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  •   Chris Rees reacted to this post about 2 years ago
    Film star Ford breaks cover / #Ford-Mustang-GT / #Ford-Mustang / #Ford / #1968 / #Bullitt / #1968-Bullitt / #Steve-McQueen / #2019-Ford-Mustang-Bullitt / #2019-Ford-Mustang / #1968-Ford-Mustang-Bullitt / #2019 / #2018

    Following the re-appearance of a genuine ‘Bullitt’ movie Mustang last year, a second car has just come to light / Words John Simister

    Ford revealed a ‘Bullitt’ version of its latest Mustang at Detroit, in Highland Green and suitably sparse in its detailing, to mark the 50th anniversary of the film. The launch was special because the new car (with a hefty 475bhp and an aural output to match) was joined on stage by an original 1968 film car that hasn’t been seen for nearly 40 years.

    Two Ford Mustang GTs were used in Bullitt, one for stunts, the other – known as 559 from the final digits of its chassis number – for everything else. Octane reported last March on the discovery of the battered stunt car in a scrapyard in Mexico. The other, the so-called ‘halo’ car, is the one that finally broke cover at the North American International Motor Show.

    While 559 was never lost in the way that the stunt car was, it led a reclusive existence after Steve McQueen’s film. It passed through two post-movie owners before being bought in 1974 by Bob Kiernan, who resisted all McQueen’s efforts to buy it for himself.

    In 1977 #McQueen made his last bid to buy the car, offering to find Kiernan an alternative Mustang ‘if there is not too much monies involved with it’. But Kiernan didn’t want to deal. His wife used 559 to commute to work until the clutch failed in 1980, and for two decades it sat in the Kiernans’ garage, moving house from time to time with its owners.

    In 2001 Bob and son Sean decided to make the Mustang driveable again and took it to pieces for overhaul. The engine was rebuilt in 2008, but Bob died in 2014. It was only when Sean subsequently contacted Mustang authority Kevin Marti to authenticate the car for a possible film project that it came back on the radar.

    Having reassembled 559 for Marti’s inspection and restarted its engine on 4 July 2016, Sean was then advised to call insurance company boss McKeel Hagerty to get 559 on the US’s National Historic Vehicle Register. Then Ford got involved, culminating in the sensational re-appearance at Detroit.

    The Mustang is still unrestored, and bears all the signs of its film role including camera mounts, a sticky residue on the tacho from a label warning McQueen not to over-rev, and a large amount of filler down one flank following an incident in filming. McQueen’s granddaughter Molly – who was shown 559 last year – drives a new Bullitt in a race with a (new) Dodge Charger for a parking space for the new model’s TV advertisment.

    Like his father, Sean Kiernan has no plans to part with the Mustang: ‘My dad and I always talked about enlisting Ford to bring our car back into public view.’

    Top and above Kiernan’s car didn’t do the stunts so is amazingly original; marks on tacho are from warning label to keep McQueen honest; Shelby snake on horn push.
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  •   Stuart Gallagher reacted to this post about 2 years ago
    Return to form / #2016 / #Alfa-Romeo-Giulia-Quadrifoglio / #Alfa-Romeo-Giulia-Super / #Alfa-Romeo-Giulia / #Alfa-Romeo / #Alfa-Romeo-Giulia-Tipo-952 / #Alfa-Romeo-Giulia-952 /

    The new Giulia, Alfa Romeo’s latest ‘last-chance saloon’, delivers convincingly where others have failed Words John Simister

    The usual way to start a story about a new Alfa Romeo is to bill the subject as Alfa’s lastchance saloon, the car that has to get it right because credibility, goodwill and the company itself depend on it, and so on. Trouble is, we pundits have used this approach… how many times before? I’ve lost count.

    So, the new Giulia. It has rear-wheel drive, last encountered in the 1985 Alfa 75 as far as mainstream Alfas are concerned. The range contains no parts from any predecessor, nor indeed any Fiat, and peaks with a Quadrifoglio version offering an extraordinary 510bhp from its 2.9-litre, twin-turbo, 90-degree, Ferrari-built V6. This sounds exactly like the sort of saloon Alfa Romeo should be making, and in due course it will be joined by an estate car and an SUV (think Jaguar F-Pace rival). One problem: from the front it’s obviously an Alfa, but the side and rear views are distressingly mid-twenty-teens generic. The roof and windowline, the slanty tail-lights… is it a BMW 3-series? A Jaguar XE? An Audi A4? Why do they all look the same, apart from the Audi’s longer front overhang?

    I’m at the Fiat Group’s Balocco test track, originally built by Alfa Romeo. Two flavours of Quadrifoglio are circulating, quad exhausts blustering grittily with a volume surprising in a four-door saloon. First back in the pits is the manual version. We won’t get it in the UK, but my default position is to favour a manual over an auto so I’m keen to try it.

    The cabin is full of flamboyant sweeps in the modern idiom, with a double dial-cowl whose rims trace a part-helix. What looks like a plain black curve of dashboard lights up as a borderless information screen when power flows through the Giulia’s neurons.

    The meticulous detailing and quality of an Audi aren’t quite replicated here – but what’s this? A Race mode has been added to the usual contrived Alfa DNA control (Dynamic, Natural and Advanced Efficiency).

    Out of the pits, onto the track. Steering? Very quick but not so darty that you overdo the inputs. Balance? Impeccable: minimal understeer, tail happy to help point the nose, lots of grip, the hint of super-friendly, torque-vectored driftability with strictures loosened in the raciest mode. Engine?

    Extremely potent and revvy, but not especially sweet. Its two throttles automatically ease during a foot-to-the-floor upshift, and automatically blip on the way down. But vibration through the clutch pedal and revs slow to drop heighten a slight clumsiness. Magnificent brakes, though.

    Now the auto, a #ZF eight-speed ( #ZF8HP ) with a torque converter and a fine pair of wide-angle aluminium paddles with which to manualise it. Blam-blamblam through the gears; it’s as quick-witted as any double-clutcher, which masks the crankshaft’s momentum and suddenly makes the whole Alfa feel keener, lighter, even pointier. On track at least, it’s absolutely brilliant.

    It wasn’t allowed on the road, annoyingly, but there I tried instead a 2.2-litre, 180bhp turbodiesel (the best-seller-in-waiting) and a 2.0-litre, 200bhp twin-turbo petrol model with a particularly smooth, sweet and punchy engine. Both ride the roads with astonishing – class-leading, actually – smoothness, quietness and control, helped by the very rigid body structure.

    The Giulia range, auto-only in the UK, will be in showrooms shortly. Its prices will roughly match those of the BMW 3-series / F30/ F31/ F80. Does the car itself? For people like us, it surely does.

    Above The Giulia is not quite as luxurious a place to sit as some of its competitors, but once you turn the key you’re unlikely to care – the driving experience is superb.
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  •   Jay Leno reacted to this post about 3 years ago
    WHY WE LOVE… / #Bentley-Camshaft-Drive / #Bentley-Camshaft / #Bentley / #Camshaft / #Tech

    Bentley camshaft drive…

    You’re in the #1920 s before almost-silent #cambelts were invented, a sequence of bevel gears is too noisy and you don’t trust a chain to drive the overhead camshaft of your new, hefty, ultra-refined #six-cylinder motor. What do you do?

    If you’re #WO-Bentley and your new Speed Six has plenty of underbonnet length, you think steam locomotive wheel-driving system and your engine ends up with not one but three crankshafts. Your near-silent system uses three slender connecting rods to join cranks, spaced 120º apart, on the end of the camshaft to those attached to a helical-tooth gearwheel driven at half crankshaft speed by another on the crankshaft’s rear end. Using three rods rather than one keeps rotation smooth and stress-free.

    It’s a bulky and slightly mad idea, the sort that arrives in a dream or in the bath. It appeared on the 8 Litre, too, then Rolls-Royce took over and it was Not Invented Here. Shame.
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  •   Antonio Ghini reacted to this post about 3 years ago
    / #1961 / #SAAB-96 Going Dutch on the #Saab / #SAAB

    Tyres on the wheels that transmit the power generally wear more quickly than those that simply hold up their end of the car. The difference is yet greater in a front-wheel-drive car, because the driving wheels also have to cope with directional changes and a nose-heavy weight distribution. So a front-driver’s rear tyres can last for a very long time.

    In the case of classic cars that cover fewer miles than an everyday modern, it can mean that rear tyres can still have plenty of tread even though they are ancient and their rubber thoroughly hardened.

    So, shortly after I bought my Saab 96 in Sweden in 2001 and drove it home, I replaced the very old, comically squealy Trelleborg Safe Ride crossplies with a set of Firestone F-560 radials, and never has a car been transformed so dramatically. The grip, the smoothness, the crispness of response… these skinny, humble radials were a revelation.

    Throughout the Noughties, the F-560 was a good-value tyre very popular among owners of classic cars. It looked quite ‘period’, and Firestone had itself a useful market niche. But when the front ones finally wore out, I discovered that Firestone no longer made them. It had abandoned the market.

    What could I do now? Pirelli and Michelin made the correctsize replacements in period designs, but they were very expensive. The solution? A pair of Vredestein Sprint Classics, which looked right, came from a fairly well-known Dutch tyre company and were very good value.

    These tyres seem to have taken over Firestone’s niche very effectively. You see them on many classic cars in many sizes, and they work well with good wet grip and a supple ride. Meanwhile I still had the old Firestones on the back wheels, and they seemed fine with no signs of perishing. It helps that the Saab is garaged, out of sunlight’s ultra-violet reach.

    However, the tyre industry is uneasy about the ability of its products to stay fully effective for more than about six years because of the possible degradation of the rubber, be that by perishing or just hardening. That’s the worst-case position, and tyres on classic cars kept in the dark should stay viable for longer, but a chat with a friend who just happens to work with Vredestein reminded me that the Saab’s rear tyres were now 15 years old. That’s too old.

    So a deal was done and the Saab now has four new Sprint Classics. It’s always nice when all four tyres are the same, rather than a mix of brands, and within yards of setting off from Dawson’s Tyre and Exhaust Centre in Bedford, the efficient fitting station where the truth and concentricity of the Saab’s 55-year-old steel wheels was observed with wonderment, it was obvious that those old Firestones had become very age-hardened. The Saab’s tail has turned from lightly jiggly to relaxingly supple.

    It feels terrific: agile, grippy, all-of- a-piece. We should hope that Vredestein finds the classic-cars niche a profitable one, because the demand for appropriate tyres at affordable prices must surely be strong. The company may expand its range if it thinks there’s a market, for example to include 155 R12, which would suit my Sunbeam Stiletto among many small 1960s and 1970s cars. As for the Vredestein company itself, it has come through two bankruptcies – the first when wholly Dutch-owned, the second under Russian ownership. Now it’s owned by Apollo Tyres of India. How the world order changes. I’m writing this immediately afer the Brexit vote. I fondly remember driving my newly bought Saab home from Sweden in 2001, waved through by customs on its Swedish plates despite my British passport.

    ‘That’s a nice car, look after it,’ said the Swedish passport officer. Having been bought in the EU, the Saab attracted neither import duty nor VAT. The free movement of classic cars between mainland Europe and the UK might be about to end, I fear.

    Clockwise from above Slippery Saab makes good use of 38bhp; floor mat needs anchoring properly; oldschool tyre shop fitted new Vredestein Sprint Classics; old steel wheels are in good shape.
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  •   John Simister reacted to this post about 3 years ago
    McLaren: the next chapter. New 720S stars at Geneva 2017. Words John Simister. McLaren did its best to keep a lid on the new lodestone of its range, the replacement for the 650S. But the lid started to unscrew a few weeks before Geneva, not least with speculation over the name which, on past form, was likely to denote engine power and be followed by an S. / #McLaren-720S / #McLaren / #2017

    So, at Geneva, the world welcomed the McLaren 720S, first in the new generation of McLaren’s so-called Super Series. It’s quite a step forward, too: 10kg lighter than the 650S and generating up to 30 per cent more downforce at the rear, despite less drag overall. It has that extra 70bhp from its twin-turbo engine and also gains 66lb ft of torque, making 566lb ft, thanks to a longer stroke which raises capacity to 4.0 litres.

    Bucking the trend towards ever-bulkier and less usable supercars, it actually looks smaller, lower, more compact. The dimensions reveal the impression to be an illusion, but it’s the short, no-longer- smirking nose, the low scuttle, the slim pillars and the contrasting roof that do it. Even the rear pillars are slender. It’s been a while since a supercar has been this easy to reverse.

    Key to it all is a new, British-made carbonfibre tub known as Monocage II (the P1 used Monocage I, itself a big leap over the tub used in lesser McLarens up to now). It now includes the windscreen surround and the roof, posing a potential problem for the engineering of a future open version – not that McLaren, disingenuously, will admit to one. There are new ‘dihedral’ doors which open upwards, forwards and, by means of rotation along the doors’ longitudinal axis, outwards. You can park a 720S six inches nearer to a wall than you could a 650S, and still get out. Slightly gruesomely, McLaren describes the headlights as an ‘eye socket design’. The eyes, in the form of normal headlight lenses, have been plucked out, with just bars of LEDs remaining ahead of intakes for cooling air. Overall cooling efficiency rises by 15 per cent.

    Other developments include new and lighter suspension wishbones and uprights with revised geometry, plus ‘Proactive Chassis Control II’ with an extra 12 sensors. The aim has been to make the ride even more compliant than before, but also to make the 720S’s limits easier to explore on a track. ‘It’s easy to measure the objective things in a chassis,’ says vehicle line director Haydn Baker, ‘but what matters is how a car feels. This is the most genuinely involving supercar. Driving modes are Comfort, Sport and Track: “normal” mode has gone, and there’s a new variable drift control app.’

    Chief test driver Chris Goodwin elaborates. ‘We’re generating oodles of grip, but too much of it can be a turn-off. The steering is a little bit more involving, with more natural loading. And that variable drift app is incredibly useful. You can change the traction control if it’s raining.’

    The 720S’s arrival comes as McLaren completes its 10,000th car and predicts 4000 sales for the whole of 2017. It promises 15 new models between now and 2022, by which time half of McLaren production will feature a hybrid powertrain. But for all that technology, says product development director Mark Vinnels, ‘We’re not about cars that drive themselves.’ Vital stats? From a standstill to 60mph requires 2.8sec, and the top speed is 212mph.
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  • John Simister updated the cover photo for McLaren 720S
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  • John Simister created a new group

    McLaren 720S

    The McLaren 720S is a British sports car designed and manufactured by McLaren Automotive. It is the second all-new car in the McLaren Super Series, replacing the 650S beginning in May 2017. The 720S was launched at the Geneva Motor Show on 7th March 2017 and is built on a modified carbon...
    The McLaren 720S is a British sports car designed and manufactured by McLaren Automotive. It is the second all-new car in the McLaren Super Series, replacing the 650S beginning in May 2017. The 720S was launched at the Geneva Motor Show on 7th March 2017 and is built on a modified carbon chassis, which is lighter and stiffer in contrast to the 650S.

    The new car features a 4.0-litre (3994 cc) twin-turbocharged V8 engine, which is essentially a rework of McLaren's previous 3.8-litre (3799 cc) engine, but the stroke has been lengthened by 3.6 mm to increase the capacity and 41% of the engine's components are new. The engine produces 720 PS (530 kW; 710 bhp) @ 7000 rpm, giving the car its name; the maximum torque is 770 N·m (568 lb·ft) @ 5500 rpm.

    The McLaren 720S weighs just 1,283 kg (2,829 lb) dry, making it the lightest in its class. As such, it will accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 2.8 seconds, and from 0 to 200 km/h (124 mph) in 7.8 seconds. The top speed is 341 km/h (212 mph), and the car will complete the 1/4 mile in 10.3 seconds. McLaren claim class-leading effiency for the new 720S, with CO2 emissions of 249 g/km and combined fuel economy of 26.4 mpg - these both represent improvements of around 10% from the 650S. The McLaren 720S is priced from £207,900, representing an increase of around £10,000 from its predecessor.
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