Monthly Archives: January 2012

Lotus to enter LMP2 class at 2012 Le Mans

The GT class Lotus Evora with the Cosworth engine was one of THE best sounding cars I saw at the Petit Le Mans this past autumn……and i’m really pleased to see Lotus expanding their entry into the LMP2 level. Very exciting stuff indeed!

“The Kolles-run Kodewa squad will campaign two Lola B12/80s under the Lotus title, with Lotus-badged V8s from John Judd’s Engine Developments, which is also building the sports car maker’s IndyCar engine.

Lotus motorsport director Claudio Berro said the partnership was an ideal way for the group to take a step up the endurance racing ladder after returning to the GT class with the Evora last year.

“This is a very exciting step for us,” said Berro. “We made no secret of our intention to tackle LMP2 this year but it had to be done in the right way and we’re very happy with the setup with our partners. More than anything else, we’re looking forward to our return to Le Mans in this capacity after our success with the Evora last year.”

src: Autosport via racer

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World Exclusive: The lost Alpine W71 (A710/A410) prototype

The final Alpine which came out under the Alpine badge was the A610/GTA which was introduced in 1986 and eventually warped in the final reiteration which came out in 1991.  This GTA was supposed to make it to the US with a Renault “Alpine GTA” badge and even had cars sent for reviews to auto car magazines; only to have it pulled in the end due to Renault’s bad state of affairs in the US market.

As it turns out, Renault was also working on another car between 1989 to 1993 known as the “W71″.  This car was a small, lightweight, 2-seater which was meant to be a modern interpretation of the original A110.  The people developing this car in Berex (the original Renault Sport factory; the site where the A442 was developed) were indeed personnel leftover from the original Alpine factory.  Their goal was to save the badge and indeed produce a car which would hark back to the glory days of Alpine; functional, lightweight, driver’s cars.   Not to say that A610 wasn’t a driver’s car—-it was.  That being said, the A610 had grown in size significantly from even the small A310 and it was full of luxury amenities and had become a hybrid of a GT car and a sports car to rival the 911 of the time.

Renault’s Berex, where a lot of the former Alpine employees still worked:

In the past few weeks, there have been numerous articles popping up online about Renault building a 50th anniversary tribute to the original A110 Berlinette (which I can confirm to you IS true….they are working on an Alpine), and a story about the people behind the ‘new’ Lancia Stratos trying to get permission to make a ‘new’ Alpine A110

In the past, there have been some grainy, incomplete photos of the W71/A710/A410 published online; but these have been suboptimal to get an insight into the car’s designs.  I was graciously provided these exclusive photos of the ‘lost’ prototype from the time of development.  If you use these photos anywhere else on the web, please credit this blog.

I was told that the hopes of all the remaining Alpine staff rested on this car ‘making it to production’……when it was killed off by Renault, it was the final stab to a great marque.

Some information about the long lost prototype that sits hidden away somewhere in France!

Yes, the prototype was totally functional. It’s handling was tested and fine tuned on Renault ‘s Aubevoye test center tracks. It’s lap time was better than A610′s lap time, despite inferior engine.  If I remember correctly, prototype was fitted with J7R, 2L NA engine 140 HP versus Z7X 2.5L turbo 250 HP for the A610. The first prototype and concept was very light (no AD, no air cond, no ABS…) but later in the project, the marketing asked for a lot of these useless things in this kind of car. Theorical weight and price increased, performance decreased. And the project was finally axed in 1992 or 1993″

As you can see, it has a completely finished interior with badges on the steering wheel and door sills.  Nice sport bucket seats as well!  Functionality of the original Alpine spirit looks preserved in this limited view.

The first Porsche Boxster concept was shown to the world in 1993, right after this A710/A410 project was killed off.  The 3rd generation MR2, which also carries some features of this car in design was introduced in 1999.  As someone who is fascinated, intrigued, and interested in Alpine cars and company history; it saddens me that Renault killed off this car.  It seems like the W71/A710/A410 would have taken the company back to the days of producing a pure sports car; in the spirit of the original brand.

I often hear people saying that the A110 was the “Porsche 911 of France”….which I don’t agree with.  I actually think of Alpine as more akin to Lotus than Porsche; a focused racing company with an intriguing history and a different way of doing things.  Whereas Lotus and Alpine both lost their way a bit in the 80s; Lotus came back strong with the Elise in the 90s…….according to the pics and information about this lost Alpine; Alpine could have come back strong with their own rear-engined ‘pure’ sports car—-unfortunately for Alpine, Renault controlled the company.  It is tragic this car was never even shown at an auto show or to the world—even though they spent almost $10 million (1989 money) developing it.  What could have been…..

The styling of the W71 was, however, influenced by the 1990 Renault Laguna Concept (photo via netcarshow)

A couple of years later, the Renault Sport Spider was introduced with obviously devoted “A210/A220″ race car headlights…..but when i asked about the origins of this car and whether this Spider was actually the A710/A410 in hiding, i was told that the Spider was NOT the same as the A710/A410 in any way; however some of the same people responsible for the A710/A410 project were involved in the Spider project.  The Spider was code named “W94″ and was produced between 1995 and 1997 at the Dieppe factory (now a Renault Sport factory).  It obviously carried the spirit of the A710/A410 prototype; but in a different form.

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art of the day. MS84

The superfly AWD Matra MS84.

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Old proposal for a 1965 NYC Central Park race….and a resurrection?

My mate over at Automobiliac has revived a great idea; a race through central park!  There isn’t a time that goes by where I don’t imagine race cars pounding through the streets of NYC.  Although I must admit that part of my racing fantasy involves the Williamsburg Bridge, FDR, and then pounding through central park.  A bit over the top—-yes…….but hey!

As per Automobiliac’s article, I found this most interesting!

“I’m obviously not the first to fantasize about this race through the park.  Back in 1965, race promoter Alec Ulmann, of Sebring 12 Hours fame, proposed the very same idea in Automobile Quarterly (Vol. 4, No. 1). He felt that New York should have a Monaco-style Grand Prix right in its heart, and reserved harsh words for the all-powerful Parks Commisioner Robert Moses for scuppering his plans, as well as multiple previous attempts in the 1950′s to run exactly such a race.”

Read the full article and some ideas here: Automobiliac

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foto of the day. R8 LMS Grand Am

The 24 Hours Of Daytona is upon us this weekend!  Audi has a solid presence this weekend with their multiple R8 entries into the fold.   Here’s a pic of a non-livery laden Audi R8 LMS Grand-am just chillin near the race track.

Photo courtesy of quattroworld

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Giugaro and the Lotus M70 (Esprit)

Before the Lotus Esprit became the Lotus Esprit…it was known as the M70.  Penned by Giugaro (Italdesign) and quite a big step for Lotus as a company; It launched Lotus into the realm of supercars.

I have to say that the Series 1 Lotus Esprit is a pretty great looking car….and the M70 definitely looks like the purest expression of the design (obviously!).

Here are some original ideas thrown around for the M70:

(from Car Styling Magazine, April 1976: Lotusespritturbo.com)

 

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video of the day. Fulvia.

Glorious….and good driving as well, for a change!

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NSU 1200c diagrams.

Rear engined & compact madness! the 1971 NSU 1200C

src: smcars

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foto of the day. VW 911.

well not really….but this 911L racing in sweden circa 1969 has a big fat VW sticker right on the bonnet!

src: Early911Registry

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Subaru 1966: “we call it cheap & ugly”

What an insane commercial (infomercial?)!

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lost concept: Ghia Lancia 1600 HF Competizione

Although it looks like a Bertone concept, it is not! In fact this is the 1969 Ghia Lancia HF Competizione concept.  I don’t have a ton of information about the actual car; however I do know that it was based on the standard Fulvia HF platform and was FWD with the famous 1600 V4 engine from the Fulvia HF.  However, a major difference was that the Ghia concept was even lighter than the standard Fulvia—-which made it even faster and (supposedly) with better handling.  The idea was to possibly use this as a basis for a racing car that would have possibly be entered into Le Mans-type race events; alas this was not meant to be.

It was shown at the 1969 Geneva Auto Show; and obviously never produced.

  

src (colour photos): mauiboy

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Snow! Finally!

Today, we finally got a tiny little snow storm……..not really enough to get truly excited about—-but still good fun to do circles in Brooklyn!!  A3 + quattro + snow tires = pretty much unstoppable great fun.

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video of the day. 2 things i want.

(1) I want it to snow

(2) I want an Ur quattro

This winter has been most disappointing in NYC.  One little bit of snow….in October (?)…..my snow tires are waiting for more fun.

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Juha Kankkunen’s rally car collection.

Rally car legend Juha Kankkunen likes to collect rally cars.  Here is his fantastic collection!   Beautiful.

Thanks to Cacti (QW) for the tip!

 

src: InsideLine

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Peugeot endurance racing: RIP

Image

The Audi-Peugeot rivalry at Le Mans has been nothing short of legendary; fierce competition, intense driving, fiery situations, and 2 teams going full on to try to gain victories against each other.

Well all that is over, as Peugeot is dropping the entire endurance racing program, including Le Mans; effective immediately.  Apparently the state of the global economy has taken its toll on the program; not surprising anymore to hear this is it…

I have always rooted fiercly for Audi in these battles…..and have often found myself scorning Peugeot on some of their, well, suspicious tactics.  That being said, i’m very saddened that this competition is now over.  Thanks Peugeot, for competing and for making Le Mans an event worth obsessing over….

links:

http://www.fourtitude.com/news/publish/Motorsport_News/article_7412.shtml

http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/97080

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SAAB: terminal stages.

I, for one, will be sad when SAAB goes away.  BringATrailer posted this last night about the sad story of SAAB auctioning their entire museum away this week.  This collection includes all of their prototypes, including the legendary Ur Saab.

What a sad way to end the company——that being said, i’m sure Saab fanatics are beside themselves with excitement at the chance to land one of these Gothenburg beauties into their garages.

When I was 16, i was obsessed with the Saab 900.  I’ll never forget that.

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Return of the Renault 5?

It’s hard to believe that the Renault 5 is celebrating its 40th (!) anniversary from its launch soon.  Apparently, it is being reported in the french media that Renault are bringing a Renault 5 ‘redux’ back in celebration and that this is now ‘confirmed’….

A shame that Renault isn’t coming back to the US market….But then again, Fiat is pretty much ruining any chance of others trying to come back.  If Fiat would have done well, the others would have made a run—-but not any more!

Here’s a rendering of the Renault 5 resurrection! (maybe)

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KPGC10

the Nissan GT-R (KPGC10)

src: eGarage (via Colla Verglas)

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art of the day. Racing Car News covers.

Illustrated by Colin Anderson

why can’t modern car magazines be this creative with their covers?  Instead they just put synthetic, advertising-like covers up.  Blah.

 

src:  motorsportretro

to buy old copies: motor book world

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Chevy 130R.

I can’t remember the last time I actually liked a Chevy—–i think i may be able to trace this to 1990 and my childhood admiration of the Cavalier Z24! ha.

Anyways, Chevy have introduced 2 concepts at the upcoming Detroit Auto Show—–one of which, the 140s is kinda worthless (and ugly)—–but one of them (130R) is strikingly good looking!  Although there is a lot borrowed from the BMW 1-series upon first glance, i find that the stance and size of this RWD concept is basically how I envision the ‘modern pony car’.  Since Dodge has re-introduced the (forgettable) Dodge Dart—–maybe it’s time Chevy brings back the Nova! Or not….

There’s something pleasantly retro about this design, and at the same time progressive. I think i feel the same way about the previous generation 1-series; a car I’ve always loved in coupe design.

130R:

Of course Chevy just had to ruin all the fun by putting a $75 interior in it! terrible.

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foto of the day. applying snow chains!

Citroen DS and its thoughtful female owner!

src: goodoldvalves

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