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Whisky residue biofuel car

Boffins drive car that runs on waste WHISKY

Whisky residue biofuel carThe world’s first car to be powered by fuel produced from whisky waste has completed its first public demonstration drive in Scotland. The sustainable fuel is called biobutanol and the Scottish whisky industry could potentially produce millions of litres of it every year. 

A Ford Focus hired from car dealer group Arnold Clark was used for the inaugural run, which took place at Edinburgh Napier university. Arnold Clark technicians certified the biofuel for use before the drive: no engine modifications were required. 

Developed by startup firm Celtic Renewables in association with Perthshire’s Tullibardine Distillery, the biobutanol fuel is produced from draff and pot ale. Draff is sugar-rich kernels of barley, soaked in water, which aids whisky fermentation, while pot ale is copper-rich yeasty liquid left over following distillation. 

Scotland’s malt whisky industry produces almost 750,000 tonnes of draff and a staggering 2 billion litres of pot ale per year, whisky residue that would otherwise go to waste. This is why Celtic Renewables is so confident it could potentially produce biobutanol in such quantities. 

Whisky residue biofuel car

Founder and president Professor Martin Tangney said it could be “a multi-billion-pound global business with the opportunity to turn transport green.” Tullibardine distillery manager John Torrance said it was immediately clear there was “game-changing potential of a new fuel created from our by-products.

“We’re a forward-thinking distillery and we’re happy to support what promises to be a groundbreaking first for renewable energy, for transport and for the Scottish whisky industry alike.”

The next step in the project is to secure sufficient funding to open a demonstrator plant in Grangemouth, with the potential to produce biobutanol biofuel on a much larger scale. 


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Conservatoire Citroen

Inside Citroen’s ‘secret’ car collection

Conservatoire CitroenNestled between the appropriately named Boulevard Andre Citroen and the sprawling 170-acre Aulnay-sous-Bois site, where 8.5 million vehicles rolled off a busy production line, stands a rather anonymous looking building. Within the grey walls sit more than 400 old Citroens, preserved for future generations and maintained by a man in blue overalls.

His name is Yannick Billy and the cars form part of the Conservatoire Citroen: the largest collection of Citroens in the world. For a company with such a proud history, Citroen is reluctant to throw open its doors to the general public. Which only served to make our visit to the house of Citroen all the more special.


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Yannick BillyConservatoire Citroen

Conservatoire Citroen isn’t open to the public, so it cannot be classed as a museum. Instead, entry is via invitation only: not even a sheik armed with two million bucks could rock up and demand entry, said the Citroen UK press man, perhaps flippantly. Indeed, when we turned up at the agreed time, the reception area was cloaked in darkness and nobody was answering the door.

We wandered around to the back door, where we were greeted by Yannick Billy, a long-standing member of the Citroen Heritage team. Our lack of French was matched by Yannick’s lack of English, but eventually we were guided through the workshop – enriched by an intoxicating and evocative blend of oil and petrol – and to the doors to the collection.

A feast for the eyesConservatoire Citroen

As a Citroen fan it’s almost impossible not to be initially overwhelmed by the spectacle of 400 Citroens in one very large room. But even a non-car person would be amazed by the sheer scale of the place. Citroen’s complete history is here, from the Type A to the latest production models and concept cars.

We were given until noon before we’d be shown the door and told to leave. A little over three hours to immerse ourselves in the history of the world’s most innovative and eccentric car brand. So where do you start?

Top gear wheelsConservatoire Citroen

You start, much like Andre Citroen, with the Type A. Citroen’s first vehicle was launched in 1919, but the company’s roots date back to 1905, with the creation of Citroen et Cie. Back then, the company manufactured double-helical gear wheels with V-shaped teeth, the design of which inspired the famous Citroen logo.

Andre Citroen had first seen gear wheels such as these during a visit to Poland in 1900, and he returned to Paris where he took out a patent for their design. A factory was built to house the production facilities and soon his gear wheels were being used across the world. Famously, his wheels formed part of the steering system in the Titanic.

Andre CitroenConservatoire Citroen

In 1912, Andre Citroen went to America where he met Henry Ford and marveled at the production facilities used to build the Model T. He returned to Paris with the aim of building a car of his own, but his plans were put on hold by the outbreak of the First World War.

But from adversity came an opportunity. As an officer, Andre Citroen witnessed his army running out of shells, and he approached the government with plans to mass produce them. He won the contract and by the end of the war he had built 23 million shells from a factory in Paris.

Citroen Type AConservatoire Citroen

With the experience gained through the production of gear wheels and shells, not to mention the capital and production facilities, Andre Citroen was well-equipped to build his first motor car. The Type A arrived in 1919 and was, quite simply, a revelation.

Not only was it Citroen’s first car, but it was also the first mass-produced European vehicle. For the first time, motorists could buy a car ‘ready for the road’. Little wonder, then, that Citroen managed to shift 12,000 Type As within the first two years.

Andre Citroen: industrialist and marketeerConservatoire Citroen

But Andre Citroen was more than simply an ace industrialist. He knew the power of promotion, which is why his name was displayed on the Eiffel Tower at night. Once a month he took out a full page advertisement on the back of France’s biggest newspaper, while aircraft were sent into the skies to write the Citroen name in smoke.

In 1926, Citroen opened a new showroom in London’s Piccadilly, reported to be the grandest and most expensive ever built. The interior was clad in marble and the place felt more like a cathedral than a car showroom.

The icons: Citroen Traction AvantConservatoire Citroen

In 1934, Citroen launched the Traction Avant, widely considered to be the godfather of the modern motor car. Three years earlier, Andre Citroen had travelled to the US to visit the Budd Corporation in Philadelphia, where he was shown a front-wheel-drive car featuring a monocoque bodyshell.

He knew that it would be possible to build a shell capable of holding the engine, transmission and suspension together, freeing up space and reducing weight. The Traction Avant was the first mass-produced front-wheel-drive car and it changed automotive production forever. But the cost of development crippled the organisation and Citroen was declared bankrupt in 1934. Seven months later, Andre Citroen died, having lost his health, company and the rights to his name. Michelin Tyres took the reins, with the Traction Avant helping to return the company to profitability.

The icons: Citroen 2CVConservatoire Citroen

In 1935, Citroen started working on the idea of a ‘people’s car’, the so-called TPV, as it was then known. The idea was simple: to create a basic French car for the masses, with Citroen’s chairman, Pierre-Jules Boulanger, describing the design as “a deck-chair under an umbrella”.

Prototypes were built in 1939 and then hidden away during the Second World War, with the French keen for the Nazis not to discover their revolutionary little car. It would arrive at the 1948 Paris Motor Show, with production continuing until 1990, by which time more than 30 different versions had been built.

The icons: Citroen DSConservatoire Citroen

The one other Citroen worthy of the icon tag is the DS. The ‘Goddess’ was unveiled at the 1955 Paris Motor Show and such was the response, 12,000 orders were taken on the first day of the show.

It was the first production car to be equipped with front disc brakes and featured revolutionary hydropneumatic suspension. The car pictured is a DS 21 Pallas, showcasing the restyled front end complete with innovative directional headlights.

The legends: Citroen SMConservatoire Citroen

Take the technology found in the Citroen DS, add a Maserati V6 engine and house them in a streamlined body and this is the result: the delightful Citroen SM.

On the right is an original press car from 1970, built at the start of production. On the left is a later, fuel-injected model. Production was short-lived, partly because of the fuel crisis, partly because of reliability issues, and most certainly as a result of Peugeot’s takeover of Citroen in 1974.

The legends: Citroen GSConservatoire Citroen

Imagine being at the Paris Motor Show in 1970. Not only was the achingly beautiful SM first shown to the public, but Citroen also unveiled the brilliant GS. A year later, the GS scooped the European Car of the Year award, leaving the Volkswagen K70 and Citroen SM to finish second and third, respectively. Oh, what a time to be alive.

The GS was designed to slot between the Ami 8 and the DS in the Citroen range, delivering hydropneumatic technology to the everyman. The air-cooled flat-four engine gave it an evocative soundtrack, but a hatchback wouldn’t arrive until 1979, with the launch of the GSA.

The legends: Citroen CXConservatoire Citroen

The CX had the unenviable task of following the iconic DS, but while it wasn’t a game-changer like its predecessor, it certainly captured the true spirit of Citroen. Unveiled at the 1974 Paris Motor Show, the CX featured a futuristic and achingly cool dashboard, hydropneumatic suspension and a concave rear window.

A facelift was introduced in 1985, as showcased by this stunning GTI of 1989. Earlier, in 1975, the last Citroen DS had rolled off the production line: vehicle number 1,330,755.

The presidential cars: Citroen DS 21Conservatoire Citroen

Nothing can prepare you for the sheer scale of this thing. Designed by the Citroen style department, the DS 21 Presidentielle was built by Henri Chapron and was used by Charles de Gaulle and Georges Pompidou.

Its dimensions are: 6.53m length, 2.13m width and 1.60m height. Oh, and it weighs 2,660kg. The gearbox is designed to maintain a speed of 6 to 7km/h for several hours.

The presidential cars: Citroen SMConservatoire Citroen

Unsurprisingly, the Citroen SM Presidentielle of 1972 is far more elegant and less imposing than the car it replaced. Once again, Henri Chapron was tasked with handling the build of two majestic presidential cars.

They were delivered in May 1972, just before Queen Elizabeth’s visit to Paris. Her Majesty was pictured in the back, travelling with Georges Pompidou.

The presidential cars: Citroen DS5Conservatoire Citroen

A classic case of ‘they don’t make ‘em like they used to’, this is the Citroen DS5 used by Francois Hollande in 2012.

Today, DS Automobiles has separated from the mother brand.

The concepts: Citroen Project LConservatoire Citroen

The Project L was the final Citroen designed by Robert Opron and was intended to be a replacement for the DS. It features what’s essentially an SM dashboard with a GS steering wheel, and Citroen called for enough space under the bonnet to house Maserati’s V6 engine.

The concepts: Citroen ActivaConservatoire Citroen

The Citroen Activa of 1988 featured four-wheel drive, four-wheel steer and active suspension, the latter of which would appear as the Hydractive system in the XM. The original Activa concept could also boast ABS brakes and traction control, both of which were considered to be high-tech at the time.

The concepts: Citroen EoleConservatoire Citroen

This is the Citroen CX-based Eole of 1986, which claimed a drag coefficient of just 0.19Cd, around half that of the CX. Note the covers over the wheels, which are linked to the car’s hydraulics to lift them clear when steering. The design was intended to showcase the estate car of the future.

The concepts: Citroen KarinConservatoire Citroen

The Karin of 1980 presented the idea of a three-seater, with the driver positioned centrally and ahead of the passengers, some 12 years ahead of the McLaren F1. It was designed by Trevor Fiore but never made it beyond the concept stage. Shame.

The crazy stuff: Citroen RE-2Conservatoire Citroen

Yes, Citroen really did build a helicopter. It was designed by Charles Marchetti and first took to the skies in 1971. It used an evolution of the rotary engine found in the Citroen GS Birotor, but flew a mere 38 hours before Peugeot pulled the plug on the project. The RE-2 was grounded.

The crazy stuff: Citroen U23Conservatoire Citroen

The Citroen U23 was produced between 1935 and 1969. This particular bus was built in 1947 by the Besset facility in Annonay, France. The 18/20-seater was found in Corsica in 2006 and subsequently restored to former glory.

The crazy stuff: Citroen 2CV 007Conservatoire Citroen

Remember the Citroen 2CV from the James Bond film For Your Eyes Only? It was powered by an engine from a GS and reinforced with a host of safety features, including a roll cage, reinforced plating and raised suspension. Legendary stunt driver Remy Julienne was the man behind the wheel.

The crazy stuff: Citroen Evo MobilConservatoire Citroen

Looks a little out of place in these surroundings, doesn’t it? Look again and you’ll see that it was inspired by the design and build of the Traction Avant. Clever, eh? French designer Ora-Ito used an icon of the past to present a vision of the future. Or something.

The racers: Citroen MEP X27Conservatoire Citroen

The X27 was the final development of the Citroen-Panhard racecar produced from 1964 to 1975. It competed in the final years of Formule Bleue, which ended in 1975.

The racers: Citroen BX 4TCConservatoire Citroen

The Citroen BX 4TC is one of the least successful rally cars of all-time, managing just three races before Group B was banned in 1986. The project was so disastrous, Citroen attempted to buy back all road-going versions in order to have them destroyed.

The racers: Citroen ZX Rallye RaidConservatoire Citroen

You’re unlikely to see more Citroen ZX Rallye Raid cars in one place. In the 1990s, these were formidable machines, taking no fewer than four Paris-Dakar victories and winning the World Cup for Cross Country Rallies for five consecutive years.

The hot hatches: Citroen ZX 16vConservatoire Citroen

The Citroen ZX 16v is an increasingly rare sight in Britain, with a mere seven registered as being on the road. Thanks to passive rear steering, it’s a genuine delight to drive on a B-road.

The hot hatches: Citroen AX SportConservatoire Citroen

The Citroen AX was a hugely successful car, with around 2.4 million cars produced over a 10-year period. The AX Sport was introduced in 1987 and was a prelude to the more familiar GT and GTI models.

The hot hatches: Citroen Visa GTIConservatoire Citroen

According to the DVLA, there are just five Citroen Visa GTIs on the roads of Britain. Which is a shame, because the Visa GTI is a genuinely good hot hatch, with powered sourced from the same 1.6-litre engine you’d find in the Peugeot 205 GTI. And quad headlights are cool, right?

London’s most exclusive supercar show

City ConcoursLondon’s new City Concours takes place on a five-acre lawn, hemmed in on all sides by towering offices in the heart of the Square Mile. Here, more than 100 hypercars, supercars, classic cars and racing cars gathered to be gawped at, photographed, polished and judged. Join us for a guided tour.


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Aston Martin VulcanCity Concours

They don’t come any more ‘hyper’ than Aston Martin’s limited edition, track-only Vulcan. Boasting an 812hp V12, sequential gearbox, pushrod suspension and a front splitter that doubles as a lawn mower, only the brave – and wealthy – need apply. One problem: all 24 cars have already sold out.

Ferrari 288 GTOCity Concours

We’re suckers for any Rosso Corsa Ferrari, especially a 288 GTO. The 1984 Gran Turismo Omologato is a radically re-engineered 308 GTB, originally intended for Group B rallying. With a twin-turbocharged 400hp V8, it has a claimed top speed of 189mph. However, the Ferrari F40, launched in 1987, would go 11mph faster.

Porsche 911 Carrera RS 2.7City Concours

There were two RS 2.7s at City Concours, but this is the even rarer Lightweight version – one of 200 made. Porsche took weight-saving seriously, with thinner body panels and glass, and no rear seats, carpets or sound insulation. This rare-groove 911 even does without sunvisors or a glovebox lid. What do you expect for seven figures?

Dodge ChallengerCity Concours

A display of classic American muscle cars made a welcome contrast to the array of European exotica. This tyre-smokin’ Dodge Challenger T/A 340 6-Pack was our favourite, with a Plymouth Barracuda and Chevrolet El Camino SS pick-up close behind. As film buffs will know, a white Challenger is the star of iconic road movie, Vanishing Point.

Ferrari DaytonaCity Concours

This, to give it its full title, is a Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Competizione Series 3. But we’ll just call it a Daytona. From its plexiglass headlight covers to its sawn-off side pipes, this harder, faster Ferrari screams retro cool. The Competizione was a success in motorsport, too, finishing fifth at Le Mans and second in the Daytona 24-hour race.

Atalanta roadsterCity Concours

We recently drove this very Atalanta roadster and enjoyed it immensely. The car is a recreation of Atalanta’s 1930s Le Mans racer, with remarkably few concessions to modernity. Power comes from a 2.5-litre Ford engine developing ‘around 200hp’ and breathing through a rorty, side-exit exhaust. Only one car will be hand-built each month, priced at £150,000.

Ferrari 275 GTBCity Concours

Few Ferraris are prettier than the 275 GTB, and this early ‘short nose’ car looks particularly delectable. The 275 used a 3.3-litre version of the venerable ‘Columbo’ V12, which developed 280-330hp here (depending on spec). Buyers could choose from three or six carburettors, plus steel or alloy bodywork. A limited-run convertible version, the 275 NART Spider, was sold at auction for around $18million.

David Brown MiniCity Concours

Ironically, it was BMW’s retro-remake MINI that opened up the market for posh city cars. Now, Silverstone-based David Brown Automotive is following suit with ‘Mini Remastered’ – a modernised version of the Issigonis original with lots of bespoke options and a price tag that starts from £50k. We’ll stick with a classic Cooper, thanks.

Singer Porsche 911City Concours

Speaking of modernised classics, here’s the sublime Singer 911. Based on the 964-era Porsche 911, each car is built to order – the only limit is your budget. Flat-six engines are rebuilt by Cosworth in the US, with outputs from 300hp to 425hp. With prices for classic Porsches spiralling into the stratosphere, could this be the ultimate big-budget 911?

BMW M1City Concours

This fabulous BMW M1 was a strong contender for our favourite car at City Concours. It also wins the ‘coolest alloy wheels’ prize hands-down. In fact, the M1 was a failure when new, with a torturous gestation (including a fall-out between BMW and Lamborghini) and just 457 made. Today, it’s a sought-after classic and rightly recognised as one of the great 1970s supercars.

Aston Martin DB5 Radford Shooting BrakeCity Concours

What does James Bond drive after he’s hung up his Walther PPK, swapped the Martini for decaf tea and bought a labrador? The answer, as if you didn’t already already know, is the Aston Martin DB5 Radford Shooting Brake – a stylish three-door estate with a top speed of 150mph. Only 12 were made, although Radford went on to build six DB6 Shooting Brakes.

Jaguar XJ220City Concours

Another British hero, although the XJ220 has always played the plucky underdog thanks to its turbocharged V6 engine. When first shown, it had a full-fat V12 and four-wheel drive, but cost/engineering issues meant the production version borrowed its 3.5-litre V6 from the Metro 6R4, with rear-wheel drive only – and without the active aerodynamics and rear-wheel steering of the concept. No matter, it’s still a traffic-stopping 212mph supercar.

Aston Martin V8 ZagatoCity Concours

Love it or hate it, Italian styling house Zagato’s angular take on the Aston Martin V8 is certainly… different. Thanks to light alloy bodywork – and the small matter of a 430hp 5.3-litre V8 – the Zagato could reach 186mph. Just 52 coupes and 37 convertibles were made between 1986 and 1990. Oh, and for the record, we love it.

Lotus ElanCity Concours

Mega-horsepower hypercars are all very well, but all you really need to achieve automotive nirvana is a Lotus Elan. The diminutive British roadster is powered by a peppy 1.6-litre engine and weighs just 726kg. To put that into perspective, a new Ford Fiesta is around 1,100kg. Decades later the Elan became the inspiration for the original Mazda MX-5.

Instagram star’s amazing Ferrari collection

He’s a racing driver, an entrepreneur, an Instagram star, and he also happens to have a rather impressive collection of exotic cars. We delve inside Josh Cartu’s garage.

Born in Canada, but now residing in Hungary, Cartu created several successful media and software companies. This has allowed him to indulge his many hobbies, such as skydiving, rallying, drifting, and most importantly collecting cars. Josh has given us his own words on why he owns the cars he does, and what makes them special to him.

Ferrari 458 Speciale Aperta

Every car collection needs a mid-engined V8 Ferrari, so what better place to start than with the ultimate version of the 458 sports car? The Speciale was a hardcore limited-edition model, with extra power and a more aggressive bodykit. ‘Aperta’ means ‘open’ in Italian – hence the convertible roof. Just 499 examples were built, all with a 597hp version of the naturally-aspirated 4.5-litre V8.

But what does the man himself think about having the Speciale Aperta in his collection? “This was a very special car because it’s super-limited,” explains Josh, “and it was the first love Ferrari showed me for being a passionate client and racing driver.” He also reckons that they “made an instant classic” and that best part is “that noise!!” Two exclamation marks needed.

With a wealth of cars, and a high-flying lifestyle, Josh has proven to be a hit on Instagram. Over 417,000 followers keep tabs on his latest photos, which cover both his road and race car collection. He’s also amassed over 13,000 followers on Twitter, with updates on his next exploits drawing in a crowd.

Ferrari 488 Spider

What’s better than one open-top, mid-engined Ferrari? Another one, of course. In fact, make that another two, as Cartu has the 488 Spider in duplicate. Replacing the 458 was a hard task, but a turbocharged 3.9-litre V8 with 661hp is the key attraction. The 0-62mph dash takes just 3.0 seconds in the Spider, with a potential top speed of over 200mph.

Describing the 488 Spider as “the best all around Ferrari” is high praise, with Josh reckoning that the folding metal roof allows it to be “two cars in one”. So why did he happen to buy two of them? Simply because he “put too much mileage” on the first car he bought.

Mr Cartu is clearly a fan of open-air motoring, not least because of the Ferraris mentioned already. Josh is also the owner of a BAC Mono – the extreme single-seater road car that owes more to motorsport than it does to street machinery. However, he did have an unfortunate accident while driving his BAC Mono in one of the tunnels beneath Budapest, where he lives.

Ferrari 488 Challenge

If you want to go racing against other gentleman drivers in identical Ferrari racing cars, you need to get yourself into the Ferrari Challenge. Held annually since 1993, this special single-make series gained a race version of Ferrari’s latest mid-engined sports car at the end of 2016. The 488 Challenge has the same turbocharged 3.9-litre V8 engine as the road car, but with a fully stripped-out interior and gigantic rear wing for downforce.

Why buy a 488 Challenge? Josh explains: “There are two options for racing in the Ferrari Challenge: 1) you can rent a car from a serious team like AFCorse or Kessel or 2) you can buy your own. I bought my own because I wanted to develop more of a connection with it and customise it more than I would if it were a regular rental. Most importantly, I don’t like anyone else driving my cars!”

Josh is currently competing in the European Ferrari Challenge series, alongside his brother, and the first round of 2017 was held at the Valencia circuit. In the Pirelli Trophy competition, aimed at professional drivers, Josh placed 6th and 4th respectively in the two races held.

Ferrari F12tdf

It’s not all mid-engined machinery in Cartu’s garage. The F12tdf – standing for Tour de France – features a 6.3-litre V12 mounted in the front of the car. Sending almost 770hp to the rear wheels, the F12tdf can hit 0-62mph in just 2.9 seconds, while top speed is 211mph. Limited to 799 units, the F12tdf cost £339,000 when new, with the price hike going towards the carbon fibre add-ons and lightweight technology.

So what exactly was it that attracted Cartu to the F12tdf? “Power and noise” are the two big things apparently, enough to make the F12tdf currently his “all-time favourite” car. Josh does believe that “if you don’t have the skills” the F12tdf can be something of a handful, but that it can “make mincemeat” out of the old Ferrari 599 GTO.

Being named after a famous road race – the Tour de France, where Ferrari proved successful during the 1960s – it seems right that Josh Cartu would own one. Having entered both the Mille Miglia and Targa Florio races, Cartu is no stranger to road racing, and has used his F12tdf in Ferrari Cavalcade events for owners.

Ferrari GTC4Lusso

Replacing the FF, the GTC4Lusso has a complicated name, which suits the complex mechanics beneath its shooting-brake body. A 6.3-litre V12, making 681hp, is connected to a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox. Uniquely for a Ferrari, the GTC4Lusso has all-wheel-drive, helping control the power on offer for everyday use.

With a garage full of extreme sports cars, Cartu rates the GTC4Lusso as an “absolute no-brainer” of a choice. The “comfort and convenience” it offers, along with the “ability to drive on ice and snow” clearly make the GTC4Lusso a winner for Josh. He also claims that as “it’s not a Porsche” the rear seats are actually big enough for grown adults.

When he’s not driving around in the luxury of his GTC4Lusso, Cartu likes to engage in more extreme pastimes, such as flying to the edge of space. In 2015, Josh took a flight in a Russian MiG-29, travelling to an altitude of 20km above the earth. That’s high enough to be able to see the curvature of the planet. The flight also included aerobatics, with manoeuvres pulling up to 9G at times. Just a little more than what the GTC4Lusso can manage!

LaFerrari Aperta

How do you make the LaFerrari more extreme? By producing an even more limited edition version, with a removable carbon fibre roof for open-air thrills. It makes hearing the 789hp version of the 6.3-litre V12 engine even easier, whilst the 161hp KERS hybrid system remains unchanged. With only 209 examples produced, for sale to special chosen Ferrari customers only, the LaFerrari Aperta sold out rather rapidly. Such was the lure of 217mph with no roof.

Why would you need to buy a LaFerrari Aperta? To quote Mr Cartu “Need I explain?” given that this is the “best car the human race has ever produced for ANY money”. Strong words indeed. Josh clearly feels quite a connection with the Aperta, stating that he is “honoured and privileged to be the custodian of such an awesome piece of history”.

What makes the LaFerrari Aperta a “piece of history” is that it forms part of the 70th anniversary celebrations planned by Ferrari. To mark seven decades of production, along with the Aperta, the Maranello firm is also releasing a range of special liveries inspired by famous Ferrari colour schemes. We imagine Cartu may well add a 70th anniversary car to his collection.

Rolls-Royce Phantom EWB

Although the previous slides have featured nothing but Maranello’s finest, Cartu’s garage does not only contain Italian machinery. Alongside the Ferraris is a Rolls-Royce Phantom – perhaps the ultimate in automotive luxury. However, this isn’t just any Phantom, it’s the EWB, or Extended Wheelbase. This adds an extra 250mm in length to create more interior space, but keeps the same 454hp 6.7-litre V12 engine.

With a garage full of supercars, what does a gigantic luxury saloon bring to the party? According to Cartu, after 6pm it becomes his “favourite car in the world” as it means he can give the keys to his driver and lounge in the spacious rear. Even though he admits it may appear “somewhat ostentatious” he has racked up “over 100,000km” in his time with the Phantom. He also admits that he “placed an order immediately” for the forthcoming new Phantom, having been given a sneak preview.

Cartu hasn’t only used the Phantom EWB for cruising around town. It has also been part of his Gumball 3000 Rally entry, under the name of Team Wolfpack. Nicknamed the Phantom Menace, it’s certainly makes a statement with this bold livery. Cartu’s Team Wolfpack won the Best Team Award at the 2014 Gumball, which journeyed from Miami to Ibiza.

Matching purse and lipstick: the car ‘designed for women’

Dodge La FemmeThe Dodge La Femme arrived on the scene in 1955, a year when America was thriving with post-war prosperity. The baby boom was in full swing, and more people lived in the growing suburbs than in any other type of community, drawn by elbow room, fresh air, and affordable housing for growing families.

The rise of these new communities also gave rise to commuting; the vast majority of suburban families had at least one parent who drove to work. Groceries, household items, and sundries were generally not available at a convenient mom-and-pop corner store like in the city, but rather down the road at supermarkets and shopping centers with sprawling parking lots. A second family car was needed.

Dodge La FemmeWomen were going to work in greater numbers than ever before by the mid-1950s, accounting for about one-third of the workforce and increasing overall household income. They were also taking a greater interest in cars; about one half of all adult women held a driver’s license. The automobile industry recognized that women were a growing presence in the marketplace, and actively sought to court to them.

In 1954, Nash was the first manufacturer to market a car specifically to women with the fresh, petite Metropolitan. That year saw the La Comtesse, the pink feminine half of “his and her” Chrysler show cars. General Motors also wanted a piece of the growing market, and design studio chief Harley Earl hired six women in 1955 to work across the various model lines in an effort to create cars that appealed to women. Those designers pioneered such modern automotive staples as retractable seat belts, child-proof doors, storage consoles, and vanity mirrors. One of those women, Sue Vanderbilt, overcame many obstacles to become a GM studio chief herself.

The birth of the Dodge La FemmeDodge La Femme

1955 also saw the unveiling of the Dodge La Femme, a trim package available for the Dodge Custom Royal Lancer. The car featured a pink-and-cream paint job and rose-printed upholstery, as well as a matching purse, umbrella, and other fashion accessories. It was marketed as being the first car for the modern American woman.

It can be hard to look back at a car like the La Femme. It is not an oddity; it represents the cultural values idealised by the media and advertising of its time. Today, offering a pink car with matching lipstick exclusively to women might be seen to be just as condescending as filling a car with potatoes and offering it to the Irish. Even in the period advertisement above, it’s not the driver’s door that is opened for her on what is said to be her own personal vehicle.Dodge La FemmeYet what the La Femme represents, however obtusely, is a recognition by the American automotive industry, and therefore the largest sector of industrial manufacturing on the planet, that women were an rising economic force, and that it was imperative that their specific wants and needs be addressed. So great was this tide that by 1958, GM executives from all over the country came to the unofficially named Feminine Auto Show to see the cars created by its six female designers. Not too many years later, Ford released its own car created to appeal to women: the now world-famous Mustang.

Women now drive the automotive world. Women buy more than half of all new cars and influence up to eighty percent of car buying decisions. More women hold driver’s licenses than men. Women drive more miles and take more car trips than at any time in history, while the number of miles men drive has begun to decline. Car manufacturers now market their wares aggressively to women, and usually with dignity and respect. Yes, there are companies that take spectacular pratfalls and ignite social media firestorms, but overall the trend inspires pride in our societal accomplishments and hope for the future.

The La Femme can be viewed as a cynical design exercise, as Fifties kitsch, as social commentary, and many other things. The machine itself though, made of steel and fabric and devoid of the poisonous influences of humanity, is spectacular, in the strictest sense of the word.

Dodge La Femme: the legacy

Dodge La FemmeWomen make or influence a majority of new car purchases today, and manufacturers do everything they can to appeal to them. Marketing is a science, and demographics can target a person by age, gender, region, education level, and myriad more variables. Once a target demographic is acquired, the manufacturers do their best to present a vehicle that has the performance levels, economy, and features that demographic wants. This La Femme ad from 1956 illustrates the difference between a car “designed with the ladies in mind” (as stated in the above ad) and the modern practice of designing a car that offers the attributes a particular demographic wants.

The La Femme was discontinued after 1956. As it was a trim package and not a standalone model, production numbers are undocumented, but most agree about 2,500 were produced. Because it was only a trim package, it was not widely advertised, nor were demonstration models available at most dealerships. It’s demise is generally credited to lack of widespread public awareness of the product.Dodge La FemmeViewed through today’s standards, the marketing material shouts, “Hey, princess! Pink is for girls!” which hits every wrong nerve in modern psyches. It discolors perception of the La Femme, which is a powerful, well-engineered, and stylish vehicle. It’s designed by Exner, has a wicked Hemi under the hood, and comes with a matching umbrella, just like a new Rolls Royce.

Sadly, the Dodge La Femme may go down in history indistinguishable from the gibbering chauvinism that created it. Hopefully, we can learn to ignore its questionable parentage and let the La Femme be itself, standing proudly on its own four wheels.

Colin McRae’s iconic WRC Subaru for sale

Colin McRae’s iconic WRC Subaru for saleThe word ‘iconic’ is dished out like grease-burgers at a grassroots motorsport event, and more often than not the car in question isn’t worthy of the elevated status. But in the case of the Subaru Impreza WRC car of 1997, it’s more than justified.

Put it this way: gather a group of rally enthusiasts to don their team jackets in order to discuss the most successful – and yes, iconic – rally cars of all time, and the 1997 Impreza will be mentioned. Which is why the auction of ‘PRO/WRC/97001’ is a big deal.

1997 World Rally ChampionshipColin McRae’s iconic WRC Subaru for sale

Subaru arrived at the 1997 World Rally Championship on a high, having secured two consecutive constructors’ championships. Victory in 1997 would see Subaru enter the history books as the first Japanese car to win three consecutive trophies.

FIA’s new World Rally Car rules included a relaxation of the homologation restrictions, giving the teams greater freedom. To a firm like Prodrive – the company behind Subaru’s success – this was like being let off the leash and told to go and play.

Chassis 001Colin McRae’s iconic WRC Subaru for sale

Chassis 001 – which is being sold by H&H Classics at its Woodcote Park auction – was the Impreza unveiled to the public and used as the primary test and development car. The drivers – including the late, great Colin McRae – would spend hours at the wheel, preparing for the 1997 season.

This was the year in which all the planets aligned. Continual development of the Impreza and the earlier Legacy had led 555 Subaru and Prodrive to the point at which a true star could be born: the Impreza WRC of 1997.

Four doors good, two doors betterColin McRae’s iconic WRC Subaru for sale

The most obvious visual change was the switch from four to two doors, with the new rally car based on the two-door Retna coupe. Peter Stevens – he of Lotus and McLaren F1 fame – was responsible for the bodywork, which included a new angled grille and airdam.

At the back, the 1997 car featured a larger boot lid spoiler, along with flared arches to match the front, and an exhaust moved from the left to the right of the car. Crucially, the Impreza now generated downforce at speed, and not lift.

Testing timesColin McRae’s iconic WRC Subaru for sale

Testing took place at the MIRA proving ground and in Spain, which allowed the engineers to compare the 1997 car with the old version. Speaking to Autosport magazine, Colin McRae said at the time:

“It feels good right away. There’s a lot more suspension travel and so the car doesn’t get airborne in the same way as the old one. It’s a lot wider and so that makes it very much more stable in the corners. I can’t wait to get this car to Monte Carlo next January.”

Monte Carlo or bustColin McRae’s iconic WRC Subaru for sale

McRae’s optimism was not unfounded. At the hands of Italian Piero Liatti, the Impreza WRC car finished first at Monte Carlo, ahead of the Ford Escort of Carlos Sainz and the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IV of Tommi Mäkinen.

This was Liatti’s first WRC victory and a debut win for the new car. Colin McRae – who was on course for a top five finish – was forced out of the Monte when he skidded on black ice.

Swede dreamsColin McRae’s iconic WRC Subaru for sale

There was further disappointment for Colin McRae at the next round in Sweden, where a spin resulted in the Scot slipping to fourth place. There were no such problems for the Swede Kenneth Eriksson, who drove the Impreza to victory in his home race.

A near-perfect start for the Subaru team, then, although back-to-back third place finishes for Tommi Mäkinen would suggest that the Anglo-Japanese team wouldn’t have things entirely its own way.

Kenya dig it?Colin McRae’s iconic WRC Subaru for sale

And so to Kenya, where Colin McRae overcame a number of issues to secure his first victory in the new Impreza WRC car. This just happened to be Pirelli’s 100th victory, too.

The win put McRae at the top of the drivers’ championship, while a hat-trick of victories put the Subaru team comfortably on course for its third consecutive constructors’ title. Not that Subaru and its drivers would have things entirely their own way.

Problems in PortugalColin McRae’s iconic WRC Subaru for sale

Two retirements in Portugal and back-to-back victories for Tommi Mäkinen in the Rally Portugal and Rally Catalunya gave the upperhand to the ‘Flying Finn’. McRae won in France, although four consecutive retirements in Greece, New Zealand, Finland and Indonesia meant that Mäkinen was on course for ultimate victory.

McRae responded in the only way he knew: maximum attack. Victory in Italy, followed by success in Australia – the race in which Subaru secured the constructors’ title – meant that it was all to play for ahead of the final race in Great Britain.

Close, but no cigarColin McRae’s iconic WRC Subaru for sale

Tommi Mäkinen needed a single point going into the Network Q RAC rally to finish ahead of McRae in the drivers’ championship. The Scot won, but Mäkinen finished sixth, which was just enough to secure the title.

Tommi Mäkinen scored 63 points in 1997, just one ahead of McRae. At least the Subaru team could take heart from a convincing victory in the constructors’ championship, in which it finished 23 points ahead of Ford and 28 points clear of Mitsubishi.

What happened next?Colin McRae’s iconic WRC Subaru for sale

Colin McRae finished third in the 1998 WRC, before switching to Ford to drive the Focus WRC in 1999. Subaru won the drivers’ title in 2001, when Richard Burns finished ahead of McRae, and again in 2003, this time with Petter Solberg at the wheel.

But what about Chassis 001?

78 starts and 19 victoriesColin McRae’s iconic WRC Subaru for sale

The eWRC-Results website suggests that Chassis 001 made a total of 78 starts, securing 19 victories in the process. Its maiden victory was at the Boucles de Spa in 1998, where it was driven by Grégoire de Mevius and Jean-Marc Fortin.

Chassis 001 was initially road-registered as ‘P555 WRC’, but is better known by its long-term moniker ‘P18 WRC’.

Acid in-houseColin McRae’s iconic WRC Subaru for sale

According to H&H, the Subaru was given a “superficial cosmetic refurbishment” prior to entering its current ownership. The previous keeper had commissioned Prodrive to restore it to original condition, which it completed using only original Subaru rally team parts.

Acid dipping revealed that Chassis 001 had endured a busy rally life, but retained its original Prodrive bodyshell, which was repaired by the same team who had fabricated it in 1996.

Yours for £200,000?Colin McRae’s iconic WRC Subaru for sale

In 2009, Chassis 001 was sold via Prodrive for £85,000, before going under the hammer in 2015 with a pre-auction estimate of £175,000 – £200,000. It sold for £155,000.

Today, it comes with the same estimate, but given the current popularity of modern classics, there’s every reason to think that it could command more in 2017. We’ll have to wait until June to find out.

Valentino RossiColin McRae’s iconic WRC Subaru for sale

Interestingly, an extra slice of provenance is provided by the fact that nine-time MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi drove Chassis 001 in the 1999 Rally di Monza. The Italian finished eighth, just behind Jean Alesi in another Impreza.

The Impreza will go under the hammer at the H&H Classics auction, which takes place at Woodcote Park on 6 June 2017. If you can’t stretch to Chassis 001, a 2001 P1 is also on sale for a more affordable £18,000 to £22,000.

New Ford GT – and other great cars that share its name

New Ford GT – and other great cars that share its nameGT: two letters that mean so much in the car industry. The badge is primarily used to designate a grand tourer, but has been put to good use on mildly warm hatches or for when a GTi badge would promise something a car might not be able to deliver.

So, with the new Ford GT hitting the headlines, we trawled the archives in search of other famous GT cars. Note, this is a not an exhaustive list and we’ve steered clear of badge extensions, meaning you won’t find a GT-R, GTi, GTS or GTE here.

Porsche Carrera GTNew Ford GT – and other great cars that share its name

When production of the Carrera GT ceased in 2006, Porsche concluded – with a certain degree of bravado – that it was “ the most successful supercar in history”. Its point was that, at 1,270 units, more Carrera GTs rolled out of the Leipzig production facility than the McLaren F1, Ferrari Enzo and Pagani Zonda combined.

OK, so 605hp and a 0-62mph time of 3.9 seconds might not seem like a big deal in an age of the Dodge Demon, but it was the way in which the Carrera GT went about its business that made the difference. The race-honed V10 engine makes a noise rivalled only by Thor gargling on a single malt Scotch.

Citroen AX GTNew Ford GT – and other great cars that share its name

The Citroen AX GT is unlikely to win a game of Top Trumps, unless the chosen category is ‘lightness’ or ‘risk of death in the event of an accident’. But that doesn’t mean it’s not fit to wear the GT badge, because the featherlight Citroen was one of the most exciting cars of the late 80s and early 90s.

Power was sourced from a 1.4-litre engine developing just 86hp, but it was mated to a body that tipped the scales at a mere 722kg. It meant that the AX GT could punch well beyond its weight, especially on a twisty B-road, where it could hold its own against more illustrious competition.

Ferrari 456 GTNew Ford GT – and other great cars that share its name

The GT badge is part of the furniture at Maranello, albeit more commonly with the addition of an extra letter. The 250 GTO, F355 GTS and 348 GTB are just three examples.

The 456 GT saw Ferrari return to the front-engine layout for the first time since the 365 GTB4 of 1968 and was, perhaps, one of the greatest grand tourers of the 1990s. A 2+2 coupe with the beating heart of a 5.4-litre 12-cylinder engine isn’t a bad form of transport for crossing a continent or two.

Opel GTNew Ford GT – and other great cars that share its name

“Only flying is better,” proclaimed Opel when it launched the achingly beautiful GT. That it looked like a European Corvette was no accident, because the styling of contemporary Opel cars was heavily influenced by its American owners.

Underneath the GT you’d find the floorpan of a humble Kadett, while the fastback coupe body was built in France. The rotating headlights are superb, but although more than 100,000 GTs were built, none were right-hand drive. Shame.

Lamborghini 350 GTNew Ford GT – and other great cars that share its name

For Lamborghini, this was where it all began. The 350 GT was an evolution of the earlier 350 GTV and was the first Lamborghini to be mass-produced. If Ferruccio Lamborghini’s sole aim was to stick a metaphorical two fingers up at Ferrari, he well and truly succeeded.

Carrozzeria Touring built 120 units, the majority of which were powered by a 3.5-litre 12-cylinder engine. Two Spyder versions were also built by the famous Italian coachbuilder. A 400 GT followed in 1966 and was the first proper 2+2 four-seat Lamborghini.

Toyota 2000GTNew Ford GT – and other great cars that share its name

Is this the most beautiful car to emerge from Japan? You’d struggle to find anything better than the Toyota 2000GT, which was completed in prototype form by Yamaha in 1965. With Japan’s wealthy elite quick to open their wallets – shouting the equivalent of “take my money” – Toyota got involved with the next stage of development.

Yamaha was entrusted to tackle the production, with the first of these hand-built supercars arriving in 1967. Two open-top versions were created for use in the Bond movie, You Only Live Twice.

MGB GTNew Ford GT – and other great cars that share its name

The MGB was launched in 1962, but the Pininfarina-penned GT fastback wouldn’t arrive in 1965. It retained all of the handling characteristics of the roadster, with a raised windscreen height ensuring there was ample room in the cabin, at least in the front.

The MGB GT V8 arrived in 1973, right in the midst of the energy crisis. Timing is everything.

Audi Coupe GTNew Ford GT – and other great cars that share its name

The common or garden Audi Coupe arrived six months after the launch of the iconic Quattro and offered some of the styling for much less cash. OK, so the wide arches and ‘bahnstorming’ performance were absent, but the Coupe managed to cut a mean figure on the Audi forecourts of the land.

Select a Coupe GT with a five-cylinder engine and you could at least pretend to be Hannu Mikkola or Michele Mouton as you made your way home from the office.

Alfa Romeo GTNew Ford GT – and other great cars that share its name

It’s a modern Alfa Romeo, so you know you’ll have to make one or two sacrifices in order to live with the GT, but it’d be worth it just to stare at it on your driveway.

When powered by the 3.2-litre V6 engine, the Alfa GT is more than capable of living up to the promise of both badges. A proper Alfa and a proper GT.

Renault 5 GT TurboNew Ford GT – and other great cars that share its name

The Renault 5 GT Turbo was a true hot hatch hero of the 1980s, able to hold its own against the might of the 205 GTi and Golf GTi. Key to its brilliance – aside from the turbocharged engine – was its lightness, with the GT Turbo tipping the scales at just 850kg.

Today, Renault uses the GT badge to denote its flagship models, as demonstrated by the Megane and Twingo. In truth, they can’t hold a candle to the French GTs of yesteryear.

The 20 most literal car names

The 20 most literal car namesThe 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.

Skoda SuperbThe 20 most literal car names

“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 RapideThe 20 most literal car names

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.

Renault EspaceThe 20 most literal car names

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.

MiniThe 20 most literal car names

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.

Austin MaxiThe 20 most literal car names

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.

Lamborghini CountachThe 20 most literal car names

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.

BAC MonoThe 20 most literal car names

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 SuperfastThe 20 most literal car names

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…

Maserati QuattroporteThe 20 most literal car names

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 VitesseThe 20 most literal car names

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.

Ferrari LaFerrariThe 20 most literal car names

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.

Nissan S-CargoThe 20 most literal car names

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 CruiserThe 20 most literal car names

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…

Smart FortwoThe 20 most literal car names

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.

Citroen DSThe 20 most literal car names

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’.

MG MidgetThe 20 most literal car names

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.

Hyundai CoupeThe 20 most literal car names

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.

Ferrari TestarossaThe 20 most literal car names

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.

Mitsubishi MinicabThe 20 most literal car names

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 CarThe 20 most literal car names

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.

Driving the world’s smallest car

P50 Cars 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.

A small obsessionP50 Cars

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 FairweatherP50 Cars

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 walkingP50 Cars

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 electricP50 Cars

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 itP50 Cars

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 ClarksonP50 Cars

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 wheelsP50 Cars

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.

Industrial revolutionsP50 Cars

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 speedP50 Cars

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 scaleP50 Cars

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.

Consumer adviceP50 Cars

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 mileP50 Cars

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 TridentPeel 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 memoriesP50 Cars

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.

Porsche tops list of Europe's most popular classics

Porsche tops list of Europe's most popular classicsClassic Trader, Europe’s largest classic car trading website, has announced that the total value of vehicles currently on sale on the site has eclipsed €1 billion for the first time. To mark the occasion, the website has revealed the most popular makes and models, ranked by the number of listings that currently appear on the site.

Porsche dominates the list, with four different 911s appearing in the top ten. Here, we rank the cars in reverse order.

10. Jaguar E-type Series 1Porsche tops list of Europe's most popular classics

Average asking price: £139,100

With an average asking price of £139,100, the Jaguar E-type S1 – or XKE in the US – is the most valuable car in the top 10 and arguably the most beautiful. “If a new car ever created greater excitement around our office than the new Jaguar XKE, we can’t remember it”, said Road & Track in September 1961.

The E-Type went on sale in 1961 with a bargain price tag, including taxes, of £2,097 for the convertible and £2,196 for the coupe. It was replaced in 1968 by the less desirable, and therefore less valuable, Series 2.

9. Mercedes-Benz SL R129Porsche tops list of Europe's most popular classics

Average asking price: £19,100

Few cars have aged as well as the Mercedes-Benz SL R129. Unveiled at the 1989 Geneva Motor Show, the response was so positive, anyone who placed an order was forced to accept a delivery period of several years. Production continued until 2001, by which time more than 200,000 units had rolled off the Bremen production line.

The last truly beautiful Mercedes (discuss…) was the first car to feature an automatic roll-over bar, along with a soft-top that could be opened or closed within 30 seconds. The most common model is the 5.0-litre V8, with some 79,827 units built, while the entry-level SL 280 V6 is the rarest.

8. Porsche 993Porsche tops list of Europe's most popular classics

Average asking price: £81,900

If Mercedes-Benz struggled to keep up with demand for the R129, Porsche had a similar ‘problem’ with the 993. Launched in 1994, the 993 was able to boast a series of technical and visual changes, with only the doors and front bonnet carried over from the 964.

As the last air-cooled Porsche, the 993 is one of the most sought-after 911s on the classic car market, hence the average asking price. In the Ultimate History of Porsche, current editor of Evo magazine, Stuart Gallagher, wrote: “The fact that Porsche arrived at this beautifully honed vehicle when it did is fitting, because as the sun set on 1997 the air-cooled 911 had come to the end of its long and illustrious life.”

7. Alfa Romeo GiuliaPorsche tops list of Europe's most popular classics

Average asking price: £30,700

The Alfa Romeo Giulia was introduced in 1962 and wouldn’t bow out until 1977. In that time it evolved and spawned many variants, establishing the Alfa Romeo brand as we know it today. Regardless of the body shape, the Giulia was a true drivers’ car.

According to Classic Trader, the cars featured in the top 10 represent almost 12% of the total trading volume on the website, resulting in sales of €118 million. Other cars, such as the Citroen LNA, Saab 90 and Toyota Tercel weren’t able to contribute quite as much.

6. Mercedes-Benz SL W113Porsche tops list of Europe's most popular classics

Average asking price: £83,600

The fact that three generations of Mercedes-Benz SL appear in the top 10 suggests that the car is in strong demand. The W113 had the unenviable task of following the first generation SL, something it managed with startling ease. It’s all about the oh-so-pretty styling, with its hardtop earning it the nickname of ‘Pagoda’.

In truth, the second coming of the SL was more boulevard cruiser than it was precision instrument, but it remained a thing of beauty. This was the first sports car to feature crumple zones and a rigid passenger cell.

5. Fiat 500Porsche tops list of Europe's most popular classics

Average asking price: £9,800

The smallest car in the top 10 has a fittingly small price tag. The Fiat Nuova 500 was unveiled in 1957 and helped mobilise an entire nation. It measured just 9-feet long and was one of the very first city cars ever built. Perfect for navigating the congested streets of Turin, Rome and Milan.

The early cars featured suicide doors, but these were phased out in 1965 amid safety fears. Nearly 3.5 million units were built before production ceased in 1975 and the 500 was replaced by the 126.

4. Porsche 964Porsche tops list of Europe's most popular classics

Average asking price: £62,300

To the untrained eye, the Porsche 964 looked like an evolution of the outgoing 911, but it was in fact 85% new. The Carrera 4 was the first 911 to feature an all-wheel drive system, sending 31% of the torque to the front and 69% to the rear.

Power was sourced from a 3.6-litre flat-six engine, itself a development of the 3.2-litre unit found in the outgoing 3.2 Carrera. The all-wheel drive 964 may have upset the purists, but it appealed to a broader and affluent audience, with strong sales helping to secure Porsche’s future. Besides, a rear-wheel-drive variant arrived in 1990.

3. Mercedes-Benz SL R107Porsche tops list of Europe's most popular classics

Average asking price: £24,700

The SL R107 enjoyed a near two-decade production run, making it the second longest single series Mercedes-Benz after the G-Class. Just like its predecessors, the R107 – introduced in 1971 – was a huge hit on the tree-lined boulevards of America.

At the time of preparing this feature, there are 626 Mercedes-Benz SL models for sale on Classic Trader. Prices range from £3,995 for a 1982 380 SL to £1.6 million for a 1956 300 SL ‘Gullwing’.

2. Porsche 911 pre-impact bumperPorsche tops list of Europe's most popular classics

Average asking price: £98,100

In 1974, Porsche was forced into redesigning the 911 to satisfy new US safety regulations. The result was the so-called ‘impact bumper’, designed to keep their shape in the event of a 5mph accident. Many would argue that the new bumper only served to dilute the purity of the original 911.

The Porsche 901 – renamed the 911 as of model year 1965 – was unveiled at the 1963 Frankfurt Motor Show as a successor to the 356. Right now, there are more than 1,000 Porsche of all types for sale on Classic Trader, with prices ranging from £15,215 to £1.4 million.

1. Porsche 911 impact bumperPorsche tops list of Europe's most popular classics

Average asking price: £55,500

Regardless of what you think about the impact bumpers, the G-Series remains one of the most iconic 911s of all-time. It was, after all, the sports car so beloved of the ‘Yuppie’ generation, all red braces, shoulder pads and mobile phones the size of bricks.

The design of the impact bumpers differed according to the market. In the US, the bumpers were connected to the body using hydraulic impact absorbers, while non-US cars used more cost-effective impact pipes. In 1989, the G-Series was replaced by the 964.