Ford GT

Ford GT 2005 American supercar

The Ford GT was the firm's birthday present to itself ... or, anyone with a spare $203,599 lying about! Created to mark the company's centenary, it was released in 2005. The new GT was inspired by one of the finest cars Ford had ever produced. The iconic GT40 racer was a multiple Sixties Le Mans winner. The new GT prototype débuted at the 2002 Detroit Auto Show. Feedback was fulsome! In short order, Ford confirmed that they would be putting the prototype into production. 4,038 GTs were built ... somewhat shy of the 4,500 Ford envisaged.

If the GT's styling harked back to the past, technologically, it was cutting edge. A venturi - cut into the floor-pan - provided plenty of downforce. High-speed grip was further enhanced by huge Goodyear Eagle tyres. And the GT needed every bit of that grip - as its 5.4-litre engine pushed traction to the limit. The aluminium V8 was fitted with a Lysholm supercharger. The cylinder-heads were well-fettled - including high-lift cams. When the Ford engineers finished, there was 550bhp on tap. Torque was massive - 0-60mph turning up in just 3.7s. The GT's body and space-frame chassis chipped in on the acceleration front, too - both being forged from light aluminium. Transferring torque to tarmac was independent, double wishbone suspension.

Despite its power, this car was way more practical than its race predecessor. GT40 referenced height - all 40″ of it! The new GT was, at least, wider and longer. Performance-wise, too, the new car was more user-friendly. Those titanic torque stats translated to to-die-for acceleration. The GT, though, could mood-shift in an instant - cruising, seamlessly and effortlessly. A 6-speed transmission was there, if required. With the new GT, Ford had homed in on the ultimate all-rounder. To say the least, it took the sales fight to its rivals. A top speed of 204mph was more than competitive in supercar marketing terms. The Ford GT, then, was a nostalgia-laden celebration of speed!

Chrysler Airflow

Chrysler Airflow 1930s American classic car

The Chrysler Airflow was where Art met Science! Its body lines were aerodynamic - at a time when that craft was a mere glint in a boffin's eye. Indeed, the Airflow was the first production car to feature the fledgling craft. A wind tunnel was duly constructed. Today, such systems are considered arcane ... in the early '30s, they were a black art! The Airflow wizards of engineering were Carl Breer, Fred Zeder and Owen Skelton. Breer had been first to be smitten by the new-fangled science. Zeder and Skelton soon followed suit. And it did no harm at all when pioneer pilot Orville Wright's input was added. Over 50 test cars were subsequently built. So - by a process of painstaking refinement - the Chrysler Airflow gradually took shape.

The Airflow, though, was not just aerodynamics. Weight-saving, too, was part of its brief. Its svelte frame was made from light metal - rather than heavy timber. Perched on that frame was a monocoque body. That reduced weight still further. What mass was left was optimally placed. The engine was over the front wheels - with ride and handling in mind. The seats sat neatly within the wheelbase - in the interests of balance. Thanks to all the wind-cheating work, the Airflow was well-placed to 'turn up the wick', when required. A top speed of 88mph was not to be sniffed at, in '34.

The Airflow's sales, though, were lacklustre. Walter Chrysler showed courage and commitment, in commissioning the car. But, the Airflow was the future. Buyers were not yet ready for its 'free-flowing' lines. On top of that, there were rumours of build quality faults ... on account of new welding techniques. Ultimately, though, cars like the Airflow are not about sales. Rather, they are about the legacy they leave - and the visions they engender. The Chrysler Airflow influenced automotive design for decades!

Gilera Saturno

Gilera Saturno 1950s Italian classic sports motorcycle

The Gilera Saturno was launched in '46. Its heyday, though, came in in the 1950s. In the fickle realm of motorbike manufacturing, Gilera was a big player in that fashionable decade. After that, the firm met with mixed fortunes. But - in the Fifties at least - the Saturno was a flagship for the Italian brand. It rolled into the showrooms in Sport, Touring and Competition guises. And immediately began to sell well.

The Saturno was a hit on both road and track. The production racer version was competitive for many seasons. Indeed, it remained so for some time after the bike's production run finished - at the fag-end of the '50s.

In roadster mode, too, the Saturno stayed tethered to the tarmac. That was largely thanks to its telescopic forks - and vertical rear shocks. It rapidly gained a reputation as a performance bike of its era. Towards the end, Gilera linked up with Piaggio and Vespa. It found a much-needed niche as part of the scooter scene. Illustrious though those names were - and are even now - for Gilera, its best days were gone. The Saturno, though, still shone a light for the glory years!

Honda CBX1000Z

Honda CBX1000Z 1970s Japanese classic motorbike

The Honda CBX1000Z was a child of its times. In the Seventies, performance was everything. Japanese superbike performance, that is. At the time, the 'Big Four' - Honda, Suzuki, Kawasaki and Yamaha - were more concerned about how a bike went than how it looked. The 'CBX' could have been cited as a case in point. Its inline-six motor was prioritised over other areas of the bike. Its 24-valve DOHC air-cooled inline-six motor, to be precise. It had been designed by a one-time GP engineer. Most famously, Mike Hailwood's Honda RC166 racer had displayed the virtues of a 6-cylinder layout.

Given the girth of its 6-pot block, the CBX handled well. Its manoeuvrability was still more impressive when its cycle parts were factored in. By today's standards, the tubular steel frame, telescopic forks, narrow wheels and high-profile tyres were spindly. And dwarfed by the mass of the motor. Straight handlebars - and twin rear shocks - were similarly conventional. In fact, the width of the engine was deceptive. Just 2″ wider than the CB750. That was due to its unusual layout. The alternator and ignition parts were located behind the block. Well out of the way, should the bike ever find itself sliding down the road!

Flat out, the CBX did 140mph. Striking though that was, it was as nothing next to the noise the bike made reaching it. The high-pitched howl of a CBX at full chat is something that once heard, is never forgotten. Especially with a slightly less than legal pipe fitted. At which point, it sounds as much like a jet plane as it does a motorcycle! Sadly, the CBX did not sell well. In time, its design would be diluted down into less extreme machines. But, motorcycling would be the poorer without bikes like the CBX. Look on them as a challenge. Get a corner just right - and there are few feelings like it. The Honda CBX1000Z was flawed, for sure ... but fantastic fun!

Ferrari Testarossa

Ferrari Testarossa classic Italian supercar

The Ferrari Testarossa was released in '84. 'Testarossa' is Italian for redhead. That referenced the red cylinder head of the car's 5-litre flat-12 engine. Within the head were 4 valves per pot. They were heat-protected by state of the art nickel-alloy. That was a wise move on Ferrari's part - since there was every possibility of temperature build-up, at some point! Power peaked at 390bhp.

While the nickel-alloy valves worked a treat, yet more needed to be done to dissipate heat. The engineers had done their bit - now it was down to the designers. The Testarossa was mid-engined - to help with handling. So, cooling was moved to the rear. Pininfarina oversaw the styling mods. They drafted a wide back-end - with plenty of room for the cooling components. The side-mounted air-ducts became trademark Testarossa.

The Testarossa's top speed was 180mph. 0-60 arrived in 5.5s. Steering was superb - the smallest of inputs being sufficient. The body was, in the main, aluminium - assisting with weight loss. Aerodynamics were wind tunnel-tested - including downforce. In '92, the Testarossa 512 TR appeared. The fastest production car in the world at the time, it knocked the Lamborghini Diablo off top spot. The Testarossa F512M came along in '94. By now, it was a true 200mph supercar. Redheads are reputed to be a tad on the fiery side. The Ferrari Testarossa did absolutely nothing to dispel that myth!

McLaren-Honda MP4/4

McLaren-Honda MP4/4 1980s F1 car

The McLaren-Honda MP4/4 is, arguably, the most successful F1 car in history. Then again, it could not have had two more able drivers. Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost were at the peak of their considerable powers at the time. Throughout the '88 season, the pair extracted the max from the MP4/4. Well, almost! Between them, they won 15 times from 16 starts. The Italian GP was the one that got away. Senna got bamboozled by a back-marker. With Prost also out, victory at Monza just was not to be.

McLaren began the '88 campaign with mixed emotions. In the plus column, they had secured Honda as an engine supplier. The year before, the Japanese giant had helped arch-rivals Williams win the World Championship. But, in the minus column, McLaren had lost ace designer John Barnard. Given that he had sculpted every McLaren since '81, he would inevitably be sorely missed. In his stead, Steve Nichols and Neil Oatley stepped boldly up to the high-tech plate. The previous year's car - the MP4/3 - had been powered by Porsche. The Honda motor that replaced it was also a V6 - and similarly configured. That meant it slotted neatly into the MP4/3's tried and trusted aerodynamic package. The only visible change to the bodywork was a narrower cockpit.

The '88 season would be turbocharged engines' last hurrah. The F1 powers that be had decreed that thereafter they would be banned. Notwithstanding that their engine would soon be obsolete, Honda in no way took their foot off the gas. They wrung every last drop out of the new V6. Indeed, they went so far as to build alternative versions - the XE2 and XE3. They could be toggled by McLaren, according to circuit layout. Because of the extra prep, McLaren were late for pre-season testing. If that made their rivals chuckle, the mirth was short-lived. McLaren duly fired up the new engines - and sent the cars out. They left the opposition for dead. Come the first race - and it was more of the same. So it stayed for the rest of the season. Proof was provided by that near-perfect win tally. Senna and Prost, then, were nigh on unbeatable ... stymied only by that Monza back-marker. That made the McLaren-Honda MP4/4 the greatest GP car of them all ... well, statistically-speaking, at least!

Cadillac Eldorado Brougham

Cadillac Eldorado Brougham 1950s American classic car

As '50s cars go, the Cadillac Eldorado Brougham was understated. Next to its sibling, the Eldorado Biarritz, for example, the Brougham's tail fins were positively petite. Such delicacies were to be found on other parts of the car, too. The aluminium roof - minus pillars - was a shining example. And the narrow, whitewall tyres were a stylish delight. From a design history point of view, the Brougham was the first car to feature twin headlights. It was based on a 'dream car' prototype - first shown at '54's Motorama. The 'Park Avenue' was a four-door sedan. It made serious waves when exhibited on GM's stand. As a result, Harley Earl - General Motors' head of design - hinted it might go into production. It duly did. The Eldorado Brougham was released in '57.

The Brougham's brand of elegance was more than skin-deep. The interior accessories list was a long one. It comprised items more associated with fashion than automobiles. Female passengers were particularly pampered. How about polarised sun visors, magnetised tumblers - and cigarette and tissue dispensers? Lipstick and cologne, a compact and powder puff, and a mirror and comb were thoughtfully provided. There was even an Arpege atomiser - with Lanvin perfume. And carpeting was in karakul - or lambskin. Hey, any lady who complained about that little lot might be asked to exit at the next set of lights!

But, the Brougham's litany of luxuries did not stop there. It was only right that more masculine tastes be catered to, too. Like a 6.3-litre V8 - dishing up 325bhp. It was hitched up to GM's 'Hydramatic' transmission. The chassis was 'X-frame' - held up by air-assisted suspension. There were both power brakes and steering. Plus, electrically-operated seats and windows. The cabin was wired for pretty much everything - given that this was still the Fifties. Gadgets and gizmos abounded. The Cadillac Eldorado Brougham was one of the most exotic cars ever to have come out of Detroit. A skilfully contrived cocktail of restrained glamour. And on top of all that, it could be customised. With 44 trim combinations available, your dream Caddy was a cinch!

Hesketh V1000

Hesketh V1000 British sports motorbike

The Hesketh V1000 might be viewed as a mechanical folly. Was all the effort and expense worth it? Not from a financial viewpoint. Few of them sold. Then again, an architectural folly stands tall - boldly proclaiming itself a glorious failure. Perhaps the V1000 should do the same.

It was not as if the losses would hit Hesketh hard. After all, Lord Hesketh funded the F1 team which bore his name. Along with some sponsors, of course. Certainly, the noble lord did not lack for ambition. His goal with the V1000 was nought less than the resurrection of the British bike industry. And he almost succeeded ... up to a point. For, the V1000 was by no means a bad bike. It was stylish, for starters. And when it came to the cycle parts, everything was tickety-boo, too. The frame was made from nickel-plated steel tubing. Suspension was by Marzocchi. Disc brakes by Brembo. As you would expect, then, the V1000 handled and stopped with aplomb. So far, so good! Why, then, did the bike fail? Did it, perhaps, have an Achilles' heel?

Lord Hesketh's choice of engine designer could not be faulted. Weslake were at the top of their game. What they did not know about 4-strokes was not worth knowing. But, something went badly awry. When tested, the V-twin was noisy - and prone to leak oil. The gearbox was basic, at best. That said, the twin cam set-up, with four valves per pot, gave 86bhp - and did so smoothly. Top speed was a cool 120mph. So, things certainly were not all bad. Sadly, though, there were more than enough 'issues', to sow doubts in buyers' minds. Which was a shame. Because Lord Hesketh's vision for the V1000 could have led to a good British bike. Maybe even a great one. In true folly fashion, though, it finished up mere whimsy. The Hesketh V1000 promised so much - but delivered so little. Anyway - hats off to his Lordship for trying!

Lancia Stratos

Lancia Stratos 1970s classic Italian sports car

The Lancia Stratos was a 'wedge' on wheels. 'Stratos' was short for stratosphere … precisely where the driver would be headed, should the car's performance not be treated with the necessary respect! The car's blade of a shape sliced through air. It was only on the road, as a means to a competitive end. 500 production models had to be built, to allow Lancia to contest the Group 4 rally version.

The Stratos was not conceived with motorsport in mind. For some time, Lancia had been slipping behind its rivals - both on the road and at the racetrack. As soon as Cesare Fiorio - head of Lancia's autosport arm - clocked the Stratos concept car, he straightaway saw a chance to get things Lancia back on track. That was at 1970's Turin motor show. Styled by Marcello Gandini - at Bertone - the Stratos looked stunning. But, technically, too, it was perfect for Fiorio's purpose. Suitably light, its engine bay was centrally-located. Install a Ferrari Dino motor - and Fiorio was sure it would have the trappings of a top-flight rally car.

It was a long way from the cool confines of the Turin show, to the blazing heat of the world's hottest rally stages. But, with beefed-up suspension - and a more upright driving position - the Stratos was eventually good to go. And in its iconic 'Alitalia' livery, it certainly looked the part. As a rally car, it would be legendary. And - in road-going mode, too - there have been few cars so 'sharp' as the Lancia Stratos!

Norton NRS 588

Norton NRS 588 British racing motorbike

The Norton NRS 588 - the 'rotary' Norton racer - was the brainchild of engineer Brian Crighton. His innovative project was at first rejected by Norton management. Crighton built the bike anyway, off his own bat. In the caretaker's shed! Subsequently, it performed so well in speed tests that Norton's top brass had a sudden change of heart! They flashed the green light for its development.

Riders Trevor Nation and Steve Spray were joined at the hip with the 'JPS Norton'. In their black, silver and gold leathers, they and the bikes were a stunning sight at British circuits. 'Rocket' Ron Haslam, too, played a pivotal part in the bike's success.

Revered for its jet-like straight-line speed, the rotary engine's braking - or lack of it - made cornering much more of a challenge! The rear end snaking this way and that on entry was often the source of much spectator mirth. The Norton NRS 588, then, was an iconic British race bike - one guaranteed to render misty-eyed race-goers of the time. And all thanks to Brian Crighton ... and his powers of perseverance!

Aston Martin DB5

Aston Martin DB5 1960s British classic sports car

The Aston Martin DB5 was a blue-blooded aristocrat. The member of society's upper tier with whom the car is most associated is, of course, James Bond. For, the DB5 played a starring rôle in Goldfinger. Indeed, it was unthinkable that '007' would have driven anything else! And, when Bond was in the countryside - recuperating from the rigours of defending the Western world - he would have been seen in a 'shooting-brake' DB5. Just 12 of these rarefied estate cars were built. Now, that is exclusivity, Miss Moneypenny!

At the heart of the Aston's allure was its beautiful bodywork. Alloy panels came courtesy of Touring - the illustrious Italian design house. A network of minimalist tubing made up a skeletal frame. On that was laid the car's finely-chiselled outer skin. Flared-in headlights were a fashionable feature. They also helped the DB5's aerodynamics. A top speed of 140mph said it all. If you needed an extra 10mph on top of that, a tuned Vantage engine was always an option. The 4/5-speed ZF transmission was eminently tractable. Solid disc brakes were fitted all round.

So, the DB5 mixed cutting edge technology with sought-after styling. It added its own take to decades of impeccably-wrought Aston craftsmanship. It was as suave and sophisticated as cars get. It had 'licensed to kill' looks. And its 4-litre straight-6 engine had performance to match. 282bhp was on free-flowing tap … shaken, but not stirred, of course! 'DB' stood for David Brown. And his firm's reputation now soared to new heights. After all, the Aston Martin DB5 was James Bond's personal transport. And it does not come much classier than that!

AC Cobra

AC Cobra 1960s American classic sports car

Rarely has the 'special relationship' - the trans-Atlantic alliance between the UK and the US - produced something as special as the AC Cobra! Texan Carroll Shelby sought out AC Cars - in Thames Ditton, England. The firm had been founded by the Weller brothers - in West Norwood, London - in 1901. How would AC feel about Shelby inserting a Ford V8 engine into his take on their sinuous bodywork? The curtain was about to be raised on one of the most memorable sports cars of all time.

The Cobra's svelte lines were clearly drawn from the AC Ace. The 'Ace' was an elegant British sports car. But the Cobra's beefcake build would be boldly all-American. Shelby was a successful racing driver. When it came to the Cobra, then, he wanted power - and plenty of it. Its 7-litre Ford mill unleashed 490 wild horses - or their automotive equivalent! And the Cobra's pushrod V8 spat out torque on tap. The AC's light alloy body shell slimmed down power-to-weight still further. Thankfully, disc brakes were fitted all round!

The cars were sold as both Shelby and Ford Cobras. In race trim, they were Shelby American Cobras. Only 1,000 or so cars were built. Their legacy, though, will live forever - or as long as men like Shelby feel compelled to compete. There have been Presidents with less presence than the AC Cobra. Big fun, in a big country, basically!

Ferrari Dino

Ferrari Dino 1960s Italian classic sports car

When is a Ferrari not a Ferrari? When it is a Dino! How so? Well, what defines a Ferrari? Why, the prancing horse logo, of course. But the 246 only ever wore Dino GT insignia. The firm's founder, Enzo Ferrari, wanted this car to be a 'marque' all its own. There was a good - and moving - reason for that. He had prematurely lost his son Alfredino - so the car was a father's tribute. Even Enzo, though, may have conceded that the 'Dino' was a Ferrari in all but name.

Enzo had no qualms about including Fiat in such a personal project. The two firms struck a deal which enabled Ferrari to compete in the F2 racing series. To enter, homologation rules required that 500 roadsters be produced. Financially, Ferrari were not in a position to supply engines for that many Dinos. For the mighty Fiat corporation, though, such numbers were not a problem. So it was that - inside every Ferrari Dino - there lurks the spirit of Fiat.

Stylistically, the Dino was unaffected by the mechanical shenanigans. Beauty on wheels, its Pininfarina/Bertone styling was visible in every perfect curve. Of course, no car was ever going to make up for losing a son. It is to be hoped, however, that the Ferrari Dino was some small source of solace for the great man.

Ducati 900SS

Ducati 900SS 1970s Italian classic motorcycle

Of all the Seventies superbikes, the Ducati 900SS was one of the most pure of purpose. Unburdened by such 'add-ons' as an electric start and a pillion seat, the SS roared 'race-bred' - as loudly as its Conti pipes!

Ducati's proprietary desmodromic valve-gear took pride of place in the 900's V-twin engine. As a result, it solidly piled on revs - enough for the Duc to accrue a top speed of 132mph.

Yet, the 900's technical prowess seemed to fade into shade, in light of its visual virtues. Achingly good-looking, the Ducati 900SS is arguably beyond compare, styling-wise!

Triumph T120 Bonneville

Triumph T120 Bonneville 1960s British classic motorcycle

The Triumph T120 Bonneville is one of the most 'historic' motorbikes ever built. Its very name is liable to induce weak knees in its devotees. The Bonnie - as it was dubbed - invokes visions of a time when the material world was made out of metal. Plastic, back then, was but a brittle blip on the horizon. Now, it goes without saying that the future of the planet comes before that of classic motorcycles ... well, it does, according to non-bikers, anyway! That said, the petroleum and oils of yesteryear had a 'spirit' - which today's sanitised synthetics singularly lack. Such 'aromatic' products were an essential part of the design icon that is the Triumph Bonneville.

It is ironic that a bike that so epitomises Sixties Britain should reference the US. Utah's Bonneville salt flats have long been the snow-white setting for many a piece of high-speed history. In '56, for example, Johnny Allen climbed aboard a Triumph Streamliner - and proceeded to gun it up to 214mph. The Triumph Bonneville roadster was good for just over half that. Still, 110mph was more than enough for most 'ton-up boys', at the time. Indeed, it allowed them 10mph leeway ... in case of headwinds, perhaps - or less than clean carbs! Bonnie aficionados spent so much time in the saddle that it became a virtual part of their anatomies. And that was pre-computer games!

In Triumph's glory days, the Bonneville was the beacon for the brand. Some quarter of a million Bonnies passed through the firm's Meriden factory gates. On the Isle of Man, a Bonneville won the Production TT - in '67. Two seasons later, and a Bonneville set the first 'proddy racer' 100mph lap of 'the island'. Those ton-up boys must have been in seventh heaven! And even on less celebrated roads, the Triumph T120 Bonneville was a legend in its own landscape. So, when the 'rockers' decamped to the seaside, that infamous day in the '60s - to do battle with the 'mods' - it is a safe bet there was many a 'Bonnie' seen blasting down to Brighton beach!

Mini

Mini 1960s British classic car

The BMC Mini was launched in '59. Just in time, then, for the start of the 'Swinging Sixties' - a British cultural highpoint it helped to define. Subsequently, a poll of motoring luminaries went even further - voting it 'Car of the Century'. You did not have to look too hard to find its 'unique selling point' ... its size - or lack of it! Alec Issigonis - the Mini's designer - was obsessive about not wasting an inch of automotive real estate. The Mini was a utility vehicle, par excellence. Yet, it was also one of the coolest cars ever to turn a wheel ... each of which was a less than whopping 10″ in diameter! Issigonis' design process really did include sketches on the backs of envelopes. But, then, they were for the Mini! Anyway, it worked - more than 5,300,000 Minis were built. That made it Britain's best-selling car ... ever!

Space-saving, then, was the Mini's raison d'être. Its front-wheel-drive set-up was key to this ... as was the fact that the gearbox was placed beneath the engine. The Mini was a tour de force, technically. Dr Alex Moulton dreamed up radical rubber-cone suspension for the car. BMC quoted 'penny-a-mile' running costs. Bear in mind that the Mini was conceived in the wake of the '56 Suez Crisis - when fuel prices were at a premium. But, economical as it was, the Mini could shift a bit, too. Fastest of all was the Mini-Cooper S model. Named after John Cooper - the legendary race-car constructor - the top-spec version delivered 76bhp. And a top speed of 96mph. The Mini had always handled well ... now it had a motor to match. Standard-spec Coopers won the Tulip Rally - in '62 and '63. The Cooper S won the Monte Carlo Rally - in '64, '65 and '67. That was on top of ruling the roost in British saloon car racing.

The Mini even moved into the luxury car market ... well, after a fashion! Both Radford and Wood - and Pickett - turned out coach-built versions of the car. Pink Panther actor Peter Sellers owned one of Radford and Wood's creations. Presumably - after all his success - Sellers bought a Mini with an eye to style, rather than cost. But, Minis were comparatively affordable ... in standard trim, at least. The cost of the original cars was kept down by fitting sliding windows, cable-pull door releases, and externally welded body seams. To begin with, there were just two models to choose from - the Austin Mini Seven, and Morris Mini-Minor. The latter came in basic or de luxe versions. Over time, the use of alternative sub-frames enabled several variations on the theme. There were Mini vans, pick-ups, and estate cars. Not to mention, the Mini Moke and Cabriolet. The Mini, in turn, went on to influence other cars - like the long-boot Riley Elf and Wolseley Hornet. Ultimately, though, the Mini was unique. Usually, iconic cars are comprised of vast swathes of metal. The Mini, though, went to the other extreme. Petite, certainly ... but always perfectly-formed!

Williams-Renault FW14B

Williams-Renault FW14B 1990s F1 car

The Williams F1 team has proffered many an exotic race car over the years. Few, though, have had quite the allure of the FW14B. From the moment its designer Patrick Head picked up his pen, the '92 World Championship was decided. But, there was another key FW14B factor. The legendary Nigel Mansell! For, he was in sync with the car to an uncanny degree. Are certain drivers born to certain cockpits? Who knows! One thing is for sure. No-one else was going to be winning that year's titles. That is how far ahead of the field Mansell and the FW14B were.

The key component in the FW14B package was 'active-ride' suspension. Lotus had already blazed a trail for the new set-up. Williams followed suit, in '87. In '88, too, they continued their 'active-ride' mission. Patrick Head's faith, though, was shaken by reliability issues. Nothing daunted, Adrian Newey - Williams' chief aerodynamicist - had done enough wind tunnel testing, to be sure that 'active-ride' was still the way to go. The idea was to keep the FW14B uniformly upright - or, as close as possible, given the humungous forces to which it was subjected. Newey badgered Head into giving active-ride one last chance - reliability gremlins, notwithstanding. Come '91, and the system was duly slotted into the Williams FW14 chassis. The motor racing gods must have been smiling. This time around, everything gelled.

Immediately the FW14B dropped off the blocks, it hit the ground running. It won the first five GPs. Four more victories would follow - as Mansell grabbed the '92 season by the scruff of its neck. There were just two races at which he and the Williams did not start from pole. The car's Renault V10 engine performed perfectly, while using far less fuel than its main rival - the McLaren-Honda V12. There was nowhere to hide for the opposition. Williams had covered all bases. Even the FW14B's paint scheme outshone its competitors! With those bold primary colours careening round circuits, spectators were treated to a rich visual feast, too. Of course, that iconic livery will be forever associated with the great Nigel Mansell. A pundit was once asked who was the most determined F1 driver he had ever met? 'Oh, that's an easy one', he said. 'Nigel Mansell would've driven a car through a brick wall to get something done!' But - with the FW14B - he did not have to. Head and Newey had made his life easy … well, relatively speaking, anyway. One of the most iconic cars ever to lap a track, the Williams FW14B was miles ahead of its rivals. Something that makes an F1 driver very happy. Even Nigel Mansell!

Chevrolet Corvette Mako Shark 1

Chevrolet Corvette Mako Shark 1 1960s American concept car

The Chevrolet Corvette Mako Shark 1 'dream car' was one of the most stunning conceits in automotive history. An exotic blend of muscle car styling and supercharged grunt, it paved the way for one of the most spellbinding roadsters ever made. The Corvette Stingray took low-slung chic to another level. A production car had seldom - if ever - looked so good.

A marine mammal provided design inspiration. William Mitchell - GM's chief stylist - went fishing, off Florida. His luck was in. After landing the catch, Mitchell was blown away by its beauty. He had caught a mako shark - a streamlined slab of predatory power. It was graced with to-die-for blue and white hues. Immediately, his design sensibilities kicked in. He saw a way to bring to the roads what had previously been confined to the deep. That short-fin shark was about to go global!

The Stingray 'Spider' was first of the breed. A racing test-bed, it was the high-revving base upon which the Mako Shark was built. The Stingray would be the final piece in the jigsaw. Of course, many of the Stingray's styling motifs can be seen in the Mako Shark 1. Indeed, they had the same designer - Larry Shinoda. But even the Stingray had its work cut out to compete with its prototype predecessor. Its projectile-style bodywork and gradational paint took pride of place - but they were just the beginning. Not just the exterior - but the interior, too - were a futuristic time-warp of avant-garde art. It was the start of the Sixties, after all - the ideal time to get radical with form and function. With plastic the new gold standard, the wraparound windscreen and see-through hardtop were 'classic' space-age styling touches. Topping them off was a 'periscope' rear-view mirror. Ranged along the car's flanks were two banks of exhausts - catering to the 456bhp that its V8 engine output. One thing is for sure. When that mako shark mammal gave up its life - in the waters off Florida - an automotive legend was born. Long live the Chevrolet Corvette Mako Shark 1!