Lotus 72

Lotus 72 classic GP racing car

Lotus led the way with the Cosworth DFV. Literally! The 'Double Four Valve' V8 would become legendary within F1. Unfortunately for Lotus, the DFV engine was also available to their rivals! They were quick to seize upon the source of Lotus' success. By the end of the '60s, it seemed like every car in the paddock had a DFV! That was great for the sport, as it fostered close, competitive racing. It was not entirely to Lotus' liking, however! They had acquired a taste for leading F1 ... and the ubiquity of the DFV was eroding that lead. Something had to be done about that!

There was much about the Lotus '72' that was new. For starters, its cigar-shaped bodywork had morphed into a wedge. Inboard suspension and brakes made the new car yet more aerodynamic. They also served to reduce unsprung weight. The springing itself was via torsion-bar. High grip levels were the much-coveted result of all this innovation. Oil and water radiators were laterally positioned - thus centralising weight distribution, and improving handling.

Lotus had the lead back! Jochen Rindt duly won four races on the spin. Tragically, that was before crashing in qualifying for the Italian GP. Fatally injured, he still won the World Championship - so dominant had he been, up to that point! Team-mate Emerson Fittipaldi also took the drivers' title - though, mercifully, he was still around to take the plaudits. Also in a Lotus, Ronnie Peterson would amass a record-breaking nine pole positions in a season. From 1970 to '75, Lotus ruled the F1 roost. Their early adoption of the Cosworth DFV had paid huge dividends!

Alfa Romeo Montreal

Alfa Romeo Montreal 1970s Italian classic sports car

Montreal - in Quebec, Canada - hosted the 1967 'Expo' show. It was there that the Alfa Romeo Montreal made its début. Designed by Marcello Gandini, there was never a doubt that the car would turn heads! Especially, once Gandini's employer - coach-builders Bertone - had worked their magic. Saying that, the Montreal did not sell in shedloads. But it did give Alfa a much-needed publicity boost. The Montreal stayed in production for seven years - following its 1970 launch. Ironically, Montreal itself was off-limits, sales-wise - due to the city's strict emissions regulations!

Performance-wise, the new Alfa lived up to the hype. Its fuel-injected V8 gave 132mph. That was quick - particularly, since the car was no lightweight. Its motor was taken from the Tipo 33/2 race-car ... suitably de-tuned for the road! It still made 200bhp, though - revving up to 6,500rpm. Torque was terrific! Engine-wise, then, the Montreal was hard to fault.

Unfortunately, the same could not be said of every component! The Montreal's live axle rear suspension was softly sprung ... too softly sprung! Cornering could be compromised. Steering, too, was suspect, at speed. Its gearing was set up for a more sedate pace! The Montreal's brakes, at least, were not an issue - the ventilated discs being well up to snuff. All in all, though - as a Grand Tourer, at least - the Montreal more than passed muster. Which gave Alfa a crack at a new market. One thing was for sure - few complained about the car's looks. In terms of styling, the Montreal was as Italian as they come!

Suzuki GS1000

Suzuki GS1000 1970s Japanese classic motorbike

The Suzuki GS1000 S is, arguably, not the most exotic machine ever to flow from a stylist's pen! Its looks are straight out of the 'old skool' studio. But what the GS might have lacked in aesthetics, it more than made up for technically!

At the heart of the bike's performance was the classic Japanese in-line four-cylinder engine. The GS cruised to a top speed of 135mph. Cornering was solid and stable. Its frame was robust, its suspension adjustable, and its tyres wider than the norm. its dual front disc brakes were more than capable.

And anyway, beauty is in the eye of the beholder! For many, the GS 1000 is beautiful because it is big and basic, not despite the fact. The way a motorcycle ought to look, they would say! Something of a wolf in sheep's clothing, then, the Suzuki GS 1000 S seemed a placid beast ... until you twisted its throttle!

Benelli Sei

Benelli Sei 1970s Italian classic motorbike

It is a truism that the Italians are design masters. In engineering terms, too, they have often been ahead of the game. Whether that held true for the Benelli Sei, though, is a moot point. The Sei was visually impressive, certainly. But the jury was out, when it came to performance.

The Sei's six-cylinder engine - sei is Italian for six - looks superb. As do its twin sets of stacked pipes. Horsepower, however, is another story. Even by 1975 standards, the Sei's top speed stat of 118mph was hardly earth-shattering! In the '70s superbike surge, Benelli's rivals - Ducati, Moto Guzzi and Laverda - all supplied quicker machines.

It was not as if Benelli did not know a thing or two about fast bikes. They were GP 250cc world champions in 1950 - and again, in 1969. In the case of the Sei, though, the racing success did not trickle down to the roadster. Saying that, the sleek contours of its sturdy 'six-pack' went a long way toward mitigating what the Benelli Sei 750 lacked in the 'go' department!

Kawasaki Z 1300

Kawasaki Z 1300 1970s Japanese classic superbike

The Kawasaki Z 1300 is one of a select set of motorcycles that sport six cylinders. By definition, such an engine packs impact. In the case of the Z 1300, though, not as much as you might think! Why so? The radiator grille plastered across it! In profile, it is an impressive piece of kit. But, from the front, at least, the Z 1300 paid a sartorial price for its water-cooling.

Top speed for the big 'Z' was 135mph - which it reached with ease. That, from a capacity of 1286cc - and an output of 120bhp. Manoeuvrability-wise, a bike with a wet weight of 670lb was never going to be agile! That said, the Z's handling was adequate.

Though there have been other '6-pots' since, the Z 1300 will always be bracketed alongside Honda's CBX1000Z. Another Seventies siren, it radiated 'six appeal'! The 'CBX', though, was a brash brute of a bike - more muscular than the 'Z13'. The Kawasaki, though, blended power with refinement. In many ways, then, the perfect motorcycle ... apart from that pesky radiator grille!

Mondial 250 GP

Mondial 250 GP classic GP racing motorcycle

The Mondial 250 GP was a bespoke piece of kit. Motorcycle manufacturer FB Mondial may have been small - but it had entrenepeurial élan by the bucketload! Bespoke to the core, its products were masterpieces of creative engineering. Mondial Moto was based in Bologna, Italy - and racing was in its blood.

Mondial did not skimp on star riders! The great Mike 'The Bike' Hailwood campaigned Mondial 250s - in 1959 and '60 - with much success. Before that, Mondials had won the opening three 125cc world championships - the first of them in '49. And in '57, Mondial won both the 125 and 250cc GP series.

Such feats, though, do not come cheap! In the end, Mondial were unable to sell enough roadsters to foot the competition bill - and so retired from racing. But, their bikes - resplendent in silver and blue livery - still circulate round racetracks to this day. The Mondial 250 GP motorcycle was from a time when beauty was built to last!

Alfa Romeo Spider

Alfa Romeo Spider 1960s Italian classic sports car

Few marques can compare with the cool romance of Alfa Romeo. And few models did it more justice than the 'Spider'. Pour Pininfarina into the mix - and superlatives became a tad inadequate! Certainly, the Spider's sculpted 'boat-tail' rear could only have originated in Turin - home to the legendary Pininfarina design house.

The 'Duetto' Spider referenced the twin-cam spec of the Alfa's engine ... as well as its snug two-seater cockpit. Technically, the Spider excelled on every level.

Celebrity status was assured when the Spider 1600 Duetto co-starred with Dustin Hoffman - in the '67 film, The Graduate. The Spider had made its début a year before - at the Geneva Show. On its release - while undeniably expensive - the Spider's combination of refinement and practicality still made it good value for money. So, the Alfa Romeo Spider weaved an intricate web ... and one into which many drivers were all too willing to fly!

Jaguar E-Type

Jaguar E-Type 1960s British classic sports car

The Jaguar E-Type has one of the most instantly recognisable shapes of any sports car, ever. Its body shell was derived from the D-Type. A production racer, par excellence, the D-Type won the Le Mans 24 Hours race. Of course, the E-Type cleaved cleanly through air ... as long, low, and sleek, as it was. Road-holding was also a forte. Though its cross-ply tyres were supermodel thin, hard cornering induced nary a wobble.

The E-Type was a Sixties icon. Anyone who was anyone wanted one! Rock stars and footballers were especially susceptible! In the end, though, the E-Type transcended mere celebrity. When exhibited at New York's 'Museum of Modern Art', it became, de facto, a design classic!

Power came courtesy of Jaguar's 3.8-litre XK. Though a bit long in the tooth, even then, it could still pack a punch! The gracefully rising contours of the E-Type's bonnet were there, first and foremost, to accommodate the XK engine. Both aesthetically and technically, then, Jaguar's E-Type was a tour de force. A shortlist to define 'Swinging London' would simply have to include the 'E-Type Jag'!

Honda VFR 750F

Honda VFR 750F 1980s Japanese sports motorbike

The Honda VFR 750F was nothing, if not versatile. It is widely considered to be as close to the ultimate all-rounder, as a motorcycle gets. The 'VFR' played footsie with perfection ... then improved upon it! Fast, fine-handling, and styled with finesse.

The Japanese in-line four engine layout had the market covered. Before the VFR arrived, that is! Its water-cooled, 16-valve V4 proved a more than viable alternative. The V4's 100bhp output gave a top speed of 150mph. Sweet stats, if you can supply 'em! The VFR's 460lb dry weight - though not slimline, as such - was more than acceptable for a bike of its size. And the VFR featured a twin-spar aluminium frame ... new chassis technology, at the time.

Visually, too, the VFR impressed. Its bodywork sliced cleanly through air. The paintwork was sprayed to last. Deftly drawn ducts set off discreet graphics. Neat tucks and folds were in abundance. Unsurprisingly, the VFR was a success sales-wise. And Honda needed it to be. The VFR's precursor - the VF750 - damaged the Japanese giant's reputation. It took reliability issues to another level! The VFR 750F restored faith in Honda ... and did so in style!

Lamborghini Miura P400

Lamborghini Miura P400 1960s Italian classic supercar

The Lamborghini Miura as good as defines the classic supercar. Visually, its sweeps and curves are in all the right places. And technically, its power output is this side of 'manageable'. But, thankfully, only just this side!

Aesthetically, the Miura had a strong pedigree. It was a product of Nuccio Bertone's legendary design house. Specifically, the work of a young Marcello Gandini. Even at that early stage in his career, he was the pick of Bertone's stylists. While the 'eye-shadow' around the pop-up lights is a bit kitsch, the bodywork lines flow freely. Certainly, the Miura mesmerised onlookers at the 1966 Geneva Show. As was only to be expected - for a car named after a Spanish fighting bull - the Miura's muscular beauty demanded respect!

A 4-litre V12 engine pushed out 350bhp. It was installed sideways-on, behind the seats - thereby reducing the wheelbase, and optimising the car's centre of gravity. That all helped the high-speed handling. The Miura was a resounding sales success - reflecting the fact that it performed well in most departments. The Lamborghini Miura, then, was both user-friendly and refined ... well, apart from those false eye-lashes!

Ford Mustang

Ford Mustang 1970s American classic sports car

When the Ford Mustang was first unveiled - at 1964's New York World Fair - it triggered a tidal wave of excitement. Thereafter, it became one of the fastest-selling cars in history. It took the Mustang just two years to pass the million mark. The car had the '60s Zeitgeist written all over it! Lee Iacocca was the whizz-kid Ford exec who conceived the car. It had all-American looks, in abundance - but the real beauty of the Mustang was its long list of extras. Everything from the engine and gearbox - to the handling and braking - was ripe for user input. Trim options were legion!

If all you wanted was to cut a dash in your new Mustang, the straight-six motor was more than sufficient. If you preferred more poke, there were V8s. They ranged from 195 to 390bhp. Front disc brakes were a wise choice! Standard suspension was sufficient for most drivers - coil-spring and wishbone up front, and a beam axle on leaf springs at the rear. Of course, a stiffer set-up was there, if needed. As for the gearbox ... it was a choice between a 3-speed auto, or a 3/4-speed manual.

At full gallop, the standard Mustang made 130mph. If you wanted more, there was the Carroll Shelby take on the car. A road/race hybrid, it was based on the GT350 fastback. It subsequently grew into the 7-litre GT500, making 425bhp. The most iconic Shelby Mustang of all was the GT390 - star of the film Bullitt. Well, along with Steve McQueen, that is! After that, 'pony cars' were hot to trot. Rival manufacturers fell over themselves to build their own 'Mustangs'. But, neither they - nor, indeed, Ford - cut it quite like the original. Later versions - with added flab - lacked the simple, but strong styling of their predecessors. For many an owner, the Ford Mustang was their entrée into the American Dream. Some planned never to wake up!

Honda Fireblade 900RR

Honda Fireblade 900RR Japanese superbike

The 'buzz' surrounding the 'Fireblade' - on its 1992 release - was electric! In the unlikely event that you saw one standing still, it was sure to be be engulfed in a sea of onlookers. Months of hype had induced a feeding frenzy of interest in the new bike.

The Blade screamed "street-fightin' bike"! Squat - and barrel-chested - it looked like it would be up for it at the drop of a hat! Steep steering geometry - and a super-short wheelbase - meant the Blade cut corners to ribbons! Suspension was suitably 'firm'. 407lb dry was featherweight for a bike of its size. When 124bhp was factored in to the equation, the result was a top speed of 165mph. No doubt, the holes in the fairing helped, too!

The Blade was adorned with eye-catching graphics. The beefy frame - and braced swing-arm - signalled the strength of the cycle parts. The sunken seat - and bulbous tailpiece - lent rock-solid support. The CBR900RR - the Fireblade - was, in essence, a superbike all-rounder. Hats off to Honda - that was a heck of a hard trick to pull off!