Thursday, December 30, 2010

Monteverdi Hai 450 SS

This Swiss company Monteverdi built race cars through the 50’s and 60’s and in the mid 60’s decided to go into the luxury sports car market (super cars were still years away) up againt Ferrari and Lamborghini. There second car was the 450, deigned to have a production life of 49, only 2 were originally produced, the prototype in 1970 and one additional prototype designated GTS with some subtle changes to the handle position. The original car later had its moved to match this later car . In the 90’s 2 more were built from the spare parts only 1 (the original prototype) is in private hands and is currently up for sale following a full restoration, the last time it was sold in 2010 it sold for £398,000.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Melkus RS1000

Melkus was sports car and single seater race car manufacturer in Dresden East Germany, they produced cars from 1956 through to 1986. The first road sports car built by this Soviet controlled company was the RS1000 between 1969 and 1979. This gull winged doored, mid engined fibre glass bodied car was powered not by a V8 like the Ferrari’s of the time but a 90bhp, 3 cylinder 2 stroke 992cc engine. Some later version were fitted with a 1200cc engine In total 101 were produced in its 10 year life with a further 15 special version built in 2006 to commemorate the 50 years of the company. As with a lot of Soviet “showmanship” of the cold war, this was a modern looking car with traditional, basic, almost off the shelf components.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

StreetHawk/ Honda XR500

If you of a certain age ie born in the late 70’s like me self TV was great growing up. It was full of tongue in cheek shows with usually a car or vehicle in the middle of it all such as the A- Team GMC van, Knightriders KITT and for one season Streethawk. Go on you remember the bike bursting out through that billboard and save the world or at least the girl. We all remember the bike was the coolest thing on 2 wheels after all it could go over 200mph and had rockets and machine guns!!!! Now enough of reminiscing, the bike was based on a Honda XL500 (Pilot XR500 for the series),

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Volvo Sport/P1800

Back in 1956, Volvo’s President decided after seeing the Corvette that they should produce a sleek 2 seater convertabe sports car. Designed for the American market by Glasspar (an American boat building company) it was a fibre glass body over a tubular steel chassis. Running a 1.4ltr engine only turning out 70bhp linked to a 3 speed gearbox. Poor build quality meant only a small number left the Swedish factory, 68 in fact, with over half of those not going further than their home country of Sweden. Production came to an end in 1957. On the surface its styling was up there with its European contemporaries such as the MGA and Spitfire while retaining an individual look just a shame a new production style and issues led to the unsual below par finish.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Wolfrace Sonic

This was built as a promotional “vehicle” to launch the Wolfrace Sonic alloys (similar to the Ford XR2 Pepper pots) in the very early 1980’s, this unusual and road legal car had a few surprises up its sleeve or rather under the bonnet, 2 Rover V8 engines sat side by side. These engines were control by an on board computer to make sure they ran in sequence with each other making it very advanced for the time. It also has a digital/LCD dash. You may also have noticed the 6 wheels, well is design to sell alloys. Not been able to find much more out, it is a one off and at some point was painted red. There’s not even a lot of information on the Wolfrace site. I just love the way it looks over the top as a promotional car should be.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Mohs Ostentatienne Opera Sedan

This has to be one of the strangest production cars ever (I use the word production loosely as only 3-4 per year between 1967 and 79 from what I can find out) built by Mohs Seaplane Corporation. The first thing you notice is the lack of side doors, you gain entry from the single rear door. This was due to the side rails to help protect the occupant in case of an accident. The wheels are also huge 20” and nitrogen filled (very novel in the 60’s).

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

VW Nova/Sterling

 There are a few cars that I pine after, Lamborghini Countach, Ford Escort RS Turbo (series 1) and the VW based Nova. Unlike a lot kit cars that are replica’s in one form or another, the Nova took the humble Beetle and WOW. Its full of 70’s excess cumulating in the lifting roof. As you’d expect no 2 are the same being customised along the way, but out of the box the kit included a full fibreglass body. Produced by Nova (England), Eagle (South Africa), Eureka (Australia), Scorpion (New Zealand and Sterling (America) between 1971 and the present day!!!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Nissan R390 GT1

Back in the mid 90’s Nissan decided to go GT racing, the was beyond the lower classes in which it currently raced. Nismo (Nissan Motorsport) were set the task of preparing and building the cars. In order to get round he homologation rules a production car was needed. The rules at the time only requried 1. The result the road legal R390, this is a vary rare car, with 2 produced and only one in the public domain. The other is stored in Nissan’s Zama facility. Powered by a 3.5ltr V8 with two turbos strapped to it producing 550bhp, enough to get it to 60mph in 3.3s. This probably makes this one if not the rarest “production” car in the world.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Campagna T-Rex

The 3 wheel vehicle is usually consigned to one of a few camps, Reliant, trike or race bike custom, either way usually they are handbuilt by the driver either from scratch or from a kit. The Camagna T-Rex is not, it’s sold as a production vehicle delivered built. 2 versions are currently available the standard and the higher spec’d RR version both with the same 197bhp, ZX14R Powered 1400R engine with 6 speed sequential box that will run it up to 197mph. If that’s not enough an aero kit was available as well. Built in Canada by a company whose goal is to build the best 3 wheel vehicle in the world.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Aston Martin DBS Lagonda

With the sudden surge of sports car makers now producing modern 4 door versions, its interesting to see that for many this wasn’t the first dabble at it, i’ve already shown the Porsche 989 form back in 1988. Well back in 1974 Lagonda put it name to a car, the first since 1961, it was a elongated DBS (12”s longer) with 2 additional doors added. This was a fully worked up production car, sold between 1974 and 76, based on a concept built in 1969. In all that time however only 7 were ordered and 5 delivered to owners, the main reason for this was probably the MPG barley getting into double figure and the current oil crises affecting the world add to that a 24% premium over the normal 2 door car. As a car however it was very well done, almost looking like Aston Martin its self produced them, with its lines not being spoilt by the 2 additional doors. Unfortunately it also came with the Lagonda grill which detracted from Aston’s good looks.

A fully restored one sold recently for £337.000.

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Jensen Interceptor FF

The Interceptor in my eyes is the pinnacle of British muscle cars, not thebrash American chrome laden land yachts, but a more restrained highbrow interpretation. With its sleek lines, low profile and up market interior it was defiantly a gentleman’s car , a proper man’s car one to aspire to. But the one Interceptor that trumped all the others was the FF. FF stood Ferguson Formula 4 wheel drive system installed on to this car designed by Harry Ferguson Developments, this was back in 1966!!!! It even came with ABS, all to tame the 325bhp 6.3ltr V8 engine contained under that log bonnet. It was sold as the safest car on the road. On the looks of it there was no real difference to the standard model, but on closer inspection the double vents in the wing behind the front wheels spoke volumes and to even closer inspection its 4” longer to accommodate the four wheel drive system. Production lasted until 1971, when the market for such a car required it to be left hand drive, America. Unfortunately the 4 wheel drive system meant that this was impossible due to the position of the mechanics and the FF went out of production. It was a sensation on its release being named Car of the Year by car magazine in 1967.

And just listen to that V8-

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Monday, November 8, 2010

Japanese Custom Vans

I was going to do an article on this custom scene, its so over the top and commited I just think its awesome, and when it comes to the unusual its right at home here. Instead I'm just going to put up a link to the Speedhunters site which has an awesome wrtie up on a meet, believe me it'll put both a smile on your face as well as a look of wonder-

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Bertone Genesis

Most concept cars by design studios usually go for the supercar market with styling exercises with a high value badge on them. If it’s a major car builder there potential views on the companies future look.

Bertone however spent 30000 man hours building a people carrier, when people carriers were either Renault’s or converted vans with more windows!!!!! This was no ordinary people carrier, also called the Lamborghini Genesis due to many of the parts, including the V12 engine derived from the Countach. This 455bhp V12 was essentially mid mounted, partly under the 2 front seats. It also had gullwing doors for the front passengers and sliding doors for the rear allowing comfortable seating for 5.

It was first shown at the 1988 Turin Motor Show. How strange that 20 years later and sporty looking people carriers are all the rage in the mainstream.

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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Renault Sport Spider

I was at work the other week in Manchester with the sun beating down sat at my desk looking out when to my surprise a Renault Spider drove up Deansgate. Whoever was driving it must have been confident on the weather as this is a convertible that didn’t come with a roof!!!! So it’s more a permanent sports car than daily driver. That’s not the only thing it didn’t come with, the windscreen also had a low level option.

Devised by Renault to run as an image making race series and sold to the public as a drivers car built around a lightweight aluminium chassis, the car only ran through half its planned production life. The Spider Championship however ran for longer supporting the British Touring Car Championship from 1995 till 1999 and no doubt other Touring Car Championships throughout Europe. Powered by 150bhp for street vehicles this was upped to 180bhp for track use. As a concept to production it shows it can be done with little compromise, including retention of its gullwing doors, however the lack of roof would have made this a very expensive weekend/track toy.

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

General Motors Futurliner

Back in 1940 GM toured the USA bringing the Parade of Progress to the public. This was in part a marketing tool for GM but also brought the advances of the day to masses for both its car design but also ata point in time when times were simpler and technology was on the brink with huge advance coming thick and fast and GM were the ones showcasing it such as microwave ovens and mixed in its new cars. In order to transport and show case this event GM built the Futurliners, 12 purpose built trucks to both show the advances in vehicle design and technology but they would also double as both a mobile advertisement and the stages. Due to the USA coming into WW2 only two tours were undertaken. However in 1953 GM dusted them off and once again drove them around the country until 1956. The most unusual aspect of the design was the centrally seated drivers position up high in the glass bubble. To cope with this the cab had additional air conditioning fitted to keep them cool. A recently fully restored one sold for $4,320,000 at the Barrett-Jackson Automobile Auction. This kind of touring show just doesn’t happen these days and at the time they were a huge deal with entire towns turning out to see them.

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Monday, October 18, 2010

Maybach Exelero

When most development companies need some testing machinery they usually build a large piece of purpose built equipment and aesthetics are the last think in mind. For automotive companies its mules, older cars that don’t stand out in the crowd with new engineering grafted on so they can be tested without prying eyes. I guarantee at this very moment there’s a number running around the Nurburgring.

So when Fulda decided to build some testing rig for its high performance tyres, which would also be used to promote them, it didn’t go the convectional way of a machine in a warehouse. Instead it commissioned a design competition for student designers, the winner was 24-year-old Fredrik Burchhardt and his work was co-ordinated with that of the Maybach design centre in Sindelfingen. They then took a Maybach 57 and radically redesigned it. Boring out the standard V12 engine to 5.9ltrs and tweaking it up to 700bhp. This has pushed this 2.66 tonne car up to 218mph around the Nardo high-speed oval. The cost a reported £7,000,000!!!!!!

I think the word your looking for it stunning, simply stunning

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