself. When he acquired the car two years earlier, it was complete but in a state of utter disrepair. In this condition it had been regularly shown, so everybody at Pebble recognised the remarkable work done by the owner. He had painstakingly returned the Ferrari to its original 1954 Turin Motor Show configuration. This included the striking two-tone yellow finish. A few weeks before taking home the Pebble award, the Vignale Coupe also won 'Best of Show' at the Ferrari Club of America National meet at Watkins Glen. Our article includes the Pebble class winner and additionally one of the other Ferrari 375 Americas clothed with a coupe body by Vignale.
In 1998 Italian designer Leonardo Fioravanti celebrated the 100th birthday of Enzo Ferrari with the Ferrari inspired F100 concept. It was followed in 2000 by the F100r Concept, which sported a similar style but with a roadster roof. One of its most interesting features was the 'multispherical' windscreen with its double bubble shape. Ten years after the introduction of the original F100, a Japanese customer commissioned Fiorvanti to design the one-off Ferrari SP1 based on the F430 and inspired by the F100.
Lotus Formula 1 cars have almost always worn very attractive colour schemes staring with the original green (and yellow) and followed by the liveries from the various tobacco sponsors. In recent years these have been brought back to live with some very appealing Elise and Exige based specials. The most recent edition is the Exige S Type 72, which flies the black and gold colours used by Team Lotus throughout the 1970s. The first Lotus to wear this livery was the 72. Introduced in 1970, it served the team for the better part of five seasons, resulting in twenty victories and two driver's titles. The Type 72 Exige S is powered by a 236 bhp version of the Toyota sourced engine and will only be built in very small numbers.
  2009-12-23: Bugatti's 100th and Bentley's 90 anniversaries celebrated ...
Bugatti Type 57 SC Atalante Coupe Throughout 2009 Bugatti's 100th anniversary was celebrated. The legendary marque was prominently featured at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance and there was a special event at Molsheim in the fall to mark the occasion. In many ways, it was the year of one specific Bugatti model; the Type 57 SC Atalante Coupe. Only a handful of these low-chassis coupes were built between 1936 and 1938, and they rank among the most beautiful cars ever built. Most of them were built new in naturally aspirated Type 57 S specification. In later years many were upgraded to full 210 bhp Type 57 SC trim by bolting a supercharger onto the 3.3 litre eight cylinder engine.
Actually, it all started back in August of 2008 for the low-chassis Atalante Coupe, when Gooding auctioned the late Peter Williamson owned example, which sold for just under $8 million. In February Bonhams offered the superbly original ex-Lord Howe example. Despite not having turned a wheel in half a decade, it found a new owner for a startling 3.5 million. At Pebble Beach we we were treated to an exceptionally well restored Type 57 SC, painted in a very appealing light blue and creme. To honour Bugatti's centenary, we today take a closer look the aforementioned Type 57 SC Atalantes, complemented by a fourth chassis, which we shot back in 2003. One of the few examples still fitted with the naturally aspirated engine was displayed earlier this year at the Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este. This Type 57 S Atalante Coupe was awarded the Trofeo Auto & Design for the most exciting design.
Bugatti's sister company was 90 years old in 2009 and this was also celebrated at Pebble Beach with four dedicated classes. Amidst the fantastic early road and racing cars, this slightly later 4 Litre caught our eye. Known as the Embiricos Special after its first owner, it was built in 1938 in a quest for higher top speeds. Styled by Georges Paulin and bodied by Pourtout in France, it looks more like a contemporary Delage or Talbot Lago than a Bentley. This was one of the reasons why the car remained a one-off. Immediately after the War, the unique streamlined Bentley was also raced at Le Mans three times.
2009-12-21: Legendary Grand Prix cars from Lotus and Mercedes-Benz ...
Lotus 25 Climax Two great names are set to return to Grand Prix racing in 2010: Lotus and Mercedes-Benz. The British manufacturer will race in Formula 1 for the first time since the early 1990s and the German company last fielded a car under their own name in 1955. In 2009 we were treated to superb examples of each manufacturer's very rich heritage. Today we take a closer look at these; the Lotus 25 Climax and the Mercedes-Benz W154.
Introduced in 1962, the Lotus 25 was the very first Grand Prix car to feature an aluminium monocoque chassis. Compared to the conventional steel spaceframe, Colin Chapman's new design was lighter and also more rigid. Some teething problems regularly hampered the great Jim Clark during the 25's first season. He nevertheless racked up three victories. In 1963 all bugs were ironed out and Clark won a startling 7 Grands Prix out of a total of 10, and all in the same chassis. This is one of two genuine Lotus 25s featured in our article. Recently auctioned and beautifully restored, it was raced during the Goodwood Revival meeting in September.
Throughout 2009, the 75th anniversary of the Silver Arrow racers was marked. Today we conclude the celebrations with a detailed feature of the W154 used very effectively in 1938 and 1939. Powered by a supercharged 3-litre V12 engine, it was challenged only by Auto Union's Type D. Talented drivers like Richard Seaman, Rudolf Caracciola and Hermann Lang drove the W154 to numerous Grand Prix wins. At various events we had the opportunity to shoot three different examples. Among them was 'Wagen 7', which is the most successful of all W154s with five major victories. The ultimate pre-War Silver Arrows are captured at Amelia Island and Pebble Beach Concours, and the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
  2009-12-18: Pagani Zonda's tenth anniversary and Morgan's centenary ...
Pagani Zonda R It is hard to imagine but the Pagani Zonda was introduced over a decade ago during the 1999 Geneva Motor Show. A replacement is expected for 2010 after a production run of just over 100 cars in ten years. The brainchild of Argentinian Horacio Pagani, the Zonda is one of the very few low volume supercars that can back up its tarmac shredding performance with superb craftsmanship; no manufacturer does carbon fibre quite as well as Pagani. Earlier this year, the Italian company launched the Zonda R at Geneva. Unlike most other Zondas, this extreme version is not road legal. Power comes from a CLK-GTR inspired 6-litre V12 engine, which produces a hefty 750 bhp. An elaborate body-kit, which may not be to everybody's taste, completes the package. As our final farewell to one of the finest cars of this decade, we have added a spectacular 24-shot gallery of the Zonda R. We saw the car at its Geneva launch and at the Goodwood Festival of Speed we were hugely impressed by the F1-like note produced by the trademark four, central exhausts.
Morgan was one of the manufacturers celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. Just in time we will mark the company's centenary with a closer look at two of their latest offerings. At Villa d'Este they revealed the Aero SuperSports, which takes the Aero design theme to new levels. A few weeks later the GT3 racing version made a spectacular debut by winning the first two rounds of the GT3 European Championship. Developed by the French AutoGT team, it combines a five-litre BMW V8 engine with an advanced, bonded aluminium chassis. Although it could not repeat its opening weekend performance, the beautiful Aero SuperSports GT3 is one of favourite cars built this year.
2009-12-16: New BMW and Mercedes drop-tops and extreme MINI for Detroit and more Veyrons from Dubai ...
BMW Z4 sDrive35is January is usually achingly cold in Detroit but BMW and Mercedes-Benz have nevertheless chosen the upcoming North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) to launch their latest drop-tops. The BMW Z4 sDrive35is is not an all new model but does feature a considerable performance upgrade compared to the similarly engined 'sDrive35i'. By bumping the power to 340 bhp from the twin-turbo six cylinder engine, it is just three horsepower short of the original Z4 M. This raises the question why BMW did not simply use the legendary 'M' moniker for this model. That does sound a million times better than sDrive35is. Across the isle from BMW, Mercedes-Benz will reveal the E 500 Cabriolet. This completes the roll-out of the new E-Class generation. The biggest trick up the new Cabriolet's sleeve is an ingenious system to stop turbulence and noise in the cabin when driving with the roof open. Also in Detroit, MINI will showcase the Beachcomber Concept. It is a further preview of the MINI SUV slated for introduction in the fall of 2010.
Bugatti seems to have ever increasing problems to sell the full production run of Veyrons. At the Motor Show of the plagued United Emirate Dubai, the French supercar manufacturer launched a further three limited edition versions of the 1001 bhp machine. A total of five examples of the Veyron coupe based Nocturne will be available at the bargain price of 1.65 million Euro excluding taxes. One of each will be available of the Sang d'Argent and the Grand Sport Soleil de Nuit. They can be yours for 1.45 and 1.55 Million Euro respectively.
Also present during the 10th edition of the Dubai show is the Kepler Motors Motion. The all carbon supercar comes from California, complete with at a 550 bhp petrol engine and electric motors good for an additional 250 bhp. The first deliveries are planned for 2011.
Rounding off today's news are the first pictures of the Aston Martin Cygnet Concept. They came together with a brief note that production of the Aston Martin badged supermini is still the objective.
  2009-12-14: Chevron returns to the track in 2010 with the B8 inspired GR8 ...
Chevron B8 BMW In April of 2010 the one-make BARC sanctioned Chevron GR8 Challenge is set to kick off, featuring the Cosworth engined Chevron GR8. This is the first all new Chevron in many years.
In many respects the GR8 is a modern interpretation of the Chevron B8, which was built in the late 1960s and established Chevron as a serious manufacturer. Designed by Derek Bennett, the B8 was a very straightforward but effective sports racer. It sported a spaceframe chassis, clothed in a tightly wrapped fibreglass body and came with a choice of four-cylinder engines. Thanks to its light weight, it was able to compete with many larger engined rivals. Like many Chevrons, the B8 was never really retired, moving into historic racing only a few years after its contemporary racing career was over. They are still a familiar sight and very successful. So high was the demand for the nimble sports car that a continuation version was recently launched. To illustrate the GR8 launch, we have today taken a closer look at four Chevron B8s, pictured in action all over Europe in recent years.
Like its spiritual predecessor, the GR8 is a very light machine, tipping the scales at just 600 kg. It will be powered by a 255 bhp version of the Ford based Cosworth four cylinder engine. The cars will race two rounds at each of the BARC's eight meetings in 2010. Chevron Racing is confident that at least 20 examples will make it to the grid during the GR8's first season. Currently there are only design sketches of the new Chevron available but we will keep you posted on all future developments.
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2009-12-12: One-off Ferrari P540 Superfast Aperta revealed ...
Ferrari P540 Superfast Aperta Yesterday Edward Walson took delivery of his bespoke Ferrari P540 Superfast Aperta in Maranello, Italy. The unique machine was created under Ferrari's Special Projects programme, using a 599 GTB Fiorano as a basis.
The inspiration for the Pininfarina styling and colour was a one-off Ferrari 330 bodied by Carrozzeria Fantuzzi in the late 1960s for the Frederico Fellini movie 'Toby Damnit'. Like the 1960s custom job, the P540 Superfast Aperta features a striking gold finish and prominent gills behind the front and rear wheels. Another interesting element of the car is the targa-style roof to which the 'Aperta' (Italian for open) bit of the type-name refers. By using carbon fibre throughout, Ferrari's engineers have ensured that the P540 is as rigid as the fixed-head 599 GTB it is based on, with a minimal weight penalty of just 20 kg.
From the first sketch to the finished project, the P540 took just 14 months to complete. Naturally the car is fully road legal and complies with all the latest safety requirements.
The P540 Superfast Aperta joins other custom Ferraris built recently like the 612 Kappa and P4/5 by Pininfarina. It will certainly not be the last and we understand that a prominent American collector has already ordered a Ferrari that is inspired by the great 410 Superamericas of the 1950s.
  2009-12-11: Racing Viper, GXP inspired HSV Clubsport, 550 bhp Steeda Mustang and rally Twingo ...
Dodge Viper SRT10 ACR-X Dodge is determined not to let the current Viper's final production year go by unnoticed. At the LA Show several limited production street cars were launched and now we have received word of a track-ready Viper STR10 ACR-X. Although based on the very quick road car, this ferocious snake can only be used on track. Lighter by some 160 pounds (72 kg), it also features a tweaked version of the 8.4 litre V10 engine that produces a staggering 640 bhp. Customers can race their ACR-X in the exclusive Viper Racing League slated to begin in the summer of 2010.
Pontiac production may have ceased, Australia's Holden Special Vehicles is determined to keep the memory alive with the Clubsport GXP. This is a HSV badged version of the Pontiac G8 GXP, which was based on the HSV Clubsport to begin with. Power comes from GM's LS3 engine, which produces 425 bhp. HSV intends to build 400 examples of the Clubsport GXP and a further 350 of the similarly styled Maloo GXP.
In last week's Los Angeles Auto Show round-up we forgot to mention the Steeda Q550. Based on the current Ford Mustang GT, it comes equipped with the Ford Performance Vehicles FR 550 engine. As the name suggests, this supercharged V8 develops 550 bhp. Steeda have also added their touches to the exterior and interior to create one of the best appointed Mustangs on offer today. Customers will be able to take delivery of the first cars in the spring of 2010.
Renaultsport will expanded their line-up next year with two versions of the Twingo aimed at the rally scene. The most potent of these is the Twingo R2. Based on the Twingo Sport 133 road car, it features a 160 bhp engine and a five-speed sequential gearbox. The competition parts come as a kit and have to be fitted by the owner on an existing Twingo Sport, which can be purchased at a special price from Renaultsport.
2009-12-08: Exclusive closer look at McLaren's all new MP4-12C ...
McLaren MP4-12C During the month of December we usually highlight some of the greatest machines - old and new - that we saw or were launched during the past year. Today we kick our 'best of' series off with a closer look at the McLaren MP4-12C that was announced in September. Although it won't enter production until 2011, we had the chance to shoot one of the pre-production prototype inside McLaren's fabulous Technology Centre.
The MP4-12C will be the first McLaren road car since the legendary F1 of the 1990s. While aimed at a completely different market, the MP4-12C includes many of the hallmarks that made the F1 such a legendary car. Every bit on the car has been designed specifically for the MP4-12C.
At its core the new McLaren features a cutting edge, single-piece carbon-fibre monocoque chassis that combines rigidity with light weight. Thanks to McLaren's advanced molding techniques, the tub can be produced at just a fraction of the time and expense than conventional carbon chassis. This allowed the British company to use it for a car aimed squarely at the segment dominated by Lamborghini, Porsche and Ferrari. For the first time in the company's history, a bespoke McLaren engine was developed to suit the MP4-12C's particular packaging needs. It is a twin-turbocharged, 3.8 litre V8 that produces around 600 bhp and 600 Nm of torque. This is sent to the rear wheels through a seven-speed, dual-clutch gearbox. With McLaren's exceptional eye for detail and aerospace levels of quality control, we have little doubt that the MP4-12C will set new benchmarks in its segment.
Ahead of the launch of the final design, we can today provide you with an exclusive 24-shot gallery of the MP4-12C prototype.
  2009-12-06: A closer look at the 1969 and 1979 World Champions from Matra and Ferrari ...
Matra MS80 Cosworth A few weeks ago we looked at the Cooper T51 Climax that won the Formula 1 World Championship exactly 50 years ago. Today it is time to highlight the World Champions from 40 and 30 years ago.
In 1969 the man to beat was Scotsman Jackie Stewart, who piloted the Matra MS80 Cosworth to five victories in his chase for the championship. Vital in the success was team-manager Ken Tyrrell who brought together Matra, Cosworth, Dunlop and Stewart to form the winning package. In this form, under the Matra International banner, the team existed for only two years, resulting in a total of nine Grand Prix wins. For 1970 Tyrrell and Stewart switched to a March 701 Cosworth and subsequently to the purpose built Tyrrell. Quite in contrast with Matra's further success, Stewart and Tyrrell won two additional championships. Our article is illustrated with 18 shots both MS80s used in period as well as the third spare tub that was built into a complete car in recent years.
A lot changed in ten years time but what remained was the dominance of the Ford Cosworth DFV engine. The only real challenger was the Ferrari team and their exquisite flat-12 engine. It powered the scarlet machines to three Drivers' World Championships; in 1975, 1977 and 1979. The last champion was the 312 T4, which combined the 12 cylinder engine with advanced ground-effects aerodynamics. The T4 was very quick and unlike the rest of the front runners boasted rock-solid reliability. Drivers Gilles Villeneuve and Jody Scheckter each won three Grands Prix and at the end of the season Scheckter had amassed enough points to be crowned World Champion. It would be Ferrari's last until Michael Schumacher's win in 2000. Five examples were built and our in-depth feature has 18 shots of two of these.
2009-12-03: Highlights from the Los Angeles Auto Show and the all new Alfa Romeo Giulietta ...
Dodge Viper SRT10 ACR Yesterday the Los Angeles Auto Show kicked off with the first of two media days. While, for obvious reasons, the show is not quite as exuberant as in recent years, there are still plenty of interesting introductions to report about.
Dodge celebrated the recent 1:33 minute production lap record Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca with the special 1:33 Edition of the 2010 Viper SRT10 ACR. Only 33 will be built in what is the final year of Viper production. A total of 500 Vipers are planned to be produced in the next twelve months before the existing model will hopefully be replaced.
Quite in contrast with the wild snake mentioned above, both Volkswagen and Honda further explored the green theme. The German manufacturer showcased the Up! Lite Concept. It uses a diminutive engine and only weighs 625 kg, yet it is the size of a Fox or Polo. Although a production version is still pretty distant, VW does expect to apply some of the advanced technology on new models in the very near future. Honda's P-NUT Concept predominantly stands out because of its unusual packaging. There is one central seat for the driver and a two seats behind him/her for the passengers. This makes for a very compact car that can still seat three people in relative comfort.
The big news from Europe this week is the preview of the all new Alfa Romeo Giulietta, slated for introduction at the 2010 Geneva Motorshow. In Alfa Romeo's centenary year it is more than appropriate that a legendary name is revived and they could not have picked a better car. The 147-replacement is in many ways an enlarged version of the highly acclaimed MiTo but enough unique touches are used to make the Giulietta stand out. A variety of engines will be on offer, headlined by the turbocharged 1750 TBi that produces a hefty 235 bhp.
  2009-12-01: All new Audi A8, much improved V6 Mustang and a closer look at the 9ff Speed9 ...
Audi A8 4.2 FSI Last night Audi launch the third generation of their flagship model; the A8. Like its two predecessors, the all new A8 uses Audi's aluminium spaceframe (ASF) chassis. The styling is a conservative adaption of the rest of the current Audi line-up. The most striking elements are the LED headlights. At the launch there will be a choice of a petrol and a twin-turbo diesel engine, both V8s with a displacement of 4.2 litre. A 3-litre diesel V6 follow shortly after. The two V8 engines are mated to Audi's first 8-speed gearbox. Needless to say, the power is transferred to all wheels through the German manufacturer's trademark 'quattro' system. In the cabin the Bang & Olufsen sound-system stands out. This optional package uses 19 speakers and has a combined output of 1,400 Watt. The all-new Audi A8 should hit the showrooms early next year.
During our stay in Monterey in August, we had the opportunity to sample this Ford Mustang. It was the new 2010 model and, except for the underpowered V6 engine, represented a big step forward compared to the previous version. For the 2011 model year, Ford have rectified our one complaint with the introduction of a modern V6 with four overhead camshafts and variable valve timing. Displacing 3.7 litre, it is considerably smaller than the outgoing engine but at 305 bhp it is also considerably more powerful. At the same time the fuel efficiency and CO2 emissions have also improved. All this makes the entry-level Ford Mustang V6 more than a worthy adversary for the recently introduced Chevrolet Camaro. The 2011 model will become available in the summer of the coming year.
One of the few new cars launched at this week's Essen Motorshow is the 9ff Speed9. We took the opportunity to take a second look at the German Porsche tuner's latest offering.