Showing posts with label Performance Cars. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Performance Cars. Show all posts

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!

Spyker C8 Laviolette

Spyker C8 Laviolette 2000s Dutch supercar

In the past, the Netherlands was associated with tulips and windmills. These days, it is as likely to be supercars - like the Spyker C8 Laviolette. Spyker's roots stretch back to 1880. In '89, they built the Golden Carriage. It still transports the Dutch royal family, on state occasions. During World War 1, Spyker made fighter planes - including their engines. The firm also found time to build cars - for both road and track. Well, they did until '26 - when Spyker went bankrupt.

Thankfully, though, that was not the end of the Spyker story. In '99, Victor Muller - a Dutch business magnate - bought the Spyker brand-name. He duly set about resurrecting the marque. Supercars would be Spyker's new stock-in-trade. The Spyker Squadron team was formed. It specialised in endurance racing. Visits to Le Mans, Sebring et alia duly followed. In '06, Spyker entered F1. It bought the Midland équipe - or Jordan, as it had previously been. Two years on, the team would be sold to Force India.

Spyker's C8 Laviolette debuted at the 2001 Amsterdam Motor Show. Its aluminium bodywork took visitors' breath away. Beneath, the space-frame was made from the same lightweight material. The dramatic upsweep of the 'scissors doors' was spectacularly state of the art. When open, they revealed quilted-leather seats. The Laviolette's 4.2-litre V8 produced 400bhp. Suspension was via F1-style Koni inboard shocks. Ventilated disc brakes were suitably solid. The Laviolette's top speed was 187mph. 0-60 came up in 4.5s. Of course, the price tag was sky-high. £210,000, to be precise. For that kind of wedge, you got to watch your car being built. That came courtesy of a Spyker factory web cam. Among the options was a Chronoswiss Spyker wrist-watch - complete with your car's chassis number engraved on it. That was a snip - at just £24,000. An add-on set of bespoke luggage cost a mere £12,350. There was even a Louis Vuitton tool-kit available - a bargain at just £2,500. In financial terms, then, the Spyker C8 Laviolette was not for the faint-hearted - or, indeed, cash-strapped. Most of us could not afford the extras, never mind the car itself!

Bugatti EB110

Bugatti EB 110 1990s French supercar

The 'EB' in Bugatti EB 110 stood for Ettore Bugatti - the firm's founder. On the 110th anniversary of his birth, the new supercar was unveiled. Fittingly, the launch took place in Paris - since Bugatti was a French firm. When it went on sale - in '91 - the EB110 had a price tag of £285,000. But, if the standard EB 110 was not to your taste, you could always stump up another £50,000 - and drive off in the Supersport version. The latter's 611bhp output delivered 221mph! The stock EB 110's top speed was 212mph. If you had the money - do the math!

Superstar designer Marcello Gandini was recruited to style the EB 110. His mock-up, though, was deemed too radical by Bugatti's top brass. The brief was passed to Italian architect Giampaolo Benedini. Clearly, he was able to style cars, as well as buildings! The aluminium body he drafted was breathtaking. Even the car's engine was a work of art. Its V12 layout took in 4 turbochargers and 60 valves. There was a 6-speed gearbox - and 4-wheel drive. Handling was precise - to put it mildly!

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In '87, entrepreneur Romano Artioli had stepped in to rescue the struggling Bugatti brand-name. He built a state of the art supercar factory - in Campogalliano, Modena, Italy. Benedini - the EB 110's designer - had previously architected the factory in which it was built! The EB 110 thus became a sort of French/Italian hybrid - the only Bugatti model to have done so. To head up the engineering team, Artioli had hired acclaimed technical director Paulo Stanzani. The EB 110's four-year run stretched to '95 - when Bugatti was wound up. 139 EB 110s were built. Among their owners was a certain Michael Schumacher. The ultimate seal of automotive approval? Sorry - off hand, I cannot think of a better one!

Nissan GT-R

Nissan GT-R 2000s Japanese sports car

Launched in '07, the Nissan GT-R followed on from the Skyline GT-R. The new model was effectively two cars in one. Insomuch as it was equipped with a speed switch - to toggle between performance and cruise modes. Full-on, its 3.8-litre twin-turbocharged V6 put out 479bhp.

Key to the GT-R's success was its exotic drive-train. It comprised a paddle-shift transmission, twin-clutch transaxle and 4-wheel drive. With all that in place, the GT-R's power delivery was straightforward to manage. A 6-speed gearbox helped, too. 0-60 took just 3.5s. The GT-R maxed out at 194mph.

Despite such high-performance credentials, the GT-R sported a well-appointed cabin. The deep front seats were a deliberately close fit - to assist quick, but controlled driving. Soft leather upholstery kept things comfortable. If you liked cutting edge sounds - as well as cars - there was a high-tech music centre in situ. It came complete with downloading capabilities, of course. There was even an LCD screen - courtesy of Sony Playstation. As filed under ultimate all-rounder, then, the Nissan GT-R was pretty hard to fault!

Audi Quattro

Audi Quattro 1980s German sports car

The Audi Quattro was launched in 1980 - at the Geneva Motor Show. It is safe to say that it revolutionised motoring. The Quattro's state of the art four-wheel drive system pushed roadholding to a new level. Top speed was 142mph. 0-60 took 6.3s. That came courtesy of a turbocharged 2.1-litre 5-cylinder engine. The Quattro's top-spec output was 220bhp.

The Quattro turned into a truly iconic rally car. For the Audi team's technicians, its 4-wheel drive set-up was love at first sight! As with the roadster, the increased grip levels significantly upped the competition car's traction in the rough stuff. Sat between the road and rally cars was the Sport Quattro - a 2-seater 'homologation special'. It was fitted with a 300bhp motor. The Sport's shortened wheelbase meant it handled even better than the standard Quattro. It retailed at three times the price of the base model. Still, a top speed of 155mph made it more than tempting!

When Audi announced they were pulling the plug on the Quattro, there was uproar. So, Audi succumbed to the pressure - and production continued until '91. Not just rally fans, but motorists too had fallen in love with the car. They had taken to four-wheel drive like ... well, like a rally driver to water. The Audi Quattro's remarkable tally of wins said it all!

Ferrari California

Ferrari California 2000s Italian sports car

The Ferrari 250 California - released in '57 - was one of the most iconic cars ever created. A tad over half a century later, came another California. Designed by Pininfarina, seamless aerodynamics were key to the new car's styling. And the 2008 California was light. Both chassis and body were aluminium.

The F1-style steering-wheel featured Manettino dials. They modulated the gearbox, suspension and traction-control settings. The latter came in the form of the F1-Trac set-up. Should those systems' limits still be exceeded, an automatic roll bar was deployed. As well as front and side airbags. The California could be set to Comfort or Sport mode, too. At track-days, however - or, indeed, at any other time - the safety controls could be switched off. Apart from ABS braking, that is.

Ferrari's 4,300cc V8 engine made 460bhp. That catapulted the California to 193mph. Torque was on tap from way down low. The 7-speed semi-automatic transmission saw to that. Unlike some supercars, the California's cabin was roomy and comfortable. There was a retractable top. And plenty of luggage-space was provided. So, the Ferrari California was built for speed. To that extent, it echoed its fabled 250 predecessor. But - in common with that design classic - it was kitted out for cruising, too, if required.

Porsche Carrera GT

Porsche Carrera GT 2000s German supercar

The Porsche Carrera GT was shot through with motorsport. Nominally a roadster, number-plates were about as far as it went! It started as a Le Mans prototype - one that was subsequently shelved. The roots of its V10 engine were in F1. Porsche had built it for the Footwork team, in the early '90s. The Carrera GT concept car was launched at the Geneva Show, in 2000. It set off a tsunami of excitement. Showgoers jostled to get out their cheque-books. Porsche knew they had hit pay dirt. A limited-edition run was swiftly announced.

The Carrera was chock-full of competition-calibre components. The monocoque chassis was carbon-fibre. Diffusers and venturis were the stuff of F1. Wheels were super-light magnesium. So were the seats - with added carbon-fibre. Stainless-steel push-rods compressed the suspension - rigorously developed for rock-solid strength. The clutch was ceramic - as were the disc brakes. Natch, there was a 6-speed 'box.

The Carrera GT's bodywork was streamlined - to say the least. Huge ducts cooled the engine and brakes. Rear wing action kicked in at 75mph. The cockpit was moved forward - adding to the dynamism of the design, among other things. Porsche's brief to self was to create a cutting edge supercar. The Carrera GT was proof they had delivered!

Bugatti Veyron

Bugatti Veyron 2000s French supercar

Supercar superlatives abound with the Bugatti Veyron. The list of ways in which it outstripped virtually every other car on the planet is a long one. Top speed - 253mph. Peak power - 987bhp. That was produced by a W16-cylinder engine - in effect, two V8s conjoined. Cubic capacity 7,993cc. The Veyron had 4 turbochargers. It used a 7-speed sequential gearbox ... hooked up to 4-wheel drive. Its motor was cooled by 10, yes, 10 radiators. 0-62mph came up in 2.46s. 'Active aerodynamics' kicked in at 137mph. As tech spec for a roadster goes, it does not get much better than that! The Veyron's high-performance price tag? €1.1m. Bargain!

Volkswagen took over Bugatti in '98. Of course, they would have been looking to make an impact. But it took them seven years to do so. Come 2005, though, and a factory had been built for a game-changing supercar. Just 300 Veyrons were made. They did not, in fact, make much profit. Costs incurred by a car like the Veyron are not easily recouped. As a loss leader for Bugatti, though, the Veyron did fine.

The prototype Veyron debuted at the '04 Paris Motor Show. It was a dazzling affair! The Veyron's bodywork alone was breathtaking to behold. Molsheim, Alsace - the French firm's HQ - had served up a stunner! The Bugatti faithful were suitably blown away. To true believers, the Veyron was little short of a miracle on wheels!

Ford GT

Ford GT 2000s 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 d├ębuted 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!