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2010-01-29: McLaren MP4-25 launched, Alfa/Pininfarina concept and Carlsson supercar headed for Geneva ...
McLaren MP4-25 Mercedes At the headquarters of title-sponsor Vodafone, McLaren have taken the wraps off the all-new MP4-25 this morning. Still powered by the Mercedes-Benz V8 engine, the team's 2010 is a radical departure from its troubled predecessor. The most distinct new feature is a massive fin mounted on the air-box. Compared to the Ferrari yesterday the completely different location of the exhausts stand out. McLaren also has a very special driver line-up in Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button. It's the first time since 1989 that McLaren have two world champions under contract and never before have the two most recent world champions been team-mates. The MP4-25 will make its track-debut on Monday when the teams will hold the first official test of the new season.
Also using Mercedes-Benz power is the Carlsson C25, which is the German tuner's first distinct model. Production is limited to just 25 cars and Carlsson have ensured absolute exclusivity by allocating just one car per country. The Mercedes sourced, twin-turbo V12 is massaged to produce a staggering 753 bhp. The C25 will be officially launched at the Geneva Motor Show in March.
At the Swiss show, Pininfarina will mark the 100th anniversary of Alfa Romeo. The two legendary companies have a long and lasting history together. Particularly the open Alfa Romeos have traditionally been clothed by the Turin based 'carrozzeria.' At Geneva, Pininfarina will showcase an Alfa Romeo based Spider Concept, which may give an indication of the replacement of the current Spider model. For now all we have to show is a render of the upcoming concept.
  2010-01-28: All new Ferrari F10 and the Ferrari 641 F1 used twenty years ago ...
Ferrrari F10 This morning Ferrari launched the first new Formula 1 car of the season. Most teams will follow suit in the coming days ahead of this year's first official test session scheduled for Monday. The new Ferrari F10 is much more than a subtle evolution of the disappointing F60 used in 2009. Gone is the KERS system that made the F60 such a difficult car to drive. In its place comes a much larger fuel tank, which is vital now that refueling is banned. Apart from the changes in livery, the biggest visual change is the more sculpted nose that has hints of last year's Red Bull car. The revised livery comes courtesy of new sponsor Banco Santander, which added a welcome white touch to the predominantly red livery. New to the team for this year is two-time World Champion Fernando Alonso, who will replace Kimi Raikonen. The Spaniard will race the F10 together with Felipe Massa, who has completely recovered from the horrific accident at last year's Hungarian Grand Prix.
Alonso's addition to the driver line-up made us look twenty years back in time when Ferrari managed to lure reigning World Champion Alain Prost from McLaren. He joined Nigel Mansell to create one of Ferrari's finest line-ups in their history. That season the Italian team fielded the 641 F1 or F1-90. This startlingly beautiful machine was a gradual development of the revolutionary 640 F1 introduced a year earlier. It featured a glorious 3.5 litre V12 engine with five valves per cylinder and the sport's first paddle-operated gearbox with seven forward speeds. After a difficult start, Prost and the 641 F1 came to their own halfway through the season and gradually closed to gap to Ayrton Senna. Despite five victories, the Frenchman eventually had to settle for second in the standings. The rest of the field quickly followed Ferrari's pioneering example and soon all cars were equipped with the 'flappy-paddle' system. Today it is a common sight on many high performance road cars.
Our 641 F1 article features detailed pictures of two examples. One of the chassis was gifted to Frank Williams in exchange for the services of driver Jean Alesi for the 1991 season.
2010-01-27: The 1975 Le Mans wining Gulf Mirage and its immediate predecessors ...
Mirage M6 Cosworth One of the most prolific paint-scheme in sports-car racing is the powder blue and orange courtesy of Gulf Oil. From the second half of the 1960 Gulf backed the John Wyer operated team, which scored back to back Le Mans victories with their cleverly modified GT40s in 1968 and 1969. For the next two years Wyer fielded the legendary Gulf liveried 917s, which were among the quickest but suffered from incredibly bad luck. Rule changes rendered the 917 obsolete at the end of 1971 and with no immediate replacement available, Wyer decided to once more field a car of his own design.
Powered by an F1-derived, Cosworth V8 engine, the first of these purpose-built racers was the Mirage M6. Piloted by the likes of Derek Bell, Gijs van Lennep and Mike Hailwood, the elegant sports prototypes showed great pace but were often let down by poor reliability. The V8 engine had not originally been designed for endurance racing and also had the tendency to vibrate the rest of the car to pieces. During the 1973 season, Bell and Hailwood were able to convert a perfect run in this M6 into victory in the Spa 1000 km against the Matra, Ferrari and Alfa Romeo Works teams. Increased backing from Gulf resulted in the rebadging of the upgraded 1974 cars to GR7. Although continuously improved, the Mirages were still far from bullet-proof. A fourth at Le Mans was a rare highlight that year.
For 1975 the mission was clear; a victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. After Matra's withdrawal, the competition was not quite as strong, so opportunity loomed. Wyer's men built two brand new GR8 chassis, which featured much smoother bodywork specifically for the high-speed Le Mans track. More importantly, the Cosworth engine was retuned to produce just 375 bhp compared to the 445 bhp that was on tap in the earlier seasons. It paid off as the cars finished first and third, scoring the fourth win at Le Mans for John Wyer.
Although Aston Martin Racing had a good run last year, no Gulf backed machines have been able to match the success of the Mirages since.
  2010-01-25: Retromobile 2010 report and slideshow ...
2010 Retromobile Report and Slideshow Last Friday the 35th annual Retromobile show in Paris opened its doors to a very eager public. As always the traditional season opener provided a great mix of car and motorcycle displays and automobilia stands to cater to all enthusiasts' needs. By keeping the available floor space relatively small, the show ensures that quality prevails over sheer quantity. This makes it one of the most visitor friendly shows of its kind in the world.
One of the main events of the 2010 edition of Retromobile was the Bonhams auction of 'Automobiles d'Exception' held on Saturday. The sale featured several complete collections, headlined by 'The Andalusian Collection,' which consisted of a whopping 28 cars. The absolute star of the sale was a Bugatti Type 22 Brescia that was recovered from a lakebed last year. The 73 years of submersion left their mark on the Bugatti but it nevertheless sold for a startling €260,500. The best news is that it will remain as is and will be displayed for all to see in a Californian museum.
There were many more spectacular machines on display in the remaining space of Hall 7C of the vast 'Porte de Versailles' exhibition centre. Mercedes-Benz showed their latest SLS AMG model alongside two classic 'Gullwings' to demonstrate roots of their new sports car. Peugeot celebrated its bicentenary, the Alfa Romeo Club marked 100 years of Alfa Romeo and Citroen looked back at 40 years of the GS and SM. Newcomer Mazda showcased an array of their most exciting cars built during the last decades. The best stands are usually created by the dealers and this year was certainly no exception. The likes of Lukas Huni and Hall & Hall again had some exquisite machinery on their vast displays.
For the eighth year running we travelled to Paris to capture the Retromobile show in its entirety. We made sure to get in as early as possible to get clean shots of all the beautiful displays. This has resulted in a detailed report and an exclusive 150-shot gallery.
2010-01-21: Ford GT90 heading for auction, MINI Countryman and new Impreza rally car
Ford GT90 Concept While on this side of the Atlantic all eyes will be on the Retromobile show this weekend, Scottsdale, Arizona will be the American automotive capital. During auctions from Gooding, Barrett Jackson and RM Auctions a large number of highly impressive machines will be offered. One of our favourites is the one-off Ford GT90 Concept that will cross RM's block tomorrow evening. Fifteen years after it was introduced at the NAIAS in Detroit, this is the first time the GT90 will be available to the general public. Heralded as a fabulous styling statement, it has plenty of punch to back up its groundbreaking design. By merging two V8 engines and four turbos, the Ford engineers created a ground shaking V12 engine that produced a staggering 720 bhp. The 'Edge' styling philosophy first seen on the GT90 went on to serve as the basis for many of Ford's road produced during the last decade and a half. Maintained to the highest standards by Ford, the GT90 would be a worthy addition to any collection. RM have not listed an estimate but it would greatly surprise us if it does not break into the 7-figures.
We will be at Retromobile and a full report of this fabulous show will be published on Monday.
Yesterday MINI released the first details of the new Countryman model. The small SUV is the third addition to the line-up and the first one with four doors. It will be powered by the same engines as the other MINIs and a four wheel drive system is optional. The most striking features are the large headlights that were first seen on the Beachcomber Concept shown earlier this month in Detroit.
Although Subaru and Prodrive are no longer active in the World Rally Championship (WRC), the two companies are still working together. Their most recent product is the Impreza N2010. Built to the revised Group N specifications, it is ready to take on the ever growing competition from the S2000 rally cars. The biggest change is a bigger restrictor opening, which has lifted the power by 20 bhp.
  2010-01-19: Glorious Alfa Romeo and Bugatti Cabriolets ...
Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Castagna Cabriolet With Winter holding the Northern Hemisphere in its grasp, we felt it was time to look at two glorious Cabriolets from the early 1930s. First up is a late model Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 bodied by Italian coach-builder Castagna. Originally developed as a racing car, the 8C 2300 was victorious in Grands Prix, road races and for four consecutive years at Le Mans. Alfa Romeo would also happily supply the thoroughbred chassis for coach-builders to fit with luxurious bodies, creating one of the first supercars. The featured example was delivered new to a young Italian heir to a sizable fortune. During the early 1940s it was shipped to the United States and acquired by Haig Ksayian. Like us he had a soft spot for 8C 2300s as he acquired a Zagato Spider some years later. For a considerable time he used the engine out of the Castagna Cabriolet to keep the Zagato bodied example on the road. After nearly half a century of ownership, the two 8C 2300s were sold. Reunited with its original engine, the Castagna Cabriolet was entrusted to master restorer Paul Russell. At the 2008 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance the fabulous 8C 2300 made its post-restoration debut where it was promptly awarded 'Best in Class'. A year later, it sold at a Gooding auction for a startling $4 million.
Of all great cars he built, Ettore Bugatti ranked the Type 46 as his favourite. As the nick-name 'Petite Royale' suggests, it was a smaller version of the massive, and unmarketable Type 41 Royale. With over 400 examples built, the Type 46 actually was quite successful. For reasons unknown only very few of these five-litre engined luxury machines have survived. The rarest of all is the Type 46S model, which featured a supercharged version of the eight cylinder engine. It is believed that this Reinboldt & Christie Cabriolet is the only open Type 46S in existence today. It was originally sold to Switzerland where it was fitted with its elegant coach-work. The big Bugatti was added to the current owner's collection in the 1980s. He spent the next 14 years carefully restoring the Type 46S. We were treated to the finished article at last year's Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance.
2010-01-18: All new Honda HSV-010 GT SuperGT racer officially launched ...
Honda HSV-010 GT One of the world's closely fought and advanced sports car championships is Japan's SuperGT series. It features production based machines from Toyota, Nissan and Honda, all piloted by hugely talented drivers. The term 'production based' can be used loosely here as the cars in the 'GT500' class only use the centre section of the production cars they are based on. For the rest of the car sophisticated, purpose-built structures are used, resulting in the fastest GT-machines raced today.
For many years Honda used the NSX as their weapon of choice in the SuperGT championship. Through continuous improvements the aging machine managed to remain competitive until the end of last year. With no replacement for the discontinued road car readily available, Honda was forced to be creative while developing the successor for the NSX in the SuperGT. The resulting HSV-010 GT is actually derived from the stillborn sports car that was going to fill the NSX's shoes. It was axed in December of 2008 as part of Honda's drastic change of philosophy. At the time the road car's development had been well under way, enough for the SuperGT's governing body to allow Honda to base their new racer on it.
Late last year the first images of the HSV-010 (HSV is short for Honda Sports Velocity) surfaced and now Honda have released a full set of pictures and the first technical details. Although still unpainted, the V8 engined racer looks very attractive. With some imagination we can decipher how the road car would have looked and we can't help but hope that Honda will come to its senses. Complementing the 12 shots supplied by Honda, we have taken a closer look at the roots and technical merits of the HSV-010 GT.
  2010-01-14: Updated Nissan GT-R GT1 and the latest news from the Autosport show ...
Nissan Nismo GT-R GT1 On April 3rd at the brand new Yas Marina circuit in the United Arab Emirates the inaugural FIA GT1 World Championship will kick off. Ten tracks around the world will be visited in this first year and 24 cars from 6 manufacturers are expected to take part. One of them is the Nissan Nismo GT-R GT1 of which the first images were released today. That's no coincidence as the deadline for entering the championship is tomorrow. The 2010 spec GT-R is a development from the car that was raced four times last year by the Gigawave team. We saw that car in action during the season's finale at Zolder and have taken this opportunity to create a 18-shot gallery with all details of the 2009 machine.
This weekend the Autosport International show in Birmingham, England is the epicentre of the racing world. Numerous new cars and deals are announced. Lotus revealed the Evora Cup, which is intended for the one make cup as well as the GT4 class. It is powered by a four litre version of the Toyota V6 engine that produces 400 bhp. The racing Evora is also considerably lighter than the road car. Porsche are also present to showcase the new 997 GT3 R. Based on the Cup car, it is the German company's latest weapon in the highly competitive GT3 class.
Last month we already reported on Chevron's spiritual successor to the legendary B8. Now the British company have released more renderings of the GR8. At the Autosport show, a rolling chassis is on display. We also received a rendering of the latest Lola LMP1 car. Dubbed the B10/60, it is a further development of the existing coupe design mainly to comply with the revised regulations for 2010.
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2010-01-13: NAIAS round-up, new Subaru engined sports car and two historic racers heading for auction ...
Honda CR-Z One of the last cars introduced at this year's North American International Auto Show was the Honda CR-Z. First seen over two years ago in Tokyo as the CR-Z Concept, the styling of the new two-door coupe is clearly inspired by the CRX of the 1980s. Whereas the CRX of old used a powerful VTEC engine, the new CR-Z uses an altogether greener hybrid drivetrain. The 'IMA' system uses a 1.5 litre four cylinder and an electric motor that produce a combined 122 bhp. Although the mileage and emission figures are very impressive we can't help but hope that Honda will expand the CR-Z range with a more powerful engine. At the second day of the show, General Motors revealed most of their new cars. These included the Cadillac XTS Platinum Concept. This luxury sedan also uses a hybrid power-train but this one is good for a more appealing 350 bhp. The production version of the XTS is not expected to differ much from the Concept launched at Detroit. Saleen launched a new iPhone application and a website at Detroit and showed two Mustang variants that were already launched last year. We had missed the Saleen S281 when it debuted at SEMA. Powered by a 485 bhp supercharged V8, it is the most powerful Saleen available this year.
One of the new cars on display at this weekend's Autosport Show is the SDR WR3 V-Storm. This minimalistic track car is similar to the Ariel Atom but has a unique three-seater layout. The latest version is powered by a Subaru engine that produces 285 bhp stock. The V-Storm is available as a kit or a fully built car. British Auctioneer Coys will host an auction during the Autosport Show with an interesting array of racing cars. Our favourite is the ultra-low Piper GTR. Built for the 1969 24 Hours of Le Mans, it was not allowed to start because only one driver had completed enough laps during practice. This very rare machine was fully restored and has been raced in various historic events and it is ready to take part in this summer's Le Mans Classic.
Another fabulous car to come to auction this month is the Talbot Darracq Grand Prix. Three of these racing cars were built for the 1925 season but they struggled against the similar Delage 15 S8s. They were raced and modified extensively for another twenty years. Remarkably at least two have survived and one of these exquisite Grand Prix racers will be offered by Bonhams at Retromobile on January 23rd. Our article includes both known survivors.
  2010-01-11: North American International Auto Show day one round-up ...
Audi e-tron Concept This morning the North American International Auto Show opened its doors to 5,000 journalists from around the world. Many of the new cars revealed today were already previewed in the past days and weeks but as always there were some surprises.
Audi showcased a second e-tron Concept. Unlike the name may suggest, it is not just a refurbished version of the concept of the same name launched at Frankfurt in the fall of last year. The car does feature a similar electric drivetrain that produces a staggering 2650 Nm of torque. The styling has been heavily revised, giving the e-tron a much compacter appearance. Interesting cues include the new tail-lights that have some hints of Aston Martin. Sister company Volkswagen took the wraps of the Compact Coupe Concept. It will most likely enter production as the Jetta Coupe in the near future.
Various manufacturers launched relatively small concept cars. GMC brought the Granite Concept. The compact four-seater underlines General Motors' new commitment to compact cars. The Michelin Challenge Display features the Nissan Mixim Concept, which combines adventurous design with an electric drivetrain. Among the many styling elements are scissor-doors. The Mixim is only a styling exercise and will not enter production. After releasing some teaser pictures earlier, Toyota have now given full disclosure on the FT-CH Concept. The CH in the name is short for Compact Hybrid. The design was created at Toyota's European styling office.
Amidst the advanced and green machines there fortunately also was room for a good, old-fashioned muscle car; the SMS Camaro 620. Steve Saleen's new company has taken a base V8 Camaro and bolted on a body-kit and a supercharger. The 'standard' version is good for 575 bhp while the V8 in the 620X will produce a staggering 715 bhp.
2010-01-10: News from around the world and an Art-Deco Voisin ...
Peugeot SR1 Concept On the eve of the NAIAS' opening day, news is rapidly trickling from around the world. Surprisingly most of it features cars to be launched at other shows. The most exciting is the Peugeot SR1 Concept, which will be revealed in Geneva. Celebrating the company's 200th anniversary, it marks a new direction in design and technology for the French manufacturer. Gone is the large grille that dominated the noses of recent Peugeots. In its place are far more subtle cues and a new lion badge. The two-door convertible sports a hybrid drivetrain, which will be used in all upcoming Peugeot hybrid road cars. Hopefully the SR1 itself will also be converted in a production car.
Next month, at the Chicago Auto Show, BMW will showcase the latest Alpina B7. Based on the current generation 7-series, it is powered by a twin-turbo V8 that produces a hefty 500 bhp. Included in the exterior package are spectacular 20-spoke, 21" wheels with.
There is also news from Detroit in today's update. Chevrolet's stand will feature the Aveo RS. The sporty hatchback is still described as a 'show car' but we expect it to enter production sooner rather than later. Japanese manufacturer Toyota has released two teaser-pictures of the Hybrid Concept 001 but no further information. If you want to be kept up to date of all NAIAS releases, we suggest you keep an eye on this dedicated page and/or subscribe to our newsletter.
For all of you classic car enthusiasts, we have squeezed a very rare Voisin in this update. Fitted with a glorious Art Deco style body, the C14 'Chartre' Demi-Berline is one of Gabriel Voisin's finest creations. Only two examples are believed to have been built and both are featured in our article. In a fortnight one of them will come to auction during Bonhams' Retromobile sale in Paris.
  2010-01-07: Lee Noble's all new Fenix supercar, the Buick Regal GS and the Nissan Juke ...
Fenix Coupe In the summer of 2009 the Noble M600 was launched, receiving universal praise. The founder and original designer of the company, Lee Noble, had already left Noble a few years earlier. He spent this time well by developing the spiritual successor to the Noble M12. For now it is simply known as the Fenix, no doubt a reference to the spiritual creature that rose from the ashes. When the new supercar will hit the market later in the year, customers will have the choice of two General Motors sourced V8s. The base model will feature the naturally aspirated, 480 bhp LS3 and the top of the range version is equipped with the supercharged LS9 from the Corvette ZR1, which is good for 638 bhp. With a target weight of just 1200 kg, either engine should make the Fenix a fierce rival for the finest British, Italian and German supercars. For now only two teaser images are available of the machine that will be built in South Africa.
At the North American International Auto Show, Buick will reveal the range topping Regal GS. It is powered by a direct-injected and turbocharged four cylinder engine, which pumps out a commendable 255 bhp. That means it is not quite as powerful as the OPC or VXR variants available in Europe of the similar Opel and Vauxhall Insignia. Combined with a six speed manual and all wheel drive, the potent four cylinder should nevertheless provide plenty of driving thrills. The Regal GS is quick enough to accelerate from 0 - 60 mph (96 km/h) in under six seconds.
With its unconventional styling, the Nissan Qazana was one of the best received concepts at Geneva last year. In March it will be followed by the Juke production version. Fitting in the slot between the Note and Qashqai, it will be available throughout Europe in the second half of the year.
2010-01-05: New Cadillac CTS-V Coupe for Detroit and a preview of the new drop-top Mégane ...
Cadillac CTS-V Coupe On Monday the Cobo Center in downtown Detroit will open its doors for the first of two media days of the North American International Auto Show. A lot has changed since the journalists last gathered for the NAIAS. Surprisingly many companies are still left standing, including a reborn General Motors. One of their star attractions at this year's NAIAS will be the all new Cadillac CTS-V Coupe. It features the most powerful engine ever fitted in a production Cadillac, which it shares with the four-door CTS-V launched two years ago. At 573 bhp, the supercharged V8 allows the new two-door model to sprint from 0-60 mph (96 km/h) in under 4 seconds. A modern chassis with all-independent suspension and a choice of a manual or automatic six-speed gearbox should give handling to match the straight-line performance. On a recent Top Gear road test the CTS-V sedan made even James 'Captain Slow' May look quick. The edgy styling of the coupe is similar to that of its bigger brother. Other than the obviously revised rear-end the two CTS-V versions are hard to tell apart. It is a lot easier to distinguish the more aggressive CTS-V from the more civilised, V6-engined base model. Aspiring customers should be able to take delivery of the CTS-V Coupe from the spring.
While we will not be able to attend the show this year, we will do our utmost to keep you posted of all the noteworthy cars that will be revealed in America's motoring capital.
We will of course attend the Geneva Motor Show, set to kick off in about two months. There we will be greeted by the all-new Renault Mégane Coupé-Cabriolet. Today the French manufacturer has released a teaser picture of the drop-top version of the current generation of Méganes. The accompanying press-release talks of fold-away 'glass' roof, which could either be a bad translation or a hint of something special.
  2010-01-04: Monteverdi Hai 450 SS, Shelby Cobra 427 'Flip-Top' and Lister Costin Jaguar heading for auction ...
Monteverdi Hai 450 SS Kicking off the year in style, we today take a look at three glorious machines that are headed for auction later in the month. All three are offered by different auctioneers but they will all cross the block during the weekend of the 22nd.
At the Retromobile show in Paris, Bonhams will kick off the European auction year with a packed sale. Among the numerous lots is a fabulous selection of mostly 1930s cars from the same, Spanish collector. Our eye was however captured by the Monteverdi Hai 450 SS. Built for the 1970 Geneva Motor Show, it is Switzerland's first proper supercar. Combining an advanced chassis and beautiful Italian body with a mid-mounted Hemi engine, it had all the makings of Ferrari and Lamborghini rival. Unfortunately only four cars were built over a twenty year period and only one was ever sold to a customer. It this car that will be offered by Bonhams, presenting a unique opportunity to acquire the very striking Hai. A few years ago we already ran into the Geneva show car at Pebble Beach and were hugely impressed by the beautiful lines and compact shape. It can be yours for around €400,000 - 500,000.
RM Auctions will also offer a very unique machine during their Scottsdale Auction (Jan 21-22); the AC Shelby Cobra 427 'Flip-Top'. Built for Shelby by Ken Miles, it has a one-off body shell with single-piece front and rear clam-shells. It was also the first Cobra roadster to be fitted with the ferocious 427 Ford engine. In recent years the car was fully restored and the big-block V8 reputedly produced in excess of 600 bhp on the dyno. After racing the car in the major historic events for some years, the owner has now decided to sell his 'Flip-Top' Cobra.
Joining RM at Scottsdale is Gooding for their annual sale in Arizona. They will also offer a car that will be well known to those familiar with the American historic racing scene. This is the ex-Briggs Cunningham Lister Costin Jaguar that was placed second on the grid for the 1959 Sebring 12 Hours by Ivor Bueb and Stirling Moss. It was later used by Walt Hansgen to win the C-Modified of the SCCA Championship. A regular competitor at the Monterey Historics, this Lister is ready to race.
Rounding off we would like to wish you, our many readers, a happy and prosperous new year. With bi-annual events like the Monaco Historic Grand Prix and the Le Mans Classic on the calendar, it will be a very busy and exciting year for us.