2012-06-27: Goodwood FoS 2012: Jaguar XJR-12 in full detail and very hot MX-5 ...
At the upcoming Goodwood Festival of Speed, one of the main themes will be the 30th anniversary of the legendary Group C class, while last year Jaguar was the featured marque. Combining these two celebrations, we have today taken a very close look at the Jaguar XJR-12. This was the ultimate version of the V12-powered sports racers developed for Jaguar by TWR in the late 1980s. While the team campaigned the latest V6 turbo engined machine in sprint races, the XJR-12 was built specifically for the endurance rounds on the calendar. With victories in the 1990 editions of the Daytona 24 Hours and 24 Hours of Le Mans, this proved to be a highly successful strategy. Featured in our 42-shot gallery are five different examples, including the Le Mans winning chassis. They are pictured at various venues including Le Mans and of course also at Goodwood. This year we once again expect at least one of these successful Group C racers to star.
A Jaguar set to make its world debut on the famous Goodwood hill-climb is the F-Type although only in development prototype form. Goodwood is also a special venue for McLaren, for various reasons, and this weekend the 'enhanced' MP4-12C will make its debut in the hands of Jenson Button, while his hero Alain Prost is set to make his Festival of Speed debut behind the wheel of one of 'his' old McLaren Formula 1 racers. One of the highlights of the 'First Glance' class is due to be the Mazda MX-5 GT Concept. Inspired by the GT4-specification competition variant, this road going machine is equipped with a 205 bhp engine and sharper suspension.
If you want to make it out to Goodwood, you have to act quickly as only tickets for Sunday are still available on the Goodwood website. For those of you unable to attend in person, our full report due early next week will provide a front-row seat.
2012-06-25: Goodwood FoS 2012: George Daniels collection offered by Bonhams ...
On Thursday this year's edition of the Goodwood Festival of Speed will kick off with The Moving Motorshow, followed by the main event on Friday. A set fixture of the 'FoS' is the Bonhams auction that traditionally takes place on Friday afternoon. Having consigned many highly impressive machines, it promises to be one of the major sales of the year. Headlining the auction is the collection of the late George Daniels. Over the past decades the 'Master Watchmaker' had brought together a formidable collection, with the unique Bentley 4.5 'Blower' Birkin Monoposto as the centrepiece. This car started life as the very first Blower Bentley and was first raced at Le Mans and later more famously at Brooklands with the single seater body that is still on the car today. Spiritual father of the 'Blower', Tim Birkin ultimately managed to lap the 'Surrey Speedbowl' at a staggering 137.58 mph. Still in very original condition, 'Blower No. 1' has been raced extensively throughout its life. We captured the car at various events including the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance and numerous times at Goodwood as can be seen in our 18-shot gallery. The unique machine looks set to become one of the most expensive cars to cross the block this year.
Another Brooklands veteran from the Daniels collection is this Itala 100hp Grand Prix. As the name suggests, it was originally conceived for the French Grand Prix but the big four-cylinder engined machine proved more successful at the high-speed 'oval'. Following its racing career, it was registered for the road and slightly modified to offer the participants some protection from the elements. Even though the car is a thoroughbred racer, Daniels used the Itala on the road regularly, including the odd cross-continent travels.
Although Tim Birkin was best known for his Bentley ventures, he was also successful in Italian cars, highlighted by a Le Mans victory in 1931. A year later he participated in the great race in this Alfa Romeo 8C 2300, which is another star from the Daniels Collection. Following its competition career, the long wheelbase chassis was re-bodied by Pinin Farina with a road-car body. During the 1990s, Daniels had the car restored to its original configuration while retaining the Pinin Farina body.
As always, we will venture out to the Goodwood Estate to capture the Festival of Speed in its entirety. However, nothing beats attending in person and we understand a few tickets remain for Thursday, Friday and Sunday. These are not sold at the door and can only be ordered on the Goodwood website.
2012-06-22: Michelotti designed marvels from Moretti and Ferrari ...
Giovanni Michelotti was one of the prolific designers of the 1950s and 1960s. He worked freelance for various carrozzerie and manufacturers. Showcasing his broad talent were two very different designs on display at the recent Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este. Our favourite was this diminutive Moretti 750 Grand Sport, which despite its small dimensions boasts almost perfect proportions. Unlike almost all other cars of this type, Morettis were not based on Fiat-mechanicals but was completely designed and constructed in-house. The small coupe featured a competition derived four-cylinder engine and was in period already referred to as a 'baby Ferrari'. Like most of the two dozen examples built, the featured example was sold to the United States. In recent years it finally returned to Europe, where it is now part of a great collection of the 'etceterinis'.
One of Michelotti's most loyal employers was Vignale, for whom he effectively was the chief designer. In the early 1950s, this carrozzeria was Ferrari's coach-builder of choice. This changed in 1953 when Pinin Farina's more understated designs quickly gained popularity. One of the last Ferrari road cars clothed by Vignale was this 250 Europa. Shown at the 1953 Paris Auto Salon, it was sold new to the United States. It had a tumultuous history and eventually ended up in derelict condition in the hands of the current owner. He personally restored the car between 2009 and 2012. As can be seen in our 12-shot gallery, the result is absolutely spectacular.
2012-06-20: All-new Aston Martin Vanquish, Continental GT Speed and more news ...
Following the first glimpse offered by the Project AM 310 shown at Villa d'Este, Aston Martin have now released full details of the all-new Vanquish. Replacing the DBS as the range-topping model, the new Vanquish features a second generation of the bonded aluminium 'VH' chassis, which includes more composite components. The engine is still the tried and trusted V12, which in its latest guise produces 565 bhp. The first Vanquish is expected to be delivered towards the end of the year.
At the upcoming Goodwood Festival of Speed, Bentley will reveal its fastest production model yet; the Continental GT Speed. It boasts a tweaked version of the W12 engine, which is good for 616 bhp and 800 Nm of torque. It will be driven up the hill by the likes of Juha Kankunnen and Derek Bell.
While in the process of scoring the first Le Mans victory with a hybrid car, Audi revealed the first diesel engined 'S' model. Dubbed the SQ5 TDI, it is based on the Q5 crossover. Power comes from a V6 with two turbos used in series. The 'BiTDI' engine is good for a hefty 308 bhp and 650 Nm of torque, which is sent to all four wheels through an 8-speed automatic.
Also at Le Mans, Mazda revealed the first diesel engine eligible for the LMP2 class. Known as the 'Skyactiv-D', the new 2.2-litre unit was fitted in a Lola B10 chassis. Considering the British manufacturer's difficult financial situation, it seems more likely that a different chassis will be used when the engine will make its competition debut in 2013. The first time signed up to use the engine is Dempsey Racing, co-owned by actor Patrick Dempsey.
Specifically for the X Games in Los Angeles, Citroen have prepared this DS3 XL. It is based on the current WRC car, with a larger version of the engine, which pumps out 545 bhp and 800 Nm of torque. This allows the all-wheel drive machine to rocket to 100 km/h in just 2.4 seconds. The 'L' in the type name is a reference to World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb, who will campaign the very hot DS3 in the X Games.
2012-06-19: 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans report and gallery ...
History was made at the Circuit de la Sarthe this weekend during the 80th edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. For the first time a hybrid-equipped racing car has won a major endurance race. This was to be expected as both Audi and Toyota fielded these highly advanced machines. The Japanese manufacturer really stepped up the plate and picked up Peugeot's role as Audi's main rival with great verve. In the GTE classes there were close battles between production based machinery from Porsche, Ferrari, Aston Martin and Corvette. Although the warm up before the race was soaking wet, the weather proved no factor in this year's race. Particularly in the opening stages, the 240,000 spectators were treated to an intriguing show but in most classes the result looked set in stone from dawn on Sunday morning.
Our photographers were at the track from start to finish and explored many of the long track's spectacular sections. The result is an action-packed 350-shot gallery, which illustrates a brief report from the entire week's proceedings. Included in the gallery are shots from qualifying, the Group C support race, the driver parade and of course the feature 24-hour race.
2012-06-15: First look at Le Mans with a 130-shot gallery ...
Peace has briefly returned to Le Mans after two days of practice and qualifying sessions. In what was expected to be a close battle, it was ultimately Andre Lotterer in the #1 Audi e-tron quattro, who grabbed pole. His time of 3:23.787 was around two seconds faster than last year's best, set by his team-mate Benoit Treluyer. The quickest of the Toyotas was the #8 car, which was just over a second off pole in third overall. Even more hotly disputed was the LMP2 class where the ADR Delta Oreca 03 eventually came out on top ahead of the Oak's Judd-engined Morgan and the similar Nissan-engined Oreca of the factory backed Signatech team. Mixing it right in with the LMP2 cars was the Nissan DeltaWing, which with a 3:42 went well under the lap delta set by the ACO for the race. In the GTE category there was also little in it with Ferraris, Corvettes and the sole works Aston Martin all in it with a shout. Top honours in the end went to the Luxury Racing Ferrari ahead of the Aston and the first of the Corvettes.
With the grid now set for tomorrow's race, mechanics are hard at work preparing the cars and drivers take the time to talk to the fans and the media. This gives us the opportunity to give you a first glimpse of the action with a spectacular 130-shot gallery of the practice and qualifying sessions. Also included for your viewing pleasure is a set of shots from the Group C practice and qualifying session.
A full report and many more images will follow after the weekend.
2012-06-13: Revolutionary DeltaWing and new Pescarolo ready for Le Mans ...
Following its disastrous Le Mans debut last year, we thought we had seen the last of the Aston Martin AMR-One. Strictly speaking we have but its carbon-fibre monocoque chassis has been used to form the basis for two distinctly different entries into this coming weekend's 24 Hours of Le Mans.
By far the wildest of these is the Nissan DeltaWing, penned by British designed Ben Bowlby. It is entered under the 'Garage 56' experimental banner and will not be classified. Literally unlike anything else on the grid, the DeltaWing has been designed to achieve the same results with half the weight and half the power. The highly unusual arrow shape is the result of a quest to reduce drag to an absolute minimum. The most striking feature is the very narrow nose, which prompted some doubters to question if it could even go through corners. Following many private sessions, the Nissan DeltaWing finally made its public debut at the official Le Mans Test last week, where it proved all critics wrong with a very strong performance. We used the opportunity to capture every angle, resulting in a 12-shot gallery to illustrate our in-depth article on this revolutionary racing car.
Also making its debut during the Test was the 'new' Pescarolo 03 Judd, which bore a much closer resemblance to the Aston Martin it was also based on. Having had a particularly bumpy road to completion, the car was barely ready for the test. This also explained why only the most necessary changes were made compared to the AMR-One. Among the most vital of these modifications was the replacement of the troublesome Aston Martin straight six engine with a Judd supplied V8. Although the Test was far from trouble-free, the new Pescarolo still proved faster than the car was based on. In our detailed article we have taken a closer look at the new Pescarolo and its difficult start.
In the coming days you can expect more features from Le Mans, culminating in an all-encompassing report and gallery after the weekend.
2012-06-11: Custom Lamborghini Countach and Miura SV/J from Villa d'Este ...
A pair of very striking Lamborghinis were among the many stars at this year's Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este. Lined up side by side, they underlined the rapid evolution in design from the curvaceous lines of the 1960s to the angular wedge shapes of the 1970s.
The brightest of the two was this Countach LP400, built to special order of Albert Silvera. Among the things the wealthy Haitian specified for the 28th Countach off the line, were a silver bumper, an antelope suede leather dashboard cover and the 'periscope' rear-view mirror. The car was also fitted with an engine that reportedly produced as much as 60 or 70 bhp more than the standard V12. Having been handed the keys by Ferruccio Lamborghini himself, Silvera first drove the car from Sant'Agatha to Paris and subsequently from New York to Miami. He sold the car to make room for another Countach in 1975 and after passing through various American hands, the customised Countach is now in Dutch ownership. After carefully piecing its history back together, the highly original machine was carefully returned to its original specification. The spectacular result can be admired in this 18-shot gallery.
Silvera also owned one of just a handful of Miura SV/Js built, of which a sister car was shown at Villa d'Este on behalf of the owner by legendary Lamborghini test-driver Valentino Balboni. Inspired by Bob Wallace's unique Miura Jota, the 'SV/J' boasted a revised body and a slightly more powerful engine, which had the benefit of a competition inspired open exhaust system. Our feature car had been originally sold to an enthusiast, who resided on the French island of Corsica. Now in Italian hands, the car was recently completely restored with the exception of the beautifully preserved interior. Finished in a deep purple, the very rare Miura P400 SV/J provided a great visual and aural display on the shores of Lake Como.
2012-06-08: March 701 in full detail, electric Toyota headed for Pikes Peak and upgraded SLS AMG and MP4-12C ...
At the recent Monaco Historic Grand Prix, we were treated to no fewer than four examples of the March 701 Cosworth. Among them were the first two chassis constructed, which were raced in period by Chris Amon and Jackie Stewart to several wins. Among them was Stewart's Spanish Grand Prix victory, the very last for a customer Formula 1 car. Both of these chassis had subsequently been displayed in museums for many years; the ex-Amon car famously spent nearly four decades stuck on the wall in the Donnington Grand Prix Collection. Both have recently been carefully restored to full running order to star at Monaco. In addition to the four cars shot at Monaco this year, our article is illustrated by shots of another two chassis, which made appearances at previous editions of the Monaco Historic Grand Prix. Also grabbing headlines at Monaco were RM Auctions with their highly successful sale. Among the stars were this Ferrari 166 Spyder Corsa and Rondeau M378 Cosworth, both of which can boast a contemporary racing career spawning almost a decade.
Following their Nurburgring record-breaking run, Toyota Motorsport GmbH have now set their sights on the Pikes Peak hill-climb with the Radical-based EV P002. Among the changes compared to its predecessor are a slightly more powerful drivetrain and the addition of a full roll-cage. Multiple Japanese rally champion Fumio Nutahara will have the task of wrestling the 470 bhp machine up the daunting Pikes Peak climb.
Yesterday, McLaren have released full details of the 2013 model year MP4-12C. It boasts a myriad of detail changes with a 25 hp power hike making the most waves. The upgraded version of the V8-engined sports car will be available with immediate effect and existing owners can also have their cars updated to the latest specification. In a similar effort Mercedes-Benz have revealed a 'GT' version of the SLS AMG sports car. Equipped with sharper suspension and a more powerful engine, the GT will be available in both Coupe and Roadster body-styles.
2012-06-06: Hybrid Toyota and Audi Le Mans racers come to the fore ...
Scheduled for the weekend of June 16 and 17, the 80th edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans promises to be a historic one; not one but two hybrid cars are in with a fighting chance for outright victory. Thanks to the relatively open regulations two distinctly different paths have been taken by new rivals Toyota and Audi. The only major restrictions are the number of charge cycles (7 per lap) and the amount of energy that can be stored during one of those cycles (500 kJ). During this weekend's Le Mans Test, the two new cars went head to head for the first time and it was also the public debut for the all-new Toyota, so it was about time we took a closer look at the cars that are expected to star at the sharp end of the grid next week.
Some years in the making, the Toyota TS030 Hybrid uses a supercapacitor based hybrid system with a single electric motor mounted in unit with the purpose-built, 3.4 litre petrol V8. Developed in Japan, the drivetrain was then fitted into a carbon-fibre monocoque chassis that was designed and built in Toyota Motorsport's Cologne, Germany facility where until 2009 the Formula 1 machines originated from. Following a heavy accident in testing, Toyota was forced to postpone their public debut until the Le Mans Test. Fortunately two cars will be ready to race but the lack of experience and development time may drop the two Toyotas from contention at any time. The objective is to run the TS030 Hybrid as hard as possible for as long as possible.
Audi already debuted their R18 e-tron quattro last month during the FIA WEC race at Spa. Also being a hybrid is about where the similarities stop as the R18 boasts a diesel engine, two front-mounted electric motors and a Williams Hybrid Power sourced flywheel to store the harvested kinetic energy. Hedging their bets, Audi will also field two more conventional R18 Ultras, which are not fitted with the hybrid drive. Showing good reliability, with a second and third at Spa, behind one of those R18 Ultras, and setting the two fastest times during the Test, it seems that the R18 e-tron quattro has the best shot of becoming the first hybrid car to win Le Mans outright.
2012-06-04: 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans Test Day report and gallery ...
With the official Test Day on Sunday, the 80th edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans hit the ground running. Most sections of the 'Circuit de la Sarthe' are public roads, so the traditional Test is the only opportunity the entrants have to run on the track before the race week. For cars, teams and/or drivers that have not raced at Le Mans in the last three years, participating in the test is required to qualify for the race scheduled on June 16/17 this year. The 2012 Test Day was particularly highly anticipated as it finally offered an opportunity to see how the Audis and Toyotas stacked up. Other cars making their public testing debut included the highly unusual DeltaWing Nissan and the new Aston Martin AMR-One based Pescarolo 03 Judd. Not on the race's entry list but still allowed to participate in the test was Sebastien Loeb Racing with their Oreca 03 Nissan. The legendary rally racer picked up part of the driving duties provided a reminder that he is as quick on the road as off.
For the first of three scheduled visits to the track this year, our reporters spent the weekend in Le Mans to capture the test in its entirety. This has resulted in a class-by-class report, which also serves as a preview for next week's race. It is illustrated by a 120-shot gallery.
In the coming days you can expect a closer look at some of the 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans protagonists and further reports from the track once the cars go back out on track again on Wednesday June 13th.
2012-06-01: Three fabulous Ferraris and two limited edition BMWs ...
As mentioned in our report, this Ferrari 1512 F1 ranked among our favourite out on track during the recent Monaco Historic Grand Prix. Only three examples were built of this type and it was the first ever car to compete with a flat-12 engine. Constructed for the final two years of the 1.5 litre Formula 1 regulations, the diminutive engine could rev up to 12,000 rpm and produced a claimed 225 bhp despite its modest size. The example that was at Monaco has recently been restored from the ground-up with help from the original designer Mauro Forghieri. Sadly, it did not run very well yet but knowing the people behind the project, we expect the car to be in fighting form in September during the Goodwood Revival. It did run long enough for us to capture enough material for this 18-shot gallery.
Of the many Ferraris on display this weekend at Villa d'Este, two were Pinin Farina bodied 212 Inters. The earliest was this Cabriolet, which is the second or third Ferrari bodied by what would later become the company's carrozzeria of choice. Having benefited from a complete restoration at the hands of Ferrari Classiche, it was presented in spectacular condition. Of slightly later vintage was a Coupe, which was used by Roberto Rosselini and Ingrid Bergman during their honeymoon. The newlyweds drove the car, with suitcases strapped onto the roof, from Rome to Stockholm. Our 12-shot gallery also features pictures from one of the other Pinin Farina Coupes.
Especially for the British market, BMW M has launched a 'Performance Edition' of both the M3 and the M5. Having received both cosmetic and performance upgrades, production is strictly limited to just 30 examples of each.