A brief history of the Porsche 911 Turbo

The First 911 (1963) - Birth of a Legend

As the successor to the Porsche 356, the 911 won the hearts of sports car enthusiasts from the outset. The prototype was first unveiled at the Frankfurt IAA Motor Show in 1963 as the 901, and renamed the 911 for its market launch in 1964. Its air-cooled six-cylinder boxer engine delivered 130 hp, giving it an impressive top speed of 131 mph. If you wanted to take things a little slower, starting in 1965 you could also opt for the four-cylinder Porsche 912. In 1966 Porsche presented the 160 hp 911 S, which was the first to feature forged alloy wheels from Fuchs. The 911 Targa, with its distinctive stainless steel roll bar, made its debut in late 1966 as the world's first ever safety cabriolet. The semiautomatic Sportomatic four-speed transmission joined the lineup in 1967. With the 911T of the same year, and the later E and S variants, Porsche became the first German manufacturer to comply with strict US exhaust emission control regulations. The Porsche 911 became more and more powerful as displacement increased, initially to 2.2 liters (1969) and later to 2.4 (1971). The 911 Carrera RS 2.7 of 1972 with 210 hp engine and weighing less than 1000 kg remains the epitome of a dream car to this day. Its characteristic "ducktail" was the world's first rear spoiler on a production vehicle.

The G-Series (1973) - The Second Generation

Ten years after its premiere, the engineers at Porsche gave the 911 its first thorough makeover. The G model was produced from 1973 to 1989, longer than any other 911 generation. It featured prominent bellows bumpers, an innovation designed to meet the latest crash test standards in the United States. Occupant protection was further improved by three-point safety belts as standard equipment, as well as integrated headrests. One of the most important milestones in the 911 saga was the 1974 unveiling of the first Porsche 911 Turbo with a three-liter 260 hp engine and enormous rear spoiler. With its unique blend of luxury and performance, the Turbo became synonymous with the Porsche mystique. The next performance jump came in 1977 with the intercooler-equipped 911 Turbo 3.3. At 300 hp it was the best in its class. In 1983 the naturally aspirated 911 Carrera superseded the SC; with a 3.2 liter 231 hp engine, it became a favorite collectors' item. Starting in 1982, fresh air enthusiasts could also order the 911 as a Cabriolet. The 911 Carrera Speedster, launched in 1989, was evocative of the legendary 356 of the fifties.

The 964 (1988) - Classic Modern

Just when automotive experts were predicting the imminent end of an era, in 1988 Porsche came out with the 911 Carrera 4 (964). After 15 years of production, the 911 platform was radically renewed with 85 percent new components, giving Porsche a modern and sustainable vehicle. Its air-cooled 3.6 liter boxer engine delivered 250 hp.  Externally, the 964 differed from its predecessors only slightly, in its aerodynamic polyurethane bumpers and automatically extending rear spoiler, but internally it was almost completely different. The new model was designed to captivate drivers not only with sporty performance but also with enhanced comfort. It came with ABS, Tiptronic, power steering, and airbags, and rode on a completely redesigned chassis with light alloy control arms and coil springs instead of the previous torsion-bar suspension. A revolutionary member of the new 911 line right from the start was the all-wheel drive Carrera 4 model. In addition to Carrera Coupé, Cabriolet and Targa versions, starting in 1990 customers could also order the 964 Turbo. Initially powered by the proven 3.3 liter boxer engine, in 1992 the Turbo was upgraded to a more powerful 360 hp 3.6 liter power plant. Today, the 964 Carrera RS, 911 Turbo S, and 911 Carrera 2 Speedster are in particularly high demand among collectors.

The 993 (1993) - The Last Air-Cooled Models

The 911 with the internal design number 993 remains the one true love of many a Porsche driver. The remarkably pleasing design has much to do with this. The integrated bumpers underscore the smooth elegance of its styling. The front section is lower-slung than on the earlier models, made possible by a switch from round to polyellipsoid headlights. The 993 quickly gained a reputation for exceptional dependability and reliability. It was also agile, as the first 911 with a newly designed aluminum chassis. The Turbo version was the first to have a bi-turbo engine, giving it the lowest-emission stock automotive powertrain in the world in 1995. The hollow-spoke aluminum wheels, never before used on any car, were yet another innovation of the all-wheel drive Turbo version. The Porsche 911 GT2 was aimed at the sports car purist who cherished the thrill of high speeds. An electric glass roof that slid under the rear window was one of the innovations of the 911 Targa. But the real reason dyed-in-the-wool Porsche enthusiasts still revere the 993 is that this model, produced from 1993 to 1998, was the last 911 with an air-cooled engine.

The 996 (1997) - Water-Cooled

The 996, which rolled off the assembly line from 1997 to 2005, represented a major turning point in the history of the 911. It retained all the character of its classic heritage, but was an entirely new automobile. This comprehensively redesigned generation was the first to be driven by a water-cooled boxer engine. Thanks to its four-valve cylinder heads it achieved 300 hp and broke new ground in terms of reduced emissions, noise, and fuel consumption. The exterior design was a reinterpretation of the 911's classic line, but with a lower drag coefficient (cW) of 0.30. The lines of the 996 were also a result of component sharing with Porsche's successful Boxster model. Its most obvious exterior feature were the headlights with integrated turn signals, at first controversial but later copied by many other manufacturers. On the inside, drivers experienced an entirely new cockpit. Driving comfort now also played a greater role alongside the typical sporty characteristics. With the 996 Porsche launched an unprecedented product offensive with a whole series of new variations. The 911 GT3 became one of the highlights of the model range in 1999, keeping the tradition of the Carrera RS alive. The 911 GT2, the first car equipped with ceramic brakes as standard, was marketed as an extreme sports vehicle starting in the fall of 2000.

The 997 (2004) - Classicism and Modernity

In July 2004 Porsche unveiled the new generation 911 Carrera and 911 Carrera S models, referred to internally as the 997. The clear oval headlights with separate blinkers in the front apron were a visual return to older 911 models, but the 997 offered more than just style. It was a high-performance vehicle, with a 3.6 liter boxer engine that turned out 325 hp while the new 3.8 liter engine of the Carrera S managed an incredible 355 hp. The chassis was also substantially reworked, and the Carrera S came with Porsche Active Suspension Management as standard equipment. In 2006 Porsche introduced the 911 Turbo, the first gasoline-powered production automobile to include a turbocharger with variable turbine geometry. A model update in the fall of 2008 made the 997 even more efficient thanks to direct fuel injection and a dual clutch transmission. Never before had the 911 series made such extensive allowances to suit drivers' individual preferences, and with Carrera, Targa, Cabriolet, rear or all-wheel drive, Turbo, GTS, special models, and road versions of GT racing cars, the 911 family ultimately comprised 24 model versions.

The 991 (2011) - Refined by Experience

This car, known internally as the 991, represents the greatest technical leap in the evolution of the 911. Already the class benchmark for decades, the new 911 generation raised performance and efficiency to new levels. A totally new suspension with a longer wheelbase, wider track, larger tires and an ergonomically optimized interior - it all adds up to an even sportier yet more comfortable driving experience. Technically, the 911 is the epitome of Porsche Intelligent Performance - even lower fuel consumption, even higher performance. This is due in part to the smaller 3.4 liter displacement in the Carrera basic model (yet developing 5 hp more than the 997/II), and to its hybrid steel/aluminum construction, which significantly reduces curb weight. Other innovations include Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC) and the world's first seven-gear manual transmission. The design of the 991 has likewise met with high critical acclaim. With its flat, stretched silhouette, exciting contours, and precisely designed details, the seventh generation of the Porsche 911 Carrera remains unmistakably a 911 that has once again succeeded in redefining the standard for automobile design. It is the best 911 of all time - until the next generation.


Huge Success For Warren Car and Coffee Morning

On the first event of its kind at The Warren, over 110 Classic, Sports and Supercars attended the breakfast meeting on the 29 April, with over 250 supporters, including Secretary of State for International Development, Priti Patel.

Cars of all types, manufacturers and vintages attended, from modern supercars to classic sports cars, to vintage 1920s Rolls and Bentleys.

This, free to enter event gives time for owners and enthusiasts to mingle and view at very close quarters, millions of pounds’ worth of beautiful vehicles whilst enjoying coffee, tea and breakfast.

Liam Cardiff, creator of the event said “we had no idea of the numbers that would support this first get together, but we are absolutely delighted, not just with the number of people and cars, but by the quality and range which would be the delight of any concours event – it will definitely be a monthly event from now on.”

Priti Patel said “I am always delighted to be invited to The Warren, it’s such a beautiful estate and I was staggered by the quality of the cars on display”.

 The Warren Estate is best known in motoring circles for its Classic & Supercar Show, which takes place this year on Sunday 24th September. This event combines an internationally-renowned classic car concours competition, extensive displays of classic and supercars, plus a wide range of family entertainment. For more information visit www.warrenclassic.co.uk

Anglia Car Auctions: Is Older Better? The Porsche 911.

Which offers the best driving experience  - the old-school Porsche 911 or the technology-riddled contemporary incarnation of Germany’s long-running road rocket? It’s old vs. new like never before with Anglia Car Auction's 8th April sale.  

Words: Calum Brown
Pictures: Anglia Car Auctions

Like the look of this beast?  Click on the picture for more information. 

While we understand that modern equivalents of timeless classics push the boundaries of safety, comfort and handling to new levels - are they a patch on the originals in terms of elation and driving experience? The Porsche 911 is the perfect case in point. Does heavy duty crash protection and now commonplace electronic driving aids strip away the raw aspect of excitement so sought after by petrolheads the world over?

On paper at least, the podium place is easily taken by the modern manifestation - cracking 60mph from a standstill in less than 4 seconds and continuing on to well past the legendary 200mph mark. Fuel consumption even pushes 22mpg. The original 911 isn’t exactly slow, especially in ‘S’ form - where it can crack 138mph and destroy the 0-60mph sprint in 7.4 seconds - but for those hunting a cold sweat with an adrenaline filled, tarmac snorting car equivalent to a missile launcher, the original may appear lacklustre.

This is to be expected however, as Porsche have had over fifty years to tune the beloved 911 into perfect shape. Gazing over the original 1963 example, with its air-cooled 2.0-litre unit and underlying shape so familiar with the modern 911, it’s hard not to feel the raw appeal of 911 geneses.  It feels light and is keen to rev, with a keen fixation on oversteer - it’s certainly a car that requires your full attention. Not that the current Porsche 911 acts in a gentlemanly manner when undertaking some lairy driving manoeuvres. If these cars were a family, their surname would be Manson. 

Both are capable of developing a tail-led slip angle with the slightest unwary twitch of the steering wheel, but the difference between old and new boils down to one aspect: the current model is (slightly) more forgiving when regaining control. A bit like Margaret Thatcher would be more forgiving than Vlad the Impaler.

While the new car may have better protection should the turbo lag spin you backwards through an Aga showroom, and offer improved reliability from advanced mechanicals alongside preferable comfort levels and sound deadening - it lacks the same soul oozing out of the older versions.

This one is for sale, too.  Here's some more info. 

This one is for sale, too. Here's some more info. 

Perhaps it’s the clean cut noise from the 1960s exhaust that leaves the prevailing scream spouted from today’s 911 sounding a bit too techno, or the smooth styling donned by the first models that results in a new Porsche 911 appearing overly brutish. All we can determine is that the 1960s 911 is nicer to look at, more satisfying to hear when driving past and far fresher to drive. It’s far less comfortable and nowhere near as quick, yet the feeling of heritage within an original 911 is near impossible to beat.

It makes financial sense too - with classic Porsche 911s climbing up the cost ladder, as new-fangled examples slip down the huge depreciation ladder - unless you go for a special edition, which costs more than a house in the first place.

In essence, it all boils down to personal preference - but for a slice of Porsche history and raw, exciting automotive pleasure, we can’t recommend the original 911 enough.

You can view the Anglia Car Auction's listings on CCFS. 

The First Classic Motor Hub Event of 2017 Roars into Life!

Words and Pictures: John Mayhead

Words and Pictures: John Mayhead

Sunday 2nd April sees the first of many 2017 events taking place at The Classic Motor Hub in Bibury, Gloucestershire, where classic and vintage motor enthusiasts and families will meet for their Coffee and Classics morning.

Hundreds of enthusiasts are expected to attend the event, when they can meet likeminded individuals over a relaxed coffee and bacon roll, and explore everything The Hub has to offer.


The Hub was created last year to bring together a number of classic, sports and vintage motoring businesses, all housed in the historic surroundings of the old RAF Bibury World War 2 fighter base. The Hub has a full calendar of events throughout the year, including classic drive-in movies, rallies and other historic vehicle meetings.

At Coffee & Classics, every area of The Hub will be open- the superb showroom of Cotswold Collectors Cars, the bike store with a wide range of classic motorcycles, Classic Motor Hub Sales selling modern performance cars, car storage and workshop areas, plus The Clubhouse which draws its history from the RAF Officers’ Mess.

Furthermore, for the first Coffee & Classics, public access will be allowed to an exceptional private collection of historic sporting cars and Steve Bell from Heritage Preservations Detailing will be detailing a very special Ferrari owned by a well-known motoring celebrity. Although the event is free to enter, visitors are encouraged to arrive in an appropriate vehicle, and charity donations will be taken to support the Midlands Air Ambulance.

All this, plus a few very specially selected trade stands and refreshments on hand, should make The Classic Motor Hub’s Coffee & Classics an event not to miss!

Coffee & Classics is being held at The Classic Motor Hub, Ablington, Bibury, Gloucestershire, GL7 5NX on the first Sunday of every month from April until October from 9am until Midday. All drivers and riders of classic, vintage and sports cars and bikes are welcome, and it is free to attend. Please Google ‘The Classic Motor Hub Bibury’ for directions (Satnavs can be temperamental!) and visit https://www.facebook.com/TheClassicMotorHub/ for more information and register your place.

Motor Racing legend Jacky Ickx to be guest of honour at The London Classic Car Show

Jacky Ickx, the world’s greatest all-round racing driver, will be honoured at The London Classic Car Show's Gala Evening on Thursday 23rd February and will appear live on stage to discuss his remarkable career with broadcaster and journalist Henry Hope-Frost.

Ickx will also be joined by five time Le Mans winner Derek Bell, MBE, as they team up again after sharing the top step of the 24 Hours podium three times.

Bell said: “Sharing a car with Jacky at Le Mans was one of the high points of my career. I am looking forward to sharing a stage with him at the London Classic Car Show and remembering some of the great times we had together.”


 The pair will also share the stage with two other Le Mans superstars – Emanuele Pirro, who claimed five victories for Audi, and Jürgen Barth, who won in 1977 sharing a Porsche with Ickx. Together the quartet can claim 17 victories at Le Sarthe.

Ickx will also officially open the inaugural Historic Motorsport International, the show’s new sister exhibition, at 12pm on Thursday 23rd. And as if that wasn’t enough, The London Classic Car Show will also hold a special display showcasing several of the iconic cars he raced and rallied.

“This is a huge privilege for me to be a guest of honour at these two shows in the heart of London,” said Ickx. “Whether it was winning Le Mans three times with Derek or competing at Silverstone and Brands Hatch, I have always had a wonderful relationship with the British racing community and that’s why I am so thrilled to have these very special dates in my diary.” 

Seeing Red Ferraris

 £120 million worth of Ferraris take centre stage at London’s top classic show.

Daytona and Dino; 250 and F40; GTO and California – these names only mean one thing: Ferrari.


This year marks the 70th anniversary of Ferrari road cars and the London Classic Car Show will celebrate this with an incredible display made up of 20 of the greatest cars ever to wear the famous Prancing Horse.

It’s estimated that the cars will together be valued at more than £120 million as confirmed cars include; a 275 GTB, 250 California, 250 GT SWB, Daytona, Dino, an F40, 250 Lusso, an Enzo plus a 250 GTO, which on its own is worth more than £30 million. The special anniversary showcase is being curated by The London Classic Car Show together with renowned London-based performance car expert Joe Macari.

“With these spectacular machines on display, the centrepiece of the London Classic Car Show will be a veritable ‘red sea’ of Ferraris showing the evolution of the marque over its seven decades,” said event director Bas Bungish.

Classic Ferraris will also be represented in the shows unique feature The Grand Avenue, a live motoring runway. Single-seaters, sports racers and modern supercars will be paraded along the runway, under the 2017 theme of the ‘Perfect Ten’.

 Now in its third year, the London Classic Car Show is bigger than ever and will have more than 700 stunning classic cars on display. This year it incorporates a second show, Historic Motorsport International (HMI), which is devoted to historic racing and rallying and will include 50th anniversary celebrations for the Ford DFV Grand Prix engine and the birth of Formula Ford. 


New Donald Campbell Booklet Out Now!

Looking for a window into the life of legend Donald Campbell? This new booklet from the Speed Record Club is right up your street.

To mark the 50th anniversary of Donald Campbell’s final attempt for 300mph on water, the Speed Record Club has produced an A5 booklet – “Remembering Donald Campbell – The Man and his Legacy”.

Using previously unpublished material, this booklet features personal memories from Gina Campbell and Don Wales (Donald Campbell’s Daughter and Nephew) alongside Coniston villagers, team members and distinguished authors.

There is even some insight into Donald’s venture into car advertising, with largely unseen pictures of Campbell behind the wheel of a Vauxhall.

Priced at £5, profits will be going to local charities in the Coniston area. Available for purchase locally from 4th January 2017, you can also order through the Speed Record Club website.


Presenting The 1971 Ferrari 365 GTS/4 Daytona Spyder

CCFS are proud to feature this classy piece of Italian automotive history.

This critically acclaimed 1971 Ferrari 365 GTS/4 "Daytona" Spyder is 1 of only 122 cars built; originally sold to the American entrepreneur Bill Harrah and was featured as part of his World famous private car collection in Nevada.

The car was kept in immaculate condition with only 4,670 miles on the clock. It has had a full sympathetic recommission to make sure it's ready for the road and has been given Classiche Certification.

The bright Rosso Hide interior contrasts and complements the stunning Nero paintwork. Sporting sleek, elegant lines this car simply oozes class and sophistication - married with an impressive 4.4 Litre engine boasting 320 horsepower. 

This Ferrari is one of the last to be 100% hand built – with an all-steel body painstakingly hammer formed to perfection and is the perfect addition to any serious enthusiast’s classic car selection.

In addition, the car comes complete with its original service book, Classiche Certificate, history file and Autovettura book.

Interested? Click here to find out more.

Barons: Top Five Classic Cars Up for Auction

Barons Auction house have a wonderful selection of classic, collectors and sports cars up for auction this Christmas (13th December).

We’ve picked out our five personal favourites (by decade) – but please be assured that there’s sure to be something to suit every taste:

1968 MGB GT

This sporty little hatchback, designed by Pininfarina, simply oozes style and class in abundance. With sleek lines and a beautifully furbished leather interior this car epitomises everything that was great about MG in the 60s.

This model had a full photographic restoration in 1995 and has been subject to improvements by RBW spots and classics in 2016, including:

-          Original wheels refurbished

-          New tyres

-          Servo assisted brakes

-          Wooden dash

-          New steering wheel

-          New Carpets

-          Additional Cooling Fan

-          Overdrive moved to gear-knob

The car comes with a new MOT until December 2017 and has just had a full service so is ready to take to the open road.

1972 Fiat 500 L

The Fiat 500 was a landmark in small cars – measuring a diddy 2.97 metres in length and powered by a 499cc engine this car was perfect for town and city driving.

This Fiat 500 L is a lovely little car that sits alongside the classic Mini but brings with it an undeniable Italian charm that will appeal to many small car lovers.

This model includes:

-          Black vinyl seats

-          Red carpets

-          Rubber over-mats

-          All original fittings – steering wheel, fold-back sun roof, 499cc engine, etc

According to the vendor it has done a mere 17,500 miles on-the-clock and has been full MOT’d and serviced – ready for life on the British road.

1986 Cadillac De Ville

If you’re looking for something different they don’t come much more different than the Cadillac De Ville – a true American icon.

This powerful V8 was imported to the UK from Florida in 2006 and has lived most of its UK life in the garage.

In true Cadillac style it comes with a whole host of extras, including:

-          Power steering

-          Air suspension

-          Power brakes

-          Power windows

-          Electric seats

-          Cruise control

-          Air conditioning

-          Blue leather interior

The car is in excellent condition – immaculate bodywork and no mechanical issues. If you’re looking for some 80s Americana you can’t go far wrong with the Cadillac De Ville.

1996 Alfa Romeo Spider

The Alfa Romeo Spider, designed by Pininfarina, is a thing of beauty – displaying a style and finesse that is typically Italian and still up-holds to modern sports car standards.

This model includes:

-          16V Twin Spark Engine

-          White leather interior

-          Original mohair hood

-          Zender sideskirts

-          Front spoiler

Hailed as one of the best examples of its day the Spider boasts a sleek, aerodynamic shape, very low mileage (43,300 miles on the clock) and is in superb condition – with full MOT certificates that come with the car.

The 96 Alfa Romeo Spider is perfect for anyone looking to add to their car collection.

2004 Jeep Cherokee

The Jeep Cherokee; a muscular American 4x4 that certainly stands out from the crowd. It always looks ready to take on any off or on-road challenge you might want to throw at it.

It’s truly a modern classic in its own right, boasting:

-         An aggressive 3.7 Litre engine

-         Leather interior

-         Heated seats

-         JVC stereo

-         Automatic gearbox

-         Low mileage (62,781)

-         Immaculate condition

Want something that can compete with modern 4x4s? You can’t go far wrong with a 2004 Jeep Cherokee. Perfect for any big car enthusiast.

For more information and to see what other cars are up for auction please visit the Barons Auction Christmas Classic page.

Road Legal Formula 1 Car Up For Auction

Ever dreamed of owning a road legal F1 racing car? Well now’s your chance…!

The Lola F1 R, designed and engineered by a team – headed up by the eponymous Russell Anniston, is a unique one off that has only done 25 miles and has been listed for auction by Bonhams at London Olympia on December 7th 2016.

What makes this car particularly exciting is the fact that it was built based on a bet – Anniston and his team were bet that they couldn’t build a UK road legal car that held the same sense of excitement and demeanour as a traditional Formula 1 racing car, while still addressing practical road issues. So, in true competitive spirit – that’s exactly what they did.

While the car ‘s chassis is based on an aborted 1997 F1 project (the Lola), complete with nose cone, body panels, wings, suspension and radiator ducting, there are a number of areas that needed to be changed to make the car road-legal, including:

  • The formerly 3.0 litre F1 engine has been replaced with a Cosworth YB 2.0 turbo-charged engine – still able to deliver a whopping 370bhp but can substantially increase this by adjusting the turbo accordingly.

  • A Porsche G50 5-speed manual gear box.

  • A raised suspension with a clearance of 50 – 75mm; to help deal with the general lumps and bumps of modern roads.

  • A handbrake – to comply with UK road safety regulations.

The car, finished in 2009, to the highest standards and with F1 attention to detail, this car is expected to fetch and impressive £55 - £85K at auction.

Not only an impressive item to add to a car collection but a piece of F1 memorabilia you can drive to work in!

Celebrating Donald Campbell in Piccadilly

It’s not everyday that you get invited to London to attend a book launch - let alone a book launch where Piccadilly grinds to a halt as three glorious sports cars once owned by Sir Malcolm and Donald Campbell park up on the street. The book in question is David De Lara’s ‘Donald Campbell: 300 +, A Speed Odyssey’.  And CCFS were lucky enough to send Gillian Carmoodie along for a chance to talk with the author and the Campbell family.

Words and Pictures: Gillian Carmoodie

It was worth getting lost, floundering in a panic through King's Cross station after a battle to find the right underground platform. Being greeted by a line of historic, desirable classic cars is payment enough for any of London’s infamous anguish. However, these particular vehicles hold more history, daring-do and adventure behind them than any celebrity’s Chelsea tractor. These stunning vehicles come straight out of the legendary Campbell-family background.  

‘It’s been great to bring my car to London,’ Lorne Jacobs, owner of the 1927 Napier-Campbell Bluebird replica, beamed. ‘I’ve been meaning to do it for a long time.

The car got a fair bit of attention when we started it up.  The crowd like that - they like the pops and the bangs.’

And no wonder. With flames, backfires and enough noise to waken the dead, there is seldom a chance in today’s modern environment to bring such excitement into London without raising suspicion. The car in question is a replica of the 1927 Napier-Campbell Bluebird, housing a 24-litre Napier-Lion engine pumping out 700bhp at 2,200rpm. Sir Malcolm Campbell set a record of 174.883mph on Pendine Sands with the original, forever lost, vehicle - having achieved a peak speed of 195mph during the attempt.

Nestled in the offerings is Donald Campbell’s Aston Martin DB2/4, with swathes of admirers practically drooling over the svelte bodywork, accompanied by two vintage Bugatti racing vehicles, piloted by Sir Malcolm Campbell during his motor racing career - when real men raced in situations that would leave the likes of Lewis Hamilton rocking back and forth in a state of panic.

It took a while to peel myself away from the platter of fine automobiles on Piccadilly’s Jermyn Street - historically known for selling men’s wear, with the building currently housing Waterstones once being the proud residence of ‘Simpsons of Piccadilly’ - officially opened by Sir Malcolm himself in 1938.  In it’s day it was the largest men’s wear department store in Europe. Today, it is currently Europe’s largest bookshop, with over five floors of reading material. However, once inside the surprise was to be greeted by Don Wales, Donald's nephew and Gina Campbell, Donald Campbell's daughter.

Clutching a teddy bear, Don smiled before explaining: “I’m just looking after Mr. Whoppit for Gina.  He was outside and he was cold.”

Mr. Whoppit - to those who don’t know - was Donald’s mascot, who was carried everywhere in a wide variety of Donald’s personal cars - from Land Rovers to Jaguars - and also during the speed record attempts. The adopted bear was on board the famous hydroplane Bluebird K7 during the fatal accident, having travelled at over 328mph.

‘With it being the 50th anniversary coming up of Donald’s accident it’s important that people remember Donald for who he was, not just necessarily for the crash, but also for the fantastic achievements that he did and his efforts at representing Britain.  It’s also nice to remember the Norris brothers and their marvellous engineering with both the car and the boat.’

Don by profession is a photographer, although he has claimed speed titles of his own - including a Guinness World Record for a sit-on lawnmower, travelling at 87.833mph.

Sitting beside Gina Campbell as she signed over 100 purchased copies that afternoon, I asked for her thoughts on the event.

‘It’s been a really good day.  Anything that furthers the Campbell name is great.  We’ve come along to offer our full support to David.  He’s put an awful lot of effort and hard work as well as his own time and money into the book.’ 

The author, David De Lara, well known for his prior works covering his personal interest in land speed records, explained the reasoning behind his well-earned smile.

‘The book took 6 months to put together after some 25 years of research.  The idea was to find a different approach from my first book and to make this a personal account of Donald Campbell.

The book starts off with Donald’s own words and continues to work through to when there are no more writings from him. The overall idea was to get to know the man.’

And, after having read the book and had the pleasure of Don and Gina’s company, I feel that I not only got the chance for a closer look at one of my heroes, but was also allowed an insight into his family. We even had some Shiraz wine together, of which I hope Donald and Sir Malcolm would have approved of. 

Copies of the book can be purchased from Amazon. Special editions come with a DVD and a limited edition print that was done for the 50th anniversary of Donald’s double record year.

David’s previous literary works include ‘The Unobtainable: A Story of Blue’ and ‘Leo Villa’s Bluebird Album’ can be purchased on Amazon.


Hebden Bridge Vintage Weekend

The Hebden Bridge Vintage Car Rally, organized by The Rotary Club of Hebden Bridge, West Yorks., will again be staged at Calder Holmes Park, Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire on Saturday 5th and Sunday, 6th August 2017.

This popular family event,  one of the largest in the north of England , with over 600 vehicles, , and a top one the whole country, attracts a wide variety of vehicles. There are veteran and vintage cars up to 1939, any Rolls Royce and Bentleys, post war cars and motor cycles  from 1940 to 1975, classic cars from 1974 to 1996, as well as  vintage motor cycles , commercial and American vehicles up to 1975, military vehicles , novelty vehicles , and vintage tractors pre 1996. 

All proceeds go to a variety of charities. 
For further information see www.hebdenbridge-vintageweekend.org.uk or for entry form contact Dave Bell on 01422 842597 or mail@hebdenbridge-vintageweekend.org.uk


Berlinetta Top Five Classic Cars For Auction

When asked to look at the range of wonderful classic cars that Berlinetta have for auction we wanted to pick something to suit every taste - sporty, sophisticated, refined, adventurous and daily use.

Fortunately Berlinetta have a very broad range up for offer from 20th - 21st November that should appeal to every classic car enthusiast; these are our favourites:

Sporty: 1970 Porsche 911 ST Evocation

The 1970 Porsche 911 ST Evocation is a thing of beauty - not only does it look wonderful but it delivers a powerful, exhilirating drive.

With a powerful 3.0 litre engine giving 240bhp and a top speed over 150mph - this car certainly won't dissapoint.

Sophisticated: 1996 Bentley Continental R

Bentley is naturally associated with sophistication given it's prestigious history and the World famous people who've owned them. From Queen Elizabeth II to Robert Downey Jr - the car is loved by enthusiasts the World over.

With an incredible 6.75 litre engine with 385bhp and a top speed of 150mph - this car will appeal to people who want a powerful yet stylish, luxuriously comfortable drive.

Refined: 1967 Jaguar Mark 2 340

The perfect definition of refined stylishness and a car that practically needs no introduction. The Jaguar Mark 2 340 is one of the most recognisable cars of it's generation - having been featured in Inspector Morse and The Sweeney.

Boasting both a comfortable, delightful drive - supported by a powerful 3.4 litre engine this car is ideal for anyone looking to own an excellent piece of television history.

Adventurous: 2006 Land Rover Range Rover Sport 4.2 Litre V8 HSE

This beautiful 4x4 was a landmark in Land Rover's history. Not only does it offer the power and off-road capabilities of a more traditional Defender but it also offers the luxury and comfort that you would expect from a car of this calibre.

The Range Rover Sport offers a powerful 4.2 litre V8 engine that's capable of 0 - 60 in just 7.2 seconds and a maximum speed of 140mph. A car that's as comfortable off-road as it is on it - for the adventurous classic car enthusiasts this is as good as it gets.

Daily Use: 1988 Ford Sierra RS Cosworth

The Ford Sierra RS Cosworth boasts a modest exterior - perfect for practical, everyday drving that delivers comfort as well as power when it's needed.

The Sierra RS Cosworth hides a powerful 204bhp engine that does 0 - 60 in 6.5 seconds and capable of hitting 149mph speeds. The ideal car for anyone looking for a fun yet practical drive.

But, as with any auction, there's cars aplenty to suit many tastes - click here to see the full range.

Top Cars From The NEC

ClassicCarsForSale sent photographer Gillian Carmoodie off to explore the NEC, returning with these fine pictures. Suffering post-NEC blues? Let Gillian's photo album provide a stop motion tour of the classic cars that caught our attention. 

Poor Gillian. Not only did she have difficult conditions in which to photograph during the NEC - tricky lighting, masses of people, confined spaces, the overpowering smell from the Classic Car Weekly stand - but she also had to look after the CCFS team. Besides having to make sure James Barnett didn't take out a second mortgage and buy the Jaguar XJ220 he fell for,  Carmoodie also had to keep our Calum on the right path - as he became distracted by all the shiny objects and parts stands. If it wasn't for Gillian, Calum would also have purchased a Lada Samara. God bless you, Miss Carmoodie. 

You can find Gillian's work for Land Rover Owner International's NEC album here. 

Now, enough words! CCFS proudly present Gillian's NEC photo album. You can smell the petrol fumes... 

Hagerty's Inaugural Classic Question Time

You are warmly invited to join an exceptional panel of classic experts at Hagerty’s inaugural Classic Question Time held at the Beaulieu Theatre on 2 September starting at 6pm to 7.30pm.  Tickets are FREE, but are limited, so book now to avoid disappointment via this link


The panel consists of Practical Classics editor, Danny Hopkins, Hagerty’s own John Mayhead and Dave Kinney (from the USA) and finally, Jamie Knight from Bonhams.  The evening is hosted by Gary Axon, a doyenne of all things classic car related.

Come and raise the issues that might be affecting you.  What’s happening post Brexit?  Why are classics being excluded from our Cities and what does this mean for classic owners?  What’s happening to car values and what should we be looking to buy next?

If you cannot attend, please email your questions to enquiries@hagertyinsurance.co.uk your opinion matters.


New MGB roadster launched at show

New MGB roadster launched at show

MG modernization company Frontline Developments has launched a new model at MG90. Termed the Abingdon Special, this car differs from the previous LE50 in that it is based around the shell of an MGB Roadster. 
The car is fitted with a 2.5 litre four cylinder engine which weighs just 89kg, and develops 304bhp and 242lb.ft of torque. Needless to say, the Abingdon Special is quick. “0-60 is achievable in under four seconds,” says Frontline director Ed Brackley, “we’ve never advertised an official top speed for our cars because we run out of runway at Bruntingthorpe, but it’s still pulling hard at 160mph. It’s geared to 205mph, but wind turbulence would prevent it getting there. We think it’s considerably faster than the LE50 was.” The rear track is 18mm wider than a standard B, with 6x15” Dunlop wheels on the front and 7x15” Dunlop wheels on the back. 
MG aficionados will notice a number of differences between the Abingdon Special and a conventional MGB roadster. Cosmetically, the rear wings have been deseamed, and the upper bodywork behind the cabin has been extended forwards by 12 inches. There are no roof studs, the roof locking using bars in the current fashion. The bonnet is new; steel on this prototype but aluminium for the production cars, incorporating a bonnet bulge and an air vent. Digital Smiths gauges and a modern Radiomobile allow the car to retain a period feel, whilst the electronic and adjustable steering system ensures the car can be tailored to your taste. 
The interior incorporates creature comforts such as a heated screen and seats, whilst the only limitation as to colour combination is your imagination. The prototype features Aston Martin paint and hides, with final trimmings in a Bentley hue. Though we’re sure there’ll be a red one with black trim one day.
Production will be limited to just 25, and prices begin at £79,900. Luggage pack, satellite navigation and Borrani wire wheels are the only optional extras. 

• www.frontlinedevelopments.com


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Lotus popularised the mid-engine sports car 50 years ago with the Europa. We look back at how it came into being and the exciting models that followed in its wake.


Lots of Trouble, Usually Serious. It’s a worn-out old acronym, that, if anything, applies more to Lotus as a business than its products. This revered marque for so long mirrored the fortunes and inclinations of its charismatic founder, Anthony Bruce Colin Chapman. He was forever breaking moulds and pushing envelopes which resulted in some the most fondly-remembered -  if temperamental - road cars ever to scorch a B-road.

While not the first company to produce mid-engined road cars – René Bonnet, Deep Sanderson and de Tomaso got there first, it popularised the concept with the Europa and followed through with the Esprit, the Elise and, more recently, the Evora. All of which is remarkable as this calamity-prone marque has survived almost 70 years on borrowed time as custodians have come and gone.

For all its many virtues, the Europa continues to be underrated, yet few cars handled as well in period. It fully embraced Chapman’s mantra of ‘Simplify and then add lightness’, and set the template for the mid-engined sports car as we know it. Lotus was, after all, at the cutting edge of motor sport technology, picking up from where Cooper had left off in producing world-beating mid/rear-engined Grand Prix cars. With the Esprit, Chapman aimed to create a more aspirational image for Lotus, the model outliving its natural lifespan thanks to a series of successful facelifts and powerplant upgrades. The early ’90s, by contrast, saw the marque at a low ebb, but it brilliantly reinvented itself following the launch of the Elise in 1996. Variations on the theme continue to captivate, many as classic buys, while the Evora is a much –much – better car than it is perhaps given credit for. Join us as we celebrate a half-century of mid-engined masterpieces from a marque that has consistently punched above its (feather) weight.


Lotus Europa 1966-75

Chapman initially viewed the Europa as a replacement for the time-defying Seven. Lotus’ talismanic leader wanted a product that was easy to develop and cheap to make that would appeal to the all-important export markets. The result was his ‘Car for Europe’, the Type 46 Europa being launched in December 1966. Powered by a 1470cc Renault 16-sourced four-banger, ‘Project P5’ was actually born out of a stillborn racing car: imagine a Lotus-built GT40 and you would be close.

After Enzo Ferrari famously jilted Ford at the alter following an attempted buy-out in 1963. Henry Ford II vowed revenge. He contacted a variety of specialist firms to design a new sports-prototype to vanquish the red cars at Le Mans. Lotus tendered for the gig, with renderings by Ron Hickman being published in the specialist press in period. Ultimately, Lola landed the contract but Chapman wasn’t one to waste anything.

The Europa emerged as a something very different with the underrated John Frayling refining the styling. This new strain was remarkably aerodynamic, with an alleged CD figure of just 0.29cd. Inevitably, there were one or two issues, not least the double-curvature side windows which were fixed in period: cabin ventilation wasn’t its strong suit. Nevertheless, the Europa’s handling was widely praised. The S2 – or Type 54 – edition arrived in April 1968, with UK sales starting a year later. It featured a number of updates, with the raised headlights being perhaps the most obvious physical deviation (the body was also now detachable rather than bonded to the chassis). The cabin also featured a new dashboard layout and opening windows. Three years later, it made way for the Lotus twin-cam-engined ‘Type 74’, the rear bodywork being significantly altered so there was less of a ‘bread van’ look. Production ended in 1975, by which time around 9300 had been made of all kinds.

Lotus Esprit 1975-2004

Few cars have ever enjoyed such longevity as the Esprit. Entering production in Series 1 form in 1976 with the own-brand ‘907’ engine, the last car rolled off the production line in 2004 by which time it had morphed from a four-cylinder sports car into a V8 supercar. What tends to be forgotten, however, is that the Esprit was inspired by a one-off Italian showstopper: the Maserati Boomerang.

Chapman asked design legend Giorgetto Giugiaro to rework the design for a new, more aspirational breed of Lotus he was proposing. Making its public bow at the 1972 Turin Motor Show, ‘The Silver Lotus’ aped the Boomerang but was, if anything, a lot prettier. The donor Europa’s wheelbase was stretched by 11cm, the front and rear tracks being similarly augmented. Designed with aerodynamic considerations and US Federal safety regulations in mind, the real world simplicity and elegance of the original show car was a remarkable achievement.

However, by the time the production-ready Esprit (the original tag being ‘Kiwi’) was ushered in at the October 1975 Paris Motor Show, some design purity had been lost along the way. It was a looker – and still is – but, as is so often the case, the show car to showroom transition had its casualties: the low-pressure injection moulding technique resulted in a prominent waistline where the two body halves were joined together. The steep rake of the windscreen was also reduced somewhat, but it still looked fresh. The engine in-house-made four-banger, meanwhile, was bored out from 2- to 2.2-litres in 1980.

The original car Esprit subsequently gained several stablemates, not least the Turbo edition from 1981-on with its Giugiaro-penned bodykit which served to heighten the wedge look. The Peter Stevens restyle for 1987 breathed new life into the Esprit, while Julian Thomson successfully gave it a nip and tuck for the 1993 revamp. The insertion of the Lotus-made, twin-turbo V8 three years later ensured that the Esprit went out on a high. We are still awaiting its replacement.


Lotus Elise 1996-present

The arrival of the Elise in 1996 saw Lotus come back from the dead. And how. The original 1.8-litre Rover K-Series-powered sports car saw the marque return to its core values. It was a great success, spawning countless spin-offs. The origins of the species, however, are rooted in something decidedly non-sporting. Scroll back to the early ’90s and Lotus was approached by Land Rover, which was keen to experiment with aluminium extrusions. It commissioned Lotus to build some body assemblies that would then be rigorously tested. These were completed, only for BMW to acquire Land Rover and nix the project.

Shortly before the termination, however, the decision was made to build a limited edition, ultra-light-weight sports car using this method of construction in an effort to help the firm have more of an understanding of the processes and methodology. The initial plan was to create a modern-day Seven with no doors or roof. Romano Artioli of Bugatti Industries then acquired the firm in August 1993 and the project morphed into something slightly less hard-care. Various designers were approached to tender for the styling gig, Tom Tjaarda and Trevor Fiore among them, but in-house artiste Julian Thomson design was ultimately chosen.

The restyled Series II Elise entered production in 2001, with the closely related Opel Speedster/Vauxhall VX220 being built on the same production line within a new facility in Hethel. The K-series had been continuously uprated during the Elise’s lifetime, but was ultimately replaced with a Toyota unit, primarily due to Lotus returning to the USA where the Rover unit didn’t meet homologation/emission requirements. The facelifted Series III version was first seen in 2010 and it continues to enthrall keen drivers. Given that Lotus originally expected to sell 900 Elises – at most, the model’s longevity is a testament to the brilliant of the concept and execution.


Lotus Evora 2008-present

Named after a Portuguese town, the Evora was the first genuinely new car from the Hethel marque since the mid ’90s. Launched at the 2008 British International Motor Show, and powered by a 3.5-litre, 24-valve Toyota V6, the business plan called for around 2000 cars to be made each year. Speaking in 2009, the company’s then CEO Mike Kimberley said: ‘The Evora is the biggest milestone Lotus has achieved since the Elise was born 13 years ago. It is part of our five-year strategic plan, which includes the introduction of new cars and technologies to many more markets around the world. Looking to the future, we will continue to research, develop and produce lighter, more efficient vehicles.’

This proved massively optimistic, as events rather overtook Lotus shortly thereafter, not least during the chequered spell under Kimberley’s replacement, Dany Bahar. Nevertheless, the Evora had – and continues to have – a lot going for it. According to the PR bumf at its launch: ‘…its sleek and athletic form uses fluid forms and crisp surfaces to communicate velocity, agility and sophistication.’ Dig beneath the flannel and the original Russell Carr-penned outline was masterfully realised, with the minimal rear overhang and a cab-forward ’screen lending it a purposeful attitude. It was far from a stark road-racer, too, the emphasis being as much on civility as it was on pulling lateral Gs. For starters, the Evora was the only 2+2 in the range, although a pure two-seater – or ‘Plus Zero’ – model was also available for £1500 less. The rear end, by the way, was designed in part around the need to accommodate two bags of golf clubs…

The line-up was also augmented by the arrival of the supercharged S edition, along with the 414 Hybrid and the ultra-rapid Evora 400 (the ‘400’ bit denoting the quoted horsepower figure). The Evora shows little sign of being pensioned off any time soon, but it remains underrated. That seems to be a common theme with this grouping.


Ten cool Land Rovers you didn't know existed

Ten cool Land Rovers you didn't know existed

A Land Rover mecca with more than 100 prototypes and one-offs is going to use its newly won charitable status to put the secret off-roaders on show.

The trustees of the Dunsfold Collection, currently housed in barns across three different English counties, are planning to raise funds for a new site to house all of the vehicles, which include prototypes, record-breakers and development cars.

Philip Bashall, son of collection founder Brian, said: ‘We are the Mecca for old Land Rovers – we have people from all over the world, including from as far away as Australia, coming to see us.

‘What started as a collection that got a bit out of hand is now one of the best collections of Land Rovers in the world, and it’s great that now we can start raising money to not only build up the collection, but put them on show at a new site.’

Here are ten of the collection’s Land Rovers – which one is your favourite?

1947 Centre Steer prototype

The McLaren F1 had its steering wheel in the middle to put the driver in the optimum position; Rover’s engineers arrived at the same solution with the original Land Rover, to avoid having to develop separate LHD and RHD versions.

None of the original, Jeep-inspired prototypes which led to the 1948 Series I survive, but this replica, faithful in every detail, was built in 2005.

1950 Bertam Mills circus Series One

Did you hear the one about the elephant that drove a Land Rover?

The punchline is that the driver was actually hidden away in a compartment at the rear of this one-off, created in the late 1950s by the Bertam Mills Circus to promote its shows. It was found in a derelict state and has been completely restored by Dunsfold’s custodians.

1963 35cwt truck prototype

This curious-looking Landie is one of five prototypes developed for the Belgian Army in the early 1960s.

It’s the second-oldest vehicle in the collection, and was originally discovered in a scrapyard in Hounslow in 1968. It’s got a 35cwt payload – hence the name – and a 2.5-litre, bored out version of Land Rover’s familiar 2.25-litre engine.

1965 Amphibious Land Rover prototype

The Range Rover was the first off-roader to use the Rover V8, right?

Wrong – this prototype, based on the 88-inch Series II, was used for mileage testing the engine before it was dropped into Solihull’s new luxury offering, launched three years later. The first V8 production Land Rover, the Stage One, wasn’t introduced until 1979.

1985 Llama number one prototype

The Llama is proof that the end of 101 production wasn’t the end of Land Rover’s dalliance with forward-control vehicles – Dunsfold has four prototypes, and this 1985 pick-up is the very first one the company made.

It was tested by the British military, but the decision to fit it with the Rover V8 rather than a diesel engine meant the lucrative contract went to the Dodge-based Reynolds Boughton 4x4 instead.

1991 Challenger prototype

What would have happened had Land Rover developed all of its models from just one platform?

The curious-looking Challenger – a sort of Defender-esque military off-roader draped over Discovery mechanicals – gives you a clue as to what Lode Lane’s engineers were thinking in the early 1990s. Three prototypes were built, but this is the only survivor.

1994 Freelander development mule

Hang on a minute – isn’t that a Maestro van?

You’d be right, but underneath the odd proportions of this jacked-up Austin are the mechanicals of what would become the 1997 Freelander – the baby Land Rover introduced as a riposte to the likes of Toyota’s RAV4.

Land Rover built 25 of them, but only three escaped the crusher – this particular one was used for brake testing.

1995 Range Rover P38a stretch limousine

Saved from the crusher with just a week to spare, this stretched Range Rover has been used by Sir Elton John and Ronan Keating to arrive in style at events.

Land Rover’s Special Vehicles department created the vehicle by cutting an Australian-spec demonstrator model in half and stretching it to allow another pair of doors and another row of seats to be fitted.

1998 Farmers Friend

We thought we’d leave the weirdest Land Rover of all ‘til last, because this one-off concept car has to be seen to be believed.

Developed in the late 1990s as a possible Land Rover rival to the quad bikes and gator buggies increasingly used in the agricultural section, it’s powered by a three-cylinder engine taken from a Subaru Sumo. It never got approved for production – was it an opportunity Land Rover missed?

David Simister


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A limited edition range of special die-cast models is being released by Corgi Toys to mark its 60th birthday.

Among the 2016 anniversary range are a new Austin Mini MkI Cooper S, Ford Escort MkI Mexico, Morris Minor 1000, and Rover P6 3500 VIP (above). The new model cars cost £14.99 each.

The 60th anniversary collection also includes some interesting aircraft, old and new double-decker buses and an Eddie Stobart Volvo FH with curtain-side trailer. 

Launched in June 1956, the first Corgi Toys featured British-built saloons of the period including the Austin Cambridge, Ford Consul, Hillman Husky, Morris Cowley, Riley Pathfinder, Rover 90 and Vauxhall Velox. And the models sold for a mere 3/- (15p) each.

When introduced, Corgi Toys were seen as superior to existing die-cast model vehicles as they featured transparent plastic windows, becoming known as
‘the ones with windows’. In its first year of trading, Corgi sold 2.75 million model cars.

The company won The Queen’s Award to Industry and the National Association of Toy Retailers’ Highest Standards Award in 1966.


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The Volkswagen Golf GTI revolutionised our expectations of sporting cars. It blended everyday practicality, sharp handling and zesty performance into a package that anyone could aspire to – and it’s still great today

The definition of a sports car in the 1970s? Rear-wheel drive, sans roof, desperately unpractical and before too long and more often than not, a running ‘project’ worryingly soon after rolling off the dealer’s forecourt. The Volkswagen Golf GTI changed all that.

Launched in Germany in 1976, it wasn’t until summer 1977 that a batch of left-hand drive cars arrived.  

Official RHD cars didn’t appear until 1979 – but it was worth the wait. British journalists had already waxed lyrical about the car’s handling, performance and refinement. But it was more than just a car – it was an entirely new ethos. It could do everything. It was smart enough to keep the head held high after parking it in the office car park, yet it was more than willing to indulge in B-road frolics too. It had performance and handling to beat any British roadster from point to point, carry four people in comfort – and a week’s worth of shopping. And thanks to its front-wheel drive layout, it could make anyone feel like a racing driver.


Just like the Mini Cooper a decade previously, it democratised sporty motoring, but unlike the Mini it didn’t punish you with poor reliability and less-than-great refinement. And in a time of fuel scarcity, the Golf’s small, lightweight engine made thirsty barges pointless. 

It’s doing the same job now, 40 years on. But it hasn’t always been a rosy tale, as we’ll discover over the next few pages. We chart the rise, fall and comeback of one of the most important cars of the last four decades. 

Thank the 1973 oil crisis. At a time when petrol was short, and when autobahns were closed on Sundays, big thirsty sports cars weren’t exactly in demand from the German public. 

This came as a disappointment for two Volkswagen staffers who had motorsport coursing through their veins. A new approach to sporty cars was needed, so development engineer Alfons Lowenberg and PR director Anton Konrad nursed their dream of an FIA Group 1-compatible car past an initially sceptical senior management. 

They worked on the idea in their spare time, building prototypes without official backing. That would only come two years later, in 1975 – but the potential was there to be seen.

The Golf GTI made its debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September 1975 and the response was electric. Here was a small car that could blast past 60mph in about nine seconds and keep the needle rising until 115mph. This put what was essentially a mainstream, family car on the same performance pedestal as such luminaries as the Ford Escort RS1800, Triumph Dolomite Sprint and, tellingly, the modern businessman’s saloons – the BMW 5-series and Mercedes-Benz W123. 

But it was more than just the outright performance figures – it had style, too. The Giorgetto Giugiaro-penned lines were devoid of passé chrome, and the shape was fantastically futuristic as any supercar of the era. Inside, the VW trim and colour designer Gunhild Liljequist’s touch could be seen on the tartan-covered Recaro bucket seats and golf ball gearknob. This all created a car that was effortlessly cool. Everything about it just feels right – it didn’t seem to be just a car, it was a statement of quality. That essential rightness could be felt in the driving experience.

But it is that comparison with the BMW 5-series and the Mercedes-Benz W123 that really helped the Golf GTI become the aspirational set of wheels it still is today. It was as fast and refined as its larger rivals, yet altogether much more exciting – the Golf is significantly lighter, after all. But it was a small car that didn’t look out of place at a business meeting. It was an appealing formula – despite projecting just 5000 sales of the MkI, VW eventually sold 450,000 GTIs before it was replaced in 1983. 

Herbert Schafer’s design for the MkII was bigger and roomier, but it wasn’t universally adored when it was released. Some critics said the new Golf’s styling lacked a certain panache, but that didn’t put off punters, and success was assured. Those devotees got a much more usable car, too. While hardcore drivers and journalists gave it a lukewarm reception, the engine had more torque than the original 1600, meaning the GTI MkII was as happy to cruise as it was to be thrashed. It wasn’t outrageously fast – 60mph came up in just over eight seconds, and it topped out at around 115mph. The public, however, loved it, and it became a Yuppie favourite. 

Should you take it out of the city to visit the country, the GTI was an enthusiastic steer on B-roads too. Few cars looked just as good there or reflected in the windows of Kensington High Street. It wasn’t just a car, it was a lifestyle accessory. 

At the time, VW sold most of its GTIs to men, but the David Bailey-directed TV adverts of 1987 made the Golf a must-have for women too. In it, model Paula Hamilton ditches her husband, jewelry and fur coat, but keeps her Golf’s car keys. ‘If only everything in life was as reliable as a Volkswagen’ was the tagline, and it summed up the appeal – stylish, understated and reliable. 

In 1986 the Golf MkII finally got the engine it deserved, a 16-valve, 1.8-litre unit that meant more than 120mph at the top end and a scorching 0-60mph of 7.5 seconds. To put that into context, a 1988 Porsche 911 Carrera 3.2 can do it in seven seconds. Thus the Golf wasn’t just the budget alternative to that bewinged Stuttgart creation. In the eyes of the upwardly mobile, it was an equal. 

The European-market GTI G60 was even faster, using a 1.8-litre engine from the Corrado. It delivered a healthy 160bhp thanks to the addition of a supercharger, but difficulties adapting the gearbox to a right-hand drive layout meant it never officially came to the UK. 

By now, however, the GTI market was fierce, with notable challengers from Peugeot, Renault, Ford and Vauxhall. But all good things have to come to an end, and by the close of the 1980s GTIs had garnered a reputation as a magnet for thieves, with hyper-inflated insurance premiums as a result. 

So it should come as no surprise that the MkIII Golf GTI had markedly toned down performance.  It was a similar case with the styling. Gone were the sharp lines and crisp bodywork creases – the 1991 car was rounder and heavier. The first GTI from this era had truly asthmatic performance, its eight-valve engine only good for a 10-second 0-60mph time – a lot slower than the MkI. 

The 16-valve GTI of 1993 improved matters, offering around 150bhp. It developed a committed following, but this is really when the GTI badge started to lose its sporting allure. But could Volkswagen have done anything different, given the prevailing wind at the time? Not only did the GTI badge mean enormous insurance premiums, but the mid-1990s saw a move away from performance cars as a popular, mainstream lifestyle accessory. But if the MkIII was a disappointment, much worse was to follow with later generations. 

The MkIV GTI was an abomination, and just a branding exercise for the UK – there was no such car in Germany. It was faster than the MkIII – 139mph at the top end and an eight-second 0-60mph time from a torquey, turbocharged 1.8-litre engine but the quest for refinement and safety, as demanded by VW chairman Ferdinand Piech, had left the GTI pretty numb to drive. 


This was particularly galling for enthusiastic drivers, as Ford’s Focus was much better to drive even in base-model specification. By the turn of the millennium the hot hatchback was back in fashion, with challengers from the likes of Ford, Alfa Romeo, Honda, Vauxhall and Renault. VW responded, but with the six-cylinder, four-wheel drive R32. 

The GTI was a mere footnote in this era, but out of darkness comes light.

The MkV Golf had to be good for Volkswagen, as profits had plunged just before its release. But the company couldn’t let the much cheaper Ford Focus off for being better to drive and cheaper to buy. Despite the huge cost, VW sanctioned investment
in a multi-link rear suspension set-up, though platform-sharing across the Volkswagen Group helped to mitigate the expenditure. Electro-mechanical power steering was an addition that helped sharpen the Golf’s steering.

Then came the GTI in late 2004. It was announced with a memorable advertising campaign featuring a Mint Royale remix of Gene Kelly’s Singing In The Rain, with the tagline ‘The original, updated’. It certainly seemed to live up to that billing, with interior and exterior detailing that harked backed to the MkI. It was similarly fun to drive, because with 197bhp on tap from a turbocharged, 2.0-litre engine, 0-60mph was done and dusted within seven seconds and you could carry on all the way to 146mph. The MkV Golf GTI won awards across the board for its handling, refinement, comfort and sheer shove, topping the majority of group tests it was entered into. It became a popular car with tuners too, with the turbocharged four-pot offering almost limitless options for big horsepower at low cost. 

The king of the hot hatches was back, and while the current hot hatchback horsepower arms race is fought between Ford, Mercedes, Audi, BMW and Volkswagen itself with the R models, the GTI is still an alluring draw at a much lower price than those. 

Much like the MkI, the MkVII is all the sports car you’ll ever need. Not bad for a car conceived as a limited-run special edition of 5000.

It’s the fizz that wins your heart – each time you open the throttle on an open piece of road, feel the rush of acceleration and watch the tacho needle racing for the redline. This boistrous bundle was built to put a smile on your face – again and again, and again.

Very few cars are as special as the Volkswagen Golf GTI. Equally, only a handful are hardwired into your synapses quite as effectively. The German giant’s bosses might have sceptical about the prospects of a sporting Golf before they drove the original prototype in 1975, but hearts and minds changed when they gave the final product a good seeing to at the Wolfsburg test track.

At first glance, they’d have seen something subdued and subtle, with few hints to what lay beneath. Today, one of those hints, that red-pinstriped grille, has become the signature for all that’s great about the GTI. Then there’s the deep front spoiler and the wheelarch extensions.

Volkswagen wasn’t the inventor of the hot hatch or even the first to slap G, T and I on the rump of a car. But these lovely visual touches remind you how the manufacturer has made both its own. 

Slide into the interior and the immediate impression is of a car that means business. It has an appealingly minimalist design – every feature has been honed with the keen driver in mind. The on-board computer, known in VW-speak as the MFA, was advanced for its time, and still very useful today. It’s the same with the gearchange indicator for saving fuel – smart, practical. The golfball gearknob has become as iconic as St Andrews, 
and is still used in modern day GTIs.

The driving position is excellent. You sit high in the slim-pillared interior, and are presented with a commanding view out. Placing this hatchback on the road is a piece of cake, as a consequence. And it’s a friendly place – not a word you’d generally associate with sports cars.

Fire it up, and the engine sizzles enthusiastically, goading you into playing footsie with the throttle. Pull away, and the light clutch, positive gearchange and agreeably weighty steering fill you with confidence and joy. Even in town, you’ll find yourself wanting to slice through rush-hour like
a Parisian taxi driver. 

But the fun has only just begun. Hit the B-roads, turn it up to 11, and the GTI truly wakes up. The steering feeds back the road surface in minute detail, and loads up remarkably in bends – it’s a good feeling, and there are huge amounts of grip. It’s addictively chuckable. You will love the way it tucks in as you trail off the throttle, countering any unwanted understeer – although other road users might find the way it will cock its inside rear wheel in the air in tight turns just a tad alarming. 

Our Campaign model is powered by the later 1781cc engine, pushing out 112bhp and 109lb ft. This is enough punch to give this 860kg hatchback genuinely thrilling acceleration. It’s not all about revs like the earlier 1.6-litre GTI, even though it pulls cleanly to 7000rpm. There’s plenty of torque, and it hauls strongly from as low as 2500rpm – just like a large-engined small car should. 

All the stories about the GTI’s poor brakes are spot on, though, which can erode some of that confidence and joy when cracking on. Coming to a halt can take a fair bit of effort on the middle pedal, even if the underlying quality of the stopping power is there. 

In short, the Golf GTI deserves all the praise that’s been heaped on it over the years. It is a genuine phenomenon, a gamechanging sports car. It’s also one that’s almost as good to drive now as the latest version in the line. You will be much more forgiving of the original’s few dynamic flaws, and more appreciative of the crackerjack feeling you get every time you hit the road in it.