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  •   Richard Meaden reacted to this post about 1 year ago

    CAR #2020-BMW-Z4-M40i-G29 / #BMW-Z4-M40i-G29 / #BMW-Z4-M40i / #BMW-Z4 / #BMW

    REPORT
    £49,050 OTR/£51,985 as tested/£591pcm

    WHY IT’S HERE
    Can Supra DNA lift BMW’s sports car from the Boxster’s shadow?

    DRIVER

    It’s difficult to talk to anyone about the #BMW-Z4-G29 without the Toyota-Supra-A90 soon crowbarring its way into the conversation. The debate about whether the two should share parts so flagrantly is raging, of course, not least between two of TG telly’s own. I’m with the dating show host rather than the racing driver, though. A sentence I never thought I’d type. Sharing engines, gearboxes and electronics is far and away the easiest way to cut costs and enlarge profit margins. Doing so has enabled both BMW and Toyota to launch some very accomplished sports cars at a time when the market and its increasingly tight emissions regs might suggest such things are unwise. I suspect having the Supra to worry about as an in-house rival made the German engineers up their game, too, as I can’t remember any of the Z4’s predecessors driving this keenly. Few cars’ aggression ramps up so tangibly through their Sport modes.

    That parts sharing also came in handy for my first go in the Supra, which jammily took place on the full layout of Circuit de la Sarthe, shortly before the Le Mans 24 Hour grid rolled out for its warm-up laps. Hopping in a car whose dynamics I’m familiar with by proxy was exceedingly welcome, then, and moments after prodding the starter button I was hitting an indicated 158mph down the Mulsanne Straight amid five of the better minutes in my life.

    The Supra’s not the only car to share vital organs with the BMW, though, and I’ve also tried the new Morgan Plus Six this month. A stonking 500kg lighter than the Z4 and with none of its electronic safety nets, it’s a loud, boisterous, intoxicating thing to drive. Anyone thinking Toyota went soft by borrowing a BMW engine needs to try it in a British lightweight with all the nannies removed. Paddy’s right. Parts sharing really isn’t so evil.

    SPECIFICATION
    Engine 2998cc, 6cyl turbo, RWD
    Max power 335bhp
    Max torque 369lb ft
    Weight 1610kg
    0–62mph in 4.6secs
    Max speed 155mph
    33.2mpg, 165g/km CO2

    + GOOD STUFF
    A warm fuzzy feeling from seeing ‘my’ car on primetime Sunday night telly

    - BAD STUFF
    I’ve had my head turned by a much wilder Morgan with the same powertrain

    MILEAGE: 7650 OUR MPG: 34.0
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  •   Chris G reacted to this post about 1 year ago
    STEVEN’S E31 #BMW-850Ci-E31 / #BMW-850Ci / #BMW-E31 / #BMW / #BMW-850i-E31 / #BMW-8-Series / #BMW-8-Series-E31 / #BMW-M70 /

    Yes, I know the 850 is supposed to be for sale. But you can’t sell a broken car, and if there’s one thing that E31s are good at, it’s being very high maintenance.

    I suppose I could call this one a narrow escape, as it happened the day after it passed its #MOT . Upon start-up, I heard the characteristic screech of a worn fan belt. This surprised me as it’s not that old, however it is adjustable, so I mentally put it on the ‘to-do’ list. While pulling away, however, I heard a distinct rattling noise coming from the engine bay, so I quickly pulled over to investigate. I found the viscous fan rattling away at all sorts of angles, with coolant spraying out from the water pump which it’s connected to. Clearly the water pump had lost its bearings and was moving in a ‘nonlinear’ fashion.

    Water pumps are not that hard to change, they are simply bolted to the front of the engine block. Accessing one, however, does require the removal of several parts, namely the viscous fan, fan shroud, radiator and coolant hoses, thermostat, both auxiliary fan belts and associated tensioners, and finally the crank pulley. The last one is particularly difficult to remove and has to be levered off using a large screwdriver, lots of muscle and even more patience. All of this took me about four hours to remove.

    I could now access the water pump, and removal of that was interesting. The pump housing has three threaded holes in it which seem to serve no purpose as they line up with nothing. In fact, they are there for removal. You screw some bolts into the holes and, by tightening them up, they push the pump away from the block. After that, you just need to carefully pull the pump off from the block, trying not to pull the top hoses off from the back of the engine.

    Fitting of the new pump was, as always, the reversal of removal, and once I’d drained and replaced the remaining coolant I fired her up. Lo and behold, a spinning fan and no leaks. Happy days, and all-in the job took six hours. Shame I chose a day when it was 33°C, but never mind. I also had another go at the headlining last week. I replaced the headlining a couple of years ago when I rebuilt the sunroof as it was sagging badly and quite dirty. It was a time-consuming, but relatively simple job. However I noticed that it was starting to sag again, so clearly more attention was required. It is only really held-up with clips so can be pulled off once you have removed the roof handles and sun visors, and I set to work removing and re-gluing the material back on, this time with stronger glue. All of the clips instantly broke when I removed it (as they always do) so a quick trip to BMW sorted me a replacement set. Once refitted, I have to say it was looking rather smart. Now I can sell it.

    Knackered old water pump has been replaced. New water pump in place.
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  • The magic Mercedes number 300 stands for the high claim to build the best car in the world. But only the 300 S mentioned coupes and convertibles drive engineering and driving culture to the top. We drove the Schaustuck from the Paris salon in 1951. Luxurious liner. #Mercedes-Benz-300S-W188 / #Mercedes-Benz-W188 / #Mercedes-Benz / #1952 / #Mercedes-Benz-300-S-Convertible-A / #Mercedes-Benz-300S-Convertible /

    The imposing Mercedes 300 S fulfills all the criteria of a real full-blooded automobile. The finely decorated, beautifully illustrated two-seater carries the massive star on the endlessly long bonnet with special pride. It originates from a classy, innovative brand, is powered by a 150 hp three-liter six-cylinder with overhead camshaft, and its elaborate chassis with rear double-jointed pendulum axle combines unrivaled ride comfort with a safe road position. The MotorRevue, a classy sister magazine of automotor and sport, euphorically stated: "There is no doubt that we are dealing with the best car in the world in the case of the 300S." Only the "antiquated pre-war body" is mended It is precisely the enormous charm of this class car.

    The Hall-of-Fame-qualification of the highly sporty, 300 S is completed by the low number of pieces: only 560 copies of this mens car automobile, which like no other German car of that time paid for luxury and performance, were predominantly manual work and still Distributed on three body variants. There was above all the 300 S Cabriolet A with steeply raised cloth top and striking storm bars. In addition, the solved clientele could still choose between a roadster with a thin, fully retractable fabric hood as well as a stylistically extremely successful coupé, which looks as if the roadster had been designed with an adorable little hardtop. No one can see in his splendor and glory the somewhat old-paternal Adenauer base. The 115 hp and 160 kmh fast 300 sedan delivered the engine, gearbox, axles and the shortened chassis for the 300 S by 15 centimeters with the x-shaped oval tube frame. Since the prewar type, this had been the basic piece of the Mercedes kit since 1949, which has been extended by 170S and 220S since 1949.

    The original 1952 convertible

    At the IAA in April 1951, the #Adenauer again linked the famous pre-war tradition of high-quality Mercedes class cars. Only a few months later, in October 1951, the 300-coupe coupe and convertible appeared at the 38th Paris Salon Mondial de l'Automobile. With the higher-compression three-liter six-cylinder engines instead of two Solex carburetors, the elegant two-seater was capable of producing 150 hp. According to the Mercedes-Benz chronologist Werner Oswald, only two models were produced in 1951, a coupe and a convertible A.

    The latter, still painted white on the exhibition photos, has survived and is presented in new splendor on these pages. The perfection and perfection that was uncompromising in perfection and authenticity was made by the Mercedes-Benz specialist Mechatronics Classic, a Pleidelsheim company. Only the color is a concession to the new owner who does not want to be named and unfortunately wants to give little over this jewel. However, it is important to know that this Ur-300-S has been running for a long time in the USA and has been crudely upgraded to a medium circuit.

    Eye-catching cream should be DB code 629, instead of innocent white. Because in this striking pastel tone, the car was re-painted in 1955 because of its prototype character. He makes his mysterious identity in 28 subtle differences, most of which concern body and interior. Most notable are details such as the trim strip in the middle of the bonnet, the limousine indicators, the missing number plate lights and the unfinished open bumper horns.

    But when you enter the splendid antique cabinet, which receives the driver with the finest leather, two precious wood veneer and a wealth of chrome-plated pull and rotary switches, the connoisseur records the most important difference to the later manufactory small series. The heavy, wide portals of the 300 S with the elaborately modeled footboard openings open across the wide, wide sills, while the passengers of the regularly manufactured 300 S can only see the road. The frame bracket closes with them on the side wall.

    A luxury yacht for the road The feeling in the 300 S differs, apart from the pronounced fresh-air flair when the convertible top is open, not very much from the recently intensely moving 300 limousine. After an awesome pressure on the starter button, the six-cylinder wakes up with hoarse sound and harmonious idle speed. The controls for steering, brakes and shifting are astonishingly low. The large, wide car is amazingly effortless and already around the first kilometer round and liquid. Once again, the steering wheel system celebrates driving in this majestic boat to the stately act. From a sublime position in the sumptuous armchair, you always have the good star on all the streets at the end of the endless hood horizon.

    The guarantor of security makes you safe even in this precious solitaire over the narrow streets. They try to find their way between the vineyards of Besigheim by chance. The easy play of the ball circulation around the center position makes the swing, the chrome-plated hoop ring also activates the turn signal, it awakens the impression that standing pedals are more sensitive. The clearly drawn instruments recall the father's pontoon, an oil pressure gauge is on board, a speedometer would be nice. One would like to explore the true performance with the supple six-cylinder, whose pulling power is astonishing, and whose joy of rotation is astonishing. But it also goes so fast forward, impressive is the swallowing capacity of the suspension. Even fast-moving corners he takes confidently, without the driver of the heavy ship is afraid. So just this 300-S-Vollblut in the end would only wish that it will be driven in the future and not only in the stable.

    CONCLUSION
    I rarely have the pleasure of driving such a full-blooded luxury car as the Mercedes 300S. It is not only the craftsmanship that characterizes this car. Performance, comfort and handling characteristics were far ahead in the early 1950s. Only the opulently painted body reminds of the prewar years.

    The artistically equipped 300S was once 5500 Marks more expensive than the ascetic 300SL
    Another 300S is being rebuilt Mechatronics masterpieces

    The cream-colored 300S Cabriolet of this story celebrated its resurrection at Mechatronics Classic in Pleidelsheim. The specialist company, founded in 1996 by Frank Rickert, a former AMG engineer, is one of the first addresses when it comes to maintenance, repair and restoration of high-class Mercedes-Benz cars. Impressive is the depth of production: whether bodywork, saddlery, parts logistics or engine construction, everything is under one roof.

    The keyboard of the chromium, embedded in the root veneer. Sublime Mercedes star on solid screw base.

    Three-cylinder six-cylinder with three carburettors

    The "Sindelfinger Body" is a compliment.
    The Mercedes stylists understood their craft

    The 300 S is formally still far away from factual pontoon prose. He also rejoices with sensuous curves in perfect poetry

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE #1952 #Mercedes-Benz-300S-Convertible-A-W188 I, 1951-1955 / #Mercedes-Benz-300Sc-Cabriolet-A-W188 / #Mercedes-Benz-300-Cabriolet-A-W188 / #Mercedes-Benz-W188 / #Mercedes-Benz-300Sc / #Mercedes-Benz-300Sc-Cabriolet-A / #Mercedes-Benz-300Sc-Cabriolet-W188 / #Mercedes-Benz-M199 / #Mercedes-Benz / #Mercedes-Benz-Cabriolet-W188 / #Mercedes-Benz-Adenauer-Cabriolet / #Mercedes-Benz-Type-300-Cabriolet / #Konrad-Adenauer / #Adenauer

    MOTOR Type #M188 / , water-cooled six-cylinder in-line engine, front longitudinal, bore x stroke 85 x 88 mm, displacement 2996cc,
    Power 150 hp at 5000 rpm,
    Max. Torque 230 Nm at 3800 rpm
    Compression ratio 7,8: 1, two valves per combustion chamber, operated by an overhead chain driven camshaft and drag lever, block made of gray cast iron, cylinder head made of light metal, seven crankshaft bearings, three case streamers Solex 40 PBJC 6.5 liter
    POWER TRANSMISSION Single disc dry clutch, fully synchronized four-speed transmission with steering wheel shift

    BODY AND CHASSIS Steel body, welded to the X-shaped oval tube frame, front independent suspension on double triangular cross-arms, coil springs, telescopic shock absorbers, rear swing axle with two hinges, two coil springs per wheel, balancing spring, telescopic shock absorbers, Drum brakes, wheels 5 J x 15, tires 6.70 x 15

    MASS AND WEIGHT
    Wheelbase 2900 mm, length x width x height 4700 x 1860 x 1510 mm,
    Weight 1760 kg, tank 85 liters

    DRIVING AND CONSUMPTION
    Max speed 175 kmh,
    0-62MPH 0 to 100 in 14 s, consumption 17 l / 100 km
    BUILDING TIME AND PIECES 1951 to 1955, 560 Expl., In addition 200 pieces 300 Sc (W 188 II), 1955 to 1958

    MERCEDES-BENZ 300 S CABRIOLET A CAR REPORT PURCHASING
    Mercedes 300 S / Sc, W188
    A top-class car like the 300 S consumes immense restoration costs, despite solid frame construction and robust technology.

    BODY CHECK

    Because the 300 S now costs the cost of a full restoration with a value of 600,000 euros, one should consult a specialist before the purchase, which can assess the quality of previous partial restorations and body repair. Thanks to the solid X-shape oval tube frame, penetrations on the underside are rare, sometimes it gets the longitudinal beams in the rear axle area or the floor plates at the level of the front seats. However, all attachments, such as mudguards, doors and bonnets, are highly susceptible to rust. A 300 S should be complete as a restoration object. The processing of the valuable interior is complex and costly.

    TECHNOLOGY CHECK
    Although a similar 300 S is not a 170 diesel, but the slightly long-stroke three-liter six-cylinder is considered robust and achieves high mileage. He does not like Dauverollgas. Above all, the 300 Sc with nine liters of oil content has been cautiously warm. Worn piston rings, which lead to high oil consumption, are not rare. But most of the technical problems on the carburetor battery, the injection system (SC), the braking system and the central lubrication for the axle joints are the cause of damage to the booth.

    PRICES
    On introduction 1952 Mercedes-Benz 300S, convertible A 34 500 Mark
    Classic Analytics Prize 2017 (state 2/4) 655 000/435 000 euros

    SPARE PARTS
    The parts position is critical with the only 760 times built 300 S / Sc. Not everything is available, the prices are 300-SL level, the quality varies. Restorers prefer to work instead of exchanging. Good sources are: Mercedes Classic Center and the parts dealers Werner Karasch, Heinrich Niemoller, Günter Jelinek and Miroslav Benkovic.

    CLUBS AND SPECIALISTS
    Mercedes-Benz Veteranenclub eV, MVC, Hackländerstrasse 23, 70184 Stuttgart, Tel. 07 11/75 85 77 15, www.mvconline.de Kienle Automobiltechnik GmbH, restoration and sale, Max Planck Street 4, 71254 Heimerdingen, www. Kienle.com Mechatronik Classic GmbH, restoration, sales, Stuifenstraße 54, 74385 Pleidelsheim, phone 071 44/998 20, www.mechatronik.de


    WEAK POINTS
    1 mudguards, lamppacks, standing blocks.
    2 door boards (footboard)
    3 car lifts
    4 rear frame braces
    5 spare tire trough
    6 Central lubrication
    7 Front and rear axle joints
    8 Carburetor synchronization
    9 Dry sump lubrication (Sc)
    10 Injection stamped pump (Sc)

    Practicality 2
    Spare parts location 2
    Easy to repair 3
    Maintenance costs 2
    Availability 1
    Demand 2
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  •   Steve Fowler reacted to this post about 3 years ago
    Last week I was invited to a convivial Sunday breakfast in Belgravia with some car types. Obviously a good idea, but then the host good-naturedly explained that my #2015 nine-speed car with paddleshift, voice recognition, collision avoidance system and driver assists to keep you alert even after several bottles of Morey-Saint-Denis , would not be welcome. So would I park it around the corner and join the others as they scattered brioche crumbs over the lovingly assembled collection of less effeminate Cobras and E-types? I decided that my problem was sourced in contemporary motor racing and its broken connection to the cars we use. Once upon a time, motor racing produced sporting heroes with a synoptic genius for expressing the human dilemma. I love it, for example, that #Mario-Andretti once said: ‘If everything seems under control, you are simply not going fast enough.’ That’s a perfect way of expressing our common absurdity. Once, the fundamental risks racing drivers took inspired them. And inspired great cars.

    Motor racing is the only way a classic is created. Long after its competition successes in the mid-50s, Jaguar customers were in the ’70s still citing #Le-Mans as a justification for buying the cars, even when assembly was to North Korean standards and the paint finish looked like lab samples from a dysentery hospital. No matter how good its cars become, no #Lexus will ever be a classic because the marque has never raced, at least in a form instantly recognisable to the public. In this sense, #Ferrari , #Porsche and even #Jaguar will forever be untouchable. #Lamborghini has trouble with a clear brand proposition because it has never won a race anywhere other than Knightsbridge.


    I find motor racing, or at least #Formula-1 , infantilised. No-one wants to encourage carnage, but the idea that open-wheel cars might soon have canopies to protect the drivers is surely the last nugatory gesture of a stage-managed pseudo-sport already hobbled by petty interference and major bureaucracy. It used to be different. While today, #Sebastian-Vettel , #Kimi-Raikkonen and #Felipe-Massa may get stressed if their yoga class is late, there were times when things were more approximate and more lovely. From a garage in Hornsey in autumn and winter 1956, Lotus’s chief mechanic #Mike-Costin organised attempts on the 750cc and 1100cc speed records in a beautiful #Lotus-XI with an aerodynamic bubble canopy, there not for protection, but for speed. And Costin designed it all. The #Lotus was given a special paintjob, a polished undertray, the panel gaps were covered with tape for better aero (decreasing the laptimes by one-and-a-half seconds) and the front brakes were removed to reduce unsprung weight.

    Costin set out for Monza. Within a few miles the transporter ran out of fuel. On the way to Folkestone he ran over a petrol can, which damaged the bodywork and a wheel. As he boarded the ferry, the float bowl fell off the transporter’s carburettor. Still, with the brakes grabbing and the rear axle lock-nuts working loose, he drove 640 miles overnight from Dunkirk to Briançon. He arrived in Italy two days after leaving north London.

    The record-attempt driver was Cliff Allison, although #Mac-Fraser and #Stirling-Moss had tried before. For Moss it was his first drive for Lotus. During his attempts the canopy blew off, he was pelted with redundant rivets and eventually the whole rear section of the little Lotus came adrift and went flying into the #Monza undergrowth. Fraser, for his part, found the vibration so damaging that he spent several subsequent weeks peeing blood.


    The bodywork also blew off Allison’s car, suggesting a fundamental design fault. That ‘laptimes were not greatly affected’ tells you all you need to know about the black art of aerodynamics. Allison suffered mechanical maladies, too. Still, the Lotus won all the FIA’s Class G records. Costin then drove the transporter back over the Alps at 12mph in a snowstorm. What can the relationship be between these harsh circumstances and the existence of the Lotus XI, one of the most beautiful of all cars? There’s a general principle here: it’s a curiosity of human nature that hardship produces excellence and that ease and tranquillity produce mediocrity. Modern motor racing has become soft and decadent and its former greatness can only be felt as a sense of loss.

    This, surely, is Drive-My territory and the reason why my beautiful new, modern car was not welcome at breakfast.

    ‘FRASER FOUND THE VIBRATION SO DAMAGING THAT HE SPENT SEVERAL SUBSEQUENT WEEKS PEEING BLOOD’
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  •   Chris Nicholls reacted to this post about 3 years ago
    Mercedes enters hypercar game / #Formula-1-engined road car gets green light for #2018 / #Mercedes-AMG / #Mercedes-Benz / #Mercedes / #Mercedes-Benz-Hypercar /

    Mercedes-AMG is to enter the hypercar sector with an F1-engined, carbonfibre road car scheduled to arrive in time for AMG’s 50th anniversary in 2018. the ambitious plan was confirmed at the Belgian Grand Prix by a Mercedes-AMG-Petronas team member, who also explained that the project is close to starting its first road tests but that neither Lewis Hamilton nor Nico Rosberg are expected to be involved.

    Powered by the 1.6-litre turbo V6 engine that’s fitted to this season’s F1 W07 hybrid, the #AMG hypercar is expected to have in the region of 900hp, with an additional 500hp produced by four 160hp electric motors – one fitted to each wheel. The responsibility of developing the F1 World championship-winning engine into a power unit that can be used by a road car is expected to be handed to Mercedes AMG high Performance Powertrains in Brixworth, Northamptonshire, and with no FIA technical regulations to adhere to, the engine’s capacity could increase. those responsible for the project will also need to develop a cooling system more complex than that used by an F1 car, a startup system that doesn’t require a man with an air gun to start it externally, and a more conventional gearbox than an #F1 car’s hydraulic unit.


    You’ve probably already started to draw parallels with the Aston Martin-Red Bull 001 hypercar, and like the British effort, AMG’s contender will rely on motorsport-derived aero. To this end, expect a design similar to that of today’s lMP1 endurance racers, with active aero and systems such as drs to manage the downforce required to keep the 1000-1300kg car on the ground when it leaves showrooms in 2018.
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    Stephen Bayley hits suburbia in the Japanese icon. Zen and the art of the Z.

    It was the first sports car from Japan to attain the status of icon. Who better than Stephen Bayley to unravel the appeal of the Datsun 240Z? Photography Paul Harmer.

    There’s a marvellous saying in Zen that ‘whatever is true, the opposite is truer’. You can apply that principle to the question of Japanese sports cars. The question being: are there any great ones? Japanese culture is stiff with concepts of the superiority of collaborative endeavour over individual expression. They have a concept known as nemawashi, which translates as ‘root-binding’, but actually means collective responsibility. Then there isjishu-kisei for self-restraint. Hence a public fast train, the glorious Shinkansen, is preferred over a personal idiosyncratic sports car. Moreover, Japan’s 60km/h speed limit is among the most stringent in the world.

    And yet there is a Japanese sentiment that finds its best expression in sports cars, often of very unusual character. The 1959 Datsun SP211 was based on the Bluebird saloon and called Fairlady, a name inspired, in that amusing Japanese way, by the company president’s 1958 visit to Broadway to see the Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Lowe musical that was, itself, based on Shaw’s Pygmalion. Thus, the layered, yet revealing, meanings of automobile nomenclature.

    Pygmalion was a play about a hopeless strumpet being civilised through ambition and elocution. The Fairlady followed a similar path of improvement, evolving into a pleasing MGB-like proposition – although, by the time it reached its final 1968 edition, what had become the Datsun 2000 Sports Roadster proffered an output of some 135bhp, and it effortlessly shaded the English car in every single aspect of performance and quality.

    Then there were the exquisite 1963 Honda S500, and the impressive rotary-engined Mazda Cosmo of the following year. And in 1965 Toyota showed its sensational 2000GT. Clearly inspired by the Jaguar E-type, Toyota refused to attribute its design to any individual until Paolo Tumminelli identified Satoru Nozaki in his fascinating 2014 book Car Design Asia – myths, brands and people.

    Forgotten now is the elegant 1966 Isuzu 117 Coupé, drawn by Giugiaro when he was still at Ghia and at least as fine as the same designer’s contemporary Gordon-Keeble. In fact, it’s impossible not to believe they used the same drawings twice. But the greatest Japanese sports car of them all was the new 1969 Datsun Fairlady. This we know as the 240Z.

    Like all great products, creation myths surround its origins and evolution. But these creation myths, the idea of ‘authorship’, were a necessary part of the progress and acceptance of Japanese design in the West. Against all the principles of nemawashi and jishu-kisei, the 240Z has always been recognised as the inspiration of Yutaka Katayama, described in his New York Times obituary earlier this year as an ‘ebullient, adventurous man’. Mr K, as he became known, was unlike his timorous and anonymous corporate colleagues. He was 105 years old when he died.

    Katayama had been a successful rally driver and became the first president of The Sports Car Club of Japan, an imitator of the American SCCA whose races at Laguna Seca and Bridgehampton offered a theatre for the English sports car to perform in front of appreciative audiences. And it was the leading role of MG, Triumph and Austin-Healey that Katayama set to usurp with his new Datsun coupé. His story is told in David Halberstam’s 1986 book The Reckoning, a study as much about the collapse of the US auto industry as the rise of Japan’s.


    Because of his extrovert personality, Katayama had been banished from Japan to California, a sort of gulag as seen from Tokyo. As the first president of what became Nissan Motor Corporation USA, Katayama faced derision, cultural obstacles and profound market apathy in America but, under his influence, by 1969 the neat little Datsun 510 saloon was selling 60,000 units a year. This growing success had given him the prestige to talk his own project into being back in Tokyo.

    The precise origins of the 240Z may never perhaps be disinterred from the archives, but it seems to have been based in an early-1960s project called A550X, a joint venture with Yamaha. Albrecht Goertz, a designer who had learnt the craft of self-promotion in the United States from his mentor, the sleek, perfumed and pomaded Raymond Loewy, was hired as a consultant.

    Hitherto, Goertz had worked on Loewy’s Studebakers and the BMW 507 that, since Ferry Porsche was impressed, led to some early styling proposals for the 911. Goertz it was who introduced the Japanese to the use of American-style full-size clay models in the design process, so has a big claim to having begun graphically biased Japan’s adventure into Western sculptural 3D.

    But the A550X stalled and Yamaha took its engine technology and the rest of the project to Toyota, where it soon appeared in the Toyota 2000GT – which Yamaha eventually built in its Hamamatsu factory. Goertz, however, stayed on with Datsun, collaborating with in-house designer Kazuo Kimura on the beautiful Silvia Coupé. However, when it was presented at the New York Auto Show of 1965, American critics found the Silvia too cramped and too under-powered. This seems to have been the imperative Katayama needed to create a real sports car.


    This he did by encouraging another another in-house Datsun designer, Yoshihiko Matsuo, who ran Styling Studio No 4, to rage against the conservatives at Nissan who had abandoned A550X and design a brave new car. But Goertz stayed long enough to have had his name associated with the 240Z. Persistent claims by the argumentative Goertz were grudgingly and partially acknowledged by the company in 1980, although Matsuo and Katayama published a more official list of those involved in their 1999 book Fairlady Z Story. It reads like a musical’s cast: Teichi Hara, Kazumi Totsurnoto, Akio Yoshida, Sue Chiba, Eiichi Oiwa, Kiichi Nishikawa, Hidemi Kamahara and Tsuneo Benitani. Car design is, indeed, a collaborative venture. And perhaps not one that gives due credit to its heroes.


    There is more certain ground to discuss Mr K’s concept. He wanted a coupé, not a roadster. This was pragmatic: impending US legislation would, so it was thought, outlaw convertibles. He liked butch numbers as model designations, not effete names. The ‘Z’ simply connoted a Jetsons-era modernism. It is said that early proposals resembled Giugiaro’s Ghibli, but the car that went on sale in the United States on 22 October 1969 had a style all of its own.


    With its 2393cc 151bhp L-series six-cylinder (an engine inspired by Mercedes-Benz, whose designs were produced under licence by Prince, which merged with Nissan in 1966), it easily outperformed English rivals and annihilated the American hegemony of MG, Triumph and Austin-Healey. Katayama said at the New York launch: ‘The 240Z represents the imaginative spirit of Nissan and was designed to please a demanding taste that is strictly American… We have studied the memorable artistry of European coachmakers and engine builders and combined our knowledge with the Japanese craftsman.’ The car cost a modest $3526 and, while some critics found its finish and behaviour a little crude, it soon dominated its class in the symbolically important SCCA races.


    Visually, the 240Z is exceptionally distinctive. With its long bonnet and emphatically rearwards cabin, the general arrangement is based on the E-type while its scalloped headlights were inspired by Ferrari, but the whole is unique. It is small, but imposing, aggressive, yet elegant (although most of the original 240Zs had crude pachinko-style wheeltrims, not proper alloys). It does not look nearly half-a-century old. But get into a 240Z today and it seems very narrow, feels slight and a bit upright too. Doors are insubstantial and strangely thin. The structure pre-dates the computer-aided modelling that, inspired by safety legislation, has given impressive psychological bulk to even the most modest contemporary cars.

    The 240Z’s glazing bars seem fragile. There are sharp edges and you wince to think of its integrity during an impact. Indeed, a stabiliser bar across the rear hatch opening suggests that body flexing was a problem. The hatch itself closes with a shuddering undamped clang, not a modern moderated thwump. Start the engine and there is a fine induction roar. Press the throttle and there is a lot of noise, but not a lot of progress. Steering is precise, visibility good. I am not certain I felt that sense of euphoria Katayma described when he said the 240Z gave access to that mystical man-and-machine harmony, but it was certainly amusing to drive. It feels vintage. Sue Chiba’s interior, with its hard plastics and irrational scattering of tumbler switches and sliders, seems Cold War. The 240Z was the first modern Japanese sports car… and also, globally speaking, one of the last old ones.

    To my eye, the 240Z cannot be separated from the 1970s and its strange visual culture, still influenced by voyeuristic television serials that were themselves located in a more distant, romantic age of onedimensional heroes and villains, following linear plots. It was co-eval with the rise of disco and reggae, the avocado-coloured bathroom ‘suite’, Italian furniture in tangerine plastic, and the era in which Habitat (whose signature colour was a violent green) was the dominant high street taste-maker with its knock-off bean bags and inimitable chicken-bricks. Thus, it represented a gorgeous, remote dreamworld of innocently sexy un-wired consumerism.


    For this reason, we photographed the 240Z in the extraordinary Edgcumbe Park estate in Crowthorne, near Bracknell, on land that once belonged to Windsor Great Park. Here, as my fantasies enlarged, was where you could reliably enjoy barbecues and wifeswapping after a thrilling blast up the dual carriageway from Maidenhead in the Z-car. More prosaically, Edgcumbe was a high-minded garden suburb created by an enlightened developer called Athelstan Whaley, who had been influenced by Scandinavian domesticity and the ranch-style houses of California. As Katayama said, the 240Z package was addressed to America. At the time, most advanced design was.


    Exactly contemporary with the 240Z and its Fairlady predecessor, Edgcumbe Park was begun in 1958 and completed in 1970. The ambitious brochure – more, really, of a manifesto – was revealing: ‘The place to live West of London,’ it said. ‘Every house, every site and winding cul-de-sac is imaginatively planned by our Architectural Staff [note CAPITALS], preserving the Oaks and the Mountain Ash, the Scots Pine and Sycamore, ensuring good orientation and pleasant views.’ And, if you could afford it, you would have a Charles Eames chair and ottoman next to your heated serving trolley with its taramasalata and beef olives, around which your female guests would gather, wearing billowing cheese-cloth dresses and agreeable pouts.

    It was in a house on this estate that François Truffaut shot, with Julie Christie, his film of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, a novel set 50 years in the future. The estate has been described as ‘the future that time forgot’. And now, as we remember it, how distant that age of thigh boots and hot pants seems. Delicious to imagine the felicity of driving a fast and reliable 240Z home, parking it in the drive of your California-style ranch home in Berkshire, then sipping a Campari and soda before you enjoyed a casserole served in bright orange (Raymond Loewy designed) Le Creuset oven-to-tableware.

    More than half-a-million 240Zs were manufactured and its success lent Datsun an aura of prestige that could not have been achieved by the front-wheel-drive Cherry. As The New York Times noted in 2008, it changed ‘the auto industry’s perception of Japanese cars’. Katayama-san retired in 1977 when Japan was still a pompous, conservative and hieratic nation.

    While America acknowledged his achievement with the 240Z, at home his high profile was interpreted as vainglory and Katayama was not fêted in retirement. But with the increasing scholarly interest in the history of car design, Katayama began to emerge as a significant figure and, by 1997, Nissan was running television ads featuring the ebullient Mr K, father of the Z-car.

    The 240Z is one of the great Japanese cars. In fact, one of the greatest cars of them all. Consider again that Zen proposition and take pleasure in the ability of cars, good and bad, to evoke powerful and romantic ideas. Great cars take your imagination, as well as your body, on fascinating journeys to remote worlds. Even as far as Crowthorne.

    Thanks To 240Z owner Phil Bradshaw, 240Z specialist Fourways Engineering, www.datsun240z.co.uk, and Edgcumbe Park homeowners Mr and Mrs Vincent.


    TECHNICAL DATA #1973 #Datsun-240Z / #Nissan-240Z / #Nissan / #Datsun
    Engine 2393cc straight-six, OHC, twin #Hitachi / #Hitachi-SU-type carburettors / #SU
    Power 151bhp @ 5600rpm
    Torque 146lb ft @ 4400rpm
    Transmission Five-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
    Steering Rack and pinion
    Suspension Front and rear: MacPherson struts, lower wishbones, coil springs, telescopic dampers, anti-roll bar.
    Brakes Discs front, drums rear
    Weight 1044kg
    Performance Top speed 122mph. 0-60mph 8.7sec

    Right. Stephen explores the details of the Z, with its flaps by the bonnet for accessing the battery and suchlike, and an under-bonnet lamp that can be removed for localised illumination. Such attention, he says, is typical of the Japanese approach to car design.

    ‘It represented a gorgeous, remote dreamworld of innocently sexy un-wired consumerism’

    Above and right. There had been Japanese sports cars and coupés before the Datsun 240Z, but none had been designed with an eye on the American market. Stephen describes the black, moulded interior as ‘Cold War’.

    ‘The 240Z cannot be separated from the 1970s and its visual culture. It was co-eval with the avocado-coloured bathroom suite’
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