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    The last affordable #Mercedes-Benz-SL / #Mercedes-Benz-SL-R129 / #Mercedes-Benz-R129 / #Mercedes-Benz /

    The rise and rise of Mercedes SLs continues unabated, almost right across the sporty drop-top’s back catalogue. The original 300SLs are largely static in the very expensive bracket, but nearly everything else from the 190SL onwards has seen growing interest of late.

    Even the Nineties-era R129s, which have until now been a kind of entry-level access point to classic SL ownership, are starting to chase after their R107 predecessors – also on the up. The #V12-engined #600SL is leading the way. There aren’t a lot of those to choose from and the best are now topping £20k. But the V8 500SL and all the (cheaper to run) six-pot models are picking up too, with good ones that struggled to make five figures a few years ago starting to trade in the teens.

    After highlighting SLs in one of our ‘To Buy Now’ features almost a year ago we could say we told you so, but the game is still on – the price rises show no sign of letting up yet.
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    Right: steering wheel and dash have been retrimmed in Alcantara; Simon George is looking forward to putting them to the test soon.

    Date acquired September 2004 / #Lamborghini-Murcielago / #Lamborghini / #Lamborghini-V12 / #V12 / #2004
    Total km 415,280
    Km this month 0
    Costs this month TBC
    L/100km this month n/a

    Lamborghini Murciélago Its refreshed interior is ready for action, but the mid-mounted V12 is not

    It’s been a frustrating few-months for ‘Trigger’s Broom’, which has been struggling with an electrical issue with its engine, thereby delaying its long-awaited return to the road. Lamborghini’s Manchester dealership has therefore become the Murciélago’s second home whilst its technicians try to get to the bottomof why the car’s once mighty #V12-engined has become a limp in-line six.

    As regular readers will know, the Lambo lost an argument with an oak tree back in November 2012, which left it (the car, not the tree) damaged way beyond economical repair. Being the sentimental sort, I chose to embark upon a nut and bolt rebuild all the same, and three years later the car has more replacement parts fitted than original, so its nickname has never been more apt!

    Somewhat ironically, after the aforementioned catastrophic incident the Murciélago’s engine still ran sweetly, but somewhere along its road to recovery the main bus fuse was blown and the 426kW V12 lost a bank of six cylinders.

    Electrical gremlins can take many hours to nail down in Italian supercars, and despite changing all the ECUs and investigating myriad other theories, the problem has not yet been solved. Now a systematic testing of every part of the wiring loom is in progress, so hopefully I’ll hear some good news – and the sound of 12 cylinders running smoothly – soon.

    On a more positive note, the Lambo’s interior has recently been refreshed and updated by having the dashboard and steering wheel re-covered in Alcantara. It really looks the part and will hopefully reduce the reflections in the Murciélago’s huge windscreen. I look forward to finding out shortly, not least because my goal is to hit 500,000km by the end of 2017. More news soon.

    The 6.2-litre 426kW V12 has lost a bank of six cylinders.
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    Italian? Check. V12? Check. Orange? Check. This Aventador ticked all the boxes for a place on Simon George’s supercar experience fleet. And it means he also has a new daily driver.

    NEW ARRIVAL #Lamborghini-Aventador-LP700-4 / #Lamborghini-Aventador / #Lamborghini / #2016 / #Lamborghini-V12 / #V12

    Date acquired April #2016
    Total km 38,653
    Km this month 911
    Costs this month $0
    L/100km this month 22.0

    For most businesses, sinking the best part of three quarters of a million dollars into new machinery is a pretty significant decision. When that machinery happens to be a #V12-engined #Lamborghini , it’s one you want to be particularly sure of.

    Only a tiny minority of the 6th Gear Experience’s 45,000 annual customers are actually petrolheads. The overwhelming majority are members of the public who have been bought a driving experience as a gift. This means most aren’t quite sure which supercar is which, although a Ferrari has to be red and any Aston Martin is usually associated with James Bond. That said, there are some cars that most customers instantly recognise as something special. The Ferrari 458 Italia is one, a big V12 Lambo another. Anything with doors that go upwards always goes down a storm. Throw in a bright colour and you have the pulling power of a bikini-clad Kelly Brook stood amongst a line of smartly attired fashion models.

    Enter the Aventador LP700-4. Another Sant’Agata supercar had been on the cards for some time. Prices, though, have recently firmed up, with even the earliest Aventadors seldom dropping below $600,000 (they cost $760K new).

    It was a tip-off through a main dealer that led us to LJ12 KJZ, which was a bit leggy at 38,000km but had a full Lamborghini service history complete with every invoice. And it was the right colour and sported a plain black interior. Not my personal preference, but spot-on for what we needed it for. Additionally, the carbon-ceramic brakes had recently been replaced at an eyewatering $30,000. Regular readers may remember my thoughts on ceramics, which work well for an owner who is familiar with how they behave but are not ideal for use by a customer who isn’t – and that’s even with an experienced instructor in the passenger seat with their own stop pedal. So whether the ceramics stay, we’ll have to see.

    After a lengthy inspection, a deal was struck at $590,000 and within 24 hours our new leviathan was negotiating its way at speed around Castle Combe. And I really do mean speed – 515kW propels just 1575kg for a power-to-weight ratio that matches a Carrera GT’s.

    First impressions? It’s difficult to write anything that hasn’t been said before, of course, but compared with the Murciélagos we have run in the past, the Aventador unsurprisingly feels punchier, although both models seem to have almost identical all-wheel-drive handling characteristics. I’m guessing that with its more modern driver aids it’ll look after you better than the older car in a crisis, too. It’ll be interesting to see how the Aventador copes on a wet track. On the road it certainly generates overwhelming attention, which as many supercar owners will confirm is great at first but can become tiring in the long term.

    With the imminent return (yes, I know, I’ve been saying this for months) of the monster-mileage Murciélago, too, it looks like the future is bright. Orange, too…
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    Leading Role. We head off to California to sample BMW’s most powerful road car, the stunning M #BMW-760Li-xDrive-G12 / #BMW-7-Series-G11 . BMW continues its fine V12 tradition with the range-topping M760Li xDrive, but does it deserve the M badge or is it just acting the part? Words: Shane O’ Donoghue. Photography: Uwe Fischer and Barry Hayden.

    To help us get into the mind set of potential buyers of a car like the new M760Li, BMW brought us to Palm Springs in California. There, we got to have a close-up look at how the other half lives, the other half that we watch on our cinema screens, for example, marvelling at their acting talents. I presume that these people don’t need a degree from RADA to feign disinterest in the sticker price of a car, but they’re not impervious to numbers, which is partly why there remains, in 2017, a BMW you (they – no offence) can buy with a prominent ’V12’ badge on its flanks.

    And as we stood sipping cocktails with BMW’s engineers on the lawn of a house owned by Leonardo DiCaprio (you couldn’t make it up), there sat a clear reminder, in the guise of a highly original looking E32 BMW 750iL, that BMW has previous with the #V12 engine layout. Indeed, #2017 marks the 30th anniversary of its introduction and there has been a healthy stream of #V12-engined BMWs ever since.

    But this one is different. This is the first developed by BMW M and wearing the evocative red, blue and purple striped badging. The name is a little longwinded, but that indicates its positioning as an M Performance Vehicle, not a full-on M car. We asked Frank van Meel, BMW M’s boss, why not call it simply the #BMW-M7 , and he explained that, to back that up, the 7 Series would have to lose some of its comfort and comportment in a bid to give it the razor-sharp responses and focus of a true M car. He reckons there isn’t really a market out there for such a model. That doesn’t, he insists, mean that the M760Li should be seen as a pretender to the throne. The remit for the #BMW-M760Li was simple: give buyers the absolute best-in-segment combination of driving dynamics and ride comfort.

    Before we get to that, however, we really should address the powerplant, as it’s a tad special. The 6.6-litre V12 is fed air by two mono-scroll turbochargers (twin-scroll ’chargers were deemed unnecessary to reach the target output and responsiveness) making for maximum figures of 610hp at 5500rpm and 590lb ft of torque from just 1550rpm all the way around to 5000rpm – just below that peak power point, notice. It starts up with a purposeful rumble, but unless you’ve selected Sport mode it settles into a subdued idle and it’s whisper quiet and smooth around town or even at a high-speed cruise. The sound changes markedly if you either pin the throttle for an extended period or you press the Sport button. There’s a bypass valve in the exhaust that opens automatically at wide open throttle under load or when the car is in the Sport setting and it lets the V12 sing in its distinctive voice, though being an M car it’s given a harderedged note here than it might otherwise have had. Oddly, BMW thought it necessary to amplify the sound by small amounts through the car’s speakers. We wouldn’t have thought it was required with such a power unit to play with.

    Although the long wheelbase 7 Series uses its ’Carbon Core’ to help reduce weight, it’s still not far off two and a half tonnes, so the official 0-62mph time of 3.7 seconds is scandalous – it’s the quickest of any BMW in production right now. And owners of the car can attempt to repeat that feat over and over thanks to the inclusion of a simple-to-use launch control function in the eight-speed automatic transmission. Come to a stop, keep the brake pedal down hard with your left foot, floor the throttle without releasing the brake just yet and a little chequered flag appears in the all-digital instrumentation as the revs settle at an optimum point. Release the brake within three seconds and the rear dips, the nose rises and before you know it you’re doing licence-shredding speeds, punctuated by fast, smooth gearchanges exactly where the computer thinks they should be. It sounds dramatic, but actually it’s so controlled and so effortless for the engine that it’s almost an anti-climax. That transmission is a beauty though, perfectly smooth and refined in Comfort mode and a little quicker in the Sport setting without ever feeling as razor-sharp or uncouth as BMW M’s dual-clutch transmission can be. Even on two different tracks we found little need to take over control via the tactile wheel-mounted gearchange paddles.

    That’s right, we brought this long wheelbase luxury car weighing over 2200kg to a race circuit and lived to tell the tale. In fact, the M760Li gave a rather good account of itself. Before we were let loose on the ’Triple Crown’ race circuit at The Thermal Club (adjacent to the new BMW Performance Center West in California and basically a purpose-built five-mile track for the well-heeled to play on with their expensive toys – it’s possible to buy a villa overlooking the circuit with all-inclusive access to the track at any time, for example), we tried out the big Seven on a handling circuit that initially looked more suited to karting than a big limousine. Even in Comfort mode the car didn’t feel out of place, while selecting Sport upped the fun quotient considerably and all four tyres were soon squealing with delight (that’s what it is, right?) as it felt perfectly natural to push the M760Li to its limits, even on such a narrow piece of tarmac.

    Following other drivers in convoy it was possible to see that the rear wheels were steering too, the presence of Integral Active Steering helping the long Seven feel profoundly agile in tight and acute direction changes in particular. Mapped to the driving modes, the rear-wheel steering system steers the rear wheels in the opposite direction to the fronts at low speeds to help manoeuvrability and agility in slower corners, while turning them in the same direction at higher speeds to enhance stability – such as in the case of a high-speed lane change. It’s remarkably effective on track given that the rear wheels have a maximum angle of just three degrees, though its inclusion in the chassis has allowed BMW to use a more direct front axle steering ratio – itself featuring a variable ratio rack. And there’s even enough information coming through the steering wheel rim for you to adjust your line at speed.

    We discovered that more so on the wide expanses of the Triple Crown track, where lovely long and reassuringly wide sweeping bends allowed time to explore the outer limits of the chassis’ ability. The most impressive aspect of all this was perhaps the unflappable brakes. They’re steel discs all-round and we had no issues with pedal feel or fade after a few fast laps, each featuring several high-speed straights into much slower corners. The Michelin Pilot tyres eventually became the weakest link as they heated up, but even so, the chassis balance means it’s all well-telegraphed and controllable. Leave all the driver assistance systems in place and the M760Li will lap smoothly and quickly with little drama, but even with traction and stability control turned off, it’s no handful in the dry.

    What’s more, the chassis is highly resistant to understeer, instead preferring to gradually move into a neutral four-wheel slide – after quite a bit of provocation I should add. When this happens, there’s little reason to back off the throttle fully, instead trimming the line by slight adjustments with your right foot, helping the M760Li feel more rear-driven than you might expect. Unsurprisingly, xDrive four-wheel drive is standard, but it’s undoubtedly a system that prefers a rear-drive bias. By default, 100 per cent of the engine output is sent to the back axle, and an army of sensors help the control unit decide when it would be prudent to send power to the front. But even then the maximum that can be apportioned to the front wheels is 50 percent.

    There’s plenty more trickery in the suspension, and the clever part of this car, which few buyers will appreciate, is how all the sub-systems interact with each other. So the air suspension (same volume as in the rest of the 7 Series line-up, but retuned to suit the M760Li) and Dynamic Damper Control systems are brought together with active roll stabilisation within the Executive Drive Pro system. And this is the key to the M760Li’s breadth of abilities. On track, being driven faster than any real buyer of this car is likely to drive it, the M760Li does feel big, but it’s remarkably controlled and controllable; there’s no unseemly lurching or body lean or pronounced nose dive under hard braking – it just gets on with it, even if you are aware of the battle with the laws of physics.

    When we finished our circuit driving, we took the same cars out on the public road where it revealed its alter ego. There, despite the low profile tyres and a more sporting remit than any other #BMW-7-Series , the M760Li was just as comfortable as them – even on really poor road surfaces. What’s more, it was eerily smooth and refined and comfortable even in Sport mode when not in a hurry, while Comfort and Comfort Plus delivered the clichéd magic carpet experience. That active roll stabilisation system plays a large part in that, as it allows for greater wheel movement in a straight line than fixed anti-roll bars, while quickly reacting to turning forces and cancelling them out before you’ve realised in the corners. It’s so effective that the best driving mode for the public road is Adaptive. This uses data from the sat nav, a stereo camera and other variables defining driving style to best set the car up for any given moment. Few will find fault with it, though many will still prefer to actively choose a given mode, of course.

    For those that want all the performance and dynamic ability of the M760Li, but not necessarily the attention it might attract, there’s the ’Excellence’ version of the car (pictured below), which is available for the same £132,310 price. This does without the M aerodynamic package, has a lot more shiny chrome, unique (much less sporting) 20-inch wheels, less M badging and a quieter exhaust at all times. Inside, it gets a few other bespoke touches (for the already sumptuous cabin with its #BMW Individual leather upholstery and lots lots more) and the gearchange paddles are removed.

    For completion (ok, we just wanted more track time), we took the Excellence variant out on the Triple Crown track for a few fast laps and, in honesty, it felt no different at all. In truth, many will think that its subtle #V12 badging and appearance mean a less vulgar looking car, in keeping with the wishes of certain members of The Rich and Famous Club to keep a low profile. Hence it may not fit in around Palm Springs way…

    The M760Li does feel big, but it’s remarkably controlled and controllable; there’s no unseemly lurching or body lean.

    Despite the low profile tyres and a more sporting remit than any other #BMW-7-Series-G12 the M760Li was just as comfortable.

    It starts up with a purposeful rumble, but unless you’ve selected Sport mode it settles into a subdued idle and it’s whisper quiet and smooth.


    TECHNICAL DATA FILE #2017 / #BMW-M760Li-xDrive / #BMW-M760Li-xDrive-G12 / #BMW-G12 / #BMW-G11 /
    ENGINE: #V12 , 48-valve, turbocharged

    CAPACITY: 6592cc
    MAX POWER: 610hp @ 5500rpm
    MAX TORQUE: 590lb ft @ 1550-5000rpm
    0-62MPH: 3.7 seconds
    TOP SPEED: 155mph (can be upped to 190mph with M Driver’s package)
    ECONOMY: 22.1mpg
    EMISSIONS: 294g/km
    WEIGHT (EU): 2255kg
    PRICE (OTR): £132,310
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