History of Cars

For ever known as the Daytona, the 365GTB4 was Ferrari’s final fling for the front engined two seater; four seaters would continue with front mounted engines, but two seater sports Ferraris would be mid engined after this. But what a finale. It was a bold statement of sheer power and shameless aggression, from sharp front end to the wide fastback that had lost any semblance of its predecessor’s narrow cabin, inset from a curvaceous waist line.

It was a big car too, heavy and bulky, but a muscle car designed to appeal to the American market; its performance and maximum speed would leave all of those and the Europeans standing, it was king of the road in its day. Its predecessor had been the 275 GTB4.


Most of the Ferrari’s model names have been based on the capacity in cubic centimeters of a single cylinder, 12 of the 250 GT cylinders gave 3 liters; for cars specifically designed for the American market where cubic centimeters are unrecognized, the name became more important than the numbers. The 410 Super American was a very fast late fifties Gran Turismo powered by a 4.9 liter V12 engine with 360 bhp available for the third series, one of which produced these figures for Road and Track; 410 wasn’t far out, as its 4962 cc engine had 413.5 cc per cylinder. Like most of the road going Ferraris, the body was styled by Pininfarina.

Ferrari 410 Super America

Ferrari’s first recognition of the American market potential came very shortly after the company was set up in 1946; where the European market expected small efficient engines, the American wanted big horsepower figures from big capacity engines.


After early forays into building single-seater for Formula Junior and Formula 2, Alejandro de Tomaso joined the ranks of Italian sports car builders back in 1963. The first offering was the mid-engined Vallelunga which used a backbone chassis to which was bolted a 1600 cc Ford Cortina engine; this took all the rear suspension loads via arms on the transaxle bell housing. The theme was extended at the 1965 Turin Show with a sports racing car using a bigger backbone which carried a 271 bhp Ford Mustang engine; never raced, this formed the basis of the Mangusta using body styling by Giugiaro while he was working at Ghia.


The Viper sets out to be an anachronism. It is modern technology applied to an old fashioned concept of enjoyable open motoring; raw fun on four wheels. There are other cars with some of the same retro appeal, like the TVR Griffith, but the Dodge Viper has more in common with a 1965 Shelby Cobra than with Blackpool’s best. What sets it apart from this decade is the big, lazy engine, an 8 liter V-10 and the studied lack of creature comforts; you didn’t expect a quiet ride in a Cobra, or a snug fitting roof, but you did expect raucous high performance in any gear, just like the Viper. Against the Cobra it is 7 inches wider and 5 inches lower, a Cobra with a modern stance.

The common denominator is indeed Carroll Shelby, Shelby who put Ford V-8s into AC’s very British sports car and won a World Championship, the same Shelby who then worked over Chrysler saloons to transform their performance. And Shelby has been in the background of the Viper development. But the concept was Chrysler’s spurred on by President Bob Lutz, and arch enthusiast for the sheer fun of driving anything that challenges the driver.


For many years the Corvette was American’s only sports car and it has entirely been the most consistent while others have come and gone; and it has remained essentially Americans, despite the steady inward flow of Italian exotica. In a land where speed limits have applied for many years, outsight top speed has been less important than accelerative ability and the Corvette has long supplied that, with its top range option.


None more so than the ZR-1, the first to have a European engine; it was designed by Lotus at the time the company was owned by General Motors, although it derived from a previous project for the still born Lotus Etna. The first Corvette rolled off the line in 1953, a pioneering glass fiber body on well tried mechanical components with a 3.8 liter six cylinder engine developed to produce 150 bhp.


In 1972, the year that Munich was host to the Olympic Games, BMW founded their subsidiary BMW Motorsport GmbH. While the two door 2002 series and the four door saloons had been raced with great success by private entrusts using tuning conversation from Alpina and Schnitzer, rule changes demanded that any special competition parts be available in specified quantities, which could really only made by a manufacturer.

bmw m5 black

So BMW had to get involved if the cars were to continue racing, even if the tuners ran the actual race team. Setting up a competition department, separated from the production in factory, was common practice among the companies that had works entries in International events. The long hours required didn’t upset the factory unions it was also sure way for the lessons learnt in racing to be transferred back to the factory engineers.


The German factory has a long history of producing high speed coupes. In the thirties, the construction of the autobahns encouraged manufactures to create ever faster cars; the BMW 327/ 80 was an elegant streamlined coupe that would reach over 90 mph on its 80 bhp and its design was carried over to become the post war Bristol 400 with a style that was still modern ten years later.


In the ‘fifties BMW were struggling for an identity, making big V-8 powered saloons and little motorcycle powered Isettas with nothing in between. The 507 was the two seater sports coupe, using the running gear of the bigger saloons in a somewhat different style, the traditional twin intakes on a horizontal plane – very much a period classic.


Undeniably sleek and sporting, the Giugiaro designed M1 is thus far unique in BMW history of its mid engined layout; the six cylinder 3.5 liter 277 bhp unit, featuring twin overhead camshafts and four valves per cylinder, sits in line behind the cockpit, driving the rear wheels through a ZF transaxle.

BMW – M1

Its purpose was to take part in the Group 4 and Group 5 categories of international sports car racing. Where Porsche had dominated with the competition 911 Turbo, the 934 and 935. for, this at least 400 examples had to be produced over a 2 years period; in competition tune the M1 engine could be made to produce 470 bhp, so it had a theoretical chance against the 934, and the mid engine layout gave it potentially better roadholding. The turbocharged versions, with up to 850 bhp, could challenge for outright victory.


After a gap of 24 years, the DB 7 has continued the range of the numbers that David Brown set up when he took over the company in 1947. As Sir David Brown he had sold the company at the end of 1971 when the DBS was in production; the six cylinder DB6 MkII had stopped in November 1970. However Sir David was brought back into the fold as patron when new owners Ford, started the design of the small Aston; he was delighted to allow the use of his initials for the new car. In fact, the original DBS was nearly called a DB 7.

Throughout the ‘eighties, Aston’s previous owners, Victor Gauntlett and Peter Livanos, had recognized that the company needed an entry level Aston 2+2 to join the Porsche 928 and Mercedes SL market. Unfortunately there just wasn’t sufficient capital available to be able to embark upon the design and production of an entirely new car; to be possible it would have to borrow a number of parts from an existing higher volume manufacture.


When Ford took over in 1987 this began to look possible, but it wasn’t until Ford absorbed Jaguar in 1989, that the possibility moved to the probable; a combination of Ford engineering know how and Jaguar base would provide the appropriate background. While Jaguar had supplied some components for Aston Martin V8 and Lagonda models, they wasn’t keen to provide too much until Ford came along to define the markets for the two former rivals marques more precisely.


Understand it is not. The latest Aston Vantage is far more brutal version of the standard car than any Vantage has ever been since the name was coined for the DB2’s more powerful engine back in 1951. Then and though the DB series, Vantage just meant power; it wasn’t until 1977 that Vantage became a separate model, recognizable at a glace with wider wheels with wheel-arch flares and wind cheating front with fashionable and effective front air-dam.

The standard Virage isn’t slow with a maximum speed around 157 mph, but it has a fair amount of weight to get under way, so the 0-60 mph time is not really to Aston standard – at 6.8 seconds, it is slower than a Volkswagen Corrado VR6. And the Virage is designed for comfortable fast touring, so it lacks the handling tautness that the traditional Aston driver expects. The Vantage addresses these relative shortcomings in full measure.

1994 Astoin martin V8 Vantage

The standard engine is a development of the original Marek-designed aluminum V-8, only it now has four valve heads designed by the American Reeves Callaway, who had been responsible for the race engines used in 1989 AMR-1 race programme.


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