Monday, 17 October 2016

Bagged Audi 100LS

Words & photos - Daniel Bevis

There are times when I bring you thoughtful and considered SSBB posts, offering insight and informative titbits in the spirit of mutual knowledge-sharing. And there are other times, like this, when I'm able to offer pretty much zero information about a car, but feel compelled to share it anyway. So this is where we find ourselves. Look, it's an early-1970s Audi 100 on air-ride. Cool, huh? Somebody drove this all the way to the Players Show in Essex from Germany, and I'm very glad they did. Brightened everyone's day no end.

More Players pics here.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Lamborghini Centenario

Words & photos - Daniel Bevis

The Centenario is Lamborghini's 100th birthday present to founding-father Ferruccio. Well, it would be if he were still here, but he isn't... so we all get to share it instead. (Not literally, of course [that'd be brilliant], but more just, y'know, being aware that it exists.)

The car builds upon the Aventador platform to create a sort of rolling testbed for the next generation of Lambo hypercars. The 6.5-litre V12 - which idles at 850rpm and redlines at 8,500, in a neat numerical act of tidiness - produces 760bhp, which is 20bhp more than the Aventador SV. It's got insane aero too; a twin-deck front splitter channels the air up and over the sideblades, working in harmony with an active rear spoiler and colossal diffuser. You can reel out your own clichés about driving it on the ceilings of tunnels.

The Centenario is also the first Lamborghini to employ rear-wheel steering, and the whole thing's made of gorgeously weave-matched carbon-fibre that means, in spite of all the extra tech they've crammed in, it weighs 55kg less than an Aventador. And the car really is all about the numbers; 0-62mph in 2.8s, 0-186mph in 23.5s, 217mph top speed, 227kg of downforce at 174mph, 355-section rear tyres, 507lb.ft of torque... oh yes, and the small matter of £1,700,000. Happy birthday, Ferruccio!

Spotted at Salon Privé 2016 - more pics here.

Monday, 10 October 2016

Ferrari 288 GTO Evoluzione

Words & photos - Daniel Bevis

There's something wilfully mischievous about juxtaposing the verdant lushness of Windsor Castle's lawn with a car that's basically made of functional vents. There's no earthly reason for this machine to be here which, of course, is what's so brilliant about the contemporary concours scene.

The 288 GTO was effectively the car that spawned the F40. Crafted for the Group B regs that were almost immediately then taken behind the barn and terminated with a shotgun, the mid-eighties turbonutter became essentially a race car without a race series - a sad state of affairs. But Ferrari don't like to give up on such things. They'd already built five production 288 GTO Evoluziones along with a prototype before Group B was canned, and they didn't want the whole endeavour to be pointless. Cars like this are expensive to develop. So they took all of the basic architecture - the tubular steel spaceframe and aluminium floor, the notion of crafting the bodywork from carbon-Kevlar, the eminently shouty 2.9-litre twin-turbo V8 - and they reworked one of the Evoluziones into a prototype for the F40 road car. And that's proved to be quite popular, hasn't it?

This, then, is a car that came perilously close to being sidelined as one of automotive history's errors. But then, brilliantly and unexpectedly, it gave birth to arguably Ferrari's greatest success. Nice when things work out, isn't it?

Spotted at the 2016 Windsor Concours - more pics here.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Drift Rolls-Royce

Words & photos - Daniel Bevis

People have been doing unseemly and uncouth things with Silver Shadows for generations. A privateer even entered one into the 1970 London-Mexico World Cup rally, which annoyed Rolls-Royce no end. But drifting? Now that's quite a statement...
This car was built by UK outfit Z Cars for top drift looper Shane Lynch (yes, him off Boyzone), with the interior reworked by Project Kahn to fuse a bizarre mix of the luxurious and the competition-oriented. It's running Air Lift’s new 3H air-ride system, which explains how those wide steels sit so cosily within the extended arches, and the body's been extensively smoothed and simplified. Power-wise, it's all as R-R intended; the 6.7-litre V8 remains, as does the stock gearbox, although this has been tightened up with a JW shift kit and B&M Pro Ratchet shifter. Probably the coolest element of the thing, though, is the custom billet handbrake lever. Just look at the bloody size of the thing!
Mad car. Totally bonkers. We should all be very glad that this exists.

Spotted at the Players Classic and Players Show 2016.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Morgan EV3

Words and photos - Daniel Bevis

Morgan's new-generation 3 Wheeler is a fabulously bonkers little thing - and I mean that in the most complimentary manner. There is arguably no new car on the market that can rival it for smiles-per-pound; it's a 500kg tub with two spindly wheels at the front, a fat one at the back, a V-twin bolted to the nose, and nothing else. And while there are just two cylinders, they displace a whole litre each; combine this with the open pipes that flank the body, and you get an animated pop-pop-pop like a WWII fighter plane.
It's a tight fit too - squishing into the seat and folding yourself under the wheel like intricate meat origami, you end up wearing the car like a metal cagoule, low enough to reach out and scratch the road surface with your fingernails. But despite the theatrics, it's a doddle to drive; the gearbox is a Mazda MX-5 item, the clutch is light... once you've got used to the tanker-like turning circle, it's a breeze. Literally, actually, as there's no real windscreen to speak of.
The most fun part is that all of that accessible torque is fired through the single rear wheel, which will break traction at any given opportunity - you'll find yourself taking every corner with an armful of opposite lock, snaking toward the horizon as the screeching tyre mixes with the thudding engine and rasping side-pipe crescendo. It really is a chuckle.

This one, however, is a little different. There's no thunderous V-twin here - this car is called EV3 and, as the name hints at, it's an electric vehicle. That's right, a tree-fondling, Congestion Charge-avoiding EV created with the future squarely in its crosshairs. Which is an entertaining notion, in a car so inherently retro in approach.
Built in conjunction with Selfridges, of all people, the 'UK1909' spec model is super-rare, as Morgan are only building nineteen of them. The electric motor produces 45kw (equivalent to around 75bhp) which, in such a lightweight car, allows a 0-62mph time a little over eight seconds. Top speed is 80mph, although to be fair you'd never need to go faster than that in a 3 Wheeler. 40mph feels like a hundred.
The EV3 takes four hours to fully charge and has a range of 120-150 miles, although you can amusingly reduce this by putting it in Sport Mode, which switches off the regenerative braking and sharpens up the throttle response.
It is, of course, a fundamentally silly car, but also an eminently logical one - if you're going to have a frivolous toy, it makes sense to have one with a small footprint. And if you're commuting into London every day and don't need any luggage space, there's actually a decent economical argument for this.
Oh, and it looks awesome too, obviously. That's the best bit. Those wide bug-eyes are a masterstroke.

Spotted at Salon Privé 2016 - more pics here.

Friday, 30 September 2016

Ferrari 250 SWB - 7 SPA

Words & photos - Daniel Bevis

Arguably the prettiest of all the competition Ferraris, the 250 GT Short Wheelbase Berlinetta Competizione is a fabulously proportioned and sublimey engineered piece of art. Something as comfortable in a gallery as on a race track.
...and this one, 7 SPA, is more special than most. Stirling Moss won three races in this car in 1960, and Mike Parkes won three more in it the following year. It's now owned by ex-Ferrari F1 technical director Ross Brawn, who reputedly had an SWB with slightly less stellar provenance in his collection before he replaced it with this one. It's simply one of the most desirable examples. (Indeed, the fervour with which enthusiasts hanker after this car is off the charts; chassis #2119GT even has its own official biography, written by Doug Nye.)

What makes it so special compared to other SWBs? Oh, it's the air of jeopardy that it effervescently exudes. Stirling very nearly didn't drive the car at all back in 1960; with the car having been ordered by Rob Walker's race team for Moss to race at Goodwood's RAC Tourist Trophy in August, Stirling then crashed a Lotus 18 in June and broke both legs along with crushing three vertebrae. That he was able to race the Ferrari just a couple of months later is little short of miraculous, and the fact that he won the race proves that the man is some sort of supernatural entity rather than a mere mortal like you or I. He even built up such a lead in the race that he was able to switch on the radio and listen to the commentary to see how his rivals were getting on...

Further adding to the mystique, the car disappeared entirely after the 1961 season and didn't resurface until the inaugural Goodwood Festival of Speed in 1993, to the surprise of many enthusiasts and collectors. It retains its original engine and gearbox, and it's so wonderfully straight and true that it's all over the concours scene these days. Which leads us nicely up to the present day - you see it here on the courtyard lawn at Windsor Castle, basking regally and looking very much at home.

More pics from the 2016 Windsor Concours here.