British Love Letter to American Muscle

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The Jensen Interceptor is a British love letter to the American muscle car written in 1966. The excellent styling was done by Carrozzeria Touring of (you guessed it) Italy, and the cars were assembled at Jensen’s plant near Birmingham. At the heart of this gentleman brawler lay a selection of Chrysler V8s ranging from 360-440 cu.in. which were given brilliant designations such as TNT and Golden Commando. The Detroit-sourced power plants motivated the Interceptor’s rear wheels, or, in FF trim, all four of them. The Interceptor was one of the first four-wheel drive production cars, and by 1967 could also be had with anti-lock brakes and a traction control system.

Sadly, Jensen suffered the same fate as many of their competitors in the British automotive industry and folded in 1975. However, all was not lost. After a string of failed attempts by various owners through the 70s, 80s, and 90s, the Cropredy Bridge Garage began refurbishing old Interceptors with modern LS3 V8s out of the Corvette. In 2010 a group of investors set up Jensen International Automotive with the goal of providing CBG’s services on a larger scale. The car’s entire drivetrain was reworked and it now comes equipped with the 550 horsepower supercharged V8 out of a CTS-V. Going 174 mph in a car built in the 1960s will cost you £180,000.

Posted @Whippstagram on Instagram, Feb 24th 2016.

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British Love Letter to American Muscle

Road-Going Racer: CLK GTR

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The CLK GTR was created to compete at the highest level of sports car racing: the FIA GT Championship. The car was designed from the ground up to be a pure racing car, with the road-going versions required for homologation built as an afterthought. During development Mercedes secretly purchased a McLaren F1 GTR and switched it’s BMW V12 for one of their own. This car was to serve as a benchmark for competitor lap times as well as to test out the new and highly aerodynamic bodywork destined for use on the CLK GTR.

After a somewhat shaky start to the GT season due to brake failures, the CLK GTRs really began to hit their stride. Mercedes finished the 1997 GT season as the constructor’s champion and Bernd Schneider clinched the driver’s title in his CLK GTR. With the GT Championship conquered Mercedes set their sights on the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Modifications included aerodynamic tweaks for Le Mans’ high speeds and engine changes. Despite replacing the 6.0 litre V12s with supposedly more reliable V8s, both CLK LMs were forced to retire after engine failures. Mercedes then returned to GT racing and ran away with the rest of the season. All told the CLK GTR/LMs won 17 of the 22 races they entered.

To satisfy the FIA’s homologation requirements Mercedes was obliged to produce 25 road-going versions of the CLK GTR. The cars weren’t completed as they should have been by the start of the 1997 season but the FIA allowed Mercedes to compete anyway, much to the chagrin of the competition. As the CLK GTR was designed as a racing car, creature comforts were sparse. Storage lockers were integrated into the door sills and a leather interior was installed, while a new traction control system aimed to keep the CLK GTR’s 630 horsepower from launching itself into a tree. The price of this road-going racer in 1998 was a cool $1.5 million.

Posted @Whippstagram on Instagram, Febuary 10th 2016

Road-Going Racer: CLK GTR

The Hottest Hatch

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Over the years, Ford’s Team RS (Rallye Sport) has given the world a great many performance versions of everyday road cars. Paul Walker’s Escort RS1600 from Fast and Furious 6. The late 80s Sierra RS Cosworth which dominated as both a touring and rally car. The RS200 was a homologation special; a road-going Group B car with 250 horsepower built by Reliant of all people. Now Team RS has a new gift for the world, and it’s safe to say that people are excited. Enter the 350 horsepower, 350 ft/lb, drift mode enabled 2016 Focus RS, and let the hoonage begin.

The new RS positively bristles with clever technology to make it as fast and as fun as possible. From torque vectoring to brake-assisted steering to all wheel drive, the Team RS boffins have put a lot of time and effort into making the Focus an extremely quick hot hatch. On the fun side of things, the Focus RS has been given a special ‘drift-mode’ button. It doesn’t matter that you will rarely use it. It’s there because this is an extremely fun car. Yes, it’s fast, but it’s not the same as one of today’s super-quick super cars because Ford have remembered that people buy hot hatches because they’re fun. The RS comes with a manual gearbox. This is no Porsche or Ferrari locked in a joyless pissing contest over tenths of seconds.

Ford hasn’t confirmed their motorsport intentions for the Focus RS yet, but it doesn’t take a genius to see that they’ve spent all this time and money on making a brilliant hot hatch and they’re going to want to show it off. They’ve also promised us 12 new performance models by 2020. Will the trend of continually one-upping previous achievements continue? Will we see a one-make series of twin-charged Raptors racing through rainforest, desert and arctic tundra? Probably not, but you never know.

Posted @Whippstagram on Instagram, Febuary 3rd 2015

The Hottest Hatch

King of Group B: Audi Ur-Quattro

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The Quattro’s debut in 1980 took the world of rallying by storm. Making use of recently changed rules which allowed all wheel drive in competition the cars were nigh-on unbeatable. Michėle Mouton became the first female driver to win a world rally in 1981 doing so behind the wheel of a Quattro, and also won the 1985 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in one.

The Quattro’s final incarnation, the S1, was produced to compete in the FIA’s infamous Group B. The rules allowed almost anything manufacturers could dream up in terms of technology and boost pressure. As a result the Quattro S1 E2 sported carbon-kevlar bodywork and its 2.1 litre engine was rated at 470 bhp. In reality it had well over 500 thanks to a turbo system that recirculated oxygen to keep the turbo spinning at high RPMs at all times. The system eliminated turbo-lag at any engine speed and provided fantastic power.

The golden age of rallying couldn’t last forever. Incredibly light and powerful cars combined with poor crowd control at rally events led to a series of accidents, and in 1986 the FIA was forced to bring an end to Group B. By this point the Quattros had somewhere in the region of 590 bhp. As a result, 0-60 mph took only 3.1 seconds.

Posted @Whippstagram on Instagram, Febuary 1st 2016

King of Group B: Audi Ur-Quattro