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    FIAT 130 COUPÉ

    / #Fiat-130-Coupe / #Fiat-130 / #Fiat /
    RUN BY Martin Buckley
    OWNED SINCE 2009

    I want to make #2019 the year in which I get everything – and I mean everything – sorted on the 130. It is 90% there but, as usual, the final 10% is proving the hardest. The problem with getting a car up and together piecemeal and ‘on the hoof’, as it were, is that as soon as you get one item right it tends to highlight all the other issues. What seemed acceptable last year now irritates the hell out of you.

    Top of my list for quite a while has been the suspension; every time I drive the Coupé, my overriding impression is that it wallows like a pig if driven with anything even approaching enthusiasm. Standards have moved a long way in 40 years, but these cars were fairly highly rated for their cornering capability. Yes, they rolled – everything did in the ’70s – but not quite as dramatically as this.

    It can only be dampers, really, but the odd thing is that when you bounce the car on each corner it feels rock-hard. I have mentioned this to Mark Devaney at Dino 24 Hundred several times, but we have now decided to galvanise ourselves. Mark has found a set of donor 130 Coupé struts and sent them off to Gaz Shocks in Essex which, as the name implies, builds custom gas shock absorbers. These take about four weeks to do (they are busy), so hopefully by the time you read this I’ll have a 130 that doesn’t want to scrape its doorhandles on the floor.

    Depending on how successful this proves to be, Mark is talking in terms of a thicker front anti-roll bar as well. The dampers will be adjustable, so hopefully we’ll be able to tweak them to best advantage without losing the good ride quality.

    The brakes are pretty decent, other than the fact that the vacuum in the servo disappears overnight so you have a solid pedal for the first minute or so; maybe it’s time to look at the booster. I still like the idea of finding an alternative disc and/or caliper to future-proof the car a little, because certain parts are getting rare and pricey. The way forward here may lie in the realm of the Stratos replica, because the genuine cars used a variety of 130 bits, possibly including the hubs and wheel bearings.

    I spent some time at the end of last year cleaning the engine bay with fairly good results. It was just a matter of some laborious elbow grease in every corner, making good use of the Polti steam-cleaner and the Gunk, then going over it again until you either get bored or realise you can’t get it looking any better unless you want to take the engine out – which, to be honest, is probably the only real way of doing the job properly. But still, it looks better than it did.
    As for the rest of the car, visually the only things I find irksome are the tired and faded window channels. I now have some samples of possible replacements from trim specialist Woollies to look at.

    Ace mechanic Gus Meyer sorted the fan-switch issue that cropped up on the Le Mans Classic trip, but we still need to look at the wipers (there’s only one speed when there should be two), the driver’s-side door lock (it won’t unlock) and fit the correct Marelli air horns: the Fiat’s American Edelweiss ones really should be on my #Oldsmobile-Toronado .

    It seems the 130 is going up in the world at last, because I’ve been contacted by two separate parties looking for parts for ground-up rebuilds; one the subject of a car restoration programme on the TV. This indicates that they are either climbing in value (they are, but only a bit and it’s never been about that with these cars for me) or, with the youngest now more than 40 years old, there just aren’t enough really nice ones to go around.

    This is true in the case of the right-hookers, but I seem to get offered left-hand-drive Coupés all of the time. Most are described as ‘rust-free but in need of recommissioning’ – an estate agent-style euphemism for ‘knackered’.

    Mark Devaney, Dino 24 Hundred:
    Gus Meyer

    Plenty of elbow grease has got the 130’s engine bay looking a whole lot more presentable.
    The Coupé looks good, but now Buckley wants to get it driving just as well; once rebuilt, the replacement dampers (right) should help.
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    / #BMW-M850i-xDrive-Cabrio-G14 / #2019-BMW-M850i-xDrive-Cabrio-G14 / #2019 / #BMW-G14 / #BMW-M850i-xDrive-G14 / #BMW-8-Series / #BMW-8-Series-G14 / #BMW-8-series-Convertible / #BMW-8-series-Convertible-G14

    More luxurious than a 911 Convertible, cheaper than an Aston DB11 Volante, the #BMW 8-series Convertible is a hard car to pigeonhole. Let’s focus on what we know – this is a droptop luxo-lounge for four, with a petrol V8 or six-cylinder diesel, and handling that doesn’t tally with a near two-tonne kerbweight.

    In reality there isn’t room for four adults and, while the diesel offers sufficient punch and low running costs, the 4.4-litre soundtrack of the M850i is just better.

    Handles well, too. Suitably taut, with none of the associated wobbliness from the lack of roof, the 8-series turns in hard and manages midcorner lumps and bumps deftly. Thank standard adaptive dampers and rear-wheel steering for that, and #xDrive all-wheel drive that means you can get back on the power early, too. All in all, perfectly placed between the 911 and DB11, and with a refined character of its own.

    First verdict

    Good refinement with a drive that makes you forget this is a ‘softer’ convertible. ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
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    BMW 7-SERIES 7, turned up to 11 / #BMW-G12 / #BMW-G11 / #BMW-7-Series / #BMW-7-Series-G11 / #BMW-7-Series-G12 / #BMW / #2019 / #BMW-750Li-xDrive-G12 / #2019-BMW-750Li-xDrive-G12

    This glitzy 7-series facelift isn’t subtle, but there’s substance behind the oversized kidney grille

    Licensed to grille, king of the grille – we could go on making poor jokes about the enormous nostrils on Munich’s updated limo but let’s be adult about this, because, believe it or not, that front end is the result of feedback from actual BMW-7-Series customers.

    BMW responded to the call for bolder styling by enlarging the trademark kidney grille by 48 per cent – it’s so big it made the standard badge look microscopic, and designers had to prise a much larger BMW roundel off an X7 to redress the balance.

    The highest point of the nose is now 5cm higher to make the front end look more upright, plus there are thinner head- and tail lights, and a light strip running full-width across the boot. Both the long- and short-wheelbase cars have grown 22 millimetres in length, while bigger vents improve the aerodynamics around the wheels.

    Tall rear-seat passengers might find themselves a little tight on headroom but are easily distracted by a pair of 10-inch displays and a Blu-ray player. As before, everything is controlled by a seven-inch removable tablet taking in seat adjustment, lighting and climate, as well as infotainment and sat-nav.

    Behind the huge honker you’ll find engines ranging from an improved plug-in hybrid to a #V12 petrol, with a new V8 and different versions of the best-selling six-cylinder turbodiesel making up the bulk of the range.

    We reckon the #BMW-745Le-xDrive-G12 plug-in hybrid is a real highlight – it’s now capable of up to 36 electric-only miles and features a more powerful straight-six petrol engine. It’s impressively wafty and serenely quiet-running in EV mode, thanks to the thicker glass now fitted all-round and more insulation in the wheelarches and B-pillars.

    But it’s the superb 4.4-litre V8 750i that’s most rewarding when you up the pace, and the stiff, Carbon Core’d chassis delivers thrills in ways no massive limo should.

    First verdict

    The 7-series remains the best driver’s car in a market where most buyers prefer to be driven by someone else.

    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

    BMW designers tried a 50% bigger grille, but no, too vulgar; 48% it is
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    Along came three Spiders

    / #2013-McLaren-12C / #2019-McLaren-600LT & / #2019-McLaren-720S-Spider-S / #McLaren-720S-Spider-S / #McLaren-720S / #McLaren / #2019 / #McLaren-600LT / #McLaren-12C

    by Mark Dixon

    Spider or Spyder? Both versions of the word have long been used by the motor industry to describe an open-top roadster: Audi calls its new soft-top R8 a Spyder (as reviewed by Matthew Hayward on) whereas McLaren prefers Spider with an ‘i’. Best guess for the origin of the term is that it was a 19th Century coachbuilder’s coinage for a lightweight, high-wheeled carriage that was thought to have spidery qualities of lightness and agility. Which makes it particularly appropriate to McLaren.

    A recent opportunity to test the new 600LT and 720S Spiders in Arizona also seemed a good excuse to revisit its first attempt at the genre, the 12C Spider that made its debut in late 2012. The example pictured left is a 50th Anniversary limited edition from 2013, which was available in just three colours: black, silver or orange.

    I was lucky enough to attend the original 12C’s launch and, like many hacks back then, I expressed some doubts about the car’s styling. It seemed too supercar-generic, we thought, too lacking in adventure. Well, guess what? We were wrong. Its sultry curves now look better than ever, and its distinctive rear end appears almost understated compared with the aero-dictated complexity of more recent models.

    A Spider version of the 12C was planned right from the start, so the open version involved no structural compromises later. The hinged hardtop is electrically powered and folds away in 17sec; clambering over the high sills is a lot easier with the top stowed, especially if anyone has had the temerity to park too close alongside – those dihedral doors need a lot of space.

    Once you are in, the 12C feels almost old-school in its simplicity, with a pleasingly large central revcounter and a digital read-out for mph. The twin-turbo, 3.8-litre #V8 has never been the most soulful of units – it was arguably the 12C’s greatest weakness against its Italian competition; supercars are about emotion as much as technical ability – but the Spider has a slightly louder exhaust than the Coupé and, of course, having the roof down allows you to savour it a lot more. It sounds gruffer, more bassy than the Coupé’s, and there’s an appealingly anthropomorphic breathiness from the intake system as the turbos spool-up.

    The 12C Coupé set new standards as an all-rounder for its combination of comfort, handling and performance; the Spider offers the same – plus more of the visceral stuff, roof down. With 616bhp propelling a 1475kg kerb-weight, it’s still ballistically fast, but on a more prosaic level there’s also a decent amount of storage space under the front lid. Those doors would drive you mad in urban spaces (or rather, lack of them), but otherwise the 12C Spider makes a surprisingly good fist of being a real-world regular drive. And now we have two further variations on the Spider theme.
    The new 720S and 600LT Spiders are from McLaren’s Sports and Super Series respectively, the latter car being rather more track-focused – henced the ‘LT’ suffix for Long Tail, its rear end extended 47mm over the 570’s for increased downforce. The 720S starts at £237,000 whereas the 600LT’s base price is £201,500.

    The 720S feels closest to its 12C ancestor in spirit, although it has a character all its own. The V8 engine has been upped from 3.8 to 4.0 litres, with 41% new parts content, and it makes a very different sound: there’s a breathy V8 burble as you pull away, which transmutes to a crisp braaaap as you pile the revs on. Even with the roof lowered this is a genuine 200mph car yet, despite the big power and performance increases, McLaren’s relentless pursuit to pare weight means that the 720S Spider weighs about the same as the 12C Spider. It’s also even more livable with, thanks to glazed panels in the rear flying buttresses that make a huge difference to over-the-shoulder vision, although top-down it feels a lot less claustrophobic, as you’d expect. McLaren’s chief test driver, Indy winner Kenny Bräck, told Octane that he would definitely choose a Spider over the Coupé for just this reason and, indeed, the sales split is forecast to be 75:25 in favour of the open car.

    Curiously, while the Spider is claimed to give nothing away in terms of structural stiffness, both this reviewer and our sister mag evo’s tester – driving different cars – noted mild steering column shimmy and windscreen shake on less well-surfaced stretches of the very road pictured left, although it wasn’t dramatic. It clearly doesn’t bother Kenny, anyway.

    But if extracting the last nth of on-the-limit handling ability is vital to you, the 600LT Spider is probably more your bag anyway. McLaren says simply: ‘We asked ourselves, what’s the absolute lightest we can make a roadgoing car?’ And they’ve really pulled out the stops, to the extent that even the windscreen glass is thinner. The correlation of this stripped-out approach is that the 600LT feels conceptually older than the 720S – even its sat-nav looks a bit dated. But it’s more obviously a driver’s car, with a simpler console layout and manually adjustable race seats. Its exhaust note is different again – buzzier than the 720S’s, like an angry wasp – and its V8 is a 3.8, not the 720S’s 4.0-litre.

    The 600LT really comes alive on a circuit, where you can fully appreciate its incredible brakes and neck-snapping acceleration. Selecting ‘Track’ mode and keeping the steering wheel as straight as possible at all times minimises driver-aid interference, so drifting round corners is the fastest way to proceed. As if you needed any excuse…

    Clockwise from left 12C Spider was launched in 2012 but is ageing well; 12C interior is refreshingly uncluttered; new 720S Spider is faster and more powerful, but weighs the same as the 12C.

    From top 720S Spider will pull 200mph with the roof down; 600LT has a slightly smaller engine, a little less power, but has been optimised for the track.
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    2019 BMW F90 M5 #Remus-Exhaust / #Remus

    When a new BMW launches, the aftermarket immediately starts developing and releasing products for it and Remus is one of the first companies to offer a performance exhaust for the mighty F90 M5. This cat-back system comprises a non-resonated front section, a valved rear silencer and your choice of either carbon or straight-cut tailpipes; the valved silencer has been designed to work with the standard BMW electronics and the exhaust uses 84mm larger diameter piping – the standard system has 80mm piping – for increased flow. If you’re lucky enough to own an BMW F90 M5 and are hunting for a performance exhaust, you should definitely check the Remus system out.

    / #2019-BMW-M5-F90-Remus-Exhaust / #BMW-M5-F90 / #BMW-M5 / #BMW / #2019 / #BMW-F90 / #BMW-5-Series / #BMW-5-Series-M5 / #BMW-5-Series-M5-F90 / #BMW-5-Series-F90 /

    Price: Cat-back system from £2419.20 inc. Vat
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    Official details of the F90 M5 Competition have been released and it’s an absolute beast of a machine. Power is up to 625hp with 553lb ft of torque and that means a staggering 0-62mph time of 3.3 seconds and a 0-124mph (200km/h) time of just 10.8 seconds. Aside from the increase in performance the M5 Competition receives model-specific engine mounts, revised suspension that’s 7mm lower and 10% stiffer with increased front camber and toe links with ball joints instead of rubber mounts at the rear and a thicker rear anti-roll bar. There are unique 20” forged wheels and additional gloss black exterior detailing, including the kidney grille, rear bumper cover, boot spoiler and boot lid logo. Inside, you get M tricolour stripe seatbelts and floor mats with model-specific piping and an M5 logo. The M5 Competition costs £96,205 and is on sale now, with the first customers due to receive their cars in September.

    / #BMW-G30 / #BMW-5-Series / #BMW-5-Series-G30 / #BMW-M-Automobiles / #2018-BMW-M5 / #BMW-5-Series-F90 / #BMW-5-Series-M5 / #BMW-5-Series-M5-F90 / #BMW-M5-F90 / #BMW-F90 / #BMW-M5 / #BMW / #2019 / #BMW-M5-Competition / #BMW-M5-Competition-F90 / #2019-BMW-M5-Competition-F90
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