Lotus has honed the evergreen Elise yet again. We drive the new Sprint on road and track – is it the best Elise yet?
The history of the car is littered with car names of varying degrees of success. For every Interceptor and Thunderbird there’s a Grandland X and Probe.
But what about the most literal car names ever to grace a bootlid? We’ve assembled a list of 20 for your pleasure.
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“The name Superb has to be earned,” proclaimed Skoda in the book to accompany the launch of its third generation flagship model of the modern era. The Superb, you see, dates back to 1934, when its name reflected its class, sophistication and a wealth of technical innovation.
It’s fortunate that the current Superb is able to live up to its name. The alternatives, such as ‘Skoda Merely Adequate’ or ‘Skoda It’s Really Good But Some Folk Will Still Buy An Audi’, don’t exactly roll off the tongue.
Aston Martin Rapide
Ah, the Rapide: a non-stop coach service – predominantly to London – with fewer seats, a hostess service and – wait for it – a toilet. Passengers had never had it so good on the National Express.
In truth, the Aston Martin Rapide would probably get to London Victoria faster than an MCW Metroliner, but you’d have to take your own jolly hostess for crisps and tea. The name dates back to the Lagonda Rapide of 1961.
The Renault Espace wasn’t the first MPV – rivals from America and Japan got there first – but it had the most influence on this new segment. Looking back, it’s hard to believe that Matra struggled to convince carmakers that a car-like people carrier had genuine potential.
With Peugeot and Citroen failing to see the light, Matra turned to Renault who accepted the idea. After a slow start, the Espace – which is French for ‘Space’ – struck a chord with European buyers and inspired a number of imitators. Twenty-three years on, the MPV seems to have had its day, as motorists turn to crossovers for their practical kicks.
The ‘Swinging Sixties’ was the decade of the mini. Opinions vary on who invented the miniskirt, but London designer Mary Quant did more than anyone to thrust the short skirt into the mainstream of popular culture. Then there’s the Mini, first introduced in 1959.
Alec Issigonis’ creation was a triumph of packaging and marketing, helped in no small part by the name. Mini is little more than a shortened ‘miniature’, ‘minimal’ or ‘minimum’, but it became the accepted word for anything small or reduced in size. Genius.
You could write what we know about fashion on the side of a Boden clutch bag, but we know that the maxi skirt reaches down to the ground. The floor length skirt became fashionable in the late 60s, embraced by hippies who shunned the more revealing miniskirt. Or maybe they didn’t have the legs for it.
Whatever, the Austin Maxi arrived in 1969 and was the final car designed by Alec Issigonis. Once again, the emphasis was on interior packaging, with the Maxi blessed with a commodious boot and rear seats that could fold in both directions. Issigonis’ final car was British Leyland’s first and it set the tone for a decade of mismanagement and missed opportunities.
Forty-six years since the Lamborghini Countach wowed the crowds at the 1971 Geneva Motor Show, it still has the ability to turn heads and send jaws plummeting to the floor. While it couldn’t compete with the Miura in terms of beauty, it blitzed its predecessor in terms of theatre.
And that name is the work of brilliance. Countach, you see, is a Piedmontese expletive meaning “wow”, or perhaps something a little stronger.
Mono is derived from the Greek mónos, meaning “alone, only, sole or single”. The perfect name for a track-focused single-seat car, then?
Briggs-Automotive Company – better known as BAC – certainly think so, which is why its lightweight race-car for the road is so-named. Other single-seat cars include the Lamborghini Egoista and Dodge Demon. Neither of which can claim a literal name.
Ferrari 812 Superfast
Matchbox created the Superfast line in direct response to a new breed of free-wheeling rivals, most notably Hot Wheels. Keen to retain its crown as the king of the living room carpet, Matchbox introduced super-quick low-friction wheels and new, ‘faster’ colours.
The Superfast name works well when it’s attached to a brand of diecast models, but the jury is out when it comes to the Ferrari 812 Superfast. Not that the name is anything new – the 500 Superfast was introduced in 1964. How fast was it? Superfast…
It’s universally accepted that everything sounds better in Italian. Monica Bellucci might be telling you that her drain is blocked with raw sewage and it’ll sound like she’s inviting you to play beach volleyball with her best friend Sophia.
“Il mio scarico è bloccato con acque reflue grezze” just sounds more alluring. Then there’s the Quattroporte, which is little more than Italian for ‘four doors’. Mi piace!
Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse
The Vitesse name – which is French for ‘speed’ – rose to prominence in the 1960s with the go-faster version of the Triumph Herald. The name was reintroduced in the 1980s with the launch of the Rover SD1 Vitesse: an aggressive brute of a machine.
But if any car is able to live up the Vitesse tag, it has to be the Bugatti Veyron. In the Grand Sport Vitesse, Bugatti created the fastest and most powerful production roadster in the world. Top speed: 254.04mph.
Opinions vary as to whether or not LaFerrari is a good name, but you have to admire Ferrari’s bold approach. By calling it ‘The Ferrari’, Maranello is essentially saying that it has reached a peak – this is as good as it gets.
The question is, where does Ferrari go from here? When the LaFerrari is eclipsed – which it will be – what will it be called? ‘The Ferrari: Remastered’, perhaps. ‘The Ferrari: Reprise’, maybe. Then again, perhaps not.
The Nissan S-Cargo paid homage to the Citroen 2CV Fourgonnette and included a number of subtle references to the classic van. A single-spoke steering wheel and roll-back roof were just two of the references to the French utility vehicle.
Then there’s the name. Officially, S-Cargo is short for Small Cargo, but it sounds like escargot, which is French for snail. And ‘Tin Snail’ was the nickname given to the Citroen 2CV. Clever thinking, Nissan. And a neat van, too.
Toyota Land Cruiser
Land Rover has a good track record of conjuring up cool names, with Defender, Discovery and Range Rover the most impressive. In terms of setting a scene, these cars score highly, but they’re eclipsed by the Toyota Land Cruiser.
The name was introduced in 1955, but the Land Cruiser’s origins lie in the Jeep BJ of 1951. The most capable model available in the UK is the Invincible. Toyota must have incredible faith in its product to label it such. No pressure…
In 2013, Bernstein Research produced a list of the most loss-making European cars of modern times. Sitting pretty at the top of the table was the original Smart Fortwo, which delivered a €3.35 billion loss for Mercedes-Benz, almost double that of the A-Class.
It’s fair to say that Mercedes-Benz won’t remember 1997 with a great deal of fondness. On the plus side, the Fortwo was and remains a great name. A small car for two people, joined by the Forfour: a larger car for four people. Bravo. Doesn’t help with those lost billions, mind.
These days, carmakers are unable to launch new cars without a series of teaser images, carefully-worded press releases and a huge dollop of hype. Citroen did things differently, and the DS was kept under wraps until its debut at the 1955 Paris Motor Show.
Unquestionably, the Citroen DS was one of the most significant cars of the 20th century, but it was also blessed with one of the most inspired names. DS is a pun based on ‘Déesse’, which is the French word for ‘Goddess’.
Times change, and while Midget might have been a perfectly acceptable name for a sports car in the 60s and 70s, the same wouldn’t be true today. Indeed, according to Little People of America, “the word ‘midget’ is considered a derogatory slur”.
We had a look through the archives for alternatives, which include ‘Hop-o’-My-Thumb’ and ‘Dandiprat’. Whilst not great, they’re preferable to Grandland X, Kadjar and F-Pace.
When all else fails and the ‘Generator-o-Names’ refuses to play ball, it’s time to throw caution to the wind and chuck any creativity out of the window. Which is how Hyundai must have stumbled upon Coupe for its, er, coupe.
In fairness, the Coupe was known as the Tiburon and Tuscani in other markets, but it’s hardly the most appealing name. That said, the earlier model was known as the Scoupe: a combination of ‘sporty’ and ‘coupe’. And nothing at all to do with portions of ice cream.
The 250 Testa Rossa, which completed its first race in 1957, was one of the most successful competition Ferraris in the history of the company. The name, quite literally, means ‘Red Head’, a reference to the red-painted camshaft covers.
In 1984, the name reappeared, this time in the form of the Testarossa, which once again featured the red-painted covers.
The Mitsubishi Minicab is a range of light commercial vehicles sold in Japan since 1966. As kei trucks, they’re powered by small engines housed in very small cabs, hence the Minicab name.
In 2011, Mitsubishi introduced an electric version, known as the Minicab MiEV.
Renault Le Car
The Renault 5 made its North American debut in 1976, marketed as Le Car by Renault. Contemporary ads positioned it as the ‘Le City Car’, whilst claiming that, “In Europe, nearly two million people drive Le Car with passion.”
As for the name, ‘Le Car’ means ‘The Bus’. We’re not sure ‘La Voiture’ would have caught on in America.
Aston Martin was recently handed the keys to its giant new St Athan factory in Wales, UK. Consisting of three ex-Ministry Of Defence aircraft hangers, the old tenants left not a single possession behind – Aston had a completely empty trio of shells to build its new plant in.
And what to do when you have three huge hangars, a couple of racing drivers, a development engineer – oh, and a fleet of 28 Aston Martins worth well over $80 million to play with?
Why, go play, of course. And that’s exactly what Aston Martin did…
In production for more than six decades, the Corvette has been through many changes in its seven generations. We’ve documented the highs, and the lows, as this American icon prepares to celebrate its 65th anniversary.
Enthusiasts are often split over who can truly be called the ‘father’ of the Corvette. Harley J. Earl (left) was the GM designer who commanded the initial project on the car that would become the Corvette. However, Zora Arkus-Duntov, a Belgian engineer, would lead mechanical development, taking the Corvette from convertible cruiser to all-American sports car.
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1953 Chevrolet Corvette Motorama Show Car
Between 1949 and 1961, General Motors held its own car show, known as Motorama and designed to promote new models directly to customers. For January 1953, a hand-built pre-production prototype of the Corvette was shown to excited crowds. Designed to compete with sports cars like the Nash-Healey, the enthusiastic reception convinced GM to rush the Corvette into production.
1953 C1 Chevrolet Corvette
Just six months after being displayed at Motorama, the first production C1 Corvette rolled off the Flint, Michigan production line on June 30th 1953. Only 300 cars were built in the first year, all finished in Polo White with a red interior. Despite the sporting looks, the C1 was powered by a modest 150hp ‘Blue Flame’ straight-six engine combined with a two-speed automatic transmission. Even with a lightweight fibreglass body, performance was underwhelming. Prices started at $3,498, but values today are over a hundred times higher – at nearly $400,000 for a concours example.
1954 C1 Chevrolet Corvette
The lack of performance translated into a lack of sales the following year, with a substantial number of the 3,640 Corvettes built unsold. Quality problems with the fibreglass body caused complaints from those who did buy one, too, with General Motors later moving production to new factory in St Louis, Missouri. Under the management of Arkus-Duntov, changes would be made for the coming years to give the Corvette a fighting chance.
1958 C1 Chevrolet Corvette 283 V8
While the six-cylinder engine would be upped to 155hp in 1955 – with a three-speed manual gearbox also offered – the introduction of a 265-cubic inch (4.3-litre) 195hp V8 engine was a bigger deal. By 1958, this had grown to a fuel-injected 283-ci (4.6-litre) unit, producing 290hp. Styling changes included the adoption of quad-headlights, more chrome trim and a redesigned grille.
1960 C1 Chevrolet Corvette
The improvements to the Vette worked, with sales increasing year-on-year between 1956 and the end of C1 production in 1962. The final year would see the option of a 327-cubic inch (5.4-litre) V8 engine with 360hp, representing a substantial increase from the original ’53 model cars. A total of 69,000 first-generation Corvettes were built, proving that Harley J. Earl’s dream to produce a two-seat sports car was the right idea.
1959 Chevrolet Corvette XP-87 Stingray Racer concept
Long before production of the C1 Corvette had finished, Chevrolet was already working on taking the second-generation car in a more radical styling direction. Built by GM designer Bill Mitchell, the XP-87 Stingray Racer was ostensibly created to test handling and performance. However, the styling features were clearly a preview of the C2 Corvette. XP-87 also ended up competing on track, taking an SCCA National Championship in 1960. Mitchell would later use the XP-87 as his own personal car at weekends.
1961 Chevrolet Mako Shark Concept
Although styling for the next Corvette was already completed, Chevrolet wanted to generate interest in the forthcoming new car. Designed by Larry Shinoda, under the direction of Bill Mitchell, inspiration came from a Mako shark Mitchell had caught while fishing. The pointed nose, streamlined sides and short rear made it look futuristic and aggressive, marking a clear distinction between the old and new Corvettes.
1963 C2 Chevrolet Corvette Coupe and Convertible
The styling of the new C2 Corvette was the most obvious change when launched, but the work of Arkus-Duntov in overhauling the mechanical elements was also revolutionary. Suspension was upgraded front and rear, with the latter using a new independent design instead of the C1’s solid axle. A 327-cubic inch (5.4-litre) V8 was the only engine option, available in outputs ranging from 250hp to 360hp. A three-speed manual gearbox was standard, with a four-speed manual and two-speed auto also on the options list.
1963 C2 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray
Unique to the 1963 model year Corvette, and one of the defining features of the second-generation car, was the split rear windscreen on coupe models. Hated by Arkus-Duntov, but loved by Mitchell and Shinoda, it would eventually be replaced due to visibility concerns. The coupe was also notably more expensive than the convertible: $4,257 against $4,037. Despite this, sales were split equally between both, with 21,500 examples sold in total during 1963.
1963 C2 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Race Car
General Motors had banned factory-sponsored racing, but Arkus-Duntov was still keen to use motorsport to promote the prowess of the second-generation Corvette. As such, the development of racing parts for the C2 continued, culminating in the ‘Z06’ option package, which added $1,818 to the price of the car. The first Z06 race cars went straight into battle, winning their first race at the Los Angeles Times Grand Prix.
1963 C2 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 ‘Big Tank’
Whilst the Z06 package was meant for racing, nothing stopped a road car being ordered with this box ticked. It meant upgraded suspension, power-assisted brakes with extra cooling and the 360hp fuel-injected V8. A larger fuel tank was also fitted to coupe models and, with just 63 examples built, these ‘big tank’ cars are seriously collectable. This particular car is set to go to auction in May 2017, with the potential to sell for up to $750,000 (£585,000) based on previous results.
1966 C2 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible 427 big-block V8
Development continued throughout the life of the C2 Corvette, with the addition of a ‘big-block’ 427-cubic inch (7.0-litre) V8 for the 1966 model year. With 425hp, it was no more powerful than the 396-ci (6.5-litre) V8 introduced the previous year, but it did pack extra torque: 460lb ft.
1967 C2 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible 427 Tri-Power
The ultimate C2 Corvette came in the final year of production, with an arrangement of three two-barrel carburettors maximising output from the 427 V8. Named the ‘Tri-Power’ and fitted with uprated camshafts, plus other internal changes, this engine officially produced 435hp – although some believe it to be substantially more. Also unique was a cowl induction hood, feeding air directly to the carburettors and giving the 427 a menacing look.
1963 C2 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport
Arkus-Duntov had been determined to make the C2 into an effective race car, running a secret project to create a lightweight version to beat the Shelby Cobra. Initial plans were for 125 cars, but when GM executives became aware of the programme, all work was stopped. Just five Grand Sports cars ‘escaped’ the factory, and they proved to be effective in racing – taking wins throughout 1963. The rarity of the C2 Grand Sport, with values in the region of $5-10million (£4-7m), has created a substantial market for kit car replicas.
1965 Chevrolet Mako Shark II Concept
Aquatic life made another appearance on a Corvette concept, with the Mako Shark II shown at the 1965 New York Auto Show. Ultra narrow Coke-bottle hips, a louvered rear window, and high wheelarches were cool features, but would require substantial modification to make a usable road car.
1969 C3 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Coupe
Although styling elements were toned down, the overall shape of the C3 Corvette owed much to the Mako Shark II when released in 1969. Pop-up headlights, a removal T-bar roof on coupes and hidden wipers brought the C3 up to date. Initial engine choices kept the 327-cubic inch and 427-ci from the C2 Vette, with a new 350-ci (5.7-litre) unit added in 1969. The two-speed automatic transmission was also finally ditched, replace by the exotic-sounding three-speed Turbo Hydra-matic.
1969 C3 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Apollo astronauts
General Motors was always keen to snap-up a marketing opportunity for the Corvette, so what better chance than supplying cars to NASA Apollo astronauts? Pete Gordon, Alan Bean and Richard Gordon of the Apollo 12 mission took the option to lease matching 1969 Corvettes for just $1. Each car featured a gold and black colour scheme, plus unique personal badging with the initials of each astronaut’s mission role on the wings.
1972 C3 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Convertible LT-1
American car manufacturers found themselves contending with new emissions regulations in the early 1970s, and the Corvette was no exception. By 1972, Chevrolet was already limiting engine choices in California, and had lowered compression to allow engines to use low-octane fuel. Changes to horsepower measures also meant the output of the 350-ci LT-1 engine reduced from 330hp to 255hp, with 1972 being the last year it was offered.
1977 C3 Chevrolet Corvette Coupe
More changes would take place over the next five years, with the 1977 Corvette sporting urethane bumpers front and rear to withstand 5mph impacts. Catalytic converters were also introduced in 1975, with the convertible body style dropped the same year. And 1976 saw the end of Stingray badging, with new Corvette emblems added the following year. Power languished at just 180hp or 210hp.
1978 C3 Chevrolet Corvette Coupe Indy 500 Pace Car
Despite having been in production for over 25 years, the Corvette didn’t receive the coveted honour of acting as pace car for the Indianapolis 500 until 1978. A special edition of 6,052 cars – one for each Chevrolet dealership – was built to celebrate, wearing a unique black and silver colour scheme. Interiors were finished in a choice of silver leather or grey cloth, with the option of an eight-track tape player or CB radio reminding everyone that this was the late 1970s. Pace car stickers were supplied unattached.
1984 C4 Chevrolet Corvette Coupe
With the origins of the C3 Corvette stretching back to the 1960s, Chevrolet went for clean slate with the fourth-generation car. Its aerodynamically optimised design was dramatic and modern, featuring panels that made use of plastic rather than fibreglass. An all-new interior included a cutting-edge LCD dashboard, too. The C4 was also the first Corvette to feature the mono-leaf spring suspension setup, replacing the coils of the C3. An emphasis on handling was important, given the C4 Vette initially made do with the 350-ci (5.7-l) V8 engine with 205hp and 290lb ft of torque.
1986 C4 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible Indy 500 Pace Car
Big news for the Corvette came in 1986, when Chevrolet re-launched the convertible body for the first time since 1975. Chosen as the pace car for the 1986 Indianapolis 500, all 7,315 convertible ’Vettes sold that year wore a commemorative plaque. For 1987 the convertible became part of the regular range.
1990 C4 Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1
Having acquired Group Lotus in 1986, General Motors opted to use the engineering prowess of the British firm to build the ultimate Corvette. Lotus designed a new 350-ci (5.7-l) aluminium V8 engine, with 32 valves and four overhead camshafts. Power peaked at an impressive 375hp and 370lb-ft of torque, making the ZR-1 capable of 0-60mph in 4.4 seconds and a top speed of over 175mph. Chevrolet would also set numerous FIA speed and endurance records as testimony to the reliability of the new V8 engine. Almost doubling the $32,479 price of the base C4 Corvette meant numbers sold were low, with around 6,000 ZR-1s sold between 1990 and 1995.
1992 One-millionth Chevrolet Corvette
When the one-millionth Corvette rolled off the production line in 1993, finished in white with a red interior like the 1953 original, it was preserved for posterity. As an exhibit in Chevrolet’s National Corvette Museum it, along with seven other Corvettes, was damaged by a sinkhole that opened up directly beneath the museum floor. Chevrolet committed to restore the car to original condition, investing four months and 1,200 hours to recreate it perfectly. This even extended to scanning and reproducing the signatures beneath the body panels of those who built the car in 1993.
1993 C4 Chevrolet Corvette 40th Anniversary convertible
Turning forty is always an excuse for a celebration. To commemorate edging closer to the average age of a Corvette buyer, the 40th Anniversary package was available on all models produced for the 1993 model year. Ruby red paintwork was combined with matching leather seats, while the wheels featured red centre caps.
1996 C4 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport
The final year of C4 Corvette production saw two special editions offered, but the Grand Sport is the most noteworthy. Just 1,000 examples were produced, with all cars finished in Admiral Blue with a white centre stripe, plus black alloy wheels. Two red stripes above the driver’s side wheelarch were intended as a reminder of the car’s 1963 C2 Grand Sport namesake.
1997 C5 Chevrolet Corvette Coupe
With the C4 having restored the image of the Corvette, Chevrolet continued to push on making improvements with the new C5. An all-new aluminium 5.7-litre LS1 V8 engine was standard, with 345hp and 350lb ft of torque. The transmission was mounted at the rear to form a transaxle setup, with a new six-speed manual gearbox also introduced. Critics took issue with the cheap plastics found inside, but for a bargain price of $37,495 something had to give.
1998 C5 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible Indy 500 Pace Car
Launched a year later, the C5 convertible was the first soft-top Corvette since 1962 to feature a boot. The C5 convertible was, just like many Corvettes before it, chosen to be the official Indianapolis 500 pace car, with a terrifying purple and yellow colour scheme. A replica version was offered for sale, including the yellow wheels and upholstery. Despite its garishness, the pace car replicas enjoy a cult following amongst collectors.
1999 C5 Chevrolet Corvette hard-top
The final choice in the C5 Corvette body style roster came in 1999, with the unveiling of the hard-top option. Officially known as the Fixed Roof Coupe, it lacked the targa T-top roof of the regular coupe version, making this the most structurally rigid of C5 body types.
2001 C5 Chevrolet Corvette Z06
Additional structural rigidity meant that the C5 hardtop was used as the basis for a brand-new Z06 Corvette, playing homage to the name first used in 1963. Powered by a modified version of the LS1 engine, renamed to LS6 to recognise the changes, output was rated as 385hp and 385lb ft. A titanium exhaust, thinner glass and a lighter battery helped save weight, while suspension upgrades and performance tyres made it perform on-track. Brake ducts in front of the rear wheels were a visual clue to the Z06 option, and were actually functional.
2001 Chevrolet Corvette C5-R
Having been officially absent from sports car competition for over a decade, Chevrolet took the decision to enter the C5 in global endurance racing. Pratt and Miller were picked to develop the C5 into the C5-R race machine, with the first outing in 1999 at the 24 Hours of Daytona. Upgrades and modifications turned the C5-R into a dominant GT-class racer, taking wins at Le Mans in 2001, 2002 and 2004. This was also combined with 31 class victories in the American Le Mans Series, along with an overall victory at the 2001 Daytona 24 Hours.
2005 C6 Chevrolet Corvette Coupe
Shorter, narrower, and the first Corvette since 1962 to feature exposed headlights, the C6 Corvette was something of a revelation when introduced. Under the skin, much was carried over from the C5, although there was a new 6.0-litre LS2 V8 engine, producing a neatly rounded 400hp and 400lb ft of torque. The Fixed Roof hardtop version was dropped, with a convertible body appearing late in the 2005 model year.
2006 C6 Chevrolet Corvette Z06
Buoyed by the positive reaction to the C5 Z06, the performance option would feature again in the C6. Billed as the fastest Corvette ever made, an even bigger dry-sumped 7.0-litre LS7 engine was fitted, making 505hp and 470lb ft of torque. The 0-60mph sprint was dusted in 3.7 seconds, with the Z06 pushing all the way to a top speed of 198mph. Carbon fibre was used in the construction of the front bumper and other body parts. Bigger brakes, wider wheels and stiffer suspension rounded out a comprehensive makeover.
2008 C6 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible LS3
Following a pattern used since the original C1, the Corvette gained enhanced engines for the 2008 model year, with a new LS3 V8 motor. Displacing 6.2 litres and producing 430hp and 424lb ft, the LS3 was combined with a new six-speed manual gearbox. Other improvements included changes to steering feedback, with a new five-spoke alloy wheel design also added.
2009 C6 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1
Surpassing even the Z06 as the ultimate C6, the ZR1 firmly pushed the Corvette into supercar territory. A supercharged 6.2-litre V8 produced a monstrous 638hp with 595lb ft of torque, with the intercooler visible beneath a polycarbonate window in the carbon fibre bonnet. Carbon ceramic brakes were standard, as were specially developed Michelin Pilot Sport 2 tyres, plus multi-spoke alloy wheels. Carbon fibre also featured in the roof panel, front splitter and widened wheelarches. With a top speed of 205mph and 0-60mph in 3.3 seconds, the ZR1 was peak C6.
2013 C6 Chevrolet Corvette 427 convertible
Built as the fastest Corvette convertible to date, the 427 special edition commemorated the end of C6 production along with the 60th anniversary of the ’Vette. Using the 7.0-litre (427-cubic inch) V8 from the Z06, with the same 505hp output, 0-60mph was dispatched in 3.8 seconds, with a top speed of more than 190mph. The 60th anniversary package included Arctic White paintwork with optional stripes. Inside, all Corvettes built in 2013 featured a special plaque to mark 60 years of production.
2014 C7 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
After an absence of more than 30 years, the Stingray name reappeared on the C7 Corvette. General Motors believed the C7 was good enough to wear the iconic badge, even if it lacked a split rear windscreen like the 1963 original. Intended to appeal to a younger audience, the body of the C7 is angular and edgy, making extensive use of carbon fibre throughout. A new 6.2-litre V8 engine provides 460hp, and is coupled to a seven-speed manual or six-speed automatic gearbox.
2014 C7 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray convertible
Following the C7 Stingray coupe, the convertible version was launched at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show. With no additional chassis stiffening required over the coupe, Chevrolet was confident that the soft-top would be on par with hard-top versions. The power-folding roof is capable of operating at speeds up to 31mph, avoiding those awkward moments when the traffic lights turn green half-way through opening.
2015 C7 Chevrolet Corvette Z06
With styling inspired by the C7.R race car, the Z06 was launched as hardcore track-focused machine, even down to its data logger that captures HD video and telemetry. A supercharged 6.2-litre V8 engine bellows out 650hp and 650lb ft of torque, making it the most powerful car General Motors has ever built. Hitting 60mph in 2.9 seconds and a top speed of 195mph are considerable achievements for a supercar that costs only $79,450 (£90,455 in the UK).
2017 C7 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport
Continuing the Grand Sport name first used back in 1963, the latest GS combines elements of the Z06 to produce another track-oriented Corvette. Using the 6.2-litre LT1 V8 engine with 460hp, an optional Z07 Performance Package adds Brembo carbon ceramic brakes, tuned suspension and an aggressive carbon fibre bodykit.
2018 C7 Chevrolet Corvette Carbon 65 Edition
How do you celebrate 65 years of production? If you’re a Corvette, it’s with unique Ceramic Matrix Grey paintwork, special stripes on the doors and wheelarches, a bodykit with visible carbon fibre and an interior with, well, even more carbon fibre. Limited to just 650 examples globally, the Carbon 65 Edition will be available on both Grand Sport and Z06 C7 ’Vettes.
As many as one in 16 cars on UK roads could be displaying the wrong mileage according to data released this morning by car history experts HPI.
The company has warned that this has leaped from one in 20 cars in 2014 – and the rise could be related to the increase in popularity of PCP finance schemes.
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Traditionally, car clocking has been popular with fraudulent car dealers and sellers who want to make a car appear to have covered less miles than it has, meaning it’ll be easier to sell and worth more money.
But a new type of car clocker has become widespread, says HPI – the PCP customer. Most PCP deals have a mileage limit – often below the 12,000 miles the average motorist covers – and exceeding this could result in excessive fees when handing the car back once the PCP deal is up. To get around this, many are turning to ‘mileage correction’ companies to alter the mileage on their car.
“There are numerous reasons why clocking is on the up,” says Cap HPI’s head of industry relations, Barry Shorto. “The continued development of technologies to alter digital odometers, increasingly easy access to this technology via the internet and similarly, the ease of access to mileage adjustment services online, some of whom will behave legitimately, others less so. The increase in mileage-related finance arrangements such as PCP and PCH may also be a contributing factor.”
The company sells a history report, known as the HPI Check, which uses the National Mileage Register to determine whether a car’s claimed mileage is correct. Buyers can also check its MOT history online to find out if the mileage is consistent with old MOTs.
Buyers should also consider the general condition of the car to decide whether the mileage is believable. If it’s displaying excess wear on the steering wheel, pedals and driver’s seat, it’s unlikely to have covered low miles.
Few people look at the list price of a new car these days, with the monthly cost of a Personal Contract Purchase (PCP) the more relevant factor. With this in mind we’ve selected 10 new cars you can buy for £150 or less.
Mileage restrictions, interest and deposit contributions vary, so use this as a guide before contacting your local dealer. Images used are for illustrative purposes only.
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Skoda Citigo 5dr Colour Edition: £135.00
The Skoda Citigo is one of our favourite cars at any price. Right now, you can drive away in a five-door Colour Edition finished in Candy White paint for £135 a month. Skoda will contribute £1,000 to the deposit, leaving you to find £751.72 up front.
Hyundai i10 Premium 1.0: £148.21
In Premium trim, the Hyundai i10 offers big car toys in a small car shell. If you can find £2,298 for the deposit, Hyundai will add £500, leaving you to spend £148.21 a month on this excellent city car. The less well-endowed S and SE models are even cheaper.
Volkswagen Polo Match Edition 5dr 1.0: £149.00
With a new Polo waiting in the wings, Volkswagen is keen to shift stock of the outgoing model. The monthly payments for the Polo Match Edition are spread over 47 months and you’ll need to fork out £2,506.31 for the deposit. Volkswagen will add £1,800 to the pot.
Dacia Logan MCV Laureate TCe 90: £119.00
The Dacia Logan MCV is Britain’s cheapest new estate car, with an impressive 573 litres of boot space. This 48-month deal includes a five-year extended warranty and a £500 dealer deposit contribution.
Renault Captur Expression+ TCe 90: £139.00
The Expression+ trim isn’t the most generous in the sector, but it does offer air conditioning, cruise control, keyless entry and auto light/wipers. This 0% finance offer includes a £750 dealer deposit contribution. You just need to find £3,643 for the deposit.
Peugeot 108 Active Top: £145.04
Finding a topless new car for £150 a month is going to be tough, but the Peugeot Active Top might be a good compromise. You’re limited to 6,000 miles a year and the interest rate is 4.9%, but you’ll pay £145.04 a month.
Suzuki Celerio 1.0 SZ2 5dr: £79.00
Some people will spend more on a mobile phone contract than the monthly cost of this Suzuki Celerio. The entry-level SZ2 model is available for £79 a month after a deposit of £2,363. Just keep an eye on the 6,000-mile restriction and the 5.7% interest.
Ford Fiesta ST-Line: £139.00
The ST-Line offers the styling of the Fiesta ST with some of the fun. Right now, Ford is offering a £1,000 saving on Fiesta ST Line, ST and ST200 models, with the ST Line available for £139 a month. The deposit: £4,788.
Nissan Micra IG-T 90 Tekna: £149.00
It’s a Micra, Vera, but not as we know it. Nissan is hoping to shake off the Micra’s rather dowdy image and appeal to a younger audience with this bold new city car. The £149 a month deal includes a meaty £5,353 deposit, but at least there’s no interest to pay. The offer is based on 8,000 miles per annum.
Toyota Aygo X-Press: £129.00
You’re limited to the same amount of miles in the Toyota Aygo X-Press, but you’ll pay £20 less for the privilege. Simply find £2,131 for the deposit and spend £129 a month for the next 42 months.
Every year, the Federation of Historic British Vehicle Clubs holds Drive It Day, to raise awareness of everything that’s wonderful about old British cars and the clubs that support them. This year, we took part in a special run from Towcester Racecourse to Bicester Heritage, to join in the increasingly popular Sunday Scramble. Here’s how we got on.
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Remember that episode of Top Gear where Jeremy Clarkson drives to work? Sounds like the dullest TG feature ever, right? But this particular cross-London commute was different; this time, the Tousled One was behind the wheel of a Peel P50.
For the uninitiated, the P50 is 54 inches long, 41 inches wide and holds the Guinness world record for being the smallest road-legal car. It’s officially tiny enough to drive along the corridors of BBC Television Centre and share an elevator with Fiona Bruce. Not even a Smart can do that.
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A small obsession
The Top Gear ‘review’ reignited interest in P50, and also sparked something in Jim Buggle: founder of P50 Cars. At the age of 13, Jim had watched a documentary about Peel – narrated, oddly enough, by DJ John Peel. It was his first step in a lifelong obsession with this quirky microcar from the Isle of Man.
Years passed and Jim swapped his toys for tools, got an engineering degree and decided to remanufacture the car Clarkson called “the ultimate in personal mobility”.
And that’s how I end up on a nondescript industrial estate in south London, grinning from ear to ear as I blast to 25mph and (slightly) beyond.
Meet the Fairweather
The car I’m here to drive isn’t just any P50, but the world’s only convertible version – christened the ‘Fairweather’ by Jim’s business partner Craig Wilson.
Craig is P50 Cars’ one-man production line, and a bona fide engineering genius. He’s lovingly assembled the Fairweather from scratch in a room scarcely larger than my kitchen. You’ll search in vain for robots or laser welding rigs here; fibreglass bodies are moulded and painted on-site, with many parts – such as the steering wheel and rear lights – made by hand.
Cheaper than walking
The number of late nights and bruised knuckles that have gone into the Fairweather explains why its Qatari soon-to-be owner is paying a hefty £17,000 for it.
A ‘regular’ P50, however, starts at £6,499 as a build-it-yourself kit, or £8,499 fully assembled. Not quite “cheaper than walking”, then (to quote Clarkson again) – but not far off.
Petrol or electric
The original car used a DKW moped engine, but the modern version (which, incidentally, isn’t badged a Peel – P50 Cars doesn’t own the trademark) uses a replica Honda Cub unit. Estimated fuel economy is a thrifty 145mpg. Take that, Prius.
You can also opt for a 3.1kW electric motor with batteries that charge to 80% capacity in an hour, or fully charge in two. “It’ll run directly off the mains if you find a long enough lead,” says Jim, only half in jest.
Get a handle on it
This P50 doesn’t have a reverse gear, yet backing it out of the workshop is laughably easy. Jim grabs the handle on the bumper, hoiks the rear tyre off the ground and wheels it out: shopping trolley-style.
I try for myself, marvelling how this tiny car can be lifted with one arm then spun on its axis. It feels like you could take it anywhere. Except, perhaps, up or down steps…
Comfier than Clarkson
Clarkson needed two attempts to shoehorn his 6ft 5in frame inside a regular P50 (pictured), but, at a vertically-challenged 5ft 7in, my task is considerably more straightforward. The absence of a roof helps, too; simply pop the catch on the rear-hinged door and step inside.
You wouldn’t call it accommodating, though. I’m perched on a glorified garden chair, enclosed by bare fibreglass (“carpets are optional”, says Jim). There’s a speedo – sourced from an East German Simson motorcycle – plus a clever miniature audio system (essentially an amplifier and two speakers for your smartphone). But that’s your lot.
Peel’s on wheels
Such concerns are soon forgotten when I fire up the engine. The original Peel had to be cranked into life with a starting handle, but this retro remake has electric start. Click-whirr-thud-thud-thud-thud-thud. It sounds, unsurprisingly, just like a moped, its single-cylinder motor vibrating through the thinly-padded seat.
I click the column shift into gear and I’m off, a bemused postman watching my every move as I edge gingerly onto the road.
At this juncture, I should point out that the Fairweather isn’t road-registered. So although it has lights, indicators and a horn, it doesn’t yet wear number plates. As such, I’m restricted to private roads on the industrial estate where P50 Cars is based. But that’s more than enough space to get this unique car up to speed.
Speed? Jim reckons the P50 will top 40mph flat-out, but a restrictor limits it to 30mph. On the plus side, that means it can be driven on a provisional licence. And car tax (VED) is the same as a moped: just £18 a year.
Getting up to speed
Frankly, 30mph feels swift enough when you’re inches from the tarmac in something akin to a two-tone bidet. The reborn P50 boasts 4.5hp – twice the output of the 1962 car – so it gathers pace steadily, bouncing over bumps as the 50cc motor blares boisterously from below.
The familiar soundtrack jogs memories of the Pizza Hut moped I rode in my student days. Pizza deliveries by P50? Now there’s a thought…
Sense of scale
It may not be quick, but the P50 changes direction like a toddler on tartrazine. Thank tiny six-inch wheels, sharp steering and a wheelbase shorter than my inside leg. There are no gears to worry about, so driving it couldn’t be easier: you simply steer and go.
Stopping is more of an issue, however. I’m somewhere north of 15mph when a monster truck (OK, a Nissan Qashqai) looms ominously into view. I dab the left pedal and… nothing. Only when I squeeze harder does the P50 gently scrub off speed. Jim looks on nervously as I putter past, my eyes barely level with the crossover’s door mirrors.
On reflection, perhaps it’s a good thing I won’t be unleashed on the streets of Bexley today. Dicing with London buses and homicidal Uber drivers in this beautifully-finished, one-off P50 isn’t a prospect I’d relish.
Sensible consumer advice, then: unless you live on the Isle of Man, the P50 isn’t ideal commuter transport. It won’t have trendy urbanites trading in their Twizys. But as a budget fun car, it takes some beating.
More smiles per mile
And by the Power of Grayskull, this thing is fun. You know how 1980s hot hatches would cock an inside rear wheel when cornering hard? The P50 does the opposite. Take liberties with the steering and it can lift an outside front wheel, ‘waving’ at oncoming traffic like a demented, one-eyed alien.
It’s genuinely, laugh-out-loud hilarious – certainly more so than a moped with a stack of Stuffed Crusts on the back. Even jaded, post-lunchbreak mechanics and warehouse workers can’t help but smile.
Say yes to Trident
P50 Cars currently builds about one vehicle a month, but has ambitions to grow. A faded fibreglass buck in the corner of the workshop provides the clue: “That’s the two-seat Trident,” explains Jim, “our next project.”
The bubble-domed Peel Trident resembles the flying car from The Jetsons cartoon. Built between 1964 and 1965, it actually outsold the P50. According to the John Peel documentary, the Trident was “popular with courting couples” – perhaps because its tiny cabin meant driver and passenger would, inevitably, become intimately acquainted.
Manx for the memories
I’m excited to see the production Trident – and genuinely wish P50 Cars all the best. It’s great to see an innovative British company thriving in this niche market. However, for me, the P50 will always be the star. Where the Trident bears similarities to other microcars of the era (Messerschmitts, Heinkels, BMW Isettas, and so on), the P50 is like nothing else. And, 45 years later, it’s still the world’s smallest car.
This summer, Jim and Craig plan to gather a group of owners and return to the P50’s Manx home. There, they’ll lap the famous Isle of Man TT course in a convoy of P50s. It will be a fabulous spectacle – and one that should make the islanders rightly proud. Just don’t expect any lap records.
Jaguar has revealed the first official teaser image of the new 2017 XF Sportbrake as part of a Centre Court stunt at Wimbledon – and also teased the side profile of the car courtesy of paint on the famous Wimbledon grass. Luckily, Wimbledon 2017 doesn’t kick off until 3 July so groundsman Neil Stubley has plenty of time to put it all right…
Jaguar design director Ian Callum was on hand to watch the XF Sportbrake silhouette take shape. Although we don’t yet know what it will look like, the teaser lines give us a clue. “With XF Sportbrake we’ve created a silhouette which sweeps towards the rear, almost into the distance,” he said, which really gives the car a sense of speed and sportiness.
“It will bring new levels of practicality to the range without sacrificing the dynamic design and agile handling our customers expect.”
More usefully, Jaguar has also released the first official undisguised image of the new XF Sportbrake, which will go up against the BMW 5 Series Touring, Audi A6 Avant and Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate.
The aluminium-intensive car, which has already been spotted conducting none-too-discreet testing, looks to have a similarly elegant side windowline to the previous XF wagon, although as Callum suggests, Jaguar will have been keen to improve interior space and practicality. An extra-large panoramic glass roof is a neat addition over the XF saloon, and it looks like Jaguar is already looking at ways to make the roof rails stand out: they’re finished in gloss black on this white teaser image.
WATCH: Jaguar XF Sportbrake and Wimbledon
Jaguar has been testing prototype models of the new XF Sportbrake on UK roads – indeed, we spotted one in eye-catching ‘disguise’ parked in a pub car park in North Wales.
I don’t know but I’m guessing this is the new Jaguar XF Sportbrake. pic.twitter.com/q3hxPfwRXP
— Andrew Brady (@MR_AndrewBrady) April 14, 2017
We’ll find out more about the XF Sportbrake in coming weeks. Could Jaguar even use its official car partner status at Wimbledon to launch the new load-lugger there? We’ll watch with interest…
Kensington Palace has announced that the Duchess of Cambridge has gone into labour with her third child. We imagine Wills is flicking through car brochures right this second, creating a shortlist of family motors big enough to accommodate the three children.
Kate’ll be wanting three Isofix points. If you didn’t know, an Isofix child car seat attachment uses metal anchor points built into the chassis of the car to improve safety and make things easier for parents. Many new cars have two Isofix mounts as standard, but that won’t be enough for the William and Kate’s growing family. We’ve put together a list of cars with three or more Isofix child seat points, either as standard or as an optional extra.
As a compact crossover with an Audi badge, the Q2 is one of the most desirable cars you can buy. Prices start from £21,360 and there are two Isofix points on the outer rear seats and one for the front passenger seat, with airbag deactivation.
The Q2’s big brother is larger in many ways, including the number of Isofix points. The Audi Q7 has six – yes, six – Isofix points, one for each passenger seat. Prices start from just over £50,000, or a little over £8,000 per Isofix point.
BMW 2 Series Active Tourer / Gran Tourer
The idea of a front-wheel drive MPV with a BMW badge might upset the purists, but the fact remains, these are two of the classiest options in their respective sectors. Both the 2 Series Active Tourer and the seven-seat Gran Tourer offer Isofix points on the two outer second row seats and one at the front.
Citroen C4 Picasso / Grand C4 Picasso
Fitting child seats three abreast in a single row is the holy grail for some parents, which is why the Citroen C4 Picasso and the larger Grand C4 Picasso are so popular with families. All three seats in the middle row have Isofix points, while the Grand C4 has the bonus of a third row of two seats.
The Galaxy might feel like an ageing product in a market obsessed with crossovers and SUVs, but Ford’s practical seven-seater proves that there’s life in the MPV yet. Prices start from £27,995 and there are three Isofix points on the middle row of seats.
It’s a similar story in the Ford S-Max, which is the Galaxy’s sportier cousin. This has always been the MPV for parents who demand a decent driving experience to go with the practicality. The three Isofix points in the middle row will ensure your little ones stay locked tight if you’re a little too eager through the bends.
Land Rover Discovery
The Land Rover Discovery features seven adult-sized seats, including up to five Isofix points on SE trim and above. These can be found on the front passenger seat, outer second row seats and both third row seats. Discovery SE prices start from £50,000.
The new Mini Countryman is bigger and more expensive than before, and is sure to divide opinion just like the original. In many ways, the new model is far more convincing than the old model and you’ll find two Isofix points in the back and one on the front passenger seat.
Nothing encapsulates the crossover boom quite like the Peugeot 3008, which has ditched the dowdy MPV styling of the old model, replacing it with something more akin to an SUV. A particular highlight is the quality and clever interior, which just happens to include three Isofix points, one in the front and two in the back.
But the 3008 is upstaged by its big brother, the new Peugeot 5008, which manages to squeeze three Isofix points along the middle row of seats. The seven-seat SUV will be available to order from October 2017.
Renault Grand Scenic
The Renault Grand Scenic no longer looks like the kind of car you’d buy when you’ve given up on life. Even the entry-level model has 20-inch alloy wheels – this is Renault’s idea of ‘Pimp my MPV’. But practicality hasn’t been forgotten, with three Isofix points on the second row of seats.
Fancy three Isofix points in a smaller package? The Renault Twingo offers two anchor points as standard, but a £250 Seat Pack adds heated front seats and an Isofix point in the front. It’s available on the Twingo Play, Dynamique, Dynamique S and sporty GT models.
The Seat Alhambra is getting a bit long in the tooth – especially in light of the new Ateca and forthcoming Arona – but it remains one of the best MPVs you can buy. As you’d expect, it’s packed with family-friendly features, including sliding doors and three Isofix points.
The Skoda Kodiaq is available as a five- or seven-seater and comes fitted with two Isofix points as standard. But for the small price of £40, you can equip the front passenger seat with an extra mounting point. The Kodiaq range starts from £22,190, with the cheapest seven-seater available for just under £25,000.
Tesla Model X
Tesla claims that the Model X is the safest SUV ever built, with a huge array of active and passive safety features. There are up to seven seats on board, four of which include Isofix mounting points. The middle seats are mounted on a single post and recline independently.
Vauxhall Grandland X
The Vauxhall Grandland X is based on the Peugeot 3008, so it’s no surprise to discover that it offers the same number of Isofix points: two in the back and one in the front. The new Vauxhall will hit the streets in January 2018, with prices starting from £22,485.
Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport / Sports Tourer
Vauxhall has its sights on the premium Germans with the Insignia Grand Sport and Sports Tourer, and the new models certainly look the part. Families will be keen to know that there are three Isofix mounting points located across the rear seats. Prices start from just over £17,000.
The Volkswagen Sharan and SEAT Alhambra are fundamentally the same car, so you’ll find three Isofix points along the central row of seats in VW’s MPV. You’ll pay £2,000 more for the entry-level model, but the Sharan offers stronger residual values.
The Touran might be smaller and less practical than the Sharan, but it has one or two aces up its sleeve. Crucially, it offers five Isofix points, with anchor points on all second and third row seats. For many families, this will make it one of the best MPVs you can buy.
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