Showing posts with label 1980s Classic Cars. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 1980s Classic Cars. Show all posts

DeLorean DMC-12

DeLorean DMC-12 1980s British sports car

On the design board at least, the DeLorean DMC-12 ticked all the right boxes. Namely, a V6 motor by Peugeot/Renault, a chassis by Lotus and bodywork design by Giugiaro. For a roadster, it does not get much better than that. To say the least, it was a highly desirable blend of styling and functionality. But, of course, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. And - in the case of the DMC-12 - the automotive ingredients simply did not mix. In terms of weight distribution, it did not help that the DMC was rear-engined. For all of its expertise, Lotus struggled to optimise handling. And, if they could not do it, no one could. In a straight line, however, things were spot-on. A top speed of 130mph testified to that. Another suspect part of the DMC package was its 'gull-wing' doors. Sure, they looked great. But, for $25,000, you expected them to be watertight ... whatever the weather! Deficiencies, though, in DMC's door department meant that was not always the way. Plus - from an emergency services point of view - prising gull-wing doors apart could be a problem. It was not long, then, before the first cracks in the DeLorean plans appeared.

It had all started so swimmingly. John Z DeLorean was something of a whizz-kid, during his time at GM. He conceived the DMC-12 as a player in the realm of upmarket supercars. To make that happen, he would need to source serious funding. The UK looked like his best bet. He was strongly encouraged to start up in Northern Ireland - by the British government, no less. The region badly needed a boost. DeLorean seemed like the ideal man. There was no stinting on incentives. Grants and loans totalled £80m - in early '80s money.

DeLorean's dream lasted just two years. In 1980, the sky was the limit. By '82, things had crashed back to earth. Improprieties were alleged. Indeed, DeLorean was arrested - on drug trafficking charges. Though he was subsequently cleared, it was not the best by way of PR! The whole sorry episode was the stuff of history - political, as well as automotive. Nine O'Clock News sagas did not get any more gripping! John DeLorean had certainly made his mark on the world. As for his car, it had fallen short of expectations - dismally short. In different circumstances, though, the DeLorean DMC-12 could now be considered a classic supercar ... of the sort its creator so desperately craved!

Ford Sierra Cosworth

Ford Sierra Cosworth 1980s European sports car

The Ford Sierra Cosworth was a performance car for the people. For a start, it was a snip at just £16,000. For that, you got supercar speed and stability - plus, practicality. Ford passed their Sierra shell to tuners Cosworth - based in Northampton, England. And the 'Cossie' was born! Cosworth installed a two-litre twin overhead-camshaft turbo engine. The production car was an 'homologation special' - a certain number needing to be built to allow it to compete in races and rallies. So, such cars are limited-edition by their very nature. Ford's Special Vehicle Engineering department was asked to come up with a competitive Group A car. There were several key components on the SVE's spec-list. Toward the top were a close-ratio 5-speed gearbox, a limited-slip diff and power steering. As well as ABS, anti-roll bars and firmed-up suspension. 4-piston disc brakes were attached to wide alloy wheels.

The Cosworth's body was modified Ford Sierra. Updates included widened wheel arches - and a 'whale-tail' rear spoiler. While the latter increased downforce, it compromised aerodynamics. And was not ideal in cross-winds! Still, if you bought a Cossie to make a statement - and you probably did - the rear aerofoil was spot-on. 'Spirited' drivers praised planted handling - along with fearsome acceleration. Top speed was 149mph.

Of course, the Cossie was a magnet for thieves and joy-riders. Insurance costs sky-rocketed. In time, the tearaways moved on to pastures new. Once rid of its hooligan 'rep', the Cosworth transitioned into performance car respectability. The Sierra Sapphire and 1990's 4x4 version duly followed. A further 16bhp would be coaxed out of the Cossie's 16-valve cylinder-head. In racing, rallying and roadster modes, then, the Ford Sierra Cosworth delivered the goods. Well, not literally!

Lancia Delta HF Integrale

Lancia Delta HF Integrale 1980s Italian sports car

It would be difficult to overstate the impact made by the Lancia Delta HF Integrale. It swept aside all comers - on the road and in competition. In the year and a half following its '87 launch, the Delta Integrale won 14 World Championship rallies. Miki Biasion made the most of its dominance. He garnered two world drivers' titles in the car.

The Integrale's 8-valve engine made 185bhp. In '89, it was replaced by a 16-valve head. Power increased to 200bhp. The new model totted up 13 top-echelon rally wins. Juha Kankunnen duly took the '91 drivers' title. Over time, the fruits of such success trickled down to the showrooms. The road-going Integrale's finely-tuned 4-wheel-drive set-up gave good handling - in all conditions. Combine that with a 2-litre turbocharged motor - and you had a perfect blend of speed and precision. As a hatchback, practicality was a given. But, there were luxuries, too. Like Recaro seats, electric front windows and a cutting edge instrument panel.

Wide wheels and fat tyres helped give the Integrale a look of purposeful muscularity. Giorgetto Giugiaro - at the Italdesign agency - did the styling honours. The bodywork was minimalist, not boxy! The original Delta - built for rally homologation reasons - was first glimpsed at '79's Frankfurt Motor Show. It was followed by a Delta dynasty of progessively more sophisticated models. Lancia's HF acronym stood for High Fidelity. It was applied to several of the marque's cars over the years. Never more fittingly, though, than to the Delta Integrale!

Ferrari Testarossa

Ferrari Testarossa 1980s Italian classic 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 nothing to debunk that stereotype!