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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...
In 1934, the Bugatti Type 57 roared onto the scene, marking a turning point under Jean Bugatti’s leadership. It was the first all-new design under Jean Bugatti’s leadership, showcasing his innovative spirit. The car boasted a powerful eight-cylinder engine with a unique camshaft design and a first-for-Bugatti transmission fixed directly...
Packard, renowned for its unwavering quality, reigned supreme among American luxury cars before World War II. However, the industry was undergoing a rapid shift. Consumer tastes turned towards quieter, smoother rides, with lighter steering and improved brakes. Wheels shrank from stately 20 inches to 17 inches, and fenders gained skirting...
Chrysler’s 300 “letter series” defied expectations. These luxurious cars, built from 1955 to 1965, brought muscle and style to a bygone era. Each year received a unique letter, influencing the rise of muscle cars. The legend began with the 1955 C-300, packing a monstrous 300-horsepower Hemi V8 and dominating NASCAR....
In 1960, Dodge shifted gears, stepping away from its mid-range position and into the competitive world of economy cars. Their target? Ford, Chevrolet, and even their own entry-level brand, Plymouth. But Dodge’s “economy” wasn’t synonymous with stripped-down or sluggish. The new Dart offered a range of trim levels and a...
In 1953, Packard unveiled the ultra-luxurious Caribbean Convertible. Inspired by the “Pan American” show cars, it aimed to compete with the Cadillac Eldorado. Built on a long, independent-suspension chassis, it housed a powerful 327ci straight-eight engine. Only 1150 Caribbeans were built in 1953-54 before a dramatic redesign. The 1955-56 models...
Born in 1959 Turin, Italy, Intermeccanica started by tinkering with European cars. But founder Frank Reisner craved more. He envisioned American muscle in an Italian suit, leading him to import V8s for his custom chassis. These early creations, the Apollo GTs, laid the groundwork for the legendary Italia. Arriving in...
The Delahaye Type135, launched in 1935, marked a turning point for the brand. This sporty car boasted a powerful 3.2-liter engine and innovative features like independent front suspension. It quickly gained fame on the racing circuit, achieving podium finishes and winning prestigious races like Le Mans. Delahaye continued to refine...
In the mid-1960s, Ferrari sought a 2.0-litre production engine for Formula 2, leading to the creation of the mid-engined Dino. To meet the daunting demand of producing 500 units annually for homologation, Ferrari collaborated with FIAT. This partnership resulted in FIAT producing the Dino’s four-cam V6 engine, spawning a separate...
The Bentley Continental, introduced in 1952, redefined high-speed luxury. Built on the R-Type chassis with a lighter aluminum body, the Continental prioritized weight reduction for maximum performance. Unlike the standard steel R-Type, the Continental boasted a luxurious hand-built body, most notably the iconic wind tunnel-developed fastback design. Power came from...
The Maserati Sebring, launched in 1962, was a luxurious 2+2 coupe based on the successful 3500GT. It marked Maserati’s shift from racing to focus on road cars due to financial difficulties. The 3500GT, designed by Giulio Alfieri, had a powerful engine and impressive handling derived from Maserati’s racing experience. Several...
Ferruccio Lamborghini’s inaugural production vehicle, the Touring-styled 350 GT, made its debut at the 1964 Geneva Motor Show. Crafted by Italy’s esteemed automotive engineers, it boasted a magnificent 3.5-liter, four-cam V12 engine designed by Giotto Bizzarrini and housed within a chassis conceived by Gianpaolo Dallara. With its four camshafts and...
In 1961, Jaguar unveiled the E-Type (known as the XKE in the USA) in its 3.8-liter iteration, causing a sensation with its timeless design and remarkable 150mph top speed. Beyond its eye-catching exterior and impressive performance, the E-Type boasted advanced engineering beneath its surface. Drawing inspiration from the racing D-Type,...
Although Ferdinand Porsche founded his automotive design consultancy in the early 1930s, his name wasn’t associated with a car until 1949, when it adorned one of history’s greatest sports cars: the Porsche 356. Following the original 356 coupé, a cabriolet quickly followed, and in 1952, 15 roadsters were crafted, spurred...
The Mercedes-Benz 540 K, alongside its predecessor the 500 K, stood as one of the most remarkable production models of the 1930s from the Stuttgart firm. Evolving from the 500 K, it shared its independently suspended chassis and boasted a 5.4-liter supercharged straight-eight engine. Spearheaded by ex-racing driver Max Sailer,...
The illustrious Hispano-Suiza, favored by European Royalty, Indian Maharajahs, Hollywood stars, and industrial magnates, was not only impeccably engineered but also emulated shamelessly by leading car manufacturers worldwide. While of Spanish origin, it was the French-built cars of Hispano-Suiza that catapulted it into the forefront of luxury automobile manufacturers post-World...
In the late 1930s and the immediate postwar era, Maserati dominated the realm of small displacement sports and open-wheel formula cars. Transitioning swiftly from the 4-cylinder formula vehicles of the 1930s, Maserati engineered the 1.5-liter 6-cylinder A6G with various bore/stroke configurations, featuring both single and double overhead camshafts. They meticulously...
In 1965, Aston Martin unveiled the DB6, marking the apex of their esteemed line of ‘DB’ six-cylinder sports saloons and often hailed as the quintessential Aston Martin. Succeeding the iconic DB5, the DB6 retained the lineage’s essence while embracing contemporary updates. While it bore familial resemblance to the Touring-styled DB4...
Debuting at the 1953 Turin Motor Show, Lancia’s compact marvel, the Appia, shared styling cues with its larger Aurelia B10 sibling. Spearheading Lancia’s post-war innovations, the Appia bore the mark of renowned engineer Vittorio Jano, formerly of Alfa Romeo, who joined Lancia’s ranks in 1937. At the heart of the...
The BMW 328 wasn’t just a top-tier sports car for enthusiasts; it dominated the 2-liter sports car racing scene across Europe from 1936 to 1940. Owning anything other than a 328 during this period likely meant little chance of victory. With 131 recorded wins, 45 gold medals, and numerous podium...
Debuting at the 1968 Geneva Salon, the Islero evolved from the 400 GT 2+2, itself a descendant of Lamborghini’s first production vehicle, the 1964 Touring-styled 350 GT. Designed by esteemed engineers Giotto Bizzarrini, Gian Paolo Dallara, and Paolo Stanzani, the 350 GT boasted a magnificent 3.5-liter four-cam V12 engine and...