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2010-05-31: 2010 Le Mans: the 1980 winning Rondeau in great detail ...
Rondeau M379 Cosworth Today we start our coverage of one of the racing highlights of the season; the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The start is planned for 3 pm on Saturday, June 12th and for the coming days we have prepared several features to get you properly warmed up for the legendary twice round the clock race. We kick off with a close look at the winner of the 1980; the Rondeau M379 Cosworth. The 30th anniversary of the victory will also be celebrated at Le Mans with a parade of almost all surviving Rondeaus on the Le Mans track ahead of the start of the 24 Hours. The cars will also return to the track a month later during the Le Mans Classic.
Having started with the Inaltera back in 1976, Jean Rondeau's win was several years in the making. He gradually developed the same design with a tiny budget. Despite never being tested, the cars were immediately reliable, scoring GTP class wins at almost every attempt. The small team's rare shot at victory came in 1979 and again in 1980 due to the absence of factory prototypes. Having failed the first time round, Jean Rondeau piloted his Rondeau M379 Cosworth to victory a year later together with Jean-Pierre Jaussaud. In doing so, Rondeau became the first and to this date only man to win the epic event in a car of his own design. Two years later Rondeau came achingly close to winning the World Championship with the interim M382 Cosworth. Soon after, the return of Porsche and other manufacturers raised the bar too high for the small team, which was forced to close its doors in 1984. Sadly, Jean Rondeau was killed in a freak accident on a rail-road crossing a year later.
Rondeau's achievements are stuff of legends and inspired the likes of Yves Courage and Henri Pescarolo to race cars of their own making. Since 1980 no independently designed and developed car has won at Le Mans and that is not likely to change in 2010.
  2010-05-28: Spectacular Maserati V8RI and the new Hulme CanAm supercar ...
Maserati V8Ri When the German government supported teams entered Grand Prix racing in 1934 all of the small manufacturers were left to play second fiddle. Many of them decided to explore other avenues but not one of the smallest of them, Maserati. Building racing cars was the Italian company's core business, so they could not afford stay away from the potentially lucrative Grand Prix market; nearly twenty examples of the 1933 Grand Prix car were built and sold. In order to bridge the gap to the hugely sophisticated Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union machines, the Maserati brothers literally started on a clean sheet of paper. The result was the V8RI, which was the first Grand Prix car powered by a V8 engine and the first Maserati with fully independent suspension. Amidst high expectations from the partisan press, Maserati debuted the car halfway through the 1935 season. Unfortunately the V8RI proved not quick or reliable enough to seriously rival the Germans. Early in 1936 a single victory was scored by loyal customer and sometimes works drivers Philippe Etancelin in the Pau Grand Prix but against minimal competition. The brothers realised they were fighting for a lost cause and diverted their attention to the even more lucrative 'voiturette' market with considerable success. All four V8RIs were sold to the United States where they were raced for many seasons in various guises. Amazingly all four have survived and the example driven to the victory at Pau was out at Monaco for the Historic Grand Prix. We captured every detail in our 18-shot gallery, which illustrates a detailed history of this ill-fated Grand Prix car.
New Zealand's Jock Freemantle has paid tribute to the country's only Formula 1 World Champion, Denny Hulme, with the Hulme CanAm. The type name and the choice of Chevrolet power are a reference to Hulme's great successes in the Can-Am series behind the wheel of Chevrolet big-block engined McLarens. To be built in a limited run of just 20 examples, the extreme supercar is constructed around a state-of-the-art carbon fibre monocoque and weighs under 1000 kg. The Corvette sourced LS7 engine produces around 700 bhp, which gives the car a formidable power to weight ratio. The first deliveries of the Hulme CanAm are expected late in 2011.
2010-05-25: Cosworth Impreza finally revealed, GTi Peugeot returns and a look at Pininfarina's future ...
Subaru Cosworth Impreza STI CS400 Through teaser images and trinkets of information, Cosworth have managed to build quite some anticipation during the last few months for their upcoming Subaru based sports car. Today the first complete images were finally released of the STI CS400. The type name is a reference to the nearly 400 bhp that the Cosworth engineers have managed to extract from the familiar turbocharged flat-four engine. This helps the all-wheel drive machine accelerate to 100 km/h (62 mph) in well under four seconds. Unfortunately for the rest of the world, the Subaru Cosworth Impreza STI CS400 is only available in Britain and production is strictly limited to 75 examples. It will be available from June and considering its performance, it is very reasonably priced at 49,995 Pounds.
Earlier in the week, French manufacturer Peugeot officially announced the return of the legendary 'GTi' badge, which was originally introduced for the 504 GTi and subsequently used for the fabulous 205 GTi. The first model to get the three letters added to the type name is the 308 GTi, which will be launched in France on June 10th. The hot hatch is powered by the turbocharged 1.6 litre engine that is shared between the BMW Group and PSA. In the 308, it produces a respectable 200 bhp and 275 Nm. Only subtle exterior features like a small rear wing and of course GTi badges will distinguish the quick 308 from its siblings.
As part of their 80th anniversary celebrations, Pininfarina showed the Nido EV this weekend at the company headquarters. Like the name suggests, it shares the styling with the award winning Nido show car launched back in 2006 at the Paris Show. Under the designer body panels, the sophisticated car sports an electric drivetrain. Although the example revealed in Turin was clearly still a prototype, there are very concrete plans to turn the Nido EV into a production car.
  2010-05-24: Two Aston Martin DB2 Team Cars in the spotlight ...
Aston Martin DB2 Team Car Launched at the 1950 New York Auto Show, the Aston Martin DB2 proved crucial in the company's reemergence after the War. Under new ownership of David Brown, Aston Martin had developed the new car in plain sight; on the race track. This unusual approach was awarded with an outright victory at the 1947 Spa 24 Hours and also built up anticipation for the road car considerably. Despite the high demand, Brown decided to pull the first three production cars off the line and prepare them for the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1950. These DB2 Team Cars were pretty much standard and nevertheless managed to win the three-litre class and the all-important Index of Performance at Le Mans. Two more cars were built for the next season but it was the Le Mans class winner that continued to score the victories for Aston Martin. It was first in class at the Mille Miglia and again at Le Mans. In September of that year, the purpose-built DB3 was introduced, which effectively ended the works career of the DB2. The five cars continued to be raced and subsequently driven on the road for many more years. They were also prominently featured in various magazine articles of the day. Today all of them have survived and are still regularly campaigned.
In recent months two of the 1950 Team Cars have made auction headlines by selling well over their top estimates. The 1950 and 1951 Le Mans class winner changed hands for 550.000 Pounds at the November 2009 RM Auctions Automobiles of London sale. This weekend Bonhams' annual Aston Martin sale was topped by a sister car, which changed hands for 513,000 Pounds.
Both of these cars are featured in our detailed article and 18-shot gallery.
2010-05-21: 2010 Tour Auto Report and Slideshow ...
2010 Tour Auto Report and Slideshow For five days in April some of the finest classic racing cars in the world could be admired on France's public roads. The occasion was the Tour Auto, which has been held annually since 1992. The event celebrates the rich history of the Tour de France de l'Automobile as well as the beauty of the French countryside.
During the 1950s and 1960s the grueling, multi-day road race was dominated by the various incarnations of the Ferrari 250 GT, scoring nine victories in a row. This year the Tour Auto celebrated the 50th anniversary of the short wheelbase (SWB) version of the three-litre V12 engined machine. No fewer than 17 examples of the rare Ferrari were entered and lined up side by side in the Jardins des Tuileries they provided a formidable sight. For good measure two examples of the even more valuable Ferrari 250 GTO were also entered.
The route of the event changes every year and in this edition the glorious machinery was lead through the Alps. Four tracks were also visited, highlighted by the fabulous undulating Clermont-Ferrand circuit. Last year's winner Shaun Lynn was back to defend this title, replacing his victorious Ford GT40 with an equally formidable AC Shelby Cobra. Other highlights included an Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato, a Cosworth DFV engined Ligier and a host of Alpines, Ferraris and Porsches.
Conflicting schedules with other events meant we could not follow the cars all the way down to Beaulieu-sur-Mer and it also delayed our posting of the report. We are however confident that our exclusive 190-shot gallery and detailed report more than makes up for the delay.
  2010-05-19: The 1980 Indy 500 winning Chaparral, McLaren's 1970 debutant and news from Maybach and Volvo ...
Chaparral 2K Cosworth This week the first practice sessions of the upcoming Indy 500 are held, starting with the Rookie test over the weekend. For quite some time now the legendary race has been disputed by identical cars but for a very long time designers could really make a difference at Indy. That was certainly the case thirty years ago when Johnny Rutherford won at the 'Brickyard' with the ingenious Chaparral 2K. This was the only Indycar built by the American racing car manufacturer, which is of course best known for its unusual Can-Am cars. The Cosworth engined 2K was penned by John Barnard and was the first 'ground effect' Indycar. In addition to the Indy victory, Rutherford also managed to win the 1980 CART title in the Pennzoil liveried Chaparral.
Ten years earlier another successful Can-Am manufacturer, McLaren, ventured into Indy racing. Dubbed the M15 and powered by an Offenhauser engine, it struggled through what was McLaren's most difficult season. While it did not win anything, it did introduce the company to this very specific type of racing and McLaren would return to score three Indy victories with the subsequent M16.
During the last month we have been on the road almost constantly and we have tried to keep you up to date with the latest releases as good as we could. Unfortunately some new cars slipped through, which have been added today.
In the Chinese capitol Beijing, German luxury manufacturer Maybach unveiled a face-lifted versions of all cars in their range. Visually the biggest change is the more prominent grille, which helps to distinguish the Maybachs even more from their Mercedes-Benz cousins. The cars still come with two types of the twin-turbo V12 engine; the 550 bhp 62 and the 630 bhp 62 S.
Meanwhile at the other side of the world Volvo and their competition partner Polestar celebrated their fifteenth year of cooperation at the Gothenburg show in great style with the C30 Polestar Concept. This very high performance machine features a 405 bhp version of the T5 engine and a Haldex four-wheel drive system. We don't know if the very hot C30 will become available for customers but it would almost a crime if it did not.
2010-05-17: Alfa Romeo 158 'Alfetta', the first Formula 1 World Champion ...
Alfa Romeo 158 'Alfetta' In 2010 Alfa Romeo celebrates the company's centenary and on May 13th sixty years ago the very first Formula 1 World Championship race was held at Silverstone. The race and all other European rounds that year were won by the legendary Alfa Romeo 158 'Alfetta'. That was not a bad effort for a car that was first designed in the fall of 1937. The Alfetta (little Alfa) had originally been conceived as a voiturette (French for little car) racer in the Scuderia Ferrari workshop. It used a 1.5 litre, straight 8 engine (hence the name), which produced 195 bhp at the car's victorious debut in August 1938 and 350 bhp by the end of the 1950 season. The 'voiturette' regulations were adopted for Grand Prix racing after the War, which gave Alfa Romeo, who had carefully hidden all of its racing cars far from harm's way, an edge over its rivals. For the 1951 season, the 'Alfetta' was further developed with a revised engine and rear suspension and became the 159. What did not change was the model's winning ways; when the 'Alfetta' was finally retired, it had scored a staggering 33 victories. Of these 26 were won in a row. The first defeat came at the hands of its original creator, Scuderia Ferrari, during the 1951 Italian Grand Prix.
With no clear records and a very loose application of chassis numbers, it is hard to say how many examples were built. The best guess is at least six 158s and a further four 159s. Of these five are known to have survived, two of the former and three of the later cars. Our feature car is the only one in private hands after it was swapped for the unique 8C 2900B Le Mans Berlinetta in the late 1980s. Since then it has been meticulously restored to full running order and the current owner regularly races his 'Alfetta' in historic events. We saw the 158 in action most recently during the 2009 Goodwood Revival and we expect it to be back at Goodwood in July for the Festival of Speed where Alfa Romeo's centenary will be celebrated in great style.
  2010-05-13: Porsche's most powerful road car ever; the 997 GT2 RS ...
Porsche 997 GT2 RS Porsche ended a lot of rumors by releasing the first details of the 997 GT2 RS, which will be officially released at the Moscow Auto Show in August. Compared to the 'standard' 997 GT2 it is based on, the limited edition model is considerably lighter and more powerful.
The twin turbocharged flat-six engine is tweaked and now produces a staggering 620 bhp; 90 bhp up from the original figure. All of this power is transferred to the rear wheels only through a six speed manual gearbox. A substantial diet has brought the weight down by 70 kg to 1370 kg (3021 lb) including all fluids. From the outside the GT2 RS can easily distinguished by matt-black finished carbon-fibre parts, wider wheel-arches, unique central-locking alloy wheels and of course "GT2 RS" designations on the doors and rear lid. The interior breaths performance with carbon-fibre seats, lightweight door panels with opening straps and alcantara upholstery. All these changes have raised the top speed to 330 km/h (205 mph) and have enabled the car to accelerate from 0 - 100 km/h in 3.5 seconds.
After its launch in the Russian capital, the GT2 RS will become available in Europe in September and a month later in North America. Production of this very extreme machine is strictly limited to just 500 examples.
2010-05-12: America's first Formula 1 car; the Scarab F1 Offenhauser ...
Scarab F1 Offenhauser One of the three new teams that had secured an entry for this year's Formula 1 World Championship was USF1, which as the name suggests came from the United States. Unfortunately financial problems forced the fledgling team to forfeit their entry. The arrival of USF1 would have coincided with the debut of the first American Formula 1 team exactly 50 years ago at the 1960 Monaco Grand Prix. This was the Scarab team, which in the end only faired marginally better. Founded by Lance Reventlow, Scarab had swepped all before in American sports car racing with the beautifully built and Chevrolet powered Mk I. His new challenge was to challenge the big European manufacturers on their home turf. The first attempt was with a 3-litre version of the sports car but that plan was quickly abandoned. Instead the sights were now set on the most prestigious of all championships; Formula 1. It was not considered a problem that none of his talented but young designers and engineers had no previous experience with this form of motorsport. The project was further hampered by Reventlow's desire to use only American suppliers for the car's components.
After considerable delays, the Scarab F1 was finally introduced at Monaco. It was a beautiful machine, powered by a unique desmodromic Offenhauser engine and sporting a Von Dutch pin-stripe livery. Compared to the latest mid-engined machines from Cooper and Lotus, the front-engined American car however looked utterly archaic. That was reflected in the times and both cars failed to qualify. The team struggled on for one season but eventually Reventlow called it a day.
Today both Scarab F1 Offenhausers used in 1960 are owned by American enthusiast Don Orosco, who has managed to get some very impressive results in historic racing. We captured the two cars during the 2009 Goodwood Revival, where unfortunately for various reasons neither car could participate in the race. We did get enough of the cars to create an 18-shot gallery with all the details of both cars. It illustrates a detailed article of the Scarabs' interesting history.
Unfortunately for all American Formula 1 fans, this weekend's Monaco Grand Prix will once again not feature an American car on the grid.
  2010-05-10: 2010 Le Mans Series Spa 1000 km report and slideshow ...
2010 Le Mans Series Spa 1000 km report and slideshow This weekend the idyllic Spa Francorchamps circuit in the Belgian Ardennes hosted the second round of the 2010 Le Mans Series. For many teams it also served as the final dress-rehearsal for the upcoming 24 Hours of Le Mans. Going into the race the big question was how the all-new Audi R15 plus would fare against the blisteringly quick Peugeot 908 HDI Fap. Some answers were provided but the race will be remembered for a very different reason. About two hours into the race there was a massive power outage that affected the entire paddock including the timing computers. When the back-up systems were starting to run out, the organisers were eventually forced to red flag the race. This provided a very surreal scene of endurance racers lined up nose to tail on the track's start-finish straight. After a thirty minute break the race was restarted and some order was brought to the chaos. Further havoc was provided by the changeable weather for which the Spa Francorchamps track is famous with some rain at the start and near the finish of the race. All in all it was a very eventful and above all strange Spa 1000 km race.
Headlining the support program as always was the Classic Endurance Racing series with a remarkably large grid of 1960s and 1970s sports racers. In addition to the familiar cars, we were treated to a rarely seen Porsche 908/3, a spectacular Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona Competizione and one of just five Cheetah G601s.
Our photographers were at the Spa Francorchamps track throughout the weekend, which has resulted in brief report and a spectacular 200-shot gallery.
2010-05-06: Bugatti Type 57 SC Atlantic, the world's most expensive car ...
Bugatti Type 57 SC Atlantic Coupe In recent months many collectors will have been reassured that the market is still very strong, especially for good cars. Three Ferrari 250 GTOs have changed hands already this year, topped by a pristine example that fetched an awe-inspiring $26 million in a private transaction. That record was blown out of the water last week when David Gooding found a new owner for this Bugatti Type 57 SC Atlantic Coupe, chassis 57374. For the past four decades, it was the crowning piece of the collection of the late Dr. Peter Williamson.
Built in 1936, it was the first of three Type 57s clothed with the 'Atlantic' style body with its very typical riveted centre lines. The car was built to the order of Baron Victor Rothschild in London, who was one of Bugatti's most prominent clients. Since 1945 the car changed hands only once, when Dr. Williamson acquired it in 1971. He paid $59,000 at auction, which at the time was an unheard of amount for a motor car but in hindsight was a very solid investment. Of the other two examples built one was virtually destroyed in a fatal collision with a train very early in its life. Its remains were used for a rebuilt but it is not nearly as desirable as the other two. The third car has been owned by prominent American collector Ralph Lauren since the 1980s and is not expected to hit the market any time soon. Both cars that have survived in highly original condition have won the much coveted 'Best of Show' award in the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance.
Most of the Williamson collection had already been sold in Gooding auctions but this spectacular work of art was brokered personally by David Gooding. Initially it was reported that the Mullin Automotive Museum had acquired the car but that has since been denied. The new, as of yet anonymous owner, did express his intention to show the car at the newly opened museum. Although no exact amount was disclosed, we understand it was well over $30 million. To put things somewhat in perspective; Christie's auctioned a Picasso painting for $106 million this week.
  2010-05-05: 2010 Monaco Historic Grand Prix report and slideshow ...
2010 Monaco Historic Grand Prix report and slideshow On the tight streets of the small Principality on the Mediterranean shore, the 7th Monaco Historic Grand Prix was held this weekend. Usually eligible for the bi-annual meet are cars that raced in the contemporary Grand Prix from 1929 to the late 1970s. For the newly added Formula 3 cars, the cut-off was extended to 1984 this year. The unique event allows the current custodians of the classic cars to tread in the steps of legendary drivers that starred on the demanding track like Stirling Moss, Graham Hill and Ayrton Senna. The Historic Grand Prix also attracts its fair share of rarely seen machinery. This year our attention was particularly grabbed by the unusual CTA Arsenal, which was driven in anger for the first time since 1947, and the freshly restored Lotus 49 that was driven to a debut victory by Jim Clark back in 1967.
In addition to the on-track activity, there was also plenty of action in the various auction rooms set up around the track. Canadian auctioneer RM Auctions completely overshadowed the competition with their inaugural 'Sporting Classics of Monaco' sale. At the end of the evening the company sold 88 of the 105 cars consigned for a staggering 33 million Euro, which represents a new record for a one-day auction. The sale was topped by the Ferrari 400 Superamerica earlier this week although in a post-auction transaction, the BMW 328 Buegelfalte Roadster sold for in undisclosed amount, which we believe to be somewhere between four and five million Euro.
Our reporters were at the glamorous event for its full duration. They have returned with an in-depth report and an exclusive 230-shot gallery with pictures of the auctions and all eight races.
2010-05-03: News from Monaco: lighter and more powerful Audi R8 and multi-million dollar Ferrari ...
Audi R8 GT This weekend the principality of Monaco hosted the bi-annnual Historic Grand Prix of which a full report will be published here later in the week. As part of the support program, Audi show-cased two of its Auto Union 'Silver Arrows' and also gave the all-new R8 GT its public debut. Limited to just 333 examples, it is based on the already very potent V10-engined R8. Audi's engineers have managed to increase the car's capabilities considerably by lowering the overall weight and boosting the engine's power. Around 100 kg has been shaven off by using thinner glass and exotic composites for a variety of panels. The direct injection V10 engine has been tweaked to produce a hefty 560 bhp compared to 525 bhp in the 'standard' model. The exterior was also refined to produce more downforce without raising drag. One of the most visible changes is the addition of a carbon fibre rear wing. Upon request the Audi R8 GT can also be equipped with a roll bar and other racing amenities like a fire extinguisher.
Canadian auction house RM were present at the Monaco Historic Grand Prix for the first time with a spectacular result. The site of the auction was the spectacular Grimaldi Forum at the bottom end of the track near the entry to the tunnel. Over 33 million Euro ($45 million) worth of cars changed owners on Saturday evening. The sale was topped by a superb Ferrari 400 Superamerica Cabriolet, which reach a hammer price of 2,800,000 Euro ($3,799,600); a record for a Superamerica. This particular example is one of six produced and was completely restored before being shown at the 2009 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance.
As mentioned earlier a detailed report of the event and the various auctions will be published later this week, illustrated by a sparkling gallery with numerous pictures of all eight classes.