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    KING OF THE MOUNTAINS Turbo, wide-arch E30 Cab

    Logically, this E30 should have been scrapped long ago. But when you’re building a big-power toy for motorsport thrills and early-morning mountain runs, logic doesn’t always factor very highly… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Scott Sturdy.

    The Blue Ridge Parkway, running through North Carolina and into Virginia represents one of America’s great fusions of nature and technology. Scenic roads were something that American developers did uncannily well in the early half of the 20th century, and this particular one – a ribbon of Tarmac winding through gorgeous vistas of the Appalachian Mountains – is where Matthew Koppi’s love for BMWs was born. He’s the man behind this Olive green E30, and his passion for the marque stretches back decades. “I first fell in love with the BMW brand in my childhood,” he reminisces. “I live in the scenic mountains of Western North Carolina, and I used to see BMWs all over the twisty Blue Ridge Parkway in the ’80s. As a carobsessed kid the BMW was something that seemed like perfection; so graceful and nimble with timeless design.

    “I bought my first #BMW in 1999,” he continues, “while stationed in Vicenza, Italy. It was a 1983 323i with Alpina cams and other goodies that I didn’t fully appreciate at the time. I bought it because of my childhood infatuation – plus the price was right for a young army private! It was the first car I owned with fully independent suspension and four-wheel disc brakes, and also the first that I could drive over 100mph for extended periods of time without worrying about it exploding. I’ve been a devotee ever since!”

    All of this rather explains Matthew’s latest career move, setting up North Fork Autoworks in Barnardsville, North Carolina. Having turned wrenches for much of his adult career, this seemed like a logical move, although he’s keen to point out that throughout this E30’s build he was a full-time student, working on a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science.

    “All of the work on the car, from fabrication to paint, both in the engine bay and outside, was done by me,” he proudly explains. “The only thing I didn’t do completely on my own was the machine work, but I was there for every step of the process and even ran some of the machines!

    Basically, I was either directly responsible for every aspect of the car or I was intimately involved.” And with that forthright mission statement dealt with, we should probably rewind and take a peek at where this all started…

    Back in 2010, having returned to school and requiring a sensible-ish runabout Matthew was driving an old Suzuki Sidekick (that’s a Vitara to you and me) and questioning his choices somewhat. It was boring. And life’s too short for boring cars. So the idea of a fixer-upper E30 began to percolate, and you know what happens when the spark of inspiration’s arrived. It’s pretty much a done deal.

    This cabriolet appeared as a shabby little ragamuffin on Craigslist, but crucially the price was low. “The ad stated that the car ran when parked, but now wouldn’t start,” Matthew recalls. “It also disclosed that the interior and top were trashed. I arrived to find a car parked in tall grass behind a tiny house way back in the mountains, in the middle of nowhere! The previous owners were very nice and were at their wits’ end with the car. And they were painfully honest about it all. Truly the thing should have been parted out or crushed, but I was in love.

    It had bad rear wheel bearings, one front hub bearing was shot, bald tyres, ruined leather interior that had hardened and cracked beyond repair or comfort, the paint on every panel was faded and peeling, the battery tray was rusted through, it had an automatic transmission, wrong front wings, cracked aluminium bumpers, and the top was so far gone that there was water pooled in the floor despite the car being under two tarps. True to the ad, the engine would turn over but wouldn’t start, so the condition of the drivetrain was unknown.” Quite a catch, right? So as you can imagine, Matthew snapped it up and lovingly caressed it homeward, all the time reminiscing about those swooping mountain heroes on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

    “First and foremost, I wanted to get it running and replace the top,” he explains. “It needed to be good enough to comfortably drive my young daughters around in as I continued to fix it up, and I originally planned to follow my old formula of decent wheels and lowered suspension… but that was before my first autocross event!” That’s right. The goalposts just shifted. First, though, is the matter of a knackered E30 which needs pretty much everything fixed…

    Job one was to get the old M20 ticking over sweetly and mated to a manual gearbox, something that Matthew did right away before fiddling with chips and fuelling and so on, and this setup lasted a couple of seasons of autocross. But power corrupts, and he was craving more, so he started pooling resources for an M5x swap… until the idea of a boosted M30 caught his eye, and from then on there was only one way forward.

    Now, M30s (that is, straight-six motors as found in the likes of the E28 5 Series, E24 6 Series and so on) have been swapped into E30s many times before, so there was a wealth of information available. What Matthew had to do was figure how to tailor the swap to his own unique requirements. After much consideration and research, he opted for an M30B34 block – for strength – with an M30B35 head and #Getrag 260/6 transmission. That was the base spec. Then the fun could begin.

    The block was bored out to take 94mm Wiseco pistons, increasing displacement to 3.6-litres, while the crankshaft was balanced and the head received all sorts of handcrafted custom work. A Rapid Spool Industries exhaust manifold allowed the fitment of that all-important turbo (originally a Holset HX40, now upgraded to a Borg Warner EFR 7670), and naturally the fuelling and management were beefed up to suit. A trick exhaust system soon followed, as did a Volvo intercooler, some more appropriate cams, and upgrades to the valvetrain. Piece by piece, Matthew’s masterpiece was falling into place. On a conservative tune and at just 13.8psi, the M30 was making 450hp – which certainly helped with those corruptive power cravings.

    So, the engine box was firmly ticked. Still a lot of other things to sort though, weren’t there? “I tried several different combinations of springs and dampers,” says Matthew.

    “Ultimately I used autocross and mountain roads to dial in my suspension; my current configuration consists of Bilstein Sport struts and shocks, H&R J-spec front springs, GE adjustable rear perches and springs, reinforced rear shock mounts, Vorshlag front camber plates, drop hats, and Treehouse Racing control arm bushings. I swapped in an E36 steering rack and, of course, replaced both front hub assemblies. For the rear subframe I installed the AKG 75D 12mm offset frame, diff mount bushings and trailing arm bushings.”

    Okay, so the thing works well now. But it needs to look good. What next? Aha, the body! “When I began fixing the bodywork issues, I ended up with five different colours on the car,” he laughs. “I couldn’t afford a traditional paint job due to being a student, and I still had a huge list of maintenance and repairs to tackle, so the idea of painting it myself in flat military green was very appealing. It had an aggressive feel to it, and allowed me to easily change and add body panels as needed. It also made all the trim work that much easier, because subdued black and flat green are perfectly paired!

    “The entire attitude of the car followed the suspension setup and colour choice, although modifications such as the Kamotors arch flares were a product of necessity – especially with 8”-wide wheels and 245-section tyres on the rear – that just happened to enhance the overall demeanour of the car.” That Foha three-piece spoiler was certainly a lucky find too, it complements the hammered-together-by- The-A-Team vibe perfectly.

    Of course, it’s no good having a car that goes like a train, handles like a sticky panther, and looks like a militaristic warlord if you don’t actually have anywhere to sit.

    That rain-saturated tan leather trim had to go. “The interior of the car was in a horrible state of decay and disrepair,” Matthew grimaces. “When I replaced the battery tray, I took the opportunity to swap the dash with a crack-free one; I then followed that with converting the interior to black since I wasn’t a fan of the tan anyway! Through the forums I made contact with Kevin Chinn of Creative Options to discuss an upholstery kit, and after several conversations I decided on microsuede centres on the seats with vinyl bolsters for ease of maintenance. The seams were done with factory-style French stitching in light Olive green.

    Before the seats went back in I dyed the carpet black, and so the weekend ended with me having stained and sore fingers but amazing upholstery!” When we ask Matthew what his favourite result of all this homegrown dabbling is, he’s quick to answer: it’s the engine bay. The functional, severe exterior just doesn’t prepare people for the sorted, shaved, shiny bay that hides under the bonnet, and it certainly raises eyebrows at shows. And raising eyebrows is what this car was built to do.

    All sorted, then? Job done? Oh, no – Matthew’s far from finished here. “My list of mods isn’t based on winning the lottery, it’s based on money over time,” he says. “I’ve slowly but surely built it to be what you see now, and as time goes on it will only improve. Stay tuned!” We certainly will. But in the meantime, Matthew, you’d better head off along that Parkway. There are childhood dreams there waiting to be fulfilled…

    Ultimately I used autocross and mountain roads to dial in my suspension.

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE Turbo #BMW-E30 Cab / #BMW-M30 / #M30 / #Borg-Warner-EFR / #Borg-Warner / #M30-Turbo / #Megasquirt-MS2 / #Megasquirt / #BMW-E30-Cabriolet / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E30 / #BMW-3-Series-Cabrio / #BMW-E30-Turbo / #BMW-E30-M30 / #H&R

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.4-litre straight-six #M30B34 bored out to 3573cc, #Borg-Warner-EFR-7670 turbo, #Tial 44mm wastegate, 94mm #Wiseco 8.7:1 forged pistons, #ARP head studs, Cometic MLS head gasket, M30B34 high-speed balanced and tuned crankshaft, 9.5 aluminium #Aasco flywheel, M30B35 ported and smoothed head, Cat Cams dual-profile turbo camshaft, IE heavy duty rockers, rocker locks, high performance springs, Rapid Spool Industries exhaust manifold, #Siemens-Deka 60lb/h injectors, Megasquirt MS2 engine management, custom fabricated oil distribution block for turbo feed and gauges, #Qbang engine mounts, Volvo 960 intercooler, Innovate LC-1 wideband controller, heat-wrapped 3.5” downpipe and wastegate piping, 3” straight-through exhaust with Magnaflow resonator and vband couplers, #Getrag-260/6 five-speed manual gearbox, Spec Racing stage 3+ clutch, Z3 short-shift

    POWER 450whp @ 5200rpm, 524lb ft of torque @ 4550rpm

    CHASSIS 8x16” ET20 (front and rear) XXR 521 wheels with 225/50 (front) and 245/45 (rear) #BF-Goodrich G-Force Sport tyres, #H&R-J-Spec front springs with #Bilstein Sport shocks, 650lb rear GE springs and adjusters, #Vorshlag camber plates, E36 steering rack, Treehouse Racing control arm bushings - powdercoated silver, stainless steel brake lines, ATE Orbital grooved front discs with Pagid pads, #Bremmerman cross-drilled rear discs, wheel stud conversion, #AKG 75D 12mm offset rear subframe and diff bushings, #AKG 75D trailing arm bushings

    EXTERIOR Kamotors arch flares, E30 front lip, DIY smoked Hella Ellipsoid lights, all-red taillights, plastic bumper swap, third brake light delete, three-piece Foha spoiler, DIY double brake light upgrade, Shadowline trim, satin finish Olive Drab green paint, Euro grilles, Euro plate filler, late model rear lower valance

    INTERIOR M-Tech 1 steering wheel, #VDO oil pressure, oil temperature and Innovate AFR gauges in DIY centre console, E36 rear view mirror, E34 leather handbrake handle, Justrack Econometer boost/vac gauge, Jaywood digital voltmeter, E36 window switches, brushed aluminium cluster rings and Alpina stripe, Creative Options interior upholstery kit, clutch stop, carpet dyed black, recovered windscreen, UUC weighted gear knob
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    They most definitely do things differently in Japan, as this absolutely glorious 2002 goes to show. Blending European styling elements from its homeland and Japanese influences from its current home, this 2002 is something special. Words: Chris Nicholls. Photos: Mark Kawaguchi.

    Say ‘hybrid’ today, and car folks will generally picture some dreary econocar, complete with skinny tyres and the driving excitement of a hearse. Of course, recent hybrid supercars, including BMW’s own i8, have done much to change these perceptions, but outside those lofty realms, the word hybrid is still seen with suspicion by most petrolheads.

    However, until the introduction of the Insight and the Prius, hybrid used to refer to something different, of course – the end product of combining two elements into one. And this unique 2002tii is very much a hybrid in that sense. Because while the 2002 has become a popular tuning base for many around the world, none really combine both the original European influences and more recent Japanese ones like this example. That’s perhaps because, ironically, it’s the product of a singular mind – one that prides itself on building exactly what it wants. The mind of Hirotaka Fujiwara. Fujiwara-san runs Ultrabox in Hiroshima, a European car modification specialist that he set up 14 years ago purely to allow him to bring his ideas into reality. “Back when I first got into tuning, I thought that if I can’t be satisfied with what’s out there right now, I should build it myself.”

    So he did. And thanks to he and his teams’ years of dedication and hard work, Ultrabox is now established as one of the go-to European car modification shops in the region. It’s also thanks to the skills he’s acquired since opening Ultrabox that he’s been able to turn this 2002tii – a car he fell in love with many moons ago due to its history – from the dilapidated shell he found back in January 2012, into the beauty you see before you.

    The first job, given the car’s initial state, was to restore the chassis and body panels; prepping everything for the modifications to come. Having done that, Fujiwara-san and his team could apply the basic recipe: a static drop, bolt-on overfenders, more power and show car fit and finish levels. Of course, this itself is hardly an original recipe, but like all great builds, it’s how everything came together that makes this 2002 stand out. Starting with the body, Fujiwara-san looked to Japanese racing history to create the unique custom overfenders. Far larger than anything fitted to a racing 2002 in the past, these beauties evoke the glory days of massive Works flares bolted on to local tintop heroes like the 240Z. The fact they work so beautifully with the 2002’s clean factory lines just show how right Fujiwara-san got it, and how you really can make hybrid design work when you have the skills.

    After that came the custom front and rear bumpers, custom adjustable splitter and fixed rear wing and custom, modernised headlights. Together, they all work to turn the 2002tii from a cute, petite sports car into a racing-inspired street fighter. Albeit one in an impeccably tailored suit.

    Once the chassis and all the bolt-on parts were ready, they were shifted off to be painted in another of the car’s signature visual elements – the Porsche Oak green colour. Period-correct, albeit for another marque, the unusual hue really helps the car stand out in a sea of modified 2002s. Asked why he chose it, Fujiwara-san says simply that “it is the most beautiful colour, in [his] mind”. Applying it wasn’t easy, though. As you might have guessed, Fujiwara-san is a perfectionist, and to meet his high standards: “It had to go back and be repainted three times,” he says. Thankfully, his persistence paid off, as the paint is undeniably flawless and looks as if it came that way from the factory. Inside the car, too, Fujiwara-san’s dedication and eye for detail is very clear.

    Matching the Oak green paint and green floor mats with contrasting custom-trimmed red leather Cobra Classic front seats, matching retrimmed rears, red carpet, red Wiechers roll-bar and red belts is a genius move, and one that highlights his aesthetic sense and knowledge. The leather-trimmed dash, complete with customised original gauges, also adds a sense of luxury the 2002tii never really had from the factory. Add in a custom retrimmed deep-dish wheel, aftermarket gear knob and three Auto Gage gauges to sit above a matching Smiths clock, and you have a driving space far superior to that which rolled off the dealer lot in 1976.

    Moving to the engine, Fujiwara-san again combined the best of German and Japanese engineering by boring out the original M10 block to 2080cc (up from 1998cc) and fitting his own custom pistons and rods to match.

    He also customised the factory camshaft to suit his tastes. Visually, the biggest difference, though, is the switch from Kugelfischer mechanical injection to dual Weber 45mm carbs and machined aluminium trumpets. “We just couldn’t make the power we wanted with the Kugelfischer injection in place,” he says. Having taken care of the intake side, Ultrabox also fabricated the exhaust headers and highly unusual muffler, which gets pride of place under the rear bumper. It’s a great Japanesestyle visual finishing touch to an already very distinctive car and one that ensures you can hear it coming a mile away.

    Putting the extra grunt to the ground is the job of the strengthened stock clutch and lightened flywheel (40 per cent lighter than normal), transferring power through the stock gearbox and into a Quaife LSD. Given this 2002’s show car appearance, you might wonder why Fujiwara-san went to the effort of adding an LSD, but as you will soon find out, there is a distinct method to his madness…

    Suspension, meanwhile, is handled by Ultrabox original coilovers and springs, wound down to ensure the car sits right on its Hayashi Racing CR wheels and Toyo T1R tyres. A Wiechers strut tower bar adds further stiffness to the front end and it’s in the same shade of red as the roll bar inside. Slowing the whole lot down is a set of Wilwood fourpiston calipers up front and two-piston rears of unknown origin (they came with the car and Fujiwara-san didn’t see the point of junking them for no good reason), both clamping down on two-piece rotors.

    The end result is a totally unique build that combines the best of east and west and does so flawlessly. The clean, sleek Germanic lines of the 2002 are now enhanced by Japanese racing aggression, and its Teutonic mechanical excellence is now all the better for meeting Japanese customisation and visual flair. The fact it’s put together with an obsessiveness only the Japanese could muster just makes it all the more wonderful.

    “I love everything about it,” Fujiwara-san says, and it’s not hard to see why. It may surprise some, then, that he now plans to move on from this machine. Not that he’s going to stop driving it (as you’ll soon find out), but as with all creative people, he needs new challenges, and while the 2002 combines show car looks with trackable performance, he still feels it sits more on the dress-up side of things, and that’s what he wants to move away from, at least for the time being.

    “I feel satisfied that I’ve got everything out of the dress-up world for now, so I’d like to try my hand at serious tuning. If that goes well, I’ll use the money from that to build another dress-up car,” he elaborates. Given Ultrabox already has a Golf Mk2 time attack car, you might consider that a strange statement, but apparently Fujiwara-san wants to build more Golf race cars.

    Anything from a Golf Mk1 to a Golf Mk3 is on the cards. As for that potential future dress-up car? Tantalisingly, he says he wants to do a Lotus Europa.

    But what of the 2002? As we said, it’s still going to be driven, but in a decision that will likely make plenty cringe (certainly the purists, who may already be outraged that someone took a knife to a 2002 in the first place), it’s going to be used in an upcoming local drift series Fujiwara-san is organising with other local shops. Yes, this flawless show car, complete with paint that needed applying three times to ensure the perfect look, will soon be hooning around the local tracks, spattering its gorgeous rear-wheel arches with molten rubber and possibly even trading that Oak green paint with other cars. Or the wall.

    Despite the shocking nature of this revelation, if you think about it, Fujiwarasan’s future plans for the 2002 are still well within the bounds of his original mission for Ultrabox. As he said, he founded the company so he could make his dreams a reality; building things he wanted to standards that only he would be satisfied with. If he wants to realise his dream of drifting, in a car he built to such standards, who is anyone to argue with him?

    “I thought that if I can’t be satisfied with what’s out there right now, I should build it myself…”

    DATA FILE / #BMW / Ultrabox / 2002tii / #BMW-2002tii / #BMW-2002 / #BMW-2002tii-Ultrabox / #BMW-2002-Ultrabox / #BMW-2002 / #BMW-2002-Ultrabox /

    ENGINE #M10 / #BMW-M10 engine bored out to 2080cc, Ultrabox custom pistons and con rods, machined stock camshaft, stock crankshaft, dual 45mm #Weber carburettors, aluminium intake trumpets, #Ultrabox custom exhaust manifold, Ultrabox 80mm custom muffler, custom painted cam cover, #SamcoSport coolant hoses.

    TRANSMISSION Strengthened stock clutch, Ultrabox machined stock flywheel (lightened 40 per cent), stock #Borg-Warner four-speed gearbox, Quaife LSD.

    CHASSIS 9.5x15”, ET-15 (front) and 10.5x15”, ET-25 (rear) Hayashi Racing CR wheels with 205/45 (front) and 215/45 (rear) Toyo T1R tyres, Ultrabox custom coilovers front and rear with Ultrabox custom springs, Wilwood four-piston monobloc brake calipers (front), two-piston calipers (rear), two-piece #Wilwood discs front and rear, Wieschers front strut brace.

    EXTERIOR Ultrabox custom wheel arch flares, Ultrabox custom front and rear bumper, Ultrabox custom front splitter, Ultrabox custom rear wing, Ultrabox customised stock headlights with HID conversion, NRG Innovations tow hooks front and rear, three-coat Porsche Oak green paint.

    INTERIOR Stucky Trim Service custom retrimmed Cobra Classic front seats and stock rear seats, Wiechers roll-cage, Stucky Trim Service trimmed leather dash, Stucky Trim Service retrimmed deep-dish wheel, Ultrabox customised stock binnacle gauges, Autogage oil, water and voltage gauges, Smiths clock, green and black cheque floor mats, Pioneer head unit, Nakamichi speakers.

    There’s no missing that massive rear wing or unconventional exhaust; Porsche Oak green paint job took three goes before it was deemed perfect enough for the car.

    Custom arch flares make a huge impact and are joined by a custom front bumper, splitter and headlights.

    Interior no less special than exterior, with retrimmed Cobra Classic seats, leather dash and customised gauges.
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    The Rover-P6 was one of the most technically advanced production saloons of its era and the car's cutting edge design finally laid Rover’s conservative image to rest.


    The world was a very different place when the covers first came off the #Rover P6 back in #1963 . Rover was still an independent company and throughout the '50s it had built up an enviable reputation as a manufacturer of conservative styled cars aimed at conservative minded buyers. By the end of the decade the ever-popular P4 and P5 range were starting to look rather dated and a new breed of middle management buyers now wanted to drive stylish, sub-3.0-litre cars incorporating modern automotive design as well as new technology.

    Although its cars looked dated, Rover was a very forwardlooking company and the technically advanced design for what would become the P6 was considered cutting edge and extremely radical for the time. Instead of using a steel monocoque, the new Rover was formed around a 'base frame' to which all the outer body panels were bolted. The main advantage for using this method of construction was to make repairs and later styling facelifts easy to carry out as well as hopefully keeping serious rust at bay. During the P6's development stage, a Citroën-style hydropneumatic suspension system was considered and although this idea was eventually dropped, the final layout for the new Rover's front suspension was equally radical. Although conventional coil springs were used, these were mounted horizontally and kept under tension by a cranked linkage. This operated against the P6's bulkhead and the compact layout allowed plenty of space in the engine bay to house a gas turbine or flat-four – two futuristic proposals that never made it to production.

    The first generation of the technically advanced P6 was powered by a brand new, four-cylinder, overhead cam 2.0-litre engine and the car's light weight and advanced engineering allowed it to provide better performance, economy, handing and ride than any other car in its sector. The new Rover was an immediate hit and by 1964 a sizeable waiting list had emerged for the P6. In 1966 the range was expanded with the introduction of two new models; the twin carburettor 124bhp 2000TC and the 3.5-litre V8 powered range-topping Rover 3500.

    In 1970 the P6 received a major facelift to become the MkII and a year later the Rover 3500S was introduced with manual transmission (the earlier V8-powered P6 were all automatics).

    Continual improvements to the P6 range resulted in the 2.0-litre engine being enlarged to 2.2-litres, with all four-cylinder cars subsequently being rebadged as the 2200 and 2200TC. The P6 continued to sell well until the wraps came off the futuristic but technically less adventurous Rover SD1 in 1976.

    This stylish new Rover was initially only available with a V8 power plant and this left the P6 to satisfy demand for the smaller engined cars until the four cylinder SD1's were introduced.

    Rover continued to build the P6 until 1977 when the last of some 327,00 examples of the car that redefined the Rover's image finally rolled off the assembly lines.


    Despite the P6 having an innovative body structure, the car's unstressed outer panels can still rust, although a tatty exterior won't necessarily be an MoT failure. Fitting a new set of outer panels is a day's job and don't forget that these can all be repaired and painted off the car. However, if the outer panels are really bad, there's a fair chance tin worm will have made serious inroads into the car's central core.

    When viewing a P6 it may look great on the surface, so you need to check the inner sills – outer sills aren't structural – floorpans and box sections under the rear ends of the inner sills very carefully for rot. Best way to inspect the condition of the main structure is to lift out the rear seat cushion and inspect inside the 'D'-post area as well as around both the rear inner wheelarches. Check out the condition of the inner sills by easing the carpet up and while the doors are open, check all the undersides and shuts for evidence of any corrosion.

    The top mounts for the rear suspension should be inspected carefully as severe corrosion in this area can result in the trailing arms pulling out and while looking under the car don't forget to inspect the condition of the boot floor. The boot lid and bonnet are made of aluminium, so shouldn't corrode but paint may flake off around the washer jets due to the different materials oxidising. Moving to the front of the car, check the inner wings, bulkhead and front valance for any signs of corrosion or badly repaired accident damage – especially around all the seams.


    The 2.0-litre P6 will keep up with modern traffic but needs to be coaxed along whereas the TC and the 2.2-litre cars can easily hold their own. V8- powered P6s are obviously fast but fuel consumption isn't that great and these engines require an oil and filter change every 3000-miles to keep them in top form. Oil pressure on the 3.5-litre engine should be around 30psi when warm but don't be put off if the gauge hovers around the 20psi mark so long as you're prepared to drive the car carefully.

    Four-cylinder P6 engines are reasonably long lasting and reliable, but setting valve clearances can be a pain as it involves adding or removing shims to achieve the correct gap. Watch out for water escaping from the side plates on the engine block as this can lead to overheating. There are two timing chains on these engines: a worn top chain will make a hollow ringing sound between 1100 and 1400rpm, while a worn bottom chain just rattles and this one is the most difficult to replace.

    It's also essential to use a good quality 50-50 mix of anti-freeze all year round in a P6, whatever size engine's under the bonnet and to change the coolant ever three years to prevent internal corrosion building up and blocking the waterways. On V8 powered cars, pay careful attention to the temperature gauge, as overheating problems are often masked by an uncaring owner taking the thermostat out.


    Although the manual gearbox in the four-cylinder P6's shouldn't have any significant issues, the uprated box fitted to the Rover 3500 isn't really up to the job of handling the V8 engine's torque and problems will include jumping out of gear on the overrun. Any gear selection issues and rattling levers will be down to wear in the linkage. New bushes are available but the engine and gearbox really needs to come out to enable the replacement items to be fitted easily.

    Automatic P6's were initially fitted with a Borg Warner Type 35 box and this was replaced from 1974 on the 3500 with the Type 65. Check all auto 'boxes for burnt fluid and ensure all the ratios change up and down smoothly. Make sure there're no clunks in the transmission (auto or manual) when taking up the drive, as there are six universal joints between the gearbox and rear wheels and these can wear out. The P6's differential is generally bullet proof but watch out for faulty breathers as the casing can pressurise and cause the driveshaft seals to blow out.


    The P6's all-disc set up is extremely powerful but it must be set up correctly. Cars built prior to 1966 were fitted with Dunlop calipers and parts for these are now very scarce. Later cars used a Girling setup and many early P6s may have been converted to the later type. One weak point in the P6's braking system, whatever its age, is the inboard rear disc brake set up. The rear discs can get smothered in oil if the diff seals are on the way out and leaking calipers often go unnoticed.

    An ineffective handbrake can indicate a lack of maintenance in the braking department and working on the rear brakes, such as changing scored or worn discs is a nightmare unless you can get access to a wheel-free lift. A few early 2000TCs were fitted with wire wheels but although they look good, this type of wheel isn't strong enough to for use on a V8-powered P6. If you're looking at a four-cylinder P6 sitting on a set of wires, check that all the spokes are rust free and intact and splines in the hub aren't worn.


    Although the design of the P6's front suspension is unusual in that it transmits all its loading directly into the front bulkhead, the setup is extremely effective and durable. The P6's worm and roller steering box provides a good amount of feel and can be adjusted to take out any play – tight spots will indicate an over adjusted box. Power steering is fitted to V8-powered P6's and retro fitting this system to a four-cylinder car is a straightforward conversion.

    Any clonks when driving a P6 over a rough surface will indicate worn ball joints at the base of the suspension legs but these are reasonably easy for a home mechanic to replace. The P6's rear suspension features a coil-sprung De Dion axle and one important point to check on these cars is the condition of the rubber gaiter at the end of the sliding tube. A split gaiter will let grit in and grease out, which over time will result in the sliding joint seizing up and unsettling the car's fine handling.


    As with any classic, sourcing individual trim items in better condition than the part that's going to be replaced can be difficult and half decent used parts can be hard to source. Padded dash tops on the P6 can crack due to excess UV exposure and leather trim in cars built between 1971 and 1973 can shrink and crack. An experienced auto trimmer will be able to replicate all trim styles, including the attractive box pleat leather used on earlier cars, but re-trimming a hide clad P6's cabin will prove a very expensive exercise.

    Note that all MkII cars had their battery located in the boot and nearly all pre-1970 four-pot P6's were fitted with a dynamo but many of these will by now have been replaced with an alternator. The instrumentation on the P6 is generally reliable but the fuse box on post-1971 can melt, so check for any Heath Robinson-type rewires. Specialist parts suppliers such as J R Wadhams Ltd. (www., 01384 891800) are able to supply a lot of interior trim arts for the Rover P6 as well as a host of new old stock mechanical spares and exterior fittings including original chrome bumpers.


    A nicely presented P6 makes an excellent and very comfortable everyday family classic. Good four-cylinder cars are starting to get expensive but the model of choice for many buyers will be the powerful V8-powered Rover 3500. The 2200 is a popular choice and there are a lot of survivors to choose from, but be prepared as an auto version of this model can be just as thirsty as a well sorted V8.

    There are some rarities to hunt out and if you're looking to turn heads at a Rover gathering an interesting P6 to buy would be a fully loaded, run-out VIP model (77 built) or a #FLM-Panelcraft produced P6 estate (150 built). However, good examples of these versions are now very rare and don't often come on the open market as they nearly always change hands off the radar or through owners' clubs. Early Rover 2200s now come into the free road tax band and sourcing a good P6 makes a lot of sense if you want to own a very useable classic that offers fine handling with plenty of refinement and good looks.

    There's a decent amount of space in the front of a Rover P6. The TC badge on the tail of a P6 denotes twin carburettors.


    October #1963 : #Rover-2000 introduced.

    October #1966 : 114bhp Rover 2000TC launched with 2000 auto ( #Borg-Warner 35) version of SC. TC export-only until 1967. #Dunlop braking system superseded by #Girling .

    April #1968 : Rover 3500 introduced with V8 engine. Automatic transmission standard. Extra grilles under front bumper, larger front valance, V8 badging on bonnet and boot, 3500 in radiator grille and on front wings.

    December #1968 : Through-flow ventilation and fixed rear quarterlights, opening quarterlights reinstated a year later following ‘customer feedback’.

    September #1970 : MkII/facelift model. Black plastic honey combe grille, air intake grille below bumper on all models, twin ‘bulges’ in bonnet. Vinyl covering on rear screen pillars. TC and 3500 now have circular instruments.

    October #1971 : 3500S introduced. Four-speed manual #V8 with vinyl roof and brushed stainless steel spoke wheel trims.

    September #1973 : 2000 replaced by 2200 – SC, auto and TC. Brushed-nylon trim standard, leather optional. SC and auto retain box-type instruments and TC circular.

    October #1973 : 3500 gets full vinyl roof as per 3500S, plus 2200-style interior and wheel trims and tinted glass. Heated rear window and front headrests standard. Auto gets #Borg-Warner-65 in place of 35.

    February #1976 : 3500 VIP – Limited edition of 77 – offered. Standard aircon, bootlid-mounted spare, Sundym glass and rear seatbelts. Two colour choices; Platinum (metallic silver) or Brasilia (brown) with Huntsman brown vinyl roof.

    DATA FILE #Rover-2000
    ENGINE 1978cc
    POWER (bhp/rpm) 91/5000
    TOP SPEED 104mph
    0-50 MPH 10.1 secs
    GEARBOX 4-sp man
    LENGTH 453cm
    WIDTH 66.5 in, 169cm
    WEIGHT 1229kg

    DATA FILE #Rover-2000-TC
    ENGINE 1978cc
    POWER (bhp/rpm) 113/5500
    TOP SPEED 112mph
    0-50 MPH 8.2 secs
    GEARBOX 4 sp man
    LENGTH 453cm
    WIDTH 169cm
    WEIGHT 2710 lb, 1229 kg

    DATA FILE #Rover-2200-SC
    ENGINE 2206cc
    POWER (bhp/rpm) 98/5000
    TOP SPEED 101mph
    0-50 MPH 9.1 secs
    GEARBOX 4-sp man
    LENGTH 453cm
    WIDTH 169cm
    WEIGHT 1229kg

    DATA FILE #Rover-2200-TC
    ENGINE 2206cc
    POWER (bhp/rpm) 115/5000
    TOP SPEED 108mph
    0-50 MPH 8.0 secs
    GEARBOX 4 sp man
    LENGTH 453cm
    WIDTH 169cm
    WEIGHT 1229kg

    DATA FILE #Rover-3500-S
    ENGINE 3528cc
    POWER (bhp/rpm) 150/5000
    TOP SPEED 122mph
    0-50 MPH 7.1 secs
    GEARBOX 4-sp man
    LENGTH 453cm
    WIDTH 169cm
    WEIGHT 1229kg
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    The Jaguar-XJ-S is now 40 years old. Richard Heseltine savours five examples of this thoroughly British GT.

    If at first you don’t succeed, quit. There’s little point in prolonging the inevitable. Fortunately, there were enough true believers within Jaguar who kept the faith and, thanks to their efforts, the much-maligned XJ-S avoided the chop and matured into a world-class GT. Conceived in the 1960s, it entered production barely two years after a fuel crisis, just as parent company British Leyland was put on suicide watch. However, it was effectively reborn in the 1980s and enjoyed its most successful year in middleage: in 1989, some 11,207 were sold, which was a remarkable turnaround given that sales had barely reached four figures at the start of the decade. Yet the XJ-S has only recently begun to emerge from the shadow of its forebear, the time-defying E-type. The thing is, the XJ-S never was a sports car. It wasn’t intended to be one. Instead, it was meant to be a mile-eating grand tourer, one that could cross continents in a single bound and in absolute comfort. What’s more, Jaguar largely succeeded in this mission.

    When the XJ-S was launched at the #1975-Frankfurt-Motor-Show , it borrowed much from the XJ-series saloon, not least its amazing V12. The newcomer was largely praised by the media, even if the styling wasn’t to all tastes. Unfortunately, it was almost undone by less than brilliant build quality and worse reliability. Many of these issues were addressed by the HE (High Efficiency) model in 1981, with its freer-flowing cylinder head, suspension tweaks and more attractive interior. The appointment of John Egan at the helm also helped right the ship, the XJ-S going on to flourish during the rest of the decade as Jaguar gained its independence, before Ford acquired the marque in 1989. By the time the XJS (it dropped the hyphen in 1991) was laid to rest in April 1996, 115,413 units had been shifted. These days, survivors are highly sought-after. And with good reason.

    1975 #Jaguar XJ-S PRICE WHEN NEW £8900
    PRICE 2015
    Concours £30,000
    Good £16,000
    Usable £8000
    Project £2500

    With its plastic bumpers and chunky rear buttresses, the first-generation XJ-S is not a pretty car, but it is compelling. While the model was rooted in a project developed by aerodynamicist-cum-chief designer Malcolm Sayers, what emerged in 1975 – five years after Sayer’s death – was substantially different from what he had envisaged. It may be compromised, but it’s hard not to fall for this period piece. The golden hue instantly evokes the 1970s, a time when the XJ-S appeared in TV shows such as Return of the Saint and The New Avengers. For better or worse, it’s very much of its time.

    The same is true once you’ve stepped – or should that be stooped – aboard. With its leather and vinyl upholstery, ugly steering wheel and chunky rocker switches, it isn’t the most stylish of cabins. That said, the vertically-calibrated instruments are supergroovy. The car pictured here was displayed at the 1975 Earl’s Court Motor Show and is one of the earliest examples in existence. What’s more, it has barely 4000 miles on the clock.

    Jaguar’s brochure promised 285bhp, with the choice of a four-speed manual or three-speed autobox, although only 352 cars were equipped as manuals before the option was quietly dropped. Unfortunately, the #Borg-Warner Model 12 slushbox tends to change up early, which is frustrating, but the V12 is a gem. It’s barely audible when idling, and only becomes vocal under kickdown. And it does sound good. The car lollops a little, but it’s pretty faithful. If anything, body roll appears more pronounced from outside. The all-round disc brake arrangement works well enough, but it isn’t easy to modulate pedal pressure. There is also pronounced wind and tyre noise. But you can forgive the car just about anything because it has bags of character.

    Gorgeous alloy wheels are a nod to Rostyle cool.
    Forget wood ‘n’ leather, the early XJ-S makes use of crackle-black finish and is purposeful. V12 engine is world-class – turbine smooth and powerful. Looks a plumbing nightmare.
    Aircraft-style secondary instrumentation is super-cool, if a little odd.


    ENGINE 5343cc/V12/OHC QPOWER 285bhp@5800rpm
    TORQUE 294lb ft@3500rpm
    MAXIMUM SPEED 153mph
    0-60MPH 6.7sec
    TRANSMISSION RWD, four-speed manual/three-speed auto #Borg-Warner-Model-12
    ENGINE 5343cc/V12/OHC
    POWER 285bhp@5800rpm
    TORQUE 294lb ft@3500rpm
    MAXIMUM SPEED 153mph
    0-60MPH 6.7sec


    Jaguar supplied two cars for use in Return of the Saint. Star Ian Ogilvy reputedly lunched the engine in one of them on a spirited drive from Italy to the UK.
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    In terms of shouty Fords, the Sierra XR4x4 was a bit of an odd duck. It didn’t really know what it was, some people still don’t understand them. However, that doesn’t detract from the fact the XR4x4 has now achieved classic status. Chris Pollitt /// Bruce Holder

    When the #Ford Sierra hit the roads back in the early ‘80s, it was something of a sensation. The motoring public weren’t actually ready for it, something that makes sense when you consider the incredibly formulaic Cortina was the Sierra’s predecessor. The ‘jelly mould’ as it was affectionately nicknamed due to the liberal use of curves within its design, soon won motorists round. It had the familiar rear-wheel drive of the Cortina, it drove incredibly well thanks to the transition to independent rear suspension, it was spacious, and it was also frugal. It was all things to all men, basically. However, Ford wasn’t satisfied with making a good car – it wanted the Sierra to be a great car. It also wanted the Sierra to further trounce its rivals by being a performance car, too. The question was, could a car that had been built and originally marketed to be the dictionary definition of a car, nothing more, nothing less, a car that had taken that role on with aplomb and huge success, be a performance car too? Would that be stretching things a bit thin? There was only one way to find out.


    The groundwork for a sporty Sierra had already been set out two years prior in #1983 with the Sierra XR4i. It was drastic in its differences to the normal Sierra thanks to its big, twin rear wing, sporty bumpers and, of course, the fact it had lost two doors. Despite its obvious origins, it still stood out on its own. Add the 2.8, fuel-injected Cologne V6 engine from the Capri, and you’re onto a winner.

    Okay, so it wasn’t the fastest car to ever hit the road, but at least it showed what the Sierra could be. It was also a good precursor to the mighty Cosworth variant, which, like the XR4x4, was also due in 1985. Unlike the XR4x4 though, the Cosworth was a homologation special, designed and built so Ford could windmill into the world of Group A Touring Cars. This was reflected in its £15,950 price tag, which would have bought you a house in #1985 .

    The XR4x4 was to be a bit more ‘everyman’. It was also a chance for Ford to show the motoring world that it too had a grasp of four-wheel drive technology, something Audi and Peugeot were flaunting with a great deal of success in the world of rallying. However, unlike contemporary cars that offer four-wheel drive as feature and benefit, the XR4x4 chose to shout about it care of specialised badging and trim options. The ‘80s were a time that saw marketing men easily pleased, so to them, it seemed like a good idea. The system employed to deliver power to all four wheels consisted of two viscous coupling limited-slip differentials, with the front driveshaft actually going through the sump. The power from the V6 engine was split 36/64 front/rear and in theory it made the Sierra XR4x4 a capable and agile machine with bucket loads of grip. Though, as we said, that was only in theory.


    Despite being the best part of £10,000 cheaper than the Cosworth, the XR4x4 wasn’t a massive seller when compared to the rest of the Sierra range. In fact, around 23,000 XR4x4s were sold, out of approximately 945,000 Sierras in total. The main basis for this was the pull, exclusivity and positive reviews for the RS Cosworth, which whilst more costly, was also more focused on the performance car buyer. The XR4x4 was marketed as a sporty car, but in reality it couldn’t compete with its turbocharged sibling.

    Then there’s the fact the Sierra in five-door guise was seen more as a fleet or company vehicle, something reflected in the range of engines, which included a 1.8 CHV that was designed and built with the fleet operator firmly in mind. A 4x4 version with a thirsty V6 was a bit of an anomaly in the line up. The XR4x4 was originally going to have a 2.0 engine, which may have swayed some buyers, but upon its release, the V6 was there to stay.

    The biggest issue, however, was the fact it simply wasn’t very good. That may sound harsh, so hear us out. As a standalone car, it was capable, grippy, relatively quick and by no means was it hard on the eye. Compare it to the likes of the more refined 4x4 offerings from the likes of Audi though, and it looked dated and basic. The XR4x4 was a bold move for Ford, but ultimately, one that didn’t pan out as it had hoped.

    Over the years, the cars fall by the wayside in favour of the Cosworths and even the XR4i. Thankfully though, as seems to be the case these days for XR-badged vehicles, the love is returning and clean examples are fetching strong money.

    There are plenty of projects available out there too, but be warned, the Sierra rusts for fun, so don’t expect it to be a cheap restoration!


    We must say, we were a little bit excited about this. The red XR4x4 at Ford’s Heritage centre is immaculate, it’s real time warp stuff from the condition of the paint through to the smell on the interior – take a deep breath and you can suddenly hear Prefab Sprout, wonderful. Anyway, as we turned the key there were no hot dogs nor jumping frogs (if you don’t get that reference, ask your dad), just the welcome thrum of that V6 engine. Before setting off, it’s worth noting that there’s something very comforting about a Sierra, the way the dash wraps around you, pointing everything at the driver. It makes it feel like a safe place to be, which was a handy sensation to have when we gave it a boot-full.

    The V6 only has around 150bhp, so the XR4x4 was never going to set the world on fire. However, care of the 4x4 system, it actually puts the power down with certain surefootedness. You can feel it’s working hard, that it’s the culmination of metal bit engaging other metal bits, not the symphony of electronic aids and associated wizardry that we’re used to today. That’s not a bad thing though, as there’s a degree of fait accompli brought on by knowing it’s a physical, mechanical process.

    It’s a bit clunky, mind. The gear change is smooth, but firm. The power delivery is sometimes clumsy and can overwhelm the 4x4 system if you really lean on it and the power itself really isn’t a great deal. An XR4i is a lot more fun to drive, primarily because there isn’t a 4x4 system to sap the power that’s there. Hell, a late model 2.0 Ghia or something similar would probably be more fun. Still, that’s a moot point these days. The XR4x4 should be applauded for what it was – a valid, if ultimately flawed, attempt by Ford to enter a new market and to offer a new level of drive and function. It’s not a bad car by any stretch, it’s just not as good as it probably could have been.

    TECH SPEC ORIGINAL CAR #Ford-Sierra-XR-4X4 / #Ford-Sierra

    ENGINE: V6, 60deg V, 2,792cc, central gear driven camshaft, pushrods, 2 valves per cylinder, iron cylinder heads and block, #Bosch-K-Jetronic mechanical fuel injection, 148.2bhp @ 5,700rpm.

    TRANSMISSION: Four wheel-drive by #Borg-Warner #Borg-Warner-Morse-Hi-Vo chain and viscous coupling, front drive shaft through engine sump, sdp clutch, 5-speed synchromesh, 37% drive to front, 63% to rear, 3.36:1 final drive.

    SUSPENSION: IFS by MacPherson struts, IRS by semi-trailing arms and coil springs, front and rear anti-roll bars, telescopic dampers.

    BRAKES: Hydraulic servo brakes, front 260mm vented discs, 252mm rear drums, dual circuit.

    WHEELS & TYRES: 14x5.5 alloys with 195/60 R14 tyres. Interior: Uprated trim and sports seats, electric front windows, heated rear window, tinted windows.

    EXTERIOR: XR badging, rear spoiler, front fog lights.
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    Carrying on with Jaco Swart’s #Mercedes-Benz-W115 build, the Speed and Sound team paid the Hooligan workshop a visit a few weeks back where we found the 6-cylinder purring away on idle. Jaco stepped out of his office, greeted us with a smile and a dyno sheet in the one hand. "Check, here's the power reading we got from MRD, not too bad for a stock 2J motor eh?" quipped Jaco as walked to the car with a swagger. Admittedly, yes, the car looked way better than last time we saw it, and we could see his 20-day project was a huge success.

    Sporting a new set of 19” #RHE replica wheels, and custom lowered springs all round, the old German banger now has a certain suspicious look about it which says "some- thing's-cooking good-looking".

    Jaco grabs the keys and asks "We're going for a drive: care to join us?" No sooner had we agreed too when Herman and Johan opened the heavy doors and jumped in. Herman is the mastermind behind the fabrication work, creating all the magic in the engine bay with his meticulous attention to detail. Johan shared the passion too, helping with the overall build of the car, while Jaco on the other hand poured four-finger-high Brandewyn and Cokes during those late nights in the workshop.

    As the 2J lump roared and hissed through the streets of Pretoria, Jaco hangs his arm out the window and waxes lyrical about SMART Customs who prepared the body and resprayed the car perfectly. It shows as the setting sun gleams off the spotless chassis.

    "The motor is just perfect, and is a true reflection of the capability of a 2JZ motor” says Jaco. “With a stock bottom end, show me another motor that can produce 479hp on the wheels?"

    I guess we can't argue with that: MRD's Johan Minnaar tuned the car for reliability too, and with almost 600Nm to boot, the car is a dream to drive. As I said earlier, the engine's bottom end is standard, with the only major additions being the hefty #Borg-Warner-S366 / #Borg-Warner turbo-charger and all of Herman's shiny bits.

    The management system of choice is Dicktator, and with the fuelling being supplied by 1600cc Bosch fuel injectors, an 044 fuel pump and a modified OEM fuel cell, the engine purrs ever so slightly and roars ever so violently.

    Jaco hesitated a tad when snapper CJ asked him to do a burn out. In a blink of an eye, Herman and Johan were out the car before it even stopped, urging Jaco to gooi it!

    “Look, the driveshafts and diff are still standard, so I'm not too sure if they'll take the punishment?" explains Jaco, oblivious to the fact that Herman had already spilt water on the road to help the burn-out process. With a wry smile, Jaco dumps the clutch and in seconds, the sky is filled with smoke as both Herman and Johan disappear in the haze. It's so undescribingly funny, to watch an unsuspecting 1976 family sedan, perform a mother of a burn out. One can only stand back, point and laugh at the Hooligan #Mercedes-Benz .

    Back at the workshop, the hefty Mercedes stops in front of Kabelo, the other Hooligan member who grabs a lappie and begins wiping the sticky rubber off the fenders and rear bumper. The smile on his face says it all, testament to how an old car - if built right - can be just as appealing as any million-rand supercar.

    TECH SPECS #1976 #Mercedes-Benz-W115-2JZ-GTE

    DRIVER Jaco Swart
    Engine: #2JZ-GTE . / #Toyota / #Toyota-2JZ-GTE / #Toyota-2JZ / #Toyota-JZ /
    Exhaust: Custom turbo manifold.
    Fueling: 1600 injectors, ftf fuel pressure reg, #Bosch-044 pump / #Bosch
    Intake: Custom Intake, 90mm throttles.
    Exterior: Resprayed by #SmartCustoms
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    JEKYLL HYDE #Holden-Commodore VY SS #Holden-Commodore-VY SS / #Holden-Commodore-VY-SS

    The transformation of Todd Arnold’s VY SS, in his own words, has been “a Jekyll and Hyde scenario” – except less murderous and destructive! Story by Ben Hosking. Pics by Ralf Schubert.

    We get a few comments and suggestions about engine diversity here at Street Commodores. Most of the time you can tell it boils down to the commenter’s loyalty or preferred engine/model than to any real lop-sided coverage on our part. However, one recent criticism we encountered was that there were far too many LS-powered cars lately. “It’s all LS1-2-3 through 6 and if the cars didn’t come with one, they’ve been transplanted”.

    Well, without going back and counting, they’re probably right – but with very good reason: the LS-series of engines is like the injected 5L was when it first hit the scene in the late 1980s with the VN. All of a sudden ‘retrotech’ was born and conversions were happening everywhere. Perhaps the biggest difference this time around is that the LS-series just boasts so much power-making potential and West Australian Todd Arnold’s series-II VY SS is an excellent example of that.

    Todd bought the VY from one of the guys at West Coast Smash Repairs, who’d already repainted the car in its original Phantom mica – so it was sitting pretty and ready to do some cruising. “I originally purchased the SS as a daily after pushing two conrods out the side of the block on my VZ Maloo,” Todd says. “I planned to keep it stock, but that lasted about a week before I removed of the rear spoiler, fi t SL and SSL springs and bolted on some cheap china-chrome 20s. I drove the vehicle like this for a year with no desire to modify it anymore, as I had started building as LS1 for a VK project car I had.”

    Indeed, Todd, clearly pretty handy with the tools, began bolting together a fresh LS1 in his parent’s shed, but before long, he’d found a buyer for the VK shell leaving him with a new engine but nothing to bolt it into. You can guess what happened next.

    “After spending many hours in the shed, and turning my parents’ laundry sink from a beautiful white into more of a dark grey/black hybrid, the engine was complete,” he says. “With a few teething problems sorted by some friends it made 386rwhp, naturally aspirated.”

    “I kept it N/A and I had little to no desire to enter the realm of forced induction. With a 6in filter through the bonnet and a TH350, Sunday coastal cruises were moderately enjoyable.” But, as we hear so many times here at Street Commodores, it wasn’t long before the healthy 380rwhp combo grew a little wearisome and Todd found himself yearning for more – much more. “The initial stages of having a custom turbo kit designed and fabricated proved quite difficult (also mentally draining),” Todd says, “as my desire for the car was to keep the air conditioning and all the luxury features, but that clashed with the custom style manifolds.”

    After months of not having the car to cruise in due to it being in bits and pieces, Todd decided to take the car to the crew at Streetbuilt Racing where they quickly took to the project, ordering an ASE turbo kit and stripping out any unnecessary hardware in preparation. “In total, the turbo setup and fuel system took over 14 months, with certain highs and lows along the way,” he says.

    Let’s take a closer look at the combo and what helps it make 624rwhp on E85 and just 14psi. First off, as we began our story, the home-built LS1 was already making almost 400rwhp without the turbo kit and no serious internal modifications – no extra cubes, no extra compression, no head work.

    In the interests of longevity there are forged H-beam rods and forged pistons and the factory heads are held in place by ARP studs, but the majority of the mumbo comes from external influences – save for a big hydraulic roller cam and upgraded valve train gear.

    The most obvious is the billet 67mm Borg Warner turbo that’s pumping 14psi into the Edelbrock intake setup that features a Super Victor single-plane manifold and 90mm throttle. Fuel wise, there are two Aeromotive A1000 pumps out back drinking E85 from a 95L fuel cell and feeding it into the engine via dash-10 lines and 1000cc injectors. The combo retains the factory ECU and coils. Let’s see you get these kinds of numbers from a Holden 5L with the same amount of work.

    Being a fresh build, track time has been limited. However, Todd has run a best of 10.7sec @ 130mph so far and we reckon it won’t be long before the numbers get smaller. “The first drive was one of the most exhilarating experiences I’ve had,” he says. “It’s a new car, a Jekyll and Hyde scenario.”

    “Off boost it’s comparable to a run-of-the-mill cammed LS1 – rough idle, aggressive note and a slow humming from the firing of all cylinders. The sound is enough to relax most people with oil and passion in their veins, Todd continues. “On boost the torque is evident with butt imprints into the leather seats, and horsepower carrying it through with speed once the tyres gain traction. The sound of the screamer pipe evacuating the wasted gases brings shakes to the knees.”

    Todd isn’t quite finished with the VY just yet. While he says if he had his time again he’d turn his attention toward a “steel bumper US muscle car”, he still plans to fit a bigger turbo and aftermarket heads to the LS1, whilst retaining the factory cubes. “There were moments when I wanted to just sell the car and move on, but the team at Streetbuilt wouldn’t let me and pushed me through till the end.” We’re glad they did!

    TECH DATA NITTY-GRITTY 2004 #Holden Commodore VY SS II

    OWNER: #Todd-Arnold
    MODEL: #2004 #Holden-Commodore-VY-SS-II
    BODYWORK: Reverse-cowl scoop, alloy wing
    COLOUR: Phantom, matte roof
    BLOCK: #GM-LS1
    ENGINE MODS: Prepped block, Manley forged H-beam rods, Mahle forged flat-top pistons and rings (10.8:1 comp’), Clevite bearings, Manley double valve springs, sheet metal rocker covers, dash-10 breather lines, Moroso catch cans, ARP head studs, Thunder Racing-spec’ Comp Cams hydraulic roller (0.610/0.615in lift, 242/248° duration, 110° LSA), Howards tie-bar lifters, Trend chromoly pushrods, Howards 1.7:1 roller rockers, Rollmaster double-row timing chain, #Moroso high-volume oil pump, 4-core VZ alloy radiator, 2- per cent under driven pulleys, Edelbrock Super Victor 4150 intake, 90mm Edelbrock throttle, Borg Warner S400 67mm billet turbo (14psi), 2x A1000 Aeromotive pumps (E85), Aeromotive reg’, 2x 100-micron Aeromotive fuel filters, 10-micron Aeromotive filter, 95L fuel cell, dash-10 fuel lines, 1000cc injectors, 2x 50mm Turbosmart BOVs, Turbosmart wastegate, 4in intercooler, custom intake piping.
    POWER: 624rwhp (465rwkW), 10.7sec @ 130mph
    EXHAUST: ASE turbo manifolds, twin-into-single stainless 3.5in system (turbo back), screamer pipe.
    GEARBOX: T400, 4500rpm All-Fast stall, reverse pattern valve body, trans brake, modified driveshaft.
    DIFF: 3.07:1 final drive, LSD, VT 4-bolt flange
    BRAKES: Factory
    SUSPENSION: King springs, FE2 shocks and struts
    WHEELS/TYRES: 15in Weld rims (4in front, 8in rear), ET Street rear tyres
    INTERIOR: B&M shifter, eBoost 2
    STEREO: Factory
    BUILD PERIOD: 3 years
    COST: $45,000 approx.

    West Coast High Performance, Streetbuilt Racing, FED PSI, Final Drive Engineering, Alfa Motorsport, West Coast Smash Repairs, Unique Detailing, Rollin Industries, Joshua Lopreiato, Mark and Roni Arnold for their ever-continuing support, my wonderful girlfriend Tracy for accepting my passion, all my friends and family associated with the positive progression of the build.

    The combo makes 624rwhp on E85 and just 14psi.

    A 95L fuel cell full of E85 lives in the boot along with the relocated battery.

    “The first drive was one of the most exhilarating experiences I’ve had,” he says. “It’s a new car, a Jekyll and Hyde scenario”

    67mm billet Borg Warner S400 turbo pumps 14psi into the relatively mild LS1.

    Being a nice, clean anthracite leather job, Todd hasn’t rushed to modify the interior of his SS and the only mods you’ll see in here (at least until he gets sent home to put a cage in it) is a B&M shifter and eBoost 2.

    The LS1 has been rebuilt, but retains stock cubes and its original crank, however forged H-beam rods, flat-top pistons and ARP head studs help ensure longevity. Most of the attention has been lavished on the intake and fuel systems where you’ll find two huge Aeromotive A1000 pumps sending E85 to the front end where a 67mm billet #Borg-Warner turbo pumping 14psi into the Edelbrock intake setup for 624rwhp and a 10.7sec ET... so far.
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    This BMW-loving father and son duo have built themselves two very different 2002s: one S14-powered, one turbocharged, both rather brilliant. Two 2002s, two very different approaches. A father and son team have put together this formidable pairing of modified BMWs, both brimming with citrusy goodness… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Patrik Karlsson.

    Nominative determinism is an interesting idea. It’s a very real thing, positing that certain people’s futures tend to be mapped out by the name that they’re born with. For instance, the poet William Wordsworth, the racing driver Scott Speed, the meteorologist Amy Freeze, the urologist Dr Dick Chopp (who specialises in vasectomies and really does exist) and the tennis player Anna Smashnova – it can’t be a coincidence that these people have pursued careers that fit their names.

    It follows, logically, that while people’s future paths can be shaped by name, there may exist for creatures and objects a sort of ‘colouration determinism’, where destiny can be informed and coerced by hue and saturation. Peacocks, for example, strut about like they own the place because they’ve evolved feathers that allow them to do so, and they revel in it. Little blue showoffs. It’s a self-fulfilling cycle. What does all this have to do with the pair of old-skool 2002s we’re looking at here? Ah, all will become clear. But it concerns, of course, their respective shades of orange…

    To begin at the beginning, what we have here are a pair of home-built ’02s that offer far more horsepower than the factory ever envisaged – for we are in Sweden, and that’s just what they do here (the winters are long, there’s not a lot else to do) – built up by a father-and-son team. EWO 172 is a 1969 2002 Ti belonging to Mats Örnberg, and follows a classic approach to the pursuit of power: OEM+ tuning and a solid retro vibe. GEF 588 is the pride and joy of his son, Pontus, and takes a rather more boisterous approach, being a previously humble ’02 with the naughty spirit of the fabled 2002 Turbo woven into its DNA. So let’s start with the older generation first, shall we?

    Mats’ 2002 wears Lamborghini Mica orange paint, a shade that suits the sharpened angles of a Murciélago down to the ground. In this instance, returning to our notion of colouration determinism, it speaks of style, chic, passion and flair – the attributes of a carefree Italian outlook, la dolce vita made solid. And as such, Mats has treated the engineering of the car with the reverence it deserves. “We found the body in a barn back in 1996,” he recalls. “When I first built the car up it was running an M10 engine; having fixed up the rust and fitted the steel arch extensions, it was on the road by 1998 in its first guise. The motor was lightly tuned and I ran it that way for a number of years, during the summers that is, with the modifications and upgrades happening over the winters.”

    This is a stock tuner phrase in Sweden – it must be terrifying being an elk or a beaver in the springtime over there, when the snow melts and all the nutters emerge blinking from their garages, ready to deploy the extra horsepower they found over Christmas. “I bored it out to 2.2-litres, fitted spikier cams, fettled the suspension, experimented with bike carbs… and then around 2005 or 2006 I fitted the M3 engine.” He says this as if it’s the most natural thing in the world. Maybe, for him, it is.

    The E30’s S14 four-pot is a formidable thing; its architecture spawned from the M10, so it’s an entirely appropriate evolution for Mats’s build, and it’s the one four-cylinder engine that, generally speaking, the hardened BMW six-pot fan will make a concession for. It has the weight of history and motorsport prowess hanging from it. “Everything from the 2002 suited the swap,” he grins. “The motor mounts, oil pan, oil pump, the gearbox… the M3 manifold had to be modified a little, and a new exhaust system had to be built, but on the whole it fitted very happily.” Makes it sound easy, doesn’t he?

    So in essence he found himself with a classically-tuned 2002 with 199hp at the wheels, something that would have raised a few Bavarian eyebrows in period. The fact that he’s rocking a set of motorsport-chic #BBS-RS wheels and debumpered the thing like a race car merely adds to the feel of 1970s track shenanigans. He’s got buckets, harnesses and a cage in the stripped interior, too, because that’s how a car like this is supposed to roll. Mats has been developing it for years, and this is its ultimate evolution. (Well, ‘ultimate’ in the sense of ‘latest’, at least. We very much doubt he’s finished with it yet.) “All of the renovations and modifications were carried out by me, save for the paint and a few minor jobs like aluminium welding,” he explains, which makes perfect sense really. You can’t be nipping to the local garage every five minutes if your workshop door’s wedged shut by a snowdrift.

    So if Mats’ car is informed by the suavity of Lamborghini orange, what’s the citrus situation with Pontus’? Well, his 2002 is slathered in a shade of Harley Davidson orange, which really should act as a statement of intent. This is a colour that forgoes any sentiment of subtlety in favour of brash, forthright shoutiness. It beats its chest with fury like a wronged, bearded leviathan in a Southern biker bar. It doesn’t ask, it just takes.

    “This all started in 2012, when Pontus was just 16,” says Mats, immediately shaming most of the dads of our readership into rethinking their ‘birthday present ideas’ list. “He asked me if I could give him some help in working on a 2002 with a turbocharged engine. I told him to talk to my brother-in-law about it, as he had a 2002 that he’d built and registered with a turbo – and it turned out that he’d tired of it and started to strip and sell the parts, so Pontus bought the whole thing and that became the project! We worked on restoring it together, with a new turbo and engine management system, as well as replacing the gearbox and differential, which are from an E28 528i. We also had to scratch-build a whole new fuelling system, and build up the new coilovers, and set up the new front brakes which are from a Porsche Boxster, and…” Well, the list goes on and on. This is very much not a case of tidying up someone else’s project; what Mats and Pontus have achieved here is to take the lessons learned from the former’s protracted dabblings in 2002 fettling and reimagine it for a Generation Y outlook. Forced induction, multi-marque part-sourcing, great big rims with broad rubber, these are all the touchpoints gleaned from a childhood spent poring over Gatebil coverage, and GEF 588 is the natural coalescence of influences old and new. “We had some heat issues with the downpipe in the beginning,” Mats continues.

    “The spark plug wires melted, so we had to make a new manifold that would position the turbo a bit further away from the engine. But in general, that’s really the only problem we faced.” Again, he’s making it sound simple. What’s residing beneath that Harleyjaffa bonnet is really anything but: a 2.0-litre motor stroked out to 2.2, with robust pistons and rods, and a Borg Warner S200 boosting happily and filling the system with cheerfulness. The block itself has been partially concrete-filled, an old drag racing trick that adds strength to the cylinder walls and deadens internal vibration. (The necessary compromise is to half-fill it because, unless you’re running a full-race dragster or fuelling it with methanol, you want to keep some of the water jackets free or else you won’t have any cooling.) It is, in short, pretty hardcore. 424hp of hardcore, in fact, with that E28 LSD having all sorts of spiky power to cope with.

    Pontus has really gone to town on the aesthetics, too, eschewing his old man’s penchant for retro flair by ensuring that any potential challenger is in no doubt that they’re about to get kicked in the teeth. The 17” Borbet rims give the profile a brilliant Hot Wheels look, all pumped-up proportions and caricaturistic stance, while those Mk1 Golf arches that just about rein them in are an unusual alternative to the more obvious Turbo bolt-ons that most 2002 tuners plump for. The fibreglass front and rear bumpers are an interesting and polarising choice, too; while most people would either run debumpered, as Mats does, or stick a Turbo air dam on the front, Pontus has gone for a set of square-jawed chins that, working with the chunky sideskirts, do a lot to visually lower the car. It’s bound to be a look that puts some people off, but that’s just what we love about it. Who wants to follow the herd, eh?

    Certainly not the Örnbergs. “We’re at a point in time where the older generation are talking about their memories of these cars when they were new, and the younger generation think it’s cool that they owned them,” says Mats, with the logic of a seasoned campfire storyteller. “My first car was a BMW and I’ve had one or two 2002s in my time… clearly it’s rubbed off from father to son!”

    They’re having a lot of fun with their creations, too. Mats uses his car in autocross competitions, while Pontus can be found drifting his turbo looper when he’s not joining Örnberg Senior for a spot of autocrossing. The respective personalities of their shades of orange have naturally bled into two very different 2002s, but they’re both on a level pegging when it comes to desirability: whether you’re into high-revving screamers or hard-boosting growlers, there’s something lurking for you in the Swedish woods. And if you don’t see them coming, you’ll certainly hear them.

    DATA FILE #BMW-2002-M10 #BMW-2002

    ENGINE & TRANSMISSION: 2.2-litre four-cylinder #M10B20 #M10 , #Nera ECU, JE pistons, #Pauter rods, S14 crank, 84mm stroke, main bearing support, partially concretefilled engine block, ported and polished cylinder head, 46mm intake and 39mm exhaust valves, billet rocker arms, electric water pump, home-made exhaust manifold, #Borg-Warner #Borg-Warner-S200-turbo , 3.5” downpipe, 3” exhaust with one full-flow silencer, separate wastegate and pressure relief valve, multiple butterfly throttles from S14, 680cc injectors, Bosch motorsport coil, #Getrag 260 gearbox from E28 528i, Sachs 618 pressure plate, E28 528i diff with 75% LSD, 4:10 ratio. 424whp, 410lb ft @ 1.8bar.

    CHASSIS: 7.5x17” (front) and 10x17” (rear) #Borbet A wheels with 205/40 (front) and 245/35 (rear) tyres, #Sachs front coilovers with 450lb springs, complete (narrowed) E28 535i rear axle with coilovers, Porsche Boxster four-pot front Brembo callipers with 302x25mm discs.

    EXTERIOR: Harley Davidson orange, Mk1 Golf steel arch extensions, fibreglass bumpers and sideskirts.

    INTERIOR: Soundproofing, carpets and rear seats removed, six-point roll-cage, #Motor-Drive seats, four-point harnesses, rev counter, oil pressure and temp, water temp and boost gauges.

    Örnberg junior, meanwhile, has gone for a rather more extreme machine, and it packs a serious turbocharged punch.

    DATA FILE #BMW-2002-S14

    ENGINE & TRANSMISSION: 2.3-litre four-cylinder #S14B23 #S14 , reground camshafts, airflow meter removed along with intake manifold chamber, #Hestec ECU, #Bosch motorsport coil, 2.5” exhaust with two full-flow silencers, five-speed dog-leg box, M3 clutch, E21 diff with 75% LSD, 4:10 ratio, 199whp 192lb ft.

    CHASSIS: 7x15” (front) and 8x15” (rear) BBS RS wheels with 205/50 (front) and 225/45 (rear) Toyo R888s, Bilstein front coilovers with 600lb springs, tube control arms with spherical plain bearings, blade-style anti-roll bars, #Bilstein rear dampers with 350lb springs in original position, reinforced control arms, urethane bushes, #Brembo four-pot front calipers with 295x28mm discs and Performance Friction pads, Audi A4 rear calipers with 256x10mm discs and Audi pads, adjustable brake balance.

    EXTERIOR: Resprayed in Lamborghini Mica orange, steel arch extensions, debumpered.

    INTERIOR: Soundproofing and rear seats removed, Sparco Corsa seats, four-point harnesses, six-point aluminium roll-cage, oil temp and pressure gauges.

    Örnberg senior has opted for a more subtle build, though it’s a serious machine under the skin.
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    In the photo a few #Citroen cars had served in the French police, but rather in its special units at the end of the 80s. It is characteristic that all the cars were in the station wagon version of the most powerful and fuel-injected gasoline engine to 2.5 liters wagons. It is obvious that some cars were in version 25Ri manual transmission, some with automatic #ZF3HP or #Borg-Warner Type-35. The characteristic blue color and the presence of flashing lights betrayed wagon second series of police-spec car.

    According to some reports the standard #M25-659 motor, at the specific request of the police department in Paris was forced, but the exact figures of power and torque are not known for certain. #Citroen-CX25Ri-Automatic-Series-2 #Citroen-CX25Ri-Automatic #Citroen-CX25Ri
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    Giant road test #1977 - #Daimler-Double-Six Vanden Plas vs. Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow II and Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9 W116 with Cadillac Seville.

    Simple, elegant and understated lines of the biggest #Mercedes-W116 . Only its wider tyres and 6.9 badges distinguish it from the lesser models. Interior is built to the same philosophy, with greater accent on efficiency than luxury #Cadillac Seville is clearly styled to influences from both Mercedes and Rolls, shares its body shell with more basic #GM cars. Interior is on the pseudo-luxurious side, but seats are comfortable. Gimmicks like automatic light dipping abound Low and sporty Daimler body is almost as old as Rolls, still has enormous appeal. As with Mercedes and Cadillac, body is shared with lesser models in Jaguar range. Interior is pleasing blend of traditional wood and leather #Rolls-Royce , recently revised as Shadow II, is stateliness itself. Height of body gives it an air of superiority from without and within. For all occupants, cabin is tremendously appealing, with space, wood, leather and charm.

    Mercedes priorities are aimed fully at the driver. It's roomy but rear seat is too hard. Badge tells the story, cruise control governs it, ducts heat doors, roof is standard Handling and drivability right up to top expert level Antithetic Cadillac has only a vague speedo and tiny fuel gauge. Modest room detracts from seats' comfort. Auto dipping and on-off switching, tell-tales for duff bulbs, recessed wipers but false spokes. Handling is understeer all the way Half-way house XJ12, combines modern gauges with traditional wood. Leather looks nice but cloth is more comfortable. Air conditioning is superb, fan cools battery, beading spoils I seat comfort, some trim is rough. Handling and stability are terrific.

    Rolls dash is appealing if inefficient. Everything feels so nice. Flat seats but lots of room and superb finish. Loads of Silver Lady status, glorious air conditioning, electric seat adjustment but tacked-on fog lights. Handling is ...rolly.
    Mercedes engine is as neat as it is powerful, has dry sump for 10,000 mile service intervals and provides pressure for the hydro-pneumatic spring and damper units.

    Much more basic Cadillac V8 does sport fuel injection but is no fireball. Priorities are typically American: reliability and easy servicing; this is rhd convert.

    Marvellous XJ12 engine is a sight to behold: all alloy and superb castings. Injection has made it both more powerful and economical. Heat soak is incredible.

    Rolls engine bay looks every inch a craftsman's paradise, probably unappreciated by most owners. Twin SU carbs still supply the fuel, in appropriately large quantities.

    Rolls-Royce say it and most people believe that they make the best car in the world. In pub and party arguments, the most common contradiction has it that #Daimler-Benz hold the crown. We have heard other people insist that both protagonists are wrong: the best car in the world is a Cadillac. And others, generally those who have driven all the cars involved, advance the Jaguar/Daimler XJ12 as the current king among cars. Indeed, we were partly spurred towards an overdue and once-and-for-all resolution of this tedious argument by our experiences with the #Jaguar-XJ5.3C (Coupe 2-doors) that we recently took to Hungary. Yes, it was brought to halt when its new American transmission failed, and we were inconvenienced when its German headlight relay packed up. But - and you must remember our overtly cynical natures - reprehensible as they were (for the responsibility for such failures must rest at Loyland's feet, regardless of who is actually to blame) they could do little to dampen our absolute enthusiasm for a car that had demonstrated such extraordinary refinement. It was a pertinent reminder of the XJ12's ability: Mr Editor Nichols had only weeks before spent six days driving across the United States in a #Mercedes-Benz-450SEL-6.9-W116 , and it wasn't long before that that we had experienced a Cadillac Seville and the latest #Rolls-Royce-Shadow-II . The question, it seemed to our freshly jolted minds, was whether any of these cars could measure up to the overall standards set by the Jaguar, rather than whether it could compete with them.

    A perennial question like 'best car in the wood' hinges around priorities. To most people, cars are saloons, so this debate has always been about saloons. As a piece of uncompromising automobile design and execution, what can compete with the #Lamborghini-Countach ? Prestige is also involved: relative to cost and achievement attained for money spent, is there a car to compete with the #Citroen-GS ? But beyond these factors, the argument broadens. The car that is the best in the world - within this popularly-conceived sphere - must have more than just the best finish, the best styling, the most prestigious name. To be the best it is going to need the finest chassis: on the one hand it has to provide the best ride with the least noise, tor that is the beginning of real luxury; on the other, it needs the strongest roadholding and best-balanced handling. It needs performance, smoothness and quietness from its engine. It must be as good to drive as it is good to be driven in; it will compromise each of its functions the least, and Wend them the best.

    It is intriguing that these four natural contestants should vary so greatly in price. At one end of the scale, the #Daimler-Double-Six-Vanden-Plas , the ultimate #Jaguar-XJ12 - indeed, the ultimate Leyland Car - costs £14.582 which includes £721 worth of air conditioning and a #Philips mono radio/stereo cassette system. The #Cadillac-Seville, converted to right-hand drive (RHD) in London for importers #Lendrum and #Hartman , is very nearly the same price: £14,888, which includes the complex 'climate control system' and hosts of other universal fittings. You then jump almost £10,000 to the Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9 W116 and #Rolls-Royce-Silver-Shadow - £23.850 for the biggest Benz, everything included and £24.248 for the Shadow II (or #Bentley-T2 ). A two-level air conditioning system, rather like the Cadillac's, is a standard fitting. So is a stereo system, which may be altered to your choice and, as Rolls-Royce say: ‘It has always been our policy to produce motor cars incorporating special equipment to meet the requirements of individual customers.' Among the 'more frequently requested items' listed as options in the R-R price 1-st are headrests at £39.19 or head restraints at £79.56, a badge bar at £17.84 or GB letters at £3.22. There are many other items, listed and unlisted, and it's really up to the customer to tell R-R what he wants. Addenda to the #Daimler price list suggest the same sort of flexibility.

    Mercedes build the 6.9 virtually to order, and it is inconceivable that Cadillac would not fit any number of non-standard items for their customers if they were asked. So far as production numbers go - exclusivity if you like - Rolls-Royce will build 3500 cars this year on a delivery time of 18 months, Leyland will make 7000 XJ12s, of which 250 or so will be Vanden Plas with a delivery time of six to nine months, Mercedes will make 1800 6.9s on six to seven months delivery and Cadillac will make 40,000 Sevilles, of which 150 will come to Britain for delivery in three months.

    Styling, Engineering

    Traditionalism and conservatism are part and parcel of the styling approaches of the makers of these cars, if to a lesser degree where the Cadillac Seville is concerned. A Roils and a Mercedes must always look like a Rolls and a Mercedes, and central to their styling are their grilles, without doubt the most prestigious in the world. Each new Rolls and Mercedes follows on subtly from its predecessor, trying hard not to look too new or different. It is an approach that suggests continuity and establishment. security and taste: it is also safe. The Jaguar/Daimler has a slightly different sort of body - lower and more sporting - but it also abides by the rule of continuity and marque character laid down by Sir William Lyons. So within the confines of taste, prestige and stateliness, we have three very different looking cars - the tall, dignified Rolls, the contemporary, slightly wedge Mercedes and the rounded, sleek Daimler. The Cadillac, an enormous departure in size and concept for its makers and the American automotive industry in general, is a copy cat. It blatantly steals its prestige from both Rolls and Mercedes and is a curious amalgam of styling features from both, with stronger Roils overtones than Mercedes, and because it is from the hands of probably the word's most adept mass- production car stylists, it succeeds. It does not really look out of place in Europe, either in size or appearance, and t has put the seal of desirability an a new era in American car design, in the prestige stakes, the Rolls-Royce scores a valuable point by being a model unto itself. The Silver Shadow body is the lowliest in Crewe's range, and except for the long wheelbase Silver Wraith II derivative, has no look-alike. On the other hand, the Cadillac is a development of the Chevrolet Caprice/etc body, suitably re-worked by GM's Cadillac Division for prestige, quality and refinement. The Daimler Vanden Plas, badge-engineering on badge-engineering, differs very little from the 'lesser' Jaguar V12s, and even the sixes, and most people would not spot them should they miss the subtle badges. Badges and wider wheels are the only give-aways that stand the 6.9 Mercedes apart from its lesser S-class brethren, a deliberate Mercedes policy that finds considerable favour with many buyers: they want the biggest, fastest Mercedes but they don't want ostentation. Indeed, in Germany at present such a point is a decided marketing advantage. The badges can be left off, or even replaced by 280SE W116 script and the workers will not know precisely which model their boss is using to tear past them. A Rolls, on the other hand, is unmistakably a car of and for the very rich even though it costs little more than the Mercedes 6.9. As a result Rolls-Royce cannot sell more than 30 cars a year there. Jaguar/Daimler badges can be switched about to read 3.5, Vanden Plas can be removed and the owner can bask in the same sort of obscurity as his Mercedes-driving counterpart which consuming petrol at an equal (well, almost - but we'll go into that later) rate. The weights and sizes of the four cars are interesting: the Rolls is easily the tallest at 59.8in, the longest at 204.5in and. has the longest wheelbase - 120in. The Cadillac, sharing a width of 71,8in with the Rolls, is only slightly shorter at 203.9in but has almost 6in less m its wheelbase. Next shortest, the Mercedes - just under 200in long - is the widest, at 73.6in, and almost 1in taller than the Cadillac. The Jaguar is the shortest (194.7in) the narrowest (69.7in), the lowest (54in) and has the most-modest wheelbase (112.8in). The Daimler is the lightest at 4179lb, then comes the Cadillac at 4232lb, the Mercedes at 4260lb, with the Sumo-wrestler Rolls pushing the scales to 4850lb.

    The foundations of the engineering story are essentially straightforward: conventional front-mounted engines driving to the rear wheels. Within that basic framework there exists varying sophistication, allied more to the philosophies of the manufacturers involved rather than to their resources. The wealthiest company. General Motors, opt for nothing more advanced than a live rear axle if you please, thus standing apart in a group where the norm is independent rear suspension (with twists in the case of Mercedes and R-R - not that the Jaguar/Daimler system is altogether common). On the other hand, it is little Jaguar who break the V8 engine rule by being the only ones to offer a V12, that obvious symbol of luxury and prestige as well as performance. And although it has an extra four cylinders, the Coventy engine is the smallest of the quartet, a mere 5.3-litres compared with 5.7 for the Cadillac, 6.7 for the Rolls and 6.9-litres for the Mercedes. With the Cadillac, by the time the emission equipment has had its go at what's left over from a pushrod valve arrangement and an 8.0 to one compression ratio - but electronic ignition and fuel injection - you get a mere 180bhp at 4400rpm. Rolls-Royce have chosen not to reveal how many horses lurk in their regal stables, but judging by the Silver Shadow's performance one would guess at something in the region of 230bhp, also a result of pushrod-operated valves and an 8.0 to one compression ratio, but with feed by two big SU carburettors. One-up on the Cadillac however, the Rolls' block and cylinder head are made from aluminium alloy. Changes to the engine for the latest Shadow II run to a quieter and more efficient fan, more emission efficient carburettors and a new dual exhaust system that steals less power than before.

    Sticking with the V8, we find the Mercedes powerplant rather more sophisticated. The block is cast iron out the cylinder head (atop a special gasket that eliminates re-tightening) is alloy and sports an overhead camshaft on each bank (with hydraulic tappets to take care of clearance adjustment). Its compression ration is a mere 8.1 to one but it is fed electronically by the #Bosch-K-Jetronic system. Rather more out of the ordinary, the Mercedes has dry sump lubrication which extends oil change intervals to every 10,000 miles. The power from all this is 286bhp at a low 4250rpm... with the enormous beck-up of 405lb/ft of torque at 3000rpm. So far as straight power goes, the much smaller Jaguar V12 - alloy block and heads, one overhead cam per bank, #Lucas electronic injection, 9.0 to one compression ratio - is almost precisely as strong: 285bhp at 5750rpm. But it has a lot less torque: 294lb/ft at 3500rpm. Just what sort of difference this makes on the road we shall see later on. It shall also be interesting to weigh up the transmissions: Rolls and Jaguar/Daimler use the three-speed #General-Motors-Hydramatic transmission (a recent and very welcome replacement for the #Borg-Warner Model 12 in the Leyland car) that belongs in the Cadillac. Mercedes, chauvinistic as ever, use their own transmission, but with three-speeds and not the four gears found in the smaller-engined models.

    All four chassis are essential unitary (the Cadi lac has a small front perimeter frame), although built up in varying degrees of automation. The Cadillac is separated from its Chevrolet parent by careful extra welding and strengthening, with a lot of attention going into reduction of noise and vibration. The suspension is basically the same as John Doe's car though: wishbones and coil springs at the front, with an anti-roll bar and a good ol' live axle and good ol' leaf springs at the rear, given something byway of location through an antiroll bar and by way of sophistication through a self-levelling system. The recirculating ball steering is of course power-assisted but has the added advantages of variable ratio gearing that increases as the wheel is turned. Perhaps surprisingly for an American car, the Seville has disc brakes at the rear to match those at the front; a limited slip differential is optional.

    On the face of it. Coventry's suspension is fairly straight forward too: semi-trailing upper and lower wishbones at the front, coil springs and an anti-roll bar with plenty of built-in anti-drive in the very clever geometry. At the rear, drive shafts act as the suspension's upper links, working in conjunction with lower transverse wishbones. There are also radius arms, and twin spring/damper units on each side of the car, spanning the drive shaft. It is an arrangement that works beautifully, and Ferrari, Lamborghini, De Tomaso and Maserati are among those who (although they use upper wishbones too) know of its benefits. But the secret of the refinement of the Jaguar/Daimler suspension rests in the separate sub-frames located into the body by rubber mountings that in turn carry the suspension units, and in the enormous skill that has gone into sorting out the correct bushings and settings. A limited slip differential is optional, the rack and pinion steering (subject of so much debate - for revision later in this test) is power assisted, with three turns lock-to-lock like the Seville's, and there is the added sophistication of inboard rear disc brakes.

    There are disc brakes all-round in the Silver Shadow, and now that it has all after it, it can also boast power-assisted rack and pinion steering - probably the most important facet of the up-date a few months ago. It's a Burman rack, developed in conjunction with R-R’s engineers, with its hydraulic cylinders at its extremities and the output to the track-rod halves in the middle. The suspension components remain the same as before - very wide-based lower wishbones upper stabilizer lever, coil springs and an anti-roll bar. But the geometry has been slightly modified to reduce the changes in wheel camber, and the body roll. At the rear, there continues the semi-trailing arm system with its coil springs, anti-roll bar (reduced in diameter to allow for the modifications at the front end) and an automatic ride leveller.

    The Mercedes, design-wise the most sophisticated of the lot, has wishbones and an anti-roll bar at the front, vast trailing arms and another anti-roll bar at the rear, with a goody dollop of anti-dive and anti-squat geometry worked into it all. But where it departs from normal practice is in its damping and springing: instead of steel springs, four Citroen-like hydro-pneumatic spring units bear the 6.9’s weight, at the same time acting as the dampers, and keeping the ride height and vehicle attitude constant. The steering is assisted recirculating ball and there are big disc brakes at all four wheels. A limited slip differential is standard. Now let’s see how all this pudding fares in the eating…


    Big engines, yes; but big overall weights too, and if the pre-requisites of adequate, unobtrusive performance coupled to refinement far above the average can be ticked off in each of the four cars then there is also an even split between them in the degrees in which the engines actually overcome those weights. The split conforms directly with the sophistication of the engines. The Rolls and Cadillac get on with the job in the way that a disinterested driver would wish, surging smoothly and easily away from the delights or loping lazily along the motorway. Their torque will keep him happy, providing enough acceleration to put most Cortinas and the like in their rightful place, and since the Cadillac’s speedometer reads only to 85mph. a genuine top speed of 105mph would appear to be more than General Motors think most of their customers will require. They may be right however, the car is quiet and stable at such speeds, and a serious driver or even a disinterested lead-foot win find that he probably uses ail of the performance a good deal.

    Much the same thing applies to the Rolls, although there is rather more on hand in both acceleration and top speed. But electronic wizardry doesn’t stop the Crewe speedo reading little short of 130mph when the true pace is just on 116mph - at which speed the Silver Shadow II is decently stable thanks to its new nasal spoiler - but those last dozen or so mph come up fairly reluctantly. That doesn’t matter, for no-one could suggest that the Rolls is a car built for sheer speed. But it does matter that at an 80mph cruising speed, full-throttle is needed more often than not to clear slower, more erratic drivers and maintain one's long-distance decorum. At the lower end of the scale, there is enough urge on hand to allow the car to be whisked in and out of traffic with ease.

    The #Jaguar-Daimler and the Mercedes are different. Even smoother and refined they reap the benefits of their designers’ more serious and modern approaches, and they have the sort of sheer performance that will leave all but a few cars way behind. They border on the realms of the all-out supercars, with 0-60mph times of around 7.5 sec and top speeds comfortably in excess of 140mph. And yet within such similar abilities there are differences. The Mercedes feels very fast, spritely and potent, like a good sports car, and tremendously efficient. With that sort of torque on hand, there is little other way it might feel. The Jaguar seems more sedate, quieter, smoother, still more refined. But after losing some time to the Mercedes in the lower ranges, it very swiftly gains on the German car, hauling it in hard as it nears 100mph and taking over firmly as the speed rises from there, incredible though it might seem. Come out of a bend and keep on accelerating, brake into another one, come out hard and wind up to the maximum possible pace, perhaps up a modest incline with a long, sweeper running with it and you'll know that you are going in the Mercedes. It is a high performance car and it feels like one. Ah, this is the real thing, you’ll be inclined to think. But hop into the Jaguar and repeat the exorcise and you will find that, with noticeably less effort, you are actually surging out of that sweeper and towards the top of the incline at a speed greater than the Mercedes managed. The Jaguar just seems to take it all in its stride, and if you notice and appreciate it then that's fine. The Mercedes takes it in its stride, certainly: but it makes sure you notice, through its noise and. well, just its feel. Obviously, thon, the XJ12 and the 6.9 have far more than just 'adequate' performance. Their characters and their abilities arc more complete than the Rolls' and Cadillac's; they will potter just as off handily - even more so - but at the other end of the scale they can really turn it on, providing the driver with more aground capability than the others as well as more sheer refinement. Within that, simply because it has the extra smoothness that goes with 12 cylinders, the XJ engine has more appeal than the 6.9's once one has understood that it has comparable performance, and the sheer excitement of the Mercedes has subsided in favour of the mailed fist in the British car's velvet glove.

    Nor is there a penalty in terms of running costs for the extra performance provided by the XJ12 and #Mercedes-Benz . Efficiency extends to more than just go; cruising pretty quickly across country we were surprised to find that we returned 16.4mpg in the Benz and 15.8 in the Daimler, but with a heavier load on board. In similar conditions, the Rolls returned 14.4mpg and the Cadillac 14.5 (on two-star fuel). Pushed as hard as they're ever likely to go, the Cadillac increased its thirst to 12.8mpg, the Rolls to 13.2, the Daimler to 13.6 and the Mercedes to 11.9mpg.

    Handling and roadholding

    Again, the group splits into two: Mercedes and Daimler on one plane. Rolls and Cadillac on another, with not that much between either pair in their respective sectors. Climb into the Mercedes and you're likely to react the way John, our borrowed chauffeur, did: to know at once that it is a driver's car par excellence. Like the Jaguar (forgive us, but we really can't get used to calling the damned thing a Daimler, or even a Vanden Plas) it is subtle and business-like in its styling inside. It is just plain efficiency. Start it up and what sound there is from the engine suggests that too; the suspension's road rumble only adds to it. The steering, not too light, not too heavy, is entirely in character, and so are the solid, push-me-and-I'll-answer brakes. That also goes for the throttle, and when you enter the first corner you soon learn that it extends to the handling as well. The car feels small, lively and so very responsive. It could be a very good 3.0-litre, not a two-ton heavyweight with almost 7.0-litres under its bonnet. It has honest-to-goodness verve, it feels, as Steady Barker says, like a damned good four-door racing car. It is thus an intensely personal car, one in which a lasting bond is immediately established between car and driver, and which is likely to lead him to reject passengers as often as possible or to think to hell with them and just get on with enjoying themself should they really insist on coming along. If they understand, they will enjoy all the Mercedes has to offer just as much as he: the way it can be flung into bends neutrally or in drastic oversteer at will, or be pushed in quietly but quickly and then snapped sideways and held in the most tremendous slides on the throttle. It just does what the driver tells it.

    Now what surprised John the chauffeur and every last man of us was that, again in its own subtle, understated way, the Jaguar proved to have fractionally more roadholding that the Mercedes, and even tidier handling. It is engineered to be as neutral and efficient as possible while at the same time having abilities as impressive as those of the Mercedes should the driver seek them At about the same cornering speed as the Mercedes is swinging into oversteer, the Jaguar is just as neutral as it was when it entered the bend, rolling rather less. Push it in a little harder next time and as t limits are reached it will gently edge in very modest oversteer, that is counteracted with an equally tidy and natural feeling movement, using up less road space than the Mercedes as the transition and the return takes place. Because the Jaguar is set-up more as a system than a tool, it takes longer to learn that it can be so utilised than it does in the Mercedes. Erroneously, the lightness and the small movements of the wheel and the initial stages of the body motion make it seem as if it will be slightly unwieldy. But the lesson, once learned, will not be forgotten: go in yet harder, and the XJ12 can be flung towards the apex as sideways as the Mercedes. Power it hard past the apex and it can be held in longer, tidier slides than the German car, and when the body drops back as it comes straight there will be considerably less lurch - and important point when it comes to passenger comfort. In short, the Jaguar/Daimler’s suspension is better controlled. Interestingly, coming from the other cars to it during our test, we found that its steering was the nicest of the lot, something we could never have envisaged saying in the past. It no longer seemed so light; it just impressed us with its absolute lack of fuss, its progressiveness and its precision. You could hop into the car and feel totally equipped to get on with the job without drama of any description: bends, crests, dips...they mattered not,, for it only took a few seconds to know instinctively that the Daimler was not going to put a wheel out of p ace. And yet it was at the same time so easy and re axing to drive.

    Now, to return to pure roadholding, you drop almost exactly 10mph in a given bend when you take the Rolls around, and a little bit more in the Cadillac Their roadholding is good, but not to anything like the level of the others, or the upper reaches of current standards. Their handling is not bad. The Rolls is quite curious: it feels tall and narrow, and rather as if it waddles around on a narrow-gutted suspension located somewhere down below. The new steering is light, quick and twitchy, as John says, and it has you son of chipping away at the wheel until you learn the correct degrees of input to be used. Even then, it is a studied business not to overdo it. But despite its size, and what many people might assume to be its character, the Rolls is no longer ponderous. Given correct steering action, it comes into bends cleanly - gone is the drastic understeer of the past; that new geometry works - and sort of sets itself into what feels like a roll-oversteer attitude. Then it stops and goes around fairly neutrally, widening its line, if not actually sliding, all-of-a-piece. Eventualy it seems to push into sort of roll understeer again - quite strange, really - as it eaves the bend. Should you find the power on hand, or be cornering hard enough to induce it by pure speed alone, oversteer can be easily caught and despatched; but the car never feels as inherently flat, stable, progressive and cons stent as the Mercedes or the XJ12. As it transpires, the Cadillac has very good steering: it isn't as light as most people would expect of an American car, the gearing is excellent arid the feel adequate. It directs the car accurately, the chassis responding with consistent-to-strong understeer that becomes terminal if you insist on pushing right to the limits, so that it imposes its engineer's will on the driver. Body roll is well-controlled, and the indication that the limits are nigh is a riding of the nose across the road rather than anything much more dramatic reaching the cabin. Along a country road, however, the Cadillac can be conducted with aplomb and a fairly high level of driver satisfaction. It has more natural poise than the Rolls and is thus easier to hurry, still managing to feel a little more relaxed. But lest you get this out of context, don’t attempt to give either a Rolls or a Cadillac a hard time in your Cortina or Marina: they'll have little trouble putting you straight as long as the bends don’t become so tight that their sheer size handicaps them.

    Ride, comfort

    Now, the normal pay-off for a car with inferior handling and roadholding is for the ride to be better. The measure of real refinement to be found in the Jaguar/Daimler is that it rules absolutely in this area too. It is ever so slightly firm at very low speeds, but beyond that it is utterly absorbent, going about its work with less fuss and noise than any other car's. The isolation of the suspension is so good that to all intents and purposes the XJ12 has no road-noise. A gentle thump s noticeable only when there's a particularly abrupt join in the road surface, and even then it will need to have presented itself White the car is going very slowly. For all this absorbency and comfort, there is absolute stability at all times, each wheel always under control. Even under full-bore acceleration, there is just a faint hum from the engine, so at all cruising speeds right up to 140mph the V12 is present but not heard, and certainly not felt, unless the driver wishes it by way of acceleration.

    The Mercedes' ride loses little in absorbent quality to the Jaguar; it is rather more joggly and pattery over troubled surfaces at low speed, but just as pleasing at high speed, and just as naturally stable and re-assuring. It is also, in terms relative to the Leyland car, extremely noisy. By German standards it might be very quiet; by ultimate standards as determined by Coventry it is raucous, so that any idea that the car is a real limousine is instantly dispelled. There is a hum from the engine when it is given anything like its head, albeit a pleasing hum, and there s enough wind-noise to be noticed. On that score, the Daimler test saloon had some wind-noise upwards of 120mph. whereas the XJ5.3C we ran recently had not a trace of it, thereby feeling even more refined.

    Such is the level of that refinement that even an eminently quiet car like the Rolls is shown to have rather too much road-noise. It is rumble at low-speed more than anything else, a constant pattering over cobbles and plenty of bump-thump when the big radials roll in and out of potholes. It rides very well, but it just isn't the pace-setter, or even near to it. There is no wind noise in the Rolls now though, and the engine is as imperceptible as ever.

    Strangely enough, it's the V8 that gives the Cadillac most of its noise: a steady hum when pushed decently quickly. Save for a solid thump as the rear axle strikes proper bumps, there is less road-noise in the Seville than in the Rolls. But the inadequacies of its live axle are shown in a sort of lateral squirm as the heavy unit throws against its location when the springing and damping as pressed hard; it's not severe, just enough to say 'slightly crude' in this exacted company.
    Car manufacturers so often get their seats wrong; and these four are not really exceptions to the rule. The Rolls' front seats are tall, wide and generous; but they ore a little too hard and too flat for long distances along twisty country roads. The Mercedes' seats are just as hard 'out better-shaped; but they aren't as comfortable when trimmed in leather as they are in the alternative soft velour. The Cadillac seat is soft and plush and (like the Rolls', adjustable every which-way by electric toggle within easy reach) but doesn't go back far enough. The Daimler seat is on the modest side, but it's well-shaped and pretty good - except for the beading that runs around its edge in the Vanden Plas. The simple brushed nylon of the lesser models is much better. Steady Barker spent hours sampling the four cars' back seats while John whisked him from one place to another, and he has plenty to say about life in the back in his accompanying piece. But to recap briefly: the Rolls is the best overall for room, then comes the Mercedes, then the Jaguar and then the Cadillac. Interestingly, although the XJ12 has the longer wheelbase it seems to us to offer less real rear comfort, despite better legroom, than the XJ coupe, mainly because the rail above the saloon's rear window restricts head room too much. The roofline in the coupe is subtly different and less of a restriction.

    Air conditioning is standard for the quartet, and so is a stereo system. So far as the air conditioning goes, the Rolls' automatically-controlled split-level system is the best; then comes the Jaguar's dial-a-temperature unit, the Caddy's similar system (but it’s not really quite strong enough) and then the Mercedes, which is more difficult to work and then doesn't do the job so well. Life is fairly straightforward in the Jaguar and #Mercedes : the adjustable mirrors are hand-operated, so are the seats, whereas the RolIs and Cadillac have electric systems for getting comfortable, along with the usual power windows and central door locking systems.

    Driver appeal

    Again, the approaches differ - from the clinically efficient Mercedes to the over-kill, schmaltzy Cadillac, but each with its own character and its own special appeal. The Mercedes is under-played to the extreme (the Germans seem determined to eliminate all the frills and just get on with the job; and quite right too in the view of many people), but reveals its nature to its driver at once. He will understand, or he will find it dull. It will not suit the pretentious man at all: it's appeal is through its thoroughness, visually as well as functionally- There is a modern four-spoke wheel, leather bound and handy; behind it a simple instrument pod housing a proper complement of dials. The one big column-mounted stalk looks after indicators, light flashing and dipping and wipers and washers (including an intermittent phase). The cruise control lever lurks close behind, easy to reach and easy to work, and in charge of the best system. The heater/vent/air conditioning controls are slightly more complex but are mounted within easy reach; so is the radio. Best of all is the automatic transmission selector - that familiar Mercedes 'golf club' jutting up from its ragged slot in the console. Flick it and it finds the right spot, and activates the transmission beneath with tremendous speed and smoothness. Just another facet of the 6.9's appeal to serious drivers. The gearbox itself, permitting first to run to 59mph and second to 97mph, is crisp and smooth, although not without the odd noise. The brakes feel excellent and stop the car with enormous strength, pushed by either left or right foot, as they should be. Vision is clear and easy, the car simple to place. In other words, if efficiency and responsiveness appeals to you, you'll love the Mercedes to distraction.

    The Jaguar is rather more of a hotch-potch inside; a half-way house. It has all the instruments and the facilities to allow the driver to make use of a car with even more outright ability than the Mercedes, but the presentation is confused, an attempt to combine the contemporary with the traditional by way of big plastic dials and yet a wood veneer fascia and door capping’s. The driving position, however is as pleasing and efficient as it is in the Mercedes, restricted only by a lack of left footroom that worries some but not others. The wiper action is slightly clumsy when they need to be parked, and the tail, spindly shift selector requires overly strong and deliberate movements. The transmission works beautifully, but first cannot be selected or held manually: can't the gearbox cope with its power? The maxima in the intermediates is 60 and 100mph, even more handy than the Mercedes' thanks to a higher rev limit. Overall, the Jaguar has a very pleasing effect on the driver, quite apart from its mechanical aspects and abilities. It feels quite small and tidy, modern but not brash, and quite tasteful (despite horrible touches like the gold plastic V12 badge on the console). It has the impression of being a gentleman's sporting carriage, with a small but meaningful 's'.
    The Rolls goes one step further. You sit up high, surrounded by wood and leather, faced by big round dials set into the wood that tell you things like the time and the temperature rather than the engine's revs. The shift lever is on the column, jutting high to the upper right, with an easy action when it comes to activating it, and with the cruise control set into its knob. Things like the .vipers are worked by chromed meta knobs on the fascia: decidedly old- fashioned, but they feel so beautiful. The transmission shifts silently and easily, running out to a mere 40 and 74mph in the intermediates. Best time to be driving the Rolls is on a relatively deserted motorway. You sit up in that coach-like atmosphere, wafting along, looking down on the world and its minions, savouring the car's straight-line stability, and, at this speed, its silence. But be careful les the idyll should be upset: don't move the wheel too quickly or too much, for the reaction of the car will be more wayward than you would wish. Yes, a car to waft along in, above all else, with something nice on the stereo and your mind not too much on the driving.

    Despite all its gadgets, that goes for the Cadillac too. Very largely, it is all add-on luxury. Besides the electric seat controls there is the central locking system, activated when the transmission is put into Drive, the Sentinel lighting switch that brings on the lights at dusk and switches them off at first light, and the automatic dipper that drops back to low-beam when it detects the lights of another car (or its own lights' reflected by Cotswold rock walls!). There are the fibre-optics tell-tales to let you know whether your head and stop lights are working, and tiny green and amber lights in the fascia to show whether you're driving economically or not. There is a digital clock, ell sorts of buzzers for unfastened seat belts and keys left in the ignition and so on, and the steering wheel tilts through crazy angles at the touch of a lever. All well and good, but GM don’t seem to understand about priorities: the windscreen wipers/washers switch is small and awkwardly located on the driver's door armrest, there is only the 85mph speedo (reading a full 20mph slow at 60mph in the test car!) and a fuel gauge too small and too impossibly located to be read without extreme effort. The angle of the pendant carrying the brake pedal is far too awkward to allow fully adequate pressure to be exerted upon it too (although that could be a fault of the British conversion) and the brakes themself fade badly without much provocation. And whereas the Cadillac's boot doses and opens by electric motor, the (collapsible) spare wheel takes up far too much space to make it much use at all. So the Cadillac emerges as a car for those who like to see their luxury and be constantly reminded of it. Subtle it isn’t, although to judge its driveability by its cabin would be wrong.

    If you look closely in the out-of-the-way places on the Cadillac, you will find the same sort of flaws that spoil the XJ12 and which you will never find on the Mercedes and Rolls-Royce. There are too many rough edges on the Cadillac, too many poorly-folded panels. And yet from the outside they all fit so exactly: just don't look too deeply. Some of the Jaguar's flaws cannot escape detection: chrome trim sections that don't mate up, fascia edgings that are skew-whiff. Then again, look under the bonnet and behold that super engine and all its castings and plumbing, and marvel that it could ever have been fitted beneath such a tow bonnet line. The Mercedes is the epitome of top-class mass-production build quality, with never a drop of paint or glue where it shouldn't be. never a panel fitted roughly, never an awkward-looking screw. And yet it is rather cold with its efficiency. The Rolls reeks of traditional craftmanship and hand-building, sporting the odd rough edge now and then to show that it has been touched, and lovingly, by human hands. It has magnificent paint work and under-bonnet detailing, for instance, and everything is in equisite, conservative taste.


    Several points emerge from this Giant Test. First, the #Cadillac-Seville attains quite remarkable heights of refinement considering its remarkably basic and cheap engineering. Given its own environment, it is obviously a" very good buy. Yet it is a fairly good buy in Europe too. It is smooth and quiet, rare, loaded with convenience items and not at all bad to drive in an uninspiring sort of way. It is not a pace-maker in the chassis, but it suffers no major vices either. Even if it were a lot more expensive it would still be a very worthy competitor for the Rolls-Royce for it is just as competent in most situations, every bit as quiet and were it not for its restricted room would be just as comfortable. When hurrying many drivers will find it preferable to the Rolls.

    That the Rolls does not really rise much above the #Cadillac as a creator and upholder of motoring standards does most to establish its own perspective. It is still the most commonly-accepted and desired motoring status symbol; and because of its presentation - its unique character - it deserves much of the adulation. Its seats are slightly too hard and the rear reading lights and mirrors prevent one from lounging property, but it is a marvellously pampering car to ride in. and to be seen riding in. It is far from unpleasant to drive, but it is not as pleasant as it should be, those loping (aunts down the motorway or edging down Park Lane apart. The point is that it is eclipsed in too many areas to be considered the best car in the world. It might be the best finished, the most enticing; out it is not the quietest, it does not have the best ride, the best steering, the best brakes, the best roadholdinq, the best engine.

    The Mercedes-Benz 6.9 is notably better in many of those areas. And yet it is not the best either. More often than not it is a misunderstood car: It is a driving machine, a truly superb sports saloon conceived and developed by skillfull and enthusiastic drivers for skillfull and enthusiastic drivers. It is not a limousine: it is too noisy for that, and its rear seat, in the leather anyway, insufficiently comfortable, and lacking detail niceties. It is for the high-speed business man who likes to whisk very quickly across vast distances in maximum safety with minimum fatigue and yet extracting a very high degree of driving pleasure. Yet he can, carry passengers if he wishes or needs to. To understand this Mercedes for what it is to appreciate it for what it isn't.

    Finally, while we expected the Jaguar to have the edge over even the Rolls in terms of ride quality, overall silence and drive-line smoothness, we did not anticipate that it would not only match the Mercedes as a driver's car, but actually better it, although without such a feeling of excitement. It carries its capabilities more subtly, blending them with more overall refinement than any other car currently made. They are tremendous capabilities, made even more awesome by the car’s price: even in its ultimate form it is £10.000 cheaper than the Rolls and the W116 450SEL 6.9. Yet, if it were up to us, we would opt not for the top-line Double-Six Vanden Plas but for the standard £10.668 XJ12 with cloth trim, for its seating is more comfortable in that form. If motor cars are ultimately a compromise, the XJ12 - in whichever form you select to suit you best - is the ultimate compromise. Rolls-Royce have a new model lurking in the wings. If they wish seriously to lay claim to the title of the best car in the world with it, it's not the Silver Shadow they must better but the car from the other end of the Midlands.

    By John Hatton, professional chauffeur who drives DJ Noel Edmonds XJ 4.2

    1977 #Mercedes-Benz-450SEL-6.9 W116

    A driver's car, no question about it But not a chauffeur's car. It has so much life, spurring you on to enjoying its marvellous handling, its terrific acceleration, that powerful braking and absolute stability. It responds so temptingly to your every command. But your passengers, along for the ride only as a matter of convenience at best, as a matter of necessity at worst, won't appreciate that. Even at steady speeds, as you check yourself, they'll find the ride too stiff, the seats too hard, and the road noise too extreme and not just in relation to the price they've just paid for it. You hope they don't take their ire out on you - you’re frustrated enough as it is, seeking so’-ace in the beautifully lad out controls and waiting for the chance to have it and a decent country road all to yourself one day.


    All I imagined it to be - flashy, full of gadgets ... some useful and some useless. It reminds me of a funfair car. But it has a comfortable enough chassis from the driver’s point of view, except over the occasional harsh join in the road surface where there’s a thump from the rear axle to upset things a bit. The cornering is alright, the braking average, the steering very good in fact. Good gadgets, like the fibre optics to show if the headlights and brake lights are on, enable the driver to make sure his vehicle is not defective without having to check externally. I also like the two lights on the dashboard - one green and one orange: the green light indicates that the car is running at the most economical speed, and the orange shows that it is running uneconomically, which in this day of conservation is an advantage. It also means, of course, that you’re driving as smoothly as you should. The interior as a whole looks quite cheap and plasticky really; otherwise, the Cadillac compares more favourably most of the time with the Rolls than most people would imagine - more than I had anyway.


    I drive a Jaguar, but taking part in this test made me appreciate just how much it stands out. even in such exalted company. It is by far the best car for driver and chauffeur with its silence, excellent steering, well-balanced brakes and such ideal handling. Really, there's nothing at all in the mechanicals that I, as a private and professional driver, can criticise. Instead you find your faults with the obvious cost-cutting in the cabin (although it is. of course, so much cheaper than the Rolls and Mercedes). For instance, although the reading lights in the rear arc very good, their wires are left exposed and bits of trim elsewhere are not finished off property. Sections of the dashboard are the worst. More seriously, the beading on the front seat is too prominent; it becomes uncomfortable over a long distance, or many hours in the city. But then your passengers will be finding similar problems with the back seat in the Vanden Plas. I’d have to recommend that my boss give the Vanden Plas a miss: the lesser Jaguars are more comfortably upholstered, and give me the cloth trim over the leather any day.


    What peculiar handling! The steering’s so light it has you constantly over- correcting. whereas you need it to be more in keeping with the size and character of the car. And if you haven't upset your passengers that way. the brakes, at first so sharp and fierce, should do the trick. Pity the driver relying on tips. The brakes need to be far more subtly efficient. All this is particularly upsetting when driving in town, although after a while you became accustomed to the peculiarities and adjust accordingly, if not entirely satisfactorily. So doing your job with the Ro Is-Royce. rather than perhaps doing your job in it, is a tot harder than it should be. In the country the steering is more of a problem Getting your passengers along at a decent clip is far too twitchy; you can't relax behind the wheel, the concentration needed is too great to allow that. Nor can you fail to notice the excessive road noise, worst in town - and you wonder what your passenger will be making of it. Nothing much to criticise among the instrumentation, the switches or the air conditioning, which allows you to keep your charges cool headed, at least. Handy electric seat adjustment, if there is another driver or you fancy a small change yourself, although the leather of the seats is a little too hard for long days at the wheel because of the tightness of their leather. It will slacken after a few years, but so might you. Anyway, if somebody is paying so much money they want the seats to be comfortable from the outset. With the Rolls, both owner and driver expect the very best. In practice, though, they don't get it.


    By Ronald Barker country gent, critic and owner of quality conveyances

    1977 #Mercedes-Benz-450SEL 6.9 #W116

    But took, it's full of Alsatian dogs! Himmel. does prosperity so swell the West German head, or are they just peaked headrests ? These doors are so thick and heavy, and their locks massive - no wonder they shut cl... unk like a safe. You can sense the strength, it’s no illusion created by advertising copy. Echt leder inside, genuine thick, strong, shiny, slippery German leder, with a cheese grater pattern punched into its surface - for grip? For ventilation? For chafing the skin of a lady's back through her thin summer dress? Sniff how it smells and hear how it creaks like an old club library every time the chauffeur moves or I fidget. Why fidget? Because the back seat is quite appalling; the backrest is tod upright and short of lumbar support, and the cushion seems to have a semi-rigid spring frame just beneath the surface that has to move ail together or not at all. There's lots of legroom, but a fiat floor and hard ribs under the seats to catch your feet. No woolly bear nonsense Gort sei dankt and the removable carpets are secured by press-studs. No safety belts, either, which is surprising. The Alsatian headrests are adjustable for angle - gut! Behind them, recessed into the window shelf, is a great big box of First Aid goodies. There's just one central roof lamp above the backrest, ashtrays but no cigar lighters in the doors (not even a gauleiter!) No mirrors or armorial crests, but we shan't miss them. Gute fahrtl (Have a good trip, actually). But it's quite astonishing - this magnificent machine, so powerful, so stable and controllable on the road, so rewarding for the chauffeur to drive and substantial, yet it isn't a luxury car at all when you ride in the back, not for such a vast price tag. Although the ride is stable and level and shock-free, it's also unexpectedly harsh and noisy, with a mush of din from tyres and/or transmission, and if your man presses on a bit to exploit the M-B abilities, you roll about on that unresilient leather platform, unrestrained by safety harness or ergonomically profiled upholstery. It's just a genuine four-door four-seater hard-topped air-conditioned racing car.


    Even if this is really only a chevre-au-lait with a cream filling it looks very posh outside and inviting inside, all soft pale grey cloth and voluptuously rounded cushions. And it feels good - for a moment; but the cushion finishes inches short of the back of the knee. It’s a full 3in shorter than the front cushions. Does Detroit consider back seat riders collectively as idle rich drink-and-be-driven dwarves? No, they made the body shell too cramped and had to chop the back seat to create an illusion of ample legroom. So my thighs are inadequately supported and my feet rest on a flat floor which will soon tire the inkle joints; they ere trapped in a nicely padded slot beneath the front seat. The backrest is rather upright, and where am I expected to stow any of the countless small things I'd need if sitting hero for days on end motoring from NY to LA? Not a door pocket or back-of-the-seat net, only a narrow rear window shelf that the Cadillac manual tells me not to put things on.

    If I want to doze, there's no headrest, and the rear quarters are filled with reading lamps and embossed crests. It isn't designed for seating three-abreast, but there are lap straps for two-and-a-half. The centre armrest is too short low and awkwardly angled, and those thinly padded elbow rests on the doors are pretty mean. In each door there’s a rather vulgar pretend-wood and bright metal console with rigid door pull, ashtray and lighter. The thick woolly carpet seems not to be readily removable for cleaning. It's very quiet back here, less wind noise than in front; no tyre rumble to speak of, but no way can you fully suppress an unsprung live axle dancing about below. The Seville rides surprisingly flat and stable round the bends, and the tyres don't disturb with roaring and squealing. Thank goodness for front headrests shallow enough to see over - I can’t bear looking forward to a sort of grasshopper's eye view of Boot Hill cemetery. A surprisingly nice car, but only in the front.


    A #Daimler-Benz did you say? Oh - just plain Daimler, please! Two days with these four cars and no one mentioned #Daimler or #Vanden-Plas . It’s a V12 #Jaguar and other badges don't stick. All Jaguars/Daimlers need interior designer (what about David Bache?) to modernise and harmonise and en them without necessarily spending more money in production. They are super-cars mechanically, let down by visual deficiencies in quality and tad taste.

    The Vanden Plas treatment evolves pseud seating with ably showroom appeal, so thickly upholstered and unyielding that your head almost touches the roof, with high pressure rolls under the thighs (front and back seats) where they should be soft and leather piping at the leading edge that gave our short-legged chauffeur John actual pain after 100 miles in the back (he likes a change).

    Stupid woolly bear rugs (extras) effectively reduce critical cushion-to-floor depth, and push your feet further up under the front where several vicious hook-ends of springs are poised to gouge them, but the best ride, the least road noise, the least roll, the least engine and mission noise - at the cost of the least headroom, no legroom to spare (but enough), less all-round visibility than the high-seated six-window cars.

    Not too easy to enter or leave, either, without tripping over the Kangol Euroflex belt. All four doors have rigid pockets also encasing quadraphonic speakers, and there are elastic pockets behind the seats. One sits high enough in the back to see right over the headrests. Might not the standard Jaguar V12 possibly provide more true comfort for a lot less money?


    Does it have to idle so fast, with all that noise? I suppose it's to keep the alternator spinning for the auxiliaries. Pity the doors shut with that shudder and tinny rattle. Smell the leather! Beautifully stitched, but pulled so taut over the cam - how long will it take to stretch and wrinkle a bit, so as not to look like pvc and to fit you snugly like an old shoe? The seating feels so formal, dictating you posture, not really letting you relax. After paying more than 24 grand, isn't one entitled to slouch? And all the great big windows, to see and be seen: in the old days when #Rolls-Royces were clothed by HJ Mulliner and Thrupp and Maberly and Hooper and Barker and Park Ward and James Young and Gurney Nutting - most had sumptuous, separate down-filled cushions, and smaller windows with roller blinds so you could, if you wished, be obscene without being seen. And why not in your own car, behind your own discreet chauffeur?

    Mirrors and reading lamps with spot lenses replace padding in the near quarters, but there are headrests; no seat belts. Open-topped elastic pockets are set in the front seat backs, beneath are loose footrests that slot into cutaways under the seats: very right and proper, a real aid to comfort. The fitted carpets are press-studded, but topped by those untidy status-creating, dirt-collecting, space-reducing woolly bear rugs. A fixed transmission line (IRS) allows a much more slender tunnel than the Caddy's, and a third passenger - be carried in quite reasonable discomfort. All the fittings are superb, even down to door lock buttons and ashtray lids. Nothing looks skimped or in bad taste; none of the others approach the Rolls-Royce standard in this area. Discreet little head (optional) restraints on the high-backed front seats partly obscure the view forward, but can be looked around. Drive on, James!... But where's the traditional ghostly hush disappeared to? I can actually hoar the engine as well as the road beneath - suspension by Messrs Thump and Rumbelow. A little faster, my man!... Whoops! No, you'd better slow down if you can't help it lurching about like that. If only I could sink into the seat a bit more, perhaps I wouldn't notice so. And should it have this stow-motion pitch, with all that hydro-pneumatic gear controlling it? Perhaps a Mercedes-Benz after all.
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