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2007-03-29: Le Mans Series 2007 Season Preview and Porsche 997 GT3 RSR up close ...
Le Mans Series 2007 Season Preview This past weekend the Paul Ricard High Tech Test Track in the South of France hosted the annual official Le Mans Series test. As always there was plenty of new machinery out on track for the very first time. With its long 'Mistral' straight, it also offered the teams a rare opportunity to test their low-downforce setup in preparation for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. All eyes, including ours, were of course on the Peugeot 908 HDi FAP, which covered its very first kilometers in public. Even though it clocked the fastest time around the track, it was followed very closely by the new Pescarolos and Lolas. Some of the cars were actually completed at the track; in particular the Gulf-livered LMP2 Zytek impressed everyone by setting the second fastest time in its class. Our photographers flew out to the French Mediterranean coast to capture all the news and action. All of these impressions have been compiled in our Le Mans Series 2007 Preview and an exclusive 150-shot slideshow.
The Paul Ricard test was also our first opportunity to see Porsche's new 997 GT3 RSR. Replacing one of the most successful GT racers ever, Zuffenhausen's latest did not disappoint and set the fastest time in the GT2 class. In addition to the Le Mans Series Preview we today also take a closer look at the new RSR. You can expect detailed features on all of the new racers in the following updates.
  2007-03-26: Peugeot 908 HDi in public, Fiat 500 reborn, Callaway C16 drop top ...
Peugeot 908 HDi FAP After testing in private for the past three months, Peugeot went public with the 908 HDi FAP yesterday during the annual test days on the Paul Ricard High Tech Test Track. Only partly painted, the diesel engined prototype racer showed good form by clocking the fastest times in almost every session. We were on hand and have compiled a quick gallery of the black and white lion. Like last year, you can expect plenty of endurance racing coverage on Ultimatecarpage.com throughout the season.
Fiat is set to continue the company's revival this summer with the launch of a completely new 500; one of the company's biggest icons. The 'Nuova' version combines the quirky looks of the original with a state of the art chassis and engine. There should be an Abarth version out very soon as well. At next week's New York show, Callaway will take the wraps of the convertible version of the beautiful C16 launched to much acclaim last year. Taking a standard 300 C SRT8 as a base, Chrysler Australia have produced the E490 project car, which was shown to a select group of customers during the Melbourne motor show. In recent years Australia's finest have been exported to Great Britain and rebagded and sold as Vauxhalls. The latest of these is the 420 bhp VXR8.
Facing incredible competition from the two German teams, Alfa Romeo struggled in the late 1930s to regain their hold on Grand Prix racing. One of the not so successful attempts was the 308C used in 1938. Our detailed article features shots of two of the four examples built, including the car that finished the Indy 500 three times immediately after the War.
2007-03-22: Porsche and McLaren GT1 racers ...
Porsche 996 GT1 EVO 98 There are certain racing classes that have gained legendary status and that are always brought up to show how much better it was in the past. The best example is of course Group B rallying, but in recent years the GT1 class of the mid 1990s is also very fondly remembered. In fact so much so that there will be a revival series organized this season, where the supercar based racers can fight it out again. Originally set up as a road car derived GT class, it took a turn for the worse when the manufacturers started to construct racing cars first and then a road car for homologation purposes later. By 1998 it was decided that one road car was sufficient and this led to the development of some of the most advanced racers. Porsche was right in the thick of things and with the 996 GT1 EVO 98 scored the company's 16th and last win in the 24 Hours of Le Mans that year. Daan Hoffmann caught up with the winning machine earlier this month and captured it at full speed around Philip Island.
McLaren F1 GTR It's amazing that just three years earlier the same race was won by the McLaren F1 GTR, which complied entirely with the spirit of the rules. In fact other than the mandatory safety equipment and the installation of a large wing, there was little that set the racer apart from its road going equivalent. This again underlined just what an accomplished machine the Gordon Murray designed F1 road car was. We do want to apologize for the time it took before we gave this marvelous machine the feature it deserves, but Retromobile last month was the first time our photographers had a chance to properly shoot a GTR, or any F1 for that matter.
  2007-03-19: Geneva Round-Up, 250 GT Ferrari, a Delahaye whale and a Maybach Special ...
Maserati GranTurismo As the doors of the 2007 edition have closed for the final day, it's time to round off our set of Geneva Motorshow features. Received with much acclaim, the new Maserati GranTurismo was our favourite machine on display. The nicely proportioned four seater coupe complements the very successful Quattroporte and should help Maserati reach their production goal of 10,000 units per year. Italy's design houses Bertone and Fioravanti were present with the funky Barchetta Concept and interesting Thalia Concept respectively. The latest quirky machine to come from The Netherlands is the Carver One; part car, part bike. After a relatively long development period, the small company showcased the first production version at Geneva, and the customers should receive their fully certified Carvers very soon.
This weekend we saw one of the closest finishes Sebring history, with Ferrari narrowly beating Porsche in the GT2 class. The Italian company has been successfully involved in GT-racing since the early 1950s and their most famous machine is no doubt the 250 GT and all of its derivatives. Today we take a closer look at one of the very first, the 1956 250 GT Competizione, similar to the car that won the Tour de France and gave the next generation 250 GT its legendary nickname. During the 1930s, Joseph Figoni designed some of the most elegant cars with subtle curvaceous lines. After the War, he took it one step further and dropped the subtle part with designs like the featured Delahaye 135 Narval, which is French for whale. Usually we only feature classic (racing) cars of which we have plenty of information, but this week we got intrigued by one of the most unlikely specials; the Maybach Special Mk1. Powered by a supercharged Maybach scout-car engine, it was very successful in the early 1950s and despite the limited history and technical details known to us, we could not resist adding it to our database. We of course welcome any additional info.
2007-03-15: Ferrari long-block special ...
Ferrari 340/375 MM Vignale Spyder In the company's formative years, Ferrari used a wide variety of derivatives based on two distinctly different V12 engines; the Gioachino Colombo designed 'short-block' and the Aurelio Lampredi designed 'long-block' units. As the names suggest, the first was smaller than the second. Both in numbers produced and races won, the Colombo V12 far outnumbers its Lampredi counterpart, but the long-block was more successful in F1 races, Le Mans and the Mille Miglia, and also powered Ferrari's most exclusive road cars frequently driven by Europe's royals. Today we take a closer look at three Lampredi-engined Ferraris, headlined by the 340/375 MM Vignale Spyder that won 'Best in Show' in the prestigious Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance on Sunday. After being poorly treated for several decades, this unique machine resurfaced about ten years ago and has been restored to its striking 1953 Carrera PanAmericana livery. A year earlier Ferrari had used a 4.1 litre version of the long-block for a small run of four 'Carrera' specials, aptly known as the 340 Mexico. Our gallery features two of the three coupes built, again with beautiful and colourful liveries. In an attempt to appeal to American customers, Pinin Farina created the unique 410 Superfast in 1956. Based on a 410 SuperAmerica chassis, it sports very prominent rear fins; highly unusual for a Ferrari.
  2007-03-12: Geneva Motorshow highlights ...
Spyker C12 Zagato One of the biggest surprises of this year's Geneva Motorshow was the introduction of the Zagato-bodied Spyker C12. It served both as a celebration of the company's entrance into Formula 1 and also as proof that there is more to the rapidly growing Dutch company than the one exterior design that had until now been used for all other models. The Zagato design reminds of the Raptor concept shown many years ago. Another Dutch company present in Geneva was Donkervoort and with the D8 GT they also broke with tradition. Although still based on the familiar Donkervoort design, the new GT comes equipped with a roof, similar to the Nurburgring record breakers. Lotus took the wraps of yet another Elise/Exige version; the Exige GT3 Concept. The small British company has again increased the performance and should offer supercar performance. Geneva also hosted the introduction of a new pretender to the Lotus crown; the Henrik Fisker-penned Artega GT. Powered by a 300 bhp V6, the compact coupe should hit production before the end of the year. Fellow Germans Gumpert showcased the 800 bhp Sport version of the already very fast Apollo. Quite on the opposite end of the spectrum is Bentley's latest offering; the 530 bhp, very luxurious Brooklands coupe.
These days concept cars come in two different categories; an almost ready for production prototype or a very outrageous styling and/or engineering excercise that will never come near a sales room. BMW's V8-engined M3 Concept is a prime example of the former and we expect little to no changes to be made before the production car hits the streets. "Completely Bonkers" is an apt description of the Italdesign Vadho, which features a hydrogen V12 mounted alongside a fighterplane-like cockpit. As we have come to expect from the Italian design house, it is very nicely packaged and clearly one of the Swiss show's highlights.
2007-03-07: Geneva International Motorshow exclusive report and slideshow ...
Geneva International Motorshow
Tomorrow the doors of the Geneva Palexpo exhibition centre will open to the public for the local auto show. The past two days the journalists were let loose in the proverbial candy store that is this year's Geneva Motorshow. This annual event is regarded as the finest show on the calendar and for good reasons. As always the mainstream manufacturers were joined by a whole host of low volume manufacturers and many design houses. The biggest 'real world news' of the show was no doubt the introduction of the new Ford Mondeo and Renault Twingo, but the enthusiasts are of course more interested in the latest offerings of the likes of Koenigsegg and Spyker. As has become tradition these two stole the show once again with a 1000+ bhp bio-fuel car from the Swedes and a limited edition Zagato bodied C12 from the Dutch.
For the fourth year now our photographic team ventured out to the foot of the Alps to get a first hand look and feel of all the shining new cars. The result of two days of hard labour has been compressed into a full report and a staggering 240-shot slideshow, brought to you straight from the Geneva show floor!
  2007-03-04: Geneva Motorshow Preview and Melbourne highlight ...
Geneva Motorshow On of the eve of traveling to Geneva, we would like to take a final look at the upcoming releases that have been announced in the last few days. Supercar manufacturers Koenigsegg and Pagani traditionally reserve Geneva for their new machines and the good news is that this year is no exception. The Swedes will unveil the CCGT, which is fully built to GT1 specifications, making it eligible for the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the FIA GT championship. Although there is no official word out yet, this should mean that Koenigsegg will go racing in the near future. Also built for the track, but not to any rule book is the Pagani Zonda R; a 750 bhp track-day monster to rival Ferrari's FXX. For track-day fans who don't have $1.2 million lying about, Lotus will take the wraps off the 2-Eleven. To round up the supercar news, we want to bring the Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera to your attention; a lighter and more powerful version of the V10-engined coupe. Fiat will use the Geneva show to reintroduce the Abarth marque and does so with a very hot hatch. Packing a tiny turbocharged four cylinder engine, the Grande Punto Abarth definitely reminds of the days of old. For competition use, the Scorpion badged marque has developed a 270 bhp S2000 version of the Punto. Our exclusive report of the show with a well illustrated slideshow will be published straight from the showfloor later this week.
On Friday the doors of the Melbourne Auto Show opened for press and public. We had our Down Under snapper Daan Hoffman on the floor to capture the highlights. He made sure we took a closer look at the Elfin MS8 Streamliner 50th Anniversary before we left for Geneva. Livered in an appropriate golden paint scheme, the limited edition model is fitted with a 470 bhp supercharged V8 engine.
2007-03-01: Two of Gabriel Voisin's finest up close and personal ...
Voisin C27 Aerosport Coupe Gabriel Voisin has gone into history as a manufacturer of some of the most eccentric vehicles, but he definitely did not take an unconventional route just to be different. He stuck with the sleeve valve engine, lightweight materials and aerodynamic shapes because he felt they were superior, and for almost a decade his customers agreed with him. They may very well have agreed with for many more years, but the depression of the early 1930s obviously didn't make it any easier for the exotic automotive industry. It's also unfortunate to note that in those exact years Voisin reached his artistic and engineering peak; his last cars were his best. Today we pay tribute to this period of excellence with a feature of two cars developed while Automobiles Voisin was already in receivership. Both cars use the C27 chassis, which was the shortest and lowest available in the Voisin range and of which only these two were constructed.
One of Voisin's other quirks was the fact that a large majority of their cars were sold as complete cars and not as a rolling chassis for custom coachbuilders to be bodied, as was the norm of the day. The first C27 was a rare exception as it was equipped with a beautiful Cabriolet body designed by master coachbuilder Joseph Figoni. For the second C27 Voisin returned to 'normal' practice. The Aerosport Coupe body was designed and built in-house and incorporated many of the Voisin trademark features. The most striking feature is no doubt the roof that slides down behind the seats. Both cars were displayed along the Pacific Ocean shoreline for the 2006 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance where Voisin was the featured marque.