Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

Chevrolet Corvette Stingray 1960s American classic sports car

'Stingray' was a fitting description. For - in the hands of the unwary - the Corvette could unleash a fierce sting. Fibre-glass bodywork - avant-garde, at the time - meant the Stingray was a lot lighter than you might expect! Add to that a big-bore engine - and high compression ratio - and the result was a power-train that required respect.

Inspiration for the Stingray's free-flowing form came from the Mako Shark 'dream car'. Dream cars were just that. Conceptual exercises, they were never intended to traverse highways - but, rather, to work buyers up into a fever-pitch of excitement! Their hey-day was the 1950s - when science fiction was the source for some truly 'fantastic' designs!

Due to its hour-glass shape, the Stingray was dubbed the 'Coke bottle'. Andy Warhol would have been proud. American to its apple-pie core, the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray summed up a nation ... and its Sixties dreaming!

Gumpert Apollo

Gumpert Apollo German supercar

Roland Gumpert - the Apollo's developer - had been Audi's 'Director of Motorsport'. So, he knew a bit about engineering! Visually, a bit of a 'hotchpotch' of squares and rectangles, many a supercar is easier on the eye. Few, though, can live with it, technically. The Apollo is certainly a masterpiece - but more one of cutting edge science!

Having said that, its layout is far from radical. The two-seater, mid-engined, rear-wheel drive set-up is par for the supercar course. But the Apollo wrings every last drop out of it! Its tubular frame is rock-solid. The fibre-glass bodywork is light as a feather. Suspension is double wishbone all round - and the dampers fully adjustable. They are joined inboard by 6-piston ventilated disc brakes. And the Apollo is nothing, if not aerodynamic. As well as its wind-cheating shape, it sports a subtle rear spoiler. Beneath, sits a finely-hewn undertray. Within it, two venturis stretch the length of the car - delivering huge dollops of downforce. The Apollo's engine is equally impressive. The turbo-charged 4.2-litre Audi V8 gives gut-wrenching performance. Enough to reach 220mph! 0-60 appears in just 3.0s.

The Apollo, though, has a more docile side. Controls are power-assisted. The V8 grunt is manageable. Cruising is a breeze, compared with many a highly-strung rival. The roomy cabin is relaxing. Four-point safety harnesses are standard. In many ways, the Gumpert Apollo is a real-world runabout ... albeit one in a space-age skin!

Ducati 916

Ducati 916 Italian modern classic sports motorbike

Rarely do motorcycle stylists serve up a bone fide 'game-changer' - one that not only raises the bar, but alters its very characteristics! The Ducati 916 was one such - taking two-wheeled visuals to another level. It was no coincidence that its designer was Massimo Tamburini. He had been a co-founder of Bimota - specialist builders extraordinaire!

The Tamburini 'trademark' is all over the 916. All the way from its seductive snub nose - through the curves of its bodywork - to its pert tail-piece and silencers. It is so slim, it is scary! That tubular steel frame is not one jot wider than required. The 916 nudged the scales at 429lb - absurdly light for a bike of its size!

In other ways, too, the 916 scaled new heights. Its torque-laden V-twin gave 160mph. Its chassis 'absorbed' corners! Lean it over as far as you dared ... you would not find its limits! The trick-looking single-side swing-arm said it all - technically, and aesthetically. As you would expect, such a classy package was a success, sales-wise. With the Ducati 916, Tamburini broke the motorcycle design mould!

Ferrari Enzo

Ferrari Enzo Italian supercar

The Ferrari Enzo was technically a roadster ... though 'technically' is about as far as it went! Red-blooded racing ran in its veins. The name said it all. Founder of the myth that is 'Maranello', Enzo Ferrari's legacy is secure! 'The Professor', Alain Prost - French F1 legend - once said he did not know why racing drivers do what they do. Cars like the Enzo - with its 660bhp power rating - probably provide a few clues!

There were striking links between the Enzo and Ferrari's F1 car of the day. Its CFC/Nomex body panels, for example, bear a striking resemblance to those of the GP car. Beneath those panels sat a carbon-fibre monocoque - similar,again, to that of the F1 car. Even the Enzo's V12 engine was cut from the same GP cloth ... well, in terms of layout, at least! Huge venturis modelled 'ground-effect' - the set-up which 'glues' GP cars to the tarmac. And the Enzo was kitted out with 'active aerodynamics' - a system not too far removed from that of top-flight competition cars. Its brake discs were carbon-ceramic composites.

Matching all that tech spec, visually, might have been a challenge. Pinanfarina, though, spared Ferrari's blushes. The great Italian design house had long been associated with the 'prancing horse' marque. They fulfilled Ferrari's brief to perfection - supplying carbon-fibre solutions, inside and out. Ferrari had problems, though, when the Enzo went on sale. Not because of any problems with the product. The car was so sought-after - even with its £425,000 price tag - that all 349 Enzos sold out within hours! In an attempt to placate frustrated buyers, Ferrari scaled up to 400. One of the most finely-wrought supercars ever made, the Ferrari 'Enzo' was a fitting tribute to the man who inspired it.


Goldenrod classic land speed record car

It was in 1965 that Bob Summers drove 'Goldenrod' to a new world land speed record - 409mph! History was made at the Bonneville Salt Flats - Utah's mythical Mecca of straight-line speed. What set Goldenrod apart from many of its rivals was its relative orthodoxy. It was, quintessentially, a 'car' ... albeit, one which pushed the automotive envelope! Whereas some of its contemporaries were borderline, at best, Goldenrod proudly proclaimed its 'roadster' credentials.

Key to that claim was its engine. To wit, a 6.9 Chrysler V8. Well, actually, four 6.9 Chrysler V8s! The first two turned the front wheels - the third and fourth, the rear. Their combined output was 2,400bhp. And they were not even supercharged. Now, that is engineering! They were, however, fuel-injected - as you would expect.

But, Goldenrod was about more than pure power! Its aerodynamics were just as important. The car was assembled in Ontario, California - by driver Summers, and his brother Bill. Sensibly, Bob built a mock-up, beforehand. It was this scaled-down model that first caught Chrysler's eye. Summers was sure that his dream could be realised. And - after studying the mock-up - Chrysler agreed. The green light was lit, and Goldenrod began to take shape. Its length alone - all 10 missile-like metres of it - buoyed Chrysler with confidence. Summers explained that Goldenrod's weight was to its advantage. It would force its aluminium wheels - shod, as they were, in Firestone tyres - solidly into the salt, he said. And he was right! Goldenrod duly snatched back the land speed record from Brit Donald Campbell. It was almost 40 years since the USA were fastest four-wheelers on Earth. Goldenrod shot straight out of 'hot rod' heaven! A shining example of mankind's need for speed.

MV Agusta 750 F4

MV Agusta 750 F4 Italian modern classic superbike

Massimo Tamburini was a master motorcycle designer! Ducati and Cagiva were amongst the iconic marques for which he picked up a pen. Many heads have turned as a result! Probably, the peak of his design perfection was the MV Agusta F4. A modern-day da Vinci, Tamburini fused Science and Art. In the case of the Serie Oro F4, Tamburini turned alchemist - morphing metal into 'gold'!

The F4's visual prowess was matched only by its technical spec. Its 165mph top speed was achieved by combining a power output of 126bhp, with a dry weight of 406lb. 16 radial valves - 4 per cylinder - helped sort the power stat. As for the light weight - the F4 was skinnier than Twiggy!

Exchanging the rarefied air of the design studio, for the rigours of the real world, did not seem to phase the F4 one jot. Its state of the art cycle parts saw to that. The F4 could 'handle' any road surface thrown at it! Surging through the revs was sewing-machine smooth. The F4's brakes shooed away speed in an instant. The F4 had rivals, technologically. But - clad, as it was, in its silver and red mantle - it reigned supreme on the stylistic front. Italian to its core, the MV Agusta F4 radiated elegance. It is, for sure, one of the most ravishing rides ever built!

Buell Firebolt XB9R

Buell Firebolt XB9R American modern classic sports motorbike

Harley-Davidson is a hugely successful brand! It is therefore well-placed to lend a helping hand, should it wish. To Buell, for instance - who were given permission to transplant Harley's V-twin engine into their own two-wheeled products. Not that Harley lost out, at all. Erik Buell - founder of the firm - was nothing, if not innovative. Harley were no doubt hoping some of his boundless ingenuity would rub off on their own marque.

Erik Buell loved Harley-Davidson! He had been both an engineer and racer for them. He was uniquely positioned, then, to conceive and construct the RR1000 - a Harley-powered race-bike. Success at the track led to a road-going counterpart. The Buell RS1200 featured a vibration-reducing rubber-mounting system. The bike was also fitted with a radical rear shock set-up. Horizontally slung under the motor, it was both technically, and visually, intriguing. In 1993, the 'big time' beckoned for Buell. Harley took out a 49% shareholding ... subsequently, increased. With Harley-Davidson at the helm, Buell were set fair. Several exciting machines duly followed. Erik Buell's singular vision of how a motorcycle could be built, was always a key component.

Amongst those radical two-wheelers was the 'Firebolt XB9R' - released in 2002. Its most conventional part was its tuned 984cc 'Sportster' motor. After that, Buell departed from all things Harleyesque. The Firebolt's frame spars were also its 'fuel tank'! And its swing-arm - likewise forged from aluminium - held the oil! Strange as they might seem, such 'double acts' harked back to motorcycling's classic era. What was indisputably 'new skool' was the Firebolt's front brake disc. Comprised of an ornately-fashioned 'ring', it was tethered to the wheel's rim, rather than hub. Not that the Firebolt was frighteningly fast ... top speed was a manageable 130mph. That was combined with impeccable handling and braking, thanks to the chassis wizardry. Cue plaudits for Erik Buell - clearly, a man at one with his craft. His 'Bolt' came out of the blue ... and shot a surge of creativity into the motorcycle scene.