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2010-11-30: 2010 Essen Motor Show, Lancia Stratos reborn and a new Ginetta ...
2010 Essen Motor Show report and gallery This weekend the annual Essen Motor Show opened its doors for the public. We explored the vast 'Messe Essen' a day early in search for the latest news and the classiest tuning accessories. The former was a bit of a struggle but we did spot the latest models from the likes of Techart, Brabus, AC Schnitzer and Heico Sportiv. For those of us more inclined to the classic car, the Essen Motor Show offered a complete hall, which featured a display honouring Alfa Romeo's centenary and a spectacular Mercedes-Benz 500K. Visitors were also treated to an eclectic selection of concept cars and live action from a variety of racing cars. The Motor Show still runs until Sunday December 5th. Our efforts have been compiled in a brief report, illustrated by a 110-shot gallery.
At the Paul Ricard / Le Castellet track in the South of France, Pininfarina officially revealed the much publicised New Stratos. This one-off machine was built by the Italian company on a Ferrari 430 Scuderia chassis for German Stratos enthusiast Michael Stoschek. Pininfarina managed to capture the lines of rival Bertone remarkably well and despite the modern running gear the car looks almost like an exact copy even when lined up next to an original. It should also be very quick as it is considerably lighter than its donor car. The Lancia New Stratos is another great example of the recent renaissance of custom coach-building.
British sports car manufacturer Ginetta have just released the first details of the G55, which will be officially launched at the Autsport International in January. Based on the popular G50, it sports a larger and more powerful version of the Ford V6 engine. In its new guise, it is now good for 370 bhp. The Ginetta G55 will be eligible for GT4 events and the Ginetta GT Supercup.
  2010-11-28: New GT4 racers from Aston Martin and Audi ...
Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT4 Now that the 2010 racing season is drawing to a close, new cars for the upcoming year are being introduced. Today we take a look at two of these, which will go head to head in the near production GT4 class. The first is the Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT4. It is an evolution of the previous GT4 car, of which over 80 were sold in just two years. Mechanically little has changed with the exception of a remapped engine and the optional, Bosch supplied traction-control and ABS systems. The aerodynamics have benefitted from the V12 Vantage with a larger splitter and a taller 'flip' on the rear deck. Additional downforce is created by the new carbon fibre rear diffuser. Like its predecessor, the new V8 Vantage GT4 will be eligible for a large variety of international championships and races. There will also again be a specific V8 Vantage GT4 Challenge in the United Kingdom.
One of the Aston's new opponents will be the Audi TT GT4, which is the second customer racing car offered through Audi's recently launched 'kundenmotorsport' program. It is based on the TT RS and also features the road car's 2.5 litre turbocharged engine. Specific for the racing car are a gearbox with a differential lock and fully adjustable dampers. The car can be easily distinguished from its road going equivalent by the wider wheel arches and the vents in the front wings. Although not quite ready for production, the first TT GT4 was demonstrated this weekend by multiple Le Mans winner Frank Biela at the DTM finale on the Chinese Shanghai track.
2010-11-24: Two prototypes that paved the way for the legendary GT40 and Cobra ...
Ford GT Roadster Before the Ford GT40 and its derivatives won the 24 Hours of Le Mans four years running (1966 - 1969), the program had a difficult gestation process. During the 1964 and 1965 seasons, the American manufacturer raced and tested a series of prototypes that explored various possible design options. The least known of these are the four GT Roadsters. They were built mainly to figure out why Ferrari continued to race open cars when Coupes were the obvious choice. Ford failed to find the answer and only very rarely raced the cars. They did prove very useful as test-beds and as such helped find the definitive specification of the GT40 production car.
In recent years we have come across two of the surviving cars. The first is GT/108, which was never raced but instead used for tests with the ZF gearbox that would replace the troublesome Colotti gearbox fitted to the other prototypes. It is believed to be the most original of all GT prototypes that still exist today. The other is GT/111, which was entered in the 1965 Le Mans Trials and crashed out of the Targa Florio later that year. It has since spent many years at a scrapyard before being fully restored to its original configuration. We have captured both cars in great detail as can be seen in our 24-shot gallery.
Joining GT/108 on display at this year's Quail, a Motorsports Gathering was the very first AC Shelby Cobra. Chassis CSX2000 was built late in 1961 and served both as the development and show car for the Cobra project. It was the subject of the all-important FIA homologation inspection and was also shown at the Cobra's 1962 New York Auto Show debut. Today the very important machine is still owned by Carroll Shelby and he is rumoured to have regularly refused offers of well into the seven figures. Despite the heavy use early in its life, CSX2000 is still very original down to the wheels and tyres.
  2010-11-22: Very hot Audi RS 3 Sportback revealed ...
Audi RS 3 Sportback Audi has today announced the addition of another model to their high-performance 'RS' line-up. This is the highly anticipated RS 3 Sportback. The German engineers have managed to squeeze the 2.5 litre five cylinder engine from the TT RS into the nose of the five-door hatchback. This hugely sophisticated unit is fitted with a turbocharger and direct injection, and produces a hefty 340 bhp. It nevertheless only weighs 183 kg (403 lbs). The lightweight and very compact engine was recently named the 'International Engine of the Year'. All of the 340 horses are of course transferred to all four wheels by Audi's 'quattro' four wheel drive system. This is connected to the engine by a seven-speed, dual-clutch gearbox. Compared to the standard A3, the new RS 3 features wider front and rear suspension to ensure its cornering characteristics match its straight-line performance. Large, ventilated disc brakes provide the car with plenty of stopping power as well.
Built in Hungary, the RS 3 Sportback will hit showrooms early in 2011. In Germany the very hot hatchback will be available for 49,500 Euro.
2010-11-19: LA round-up with a new Lamborghini, BMW, Mercedes and more ...
Lamborghini Gallardo LP570-4 Spyder Performante During the past two days the all automotive eyes were on the Los Angeles Convention Center where the annual Auto Show was kicked off with two media days. Earlier this week we already posted several previews and we would now like to round-up our coverage of the show with the final batch of new cars launched.
Lamborghini continued their seemingly never-ending flow of variations on the Gallardo with the introduction of the LP570-4 Spyder Performante. Basically it is drop-top version of the Superleggera launched in Geneva, although some of the luxuries were retained. It is nevertheless 65 kg (143 lbs) lighter than the current LP560-4 Spyder. BMW also revealed a new drop top; the 650i Convertible. At the market launch two petrol engines will be available with the 4.4 litre twin-turbo V8 as the most potent at 407 bhp. The upcoming M6 is expected to feature a more powerful version of the same engine. A twin-turbo V8 is also found in the nose of the Mercedes-Benz CLS 63 AMG. This German V8 is good for a hefty 557 bhp. Another Mercedes on display was this very funky BIOME Concept, which was the winning entry in Mercedes' Los Angeles Design Challenge.
Nissan and Subaru used the LA Auto Show to show their future design and engineering directions. The former revealed the Ellure Concept, which features a new hybrid drivetrain complete with a supercharged engine. Subaru looks set to make a drastic departure from their current design theme, judging from the Impreza Design Concept. The preview of the upcoming Impreza is powered by a naturally aspirated four cylinder boxer engine and is also equipped with a Continuous Variable Transmission (CVT).
  2010-11-17: LA Auto Show: Cayman R, Camaro Convertible and Cadillac Concept ...
Porsche Cayman R Moving the Los Angeles International Auto Show to November and away from the NAIAS dates, helped increase its importance. This year many of the major manufacturers have come to the Californian city to reveal their latest production and concept cars.
Porsche is on hand to celebrate the 60th anniversary of their arrival on the American market. They do so in style by unveiling the Cayman R; a hardcore version of the popular mid-engined coupe. The German company's engineers have squeezed another 10 hp from the 3.4 litre engine and have also managed to shave 55 kg (121 lbs) off the car's kerb weight. This was achieved by removing luxuries like air-conditioning and replacing the standard seats with featherlight carbon fibre examples. Additionally the suspension was tweaked and lowered to further improve the car's handling. Interestingly the Cayman R also has a slightly smaller fuel tank.
Chevrolet understandably used the LA Show to finally take the wraps of the Camaro Convertible. This completes the line-up of the manufacturer's popular Mustang challenger. The drop-top Camaro can be ordered with the same choice of V6 and V8 engines, and trim levels. Much work has gone into strengthening the body and Chevrolet claim the Camaro Convertible is stiffer than its rivals.
Star of the Cadillac stand will be this Urban Luxury Concept. The name really says it all; the show car is a compact machine for the city that nevertheless incorporates the style and quality of the Cadillacs currently available. It is powered by a hybrid drivetrain that features a small three cylinder engine employing 'electric assist technology'. For good measure the Urban Luxury Concept is also fitted with 'scissor doors'.
2010-11-16: Drivetrain details of Murcielago replacement and LA Auto Show preview ...
Lamborghini Aventador Earlier this year the 4099th and final Murcielago rolled off the production line. A replacement is not due to be officially launched until early next year but Lamborghini has already released detailed information on the engine and gearbox to be used on the car that is believed to be dubbed the Aventador. Like its predecessor, it will be powered by a 6.5 litre V12 engine but for the first time since the 1960s, the Lamborghini engineers started off with a clean sheet. The new power unit will produce 700 bhp and nevertheless only weighs 235 kg (518 lbs). That power will be transferred to all four wheels through a revolutionary semi-automatic 'ISR' gearbox that features two shafts. This makes it even quicker and considerably lighter than a comparable 'DSG' gearbox. We understand that Aventador is currently being shown to customers at various locations around the world. The Geneva Motor Show seems like the most logical venue for the new Lambo's debut.
First up though is the Los Angeles Auto Show, which will open its doors to the media on Wednesday. One of the big stars will be a new mid-engined Porsche that will celebrate the 60th anniversary of the German company's presence in the United States. As soon as more information will come available, we will let you know. In the mean time we have added three other cars that will make their debut in LA. Land Rover will bring the Evoque 5-Door. The range topping version will use a sophisticated 2-litre turbo engine, which produces a hefty 240 bhp. Breaking new ground, Nissan will showcase the Murano CrossCabriolet. This is the first Convertible SUV, complete with a fabric roof. Toyota and Tesla will bear the first fruit of their cooperation with the RAV4 EV Concept, which features an all-electric drivetrain.
  2010-11-15: World Championship winning Red Bull RB6 Renault ...
Red Bull Racing RB6 Renault Yesterday the closest Formula 1 World Championship in history had its finale. After 18 rounds with numerous championship leaders, four drivers were still in contention. Ferrari's Fernando Alonso and Red Bull Racing's Mark Webber had the best papers going into the Abu Dhabi race. After a surprising and eventful race, it was Webber's team-mate Sebastian Vettel who came out on top. Leading the championship for the first time in his career, Vettel has become the youngest ever World Champion. Crucial for his success was the Adrian Newey designed Red Bull Racing RB6 Renault. It was easily the quickest car throughout the year and the team should have perhaps sealed up both championships much earlier. Uniquely Red Bull Racing is the third manufacturer, Newey has designed a championship winning car for. He burst onto the scene with the hugely influential Leyton House CG901 Judd and later had very successful spells with Williams and McLaren. His latest creation was on pole in a record-matching 15 races and took an impressive nine Grand Prix victories. In addition to his design prowess, Newey's vast experience was also vital to convert Red Bull Racing from the paddock's 'party team' to a serious championship contender.
To celebrate Red Bull Racing's, Sebastian Vettel's and Adrian Newey's championships, we have today taken a closer look at the RB6. The detailed description of the car and its season of ups and downs is illustrated with a 30-shot gallery with pictures from each race won by the RB6.
2010-11-12: Pinin Farina's Lancia based jet extravaganza ...
Lancia Aurelia B52 PF200 Cabriolet During the 1950s automotive designers the world over found inspiration in the recently introduced jet planes. In no subtle way, cars were fitted with massive air-intakes, bullet-shaped chrome trim and fins on the tail. Even Italy's most understated of coach-builders, Pinin Farina, jumped on the jet bandwagon. Uncharacteristically, this resulted in one of the most extravagant designs of the period. The design was known as the 'PF200' and was used for a handful of Lancias and a Cadillac. Very little has been written about these cars, perhaps for obvious reasons but we could not resist after seeing a beautifully restored example earlier in the year at Villa d'Este. This was the second of three Lancia Aurelia B52 PF200 Cabriolets built for show purposes between 1952 and 1955. Some of the really rough edges of the original had been smoothed out for this 'PF200' but it is still one of Pininfarina's most extravagant cars. It was acquired by the current owner in 2005 and he subsequently handed it to Pininfarina for a full restoration to its original condition. The finished result is quite spectacular and resulted in an award for the best interior.
In addition to the three open cars, Pinin Farina also constructed three Coupes. Each sported some very distinct features. This example was the first Pinin Farina design to feature a flat rear deck with raised sides. The design house used this cue into the 1990s on, for example, many of Ferrari's mid-engined sports cars. The car has had only one owner from new and was brought out in 2005 to celebrate Pininfarina's 75th anniversary at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance.
  2010-11-10: New Gillet Vertigo and niche models from Mercedes and Chevrolet ...
Gillet Vertigo .5 Spirit One of today's most unique cars is the Gillet Vertigo produced in small numbers in Belgium. It features a bespoke carbon fibre tub and immediately recognisable styling. This week Tony Gillet run company have released their latest machine; the Vertigo .5 Spirit. Its styling is almost identical to the outgoing Vertigo .5 that was first introduced at the February 2008 Brussels Auto Show. The major changes are found under the long engine covers; the familiar Alfa Romeo V6 has been replaced by a 420 bhp Maserati V8. Despite featuring a larger engine, the Belgian engineers have managed to keep the weight of the Vertigo .5 Spirit below 1000 kg (2200 lbs). The very potent machine will not be cheap but you will likely never run into a second one in the wild.
Earlier in the year Mercedes-Benz showed the Shooting Break Concept. The German manufacturer has now revealed that it not only provided a preview of the latest CLS but also of a brand new model. Dubbed the CLS Shooting Brake, it may be the pioneer of yet another 'new' niche market. What caught our eye was the change in spelling from Shooting Break to Shooting Brake for the production model.
This morning we received word from South Africa about a locally produced model that deserves your attention. Known as the Chevrolet SuperUte, it is a carefully tweaked version of the 'Ute' that is also available as a Holden in Australia and was sold as a Pontiac in the United States. Performed by LupiniPower, the modifications include a supercharger kit for the engine, which lifts the power to a hefty 535 bhp.
2010-11-08: Nissan's efforts in Group C racing and upcoming Subaru concept ...
Nissan R88C Like all its major Japanese rivals, Nissan had a go at Group C racing in the 1980s and early 1990s. Arriving relatively late on the scene, the company first fielded a Group C car under their own name in 1986. This R86V was in fact a March design with a Nissan engine. During the following seasons, the car evolved into the R87E and ultimately the R88C. These six and later eight cylinder engined cars failed to live up to their potential mainly due to Nissan's poorly managed racing efforts. At Le Mans, earlier this year, we captured the final March built Nissan in action during the Group C support race. As far as we know this is the only R88C currently in private hands.
For 1989, Nissan turned to Lola, who created a brand new carbon-fibre monocoque chassis. Despite also being fitted with a larger engine, the R89C again failed to impress. Nissan finally got things sorted with the R90CK campaigned in 1990. Partly due to a stuck waste-gate, which raised the power to a staggering 1100 bhp, one of the Nissans captured pole position at Le Mans. Sadly reliability still wasn't there and after a good showing early in the race the cars retired one by one. The sole surviving example did manage to clinch a commendable fifth place finish. This year's Le Mans support race also featured a R90CK and we also shot a sister car two years ago at Le Mans and Goodwood.
Over the weekend Subaru released a teaser of the Concept that will be launched later in the month at the L.A. Auto Show. It is hard to tell but we believe it is a compact sedan and may be a preview of the Impreza or Legacy replacement.
  2010-11-04: New Morgan Threewheeler and SEMA Show round-up ...
Morgan Threewheeler Already known for their retro-styled machinery, Morgan now looks set to revive one of their iconic models; the three-wheeler, which was originally in production from 1909 to 1953. The British manufacturer released four renderings and the preliminary specification of the new model that is simply known as the Threewheeler. It will be powered by a Harley Davidson sourced V-Twin engine, which produces 100 bhp. That is enough to propel the simple and very light machine to 60 mph (96 km/h) in just 4.5 seconds. Like the original examples, the Threewheeler is considered a motorcycle complete with the associated tax benefits.
Today we also conclude our SEMA coverage with a look at a selection of very hot hatches. Honda's competition arm, HPD, has worked its magic on the recently introduced CR-Z. The result is the CR-Z Racer, which will be entered in the Thunderhill 25 Hours race in December. The most interesting tweak is the addition of a turbochargers, which brings the performance of the hybrid drivetrain up to 200 bhp. On the Honda booth, the stripped out racer was joined by the virtually identical street legal CR-Z Hybrid R.
Following their compatriot's example, Toyota and Mazda also showcased competition versions of their small hatches. Toyota's offering is the Yaris GT-S Club Racer, which comes complete with a classic livery inspired by the all-conquering Toyota-Eagles of the 1980s and early 1990s. Mazda showcased the stripped out and tuned 2 Evil Track.
2010-11-02: Four highlights from the 2010 SEMA Show ...
Chevrolet Corvette Z06X Las Vegas is once again the host of the Speciality Equipment Market Assocation (SEMA) Show this weekend. This trade only show traditionally attracts a wide and wild variety of custom machinery. In recent years the major manufacturers have also had a strong presence with cars modified in-house and also by third parties. From the large number of cars on display until Friday, we cherry-picked four highlights to feature today.
General Motors have taken two of their high performance models to create track car specials. The most potent is the Corvette Z06X Track Car Concept. As the name suggests, the car is based on the Z06 and it is developed together with Corvette's racing partners Pratt & Miller. A lot of effort has gone into lightening the car, by using carbon fibre bits. Another major change is adaption of the coil spring struts instead of the familiar leaf springs. Pratt & Miller were also part of the team that created the Camaro SSX Track Car Concept. Also involved was Riley Technologies, who are also responsible for the Grand-Am Camaros. Just like the Z06X, the SSX is considerably lighter than its production equivalent due to the use of composites. The LS3 engine has also been tweaked and features a dry-sump lubrication system.
Star of the Dodge booth will no doubt be the Challenger SRT8 392, which will enter mass production shortly after the show. It features a newly developed HEMI engine that has received the historical 392 tag. The increased displacement has resulted in a power output of 470 bhp as well as 670 Nm (470 ft lbs) of torque. The first 1,492 examples off the line will be equipped with the 'Inaugural Edition' package, which features many unique cues.
Japanase manufacturer Lexus will show a wide variety of vehicles including this Lexus CT 200h F Sport Concept. The hybrid machine features bigger wheels and arches, which do not really add to the 'greenness' of the car.