Group B Evolved: 288 GTO Evoluzione

The Ferrari 288 GTO has some fantastically special cars in its family tree. It was the first Ferrari to bear the GTO name since the legendary 250 GTO, and its crazy cousin, the 288 GTO Evoluzione, served as the prototype for the equally legendary F40. AND it was designed to compete in Group B, the holy grail of motorsport lunacy. Crikey. 

Unfortunately for the 288 GTO, Henri Toivonen and Sergio Cresto’s fatal crash in the 1986 Tour de Corse put an end to the 600 horsepower monsters. Group B was banned just as the GTO was about to step into the fray. Based on the 308 GTB to save money and construction time, the 288 was in reality a very different car. It was wider, lower, and packed with goodies like upgraded suspension, extra lights and a racing transmission mated to a 2.9 litre twin-turbo V8. It produced 400 horsepower, and was the first road-legal production car to hit 300 kph. 

Not content with their amazing creation, Ferrari set to work once more. They wanted something nastier, scarier, more evolved. The 288 was lightened to a featherweight 2072 lbs, and the boost was turned up so that the engine now produced 650 horsepower. Incredible lightness, power, and an aerodynamically revised body put the Evoluzione’s top speed at a terrifying 225 mph. 272 288 GTOs were produced, but just 5 Evoluziones were ever built. Miraculously none of them were crashed as a result of monstrous turbo-lag and all of them survive to this day.

Posted @Whippstagram on Instagram, Wednesday September 28th 2016.

Group B Evolved: 288 GTO Evoluzione

Viper GTS: Spiritual Successor

In 1988 Bob Lutz suggested that Chrysler build a 400 horsepower sports car with no driver assists. Management was naturally skeptical of the plans for a spiritual successor to the Shelby Cobra, but Lutz being Lutz he pushed ahead with the plan anyway. A clay model was created, followed by a full scale prototype in metal. When the prototype was shown at the 1989 Detroit auto show it immediately became the darling of the event. The public gave a  hugely positive reaction to the Viper and Chrysler greenlit the production.

At the heart of Lutz’s Cobra successor sat an 8.0 l V10 engine produced by Lamborghini, which was a Chrysler subsidiary at the time. In the pursuit of saving weight the car was delivered without ABS, traction control or a permanent roof (a cloth, zipper and button one was deemed light enough). In a further tribute to the Cobra, Carroll Shelby drove a Viper as the pace car for the 1991 Indianapolis 500. 

The Viper’s weak point (aside from how difficult it was to drive) were its brakes. It could hang with other supercars all day long, but when it came to stopping the Viper was outperformed by just about everything. For the second generation Viper GTS, power was bumped up from 400 to 450 bhp and in 1996 the car was finally given airbags. It would be 2001 before it would come with ABS. Its chassis was stiffened and suspension was also revised all while shaving further weight off the car’s components. The Viper is the most Bob Lutz car that Bob Lutz ever made, and a worthy Cobra successor.

Posted @Whippstagram on Instagram, Wednesday September 21st 2016.

Viper GTS: Spiritual Successor

AMG Puts the Hammer Down

When it comes down to it, the only nation on earth that can hold a candle to the US in muscle car building is Germany. Oh, and Australia. Let’s talk about Germany though. The Germans, and AMG especially, understand the magic of a car with a massive V8, enough torque to vaporize the rear tires, and a mean street presence. More often than not, this is exactly what AMG does, and is exactly what they did with the 1987 300E ‘Hammer.’ 

The Hammer comes from the days before AMG was acquired by Mercedes, and was so good that it prompted Merc and Porsche to collaborate on the 500E as a response. AMG took a stock 300E, threw out the straight 6 and gave it the full hot rod treatment. It was lowered and had its fenders rolled. An aero package was added to lower its drag coefficient. Big fat tires were installed to maintain some semblance of control and at the heart of it all sat a 5.6 litre V8 bored out to 6.0 litres and making 375 horsepower. Top speed was 178 mph. 

This was an amazing car in 1987. It’s still got very respectable performance figures today at almost 30 years old. The fly in the ointment? When new the 300E Hammer cost the equivalent of $320,000 in today’s money. Pricey, yes, but worth it purely for the idea of a four door Mercedes that could run with the likes of Testarossas and 911 Turbos.

Posted @Whippstagram on Instagram, Wednesday September 14th 2016.

AMG Puts the Hammer Down

Dance Around the Rulebook

The Tyrrell P34 is undoubtedly one of the most unique and recognisable Formula 1 cars of all time. Its six-wheeled design, penned by Derek Gardner, aimed to skirt the rules that limited how wide front wings could be. In order to leave room for all the needed components (suspension, steering, the driver’s legs) the front wheels would sit well outside the edges of the front wing. To remedy this problem, Gardner devised his six-wheeled layout. By using 10 inch front wheels and tires he could fit everything neatly inside and under the confines of the front wing, reducing drag for higher straight line speed and providing the rear wing with cleaner air for cornering downforce. The problem with using smaller front wheels was the decreased contact patch which made cornering very difficult. So he just added another set, and connected them to the first.

When the car was unveiled in 1975 it was kept under a sheet with hoops to mimic the silhouette of normally sized front wheels. Imagine the surprise when that sheet came off! It’s clever aerodynamics and 3.0 litre Cosworth V8 made it quite a competitive car during the 1976 season, with its crowning moment coming as a 1-2 finish at the ‘76 Swedish Grand Prix. Jody Scheckter remains the only driver to have won an F1 race in a six-wheeled car, despite the fact that he hated the thing and referred to it as ‘a piece of junk’.

Changes to the car for the 1977 season meant that it was no longer very competitive and the idea was eventually scrapped. However, it’s worth mentioning that Tyrrell wasn’t the only team to toy with the idea of a six-wheeled F1 car. Williams and March Engineering developed prototypes with four rear wheels on two rear axles, while Ferrari built a version of their 312 T with four rear wheels on one axle. That’s right, a Ferrari F1 car with duallies. It was tested by Niki Lauda and Carlos Reutemann, with the latter crashing it at Fiorano and burning it to the ground.

Posted @Whippstagram on Instagram, Wednesday September 7th 2016.

Dance Around the Rulebook

RTR for America

At 6’2” and weighing 215 lbs, Vaughn Gittin Jr. is not your average snake-hipped racing driver. It stands to reason, then, that his Formula D competition car would be larger than average too. Welcome to the Ford Mustang RTR.

When you think of the insane level of precision needed to go sideways at 100 mph+ without stuffing it into a wall, you think small, light sports cars from Japan. Not this time. Carbon fibre body panels and lightweight components keep the burly American under 2800 lbs with perfect 50/50 weight distribution.

Motivating that mass is a 436 cu.in. Ford Racing/Roush Yates V8 engine, which produces over 900 horsepower. Vaughn claims that this is a 9 second car at a drag strip. Too bad it almost never travels in a straight line!

This isn’t one of those ‘Made in England’ Ken Block Fiestas either. The competition Mustang RTR was built in Charlotte, North Carolina and is Stars and Stripes through and through. It’s one of the most recognisable cars in drifting, and has helped Vaughn to become one of the most successful American drifters ever.

Posted @Whippstagram on Instagram, Wednesday August 31st 2016.

RTR for America