2008-12-29: Three Pebble highlights, the new Elfin unconvered and the latest news ...
This year's Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance featured a superb array of beautiful and/or interesting vehicles. Today we take a closer look at three of them. One of our absolute favourites was this Pegaso Z102 B Saoutchik Coupe. It combines Jacques Saoutchik's unique lines with one of the most advanced road car chassis of the day. Designed by ex-Alfa Romeo engineer Wilfredo Ricart, the Spanish supercar sported a fabulous quad-cam V8 engine and racing derived DeDion rear suspension. Sadly only a handful of Pegasos were ever made. Ricart's presence was one of the reasons Enzo Ferrari left Alfa Romeo, which resulted in Ferrari setting up shop for himself. The rest, so they say, is history. At Pebble Ferraris always take centre stage and this year this 400 Superamerica Cabriolet caught our eye. The striking yellow paint scheme really brings out the best of the elegant Pininfarina lines. Like Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz also has a dedicated class at Pebble, open to pre-War models built by the German manufacturer. Most of these feature elegant but sober coachwork. That can not be said for this S-Type. The Armbruster built body was very elegant but contrary to the factory coachwork it features extravagant trim and unusual scalloped sides.
While we visited the 9ff facility, our friend Down Under, Daan Hoffmann, paid a visit to local sports car manufacturer Elfin. Here he captured the brand new T5 Clubman. He not only shot a completed example but was also allowed to shoot the cars under various states of completition.
Jaguar's diesel engines are among the finest and today the British manufacturer announced a new evolution of the potent V6. Now displacing 3 litre it produces a hefty 600 Nm of torque. It will be fitted to this XF Diesel S.
2008-12-24: Ultimatecarpage.com Christmas Special: four of 2008's finest machines ...
As our Christmas present to you, we have taken a close look at four of the finest cars we shot this year, each representing a different category.
Our absolute favourite car we shot this year was this Maserati 250F Lightweight. It is quite possibly the most important Maserati racing car in existence as it was used by the great Juan Manuel Fangio to record his legendary Nurburgring Grand Prix win in 1957. In an epic chase he bridged the gap with youngsters Hawthorn and Collins in more modern Ferraris. The then 45 year old 'Master' broke the lap record 10 times in the 22 lap race. This has gone into history as one of the very best drives in history. 'His' 250F Lightweight has survived in amazingly original condition and was shown at Retromobile and driven at Goodwood this year.
Carlo Abarth always managed to make the most of very modest machinery and this efficiency would have made him fit nicely in this era. Fittingly the Scorpion badge was revived and in Paris they launched the Fiat Abarth 500 esseesse; our favourite new production car of the year.
In 2008 Mazda managed to outdo themselves once again with a fantastic concept cars. Launched at Detroit almost a year ago, the Furai Concept combines Mazda's exciting lines with a race-bred carbon fibre Courage chassis. We were fortunate to snap the 'furious Furai' in action at Goodwood.
Rounding off our Christmas Special we take another look at Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 that was crowned 'best of show' at Pebble Beach. Four months later we are still convinced that it was a well deserved winner.
We would like to wish you Happy Holidays and all the best in the new year.
2008-12-22: Bonhams Gstaad Auction report and slideshow, sportier Maserati Quattroporte and Innotech Corvette ..
This Saturday British auctioneer Bonhams held their annual Gstaad sale. Hosted by the luxurious, five star Palace hotel, the auction as always featured predominantly Ferraris. Among them were some highly interesting examples like the straight six engined 121 LM and a freshly restored, rarely seen 250 GT 'Tour de France.' Joining the Ferraris were several other fine Italian machines, headlined by a superb Maserati 3500 GT Spyder. Unfortunately the auction results revealed that the classic car market is not immune for the global financial crisis. None of the seven figure machines managed to change hands. Bonhams did manage to sell most of the more affordable cars. As has become a Christmas tradition, we were once again present in the Swiss Alpine town to capture the prestigious auction. All of our work has been compiled in a full report and a 90-shot gallery.
Today Maserati revealed the first images of the new Quattroporte Sport GT S, which will be officially revealed during next month's NAIAS. Compared to the 'standard' Sport, the S GT S packs a more powerful engine and a faster gearbox.
Since the introduction of the 'Mysterro' supercar, we heard little from the Czech manufacturer Innotech. That was until this weekend when we received an e-mail from the company's current owner packed with images of their latest creation; the Innotech Corvette. As the name suggests, the car is based on the current Corvette. The designers and engineers have added their own touch by creating an Italian inspired body-kit and various performance enhancing modifications for the V8 engine. The most powerful version is a twin-turbo producing in excess of 1000 bhp. The Innotech Corvette will be built in the United States.
2008-12-20: Legendary Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR and the brand new SLR 'Stirling Moss' ...
Completing a 1000 mile race on public roads with an average of close to 100 mph is still a daunting task today. Sir Stirling Moss managed to just that over fifty years ago when he drove the Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Roadster to a debut victory in the 1955 Mille Miglia. This record stands to this day. It was the result of Moss' superb talent, co-driver Denis Jenkinson's pioneering pace-notes and of course the fantastic racing car provided by Mercedes-Benz. Especially the three-litre straight eight engine was a work of art. Well ahead of its time, it sported direct fuel injection and desmodromic valves. On alcohol it was capable of producing a staggering 340 bhp and it could safely rev to 8000 rpm. Sir Stirling won two more races in the same car and at the end of the season Mercedes-Benz was World Champion.
We have had the privilege to see the great Sir Stirling Moss demonstrate his Mille Miglia winner as well as the sister car driven to second place that same race by Juan Manuel Fangio. This has resulted in an action packed 18-shot gallery to illustrate a detailed history of one of Mercedes' finest racing cars.
Although the great 300 SLR deserves a detailed feature any day of the week, the reason to publish the article today is the launch of the SLR McLaren 'Stirling Moss'. Limited to just 75 examples, it is the most extreme McLaren SLR version to date. It benefits from a complete exterior restyle and includes many cues that were directly lifted from Moss' Mille Miglia winner like the cut down wind-screen, the bonnet scoop and the side-pipes. Our only quirk with the new SLR is the name; we feel that one of our all-time favourite driver's name should not be associated with any car. He successfully raced for so many manufacturers that it does not seem right that Mercedes now claims his name as theirs.
2008-12-18: 1120 bhp and 414 km/h 9ff GT9-R in great detail ...
Earlier today we stopped by an anonymous German industrial estate to visit Porsche tuner 9ff. The order of business was to take a closer look at their new GT9-R. Launched last month in Essen, it is a further development of the original GT9 shown a year ago. The two versions reflect the wide variety of options the small manufacturer has available for the very limited production run of 20 examples. There are three engine specs ranging from 750 to 1120 bhp and various body configurations. Best of all is that customers can change their original specification fairly easily. So relatively inexperienced drivers can start with the modest 750 bhp engine and upgrade to the next 'Stage' as their ability grows. The body can be switched even easier from a high speed, low drag layout to the high downforce body debuted on the GT9-R. In April of this year, the GT9 development car reached a top speed of 409 km/h; a world record for a street legal car. With the 1120 bhp engine the car can accelerate from 0 to 300 km/h in under 16 seconds and might eventually top 420 km/h.
All of this was reason enough to head down to Dortmund to capture the GT9-R in great detail. Unfortunately the car was on summer tires, so we could not yet experience the epic acceleration figures. We have, however, returned with a full camera resulting in a full 18-shot gallery.
2008-12-17: 1100 bhp Danish supercar, NAIAS concepts from Volvo and Mercedes and Covini Spider ..
Before Bugatti introduced the Veyron, 1000 bhp was almost a mythical barrier. Now, only a few years later, there are numerous cars that have well over a thousand horses. The latest addition to this elite group is the Zenvo ST1. It is readied for production right now in Denmark and should enter production next year. It is powered by a Corvette Z06 sourced V8 engine that produces over 1100 bhp, courtesy of a turbo and a supercharger. The potent drivetrain is packaged in a remarkably attractive carbon fibre wrapping. Zenvo Automotive plans to produce just 15 example of the ST1 supercar.
Both Volvo and Mercedes Benz will unveil previews of upcoming production models at Detroit in a few weeks time. The most exciting is the Volvo S60 Concept. Apart from the droopy nose, it looks like a very interesting machine. In particular the rear window and highly efficient engine have captured our eye. The Mercedes Benz Concept BlueZERO looks like a precursor for the current B-Class' replacement. Additionally it comes equipped with a cutting edge drivetrain that combines various 'green' technologies.
Rounding off today's update is the Covini C6W Spider. As the name suggests it is an open version of the original C6W launched back in 2004. The fully functional six-wheeled machine comes is fitted with a 438 bhp V8 engine that can propel the Spider to an impressive top speed of 320 km/h.
2008-12-15: All new BMW Z4, Rinspeed's Geneva concept, two British racing cars and two stylish roadsters ...
This weekend BMW revealed the first details of one of the show-stoppers of the upcoming North American International Auto Show (NAIAS); the all new Z4. The styling is clearly an evolution of the existing Z4 with some of the sharper edges smoothed out. The big news is the addition of a steel folding roof, replacing the conventional fabric top used on the predecessors. At the launch, the new Z4 will be available with two versions of the three litre six cylinder engine. The most powerful, turbocharged engine pumps out over 300 bhp.
One of the most creative designers of our day is definitely Frank Rinderknecht. Every year he manages to bring out a highly original concept car for the Geneva Motor Show. This March he'll unveil the Rinspeed iChange. The name can be taken very literally as Rinderknecht's latest creation will be able to change from a two-seater sports car into a 'compact sportsvan.'
Back in January Aston Martin and Lola surprised the racing world by announcing the plans of an Aston Martin engined Lola prototype racer. Dubbed the Lola B08/60 Aston Martin, the LMP1 racer lived up to the high expectations. Although it was no match for the Audis and Peugeots, it was consistently the fastest petrol engined racer. It started the season with a third, finished with a second and at Le Mans managed to beat one of the Audis in qualifying. Even more successful was the Lister Storm GT. Between 1999 and 2003 the quirky racing car managed to win 12 FIA GT races and the 2000 driver's and constructor's championship.
Up until August we were completely unaware of Jensen's pre-War products and then at Pebble we were confronted with our huge oversight. On the 18th fairway this fabulous Jensen H Sports Tourer. It is powered by the famous Nash straight eight engined and fitted with a very stylish four-seater body that was designed and built in-house. Earlier that week we ran into this fantastic Porsche 356 Speedster. The featured example is one of the first of the legendary Speedsters.
2008-12-11: Two exceptional Mercedes eight cylinder engined machines ...
Looking back at 2008 there are two eight cylinder engined Mercedes that immediately spring to mind. The first because it is just so unusually beautiful and very rare. The other because it was brought back to full racing condition and driven in anger for the first time in almost twenty years. Today we take a well illustrated, closer look at both.
During the 1930s Mercedes Benz made some fantastic cars that boasted powerful engines, high quality and elegant but understated styling. Even the the extravagant 'Spezial Roadster' coachwork looked sedate compared to the contemporary French and Italian designs. There was one big exception; the Autobahn Kurier built on the 500/540 K chassis. The exceptionally beautiful fastback coupe was designed for high speed cruising on the newly built Autobahns. Amazingly only two were ever sold and both to foreign countries. Neither was seen for many decades until the featured example resurfaced at the 2006 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance. Many believe it should have been crowned best of show at Pebble. Some justice came at Villa d'Este this year where it won the Coppa d'Oro. Our 18-shot gallery pictures the car at both of its rare outings.
Fast forward some fifty years and we find Mercedes Benz back in sports car racing for the first time since the horrific accident at Le Mans in 1955. For the occasion the German manufacturer has joined forces with Swiss specialist Peter Sauber resulting in the fantastic Sauber Mercedes C9 Group C racer. With a Le Mans win and a World Championship under the belt, it was very successful. In 2008 one of the six cars built was reconditioned and prepared for racing in the Group C Historic Championship; a first for a Sauber Mercedes. Just as in period the C9 was among the top runners, winning at its Spa debut. We caught up with the car at Le Mans and during the Goodwood Festival of Speed and have captured the 'Silver Arrow' in great detail.
2008-12-09: Audi R8 5.2 FSI (V10) first pictures and details ...
Hot on the heels of the R8 LMS racing car, Audi revealed the first pictures and details of the V10 engined R8 5.2 FSI quattro. This is certainly no coincidence as the GT3 racer is based on the new ten cylinder road car. Apart from the racing equipment the distinct difference between the two cars is the lack of the 'quattro' four-wheel drive on the LMS to meet the GT3 regulations.
Compared to the original V8 engined version the V10 is a major step forward. The direct injection engine produces a staggering 525 bhp, or 105 horses more than the 'base' R8. Despite the hike in engine output, the new 5.2 R8 is barely any heavier. The all aluminum engine will launch the R8 to 100 km/h in under 4 seconds and it does not stop accelerating until the top speed of 316 km/h is reached. This should propel the fastest Audi road car right into the supercar ranks where it will rival the Ferrari F430 and nearly identical Lamborghini Gallardo.
Audi will officially launch the R8 5.2 FSI quattro at the upcoming North American International Auto Show in Detroit and it will be available from the second quarter of 2009. Prices start at 142,000 Euro without taxes.
2008-12-08: The stunning MG Lola Coupe, Scirocco R, Irmscher i40 GT and two unusual classics ...
December is traditionally the month to take one final look at the past year before entering the new one. We always take another look at the finest machines we captured in the previous 11 months. Today we kick off by taking a second look at the MG Lola EX265C, which was one of the best looking cars to hit the track in 2008. It was only raced once and as the team is set to switch engine suppliers it will not race again in this form. Fortunately we made the most of the opportunity, which has resulted in a spectacular 18-shot gallery.
At last week's Bologna Motor Show Volkswagen revealed this Scirocco Studie R. With 270 bhp on the tap it could signal the arrival of a high performance version of VW's popular coupe.
One of the most exciting machines on display at the Essen Motor Show was this Irmscher GT i40. Using the Opel GT as a base the German tuner created a very potent roadster by shoehorning a massive V8 into the engine bay. Also present at Essen was this rare Ascari Ecosse of which only a handful were built. Styled by Lee Noble, the Ecosse sported a potent Hartge tuned BMW engine and a very light chassis.
The 2008 historic racing calendar was dominated by the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the popular Formula Junior class. We did cover many events where the 'FJs' were popularly featured but until now we had not looked at one of the cars individually. That has changed this week as we have added the OSCA Tipo J to the database. Introduced in 1959, it was used by Oscar Davis to secure the 1959 Italian championship. Another very rare beast is the Facel Vega FV. The pictured example is one of the very first cars produced by the French luxury marque and the oldest surviving original example.
2008-12-05: Track-day specials from Ferrari and Mercedes McLaren revisited ...
Traditionally track-day specials are spartan, minimalistic machines predominantly built on the British Isles. Ferrari showed little respect for that tradition by turning the Enzo supercar in a circuit racer. Mercedes Benz followed suit late last year with a 'cup' version of the SLR McLaren. Both cars were not built to competition regulations, so they could not be used in major events.
Ferrari's 1.5 million Euro FXX was launched in 2005 to be not just a toy for the very rich but also as a development platform. The lessons learned by the first two years of campaigning the cars were applied to form the FXX Evoluzione. Launched late in 2007, the 'Evoluzione' sported a more powerful engine, a faster gearbox and more efficient aerodynamics. The existing cars were upgraded and prepared for the 2008 season. We caught up with one of the program's outings earlier this year and captured this colourful gallery.
In 2007 Mercedes Benz called in the help of motor sport specialists RML to turn the beefy SLR '722' into a circuit monster for the highly exclusive SLR.Club. The result was a ferocious sounding and aggressive looking SLR '722' GT. The outings of the 680 bhp racing car have not been as public as the FXX program, so it is hard to say if the 21 prospected cars have been built. We shot the 722 GT at its Essen launch in 2007 and during the 2008 Goodwood Festival of Speed.
2008-12-03: New drop-tops from Audi and MINI, more news from Essen and three unusual racing cars ...
Just as winter has arrived across the Northern hemisphere both Audi and MINI bring back a hint of summer with two brand new convertibles. From the Germany luxury manufacturer comes the S5 Cabriolet. It is not simply a drop-top version of the S5 Coupe as it features the new direct injection, twin-turbo V6 engine that was debuted earlier this year in the closely related S4. MINI completed the roll-out of the second generation of the 'new MINI' with an open version. Topping the line-up is this Cooper S Convertible. Like the Audi, it uses a direct injection turbocharged engine. The new four cylinder engine produces a hefty 172 bhp from a displacement of just 1.6 litre.
With most major manufacturers absent in Essen the specialist tuners could take center stage. The most powerful car present was the 9ff GT9-R. Powered by a 1120 bhp engine, it promises to accelerate to 300 km/h in under 16 seconds and it does not stop accelerating until it reaches an incredible 'V-max' of 414 km/h. Brabus also grabbed headlines by revealing the first tuned electric car. Their interpretation of the Tesla Roadster boasts a sound system that can imitate an internal combustion engines to provide the soundtrack to match the Tesla's performance.
To conclude today's update we would like to highlight three somewhat unusual racing cars. First up is one of only very few straight-six engined Ferraris ever built; the 121 LM. Built as a Works racer for the 1955 season, this specific example was raced by some of the great drivers of the era like Phil Hill and Carroll Shelby. After a lengthy ownership by an avid French historic racer, it will be auctioned later this month at the Bonhams Gstaad Auction. Not nearly as well known is this Attila Mk3 Chevrolet. It was designed and constructed by former Lotus designer Val Dare-Bryan and raced with some success in period. In recent years the rare racer resurfaced and has since been raced extensively. The March GTP racers of the early 1980s were nick-named 'lobster-claw' for their striking appearance. So most fittingly this 83G Chevrolet was liveried in 'Red Lobster' colours.
2008-12-01: 2008 Essen Motorshow report and slideshow ...
This weekend the 2008 Essen Motorshow opened its doors to the public. Traditionally the annual show focuses on motorsport and tuning and this year was no exception. What was exceptional was the small number of major manufacturers that set up shop on the show floor. The effects of the global economic crisis were clearly felt. Nevertheless there were sufficient exhibitors to fill most of the many halls of the 'Messe Essen.' Most anticipated was Audi's annual motorsport press conference. The German company not only launched the brand new R8 LMS but also announced the development of the brand new 'R15' Le Mans racer, which will debut in March during the Sebring 12 Hours. Most of the other debuts came from specialized tuners like Techart, 9ff and Irmscher. Perhaps the most interesting of these turner cars was the Brabus tweaked Tesla Roadster. One of the modifications is a sound system that is linked to the throttle-pedal and imitates a revving internal combustion engine. A low point was the inclusion of new BMW tuner 'Brabham Racing' that abuses the name of one of racing's biggest legends. In addition to complete cars, the Essen Motorshow also includes booth after booth with after-market parts. Not all of these deserve the moniker 'tasteful.'
As usual our photographers ventured east to the heart of Germany's industrial to capture the show in in its entirety. This has resulted in the a brief report and a 100-shot slideshow packed with all the highs and lows of the 2008 Essen Motorshow.