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2012-12-31: Our two favourite sports racers from 2012 ...
Audi R18 e-tron quattro In January, sports car racing in general and the inaugural FIA World Endurance Championship was dealt what seemed a devastating blow by Peugeot canning its Le Mans program with immediate effect. Thanks in large part to the Toyota team filling at least part of its large footsteps, the effect of the momentous decision was not as big as many feared.
Audi did remain loyal to the sport and introduced not one but two new cars. The most interesting, and our favourite sports racer of the year was the R18 e-tron quattro. This innovative machine combined a now conventional diesel engine with a hybrid system consisting of two electric motors connected to the front wheels and a Williams flywheel to store the energy. It dominated at the all-important 24 Hours of Le Mans and made history by scoring the first outright victory with a hybrid car. The Le Mans-winning squad also ended the year as the first FIA World Endurance Champions. To mark the occasion, we have created a 48-shot gallery of the revolutionary Audi.
For their valiant efforts at Le Mans and their three victories late in the year, the Toyota team and their TS030 Hybrid can not go unmentioned. Using a naturally aspirated V8 and a supercapacitor hybrid system, it was a fundamentally different design than the Audi but it proved to be as quick and even quicker. Despite a short and troublesome preparation, the TS030 excelled in the opening stages of Le Mans, ensuring the race was not the fait accompli many feared. The team was rewarded with three victories, including a win at 'home' on the Fuji Speedway. To complement the Audi gallery, we have dug our 36 best shots of the striking TS030.
  2012-12-27: Remembering Carroll Shelby and his fabulous Cobras ...
AC Shelby Cobra 427 Competition Among the biggest stories of 2012 were the 50th anniversary celebration of the Cobra and the sad passing of its legendary creator, Carroll Shelby in May at the age of 89. Doubling as both a celebration and a tribute were single-make races at the Monterey Motorsports Reunion and the Goodwood Revival and a special Cobra class at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance. We also marked the occasion with in-depth features of the Cobra Daytona Coupe and FIA Roadster.
To end this special year in style, we have now taken a closer look at the Cobra 427 Competition. Powered by Ford's big-block V8, it was readied for the 1965 season but for a variety of reasons was only raced by privateers. Eventually less than two-dozen were built to the 'Competition' specification, which boasted an engine rated at a staggering 550 bhp. Our spectacular 30-shot gallery features three different examples, including the development prototype.
Additionally, we have also added more shots to the gallery of the very first Cobra 260, which had been in Shelby's ownership since its completion 50 years ago.
2012-12-24: Our favourite new cars of 2012 ...
Ferrari F12Berlinetta It is that time of the year again. Time to look back at the highlights the previous twelve months. Today we do so by re-featuring some of our favourite cars launched in 2012. Topping our list and most others is the Ferrari F12berlinetta; the fastest car ever produced by the Italian manufacturer. It is smaller and lighter than Ferrari's range-topping model, yet also packs a bigger punch courtesy of its 730 bhp V12 and dual-clutch, seven-speed gearbox. The F12berlinetta will not remain Ferrari's fastest car for long as the all-new 'F150' super car is due in 2013. So it is not unlikely that come December, a Ferrari will top our list again.
Another star of the Geneva Motor Show was the Infiniti Emerg-E Concept. This is the boldest show car yet from the Japanese manufacturer and combines a striking exterior with an innovative drivetrain. This consists of two electric motors that produce a combined 402 bhp and 1000 Nm of torque, and a petrol engine that serves as a generator. We captured the Emerg-E both at its Geneva debut and in motion at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
Aston Martin revived the Vanquish type name for its fastest production model. It still boasts the innovative 'VH' aluminium platform chassis and 6-litre V12. The styling is also familiar but with some new cues like the integrated rear wing. At the McCall Motorworks, we had the opportunity to look under the carbon-fibre skin of the new Vanquish.
Other cars that captured our attention were the highly anticipated Jaguar F-Type, the exotic Lamborghini Aventador Roadster and the ferocious Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Black Series.
  2012-12-21: Roaring Ginetta and svelte Lotus that starred at Goodwood this year ...
Ginetta G10 One of the absolute highlights of this year's Goodwood Revival was the race for the Fordwater Trophy. Held for 1960s production GT racers early on Saturday, it was easily overlooked in the jam-packed schedule of the event. The race saw experienced historic racers Andy Newall and Martin Stretton dice it out at the head of the field with two of the rarest and spectacular cars on the grid in an old-fashioned David vs Goliath fight.
The Goliath of this race was the roaring Ginetta G10. Powered by a Ford V8, this represented the manufacturer's attempt to step from the small displacement sports cars to directly rival the likes of the Shelby Cobra. Although the car showed great potential, it turned out to be a failure and only a handful were constructed. The example featured in our 12-shot gallery was the prototype, which was driven to a debut victory back in 1965. Newall did not get a taste of the champagne as he was forced to retire from the lead with a wheel-bearing failure.
This left the victory for pole-man Stretton with his unique and much smaller Lotus Elan Fastback. This even rarer machine was built in 1964 by Ian Walker Racing for the 24 Hours of Le Mans and features a unique low drag body. Sadly, the car never made it to Le Mans as damage caused by a crash at the Nurburgring could not be repaired in time. Like the Ginetta, it had shown great promise and was driven to a debut (class) victory by a young Jackie Stewart. Restored in recent years to its original configuration the one-off Elan IWR Fastback is also pictured in a 12-shot gallery.
2012-12-19: An Italian suit for a French grand tourer and DFV-engined March sports racer
Talbot Lago T26 GS Stabilimenti Farina Cabriolet With so many talented designers and builders of custom coachwork in the direct vicinity, only very few of the great French luxury cars were clothed by foreigners. One of the very rare exceptions is this Talbot Lago T26 GS Stabilimenti Farina Cabriolet. That it is such a rare exception is very much the reason for its existence as the original, Portuguese owner was so adamant that the car remained a one-off, he requested and personally witnessed that the bucks of the body being destroyed. The chassis also stands out as it is one of the very last T26 Grand Sports built and as such one of the last French coach-built cars. A favourite of the surviving French coach-builders, each of these T26s is unique and they are now beautifully documented in Peter Larsen's new, two-volume tome on the subject. Available direct from publisher Dalton Watson, it is a fantastic read. Our slightly more modest article is illustrated by an 18-shot gallery of the striking one-off at Pebble Beach and VIlla d'Este.
Equally unique and also the last of the line is this March 76S Cosworth, which we captured at the Dix Mille Tours event back in October. It uses the very last chassis of the 2-Litre March sports racers produced between 1973 and 1976 but on this occasion in combination with a 3-Litre Cosworth DFV Formula 1 engine. The car was briefly raced by John Lepp but with little success. It was later displayed for many years in the Rosso Bianco museum. Now fully restored the one-off March 76S Cosworth was blisteringly quick straight out of the box but saw its Paul Ricard race thwarted by an accident on the opening lap.
  2012-12-17: Menacing Porsche 935 K3 in full detail with 66-shot gallery ...
Porsche 935 K3 Developed during the second half of the 1970s, the Porsche 935, in all its iterations, ranks among the most extreme production-based racers. In addition to the examples produced in Weissach, privateers like Kremer and Joest also built versions of their own on factory-supplied shells. Arguably the most famous and certainly the most successful of these is the Porsche 935 K3. Built and raced by the Kremer Brothers the K3 combined a basic 930 centre section with a host of trick parts that made it both lighter and more powerful than Porsche's own 935. It was introduced in 1979 and hit the ground running with a historic outright victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Klaus Ludwig also dominated the popular German DRM championship that year, winning no fewer than 12 of the 15 rounds. Not surprisingly this prompted a huge demand, and customer cars quickly followed. Kremer also supplied kits for existing 935s and 934s to be upgraded to the latest specification. Eventually, Kremer built just over a dozen brand new 935 K3s between 1979 and 1981, and they remained successful for many years thereafter.
Earlier this year we came across the actual Le Mans winning chassis, which was seen outside the Indianapolis Motorsport Hall of Fame for the first time in over two decades. This prompted us to dive into our archives, which has resulted in this action-packed 66-shot gallery, featuring no fewer than eight different examples. They are shown at events around the world and on legendary tracks like Le Mans, Spa-Francorchamps and the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
2012-12-13: New BMW M6 Gran Coupe, Maserati Quattroporte in full detail and JCW Paceman ...
BMW M6 Gran Coupe From May, 2013 the BMW M6 family will consist of three models thanks to the addition of this M6 Gran Coupe. The four-door coupe is powered by the same twin-turbo, 560 hp V8 as its two-door siblings. The car does sit on a longer wheelbase, which is used to create more space for the rear passengers. Although we are no fans of the whole four-door coupe craze, this M6 Gran Coupe looks unsettlingly appealing.
One of the BMW's main rivals promises to be the all-new Maserati Quattroporte. A few weeks ago, we already published the first pictures of the Italian executive sedan, and now we have the full specification and a 24-shot gallery. The biggest news is the Ferrari-built V8, which displaces just 3.8 litre. Helped by two twin-scroll turbochargers, the compact engine does produce a hefty 530 hp. Also part of the new line-up will be a 3-litre V6, which also boasts two turbos. Despite being capable of sprinting to 100 km/h in well under 5 seconds and boasting a top speed of over 300 km/h, both the consumption and emissions have dropped by 20% compared to the predecessor.
The Paceman is the latest expansion of the MINI line-up and it is now available in John Cooper Works trim. Like it sister cars, it uses a 218 hp turbocharged four cylinder engine. Four wheel drive and a six-speed manual gearbox come as standard while a six-speed automatic is available as an option. Whether the rather loud finish on the John Cooper Works Paceman is to everyone's liking remains to be seen.
  2012-12-12: Celebrating the McLaren F1's 20th anniversary and new Mercedes-Benz CLA 45 AMG ...
McLaren F1 Still considered by many as the king of the supercar, the McLaren F1 turned 20 years old this year. To mark that occasion we have dug through our archives and created a 48-shot gallery featuring six different examples to illustrate our in-depth article on this remarkable machine. Among the chassis pictured is 'XP5', which was used in 1998 by Andy Wallace to break the production car world speed record. We had a rare opportunity to capture, what is still the fastest naturally aspirated road car in the world, in complete detail. Also part of the packed gallery is the F1 originally owned by Larry Ellison, which sold for a hefty $3.5 million back in 2010.
Mercedes-Benz have released several teaser pictures and the first technical details of the new CLA. The car will be powered by a choice of four cylinder engines with the most powerful fitted in the CLA 45 AMG. Even more interesting is the new torque-vectoring '4MATIC' all-wheel drive system that will make its debut on the new compact four-door coupe. The CLA 45 AMG will make its public debut some time in 2013.
Earlier this week, the Swiss company Rinspeed revealed the first details of the microMAX show car, which is due to be revealed at the Geneva Motor Show in March. Frank Rinderknecht and his engineers have created another packaging marvel, which can transport five people in comfort despite its relatively small exterior dimensions.
At next month's North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Honda will debut the Urban SUV Concept. For now we have to make do with a single sketch and a small snippet of information.
2012-12-10: Volkswagen Polo R WRC and all-new Porsche 911 GT3 Cup revealed ...
Volkswagen Polo R WRC At two separate events over the weekend, Volkswagen and Porsche revealed new racing cars for the 2013 season. The most highly anticipated was the Volkswagen Polo R WRC, which is due to make its competitive debut early next year in the Rally Monte Carlo. The German manufacturer has been preparing for this World Rally Championship campaign for over two years, running a testing program with the Polo throughout the year and also fielding a Skoda Fabia S2000 this season. Heading the driver line-up is Sebastien Ogier, who came close to beating Sebastien Loeb while they were still team-mates at Citroen. The Polo R WRC fits in the current WRC mould with a 1.6 litre turbo engine, all-wheel drive and six-speed gearbox. Volkswagen also revealed a slightly toned down Street version, which will be available in limited numbers from September of 2013. What is unfortunate, is that Volkswagen's arrival into the sport coincides with the winding down of both the Citroen and Ford efforts, so it will be harder to judge just how good the Polo R WRC is.
It is also a very busy time at Porsche Motorsport in Weissach where both several 911-based competition cars are developed and a bespoke LMP1 prototype is readied for 2014. In preparation for that campaign, Porsche will field a works effort with two GTE-specification 911s in the World Endurance Championship. The first 991 generation competition car to be revealed, however, is the 911 GT3 Cup, which will be used exclusively in the 2013 Porsche Supercup. In addition to the obvious changes to the body-shell, the new machine also boasts 10 additional horses and a paddle-operated six-speed gearbox (a first on a 911 Cup car). According to works driver Timo Bernhard, the new 911 GT3 Cup is easier to drive than its predecessor, which is no doubt due in large part to the longer wheelbase.
  2012-12-07: Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Competizione Series 2 and Series 3, and BMW 4 Series preview ...
Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Competizione S2 A few weeks ago, we already looked at the first series of the Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona Competizione. We have now dug deep in our archives to present 36-shot galleries of both the Series 2 and Series 3 models. Compared to the first batch of five cars, these ten machines featured a heavier steel body for homologation reasons. This was compensated for by further engine tweaks, lifting the power to an impressive 450 bhp on the final version. Both the Series 2 and Series 3 cars were hugely successful with class wins at Le Mans and Daytona (as late as 1979) and outright victories in the Tour de France. We captured the ever striking machines at a wide variety of events on both sides of the Atlantic, including the Tour Auto, Le Mans Classic, Goodwood Festival of Speed and the Monterey Historics.
BMW provided a peak at the future by revealing the Concept 4 Series Coupe. As the name suggests, this is a preview of the all new 4 Series, which is due to replace the Coupe and Convertible models of the current generation 3 Series. The design incorporates many cues of existing models and to some extent, the show car looks like a down-sized 6 Series. Except for the exterior dimensions, no technical details of the Concept 4 Series were released but we certainly look forward to the first ever BMW M4!
2012-12-05: All new Audi RS 6, Mazda 6 Diesel racer and more TMG TS-650 pictures ...
Audi RS 6 Avant Audi have this morning revealed the all-new RS 6 Avant. Lighter than its predecessor, the range-topping model is powered by a twin turbocharged V8. Displacing just under 4-litre, it produces a very impressive 560 hp. An eight-speed automatic gearbox and the company's trademark 'quattro' all-wheel drive ensures that all that power is transferred to the tarmac. As a result the sizeable estate can accelerate to 100 km/h in under four seconds and has an unrestricted top speed of 305 km/h. The new Audi RS 6 Avant should become available early in 2013.
Japanese manufacturer Mazda is set to make history next month at the Daytona International Speedway with the 6 Skyactiv-D GX, which will be the first ever diesel car to compete in the Rolex 24. Launched late last week at the Los Angeles Auto Show, the machine was developed together with Speedsource. The engine was lifted off the regular production line and features a large number of stock parts. The 2.2 litre unit is nevertheless good for well over 400 bhp.
One of our favourite machines at this week's Essen Motor Show was the TMG Sports-650. We had already featured the car last week, but we have now added a 12-shot gallery straight from the show floor.
  2012-12-03: 2012 Essen Motor Show report and 120-shot gallery ...
2012 Essen Motor Show report and 120-shot gallery This weekend, the 45th annual Essen Motor Show opened its doors to the public. Originally aimed at motorsport enthusiasts, the event has gradually branched out to cater to the aftermarket and tuner fans. This has resulted in a unique mix, which offers enough for it to be both the largest motorsport event and tuner event in Europe. This year all twelve halls were again filled with exhibits ranging from an indoor track to booths were anything from the smallest parts to complete racing cars were offered. There was also a special display celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Porsche 911 and a collection of historic sports racers was assembled to mark the first 40 years (1953 - 1992) of the world sports car championship.
As always our photographers ventured to the Messe Essen to weed through the vast exhibition centre. This has resulted in a brief report, illustrated by a 120-shot gallery that includes all the highlights and also some of the more exotic machinery on display. The Essen Motor Show is open through to the 9th of December, so you can still admire all that is show in the flesh for a few more days.