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2014-04-18: Ferrari Friday with the Ferraris that starred in the Tour Auto ...
Ferrari 250 GT SWB Competizione For many years, Ferrari dominated the Tour de France, showcasing a winning mix of speed and reliability. At this year's Tour Auto, Ferraris were also very well represented. Among the Ferraris entered was the 250 GT SWB Berlinetta Competizione, which was driven to the outright victory in the 1960 Tour de France by Willy Mairesse and Georges Berger. This alloy-bodied example has been a regular in the Tour Auto since it was acquired by the current owner in 2001.
One of the absolute stars of the Tour Auto this year was the unique 250 GT SWB 'Breadvan', which we featured early last week. We have kept our eye out for this striking machine and have expanded our gallery to 71 shots.
Ferrari was so successful in the French road rally that for several years, the 250 GT competition model was referred to as the 'Tour de France'. The main reason was the outright victory scored in 1956 by the 250 GT Competizione Scaglietti Coupe, of which an example was entered in this year's Tour Auto. In period this car was also raced in the Tour de France, placing 8th in 1956 and 5th in 1957. We also captured chassis 0563GT at Villa d'Este last year.
Leading the field this year was a parade of Ferraris and Maseratis and among them was the very high performance 458 Speciale. For good measure, we have also added some shots of this machine from the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year.
  2014-04-16: New York Auto Show round-up and all-new Mercedes-AMG ...
Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT Today, the annual New York International Auto Show kicked off with the first of two preview days. Aston Martin used the opportunity to debut the hardcore V8 Vantage GT and V8 Vantage GT Roadster. Powered by a 430 bhp version of the all-alloy V8, this the North American counterpart of the N430 launched last month in Geneva.
One of the most powerful debuts in the Big Apple will no doubt be the 625 bhp Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Convertible. This represents the very first drop-top Z06 since the moniker was introduced back in 1963. Despite the lack of a roof, the car is 20% more rigid than the previous generation Z06 Coupe. The Z06 Convertible will be available later this year as a 2015 model.
Land Rover will look ahead in New York wit the Vision Concept as this will form the base for the upcoming Discovery model. The show car is equipped with the innovative Transparent Bonnet head-up display, which gives the driver a better view of the ground immediately ahead of the car.
Perhaps the most interesting news of the day is the announcement of the Mercedes-AMG GT, which will be launched in the fall. Powered by a V8 engine, this two-door coupe is poised to challenge the Porsche 911.
The big news yesterday was of Peugeot's return to Dakar with the 2008 DKR. It will be driven by former winners Cyril Depres and Carlos Sainz.
2014-04-14: 2014 Tour Auto report and 300-shot gallery ...
2014 Tour Auto report and 300-shot gallery This week, some of the most beautiful roads of France were the scene of the annual Tour Auto retrospective rally. The five-day and 2,000 km event featured a 250-car strong field of GT and Touring cars of many different shapes and sizes, ranging from a BMW 700, to a fleet of Ferraris, Alfa Romeos, Porsches and Cobras. The star cars this year included the Ferrari 250 GT SWB 'Breadvan' we featured last week but also the very first Porsche 911 Carrera RSR. Set in the eastern and southeastern parts of France, the Tour Auto was run mostly on undulating roads and also featured the Dijon-Prenois, Anneau du Rhin, Bresse and Paul Ricard circuits. The fight of the outright win lasted until the very last day and was disputed between a pair of Cobras and a pair of E-Types.
Our photographers chased the Tour Auto through France and captured the event from start to finish. The result is this concise stage-by-stage report, illustrated by an action-packed 300-shot gallery.
  2014-04-11: Peugeot and Bentley hybrid concepts primed for Beijing debut ...
Peugeot Exalt Concept With China emerging as the quickest growing market, the annual Beijing Motor Show or Auto China has become one of the most important shows on the calendar. This year's edition will start next week and both Peugeot and Bentley will showcase a hybrid-engined concept car. The French manufacturer's show stopper will be the Exalt Concept, which combines a front-mounted direct-injection petrol engine with an electric motor driving the rear wheels. The combined output of this plug-in hybrid drivetrain is an impressive 340 bhp. What will certainly capture the visitors' attention is the two-tone finish of bare-metal and shark skin. As a tribute to the artisan's of old, the metal panels of the Exalt's bodywork have been hand-beaten.
The Bentley Hybrid Concept is an altogether more straightforward machine as it represents the marriage of the Mulsanne bodywork with an all-new plug-in hybrid drivetrain. The exact details of the engine/motor combination have not been released yet, the images suggest that the Mulsanne's roaring 6.75 litre V8 has been retained. Bentley has announced that the first production model to be available as a plug-in hybrid will be the new SUV due in 2017.
2014-04-09: Louwman Museum in full detail ....
Louwman Museum Assembled over many, many years, the Louwman Collection is the oldest private collection in the world. To house the cars that span the complete history of the automobile, a purpose-built museum was constructed in The Hague, The Netherlands right next to a Royal Palace. The Louwman Museum was officially opened by the Dutch Queen in April of 2010. The striking building houses all the collection's highlights including the 1935 and 1956 Le Mans winning Lagonda and Jaguar, and also the Spyker 60 hp, which was the first six-cylinder engined and four-wheel drive car. Another great draw of the museum is that it offers a history both the automobile itself but also of more specialised machines like alternatively powered cars and micro-cars. At the time of our visit, the main hall of the museum housed a special Martini display, which still runs through to May 5th. Sixteen Martini-liveried machines are on show and in addition to the familiar machines, rarer beasts like the Porsche 911 RSR Turbo that placed third at Le Mans and the stillborn Lancia ECV2 were wheeled out specifically for this display. The result of our visit is a brief report, illustrated by a 180-shot gallery, which includes shots of the Martini display.
  2014-04-07: Ferrari Breadvan and 250 GT Drogo, and first glimpse from the Tour Auto ...
Ferrari 250 GT SWB Breadvan One of the most iconic Ferraris is undoubtedly the 250 GT SWB 'Breadvan' created by Giotto Bizzarrini for Count Volpi's Scuderia Serenissima. Bizzarrini had previously helped develop the 250 GTO while still at Ferrari and used all the lessons learned and then some to create the one-off Breadvan. The nickname is a reference to the tall Kamm-tail of the Drogo-built body, which prompted the French crowd at Le Mans to dub it 'cammionette' or small truck. It proved to be very quick but was ultimately unsuccessful. Fortunately, the one-off Ferrari has survived and in more recent years has returned to the track. This, week the 250 GT SWB 'Breadvan' will be one of the star cars of the Tour Auto. Like last year, we will cover the event from start to finish and a detailed report will follow next week. As a warm-up, we have already created a 30-shot gallery from the scrutineering at the Grand Palais earlier today.
Inspired by the performance of the Breadvan and the GTO, Belgian Ferrari importer and team principal of the Ecurie Francorchamps sent a pair of his 250 GT SWB competition cars to Drogo for a similar conversion. Both cars had been damaged in action and needed full repairs any way. The sole survivor of these is this 250 GT SWB Drogo Coupe, which was in period never raced in this guise. After a lengthy restoration, it has now been regularly exercised by its two Dutch owners, as can be seen in this 44-shot gallery.
2014-04-04: Mighty Maserati 450S, another Ferrari 275 GTB/C and the all-new M4 Convertible ...
Maserati 450S In Maserati's 100-year history, many great machines were produced but very few can rival the mighty Maserati 450S. Built around a thundering quad-cam V8, it was built in a make-or-break effort to win the 1957 World Sports Car championship. Despite victories in the Sebring 12 Hours and the Swedish Grand Prix, a catastrophic race in Caracas thwarted Maserati's efforts. Financial problems and regulation changes meant that this would be Maserati's final chance. Some of the vast investment was recouped by selling production cars and it is believed that ten examples were produced. We have today further expanded our gallery to 91-shots, featuring all examples that are known to have survived. Among them is the prototype, which will be offered by RM Auctions at their May 10th Monaco Sale. It has a pre-sale estimate of EUR 4 - 5.5 million.
Another great car to cross to block in this very well stocked sale is one of the 12 Ferrari 275 GTB/Cs produced. We have added this example, which is one of the most original survivors, to our ever expanding 108-shot gallery, which now features nine of the twelve chassis built.
Later this month, at the New York International Auto Show, BMW will reveal the all-new M4 Convertible. Like its fixed-head counterpart, it is powered by a 425 bhp straight six engine and comes with a choice of a six-speed manual or a seven-speed dual clutch gearbox. Thanks to the use of lightweight materials, the M4 Convertible is 41 kg (90 lbs) lighter than its predecessor.
Also in New York, Land Rover will showcase the Vision Concept, which will offer a preview of the next generation Discovery.
  2014-04-02: The first Brabham Formula 1 and sports cars, and the vey slippery CD Panhard ...
Brabham BT3 Climax Three-time World Champion, Sir Jack Brabham has turned 88 today. To mark the occasion, we have taken a detailed look at some of the earliest cars he designed and built together with Ron Tauranac during the 1960s. The earliest of these is the BT3 Climax, which was the very first Brabham Formula 1 car. It was introduced halfway through the 1962 season and was raced by Jack Brabham himself in a handful of events. It eventually ended up in the Donington Grand Prix Collection where it remained for many years until it was acquired by the current owner. He had the car completely restored and as can be seen in this 27-shot gallery, he has returned it to the track. The next outing will be the Monaco Historic Grand Prix next month.
In addition to single seaters, Brabham also produced sports cars. The first of these was the BT5 Ford, which was effectively a Formula Junior with two seats and an all-enveloping body. After two examples were built in 1963, it was replaced in 1964 by the BT8. This came with a choice of engines, including the BRM V8 that powers the featured example.
Aerodynamic efficiency has always been key in racing but no car was as slippery as the CD Panhard LM64. Created by Charles Deutsch on Panhard running gear, it not only has a Cx figure of just 0.12, the LM64 also features ground effect aerodynamics. Despite sporting a 848 cc flat twin engine, it was capable of 221 km/h down the Mulsanne straight. Sadly, the pair LM64s were not quite as reliable as they were slippery and neither made it to the finish at Le Mans in 1964. They were not raced again but both cars have survived and are regularly raced and demonstrated as can be seen in our 23-shot gallery.
2014-03-31: Bugatti and Bizzarrini that starred at the Techno Classica ...
Bugatti EB 16/4 Veyron Concept Amidst the, literally, thousands of cars on display during last week's Techno Classica in Essen several cars stood out. Among them was the original Bugatti EB 16/4 Veyron Concept, which was launched in this guise at the 2000 Paris Motor Show. This was the very same show car previously used for the EB 18/3 Veyron Concept shown a year earlier in Tokyo but with an eighteen-cylinder engine. At the time of the sixteen-cylinder Veyron launch, the plan was that production would commence within two years and that the car would be available in naturally aspirated and quad-turbo form. Although these plans did change over the following years, the Veyron did live up to the original promise of becoming the fastest production road car in the world. At the Techno Classica, Bugatti lined up the original Veyron Concept alongside two production cars to reveal the many detail changes made before it was ready to hit the streets.
Altogether more difficult to spot in the vast Messe Essen was this diminutive Bizzarrini GT Europa 1900. Tipping the scales at under 700 kg, boasting a near perfect weight balance and handling, and sporting a beautiful scaled down 5300 GT body, the pocket-size Bizzarrini had all the right ingredients to be a great success. Sadly, Giotto Bizzarrini was a man of many skills but he lacked the business acumen to allow the GT Europa to live up to the huge expectations. In the end, only a dozen were built and at least another five were later constructed from spares. In reference to its Opel GT derived powerplant, Road & Track later remarked that the Bizzarrini GT Europa 1900 was everything the Opel GT should have been.
  2014-03-27: 2014 Techno Classica report and 220-shot gallery and the 1000 hp Toyota TS040 ...
2014 Techno Classica Report and 220-shot gallery Yesterday, the doors of the Messe Essen exhibition centre opened for the 26th annual Techno Classica. The largest classic car show in the world this year features no fewer than 1,250 exhibitors, including 27 major manufacturers. Among the themes this year are 120 years of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport, 100 years of Maserati and 95 years of Zagato. Particularly the Mercedes-Benz display was very impressive as it featured no fewer than 36 racing cars from the company's very rich past and present. Our photographers spent the entire 'Happy View Day' to explore the 20 halls and have captured all the highlights to create this concise report, illustrated by a colourful 220-shot gallery. As always, you can expect detailed articles on some of the most interesting cars that starred in Essen.
The international endurance racing teams have gathered at Paul Ricard for the official FIA WEC test or Prologue, which will be held tomorrow and Saturday. On the eve of the first day of testing, Toyota have finally launched the all-new TS040 Hybrid. The hugely sophisticated machine boasts a drivetrain that consists of a 3.7 litre naturally aspirated V8, assisted by two electric motors and is good for a whopping 1,000 hp at full pelt. This very potent power unit is installed in a chassis that is loosely based on the TS030 used during the previous seasons. Interestingly, the car revealed at Paul Ricard today and the one that stars in our 19-shot gallery both have very different nose configurations. Presumably these are high and low downforce solutions, which shows Toyota is very serious about winning both the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the World Championship.
2014-03-25: New Audi R18 e-tron quattro, Strakka-Dome and the Sauber Mercedes C9 in full detail ...
Audi R18 e-tron quattro Nine-time Le Mans winner Tom Kristensen, today introduced the all-new Audi R18 e-tron quattro in its definitive livery by driving it through the town of Le Mans. The route chosen started at the Place des Jacobins where the scrutineering is traditionally held and finished at the Le Mans track as a tribute to the good old days when the cars where driven to and from town on public roads for scrutineering. Audi also released more mechanical details of the new Le Mans racer, which will be powered by an enlarged, four-litre V6 diesel engine mated to a hybrid system capable of storing up to 2 MJ. The F1-derived exhaust energy recovery system has been eliminated as it would add too much weight to the already heavy diesel drivetrain. The first public appearance of the 2014-spec R18 e-tron quattro will be at this weekend's official WEC test at Paul Ricard.
One of the all-new cars to join the Audi on track will be the Strakka-Dome S103 Nissan, which emerged from the Strakka Racing workshop for the first time yesterday. Following a brief and successful shakedown, the striking LMP2 car has been loaded on a truck and sent down to the South of France to commence testing in earnest.
A hugely successful sports racer from a different era is the Sauber Mercedes C9, which competed in the World Sportscar Championship between 1987 and 1989. Built by Sauber and raced with support from Mercedes-Benz, this remains as one of the most potent machines of the Group C era. In its final and most successful guise, it was powered by a twin-turbo V8 good for well over 700 bhp in race trim. Its best season was 1989, when the C9 dominated the World Championship and won Le Mans outright. We have expanded our article to include 69 images of different examples. We expect to see at least one of these again at this week's Techno Classica in Essen where over 20 Mercedes-Benz competition cars are expected to line-up. We will, of course, bring full coverage of this year's edition later in the week.
  2014-03-24: Bugatti and Bentley Le Mans winners and 275 GTB/C article expanded ...
Bugatti Type 57 G Tank Bugattis efforts to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans were plagued by misfortune but particularly Jean Bugatti did not want to give up. To this end, three or four Type 57 G Tanks were built using production car underpinnings and a slippery aluminium body that earned the Bugatti its nickname. Considering Bugatti's luck at Le Mans, it was no surprise that the attempt to win in 1936 was thwarted by strikes, which caused the race to be cancelled altogether. The car did show its potential in the remainder of the year, winning several races outright and also setting numerous land speed records for naturally aspirated engines. The curse was finally broken in 1937 when this Type 57 G Tank won the race outright. A supercharged example won Le Mans again two years later but the success came at a price as just a few weeks later Jean Bugatti would fatally crash the 1939 Le Mans winner while readying it for its next outing. It is understood that the featured Type 57 G is the only survivor of its type.
Often described by Ettore Bugatti as big, heavy trucks, Bentleys scored even more success at Le Mans, taking five wins between 1924 and 1930. The first one was scored 90 years ago with this mildly modified 3 Litre Vanden Plas Tourer. It is today owned by the Le Mans museum and we captured the Le Mans winner during a rare outing at Retromobile earlier this year.
Over the last few weeks and months, we have completely revised the way the images are stored with the cars, which allows us to expand the galleries much more easily. Today we have done that with the Ferrari 275 GTB/C of which we found some great material while browsing through our Tour Auto archive. Three chassis have been added and the gallery has been expanded to 100 shots. We will also be following the Tour Auto from start to finish again this year, so you can expect a full set of scenic shots from this year's event shortly after it has finished on April 12th.