Italian Passion for Speed – Cardiff Bay – June 2016

It was a one line announcement in the regular email newsletters of the Italian Auto Moto Club which alerted me to plans to hold a new event in Cardiff, celebrating performance-oriented Italian cars. Cardiff is not far away from the place I still call home, despite spending so much time away from it, and the theme sounded interesting and  new events need encouraging. I sent an email to the organiser, Paul Talbot, suggesting that as well as registering my own car, I could surely get a number of other Abarths if he was interested. Needless to say, he was. Launching a new event, especially if it is not connected with a well known venue is doubly hard, so as much publicity as possible, using every trick you can think of, is certainly called for, so in January, I received a request to see if I could supply a car that could feature in some photos that would be used both online and in a flyer. That resulted in a trip to Cardiff Bay, where I met not just Paul, and his Ferrari 348 Spider, but also Mike and Tania and their lovely Delta Integrale, as well as official photographer for the day Steve Ryal and David Morris, whom I had met at the BIAMF back in April 2015 and co-organiser for the event was also there. It was a cold and rather grey afternoon, but dry, which was the main thing, and there were a surprising number of people out for a Sunday afternoon stroll which meant that we got a lot of people stopping to look at our cars which were photographed not in the actual venue for the event, but nearby on an area of land accessed by crossing the barrage over the Bay, something which requires prior-authorisation.

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With publicity material produced, it was now down to using every available opportunity to make as many people as possible aware of the event and to encourage them to come. Paul did a sterling job at talking to as many people as he could at the Bristol Italian Auto Moto Festival in April, and again at Brooklands a week later and the La Vita Rosso part of the late May meeting at Prescott, and those were the places where I saw him distributing flyers and talking to people. I am sure there were other events. Facebook, Forums and Owners Club are also a key way of getting your message out now, and I know that all of these channels were exploited fully, so by the time the day of the event came near, a pleasing number of cars had been booked. The venue itself is like a sort of amphitheatre right in the heart of Cardiff Bay, with space for as many as 200 cars. As that number had not booked, a decision was taken to allow people to turn up on the day – which seemed wise, especially as people were (understandably) concerned about the weather, which had been far from “Flaming June”. Indeed on the day itself, it felt more like March, but at least we were advised that the heavy rain was likely to stay away til mid afternoon, which was encouragement enough for those who had booked their cars in actually to turn up (not something you can take for granted these days). There was a steady arrival during the morning, with a total of over 40 varied Italian cars on display, and here they all are:

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ABARTH

Despite repeated requests from local South Wales Abarth owners for an event in the Principality, not one of the four Scorpion-branded cars came from a resident of Wales. Indeed, two of the four owners had travelled a long way to make this event. Two of the Abarths were 500-based models. One of them, of course was my 595 Competizione, which has featured in several reports on this site in the months since I acquired it last September.

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It was joined by John Barrett’s 595 Yamaha Edition. This version was launched in the autumn of 2015, so we were told, to celebrate the brand becoming an official sponsor and car supplier of the MotoGP championship. Developed in partnership with Yamaha, apparently, there were a number of  new design features and performance enhancements. Powered by the 160 bhp version of the T-Jet petrol engine, the specification includes lowered suspension, a Record Monza exhaust system and Koni shock absorbers and visually you can identify one by its 17″ matt black alloy wheels, painted brake callipers, darkened windows and Yamaha badging. Inside there’s a flat-bottomed steering wheel, aluminium pedals and more Yamaha badging. As with all Abarth models, there is an options list for those who wish to personalise the car still further. John’s car is finished in Podium Blue, a colour which was first seen in late 2015 across the range, and which quickly became one of the most popular of those offered, and it is not hard to see why as the rich deep blue suits the little car a lot.

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The other Abarths were both Punto Evo models. Whilst Kai Kan’s car is pretty much standard, the other one, belonging to Gavin is far from that, with a nitrous exhaust system fitted under the bonnet among the many modifications he has made. It was good to see that he brought his whole family for the day, ensuring that his young children get an early taste of events like this.

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ALFA ROMEO

Oldest of the Alfa Romeo models here was the 33 Veloce of Nick Grange, a car which is also pretty familiar to those who attend events in the South West and environs, as he takes it all over the place on a regular basis. The 33 itself is a car which you don’t see that often these days, as surprisingly few of them have survived,  even though this is actually the best selling Alfa in history, with just under a million of them sold between 1983 and 1994. One reason why precious few seem to have survived is that the 33 struggled even new to gain the affections of the enthusiasts in the way that the model’s predecessor, the AlfaSud, did, so when rust and old age came on, the vast majority of the cars were simply scrapped. There were two distinct generations of the 33. The first ran from 1983 until 1990 and then a major facelift was applied with new front and rear styling to bring the looks more into line with the new 164. A mild facelift was applied to the first 905 series cars in late 1986. Exterior alterations were limited to clear indicator lens, wheel covers and alloy wheels of new design, the adoption of side skirts on all models, and a new front grille. Two-tone paint schemes were discontinued. There were more significant changes inside, with a more conventionally designed dashboard and steering wheel, which superseded the innovative moveable instrument binnacle. All 1.5 variants now had the 105 PS engine from the now discontinued 1.5 QV; a TI (Turismo Internazionale) trim level was exclusive to the front-wheel drive 1.5 hatchback. Changes were made to the suspension, brakes and gearbox, with closer-spaced ratios. A new 1,712 cc 116 bhp engine was introduced on the 1.7 Quadrifoglio Verde, which replaced the 1.5 QV. The 1.7 engine was developed from the 1.5 by enlarging bore and stroke; it also used new cylinder heads, incorporating hydraulic tappets. To cope with the increased power the new QV was equipped with vented front brake discs. The 1.7 QV looked close to its predecessor, but had lost the grey mid-body stripe and gained new alloy wheels, wind deflectors on the front windows, more pronounced side skirts and a rear body-colour spoiler on the boot lid. Inside it featured a leather-covered steering wheel, red carpets, and leatherette-backed sport seats upholstered in a grey/black/red chequered cloth. Diesel models were offered in some continental markets, but these were not sold in the UK, where  only 1.5 and 1.7 Green Cloverleaf hatchback models were sold, as well as a market-specific 1.7 Sportwagon estate; all three were also available in “Veloce” versions, outfitted by Alfa Romeo GB with a colour-matching Zender body kit, which is what Nick’s car is.

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Far more familiar, and a clearly emerging classic, even if the market prices have yet fully to reflect this are the 916 Series GTV and Spider models. There were two of these here, one of them an example of the limited edition Cup cars. The 916 Series cars were conceived to replace two very different models in the Alfa range. First of these was the open topped 105 Series Spider which had been in production since 1966 and by the 1990s was long overdue a replacement. Alfa decided to combine a follow on to the Alfetta GTV, long out of production, with a new Spider model, and first work started in the late 1980s. The task was handed to Pininfarina, and Enrico Fumia’s initial renderings were produced in September 1987, with the first clay models to complete 1:1 scale model made in July 1988. Fumia produced something rather special. Clearly an Italian design, with the Alfa Romeo grille with dual round headlights, recalling the Audi-based Pininfarina Quartz, another design produced by Enrico Fumia back in 1981, the proposal was for a car that was low-slung, wedge-shaped with a low nose and high kicked up tail. The back of the car is “cut-off” with a “Kamm tail” giving improved aerodynamics. The Spider would share these traits with the GTV except that the rear is rounded, and would feature a folding soft-top with five hoop frame, which would completely disappear from sight under a flush fitting cover. An electric folding mechanism would be fitted as an option. Details included a one-piece rear lamp/foglamp/indicator strip across the rear of the body, the minor instruments in the centre console angled towards the driver. The exterior design was finished in July 1988. After Vittorio Ghidella, Fiat’s CEO, accepted the design, Alfa Romeo Centro Stile under Walter de Silva was made responsible for the completion of the detail work and also for the design of the interiors, as Pininfarina’s proposal was not accepted. The Spider and GTV were to be based on the then-current Fiat Group platform, called Tipo Due, in this case a heavily modified version with an all new multilink rear suspension. The front suspension and drivetrain was based on the 1992 Alfa Romeo 155 saloon. Chief engineer at that time was Bruno Cena. Drag coefficient was 0.33 for the GTV and 0.38 for the Spider. Production began in late 1993 with four cars, all 3.0 V6 Spiders, assembled at the Alfa Romeo Arese Plant in Milan. In early 1994 the first GTV was produced, with 2.0 Twin Spark engine. The first premiere was then held at the Paris Motor Show in 1994. The GTV and Spider were officially launched at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1995 and sales began the same year. The cars were well received. At launch, many journalists commented that Alfa had improved overall build quality considerably and that it came very close to equalling its German rivals. I can vouch for that, as I owned an early GTV for eighteen months, and it was a well built and reliable car. In 1997 a new engine, a 24-valve 3.0 litre V6, was available for the GTV along with bigger, 12.0 inch brakes and red four-pot calipers from Brembo. The console knobs were changed from round central to rectangle ones and to a three-spoke steering wheel. Some versions were upgraded with different front bumper mesh to bring the wind noise down to 74 dBA. In May 1998 the cars were revamped for the first time, creating the Phase 2 models. Most of the alterations were inside. The interior was changed with new centre console, painted letters on skirt seals, changed controls and switches arrangement and different instrument cluster. Outside, the main changes included chrome frame around the grille and colour-coded side skirts and bumpers. A new engine was introduced, the 142 hp 1.8 Twin Spark, and others were changed: the 2.0 Twin Spark was updated with a modular intake manifold with different length intakes and a different plastic cover. Power output of the 2.0 TS was raised to 153 hp. Engines changed engine management units and have a nomenclature of CF2. The dashboard was available in two new colours in addition to the standard black: Red Style and Blue Style, and with it new colour-coded upholstery and carpets. The 3.0 24V got a six-speed manual gearbox as standard and the 2.0 V6 TB engine was now also available for the Spider. August 2000 saw the revamp of engines to comply with new emission regulations, Euro3. The new engines were slightly detuned, and have a new identification code: CF3. 3.0 V6 12V was discontinued for the Spider and replaced with 24V Euro3 version from the GTV. 2.0 V6 Turbo and 1.8 T.Spark were discontinued as they did not comply with Euro3 emissions. By the 2001-2002 model year, only 2 engines were left, the  2.0 Twin.Spark and 3.0 V6 24V, until the Phase 3 engine range arrived. The Arese plant, where the cars had been built,  was closing and, in October 2000, the production of GTV/Spider was transferred to Pininfarina Plant in San Giorgio Canavese in Turin. In 2003 there was another and final revamp, creating the Phase 3, also designed in Pininfarina but not by Enrico Fumia. The main changes were focused on the front with new 147-style grille and different front bumpers with offset numberplate holder. Change to the interior was minimal with different centre console and upholstery pattern and colours available. Instrument illumination colour was changed from green to red. Main specification change is an ASR traction control, not available for 2.0 TS Base model. New engines were introduced: 163  hp 2.0 JTS with direct petrol injection and 237 hp 3.2 V6 24V allowing a 158 mph top speed. A number of limited edition cars were produced during the model’s lifetime, of which the Cup, produced in 2001, is perhaps the best known. Based on the 3.0 V6 version, and inspired by a one-model Alfa GTV Cup race series, 419 of these cars were made. There were 180 3.0 V6 24V GTV Cups, out of which 155 were RHD, and 239 cars with 150 PS 2.0 TS available in LHD only. 3.0 V6 cars were only produced in red, while 2.0 TS cars were mostly silver with a few examples in red. Limited edition plaques, that were made of silver, differed for the RHD and LHD versions, having red and black texts accordingly. The differences between the standard car and the Cup version were a factory standard rear spoiler, front spoiler, side skirts, wheel arch side vents and titanium-like finish 17″ ‘telephone dial’ alloys, whilst mechanically the car was the same as the regular 215 hp V6. The interior was different in that had leather-material upholstery. Production ceased in late 2004, though some cars were still available for purchase till 2006. A total of 80,747 cars were made, and sales of the GTV and Spider were roughly equal. More V6 engined GTVs than Spiders were made, but in 2.0 guise, it was the other way round with the open model proving marginally more popular.

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Representing the 156 was Stuart Pugh’s nicely presented GTA model. Launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September 2001 and named after the Alfa Romeo GTA from the 1960s, the letters GTA meaning Gran Turismo Alleggerita (English: lightened Grand Tourer). 2,973 berlinas and 1,678 Sportwagons were built until GTA production stopped in October 2005 as the 156 gave way to the Alfa Romeo 159. The GTA came with the 3.2 litre Bussone V6 engine (The big Busso, so called after legendary Ferrari engineer Giuseppe Busso), the largest capacity version of the much loved V6 engine. With a 93 mm bore and a 78 mm stroke giving it a capacity of 3,179 cc, it generated  250 PS (247 hp) and 300 N·m (220 lb/ft) of torque. After market Alfa Romeo specialist Autodelta produced performance versions up to 3.7 litres and 400 PS. The European Touring Car Championship winning 156 GTA was however running a 2.0 litre 4-cylinder 300 PS engine due to class regulations. The GTA variants were equipped with either a six-speed manual transmission or six-speed Selespeed (paddles in steering wheel, hydraulically operated robotised) gearbox, had a lowered and stiffened suspension, a distinctive body kit, wider rear arches and leather interior. The suspension was specifically made for the GTA by Fiat Research Centre and Fiat Auto Design and Development Department. Steering was also made faster, only 1.7 turns from lock to lock compared to 2.1 in normal models. The GTA had also larger brakes (Brembo), with 12″ front discs and 10.8″ at the rear. The front discs were later upgraded to 13 ” to cope with the performance potential. Even though the name suggests a light car, the GTA isn’t any lighter than other 156s, as it was actually 91 kilograms (201 lb) heavier than the 2.5 litre V6 engined version. The GTA did not get the Giugiaro designed facelift introduced to the 156 in 2002, but continued with the acclaimed Walter de Silva design to the very end of production.

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Having a rather shorter production life was a smaller brother, the 147 GTA. This version was added to the 147 range in 2002. conceived as a competitor to the most sporting Golf and Focus models of the day. as well as injecting more potency into a range which always seemed like it needed more power. Fitted with a 3.2 V6 engine which produced 247 bhp, the 147GTA was the most powerful hot hatch available at the time, and the modifications to the body, including lower sills and wider wheel arches, if anything, made it look even better rather than endowing it with the sort of “after market look” that can afflict some high end performance versions of regular family cars. Performance figures were impressive, with the car able to achieve a top speed of 153 mph. It had a widened body by 15 mm at each side to accommodate the 225/45R17 tyres. Most models had a 6-speed manual transmissions; whilst a smaller number of other models used the semi automatic Selespeed system. Production ran through to 2004 and in total 5,029 147 GTAs were built, 1004 of which were Selespeeds. Only around 300 came to the UK, so this was never a common sighting on British roads.

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Follow on to the 916 series GTV and Spider were the Brera models. Visually similar to the 159 models at the front, the Brera and Spider boasted unique styling from the A pillars rearwards. They were offered with the same range of engines as the 159, and thanks to that strong, but rather heavy platform on which they were built, even the 3.2 litre V6 cars were more Grand Tourer than rapid sports car. Pininfarina was responsible for both models. The Brera was first to market, in 2005, with the Spider following in 2006. Production of both ceased in late 2010, by which time 12,488 units of the Spider and 21,786 units of the Brera had been built. It will be very surprising if these do not attain classic status, and the consequent rise in values, though that has not happened yet.  There were four examples of the Spider here, of which I have to single out Tania Wightman’s black car for the beautiful finish. Black is a hard car to keep looking at its best, but her hard work meant that this one was particularly stunning.

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Final Alfa, and one of the last cars to arrive was a 159 Saloon. Replacement for the much loved 156, the 159 had a troubled development, being designed in the midst of the Fiat-General Motors joint venture which was terminated in 2005. Originally, the 159 was intended to use GM’s Epsilon platform; however, late during its development it was changed to the GM/Fiat Premium platform. The Premium platform was more refined and expensive, being intended for E-segment executive cars such as an Alfa Romeo 166 successor but that never materialised, so Alfa Romeo attempted to recoup some of the platform development costs with the 159. General Motors originally planned Cadillac, Buick and Saab models for this platform but ending up discarded them over cost concerns. Unfortunately, the 159’s late transition to what was fundamentally made as an E-segment platform resulted in the 159 having excessive weight, a problem shared by its sisters, the Alfa Romeo Brera coupe and Spider convertible. The 159 was designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro in collaboration with the Centro Stile Alfa Romeo. The nose featured a traditional Alfa Romeo V-shaped grille and bonnet, and cylindrical head light clusters. Similar to its coupé counterpart, front of the car was influenced by the Giugiaro designed 2002 Brera Concept. Several exterior design cues were intended to make the car appear larger, supposedly to appeal to potential buyers in the United States; however, the 159 was never exported to that region. The interior featured styling treatments familiar from earlier cars, including the 156, such as deeply recessed instruments which are angled towards the driver. Alfa Romeo intended for the 159 to compete more directly with BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi by using higher quality interior materials; however, it has been said that Alfa Romeo misjudged their brand’s positioning relative to the more well-known German luxury automakers. Several levels of trim were available, depending on market. Four trim levels: Progression, Distinctive, Exclusive and Turismo Internazionale (TI) featured across Europe. In the UK there were three levels of trim: Turismo, Lusso and Turismo Internazionale (TI). A Sportwagon variant was introduced at the Geneva Motor Show in 2006. The 159’s size made it considerably more comfortable than the 156 due to its larger, roomy interior. However, the considerable growth in dimensions deterred many 156 owners from considering the 159 as a direct replacement model, and something seemed to be lost in the character of the new car. Initially offered with a choice of 1.9 and 2,2 litre 4 cylinder and 3.2 litre V6 petrol engines and 1.9 and 2.4 litre diesel units, and an optional four wheel drive system.  An automatic gearbox option for the 2.4 JTDM diesel model was also launched in late 2006, and later extended to other versions. In 2007 a four-wheel drive diesel model was released and the 2.4-litre diesel engines’ power output increased to 210 hp, with a newly reintroduced TI trim level also available as an option. For model year 2008 the mechanics and interiors of the 159 were further developed. The 3.2 litre V6 model was offered in front wheel drive configuration, achieving a top speed of 160 mph. All model variants came with Alfa’s electronic “Q2” limited slip differential. As a result of newly introduced aluminium components, a 45 kilograms (99 lb) weight reduction was achieved. For 2009,  Alfa introduced a new turbocharged petrol engine badged as “TBi”. This 1742 cc unit had direct injection and variable valve timing in both inlet and exhaust cams. This new engine had 200 PS (197 hp) and would eventually replace the GM-derived 2.2 and 1.9 JTS units.In 2010, all petrol engines except for the 1750 TBi were retired, ending the use of General Motors-based engines in the 159. The only remaining diesel engines were the 136 PS and 170 PS 2.0 JTDm engines. In 2011, the 159 was powered only by diesel engines. In the UK,  Alfa Romeo stopped taking orders for the 159 on 8 July 2011. Production for all markets ceased at the end of 2011, after 240,000 had been built.  This is a fabulous looking car, and will surely – like all Alfa models – become a sought after classic in years to come.

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FERRARI

Not surprisingly, perhaps, given the original concept of the event, and the fact that the organisers are both Ferrari owners, this marque outnumbered all the others. Indeed at one point, there were more Ferrari models here than everything else put together. There was a nice mix of cars, with both 8 and 12 cylinder models present, and they were not all red.

Representing the 348 were two models: Paul Talbot’s Spider, complete with its recently refurbished and immaculate looking interior and a tb car. Replacing the 328 GTB/GTS models in 1989, the 348 series were not that enthusiastically received by the press who found much to complain about.  The 348’s styling differed from previous models with straked side air intakes and rectangular taillights resembling the Testarossa. Launched in two models, a coupe badged 348 tb (Trasversale Berlinetta) and targa roofed 348 ts (Targa), these were soon joined by a fully open car, the 348 Spider. All featured a normally aspirated 3.4-litre version of the quad-cam, four-valve-per-cylinder V8 engine. As with its predecessors, the model number was derived from this configuration, with the first two digits being the displacement and the third being the number of cylinders. The engine, which produced 300 hp was mounted longitudinally and coupled to a transverse manual gearbox, like the Mondial t with which the 348 shared many components. This was a significant change for Ferrari, with most previous small Ferraris using a transverse engine with longitudinal transmission. The “T” in the model name 348 tb and ts refers to the transverse position of the gearbox.  The 348 was fitted with dual-computer engine management using twin Bosch Motronic ECUs, double-redundant anti-lock brakes, and self-diagnosing air conditioning and heating systems. Late versions (1993 and beyond) have Japanese-made starter motors and Nippondenso power generators to improve reliability, as well as the battery located within the front left fender for better weight distribution. Similar to the Testarossa but departing from the BB 512 and 308/328, the oil and coolant radiators were relocated from the nose to the sides, widening the waist of the car substantially, but making the cabin much easier to cool since hoses routing warm water no longer ran underneath the cabin as in the older front-radiator cars. This also had the side effect of making the doors very wide. The 348 was equipped with a dry-sump oil system to prevent oil starvation at high speeds and during hard cornering. The oil level can only be accurately checked on the dipstick when the motor is running due to this setup. The 348 was fitted with adjustable ride-height suspension and a removable rear sub-frame to speed up the removal of the engine for maintenance. Despite trenchant criticism of the car, especially its handling, 2,895 examples of the 348 tb and 4,230 of the 348 ts were produced.

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Stung by the criticism of the 348, Ferrari undertook a comprehensive revision, creating the F355 model which they launched in May 1994. An evolution of the Ferrari 348, just about everything was changed, and improved.  Design emphasis for the F355 was placed on significantly improved performance, but driveability across a wider range of speeds and in different environments such as low-speed city traffic was also addressed, as the Honda NS-X had proved that you could make a supercar that could be lived with every day. Apart from the displacement increase from 3.4 to 3.5 litres, the major difference between the V8 engine in the 348 and F355 was the introduction of a 5-valve cylinder head. This new head design allowed for better intake permeability and resulted in an engine that was considerably more powerful, producing 375 hp. The longitudinal 90° V8 engine was bored 2mm over the 348’s engine, resulting in the small increase in displacement. The F355 had a Motronic system controlling the electronic fuel injection and ignition systems, with a single spark plug per cylinder, resulting in an unusual 5 valves per cylinder configuration. This was reflected in the name, which did not follow the formula from the previous decades of engine capacity in litres followed by number of cylinders such as the  246 = 2.4 litres and 6 cylinders and the 308 of 3.0 litres and  8 cylinders. For the F355, Ferrari used engine capacity followed by the number of valves per cylinder (355 = 3.5 litres engine capacity and 5 valves per cylinder) to bring the performance advances introduced by a 5 valve per cylinder configuration into the forefront. 5. The frame was a steel monocoque with tubular steel rear sub-frame with front and rear suspensions using independent, unequal-length wishbones, coil springs over gas-filled telescopic shock absorbers with electronic control servos and anti-roll bars. The car allows selection between two damper settings, “Comfort” and “Sport”. Ferrari fitted all road-going F355 models with Pirelli tires, size 225/40ZR 18 in front and 265/40 ZR 18 in the rear. Although the F355 was equipped with power-assisted steering (intended to improve low-speed driveability relative to the outgoing 348), this could optionally be replaced with a manual steering rack setup by special order. Aerodynamic designs for the car included over 1,300 hours of wind tunnel analysis. The car incorporates a Nolder profile on the upper portion of the tail, and a fairing on the underbody that generates downforce when the car is at speed. These changes not only made the car faster but also much better to drive,m restoring Ferrari to the top of the tree among its rivals. At launch, two models were available: the coupe Berlinetta and the targa topped GTS, which was identical to the Berlinetta apart from the fact that the removable “targa-style” hard top roof could be stored behind the seats. The F355 would prove to be last in the series of mid-engined Ferraris with the Flying Buttress rear window, a lineage going back to the 1965 Dino 206 GT, unveiled at the Paris Auto Show. The Spider (convertible) version came later in the year. In 1997 the Formula One style paddle gear shift electrohydraulic manual transmission was introduced with the Ferrari 355 F1 adding £6,000 to the dealer asking price. This system promised faster gearchanges and allowed the driver to keep both hands on the steering wheel, It proved to be very popular and was the beginning of the end for the manual-transmission Ferrari.  Ferrari produced 4,871 road-going Berlinetta models, of which 3,829 were 6-speed and 1,042 were F1 transmissions. The Spider proved to be the second-most popular F355 model, with a total production of 3,717 units, of which 2,664 were produced with the 6-speed transmission and another 1,053 produced with the F1 transmission.  A total of 2,577 GTS models were produced, with 2,048 delivered with the 6-speed transmission and another 529 with the F1 transmission. This was the last GTS targa style model produced by Ferrari. This made a total production run of 11,273 units making the F355 the most-produced Ferrari at the time, though this sales record would be surpassed by the next generation 360 and later, the F430.

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It was with the 360 Modena that sales of Ferrari models really took off, with unprecedented volumes of the car being sold. The 360 Modena was launched in 1999,  named after the town of Modena, the birthplace of Enzo Ferrari. A major innovation in this all new model came from Ferrari’s partnership with Alcoa which resulted in an entirely new all-aluminium space-frame chassis that was 40% stiffer than the F355 which had utilised steel. The design was 28% lighter despite a 10% increase in overall dimensions. Along with a lightweight frame the new Pininfarina body styling deviated from traditions of the previous decade’s sharp angles and flip-up headlights. The new V8 engine, common to all versions, was of 3.6 litre capacity with a flat plane crankshaft, titanium connecting rods and generates 400 bhp  Despite what looks like on paper modest gains in reality the power to weight ratio was significantly improved on over the F355, this was due to the combination of both a lighter car and more power. The 0 to 100 km/h acceleration performance improved from 4.6 to 4.3 seconds. The first model to be rolled out was the 360 Modena, available as a manual, or an F1 electrohydraulic manual. Next up was an open car. The 360 was designed with a Spider variant in mind; since removing the roof of a coupe reduces the torsional rigidity, the 360 was built for strength in other areas. Ferrari designers strengthened the sills, stiffened the front of the floorpan and redesigned the windscreen frame. The rear bulkhead had to be stiffened to cut out engine noise from the cabin. The convertible’s necessary dynamic rigidity is provided by additional side reinforcements and a cross brace in front of the engine. Passenger safety is ensured by a strengthened windscreen frame and roll bars. The 360 Spider displays a curvilinear waistline. The fairings imply the start of a roof, and stable roll bars are embedded in these elevations. Due to use of light aluminium construction throughout, the Spider weighs in only 60 kg heavier than the coupé. As with the Modena version, its 3.6 litre V8 with 400 bhp is on display under a glass cover. The engine — confined in space by the convertible’s top’s storage area — acquires additional air supply through especially large side grills. The intake manifolds were moved toward the center of the engine between the air supply conduits in the Spider engine compartment, as opposed to lying apart as with the Modena. In terms of performance, the 0-60 mph time was slightly slower at 4.4 seconds due to the slight weight increase, and the top speed was reduced from 189 to 180 mph. Despite the car’s mid-mounted V8 engine, the electrically operated top is able to stow into the compartment when not in use. The convertible top was available in black, blue, grey and beige. The transformation from a closed top to an open-air convertible is a two-stage folding-action that has been dubbed “a stunning 20 second mechanical symphony”. The interior of the Spider is identical to that of the coupé.

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Sales of the Spider initially overtook those of the Coupe, but parity was restored when the third variant was launched, the Challenge Stradale, the final model before replacement. It was essentially a lightened, factory tuned version of the Modena with many of the Modena’s optional extras becoming standard. Carbon seats, racing exhaust, carbon engine bay, and so on. Famously at the time Ferrari claimed it dropped up to 110 kg over the stock Modena helping to improve its handling. Many other chassis optimisations were carried out too such as stiffer titanium springs (lowering unsprung weight), stiffer bushings and an updated rear anti roll bar (the same anti-roll bar as used on the 430 Scuderia) along with a remapped active suspension computer. Changes also included larger 19″ BBS wheels, the use of carbon fibre for the frames of the seats and mirrors, titanium springs which were also 20% stiffer, and Carbon fibre-reinforced Silicon Carbide (C/SiC) ceramic composite disc brakes. A variety of options allowed for further weight reductions, including replacing the leather interior with fabric, removal of the power windows and mirrors, and deletion of the stereo. Lexan side windows were available in Europe only but everywhere else got the Lexan rear cover. It was officially introduced in March 2003 at the Geneva International Motor Show and went into production shortly thereafter. The CS can be compared to Porsche’s GT3 RS model in design approach and many magazines have placed them head-to-head in road tests. A single 360 Barchetta was produced as a special wedding present from Ferrari to former Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo. In total, there were 8,800 Modenas and 7,565 Spiders produced. David Morris had brought along his lovely 360 Challenge Stradale, a car which he did say is not that enjoyable on a long drive home in the wet, which was ahead of him at the conclusions of proceedings.

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Next up was the F430, the successor to the Ferrari 360. This car debuted at the 2004 Paris Motor Show. Designed by Pininfarina, under the guidance of Frank Stephenson, the body styling of the F430 was revised from its predecessor, the Ferrari 360, to improve its aerodynamic efficiency. Although the drag coefficient remained the same, downforce was greatly enhanced. Despite sharing the same basic Alcoa Aluminium chassis, roof line, doors and glass, the car looked significantly different from the 360. A great deal of Ferrari heritage was included in the exterior design. At the rear, the Enzo’s tail lights and interior vents were added. The car’s name was etched into the Testarossa-styled driver’s side mirror. The large oval openings in the front bumper are reminiscent of Ferrari racing models from the 60s, specifically the 156 “sharknose” Formula One car and 250 TR61 Le Mans cars of Phil Hill. Designed with soft-top-convertible. The F430 featured a 4.3 litre V8 petrol engine of the “Ferrari-Maserati” F136 family. This new power plant was a significant departure for Ferrari, as all previous Ferrari V8’s were descendants of the Dino racing program of the 1950s. This fifty-year development cycle came to an end with the entirely new unit. The engine’s output was 490 hp at 8500 rpm and 465 N·m (343 lb/ft) of torque at 5250 rpm, 80% of which was available below 3500rpm. Despite a 20% increase in displacement, engine weight grew by only 4 kg and engine dimensions were decreased, for easier packaging. The connecting rods, pistons and crankshaft were all entirely new, while the four-valve cylinder head, valves and intake trumpets were copied directly from Formula 1 engines, for ideal volumetric efficiency. The F430 has a top speed in excess of 196 mph and could accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in 3.9 seconds, 0.6 seconds quicker than the old model. The brakes on the F430 were designed in close cooperation with Brembo (who did the calipers and discs) and Bosch (who did the electronics package),resulting in a new cast-iron alloy for the discs. The new alloy includes molybdenum which has better heat dissipation performance. The F430 was also available with the optional Carbon fibre-reinforced Silicon Carbide (C/SiC) ceramic composite brake package. Ferrari claims the carbon ceramic brakes will not fade even after 300-360 laps at their test track. The F430 featured the E-Diff, a computer-controlled limited slip active differential which can vary the distribution of torque based on inputs such as steering angle and lateral acceleration. Other notable features include the first application of Ferrari’s manettino steering wheel-mounted control knob. Drivers can select from five different settings which modify the vehicle’s ESC system, “Skyhook” electronic suspension, transmission behaviour, throttle response, and E-Diff. The feature is similar to Land Rover’s “Terrain Response” system. The Ferrari F430 was also released with exclusive Goodyear Eagle F1 GSD3 EMT tyres, which have a V-shaped tread design, run-flat capability, and OneTRED technology. The F430 Spider, Ferrari’s 21st road going convertible, made its world premiere at the 2005 Geneva Motor Show. The car was designed by Pininfarina with aerodynamic simulation programs also used for Formula 1 cars. The roof panel automatically folds away inside a space above the engine bay. The conversion from a closed top to an open-air convertible is a two-stage folding-action. The interior of the Spider is identical to that of the coupé. Serving as the successor to the Challenge Stradale, the 430 Scuderia was unveiled by Michael Schumacher at the 2007 Frankfurt Auto Show. Aimed to compete with cars like the Porsche RS-models and the Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera it was lighter by 100 kg/220 lb and more powerful (510 PS) than the standard F430. Increased power came from a revised intake, exhaust, and an ion-sensing knock-detection system that allows for a higher compression ratio. Thus the weight-to-power ratio was reduced from 2.96 kg/hp to 2.5 kg/hp. In addition to the weight saving measures, the Scuderia semi-automatic transmission gained improved “Superfast”, known as “Superfast2”, software for faster 60 millisecond shift-times. A new traction control system combined the F1-Trac traction and stability control with the E-Diff electronic differential. The Ferrari 430 Scuderia accelerates from 0-100 km/h in 3.6 seconds, with a top speed of 202 miles per hour. Ferrari claimed that around their test track, Fiorano Circuit, it matched the Ferrari Enzo, and the Ferrari F430’s successor, the Ferrari 458. To commemorate Ferrari’s 16th victory in the Formula 1 Constructor’s World Championship in 2008, Ferrari unveiled the Scuderia Spider 16M at World Finals in Mugello. It is effectively a convertible version of the 430 Scuderia. The engine produces 510 PS at 8500 rpm. The car has a dry weight of 1,340 kg, making it 80 kg lighter than the F430 Spider, at a curb weight of 1,440 kg (3,175 lb). The chassis was stiffened to cope with the extra performance available and the car featured many carbon fibre parts as standard. Specially lightened front and rear bumpers (compared to the 430 Scuderia) were a further sign of the efforts Ferrari was putting into this convertible track car for the road. Unique 5-spoke forged wheels were produced for the 16M’s launch and helped to considerably reduce unsprung weight with larger front brakes and callipers added for extra stopping power (also featured on 430 Scuderia). It accelerates from 0-100 km/h in 3.7 seconds, with a top speed of 315 km/h (196 mph). 499 vehicles were released beginning early 2009 and all were pre-sold to select clients. There were closed and spider versions of the F430 here.

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Final V8 Ferrari was a 458 Spider.  An all new design, the 458 Italia was first officially unveiled at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show. Once more, Ferrari advised that the model incorporated technologies developed from the company’s experience in Formula 1.The body computer system was developed by Magneti Marelli Automotive Lighting. The 458 came with a 4,499 cc  V8 engine of the “Ferrari/Maserati” F136 engine family, producing 570 PS ( 562 hp) at 9,000 rpm and 540 N·m (398 lb/ft) at 6,000 rpm with 80% torque available at 3,250 rpm. The engine featured direct fuel injection, a first for Ferrari mid-engine setups in its road cars. The only transmission available was a dual-clutch 7-speed Getrag gearbox, in a different state of tune shared with the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG. There was no traditional manual option, making this the fourth road-car after the Enzo, Challenge Stradale and 430 Scuderia not to be offered with Ferrari’s classic gated manual. The car’s suspension featured double wishbones at the front and a multi-link setup at the rear, coupled with E-Diff and F1-Trac traction control systems, designed to improve the car’s cornering and longitudinal acceleration by 32% when compared with its predecessors.The brakes included a prefill function whereby the pistons in the calipers move the pads into contact with the discs on lift off to minimise delay in the brakes being applied. This combined with the ABS and standard Carbon Ceramic brakes caused a reduction in stopping distance from 100–0 km/h (62-0 mph) to 32.5 metres. Ferrari’s official 0–100 km/h (62 mph) acceleration time was quoted as 2.9–3.0 seconds with a top speed of 340 km/h (210 mph).  In keeping with Ferrari tradition the body was designed by Pininfarina under the leadership of Donato Coco, the Ferrari design director. The interior design of Ferrari 458 Italia was designed by Bertrand Rapatel, a French automobile designer. The car’s exterior styling and features were designed for aerodynamic efficiency, producing a downforce of 140 kg (309 lb) at 200 km/h. In particular, the front grille features deformable winglets that lower at high speeds, in order to offer reduced drag. The car’s interior was designed using input from former Ferrari Formula 1 driver Michael Schumacher; in a layout common to racing cars, the new steering wheel incorporates many controls normally located on the dashboard or on stalks, such as turning signals or high beams. At launch the car was widely praised as being pretty much near perfect in every regard. It did lack a fresh air version, though, but that was addressed with the launch of the 458 Spider at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show. This convertible variant of the 458 Italia featured an aluminium retractable hardtop which, according to Ferrari, weighs 25 kilograms (55 lb) less than a soft roof such as the one found on the Ferrari F430 Spider, and can be opened in 14 seconds The engine cover was redesigned to accommodate the retractable roof system. It had the same 0–100 km/h time as the hard-top but a lower top speed of 199 mph. It quickly became the better seller of the two versions.

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Oldest of the V12 models here was a 400i, one of two cars brought along by John Trace and the large and long running 4 seater that has languished in the doldrums of affection for far too long, but which is gradually gaining new fans, as people realise that it is not just worthy of the Ferrari badge on the front, but also an elegant and surprisingly practical Grand Tourer. The 400 was an evolution of the 365 GT4 2+2, which was first seen at the 1976 Paris Motor Show. It proved quite controversial, as this was the first Ferrari to be offered with an automatic gearbox, a Borg Warner 3-speed unit, though a five speed manual was also offered. The 365’s V12 engine had been stroked to a displacement of 4.8 litres and given six 38 DCOE 110-111 Webers, and now produced 340 PS.  0-60 mph took 7.1 seconds. Other changes compared to the 365 GT4 included five-stud wheels to replace the knock-off hubs (Borrani wheels weren’t offered anymore), a revised interior, the addition of a lip to the front spoiler, and double circular tail light assemblies instead of triple. A total of 502 examples were produced, 355 of which were Automatics and 147 GTs before a further upgrade in 1979 which saw the addition of fuel injection. It was replaced by the visually similar 412i in 1985. which had a larger 5 litre engine. Production of this version ran for 4 years, meaning that by the time the model was deleted from the range, this elegant Pininfarina design had been produced for 17 years, the longest run of any Ferrari bodystyle ever. It was some years before another 4 seater V12 Ferrari would join the range, the 456 GT in 1994.

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John’s other car was his 512 TR, which was accoladed as the “Best Ferrari in show” at the recent Bristol Italian Auto Moto Festival. An evolution of the 1984, Testarossa, the 512TR was a completely re-engineered car, although it looked very much like its antecedent, with the reshaped front and new fog lights and grille being the most obvious visual clue. Introduced in 1992, it would run for 4 years before being updated again into the 512M. The 512 TR had a 4,943 cc  flat-12 engine longitudinally mid mounted.  Each cylinder had four valves, with forty-eight valves total, lubricated via a dry sump system, and a compression ratio of 10.00:1. Compared to its predecessor, the 512TR’ s engine was modified in many ways. Nikasil liners were added, along with a new air intake system, Bosch engine management system, larger intake valves, and a revised exhaust system. In addition to the higher peak power, the modifications delivered a more broad power curve for better acceleration. These combined to provide a maximum torque of 362 lb/ft at 5500 rpm and a maximum power of 428 hp at 6750 rpm, which enabled the the 512 TR to accelerate from 0–100 km/h in 4.80 seconds and on to 100 mph in 10.70 seconds, as well as completing a standing quarter mile in 13.20 seconds. The maximum speed was 195 mph. Gearshifting effort, long a complaint about the Testarossa, was eased with a new single-plate clutch, sliding ball bearings, and better angle for the gear lever. The braking system included larger front rotors and cross-drilling all around. Quicker steering, lower-profile tires, and new shock settings improved handling. Most importantly, engine and gearbox position was rethought, which improved the centre of gravity, aiding the handling and making the car less fearsome on the limit. The interior was revised too, with the centre console split from the dashboard, and the climate controls relocated. Pininfarina tweaked the body of the car to better integrate the spoilers and engine cover and update the design in line with the recently released 348. The car sold quite well despite its fearsome asking price, which was £131,600 at UK launch.
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Final Ferrari here was a current model, the F12 Berlinetta, a very elegant car, and a true Grand Tourer.

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FIAT

Although there are Abarth and scorpion badges on this car, it is more property classified as a Fiat. It is of course, a Strada 130TC, the hot hatch that was launched in 1983 in Europe as the Ritmo Abarth 130 TC, and which arrived in the UK the following summer bearing the Strada name which was applied to all of the “Tipo 138” cars. It was based on the earlier 125 TC, which had not been offered to UK buyers, powered by a 1,995 cc engine with power output increased to 130 PS). This was achieved by replacing the single Weber carb used in the 125 TC with twin Solex/Weber carburettors on a side-draught manifold, and via improved cam profiles. It remained the only 1980s European hot hatch to continue utilise carburettors instead of fuel injection. Ignition timing was controlled electronically and there was a close ratio 5 speed ZF manual gearbox. This all gave the 130 TC a top speed of 121 mph and accelerated from 0 to 100 km/h in 7.8 seconds, which was faster than its contemporary rivals, which included the Volkswagen Golf GTI, Ford Escort XR3i, Vauxhall Astra GTE and the MG Maestro. Although appearing outwardly similar to the restyled 105 TC with its lower door & wheelarch trims, the 130 TC could be distinguished by its polished four-spoke alloy wheels (continued from the earlier 125 TC), aerodynamic perspex front door wind deflectors, and lower hatchback spoiler. Inside there were Recaro bucket seats. Sales in the UK were never that strong, and like all Fiats of the era, the cars were not that durable, still suffering from rust issues,  but a few have survived (more of the sporting cars than the non-sporting ones), and this is the one which is seen most often.

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The other Fiat models here were more recent, a pair of the very distinctive Coupe cars. It is now more than 20 years since this distinctive Chris Bangle-styled model hit UK streets, and if you thought the car was good looking then, you will surely appreciate it now. Looking at its best in bright colours, this was a practical 4 seater that was genuinely good to drive, especially when Fiat upgraded the engines from 4 cylinders to 5, creating with the 220 bhp 20V Turbo car one of the fastest front wheel drive cars on sale at the time. A tax friendly 1800cc 4 cylinder came late to the range, but these were aimed more at Italy than here. The Coupe was only on sale in the UK for 4 years, but it was quite popular and it is believed that there are still around 1000 of them on our roads.

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LAMBORGHINI

There were actually two Lamborghini models present, but only one of them features in the pictures. The one which eluded my camera was a bright yellow Diablo SV. I saw it from the other side of the venue, and vowed to headed over to grab photos, when I had finished my current conversations and when the crowds had dissipated, but sadly, that proved to be a flawed strategy, as when I heard that loud V12 motor fired up, my assumption that the car was simply being moved around the site proved incorrect, as the owner took it away completely.

I did, however, fare better in photographing this Aventador which arrived around lunchtime.

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LANCIA

Although their sales only amounted to a small fraction of the total number of first generation Delta cars produced, it is the Integrale models which are best known these days, and the ones you most often see. It may be over 20 years since the last one was produced, but everyone, even youngsters, knows what they are, and just about everyone lusts after them, declaring them as a clear candidate for their Dream Garage. I know that I would certainly have one in mine! Seen here were a number of examples, with Mike Butcher’s lovely car that I had first seen at the January photo shoot joined by some red models. The Integrale evolved over several years, starting off as the HF Turbo 4WD that was launched in April 1986, to homologate a new rally car for Lancia who needed something to fill the void left by the cancellation of Group B from the end of 1986. The Delta HF 4X4 had a four-wheel drive system with an in-built torque-splitting action. Three differentials were used. Drive to the front wheels was linked through a free-floating differential; drive to the rear wheels was transmitted via a 56/44 front/rear torque-splitting Ferguson viscous-coupling-controlled epicyclic central differential. At the rear wheels wa a Torsen (torque sensing) rear differential. It divided the torque between the wheels according to the available grip, with a maximum lockup of 70%. The basic suspension layout of the Delta 4WD remained the same as in the rest of the two-wheel drive Delta range: MacPherson strut–type independent suspension with dual-rate dampers and helicoidal springs, with the struts and springs set slightly off-centre. The suspension mounting provided more isolation by incorporating flexible rubber links. Progressive rebound bumpers were adopted, while the damper rates, front and rear toe-in and the relative angle between springs and dampers were all altered. The steering was power-assisted rack and pinion. The car looked little different from the front wheel drive models. In September 1987, Lancia showed a more sophisticated version of the car, the Lancia Delta HF Integrale 8V. This version incorporated some of the features of the Delta HF 4WD into a road car. The engine was an 8-valve 2 litre fuel injected 4-cylinder, with balancing shafts. The HF version featured new valves, valve seats and water pump, larger water and oil radiators, more powerful cooling fan and bigger air cleaner. A larger capacity Garrett T3 turbocharger with improved air flow and bigger inter-cooler, revised settings for the electronic injection/ignition control unit and a knock sensor, boosting power output to 185 bhp at 5300 rpm and maximum torque of 224 lb/ft at 3500 rpm. The HF Integrale had permanent 4-wheel drive, a front transversely mounted engine and five-speed gearbox. An epicyclic centre differential normally split the torque 56 per cent to the front axle, 44 per cent to the rear. A Ferguson viscous coupling balanced the torque split between front and rear axles depending on road conditions and tyre grip. The Torsen rear differential further divided the torque delivered to each rear wheel according to grip available. A shorter final drive ratio (3.111 instead of 2.944 on the HF 4WD) matched the larger 6.5×15 wheels to give 24 mph/1000 rpm in fifth gear. Braking and suspension were uprated to 284 mm ventilated front discs, a larger brake master cylinder and servo, as well as revised front springs, dampers, and front struts. Next update was to change the engine from 8 valves to 16. The 16v Integrale was introduced at the 1989 Geneva Motorshow, and made a winning debut on the 1989 San Remo Rally. It featured a raised centre of the bonnet to accommodate the new 16 valve engine, as well as wider wheels and tyres and new identity badges front and rear. The torque split was changed to 47% front and 53% rear. The turbocharged 2-litre Lancia 16v engine now produced 200 bhp at 5500 rpm, for a maximum speed of 137 mph and 0–100 km/h in 5.5  seconds. Changes included larger injectors, a more responsive Garrett T3 turbocharger, a more efficient intercooler, and the ability to run on unleaded fuel without modification. The first Evoluzione cars were built at the end of 1991 and through 1992. These were to be the final homologation cars for the Lancia Rally Team; the Catalytic Evoluzione II was never rallied by the factory. The Evoluzione I had a wider track front and rear than earlier Deltas. The bodyside arches were extended and became more rounded. The wings were now made in a single pressing. The front strut top mounts were also raised, which necessitated a front strut brace. The new Integrale retained the four wheel drive layout. The engine was modified to produce 210 bhp at 5750 rpm. External changes included: new grilles in the front bumper to improve the air intake for engine compartment cooling; a redesigned bonnet with new lateral air slats to further assist underbonnet ventilation; an adjustable roof spoiler above the tailgate; new five-bolt wheels with the same design of the rally cars; and a new single exhaust pipe. Interior trim was now grey Alcantara on the Recaro seats, as fitted to the earlier 16V cars; leather and air conditioning were offered as options, as well as a leather-covered Momo steering wheel. Presented in June 1993, the second Evolution version of the Delta HF Integrale featured an updated version of the 2-litre 16-valve turbo engine to produce more power, as well as a three-way catalyst and Lambda probe. A Marelli integrated engine control system with an 8 MHz clock frequency which incorporates: timed sequential multipoint injection; self-adapting injection times; automatic idling control; engine protection strategies depending on the temperature of intaken air; Mapped ignition with two double outlet coils; Three-way catalyst and pre-catalyst with lambda probe (oxygen sensor) on the turbine outlet link; anti-evaporation system with air line for canister flushing optimised for the turbo engine; new Garrett turbocharger: water-cooled with boost-drive management i.e. boost controlled by feedback from the central control unit on the basis of revs/throttle angle;   Knock control by engine block sensor and new signal handling software for spark park advance, fuel quantity injected, and turbocharging. The engine now developed 215 PS as against 210 PS on the earlier uncatalysed version and marginally more torque. The 1993 Integrale received a cosmetic and functional facelift that included. new 16″ light alloy rims with 205/45 ZR 16 tyres;  body colour roof moulding to underline the connection between the roof and the Solar control windows;  aluminium fuel cap and air-intake grilles on the front mudguards; red-painted cylinder head; new leather-covered three-spoke MOMO steering wheel; standard Recaro seats upholstered in beige Alcantara with diagonal stitching. In its latter years the Delta HF gave birth to a number of limited and numbered editions, differing mainly in colour, trim and equipment; some were put on general sale, while others were reserved to specific markets, clubs or selected customers.

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MASERATI

Representing Maserati were just two cars, both of them 3200GT models.  Known internally as the Tipo 338, this very elegant 2+2 grand tourer, a replacement for the last of the BiTurbo generation cars,  was styled by Italdesign, whose founder and head Giorgetto Giugiaro had previously designed, among others, the Ghibli, Bora and Merak. The interior design was commissioned to Enrico Fumia. Its name honoured the Maserati 3500 GT, the Trident’s first series production grand tourer. Sold mainly in Europe, the 3200 GT was powered by the twin-turbo, 32-valve, dual overhead cam 3.2-litre V8 engine featured in the Quattroporte Evoluzione, set up to develop 370 PS (365 hp). The car was praised for its styling, with the distinctive array of tail-lights, consisting of LEDs, arranged in the shape of boomerang being particularly worthy of comment. The outer layer of the ‘boomerang’ provided the brake light, with the inner layer providing the directional indicator. The car was also reviewed quite well by the press when they got to drive it in early 1999, though it was clear that they expected more power and excitement. That came after  4,795 cars had been produced, in 2001, with the launch of the 4200 models. Officially called the Coupé and joined by an open-topped  Spyder (Tipo M138 in Maserati speak), these models had larger 4.2 litre engines and had been engineered so the cars could be sold in America, marking the return to that market for Maserati after an 11 year gap. There were some detailed styling changes, most notable of which were the replacement of the boomerang rear lights with conventional rectangular units. Few felt that this was an improvement. The cars proved popular, though, selling strongly up until 2007 when they were replaced by the next generation of Maserati. Minor changes were made to the model during its six year production, but more significant was the launch at the 2004 Geneva Show of the GranSport which sported aerodynamic body cladding, a chrome mesh grille, carbon fibre interior trim, and special 19-inch wheels. It used the Skyhook active suspension, with a 0.4 inch lower ride height, and the Cambiocorsa transmission recalibrated for quicker shifts. The exhaust was specially tuned to “growl” on start-up and full throttle. The GranSport was powered by the same 4244 cc, 90° V8 petrol engine used on the Coupé and Spyder, but developing 400 PS (395 hp) at 7000 rpm due primarily to a different exhaust system and improvements on the intake manifolds and valve seats. A six-speed paddle shift transmission came as standard. The GranSport has a claimed top speed of 180 mph (290 km/h) and a 0–62 mph (0–100 km/h) time of 4.8 seconds.

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PORSCHE

No, there’s no Italian connection to this car that I can think of, either, apart from the fact that the owner arrived in it a little while after leaving in his Lamborghini. He clearly had a sense of humour, as he once he was in position, he got out of the car clutching a can of spaghetti which he put on the bulkhead, observing that this would now provide an Italian element to the car. I don’t think anyone was really going to complain as the sight, and more importantly, the sound of this race-prepped car was just magnificent.

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Cars started to head off around 2:30pm, with the last remaining a further 30 minutes, at which point, almost on perfect cue, the rain started to lash down. It could not have been timed better, as had this happened earlier in the day, I am sure it would have discouraged many from attending, and that would have been a pity. As an inaugural event, this Italian Passion for Speed has to be declared a great success. There were plenty of nice cars, and a lot of interest created among passers-by, most of whom came across the event completely by surprise whilst out in the Bay on a Sunday morning outing. The friendliness displayed by all the owners, not all of whom knew each other before the event, was also something that you don’t always get at events, even where you would think a shared passion for cars would ensure you would. So, a great start to build on. Remember, even the largest and most popular events in the UK started – in many cases, a long time ago – from relatively small beginnings.

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Home Forums Italian Passion for Speed – Cardiff Bay – June 2016

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