29 September 2015

Wolseley Motors 1948

Wolseley Motors 6/80 1948 - The Wolseley Motor Company wasn�t particularly fast of the starting gate when British car production resumed after World War II, sharing the problems of all manufacturers when it came to obtaining raw materials. When the first, postwar Wolseleys were finally rushed into production, two models were launched, at the Earls Court Motor Show, both based on Morris cars.

They were built alongside the Morris Oxford at the Morris Motor Company�s Cowley factory, Wolseley having been a Morris subsidiary since 1927. The smaller of the two new Wolseleys was the 4/50, whilst, the larger was the 6/80 (strictly speaking the Six Eighty) � these designations being a combination of the number 01' cylinders and the horsepower of each.

The Wolseley 6/80 was well equipped and looked impressive. It had an unmistakably Morris-style minded rear end, but the front sported an upright Wolseley grille that was very different. But there was more than a radiator to differentiate the 6/80 from its Morris Six clone. The six-cylinder engine sported twin SU carburetors and there was a four-speed gearbox operated by a column change. The enhancements added up to lively performance and these sturdy 6/80s were used extensively as police cars, as anyone familiar with the numerous black-and-white British crime films made as supporting features in the postwar era will know.

As the Nuffield organization�s luxury model, the Wolseley 6/80 benefitted from enhancements like leather upholstery, a wooden dash and door cappings, carpeting throughout, rear courtesy lights, twin fog lights, built-in reversing lamp and a red warning light inside the boot lid. The Wolseley 6/80 was a great success story. Over 25,000 were made, with nearly a third going abroad (mostly to Australia) to earn vital export revenue for Britain. The Wolseley 6/90 replaced it in 1954.

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

UK

FIRST MANUFACTURED:

1948 (until 1954)

ENGINE:

2,215 cc Straight Six

PERFORMANCE:

Top speed of 85 mph (138 km/h); 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 21.4 secs

YOU SHOULD KNOW:

Unfortunately, despite widespread use as a police car, the Wolseley 6/80 had an unfortunate habit of running hot and consuming its own exhaust valves after being driven hard, thus tending to spend too much time in the police MRD (Motor Repair Depot).

24 September 2015

Vauxhall VXR8 GTS

Vauxhall VXR8 GTS - WHEN I LOOK BACK ON MY time with the VXR8, it�s nearly always with a smile. Okay, so when an overdraft warning pinged through on my phone I might have rued the 15.161/100km, but even when the children were eating gruel and my wife was darning socks, I reckon it was probably worth it. The VXR8 GTS isn�t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but it�s unique, big-hearted and almost impossible not to love (unless you�re Dickie Meaden, who hates it). I wanted to run this huge Vauxhall because it represents the end of an era for the incredible line of V8-powered, rear-drive saloons built in Australia. Ford no longer builds the Falcon and now the Holden Commodore-on which this car is based � is dying, too. The whole Holden versus Ford rivalry is like a way of life for car enthusiasts in Australia, so it must feel especially painful for hardcore fans of the V8 Supercars race series, who�ve grown up as �Ford guys� or �Holden guys�. I don�t have that history but even so it�s sad to see this loud, lairy breed disappear from the motoring landscape. Other reasons? The practicality, of course. And the 6.2-litre supercharged V8 with 584hp and 739Nm.

In fact, it�s unbelievably comfortable, riding on sophisticated magnetorheological dampers, and it features torque vectoring by braking, multiple driving modes for various situations and has all the toys you could imagine. It�ll even park itself. Fitted with the optional six-speed automatic gearbox it covers ground like nothing else, loping along at big speeds with the engine turning slowly and the soft but supportive seats vanishing away the miles. Three-up back from the Nurburgring with a boot full of cam era gear, it was almost serene.

Journeys like that were a pretty regular part of life for our GTS � back and forth to the Ring a couple of times, supporting shoots at Spa, trawling across to Wales seemingly every month � and it really did excel in those situations. More usually it was trips to the airport, the odd school run and blasts into the office, evo moved in the summer, and the new commute was fantastic from my place. About 25 minutes of deserted and wide country roads with some wicked cresting corners and even a banked, Karussell-style left through a tunnel of trees. At full tilt the sheer performance the VXR8 GTS deployed for this journey was actually pretty stunning.

It was easy to forget the V8�s extreme power output when driving even quite quickly, as the slightly monotone engine note could lead you to change up at little more than 4000rpm. But if you held out to the limiter you got a manic supercharger noise to enjoy and truly eye-popping acceleration. It was only when you tried to use that 584hp that you appreciated the full magic of the chassis, too. The car always felt surprisingly balanced and composed � although short, sharp bumps could get it fidgeting and feeling slightly out of phase with the surface � but it was with the stability control off that you could enjoy its full repertoire.

Despite expectations, it was not a monster drift machine. There was too much grip and traction to slide around at low speed. However, It always felt very rear-driven and when you committed early to the throttle you could feel the rear tyres take the strain, the balance just teetering on the edge of oversteer. In the dry it was a sensational feeling and the car never felt unruly. In the wet, It was better to leave the traction control very much on, though. After many thousands of miles I felt I was still learning the VXR8. I tended to skip Tour and Sport modes and head straight to Performance, enabling the torque vectoring.

On smoother roads you could even use Track mode pretty comfortably to really tie down any float over undulations. I always used the paddles: I just can�t cope with fully automatic driving unless I�m stuck in traffic, and the gearbox was pretty fast and rarely frustrated me by not actioning a downshift request. In fact, the whole car felt nicely intuitive and in tune with your inputs.

The VXR8 GTS was a great car for all occasions, then: vast and comfortable, wickedly fast and slightly irresponsible, and even surprisingly composed and enjoyable on track, with terrific brake and steering feel on the limit. The interior was relatively crummy, and some people couldn�t cope with the image, but I was sorry to see it go. Both from my driveway and the wider world. Life is all the brighter and more enjoyable with a VXRSGTS for company. This or a new M3? No contests.

19 September 2015

Sportiness Against All Odds – Austin Big 7 1938 by Ulster

30s � after one of the worst depressions in the world economy, a race for modernity starts, a race to all that is dynamic, crazy, charming and so cars racing begin to take shape, going from being a sort of picturesque challenges, pioneering ventures, into proper and real races.

Races governed by precise rules, that involves following more or less permanent circuits and in which drivers begin to compete with cars specifically designed for racing or derived from standard models, but still characterized by targeted and competitive solutions.

The air we breathe is handcrafted in England and you live that fervor (still not dormant) leading to edit/ modify almost every car on the market. Every model can thus be a potential �race car�, no matter how high performance it has, the important thing is that it is able to give emotions.

And so mechanics and body shops starts to indulge themselves, also using quiet family cars as a starting project, as long as easily transformable, easily serviceable and relatively inexpensive. In this way, the Austin Seven and Big Seven manage to tread the competition fields (car which for years kept competing � Bruce McLaren scored his first victory at the wheel of a Seven Ulster, at the age of 15), changing from being clumsy all-rounder and transforming themselves into agile sports cars.

In our case we talk about a Big Seven, born in 1938 (chassis number 1910, as certified from �The Austin Seven Club Association�, in which its registered under n�55) and transformed, according to the dictates of the Ulster body, in a racing torpedo. Yep, a torpedo, since the empirical aerodynamic knowledge code imposed elusive and pointed shapes.

The compact chassis (just over 2 meters) and the proportionally long wheelbase provided a flexible starting point and, at the same time, a good stability. �Ihe simplicity of its drum brakes and of the leaf springs, guarantees sturdiness and at the same time easy maintenance when dealing with interventions.

The engine had instead some limitations, with its mere 900cc (outputting about 25 hp, in �street legal� configuration), but at the same time its compactness allowed to place it as back as possible, so as to targeting the weight balance relatively in the middle of the body. To overcome the lack of horses they try to lighten the whole thing here, by streamlining the body (made of aluminum), eliminating all the doors (in addition to the bonnet hinges) and leaving the interior as simple as possible (which moreover should not have finishes that absorb water).

Driving this car you immediately feel that it is in good shape, responsive, sincere, obviously with the limitations due to the characteristics of the tires and the efficiency of the brakes, limits which never reach worrying levels though.

The available cavalry and the handling of the gearbox thwart a little �any sporty ambition of the driver, but the involvement is amazing, starting already from the required clothing (not advisable, but necessary! Style is style and this imposes jacket, cap and aeronautical goggles of the era), through the feeling of an almost straight contact with the asphalt and passing through the satisfaction coming from its sound and the light caress of the wind (the two small windscreens efficiently do their job).

Obviously this is not exactly a car suitable for everyday driving, but Marco (the owner, avid cars collector and rally driver) can enjoy it throughout the year, even taking part in commemorative historic races (as evidenced by the many stickers all over the body of this Big Seven). It�s not hard to see him cruising on a trip through Tuscany, with a little �of luggage in the rear and a bit� in the backpack hanging on the external spare wheel, 4 spare candles, the compulsory bag of tools and a proper hunger for driving .. ..in the true sense of the word, like a bit �rude vehicle like this requires.

14 September 2015

Skoda Small SUV Next Yeti To Draw On Kodiaq

Skoda Small SUV � The styling of the all-new Skoda Yeti � set to hit UK roads in early 2018 -has been signed off, design chief Jozef Kaban has confirmed to Autocar. Although Kaban wouldn�t be drawn on specifics, he said the Yeti�s current distinctive boxy style wouldn�t be abandoned completely. But he also acknowledged that the Kodiaq, Skoda�s new large SUV, would inform its look. Potential customers are expected to get their first chance to see the new Yeti in mid-2017, ahead of its UK on-sale date in early 2018. �It�s no secret we didn�t build the Kodiaq in isolation, and there are aspects of that car that can look good in every segment,� said Kaban. There was an aspect to the Kodiaq brief that meant we needed to keep in mind that it is a car that is opening the door to a very attractive SUV world. So, of course, it can influence how other SUVs might look.

�I�d say that the next Yeti will look up to its bigger brother, rather than simply being cut from the same cloth. As with any family, the big brother will have influence, but each member of the family will have their own spectacular talents.� Kaban�s comments are thought to reference some of the Kodiaq�s most distinctive design touches, including the front and rear light elements, the front grille design and its front, rear and side profiles. The current Yeti has been on sale in a variety of updated forms since 2009 and has enjoyed increased sales in Europe every year since its launch. However, its sales growth has slowed in the past two years despite the segment booming, peaking at about 65,000 units in Europe � around a quarter of the number achieved by Nissan�s market-leading Qashqai.

The new launch is likely to give Skoda the opportunity to move the Yeti onto the VW Group�s MOB platform, bringing with it economies of scale and greater access to the newest generation of engines and technology. As such, it will be powered by the latest petrol and diesel engines and have some advanced technology options from the Kodiaq, potentially including the option of limited autonomous functions to allow it to drive itself in traffic jams. The switch to the MOB platform also means the new Yeti will sit in the VW Group�s range alongside the Seat Ateca, VW Tiguan and Audi Q3, giving the firm its most convincing SUV line-up for the European market yet.

09 September 2015

NSU Car RO 80

NSU Car RO 80 - Along with the Citroen DS, the NSU Ro80 was 10 years ahead of itself. Beneath that striking, wind-evading shape was an audacious twin-rotary engine, front-wheel drive, disc brakes, and a semi-automatic clutchless gearbox. In 1967, the Ro80 won the acclaimed �Car of the Year� award and went on to be hailed by many as �Car of the Decade.�

Technical preeminence aside, it also handled like a kart�the Ro80�s stability, roadholding, ride, steering, and dynamic balance were exceptional, and far superior to most sports and GT cars. But NSU�s brave new Wankel power unit was flawed and, due to acute rotor tip wear, would expire after only 15�20,000 miles (24�32,000 km). NSU honored their warranty claims until they bled white and eventually Audi/VW took over, axing the Ro80 in 1977.

Having pioneered use of the revolutionary Wankel rotary engine in the Wankelspider roadster, NSU hoped to make a killing by producing a passenger car that would take full advantage of this exclusive engine. The result was the Ro80.

It was a beautifully designed four-door saloon with an aerodynamic body, advanced engineering, superb performance and excellent handling. As well as that super-smooth engine, the Ro80 featured front-wheel drive, independent suspension all round, power steering and disc brakes, making it a really advanced vehicle.

Sounds too good to be true? Sadly, it was. NSU did not have the resources to undertake a thorough test progamme on the new, twin-chamber rotary engine developed from the single-chamber version in the Wankel Spider. This proved to be a terminal weakness, though the patient would linger on for a decade.

It was quickly apparent that engine components were not up to the stresses placed upon them. Some rotaries even imploded, but mostly they just started losing power. Amongst other faults, chamber walls could distort and rotor tips wore rapidly, causing oil leaks. A service would sometimes correct the problem, but engines often needed a rebuild or even replacement after two or three years. Added to that was the fact that Ro80s were heavy on fuel and dealers found difficulty understanding the new technology. It all added up to a ruinous reputation.

NSU tried valiantly to save the Ro80 (and the company) by instituting a generous warranty programme, and actually sorted most of the engine problems by 1970. But the damage was done. NSU was acquired by Volkswagen and merged with Audi. The Ro80 was allowed to fade away, with production ending in 1977 after some 37,000 had been made. But some are still going strong, offering a unique driving experience.

FUTURISTIC DESIGN

In 1967, the Ro80 looked like a vision of the future with its low center of gravity, huge glass area, and sleek aerodynamics. The high rear end, widely imitated a decade later, held a huge, deep trunk.

PASSENGER SPACE

With no transmission tunnel or propshaft, plenty of headroom, and a long wheelbase, rear passengers found the Ro80 thoroughly accommodating.

INTERIOR

Power steering was by ZF, and the dashboard was a paragon of hassle-free Teutonic efficiency.

ENGINE POSITION

The engine was set on four progressive-acting mounts with telescopic shock absorbers on each side of the gearbox casing.

WHEELS

Stylish five-spoke alloys were optional equipment.

UNDER THE HOOD

Designed by Felix Wankel, the brilliant twin-rotary engine was equivalent to a two-liter reciprocating piston unit. Drive was through a torque converter with a Fichel & Sachs electro-pneumatic servo to a three-speed NSU gearbox.

ROTARY RELIABILITY

Modern technology has made the troublesome Wankel engine reliable now, and prices of Ro80s have been creeping gently upward.

S P E C I F I C A T I O N S

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

Germany

FIRST MANUFACTURED:

1967 (until 1977)

ENGINE:

995 cc Double-rotor Wankel

PERFORMANCE:

Top speed of 112 mph (180 km/h); 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 14.2 secs

YOU SHOULD KNOW:

The aerodynamic Ro80 (designed in the mid-1960s) was indeed ahead of its time � as anyone who compares it with the 1983 Audi 100 will confirm. The two cars have a virtually identical body shape.

MODEL NSU Ro80 (1967�77)

PRODUCTION 37,204

BODY STYLE Front-engine five-seater sedan.

CONSTRUCTION Integral chassis with pressed steel monocoque body.

ENGINE Two-rotor Wankel, 1990cc.

POWER OUTPUT 113.5 bhp at 5500 rpm.

TRANSMISSION Three-speed semiautomatic.

SUSPENSION Independent all around.

BRAKES Four-wheel discs.

MAXIMUM SPEED 112 mph (180 km/h)

0�60 MPH (0�96 KM/H) 11.9 sec

0�100 MPH (0�161 KM/H) 25 sec

A.F.C. 20 mpg (7 km/l)