mercedes benz


Drivers parade!

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Some interesting new iron (aluminium, carbon fibre …) at the FoS this year. Highlights below.

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The new Ford Mustang – finally available in right hand drive. Aggressive retro styling looks good – shame about the awful colour

 

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More “motor show” colours on the McLaren stand. Am I the only one who prefers the simple look of the MP4-12c nose to that on the new 650S nose? Must be as apparently there was so little continuing demand for the old car once the 650S was launched that they have now stopped making it.

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The Jaguar F Type Project 7 is an important car for Jaguar. Based on the slightly more extreme concept shown at last year’s FoS , the Project 7 is actually a production car – indeed the fastest production Jaguar ever. Its V8 is tuned up to 575 bhp – 25 more than the R Coupe. It also has bespoke aero, and trick suspension and diff with standard carbon ceramic brakes. The screen has a greater rake than the standard convertible and it has an D Type imitating faring behind the drivers role hoop. Inside it looks fairly standard and weather protection consists of a rather impractical clip on hood like the recent Boxster speedster. Its a striking car and they hope to sell 250, and only 60 in right hand drive. But what’s it for? Too comfortable and therefore heavy for a racer (and the rollover protection looks too scant) yet too uncomfortable for every day use. Is it therefore just for collectors and occasional track days?

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This stunning Jaguar SUV concept is far more likely to make JLR lots of money. Aimed at rivalling the Audi Q4, BMW X3 and especially the Porsche Macan it should perform well and in a different segment to current Land Rover products. I would certainly buy one. The bad news is that we are unlikely to see one for sale until 2018, with a hot version not to follow until 2019.

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VW ran their diminutive XL electric car up the hill. It looks like the future for urban transport but is very very small and very very expensive.

 

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The new Renault Twingo Sport looks like great fun. Based on the same platform as the new Smart 4-2 it has a rear mounted 1L turbocharged engine. Hot versions later this year should have 140 bhp making the car a mini 911!

There is always a fine selection of Le Mans sports cars at Goodwood ranging from those from the earliest days of racing to the very latest winning machines.

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Andy Wallace is reunited with his 1988 Le mans winning Jaguar XJR – 9

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This year’s Le man winning Audi e-Tron. Havings stumbled in the early rounds of this year’s World Sports Car championship they managed to win the race that really mattered. Sound familiar Peugeot?

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1970 Ferrari 512, just like in the film Le Mans..

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Mercedes high speed transporter carrying the fabulous Uhlenhaut Coupe (see previous posts from Stuttgart)

 

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This year’s Le Mans Toyota hybrid

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Gorgeous Jaguar D Type Le Mans winners – 55, 56, 57. This Ecurie Ecosse car won in 1957 and provided the design inspiration for the Project 7 Jaguar

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Vast V12 Sunbeam racer from 1920 and even bigger 1911 Fiat

Due to restrictions on testing (!) there were no contemporary Formula One cars tackling the hill at Goodwood this year. That did not stop some of the teams bringing cars for static display or bringing cars from previous seasons for their drivers and test drivers to run up the hill. Even then runs were restricted to demonstration performances with plenty of doughnuts and burnouts and very little speed. We had to look to the historic guys for real pace.

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Jenson Button in the McLaren MP4-26 he drove in 2012.

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Max Smith Hilliard in his 1972 Surtees TS9B. Seconds later he stuffed it into the bales at Molecombe corner. He was unhurt and at least he was trying!

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Legendary Brazilian Emerson Fittipaldi driving the McLaren M23 with which he won McLaren’s first world title in 1974.

One of the best things about the Festival of speed is the close access to the drivers available for fans.

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British GP winner Johhny Herbert sharing a laugh at the Williams pit

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John Surtees was celebrating the 50th anniversary of his world championship with a class of cars and bikes associated with his career in action on the hill all weekend.

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An immaculately turned out Paddy Hopkirk reunited with his Monte winning Mini Cooper

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Twelve time World Motor Bike Trials champion Dougie Lampkin in action

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Felipe Massa reflecting on his good fortune to no longer be at Ferrari

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I had a good chat with Andy Wallace about Le Mans in 1988. The XJR made 250 mph down the pre chicane Mulsanne Straight. At night he could see so little as the lights were mounted so low that he had to pick out his braking points by calculating distances from land marks as they flashed by. To this day the XJR is the fastest car to have driven at Le mans. Andy has no desire to ever drive that fast again – he said it was something you could only do when young, fearless and lacking in imagination.

A relaxed Lewis Hamilton arrived at the pits before all the other drivers. A sign of things to come?

I thought I was being cynical in thinking Rosberg may have deliberately crashed to ruin Hamilton’s last qualifying lap but apparently not! The stewards have investigated and cleared Rosberg and he has apologised to Hamilton. But Hamilton has effectively said Rosberg crashed deliberately and has compared his relationship with Rosberg to that of Senna and Prost. He has even said he liked the way Senna dealt with similar issues – a clear reference to Senna’s deliberate running of Prost off the road at Suzuka! Looks like Niki Lauda has a team civil war on his hands..

It’s a scorching afternoon in Monaco and the sun is beating down on the packed grandstands. Qualification has just finished with Nico Rosberg taking a crucial pole position despite, clobbering the Armco at Mirebeau a lap later. There was no time for Hamilton to take back the pole which he had held at the end of Q2. After the chequered flag he looked dejected whilst Rosberg punched the air with delight at seizing pole at his home circuit. Given the difficulty of overtaking at Monaco the two drivers’ starts tomorrow will be crucial. The Red Bulls fill the next two places with Vettel once again having been bested by his young Ozzy team mate. It’s shaping up to be a great race tomorrow.

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A large part of the show was given over to German Car Clubs many of whom displayed some lovely cars in imaginative displays. In addition the dealers were out in force, especially at the top end. Prices were steep but the quality of most cars reflected that. Though an OK triumph Dolomite Sprint for £25,000 hardly seemed like value for money.

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Mk1 VW Scirocco – great little cars, my Mum had a red one in the early eighties.

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East German border guard’s Trabant. Look closely and you will see the guard dog doesn’t think much of it!

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Very colourful Citroen GSA. I learnt to drive in a rather less colourful one of these. Very comfortable – unless the hydraulics failed. Then it was fatal.

 

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This is the Zagato version of the Lancia Flaminia , the Touring of Milan version of which I saw at Brooklands in February. The Zagato version is even better looking, is rarer and much more expensive. this dealer had two and I saw two others for sale elsewhere at the show.

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Contemporary to the Lancia is this very similar looking Aston Martin DB, also by Zagato. This car is a recreation and was for sale for 110,000 Euros.

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You can keep your Blower Bentleys, this is my dream pre war classic, a Low Chassis Invicta. Better looking, faster and cheaper too (though still over £500,000).

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1937 Horch 853 Spezialroadster

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If you wanted to you could buy Chairman Mao’s Mercedes 600 Pullman

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Turin coachbuilder OSI produced the smart Ford Taunus based OSI Ford Coupe for only a year (1967 – 68) but it has a strong following in Germany. Compared to the ugly Taunus you can see why!

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At all German shows you will find lots of companies ready and willing to build you a better than new 911 or Pagoda. This company allows you to choose era and body style as well as some great retro colours.

After my enjoyable trip to Retroclassics Stuttgart last spring, this year I thought I would visit the mother of all German (and indeed European) shows, Technoclassica. Cheap airfares courtesy of Easyjet made a day trip viable but the show is so huge (probably three times as big as the NEC Classic Car Show) that you really need two days to do it justice. Here are some highlights of the fantastic cars on show.

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Mercedes Benz celebrated 120 years of motor sport with an amazing display of competition machinery from the earliest 19th century race cars to Hamilton’s car from last year. Many of the cars are not on show at MB’s excellent Stuttgart museum and the display as a whole would have required half a day to do it justice.

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Mercedes Grand Prix Racing Car – The car that broke French hearts at the French GP in July 1914 in a rivalry that was to find its true intensity a month later when the world descended into the Great War

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This is the Team Johnson Rally Wax Mecedes Benz 280E driven by the British crew of Fowkes and O’Gorman that finished second (behind another 280E) in the 1977 London to Sydney Rally. I saw this car depart London as a 8 year old, there to cheer on the Lotus Cortina of my Uncle. He sadly only made it to Iran in what is still considered the toughest and longest rally ever held.

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Vast 1996 Paris – Dakar Unimog service truck

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DTM Touring cars as far as the eye can see

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Sports racers headed by gorgeous 1955 300 SLR

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An unusual Brit – 1958 Frisky Sport. 16HP and 0 to 60 in 35 seconds..

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There are always plenty of Pagoda Merc’s at German shows but few in this condition…

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Hmm, may need a bit of work..

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Or maybe sir would like a Gullwing ? This dealer had four..

Beast’s claim to fame is being the oldest surviving production MG SV. She was a works car and was used for promotion work when the car was launched in 2003. That year she was prepared for the Goodwood Festival of Speed and spent the weekend in the supercar paddock and being driven up the hill by luminaries such as Australian multiple F1 champion Sir Jack Brabham and the designer of the car (and the McLaren F1) Peter Stevens. So when earlier this year the Goodwood Road Racing Club announced that there was to be a new area of reserved parking at the Festival of Speed for visiting supercars I was determined that the Beast should have the chance to mix it with the Ferraris, Lambos and other exotica. The organisers were supportive and allocated me a ticket when they found out the Beast would be revisiting the Festival nearly 10 years to the day since she was last there. Getting a ticket was not as easy as it sounds as the organisers had a list of what they thought of as supercars and MGs were not on it! Only two door Ferraris were allowed, and amongst the volume brands only Jag XJ220’s (no other Jags) only Lotus Esprits and Evora S, 911’s but for this year only, and only SLS Mercs (no AMGs). So pretty exclusive company!

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The Beast attracted lots of attention, indeed more than the McLaren MP4 12 c and Ferrari V12 parked next to it. In fact there were 23 McLarens present so they were considerably more common than the MG! Surprisingly there was only two Ferrari 458’s when I had been led to believe that they were, when compared to the McLaren, the better car. Clearly the Festival crowd are a patriotic bunch.

McLarens – any colour as long as its orange..

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As it was the 50th anniversary of the 911 there were plenty of Stuttgart’s finest. Next year its said they won’t be allowed amongst the supercars but this year the super car car park would have looked a bit empty without them so it would not surprise me if they get a reprieve.

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I suspect the attention focused on the Beast was the result of her striking looks and the fact she is such a rare car. One of her admirers turned out to be someone who had worked for the Isle of Wight company who had made the carbon fibre blanks used to construct the bodywork of the car. The Beast was the first complete SV he had seen.

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The lead up to the Grand Prix is always fun. Arriving early in the morning, watching the GP2 and Porsche Super Cup races and then the drivers’ parade.

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After that there is time for a quick burger and a stretch in the sun. Some fans take their support beyond baseball caps and shirts with logos. Have a close look at the hair cuts of these two blokes. Kimi and Lewis would be pleased!

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The Red Arrows always put on a terrific display. No big British summer event would be complete without them!

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Sadly I was too far away from the track to be able to take good photos with my iPhone but here are some rather poor efforts.

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Sadly Silverstone was the last GP I will be able to attend this season – can’t wait till next year!

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The British Grand Prix was certainly dramatic! Pirelli managed to conjour up a thrilling spectacle for the capacity crowd on a beautiful English summer’s day. Watching from the fast slalom that is Becketts I missed seeing most of the multiple blow outs myself, though I did see Massa’s excursion off track after his rear left burst.

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Lewis’ burst tyre was particularly harsh after his fine qualifying performance and clearly robbed him of victory in front of his home fans. Helped by the safety car he drove magnificently back to fourth from last. His comments after the race were revealing. He said that the “illegal” tyre test with Mercedes had been undertaken to try and address the tyre failure problems that had occurred earlier in the season but that nothing was done after the tests. His anger that drivers’ lives were being put at risk was clear.

Certainly tyres exploding at 190 mph are very dangerous for the driver, other racers, spectators and marshals who have to run on track to recover bits of rubber. That no one was killed or injured last weekend owes a lot to the skill of the drivers (only Massa lost control) and luck. In particular both Alonso and Raikkonen were lucky to avoid contact with tyre debris.

After the race some were quick to blame the “sharp” curbs at Silverstone. This was manifestly nonsense given the curbs were the same as last year. It was only days later that Pirelli admitted there was an issue with the tyres but again this was only after they appeared to suggest that fault lay with the teams using incorrect tyre pressures and camber. Whatever the cause it became clear something needed to be done urgently to avoid the (albeit slim) prospect of a boycott of this weekend’s German GP. Bernie Ecclestone wasted no time in banging heads together and hopefully we will not see any more failures this weekend.

The repeated blow outs and safety car periods led to a dramatic finale with Webber and Hamilton carving through the field to finish second and fourth. It’s a shame Mark could not win his last British GP but he certainly pushed Rosberg hard. His metronomic victory for Mercedes was ominous for Red Bull – nearly as ominous as Vettel’s gearbox failure retirement when he looked to have the race in the bag (the cheers of delight from the British fans when he pulled over left you in no doubt where their sympathies lay). A steady drive from Alonso meant he closed the gap on Vettel and though Raikkonen will have been disappointed to have lost a number of places in the last few laps the fact he has now finished more consecutive GP’s than Schumacher in his pomp is certainly some achievement. It was another race to forget for McLaren and Williams.

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