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Sunday, 27 March 2011

Formula 1 - Australian Grand Prix 2011

Picture taken from Autoblog
The highly anticipated new season of Formula 1 (is any season not highly anticipated?) kicked off early this morning at 17:00 in Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia. Yeah, time zones are weird like that. Dominant pole-sitter Sebastian Vettel stormed off the grid, got round the first corner unmolested and proceeded to run away from the rest of the grid like he was being chased by dogs. There wasn't any first corner crashing for the first time that I can remember at Melbourne, but places changed hands thick and fast, with Lewis Hamilton being hounded by Mark Webber but eventually holding on to his 2nd place, Lotus-Renault GP driver Vitaly Petrov going from 6th to 4th, Fernando Alonso getting squeezed out and losing three places and Jenson Button getting passed by Petrov as well as Felipe Massa, behind whom he would stay for a few laps.

Clearly this wasn't the plan, as he was determined to get passed the slower Ferrari... so determined that he got alongside Massa at turns 11 and 12 (a 5th-gear left-right), who ran him wide and caused him to use the escape road that cuts the second of the two corners. Doing this gave him the place, which is against the rules. When this happens, trouble can be avoided by letting the driver through within the next two corners. Alas, Button was adamant that his front wheels were ahead of Massa's before he cut the corner, which theoretically would make his move OK, seeing as he had track position. The FIA stewards disagreed, however, and because Ferrari had swapped the two drivers and then pitted Massa, Button couldn't let him through and was thus given a Drive Through Penalty, costing him around 23 seconds. 23 seconds is like a week in Formula 1. Throughout the rest of the race, he fought his way back up, eventually overtaking Massa using the new movable rear wing, or "Drag Reduction System" (DRS) on the pit straight.

The rest of the race was basically par for the course, although veteran Rubens Barrichello - the most experienced man in Formula 1, with 304 race starts under his belt out of 840 Grands Prix - wasn't showing his experience this weekend, with a spin during Qualifying caused by braking into turn 3 with two wheels just onto the grass (considered a schoolboy error) that put him 17th on the grid, followed by a trip across the gravel at the same corner on lap 1 and later putting a move on Nico Rosberg in the middle of the race that was never going to work, causing him to crash into the Mercedes GP driver's right-hand side pod and spin round. This mistake was again made on turn 3. It seems to be an unlucky corner for him. The resulting damage put Rosberg out of the race and Barrichello in the pits twice, firstly for a new nosecone and secondly for a Drive-Through Penalty as punishment for the avoidable incident. Also having a less-than-perfect weekend was Australian Mark Webber. He qualified in 3rd, but he was 8 tenths of a second off his team mate, a gap which shouldn't really be that big. He didn't recover his lost places after lap 1 and came 5th, equalling his best ever finish at his home race.

Lewis Hamilton finished in the same position he started in, despite the front of his McLaren's floor (see A in the left image) hanging off the bottom due to damage and making a lot of sparks, meaning that the plank of wood which all F1 cars must have on the bottom to prevent an excessively low ride height was in danger of wearing out too much and getting the Briton disqualified. As this element also guides the air under the car, its downforce was notably compromised. Thankfully he wasn't punished. Unfortunately, the two Sauber drivers were punished post-race, due to their rear wings being illegal. From what I can work out reading the Official Website, the top surface of the wing is too long/far away. The Sauber team will appeal their disqualification, which denies them not only a well-earned 7th and 8th place, but 10 constructors points as a result. This unfairly subtracts from a great drive from the pair of them, most notably Sergio Perez, who did a huge 35 laps out of 58 on a single set of meant-to-be-short-lasting soft compound tyres (denoted this year by yellow Pirelli logos).

The award for Worst Race Weekend, however, undeniably goes to Hispania Racing Team, but why? Did their cars hit each other? Set fire? Bring out the Safety Car? Well they never had the chance, because their qualification times were more than 107% of the pole sitter's time, which meant they weren't even allowed to start the race!

Overall it wasn't an out-and-out thriller, but it wasn't a Bahrain-style procession either. A decent opening round to what could be a very interesting season. Let's hope for the sake of us viewers that Red Bull can be toppled this year. Considering they dominated this weekend without even using KERS, that could prove difficult in the next few weeks...


The next race is at the Sepang Circuit in Malaysia in two weeks' time. Let's see if HRT can actually start that race...

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Supercar Saturday - Prancing Donkey

The Ferrari Ferrari-Four
Ah, Ferrari. The most famous car company in the world. They've been in Formula 1 ever since its beginnings (with varying levels of success over the years), they've been making Sports GTs and supercars for more than 60 years, including some of the most iconic sports cars in history. The 250 GTO, the 365 GTB/4 "Daytona", the Testarossa, the F40, the F355, the Enzo (named after the company's dead founder), the list goes on and on. Then there's Juan Manuel Fangio, Gilles Viellneuve, Alain Prost and Michael Schumacher, who, among others, earned their places in Scuderia Ferrari's F1 history as some of the best and most-loved drivers in the sport. Their cars are the embodiment of Italian passion, with fans (called 'Tifosi') more devoted than Star Trek nerds, a mix of front-engined, rear-wheel-drive powerhouses and mid-engined, rear-wheel-drive road racers, occasionally joined by front-engined, rear-wheel-drive Riviera cruisers like the 250 GT California Spider and its modern-day spiritual successor. In some ways, Ferrari is the motoring world's Disney.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Tommy Kaira ZZII - Reborn?

Image from goodcar.cn (link below)
On Sunday, I posted a write-up on the wonderful-yet-tragically-miscarried Tommy Kaira ZZII, which first appeared in 2000, never to make production. After a bit of googling, it would appear that it might be undergoing something of a rebirth. A Chinese website says something about a "long awaited Tommy Kaira 'Resurrection Programme'". I can't read Chinese, and of course the Google translation is a little loose. Here are excerpts from the article, taken from Goodcar.cn and translated by Google:

Transformers Tommy Kaira ZZ 2010 back modified 

[12/8/2010]

"The company headquarters in Kyoto, Japan, "Green Road Motors" in a few days ago announced in Kyoto has produced once all the rage "Tommy Kaira" modified series of sports cars."

"For the company long-awaited Tommy Kaira "Resurrection" program has been successful from the 2010 Tokyo Motor Show and published are taking an important step. The next car will be on specific sales volume and program planning. The project leader is the founder of Tommy Kaira said Yoshikazu Tomita will be announced in November this year [2010], new car test drive modified cars."

""Green Road Motors" Kyoto University, own the business"

Interesting...

I looked up "Green Road Motors" to find they're actually called "Green Lord Motors". Seemingly part of Kyoto University, they are developing an electric version of the original ZZ. CrunchGear adds some clarity:

"In April this year, a group of graduate school students at Kyoto University announced the launch of a venture called Green Lord Motors. As the name suggests, it’s a car company, and yesterday, it took the wraps off its first offering: a replica of the popular Tommykaira ZZ as an electric vehicle."

Image from Akihabara News
And so it turns out that Tommy Kaira has teamed up with "Green Lord Motors" to bring back the little ZZ as an electric car, which is of course called the ZZ-EV. On 7th February this year, their first ZZ-EV prototype was shown off. Fitted with a 150v DC motor, it should manage a top speed of 150km/h (93mph) and a range of 100km (62.1 miles), though not at the same time, of course. No word on the ultimate power output, but it does weigh the same 670kg as the original ZZ, which had a carburetted 2.0 Inline-4. It's definitely slower than the engine-powered one, but that's the price you pay for saving the world. Or something.

Where does the fabled ZZII come into all this? Well, according to Akihabara News, if the ZZ-EV is a sales success - it's set to launch this June, with an expectation of 100 units a year - then they will put their electric powertrain into the ZZII to make a more civilised car than this Spartan little Elise-alike. In an ideal world, this wouldn't be how the ZZII finally came to fruition, but if they do make them, there's always the hope that someone (me if I come into a lot of money) will remember the 2000 prototype and swap a GT-R engine into it. Besides, the current focus on battery power has caused an increasing number of companies to make cars in the same vein as the ZZ-EV, such as the Tesla Roadster, in order to stand out among the myriad small sports car manufacturers, and perhaps to justify a high price tag. The ZZ-EV is targeting an $81,000 price tag, which is R35 GT-R money, so it'll need to be convincing. While that does undercut the more comparable Tesla by $18,000, that has been around for 3 years now, so it's almost definitely more refined. All the same, here's hoping it all works out this time!

I also hope their efforts aren't harmed by the recent natural disaster in Japan, and if so, my best wishes go to all involved. Kyoto is relatively far away from the epicentre, but all the same, I hope minimal or ideally no losses have been suffered - with a Magnitude 8.9 quake, they will have felt something.

Here's a closer look at the ZZ-EV prototype:

Monday, 21 March 2011

Muscle Car Monday


This is Muscle Car Monday, formerly known as Small Block Tuesday. Every Monday will see a different muscle car with a brief history and some juicy pics. Let's start with one of the best: the 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona.

It was one of the four "Aero Warriors" of 1969-1971, based on the road-going Dodge Charger but designed for stock car racing, featuring a pointed nose and a frankly preposterous rear wing - designed, apparently, by NASA - as well as other minor revisions in the name of reducing drag, such as a flat rear window. Because it was designed for the track, it had to be homologated with at least 500 road cars. 70 of the road cars were powered by a racing-grade 426 HEMI V8 (7 litres) producing 425bhp, and the other 433 with the bigger 440 Magnum V8 (7.2 litres), making a more modest 375bhp but a massive 480lb/ft of torque. Thanks in part to its low drag coefficient of 0.28cd - comparable to the 2006 Koenigsegg CCX's 0.30cd - it became the first NASCAR vehicle to top 200mph, doing so at the hands of Buddy Baker at Talladega on 24th March 1970. Its dominance in stock car racing actually lead to it being banned, only for it to be superseded by the remarkably similar Plymouth Road Runner, driven by Richard Petty to such fame that his sky blue no.43 Superbird "played" the character "The King" in Disney-Pixar's Cars, with his voice.

The road car, complete with 24in high rear wing.
What I particularly like are the daft proportions of the thing. The wheelbase alone is 117 inches (3m), roughly as long as an entire original Mini. Add to that the huge amounts of bodywork at either end and the 2-door car measures in at 5.75 metres, as long as a Maybach 57, and as wide as a Rolls-Royce Phantom at just under 2 metres. The sheer size, accompanied by that enormous wing and bright colours, adds to its cartoonish demeanour that all good muscle cars share. This, though, could be the most cartoonish of the lot, tying at least with the Superbird. It also sounds GREAT. Too bad they're so collectible now you'd need about $300,000 to buy a real one...

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Supercar Sunday - Skyline Meets F40


This weekend doesn't see a brand new supercar, but rather one that should be: the Tommy Kaira ZZII (Zed Zed Two). I bought this car in Gran Turismo 5 yesterday in the Online Dealership (for around Cr.160,000, if I remember rightly). It weighs 1000kg despite All-Wheel-Drive and produces 550 horsepower. It sounds like my dream car, in fact, and it drives wonderfully with a considerate right foot and minor suspension adjustments (height-adjustable suspension is standard fit). However, its real life counterpart is very obscure...

The dream of Tommy Kaira, a small Japanese tuning company, and Autobacs, a small Japanese racing company, was to build a supercar that could be entered in FIA GT racing without any modifications. It was to have a choice of engines ranging from 2.0 to 3.5 litres connecting to either a 6-speed manual or a racing sequential gearbox, all-wheel-drive and a kerbweight of just 1000kg. It was also to continue their philosophy of driving purity first encompassed in the little ZZ, a Lotus Elise-style mid-engined sports car that had a cult following in Japan, as well as small success in the UK, as it was even built in Lotus country. Sadly, Tommy Kaira had to axe the ZZ amidst the Japanese economic downturn of the 1990s, which may also explain why the car you see here remains a single protoype gathering dust. They were bought by Autobacs at the turn of the century, who renamed it the RS-01, but it still didn't make it to production. The original ZZ however was brought back by Leading Edge as the 190RT/240RT for a brief period, and Autobacs used it as the basis for their own sports car, the Garaiya, but sadly that never reached customers either. The racing version, however, did take off, racing with some success in the GT300 class of SUPER GT since 2003.

But back to the ZZII. The only prototype has the RB26 DETT engine from the Nissan Skyline GT-R, but instead of the basic 280PS, this race-tuned Twin Turbo Straight-Six produces a mighty 550PS (542bhp). It sends that power through a six speed manual gearbox - possibly a GT-R 'box - to all four wheels by mean of Nissan's ATTESA-ETS advanced all-wheel-drive system, which is also found on the GT-R. All this brute force is contained inside a fibreglass body that's wrapped around a bespoke strengthened aluminium tub with steel tubular spaceframes for subframes. This, coupled with a spartan interior, gave Tommy Kaira their 1000kg kerbweight, in spite of the heavy engine and meaty AWD system that usually contributes to the GT-R's mass of around 1600kg. That makes a huge difference. Indeed, the resulting 542bhp/tonne is 19 higher than the power-to-weight ratio of the Bugatti Veyron. This all adds up to make a seriously fast car.

What makes it great is that it's a Nissan GT-R turned into a proper mid-engined supercar, a giant killer disguised as a bespoilered 2-door saloon turned into a titan destroyer masquerading as a sports coupé, being as it is only little (less size, less mass). It may not have any structural parts from the Nissan, but the two best bits of any GT-R are the engine - tunable to well over 1000bhp without immediately exploding - and that AWD system that gives you all the grip you could ever need. In this car though, with all that power throwing such little weight around, the ATTESA-ETS is working overtime.

This car is painted in ASL blue, rather than the darker blue seen above
The one place that it gets driven is in GranTurismo games, first appearing in GT3. I've driven the one in GT5, and it's quite something. It doesn't feel remotely like a tuned GT-R, because it's mid-engined and so much lighter. If I had to compare it to a current road car, think of it as a turbocharged Audi R8 that feels "unplugged". It feels vicious, urgent, like a racing car and you sometimes forget that it's four-wheel-drive, because it can get very tail happy, in particular when exiting 2nd-gear corners, and even some 3rd-gear ones as well. Thankfully, because the front wheels are doing their bit to pull you straight again, the oversteer is gradual and easy to catch, although careful throttle control is still required, as it has on occasion tried to get away from me just when I thought it was calming down and I could get on the power. The obvious solution to this is Traction Control, but I don't like it as it's too intrusive, plus when it's engaged, you can't drift when the mood takes you. The other solution is to drive gingerly, but that doesn't win you races, so it's really just a matter of practice. Much like the equally mid-engined, equally All-Wheel-Drive GTbyCITROEN, when you lift off in a corner, you get an annoying amount of understeer. Not enough to leave the track, but just enough to mess up a lap time or generally be an irritation. This could just me entering a corner slightly too fast, but all the same, because this car has adjustable suspension fitted as standard, I lowered the ride height and changed the spring rate to F 15.0 - 15.2 R (making the rear springs harder than the fronts causes oversteer, but a difference this small just seems to sharpen things up a little, which is nice). It also has standard adjustable downforce, although I can't see what you would adjust, so if it was misbehaving in faster corners, turning the rear DF up would solve that.

Either way, this is undeniably potent. After restoring the engine and doing the "Oil Glitch", in which you change the oil of a car as soon as you get it to add 5-30bhp (depending on the car), the ZZII had 570bhp, roughly the same as today's junior supercars, the Ferrari 458 Italia, AMG SLS, Lexus LFA and the, er, 592bhp McLaren MP4-12C. I thus decided a trip to Fortress TopGear was in order, where, after 6 or 7 laps of fishtailing and urination, I finally got it round - using the TV show's standing start method - in 1:16.580. That's at the very top of the leaderboard, amidst the track-biased Gumpert Apollo (1:17.1), Ariel Atom 500 V8 (1:15.1) and the devastating Bugatti Veyron SS (1:16.8). That's hugely impressive. The aforementioned supercars with the same power as the Tommy Kaira all weigh at least 300kg more, and that's the difference it makes; those cars are all in the 1:19s. It would appear that 100kg is worth a second at the TopGear track.

Spartan interior looks cheap. That's because it is. The gear stick is quite high too.
To sum it up, then, it is a fantastic car. No, I haven't sat in the real one, but the highly realistic physics of Gran Turismo 5 tell me this is a car that does what Tommy Kaira says it does. It's designed for driving purity, and it drives like a race car. It's like the sweet love child of the techy Nissan GT-R and the dainty Ferrari F40. There aren't any distractions inside, it has a proper manual gearbox, you just sit down, strap in and hold on, the advanced AWD providing moral support. It feels like the controls would be crisp and responsive. It's exactly how I would want a car like this to be.

My only wish is that it went into production, at least in a limited-series if Autobacs/Tommy Kaira couldn't afford or justify mass-production. Perhaps they should bring it back. It could have the new, improved ATTESA-ETS Pro from the R35 GT-R, with a manual or the DBA-R35's less delicate DCT at the front, partly for weight balance, partly to suit the new GT-R's transaxle layout. The body would need updating, because while it does look brilliant, it is a little dated, particularly that McLaren F1-cum-Ferrari 360 rear end, but I think it would only need minor updating to keep it fresh. The interior would need a redesign though - it looks too "10-year-old-one-off" compared to the Koenigseggs and Zenvos of today's obscure-supercar world. The engine would need changing too, as the RB26 DETT is too dirty for modern emissions regulations, so if a suitable Nissan V6 can't be found, a bespoke aluminium 3.0 V6 with Twin Turbos is what I'd give it. Tuneable and slightly over-engineered to ensure reliability both in standard and modified form, and to keep the spirit of the Skyline engine while saving weight and the environment (a bit). Sure, that would make the purchase price quite high (perhaps £150-200k), but when you can take down cars costing twice or thrice as much, it's an absolute bargain. Alas, it may only ever turn a wheel within the confines of Gran Turismo. Which reminds me, Polyphony, upgrade it to a Premium car! Please!

Tech Specs:


Layout: Mid-engined, All-Wheel-Drive


Acceleration: Unknown (0-60 is most likely ~3.5s)


Top Speed: 208mph (in Gran Turismo 5)


Engine: RB26 DETT - 2.6 litre Inline-6, Twin-Turbocharged


Power/Torque/CO2: 542bhp (550PS) / ~420 lb/ft / n/a CO2


Price: Not For Sale...


Saturday, 12 March 2011

Supercar Saturday!!

The Widow Maker's evil-er twin.
This Saturday, it's time to run inside and lock all the doors... because a GT2 is here.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Carlsson C25 Royale - A Guilty Pleasure

This used to be a Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG
By all accounts, I should hate this car for being a heavily modified version of a perfectly brilliant supercar (of sorts). It's got unpainted sections of carbon fibre, a huge power increase, stupid LED lights in the bumper, immense gloss-black wheels, a stupid name and all the Mercedes badges removed and replaced by those of some tuning company...

So why on Earth am I strangely attracted to it?

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Small Block Tuesday!!


This week we round off the Big 3 with a Chrysler HEMI. So-called because of its Hemispherical combustion chamber, this engine has powered pretty much every fast Dodge you can think of, but this particular one is the 6.4-litre unit, the latest version which first featured in the updated Dodge Challenger SRT8 392 ("392" because 6.4 litres is 392 cubic inches). Fitting really, as the 6.4 is an updated 6.1. Featuring such features of the modern age as variable valve timing and usage of lightweight aluminium, the HEMI 392 will also sit in the future Dodge Charger SRT8 and Chrysler 300-SRT8.

Interestingly, these engines also have a system on them that stops operating four of the cylinders during slow driving to save fuel. Handy considering the sort of cars it'll be found in.

Displacement: 6424cc (392cu.in)

Aspiration: Naturally Aspirated

Power: 470bhp (350KW)

Torque: 470 lb.ft (637NM)

Cars Of Note: Dodge Challenger SRT8 392

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Old People Need Electric Cars

2012 Fisker Karma. For young, rich, sexy people.

A lot of new electric cars are marketed as being cool in a green way, with the likes of Tesla Motors and Fisker Automotive making sexy and sporty cars aimed at the trendy rich guy with an "eco conscience". Whilst these cars give plug-in motoring a poster child or two (and A-listers something much nicer to drive than a pious Prius), that is not the right way for electric cars to be going. Nope, old folk need them more.

You see, today's elder popularity grew up in a bygone age, where 'gay' meant 'happy' and communication usually required a quill or direct eye contact. To a lot of them, the modern car must be a baffling and devious machine. You might have to deal with a clutch pedal (which could make for jerky driving as one's legs grow tired), there's a steering wheel covered in buttons that do Lord-knows-what, a dashboard similarly swathed in functions and "Infotainment" - a word that didn't even exist in the 1950s - and when it inevitably breaks down or needs an MOT/service, you need to take your car to a garage where an oily-handed man with very little hair talks "jargon" at you before asking for a hefty sum to keep your independence intact. Plus you need to buy a car that isn't broken in the first place (that pension pennies can afford you), then insurance, tax which could cost anything from £0 to £430, and you have to keep going to a petrol station to fill the damned thing up with money to prevent yourself from winding up still at the side of the road waiting for the AA man to arrive and talk "jargon" at you in a slightly condescending manner before towing you home and charging you more money. It can all be something of a nightmare. Cars are too complicated for some people.

An electric car, on the other hand, has very few of these things. Inevitably, there will still be some "Infotainment" to learn to use, but if your grandchild's Nintendo DS is easy to work out, surely that is too? Especially now that more and more cars just have a big screen for all that stuff instead of myriad cryptically-labelled buttons. Also, you just have to put it in D, ease off the brake and coast around at 25mph as usual with consummate ease, and when you do, there's no engine for you to wear down by going everywhere at 1500-2000rpm, just a few batteries and a whirring electric motor turning the front wheels (Tesla and Fisker Karma aside). You won't have to keep forking out for petrol (although unless Nissan's "Battery Swap" scheme gets under way, your electricity bill might jump up a little), and there's also much less to go wrong in an MOT/service, with no fluid levels to top up and that pesky petrol motor replaced with mere batteries and a big electric motor, which will last for years and years before you need to replace them. The massive drop in moving parts means a massive drop in potential beakdowns. Plus, there's no tax on "Zero-Emission vehicles", so it can cost almost nothing to run (even the sporty Tesla costs just 4p per mile), especially if Fisker's idea of putting a solar panel on the roof to provide extra charge becomes popular among EVs, like it should.

2011 Nissan Leaf, for normal people. Well, the ones with £26,000 at least.
The problem with this observation is that one of those foibles is not yet addressed: electric cars are still very expensive. The very normal-looking Nissan Leaf to your eyes' left costs around £31,000, which is at least £10,000 more than equivalent cars such as the Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra, VW Golf and Renault Megane. Even with the government giving you £5000 of that back, it is still a lot, and I seriously doubt that the majority of elderly drivers buy their cars new, as pensions and over 50 plans won't pay for commodities such as a shiny new car, so in effect it's even more expensive than the usual choice. The easy thing to say at this point is "give it another 5 years - electric cars will be just as good as combustion-engine cars by then", but people have said that pretty much every 5 years for the last decade or two, maybe longer. Viable EVs like the Nissan Leaf, electric Citroen C1 and Mitsubishi i-MiEV have been around for a little while now and are still very thin on the ground. Less-than-viable hideous plastic low-range low-speed deathtraps like the G-Wiz and all the other stupidly named e-snotboxes available in the UK are hard to find outside of London. It's looking like things are on the verge of changing - the Leaf is the European Car Of The Year - but I still think that EVs won't genuinely take off for another 5-10 years, and only then can the elderly start doing the car equivalent of swapping a record player for a CD player.

Supercar Sunday!

Missed another one! Never mind, it's still alliteration. So is Lexus LFA. Sort of.

V10 tuned by Yamaha. They make musical instruments, you know. And bikes.
This particular beast is the first limited-run-within-a-limited-run Lexus LFA Nürburgring Package. Similar to the "normal" LFA, except with carbon fibre skirting, winglets at the front, to match the winglets over the tail lights, new wheels and a large fixed rear wing. All in carbon fibre to save weight, of course (around 100kg). On top of all that, it also gets an extra 10 horsepower to counteract the extra drag of those aero upgrades, re-worked suspension, expensively sticky tyres and faster gear changes from that flappy-paddled box, with cogs shifting in just 0.15 seconds - down from an evidently pedestrian 0.2 seconds.

Personally I prefer it without that big spoiler, but the pop-up one's clearly too heavy for a track car
Of the 500 V10-powered Lexus LFAs being produced, only 10% of them will be of 562bhp Nürburgring Package specification, meaning that even the new king in golf club hierarchy can be one-upped with a fancier version of his most fancy of Lexii. I'd love to be there when they race each other though, because the LFA may well be the best-sounding car currently in production. I could drive this car for a solid week and not get tired of hearing that Yamaha-tuned 4.8 litre V10 revving up to 9000rpm. Don't agree with me? Here's a lesson in what I call "Cylinder Symphony":


Basic Specifications:

Layout: Front-engined, Rear-Wheel-Drive

0-60: 3.6 seconds (3.7 without using Launch Control)

Top Speed: 203mph (325km/h)

Engine: 4.8 litre "1LR-GUE" V10

Power/Torque/CO2: 570PS (562bhp) / 354lb/ft (480NM) / 270g/km

Weight: 1380kg (approx.)

Price: £398,000


Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Small Block Tues-- er, Wednesday...

Yeah, I missed it. Oh well. This time it's the saviour and holy grail of British hot rodders everywhere - in England, at least - The Rover V8.

It's actually from GM, known in a previous life as the Buick 215. Rover bought the rights off them in 1963 and used it for 35 years, as did MG, TVR, Westfield, Land Rover, Triumph, UK companies making AC Cobra replicas and custom cars, just everyone. It was also the lightest road car V8 ever at 144kg (318lb). Only "Hayabusa V8s" and custom track car units have been lighter since.

(Specs taken from Austin Rover Online, as the engine came in many forms)

Other Cars Of Note: Morgan Plus 8, any TVR V8, Triumph TR8, Westfield S-Eight, Brabham Formula 1 cars (1966-7, modified but with the same block)
TVR-developed 5.0 unit in a TVR Griffith 500