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The Lagonda V12, designed by W.O. Bentley, stands as a remarkable example of 1930s British automotive engineering. It was one of the few road cars of its era capable of exceeding 100 mph in standard tune. The impressive 4½-litre V12 engine generated enough torque to allow the car to smoothly...
The XK150, the final and most magnificent model of Jaguar’s ‘XK’ series, was introduced in 1957. It evolved from the XK120 and XK140, retaining the same chassis, 3.4-litre engine, and four-speed Moss transmission. The new, wider body offered more interior space and better visibility with a single-piece wrap-around windscreen. A...
Delahaye’s early vehicles were unremarkable, but in 1935, the T135 Coupe Des Alpes transformed the brand’s image. This sports car featured a 3.2-liter, six-cylinder engine producing 110bhp with triple Solex carburetors, independent front suspension, a four-speed synchromesh or Cotal gearbox, center-lock wire wheels, and Bendix brakes. In 1936, the improved...
Designed by Ferry Porsche, the 356 was based on the Volkswagen created by his father, Ferdinand Porsche. Like the ‘Beetle’, the 356 used a platform chassis with a rear-mounted air-cooled engine and torsion bar independent suspension. The 356 saw constant development, with its engine growing to 1.3 and then 1.5...
The XK140, despite having one of the finest sports car chassis and engines, appeared somewhat outdated when it debuted in 1954. Its design closely mirrored its predecessor, the XK120, crafted by Jaguar’s boss William Lyons in 1948. Lyons, known for his eclectic style, had incorporated the best of European designs...
Despite launching the world’s cheapest V12, Auburn’s success waned in the mid-1930s as Cord’s business ventures expanded to include Lycoming, Duesenberg, Columbia Axle, Checker Cab, and interests in shipbuilding and aviation. Auburn’s peak came in 1935 with the 851, a remarkable car with a 4.6-litre, supercharged straight-eight engine and a...
Introduced in 1969, Ford’s performance-focused Mustang Mach 1 swiftly captured the attention of street racers, partly due to its affordability, rapid acceleration, and aggressive styling. Built on the fastback-bodied Mustang platform, the Mach 1 boasted distinctive design elements and performance enhancements. These included a competition suspension, a Ram Air hood...
In 1961, Lancia introduced the new front-wheel-drive Flavia series, followed by the development of the Zagato-built Sport model the next year. Designed by Ercole Spada, the Sport featured an alloy body that significantly reduced weight compared to other Flavia variants. Its distinctive appearance was enhanced by panoramica rear quarter windows...
Often hailed as the more refined counterpart to the Cobra, the AC Ace Bristol epitomizes the essence of a classic British sports car. With its graceful aluminum body, weighing under 2,000 pounds, it offers a nimble and exhilarating driving experience. Styled reminiscently of the Ferrari 166 Barchetta, the AC Ace...
The company’s flagship in the 1950s was the 300 S, a luxurious Grand Tourer echoing the pre-war 540 K but both lighter and faster. The 300 debuted at the 1951 Paris Salon as Mercedes-Benz’s first post-WWII prestige car. The range included a six-light, four-door saloon, a cabriolet, and three two-door...
Construzione Automobili Intermeccanica started in 1959 in Torino, Italy, initially focusing on automotive tuning kits. Founded by entrepreneur Frank Reisner, the company later relocated to Canada. Their early productions were Formula Junior racers equipped with Peugeot engines. However, Reisner soon began importing American V8 engines for their chassis, leading to...
After the Austin-Healey 100’s impressive debut at the 1952 Motor Show, two slightly modified versions were entered into the 1953 Le Mans 24-Hour Race, finishing in 12th and 14th places. This was a commendable performance for production sports cars. To capitalize on this success, Austin-Healey dealers offered a “Le Mans”...
In 1955, Chevrolet’s Corvette received a significant boost with the introduction of V-8 power, setting it on a high-performance path. The addition of options like a standard manual transmission in 1956 increased the Corvette’s popularity, as Chief Engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov had predicted. By 1957, sales soared. In 1957, Arkus-Duntov, with...
In October 1976, the Ferrari 512 Berlinetta Boxer (512 BB) was introduced at the Paris Auto Show, succeeding the 365 GT4 BB. The 512 BB retained a similar mechanical layout and exterior but featured a new front chin spoiler, NACA intakes on the sides, and four taillights instead of six....
BMW’s Munich factory, heavily damaged by Allied bombing, struggled with a reduced workforce producing household items, agricultural machinery, bicycles, and railway brake sets. BMW motorcycles reappeared in 1948, and it wasn’t until 1952 that the first post-war BMW car, the 501 luxury saloon, was introduced. The 501, launched in 1951,...
In the late 1930s and early postwar years, Maserati excelled in building small displacement sports and open-wheel formula cars. Transitioning from 4-cylinder formula cars, Maserati developed the 1.5-litre 6-cylinder A6G with various bore/stroke dimensions and both single and double overhead camshafts. They also offered single and double ignition cylinder heads,...
After Daimler and Benz merged in June 1926, Hans Nibel, known for the legendary 200 horsepower ‘Blitzen Benz’, became the sole Technical Director on January 1, 1929, after sharing the role with Ferdinand Porsche. Despite the firm’s focus on large supercharged models, the more commercially significant ‘Stuttgart’ was pivotal. Porsche’s...
Chrysler introduced winged cars in 1969 with the Dodge Charger Daytona, which won its debut race at the Talladega 500. Inspired by this success, Plymouth developed the Superbird, a modified Road Runner, for a few months in late 1969. This complex muscle car featured a smoothed body, retractable headlamps, and...
Cadillac’s development of the V-16 engine was a closely guarded secret, leading to a major success for General Motors, which utilized many external contractors and suppliers. The V-16 was revealed in late 1929 through announcements, dealer presentations, exclusive previews, and auto shows. While competitors initially mocked the engine’s complexity, they...
At the end of World War II, BMW was in a more precarious position than Mercedes-Benz in Stuttgart, largely due to its major plant in Eisenach, Saxony, falling within the Russian Zone and becoming isolated behind the ‘Iron Curtain’. Despite these challenges, BMW resumed car production in 1952, introducing the...
Between 1933 and 1934, MG produced a limited run of 33 supercharged six-cylinder competition cars. These vehicles were essentially race-ready, built on the MG K-series Magnette chassis, and were designated as K3 models, following the K1 and K2 production Magnettes. The K3 Magnettes hold a significant place in MG’s racing...
The XKSS, one of the rarest Jaguars, originated from the D-Type racing series. The D-Type was produced in large quantities to meet FIA sports car regulations, resulting in surplus stock. To address this, Jaguar converted these unused D-Types for road use, creating the XKSS. This idea is attributed to Jaguar...
Introduced at the 1967 Turin Motor Show, the Dino 206GT was developed to meet Ferrari’s need for a Formula 2 power plant. The car featured a mid-engine layout and a sleek aluminum coupe body, styled by the legendary Pininfarina. Its two-liter, 180bhp engine enabled the Dino to reach speeds of...
Ironically, Nissan’s cancellation of Albrecht Goertz’s Yamaha-built design study led to Toyota acquiring the rights to the sleek two-seater coupé that would become the 2000GT. Yamaha was retained to build this envisioned low-volume model, with work beginning in early 1964. The 2000GT dazzled at the 1965 Tokyo Motor Show, though...
In 1959, Colin Chapman showcased his talent for designing production road cars with the Lotus 14, better known as the Elite. Though conceived with competition in mind, aiming for class wins at Le Mans and the Monte Carlo Rally, the Elite featured innovations from Lotus’s single-seaters. The Elite boasted a...
SIATA, short for Società Italiana Applicazioni Techniche Auto-Aviatorie, was founded in 1926 by amateur racing driver Giorgio Ambrosini. Initially, the company focused on tuning FIAT cars and selling performance parts. After World War II, SIATA began manufacturing its own engines and gearboxes, producing a diverse range of models, including some...
From high-efficiency exhaust systems in the 1930s, Karl (later Carlo) Abarth expanded into other performance parts for Italian cars, both small and large. Post-WWII, he became the Italian distributor of Porsche, connecting Ferry Porsche with Piero Dusio of Cisitalia to realize the Type 360 Grand Prix racer project. Following Cisitalia’s...
Autocostruzioni Societa per Azioni (ASA) was established in Turin in 1962 by the wealthy industrialist de Nora family. Based on a proposed ‘baby’ Ferrari designed by Giotto Bizzarrini, the ASA GT, affectionately known as the ‘Ferrarina,’ featured an all-aluminium single-overhead-camshaft four-cylinder engine with a displacement of 1,032cc. This engine was...
Briggs Swift Cunningham, born into wealth, epitomized the American sportsman with his passion for speed, relentless drive, and ample funds. He began racing in 1940 with his “Bu-Merc,” a hybrid of a Buick chassis and engine with a Mercedes-Benz SSK body. After WWII, he intensified his racing efforts. In 1950,...
The Pegaso Z-102, introduced at the 1951 Paris Salon, marked Spain’s first post-war car and captivated audiences. This vehicle, essentially a racing car adapted for road use, featured a groundbreaking 2.5-liter quad-cam V8 engine—the first of its kind in a production car, preceding Ferrari by 13 years. The advanced V8...
Founded in Turin by Giorgio Ambrosini in 1926, Società Italiana Auto Trasformazione Accessori (SIATA) initially specialized in performance parts for FIATs, including dual carburetor manifolds, high compression cylinder heads, superchargers, and complete gearboxes. SIATA’s enhancements boosted FIATs’ competitive success and sales without FIAT’s direct involvement. After WWII, SIATA resumed building...
In 1969, Pontiac unleashed the beast – the most powerful factory-built version of their iconic 400 cubic inch engine. Dubbed the Ram Air IV, this powerhouse was a rev-happy monster, designed to scream all the way to 6,500 RPM. Building on the legacy of the 1968-½ Ram Air II, the...
Virgil Exner’s Plymouth XNR concept car, a radical design with space-age looks, was Chrysler’s final embrace of the “fins and chrome” era. While the XNR itself wasn’t meant for production, Italian coachbuilder Ghia saw potential and developed the Asimmetrica, a toned-down version intended for a limited production run. Both cars...
The Chrysler D’Elegance, a 1952 sporty coupe, was a collaboration between Chrysler designer Virgil Exner and Italian coachbuilder Ghia. This concept car, inspired by European styles, blended smooth curves with American touches like a mesh grille. Exner’s design language, later called “Forward Look”, would influence Chrysler’s future models. The D’Elegance...
Prior to the iconic “250” series, Ferrari offered open-top sports cars. However, it was Pininfarina’s designs on the 250 chassis that truly established the convertible as a permanent fixture in the Ferrari lineup. The introduction of the “275” series in 1964 marked a shift towards more standardized designs, exemplified by...
After achieving success with V12 racing cars, Enzo Ferrari set his sights on creating luxurious road vehicles for discerning customers. Plans began during World War II, and in 1946, Gioacchino Colombo was tasked with designing a compact V12 engine for this new venture. Ferrari unveiled two significant models at the...
In 1967, Ferrari began developing a more powerful 4-cam V12 Berlinetta, surpassing the successful 275 GTB/4. This new model needed to comply with emerging US federal regulations, requiring extensive development time. The first prototype appeared in winter 1967, featuring a design hinting at the final version but with a front...
After the successful launch of the new 300-series sedans and the groundbreaking 300SL sports car, Mercedes-Benz set its sights on creating an affordable and stylish sports car for the masses. Enter the 190SL, introduced in 1954. This sleek two-seater was built on a shortened and strengthened version of the Ponton...