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Highways England 70mph Thames tunnel

Consultation begins for 70mph tunnel under the Thames

Highways England 70mph Thames tunnel

Highways England is planning what it calls ‘Britain’s most ambitious roads project in a generation’. Plans for a 70mph tunnel under the river Thames enter the next phase of public consultation next week. 

The multi-billion-pound Lower Thames crossing will connect Essex, Thurrock and Kent. The latest consultation will allow people to have their say on the current state of the project’s design.

Highways England 70mph Thames tunnel

It will be an eight-week process, running from Wednesday January 29 to Wednesday March 25. There will be 20 events along the route at which people can offer their thoughts. You can also complete an online survey. 

Changes have been made since the last public consultation in 2018. These are with reference to the 29,000 responses Highways England received on the project, as well as new technical information from ground investigations and surveys.

Highways England 70mph Thames tunnel

The Lower Thames Crossing in its current state would be a 14.3-mile 70mph road – the longest road tunnel in the UK. Road capacity to the East of London across the Thames will be doubled. 

“The Lower Thames Crossing is Highways England’s most ambitious scheme in 30 years,” said Chris Taylor, director of Highways England’s Complex Infrastructure Programme.

“We are designing a new route that will boost the local and regional economy, while providing quicker and more reliable journeys.”

Highways England 70mph Thames tunnel

“We have made some changes to the design of the scheme based on new information, feedback from our consultation in 2018 and ongoing engagement with the local community and organisations.

“This further consultation is an opportunity for people to have their say on the changes before we submit our planning application later this year.”

Bond Aston Martin DB5

Revealed: The cost of modifying cinema’s greatest cars

Bond Aston Martin DB5

James Bond’s Aston Martin is having something of a restoration at Q branch, in preparation for its performance in No Time To Die. But how much does it cost to outfit a DB5 with machine guns, an ejector seat and bulletproof glass?

Movie motor buff Mike Renaut has priced it the cost of making an Aston Martin DB5 mission-ready, as well as some other famous movie cars.

Budgeting for BondBond Aston Martin DB5

Although a DB5 will set you back £795,000 (at least), the modifications are surprisingly affordable. You can go from boulevard cruiser to bulletproof bruiser for less than £70,000.

Let’s open with the small stuff: the revolving number plates and smokescreen. They’ll set you back £500 (£400+£100). The first really big expense is the bulletproof glass. Based on a £60 per square foot, plus shaping, tooling and fitting, it’ll cost £7,000. 

Bond Aston Martin DB5

Now the really cool bits. An ejector seat, albeit a replica, will set you back £1,500. If you want it to work, it’ll be more like £20,000. A removable roof will be useful if the ejector is working, which will be a further £600.

The bulletproof rear shield is a £1,550 job, involving the fitment of a £550 police-spec riot shield. From back to front, and from defence to offence, the twin Browning machine guns will set you back £4,600.

Bond Aston Martin DB5

Finally, the rear tyre slashers. These, surprisingly, are the most expensive bit. Because the rear axle will need re-engineering, it adds up to £50,000.

So, there you have it. A breakdown of what Bond’s Aston ends up costing Q branch. Now add that to multiple replacement cars (and replacement mods) every time 007 destroys his long-serving classic…

Preparing other movie cars for battleFast & Furious Dodge Charger

Bond’s needs are different to those of, say, a California street racer. What makes Dominic Torretto’s The Fast and The Furious Dodge Charger so, well, fast and furious? Far from the minimum six-figure sum a DB5 will set you back, a Charger can be had for £30,000.

Mike research for Northgate Vehicle Hire reveals £45,000-worth of modifications, all in the name of performance. These include a 426 cubic inch Hemi V8 for £20,000, drag tyres for £700, race suspension for £3,000 and nitrous injection for £1,500.

Italian Job Mini

From Race Wars to the streets of Turin, what about getting a Mini ready for the gruelling The Italian Job chase? Well, on top of the £7,000 that a classic Mini will cost, you’ll need £8,000 for modifications.

These include a strengthened boot floor for £750, a second fuel tank for £400, upgraded shock absorbers for £275, plus a three-point rollcage for £200. What we’re wondering is why a special roof paint job is estimated to cost £4,000.

Bentley launches a ski-drive holiday – but it isn’t cheap

Bentley and Bomber ski experience

Bentley and Bomber Ski have joined forces to create a skiing and driving holiday experience.

Set in the Rocky Mountains, Bentley and Bomber will host a group of ski enthusiasts at a six-day, five-night experience. Eighteen places are available on this ‘once-in-a-lifetime experience’.

Six-time Olympic medallist and five-time World Champion skier Bode Miller will be on hand to provide expert guidance and coaching to skiers of all abilities.

Skiers are promised access to areas only accessible by Snowcat, allowing them to ‘catch the first glimpse of the sunrise before skiing untouched, pristine powder’.

Additional activities include snow-shoeing, a helicopter ride over the Rocky Mountain range and fine dining in the best restaurants.

Guests can expect a morning visit from the in-house ski valet when they stay at the five-star Lumiere Hotel in Telluride. Later, a private aviation transfer will fly the 18 guests to the Montage Deer Valley in Utah, where the trip will conclude.

The Bomber for Bentley Ski & Drive Experience follows the debut of the Limited Edition Centenary Ski and the Black Diamond Edition Ski that were launched last month.

Each design features diamond motifs, textures and patterns, inspired by Bentley’s EXP 100 GT concept car launched in July 2019.

‘Curated global experiences’

Bentley skiing holiday

Developed with Chris Cooke, head of product design at Bentley Motors, the ‘Bomber for Bentley’ skis are handcrafted in Bomber’s boutique factory in Italy, with each pair of skis taking roughly 32 hours to complete.

Predictably, the Bentley skiing and driving holiday isn’t cheap. The price of double occupancy is $28,950 (£22,257) or $17,950 (£13,800) for single occupancy.

Don’t worry if you can’t make the inaugural event which takes place from 4 to 9 March 2020. Bentley is promising additional ‘curated global experiences’ throughout the year.

Time to start saving… 

Motorway money used to restore historic buildings

Gunnersbury Park mansion

Money put aside for reducing the road network’s impact on the historic environment is being used to revitalise historic buildings.

Highways England has awarded £340,000 to Gunnersbury Park – a 75-hectare park near the M4 motorway in West London.

In 2009, eight of the listed buildings in the park were placed on Historic England’s Heritage At Risk Register. There are 22 listed buildings in the park, many of which have fallen into disrepair.

The Highways England cash is being put towards securing three of the threatened buildings. The plan is to transform them into cultural and artistic facilities for the local community.

Last year, Highways England awarded £90,000 towards the cost of specialist surveys of the small mansion and stable buildings. Now, a further £250,000 has been allocated to the cost of repair.

In the future, Gunnersbury Park will boast a multi-million-pound sports hub, offering tennis, football, cricket, gym facilities and angling to local people.

‘Derelict for decades’

Highways England cash restoring old buildings

Highways England principal cultural heritage advisor Jim Hunter said: “I am delighted that Highways England has been able to contribute to this scheme which will help ensure a sustainable future for this beautiful park and its important buildings for generations to come.

“We believe in operating and improving our roads in a way that protects and supports people and the things we value for our quality of life, and helping to enhance the historic environment on or close to our road network is what our Designated Fund for Cultural Heritage is all about.”

Emily Gee, Historic England’s regional director for London and the South East, added: “These special historic buildings within Gunnersbury Park have been derelict for decades and it’s wonderful that they are set to be transformed into cultural and arts facilities for the local community.

“We are delighted that Highways England’s funding has helped to secure the future of this precious landscape together with the commitment of Ealing and Hounslow councils.”

The fund is part of a £675 million fund allocated to Highways England over a five-year period from 2015. Its aim is to mitigate the road network’s impact, focusing on air quality, the environment, cycling, safety, integration and innovation.

Acceptable in the 80s: Classic cars head to auction

80s classic car auction

This weekend, dozens of classic cars will go under the hammer in King’s Lynn for the first Anglia Car Auctions classic sale of 2020. There are far too many lots to list here, so we’ve selected 20 cars from the 80s, presented in alphabetical order. The auction will take place on Saturday 25 January, so there’s not long to wait.

Alfa Romeo 164 3.0 V6 Cloverleaf

80s classic car auction

The 3.0-litre V6 in this 1991 Alfa Romeo 164 is one of the all-time great engines. It delivers the performance and soundtrack to match the glorious Pininfarina styling, although the chances of finding a good one are diminishing with every passing year. This example has been owned by the same family since it was purchased new in 1991. The estimate is £3,000 to £5,000.

BMW M3 Evolution II

80s classic car auction

From one of the all-time great engines to one of the all-time great performance saloons. The BMW M3 was the sports saloon of the 1980s, offering impressive pace, wonderful balance and superb agility. All were left-hand drive, but that didn’t stop numerous E30 M3s from arriving on these shores. This 1988 example was imported in 2012 and is said to be in ‘outstanding condition’. It’s offered with no reserve.

Citroen CX 25 GTi Turbo

80s classic car auction

When Citroen added a turbocharger to the CX in the mid-80s, it created one of the smoothest and most comfortable performance cars in the world. What it lacked through the corners, it more than made up for in terms of sophistication, pace and cruising ability. This 1985 example is described by the vendor as being in ‘lovely condition’ and comes with a pre-auction estimate of £5,750 to £7,250.

Ferrari 412

80s classic car auction

How do you fancy a Ferrari for the price of a family crossover? This Ferrari 412 formed part of a private collection for a number of years and was purchased new by the entrepreneur Peter de Savary. It has just returned from a tour of Scotland, with the vendor describing it as ‘driving very well’. The estimate is £25,000 to £28,000.

Ford Capri 3.0 Ghia X-Pack

80s classic car auction

The 2.8i and 280 ‘Brooklands’ models have hugged the limelight over recent years, so it’s good to see a different example of the Ford Capri. The 3.0 Ghia with the X-Pack body is peak Capri, and so of its time. Supplied new in 1981 by Trimoco Dunstable, the mileage is listed as 15,847. The pre-auction estimate is £18,000 to £24,000.

Ford Sierra RS Cosworth

80s classic car auction

The Ford Sierra RS Cosworth has been one of the headline acts of the recent explosion in fast Ford values, so it will be interesting to see what this 1986 example fetches on Saturday. The vendor has owned it since 2002 and the mileage is listed as 55,240. The pre-auction estimate is £35,000 to £40,000, but the final sale price could provide a hint of what the classic car market will do in 2020.

Lancia Delta 1.3 LX

80s classic car auction

Other than the famous Integrale version, it’s rare to see a Lancia Delta at a UK auction. Most have long since rusted away, which makes this 1988 Delta 1.3 LX a proper survivor. It has been in storage since 2014 and the mileage of 22,250 is believed to be genuine. If it sells for £1,500 to £2,000, it could be an affordable entry for this year’s Festival of the Unexceptional.

Lotus Esprit S3

80s classic car auction

The Series 3 Lotus Esprit arrived in 1981, which makes this 1982 car quite an early example of the breed. The S3 was the best version of the original Esprit, with Lotus upping the build quality and introducing a host of revisions that had debuted on the earlier Essex Turbo. This one is expected to sell for between £10,000 and £12,000.

Mercedes-Benz 420 SL

80s classic car auction

The R107 Mercedes-Benz SL is a classy and comfortable boulevard cruiser that enjoyed a near two-decade production run. During that time there were a number of engines available, but it always felt at its best with a V8 engine under the bonnet. If the sun is shining on Saturday, you can expect this 1987 420 SL to fetch a little more than usual, although it’s offered with no reserve.

MG Montego

80s classic car auction

The MG Montego was a fast and effective performance saloon that was let down by the slump in the British car industry. The fact that so many have rusted away is a shame, because the MG Montego is far better than the classic car world gives it credit for. This 1989 example was owned by the same family from new until its transfer to the estate executors. It’s expected to fetch between £4,000 and £6,000.

Peugeot 205 GTI

80s classic car auction

There are three examples of the Peugeot 205 GTI in the Anglia Car Auctions sale, but this is the only one registered in the 1980s. The pictures would suggest it requires a little work, which is something noted in the auction catalogue. There’s no reserve, so this could be a January bargain.

Porsche 911 3.2 Carrera

80s classic car auction

With 121,000 miles on the clock, this 1987 Porsche 911 3.2 Carrera has been used and enjoyed. Thanks to its Guards Red paintwork, the only way it could look more 80s is if it turned up wearing red braces and humming It’s a Sin by the Pet Shop Boys. Yours for between £30,000 and £35,000.

Range Rover Classic

80s classic car auction

The pre-auction estimate for this glorious 1988 Range Rover is listed as £2,000 to £2,500, which would be an absolute steal. The description suggests it was recommissioned in 2018 and treated to new tyres in 2019. If the photos are to be believed, it’s in great shape, although you’d be wise to check it out before placing a bid. This, or a deposit on an Evoque PCP deal?

Renault 5 GT Turbo

80s classic car auction

Fans of Car SOS will recognise this as the Renault 5 GT Turbo rebuilt to original specification by Fuzz Townshend. Our Tim Pitt drove a similar example last year. He said it made him feel like he was 17 again by offering ‘flashes of boisterous brilliance’. Fancy paying £12,000 to £16,000 to own this one, Tim?

Rover 827 Si

80s classic car auction

This 1989 Rover 827 Si is powered by the desirable 2.7-litre engine, which offers a terrific blend of performance and economy. Rover’s flagship saloon wasn’t without its problems, but it’s got a strong following and seems to get better with every passing year. This car was recommissioned in 2019 and is offered with no reserve.

Toyota Corolla GTi

80s classic car auction

There’s no auction description for this 1990 Toyota Corolla GTi, but the MOT history would suggest that it’s been off the road since 2010 or 2011. This may or may not make the pre-auction estimate of £1,200 to £1,500 a tad optimistic, but it’s a Toyota, so it’ll probably start first time and fly through its MOT at the first attempt. Probably…

Toyota MR2

80s classic car auction

If the photos, history and description are anything to go by, this 1989 Toyota MR2 is a little gem. Check for rust, then enjoy one of the finest sports cars of the era. Yours for between £5,000 and £7,000.

Vauxhall Astra GTE

80s classic car auction

The Vauxhall Astra GTE: because not everybody wants a Golf GTI or 205 GTI. In 16v guise, the Astra GTE was a proper hooligan, making it the weapon of choice for boy racers. It was also a target for car thieves and joyriders, which is one of the reasons why so few remain. This one is expected to fetch between £5,000 and £6,000.

Volkswagen Golf GTI

80s classic car auction

This 1985 Volkswagen Golf GTI was sold new in Germany before being brought to the UK in the same year. Given the values of Mk2 Golf GTIs, we wouldn’t be surprised to see this one fly through its £6,000 to £7,000 pre-auction estimate.

Volkswagen Scirocco GTX

80s classic car auction

The original buyer, an airline pilot, kept this 1987 Volkswagen Scirocco GTX until 2016. Around £11,000 has been spent on restoration work and parts since 2017. There’s no reserve, so it will be interesting to see what it fetches. Remember, the auction takes place in King’s Lynn on 25 January 2020.

Lexus spot the difference between real and Gran Turismo

Spot the difference: Lexus in London or Gran Turismo?

Lexus spot the difference between real and Gran Turismo

Can you spot the difference between these images? The subject is a Sonic Red Lexus LC500, photographed at various London locations. One of the slides is shot in Gran Turismo Sport’s excellent photo mode, the other is a real shot. 

To test the theory that modern game graphics are truly lifelike, Lexus enlisted the help of professional photographer Jayson Fong to help create some images in-game, and then retake them in real life. They picked Air Street, Cromwell Place and Wellington Street in London, as featured in the game’s ‘Scapes’ mode.

As for the car? It’s a good one to test both photographer and observer. With a nice mix of clean and harsh lines, we love the way the LC500 looks in certain environments, reflecting what’s around it.

Lexus spot the difference between real and Gran Turismo

Then, once the images were taken on the game, Jayson and his team noted down the exact geometry, time of day and light settings to replicate the pictures in real life. As Jayson follows, lighting was the biggest challenge. 

“For some locations, we had to be on the street at 4am and it was difficult to get the timings right because the sky was always going to be one of the biggest giveaways.”

Lexus spot the difference between real and Gran Turismo

It proved a tall task practically when it came to shooting the car for real, then. Given the closeness of the results, we wouldn’t blame you for leaving it to the professionals and taking to the PlayStation for some artistic automotive photography.

The results really are spectacular, given that we’re never quite sure which is real. Especially in the case of the Cromwell Place daytime shot. We’re unsure what the giveaway is. The bin bag? The reflections on the car? The yellow lines? The scaffolding? They’ve done a great job of matching the shots.

Prices for new all-electric Smart range revealed

Smart EQ pricing announced 2020

Prices have been revealed for Smart’s updated range of electric cars. The line-up of Fortwo Coupe and Cabriolet, plus the larger Forfour, will cost between £20,350 and £26,565, before the government plug-in car grant is deducted. After the grant, that equates to between £16,850 and £23,065.

The Smart range opens up with Passion Advanced. This brings as standard a multi-function leather steering wheel, rear parking sensors and a media system. The latter features a seven-inch touchscreen, navigation, charging station finder, Bluetooth, automatic climate control, DAB radio, Android Auto connectivity and Mirrorlink mobile phone mirroring.

Smart EQ pricing announced 2020

All Smarts also come with the ‘acoustic presence indicator’ – to warn unwary pedestrians – and comfort package as standard. On the outside, 15-inch black four-spoke wheels add to the premium effect.

A 22kW on-board charger now comes with all Smarts. That allows for a 70 percent charge-up in 40 minutes from a rapid charger, or six hours if using a home wallbox.

The only issue? This base specification is not available on the Fortwo Cabriolet. Those wanting the wind in their hair will need to pay more.


ModelRoad fund licence (£)Rec. OTR price (£)Rec. OTR price inc. PICG (£)P11D value (£)BIK (%)
Passion Advanced
Fortwo Coupe020,35016,85020,2950
Pulse Premium
Fortwo Coupe021,50018,00021,4450
Fortwo Cabriolet023,92020,42023,8650
Prime Exclusive
Fortwo Coupe022,65019,10522,5950
Fortwo Cabriolet025,07021,57025,0150
Edition 1
Fortwo Coupe024,14520,64524,0900
Fortwo Cabriolet026,56523,06526,5100

Pulse Premium adds £1,150 to the Coupe price. It brings 16-inch wheels, sports pedals, a rear-view camera and, on hard-top models, a panoramic roof with a blind.

Prime Exclusive spec will set you back £2,650 over the base price. It adds 16-inch Y-spoke alloys, ambient lighting, auto-dim mirrors and heated seats. For the first time ever on a Smart, there’s also full LED lighting.

Smart EQ pricing announced 2020

Edition 1 spec is available only on the two-door Smarts. It adds a healthy £4,145 to the start price, but comes with exclusive colours, black detailing, Brabus body features and sporty alloys.

All Smarts are rated for around 70 miles of range, and have an 82hp electric motor. A single-speed gearbox powers the rear wheels and top speed is limited to 81mph.

BMW 8 Series: 30 years in 30 pictures

It’s just under three years since the concept for the current BMW 8 Series was revealed. Since then, the flagship GT has flourished through coupe, convertible, four-door Gran Coupe and, of course, full-fat M variants. In 2020, the 8 Series badge turns 30. That sounds like cause for a celebration…

The E31

First shown at the 1989 Frankfurt Motor Show, the BMW 850i – or E31 – followed the 750i saloon as the second post-war German car to be powered by a 12-cylinder engine.
According to the company, BMW “launched its challenge to the world’s finest sports coupes with a design oozing avant-garde elegance, arresting performance attributes, an exceptional wealth of innovations and a sprinkling of exclusive luxury.” Sounds promising…

A strong start

Indeed, BMW’s flagship coupe made a brilliant first impression. Within eight days of the Frankfurt show, BMW had received 5,000 orders, and by the summer of 1990, it was reported that the entire production of 10,000 to 12,000 units a year had been sold out until 1993. Some people were prepared to spend twice the list price to avoid the six-month waiting list.

The first 8 Series

This was the first time BMW had used the number eight in its model line-up, with the 8 Series breaking new ground for Bavaria. Power was sourced from a 5.0-litre 12-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed manual gearbox developed specifically for the 850i. A four-speed automatic transmission was available as an option.

V for victory

It’s not hard to see why would-be owners were seduced by the V12 flagship coupe. The promise of BMW’s legendary driving dynamics combined with an engine developing 300hp and 332lb ft of torque sounded like a match made in heaven. A 0-62mph time of 6.8 seconds and a top speed electronically limited to 155mph were the kind of figures likely to send alarm bells ringing in Stuttgart.

Technical tour de force

It might seem like a contradiction in terms for a car powered by a 5.0-litre V12, but efficiency was a key word during the 850’s development. Central to this was aerodynamics, with BMW setting out with the aim of designing a car with a drag coefficient of less than 0.3. Aerodynamic door mirrors, recessed wipers and super-tight seals on the side windows were just three of the elements combining to result in a drag coefficient of just 0.29.

Pop-up headlights

Other highlights included pop-up headlights, the absence of a B-pillar, speed-sensitive power steering, an electrically adjustable steering column with memory function, remote central locking, auto dimming rear-view mirror, two computers, a mobile phone located between the front seats and safety belts integrated into the seats. This, along with dynamic stability control, represented two firsts for BMW.

A very 90s interior

Given the evidence presented, it’s hard to see how the 8 Series could fail. The cabin was another positive, with the 850i featuring a well-built and driver-focused interior. Writing in Car, Russell Bulgin said: “As a place to pass the miles in, as a tax-free adjunct to an office, a Club Europe ticket and a platinum American Express card, the 850i interior is an elegant, soothing and high-tech minimalist home from home.” The interior shown is a later 840Ci.

A glorious failure?

What, if anything, went wrong for the 8 Series? History will be kind to the 8er, but there’s no getting away from the fact that it represents a glorious failure for Bavaria. Why else would BMW turn its back on the segment for the best part of two decades before taking enough brave pills to try again? For all that talk of waiting lists and production allocated for three years, BMW managed to shift a mere 30,621 8 Series before pulling the plug in 1999.

It was too expensive

In 1990, a BMW 850i would set you back upwards of £60,000, which is around £130,000 in today’s money. For some context, you could buy a Ferrari 348tb for a little under £68,000, while a Mercedes-Benz SEC would be 63,000 of your finest British pounds. The 850i was cheaper, yes, but it was far from perfect. To compound matters, launching a V12 on the eve of a financial depression wasn’t the best timing.

It was too big and heavy

The 850i was handicapped by its weight, tipping the scales at 1,790kg. This only served to remove any sparkle from the driving experience, while adding roll and floatiness through the corners. With the benefit of hindsight, and when viewed as a grand tourer, these factors are more forgivable, but at the time the 750iL was no less of a driving machine, was around £5,000 cheaper and offered rear seat accommodation suitable for more than just the offspring of a contortionist.

It lacked the wow-factor

Today, the BMW 8 Series can turn heads as well as any modern classic of the 1990s, but that wasn’t necessarily the case when the car was new. See an 850i in your rear-view mirror and you’d be forgiven for thinking you were being hustled by a banker in a Toyota Supra 3.0i Turbo. There’s nothing wrong with a Supra, but it cost a full £40,000 less than the BMW. The well-heeled motorist simply must stand out from the crowd.

It wasn’t focused enough

For all its technical wizardry – Active Rear Axle Kinematics (AHK), adjustable suspension and Servotronic steering – the 850i could never really make up its mind what it wanted to be. Drivers could select between ‘Sport’ and ‘Komfort’ modes, but while the 850i was certainly smooth and comfortable, the more practical and cheaper 750i did everything just as well. “Good, but not that good,” read the rather damning headline on the front of Car, June 1990.

Introducing the 850CSi

BMW chipped away at the 8 Series, eager to perfect its super-coupe. In 1993, a second version of the 12-cylinder engine was added to create the 850CSi. This 5.6-litre version offered 381hp and 401lb ft of torque, enough for it to complete the 62mph dash in under 6.0 seconds. This is the point at which BMW introduced active rear axle kinematics, with the rear wheels responding to the speed and steering angle by turning in the same direction.

The 850i becomes the 850Ci

Meanwhile, the 850i became the 850Ci, with standard equipment including a pair of airbags, infrared remote control and folding rear seat backrests. Dynamic stability control was available as an option and the automatic transmission was equipped with adaptive control.

BMW 840Ci

The BMW 840Ci joined the line-up in 1993. Powered by a 286hp 4.0-litre V8 engine, the new entry-level 8 Series was designed to introduce a new audience to the super-coupe. It wasn’t a huge success, as more than two-thirds of all 8 Series sold were powered by a 12-cylinder engine.

BMW 850 Ci

The 850Ci was revised in 1994, with the coupe now powered by a 5.4-litre V12 developing 326hp. Customers could opt for a five-speed transmission, and a few of them did. Only one in six 8 Series sold were fitted with a manual gearbox. The 850CSi, of which 1,150 units were produced, was available exclusively with a stick shift.

Total production: 30,621

In total, 30,621 8 Series were built, including 24 hand-built at BMW’s Rosslyn plant in South Africa. For tax reasons, assembling the cars there was more cost effective than importing the finished articles. Today, 840 prices start from around £10,000, but you’ll pay more for a good example and much, much more for an 850, with the CSi commanding top dollar.


Sadly, a much rumoured M8 version never saw the light of day, but a one-off, high-performance variant of the 8 Series was completed in 1991 and featured an all-new 12-cylinder engine developing around 550hp, chassis tweaks and bespoke body features. Co-developed by BMW Motorsport and BMW Technik, the ‘M8’ was employed as a test bed for technology and innovations. Its engine, for example, served as the basis for the V12 unit powering the legendary McLaren F1.

David Hockney Art Car

This is the David Hockney Art Car: a BMW 850CSi completed in 1995. The artist said: “BMW gave me a model of the car and I looked at it time and time again. Finally, I thought it would be a good idea to show the car as if one could see inside.” Hockney turned the car inside out, making it transparent through unique perception. The bonnet sports a stylised reproduction of the engine’s intake manifold, the driver is visible through the door, and a dachshund (named Stanley) can be seen sitting on the back seat.

BMW Alpina B12

Alpina created two versions of the E31: a 5.0-litre produced from 1990 to 1994 and a 5.7-litre built from 1992 to 1996. In 5.7-litre guise, the Alpina B12 developed 416hp, enough for a 0-62mph time of 5.8 seconds and a top speed of 186mph.

Reviving the 8

It was 2017’s Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este where BMW unveiled the concept for a new 8 Series, previewing a more luxurious successor to the outgoing 6 Series. The car dropped jaws as excitement swelled for the return of BMW’s flagship GT.

Destination Le Mans

But this BMW had duties to perform, namely in GTE-spec at Le Mans. In fact, we saw the race-spec 8 Series before the production version even debuted, at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2017. It disappointed on-track, however, not achieving the wins BMW hoped for and being the subject of ridicule in the form of memes, due to its apparent size.

M8 Gran Coupe Concept

The M8 Gran Coupe Concept previewed the latest chapter of the 8 Series story, with M5 power and a longer four-door body. Secretly, all were looking forward to the introduction of the production version, as the most desirable 8 Series.

Return of the 8

The real deal arrived a year, featuring either a twin-turbo 530hp V8 or a straight-six diesel with 320hp. Both came with four-wheel-drive and an eight-speed automatic gearbox. Like the original, it’s less a sports car and more a luxury GT. Although you can’t have a V12 engine this time.

Dropping the top

Expanding the range, BMW dropped the top on the 8. It advances its boulevard cruising credentials while retaining its blistering performance.

8 Series Night Sky Edition

No stranger to odd special editions, January 2019 saw the introduction of the night Sky Edition, with controls made from what BMW calls ‘meteoric material’. In short, what wood trim is for Bentleys, space rock is for BMWs.

The ultimate, ultimate driving machine

Although the M850i offered ample performance, we were all waiting for the proper M-car. It’s the fastest BMW ever made, with 625hp and switchable all-wheel drive. It hits 62mph in 3.3 seconds, before settling to a 70mph cruise across Europe. The ultimate 8 Series?

8 Series Gran Coupe

Perhaps not. Many worried that the coupe version of the 8 Series, and indeed the M8, wasn’t special enough. Especially in comparison with Aston Martins, Bentleys and other exotic machines. Step forward the 8 Series Gran Coupe, a car doing what Germans do best: fast and sexy four-door coupes.

M8 Gran Coupe

And they don’t get faster and sexier than the M version. More aggressive bumpers, bulbous exhausts and lashings of carbon fibre suit the 8 Gran Coupe’s muscular lines. In our book, this is the new 8 Series to have.

The original and best

But perhaps not the ultimate 8 Series. Misguided, misjudged or misunderstood – whatever your views on the 8 Series, you can’t deny its place in BMW history. Today, the styling of the original looks better than ever. With a body blissfully free of spoilers and chintz, its legacy looms large over the new car. As a grand tourer, we can think of few better ways to cross the continent. In the V12-powered 850CSi, of course.

Roush F-150 5.11 Tactical Edition is a 650 hp truck ready for anything

Roush Ford F150 5.11 Tactical Edition

Tuning company Roush Performance has collaborated with California-based 5.11 Tactical to produce a special limited-edition version of the Ford F-150.

Launched at the recent 2020 SHOT Show in Las Vegas, the 5.11 Tactical Edition combines a wealth of performance enhancements and bespoke design upgrades. 

Roush currently plans to build 150 examples of the 5.11 Tactical Edition, with the truck aimed at those who need a dependable vehicle with a hefty dose of attitude. 

Rapid tactical deployment

Roush Ford F150 5.11 Tactical Edition

No self-respecting Roush produce would come without one of the company’s signature superchargers added beneath the hood. The 5.11 Tactical Edition does not disappoint, with a 2.65-liter ‘charger added to the 5.0-liter V-8 engine. 

Peak power is upped to an impressive 650 horsepower, with a corresponding 610 lb-ft of torque. This is the same set of figures as found in the record-breaking Roush F-150 Nitemare, meaning performance should not be in doubt here. 

Roush also fits a cat-back Active Performance Exhaust system, allowing the driver to change the sound from the tailpipes at the twist of a dial. Picking ‘Touring’ mode quietens the exhaust down, which could be handy for doing important tactical activities. 

Roush Ford F150 5.11 Tactical Edition

Suspension upgrades are also included, with a Roush/Fox 2.0 Performance Series setup installed to improve ride comfort. Tire clearance is also said to be enhanced, with the 5.11 Tactical Edition wearing 20-inch wheels fitted with 33-inch General Grabber all-terrain rubber.

Completing the exterior makeover is a wide array of parts from the Roush catalogue. This includes a new front grille with signature lighting, plus fender flares which also house accent lighting elements. Puddle lights also display the Roush logo when the truck is unlocked. 

Roush will only offer the 5.11 Tactical Edition is two Ford colors – Agate Black or Abyss Gray. This is combined with digital camouflage graphics and 5.11 Tactical logos applied to the outside of the F-150.  

Lock and load up on tactical gear

Roush Ford F150 5.11 Tactical Edition

The Tactical theme continues inside, where Roush has installed a custom-branded vehicle safe in the center console. Fitted with a combination lock, and made from cold-rolled plate steel, it allows for secure storage of important equipment. 

Roush-branded leather seats are fitted, along with a Roush instrument cluster and a set of bespoke floor liners made by WeatherTech.

In addition to the special Roush badging fitted on the exterior of the 5.11 Tactical Edition, each of the 150 models will also gain a serialized commemorative plaque on the dashboard.  

Roush Ford F150 5.11 Tactical Edition

A collaboration with a tactical clothing and equipment manufacturer would surely be wasted without an accompanying haul of branded goods. 

Roush has not disappointed with this special edition. Buyers will receive a branded tactical duffle bag, a custom 5.11 Tactical hard case with a heavy-duty responder’s multi-tool inside, a custom tactical pen, a steel money clip, plus a range hat and USA flag patch.

Each of the 150 trucks will come with a unique serialized certificate of authenticity when leaving the Roush Performance factory in Michigan.

Time to make a tactical decision

Roush Ford F150 5.11 Tactical Edition

The 5.11 Tactical Edition joins the growing number of special outdoor-focussed pickups, with Chevrolet having released the Silverado HD Carhartt Edition at SEMA last year. 

Pricing for the 5.11 Tactical Edition is dependent on the base F-150 chosen as a starting point. However, the transformation itself will add $31,000 to the overall price, with Roush only using the 5.0-liter V-8 Lariat model.

All Roush trucks are supplied with a three-year/36,000-mile warranty, and can be ordered now with delivery expected in Spring 2020. 

Two-hour Netflix binge worse for emissions than 15 miles of driving

Netflix emissions

Binging on Netflix could be worse for the environment than the drive to the store to buy a DVD. That’s according to French think tank The Shift Project.

It’s claimed that two hours watching Netflix puts you in a chain of emissions generation equivalent to driving over 15 miles. That’s on average – actual person-by-person figures must depend on the specific car.

Over the course of 2019, it’s said that online streaming services like Netflix collectively generated emissions equivalent to that of Spain. The Shift Project expects that to double, too. All in, around 34 percent of online traffic can be attributed to services like Netflix, Amazon Prime and more.

Diesel particulate emissions

At present, digital technologies – ranging from data centres to you charging your phone – represent four percent of worldwide carbon emissions. That’s more than civil air transport. However, the output increases by eight percent every year.

Estimates from experts at Huawei Technologies suggest that digital technologies could account for 20 percent of the world’s electricity use by 2030.

How is an hour of Netflix more damaging than an eight-mile drive?Emissions reduction congestion charge zone

The problem is that services like Netflix have enormous libraries of content that have to be hosted somewhere. Droves of data banks and servers consume energy. On top of simply keeping them powered up, a massive amount of energy is consumed keeping them cool. And they’re running 24/7, 365 days a year.

“How we power our digital infrastructure is rapidly becoming critical to whether we will be able to arrest climate change in time,” says Gary Cook, IT sector analyst at Greenpeace.