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  •   Chris Randall reacted to this post about 1 year ago
    Hexagon’s Speedster and Carrera coupé are barely run in. Far right: Stephens’ lovely 1984 targa is £38k

    ‘Condition matters more than spec, and the market for good, well-maintained examples is still strong’

    QUALITY IS KEY TO BIG-BUMPER 911 / #Porsche-911-3.2-Speedster / #Porsche-911-3.2-Speedster-G / #Porsche-911 / #Porsche-911-Speedster / #Porsche / #1989 / #Porsche-911-G-Modell /

    As we reported in July’s 911 feature, values of the Porsche 993 have well and truly taken off, but if you grew up in the ’80s, chances are that your notion of a ‘proper’ 911 will be the 1974-’1989 impact-bumper model.

    A trawl of the internet will turn up plenty of well-used examples starting at around £30k, and even a few for just over the £20k mark, but at those prices we advise caution. “Values took off from 2013-’14,” says specialist Paul Stephens (www., “but scruffy to average cars are due a correction. Condition matters more than spec, and the market for good, wellmaintained examples is strong.

    Those are now £40-60k, with the best 3.2s making £100k, and rarer versions fetching even more.” These Porsches are durable, as evidenced by the superb 88,000- mile 1984 targa that Stephens is currently offering, but be diligent. “Spend £250 on an expert inspection,” he recommends. “Although galvanised, they can still hide rust – particularly targas. Also, in spite of a reputation for being bulletproof, some will need engine work.

    It’s down to the type of use, with late-’80s examples, in particular, being prone to top-end trouble.” Of course, if you want the 911 experience without the spectre of corrosion, accident damage and mechanical maladies, there is still the option of buying new, but London-based Hexagon Classics ( has a tempting alternative. Its left-handdrive 4428-mile ’1985 Carrera must be one of the lowest-mileage 3.2 coupés remaining. At £84,995, the price is on a par with an entry-spec, six-month-old example, which in a sense is what it is – but without the electronic driver aids. If that’s too commonplace, the firm also has a 1989 3.2 Speedster. One of only 65 UK-market cars, it’s covered just 1180 miles and is yours for £220k.
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  •   Richard Heseltine reacted to this post about 2 years ago
    CHRIS BANGLE NEXT GENERATION / #Fiat-Tipo-175 / #Fiat / #1994#2000 / #Fiat-Coupe-Tipo-175 / #Fiat-Coupe / #Chris-Bangle /

    We talk to the controversial American about his first complete car design – the Coupé Fiat.
    American Revolution.

    Fiat’s distinctive slashes were inspired by previous concepts rather than art. Below: painted-metal dashboard was a clever touch to lift the interior.

    Clockwise, from above: stylish stacked tail-lights; Bangle wanted the bonnet to be front-hinged; filler cap was prompted by a night at the movies.

    Throughout the 1990s, controversial stylist Chris Bangle challenged the status quo with his radical work. Malcolm Thorne talks to him about his striking and memorable Coupé Fiat.


    When the wraps came off the Tipo 175 Coupé Fiat in 1993, both press and public alike were deeply divided. Here was a model to challenge preconceptions of beauty and purpose – this was, after all, an Italian sports coupé, and with such territory comes the burden of expectation. Superlative and effortless style is a requirement, not merely a desirable option.

    To some, it was a lesson in unrivalled daring, an objet d’art that exuded the most sophisticated and forward-thinking of design language. To others, it was a mishmash of ideas and fussy detailing. But love it or loathe it, you couldn’t ignore it.

    The world was warned of the impending shock when Fiat Group design chief Nevio Di Giusto gave a clear message of intent in 1992, hitting out at the “soap bar” styling of rivals’ products. “The totally rounded look can be attractive,” he told Autocar at the time, “but it finishes up by making all cars similar.” That’s certainly not an accusation you could make about the Tipo 175, although things could have turned out very differently.

    The production car was largely the work of Fiat Centro Stile’s hitherto unheard-of designer Christopher Edward Bangle – a man who, for the past two decades, has been the motor industry’s pre-eminent agent provocateur – but the initial concept came from an outside concern.

    “Pininfarina had the idea to develop a coupé on the basis of the Tipo,” recalls Bangle today, “and Piergiorgio Tronville [father of the Uno] explained that the only competitors to the Fiat Centro Stile designers would be the Farina guys.
    Because at that time I had lost just about every competition possible at Fiat, I asked him if we had any chance of winning. He responded quite calmly: ‘Let’s put it this way – it’s their idea, they are doing all the engineering, they are producing it in their factory, they will put their name on the side of the car… what do you think?’”

    In such a context, Bangle and his team could afford to be radical, and they didn’t disappoint: “As underdogs, we had the advantage of not being expected to win, so we could be experimental. We put forward many proposals that I am sure look a lot weirder or worse today than they did then. My car started strange and got stranger before I got my act together and made something drivable and which could be produced. We never saw Pininfarina’s exterior work, but I believe that later it had much influence on the Peugeot 406 Coupé. Of course, they won the interior and it matched the car well I think.”

    The cockpit was undeniably one of the Tipo 175’s defining features. In an era where cabins were dull expanses of black and grey plastic, the inspired use of painted metal for the fascia and door panels was a bold move, but it was nothing compared to the audacity of the outer skin.

    Bangle and his team flirted with outlandish ideas, and everywhere you looked the new Fiat astonished and amazed. Mindful that its new model needed to stand out from the crowd if it were to succeed, against all expectation the Turin management had embraced the wacky shape above the far more conservative effort from Pininfarina.

    More than two decades on, Coffango – the car’s internal codename, derived by combining the Italian words coffano (bonnet) and parafango (mudguard) – has lost its element of surprise. But whereas contemporary rivals such as the Ford Probe, Rover 200 ‘Tomcat’ or Vauxhall Calibra now look hopelessly dated, the Fiat’s avantgarde shape still has the capacity to excite.

    “It was my attempt to unite two worlds,” recalls Bangle. “That of the Ford GT40 and that of the Italian carrozzeria of the 1970s and ’80s. If you look carefully at the front view of the Coupé, you will see my homage to the GT40 – the headlight shapes, the flatness of the nose and the grille intake form. On the other hand, the side view and section of the car were inspired by Italian designs – in particular the 1984 Bertone Chevy Ramarro and Lamborghini Athon. They had that flattened-wheelarch theme and the overhanging shoulder section, and slicing down the wheelarches was a natural result. I was amused when in the press releases Fiat claimed that the shape was inspired by the artist Lucio Fontana [who slashed his canvases]. I had never even heard of him at the time.”

    Another key element of the Fiat is the truncated Kamm tail with its stacked circular lights, yet, in spite of being a signature feature of the design, it was a late addition: “I was obsessed with a rounded rear with a pop-up spoiler. That was, of course, way too expensive, so it was only when Nevio Di Giusto ordered me to ‘come back with decent aero numbers from the wind tunnel, or don’t bother coming back’ that I settled down and boxed up its ass.”

    If the devil is in the detail, Bangle must have worked hard to overcome his religious beliefs (his career path almost led him to become a Methodist minister) because the Fiat abounds with flourishes: “The doorhandle in the pillar and the mirrors – one of the more elegant designs on the market at the time, even if I do say so myself – were fun to create. Back then, I had to do all the concept plausibility studies myself before I could get an engineer interested. That meant lots of orthographic 9H pencil work.

    “The fuel-filler cap came from an evening I spent watching the film Dirty Mary Crazy Larry with Moray Callum [now design director at Ford]. We were fascinated by the ’68 Dodge Charger in it, and there were a number of scenes where the camera framed the external ‘racing’ gas cap. We decided it was so cool we would go back into our respective studios and try to revive that concept. I used some real quick-release fuel caps as reference, and was as surprised as anyone that the management went for it.

    “The clamshell bonnet was a fight, though, because it tested the limits of the sheet-metal raw sizes. If there was a regrettable sacrifice there, it was that my desire to have it forwardflipping didn’t make it through into production.”

    Talk of the bonnet, of course, leads inevitably to the distinctive headlamps, which remain one of Bangle’s favourite features: “The ‘doublebreast’ design is what I recall the most as being a direct steal from God’s best work. The headlights kept getting pushed higher and higher due to the mechanicals. The only way to contain them was to either make retractable units or to raise the bonnet and wing line.

    “The car already suffered from having wheels that were too small relative to the forms, so making the front visually bigger and heavier was not an option for me, while retractable lights were prohibitively expensive. I created them out of necessity. It then took some work to get the washer sprays to function on the extremely flattened angles of the covers, and at first glance you wouldn’t believe that they would be effective.

    I recall that when we first showed the car to a top Fiat engineer, he didn’t even bother to look at it. Instead, he sort of sneered: ‘And just how are you supposed to clean those headlights?’ My boss, Ermanno Cressoni, ran up to the car and stroked them, saying ‘Con amore, Inginiere, con amore!’ [With love, engineer, with love!].”

    Twenty-three years after the model went on sale, does Bangle still feel amore for the Coupé Fiat? “Whenever I see one on the road it has a sort of inevitability about it in hindsight – I was privileged to have been chosen to bring it to life.” “Indirectly, it has influenced everything I have done because it was such a stunning upset win for me,” he reflects, “and yet a wrenching emotional loss to have to abandon it before birth due to my move to BMW. It shaped me as a designer because I had to do so much of the development and pre-engineering myself.

    “At club meets, I love the fanbase the Fiat has – an authentic and passionate sort of folk who think nothing of throwing their wives and kids into this cramped car for a 15-hour drive to see us. Usually I get to autograph either a kid or a car – or both – before they leave.”

    That, surely, is testimony to the impact of the Tipo 175. It may have divided opinion, but how many other mass-market models of the era have been signed by their stylist?

    Clockwise, from above: Pininfarina lost out on the exterior, but styled the cabin; key mimics shape of fuel-filler cap; famous double-bubble lights; engine came in turbo and naturally aspirated forms; styling sketches; Kamm tail was forced upon Bangle; neat mirrors.
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  •   Malcolm Thorne reacted to this post about 3 years ago

    CAR: #Austin-Healey-Sprite / #Austin-Healey
    Run by Malcolm Thorne
    Owned since October 2016
    Total mileage 28,620
    Miles since December
    2017 report 325
    Latest costs £550

    The first big road trip that I ever undertook was 18 years ago: across France and down the coast of Spain to Gibraltar, before heading up to Seville and finally Lisbon. I then turned around and drove home.

    That 6600-mile, three-month odyssey was a spur-of-the-moment thing, and as such I didn’t bother taking any tools or spares. In spite of that, my unlikely transport (a Citroën 2CV) never missed a beat.

    That adventure convinced me that Spain and Portugal have some of the greatest driving roads in Europe, and regular readers will know that I’ve been itching to exercise the Healey on a cross-country dash to Andalucía. But being older and (supposedly) wiser, I thought it prudent to put more thought into the preparation this time.

    A trip to Moss yielded the parts most likely to halt progress: coil, plugs, points, leads, dizzy cap and the like. While I was there, I added some braided hoses (the only thing I’d not changed when overhauling the brakes in the summer, and which have transformed the mushy pedal), plus a couple of new wheels, because two needed replacing.
    I could only get silver, but a can of black paint soon sorted that. With a set of rim bands and inner tubes from the guys at Vintage Tyres, plus a pair of 145 R13 Falkens, they look the business and inspire more confidence than the old items.

    With tools and parts stowed, and the Sprite given a final once-over, María and I were looking forward to a blast down the A3 to Portsmouth followed by a relaxing cruise to Bilbao. And then I checked the weather: ‘Severe Force 9 expected.’

    I don’t enjoy rough seas, but we needn’t have worried: instead of battling wind and waves through the Bay of Biscay, the ship took shelter in Brest and remained there until the storm had passed. It was then full-steam ahead, and we arrived in Spain with just a minor delay and not a hint of queasiness.

    After lunch in Bilbao, we pointed the Sprite south – our goal for that night being Madrid, where we’d arranged to stay with a friend. In spite of snagging the rear silencer on a vicious speed hump (which left the little Healey sounding more like the big variety), the Spanish roads were a joy and it was great to be back there in a proper car.

    Avoiding the motorway, we climbed out of the Basque Country and into the vast landscape of Castilla y León where, after a series of hairpins leading to the Mirador Puerto de Orduña, we enjoyed spectacular views as the road opened up into long, fast and empty straights that could have been lifted from the Carrera Panamerica. This really is ideal sports car country, and a world away from London. With the little A-series revving its heart out we were making great progress, the clouds of the north giving way to golden evening light. All seemed well with the world, until the engine developed an occasional cough. As night drew in, we pulled over to take a look under the bonnet. No obvious loose wires, plenty of petrol getting to the carbs, and the splutter had vanished. We decided to chance our luck, but 60km short of Madrid the misfire returned, accompanied by an angry backfire as the engine died.

    By then it was pitch black and beginning to rain, so we decided to call in the cavalry. When the breakdown lorry turned up, the driver told us that the best he could do was drop us off at a hotel en route to the workshop, where someone would look at the car in the morning.

    Alas, that’s as far as the Sprite got under its own power. The next day, it seemed fine after replacing various bits, but soon came to a halt.

    This time the diagnosis was a faulty fuel pump – the one spare we weren’t carrying. Dejectedly, we got a lift to the nearest town and, after several calls, organised a hire car from the outskirts of Madrid and recovery to our destination for the Sprite. The car’s first breakdown was an ignominious end to the trip, but it is now safely tucked up at our place near Granada and I’ll be taking a suitcase full of spares when we fly down for Christmas.


    Brittany Ferries:
    Vintage Tyres: 01590 612261;
    Moss: 020 8867 2020;

    The reason for the trip: Spain is blessed with stunning scenery and fantastic driving roads – ideal for some top-down fun in a British sports car. Bull keeps a watchful eye on Brit’s progress. Thorne and Sprite, full of hope after rolling off Brittany Ferries’ Cap Finistère in Bilbao. Rear silencer damage makes Sprite rorty Oh, the shame! Healey’s saviour arrives. A trailer takes the strain for the final leg.
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  •   David Evans reacted to this post about 4 years ago
    / #Monteverdi mud-plugger / #International-Harvester-5.7-V8 / #Monteverdi-Safari-5.7 / #Monteverdi-Safari / #1981 /

    Seemingly not a day goes by without yet another marque – including such unlikely names as Bentley and Maserati – jumping on the SUV bandwagon. Back in the 1970s, however, such vehicles were very much a niche product, and few more so than the Monteverdi Safari. Produced in Switzerland by the irascible Peter Monteverdi, it was based upon the International Harvester Scout but was heavily reworked to become a serious rival to a Wood & Pickett Range Rover. Fiercely expensive, the 5.7-litre 4x4 was nonetheless the firm’s best-selling model and stayed in production from 1976-’1982.

    If you are tempted by such a car, Gallery Aaldering has this lovingly rebuilt example for €54k. It would certainly stand out among today’s SUVs:
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  • Malcolm Thorne is now friends with Richard Heseltine
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  • Malcolm Thorne updated the cover photo for Fiat Coupe Tipo-175
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