Red Citroen DS parked in the road in front of a wall

Citroen DS | Cars that were ahead of their time

Citroen DS | Cars that were ahead of their time

The Citroën DS came from a time when the German saloon didn’t rule the roost, and it serves as a reminder today of what we’re missing out on with no truly innovative French saloons on the market.

Citroën threw everything at the DS, giving it inboard powered disc brakes and directional headlights that followed the angle of the steering wheel. Its cleverest innovation was the car’s hydropneumatic suspension that gave the big Citroen a magic carpet ride, which is why the BBC used the DS as a camera car at horse races.

The suspension had many other advantages. It was self-levelling, so the car would remain level even with a heavy load. It also had an adjustable ride height, allowing the DS to tackle uneven road surfaces. Its best party trick was its ability to drive on three wheels.

When on four wheels, the DS handled surprisingly well. Its staggered front and rear track was designed to combat understeer, and it had a fibreglass roof and aluminium bonnet to keep weight low. 

Citroën then wrapped all this cleverness in a body that made the DS look like it came from another planet, instantly dating rivals like the Alfa Romeo 1900Ti, Austin A95 Westminster and the BMW 501/6.

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The only disappointing aspect of the DS was its four-cylinder engine, which could trace its roots back to the Traction Avant of the 1930s and was slow and noisy, news that Citroën had planned to fit the DS with either an air or water-cooled flat-six just poured salt in the wound.

But reliability was Citroën’s biggest problem. Early versions of the DS proved fragile, and their mechanical complexity meant that mechanics often needed help knowing where to start when fixing them. However, a significant quality control initiative turned the tide and the car gradually gained a new reputation of dependability.

The DS was sold for 20 years – from 1955 to 1975 – with a facelift in 1968 that added faired-in headlights that looked even better than the original. By the end of its life, Citroën had sold nearly 1.5 million examples of the DS, and it arguably hasn’t built such an iconic and innovative machine since.

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Porsche 959 parked in the desert

Porsche 959 | Cars that were ahead of their time

Porsche 959 | Cars that were ahead of their time

In the manufacturer’s own retrospective story, the occasion of this car’s reveal is described as ‘the moment when the future becomes the present’. The marque and car could be none other than Porsche and the 959. Perhaps the ultimate car ahead of its time, it could earn pride of place as the star of one of these pieces for any number of reasons.

As such, we can’t really single out any one of its innovations for fear of doing the car’s significance a disservice. As does, in a weird way, talking about the 959 in a way that weds it to its proposed racing cousins, as you would the 911 GT1 Straßenversion. It was after all first envisioned as a Group B rally car, albeit one intended to fast-forward technological developments for road cars. So we won’t, on both counts.

Sequential turbocharging

With all that established, let’s begin at the heart of the beast, with its 450PS (331kW) 2.8-litre twin-turbocharged flat-six engine, which was a refinement of the part-water-cooled mills first seen in Porsche’s Group C sportscars. In the 959 however, those turbochargers were for the first time not identical. One was small and one was large, and they would come on song in sequence rather than in parallel, hence the ‘sequential’ nomenclature. That means instead of a big slug of power and torque coming on all at once higher up in the revs, the engine’s power band is more progressive and accessible for more of the time.

Revolutionary, really, next to the Ferrari F40 whose engine lay largely impotent below 4,500rpm, lighting up like a self-sustaining nuclear reaction beyond, very quickly demanding that the driver snatch another gear. The more powerful 959S reduced weight by trimming certain tech and creature comforts, while adding bigger turbochargers for 515PS (379kW) and a verified 211mph top speed.

All-wheel-drive and adjustable suspension

As those who have driven an F40 – or indeed any heavily turbocharged car – will know, getting such a dollop of power in its entirety onto the road via the rear wheels alone is all but an impossibility. Latent performance potential more often than not quite literally goes up in smoke. Not only is the 959 more progressive in its delivery, for less of a ‘shock’ to the tyres, more tyres are receiving the power in the first place.

Thanks to Porsche’s radical Porsche-Steuer Kupplung (PSK) all-wheel-drive system, an iteration of the kind of systems first used by Audi, the 959 delivered a new kind of versatility and all-weather capability to the supercar space. To maximise traction and reduce understeer, the system could send as much as 80 per cent of power to the engine-weighted rear wheels. That split was handled by a clutch with six pairs of friction plates, each with hydraulic actuation and independent computer control.

Helping keep the car stable at high speed was the ride height-adjustable suspension, that could vary from 12mm to 18mm. These changes would occur either automatically, dependent on circumstance, or could be manually selected and were handled by a damper on each corner of the car. It was joined by a second damper and electric motor, which could control suspension damping stiffness across three settings.

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Dashboard and tyre pressure monitoring

As well as feeling the PSK system’s good work through the car’s dynamics, you could literally see it. The car featured advanced gauges displaying exactly what the rear differential was doing and how much power was being sent to the front axle in real time.

You could also monitor the air pressure in your tyres for the first time in any road car. Yes, the 959 was the first car to have a tyre pressure monitoring system, with the hollow wheels housing sensors to deliver real-time pressure data.

All of these are features that are widespread in performance cars today. There are very few fast cars out there that can’t micromanage their own turbochargers and power bands, that can’t show – and give you the option to adjust – exactly what your driven wheels and suspension are doing at any one time.

So that makes it important to give the 1985-1986 arrival of the 959 some context. The marketplace at the time consisted of the 12-year-old Lamborghini Countach – which had only recently shod its 22-year-old V12 with fuel injection – and the also barely fuel-injected, de Dion-suspended Aston Martin Vantage. It also arrived just ahead of the thrilling yet glue-smelling Ferrari F40 with its aforementioned North-face-of-Everest power band.

The 959 in this landscape was an all-wheel-drive, kevlar-bodied, computer-controlled, sequentially-turbocharged adjustably-suspended technological tour de force. That tech baron and Microsoft founder Bill Gates took it upon himself to convince the US government to create the ‘show and display’ law just so he could have and use one probably says all you need to know. It’s arguably genesis for the physics-defiant generation of tech-laden supercars that remains at the peak of its powers today. A generation that didn’t really hit its own stride until some two decades after the 959’s arrival.

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Rob Walker Racing Ferrari 250 GT SWB

Ferrari Colombo V12 | Legendary engines

Ferrari Colombo V12 | Legendary engines

Most brands have a defining engine – a motor that is foundational in their history, to their legacy and their reputation.

Picking one out for the likes of Ferrari, a marque defined by near-on non-stop 75+ year run of incredible engines, is easier than at first it sounds. It couldn’t be anything other than the Colombo that is at the core of why – good as its various V8s and V6s have been – Ferrari is a V12 brand.

The first Ferrari-developed engine, the Colombo, got its name from Gioacchini Colombo. The first example of the 60-degree V12 displaced just 1.5 litres, as used in the Ferrari 125, with triple carburetors and single overhead cams, but was planned from the start with capacity increases in mind. And increase it did, through 2.0 litres, 2.3 litres and 2.6 litres in the 166, 195 and 212.

Right from the off, the Colombo was a winner, too. The 166MM claimed the first post-war Le Mans victory in 1949, the first of nine for Ferrari’s Colombo-powered cars over the next 16 years.

Indeed it was when the Colombo hit 3.0 litres that it arguably hit its stride in the minds of fans. The 250 is certainly the most famous Colombo-powered family of Ferraris. In the SWB and GTO the Colombo found sports racers that were as beautiful as it sounded.

The Colombo powers what are arguably the best-loved Ferraris of all time that are now blue chip collectibles, from the aforementioned SWB and GTO of course, to the 250 TRs, 250LM, 250P and 275P. The engine underwent significant changes and grew through 3.3 litres and 4.0 litres as the ‘60s wore on, with Ferrari’s pursuit of power spurned by the burly V8-engined Ford GT40.

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This six-carb 3.0-litre variant of the engine is however widely beloved as the best iteration, combining drivability with the effervescence and low inertia of a still relatively small-capacity engine. In fact, it was in this middling capacity Colombo’s image in terms of these attributes that Gordon Murray envisioned his modern day Cosworth-developed V12.

The Colombo did however live for many decades beyond its 1960s heyday, far outliving the Lampredi that was conceived to replace it. For the 275 the Colombo got dual overhead cams for 330PS (243kW) at a heady 8,000rpm, while the 365’s 320PS (235kW) mill retained single cams to begin with and grew to 4.4 litres.

The 400 series of four-seat GTs were the last to cradle the Colombo, which had by that time gained a quad-cam setup and grown to 4.8 litres. It even got fuel injection for 1979 and eventually grew to 5.0 litres in 1986. By the time the last 340PS (250kW) 412i of 1988 was produced, the 4,943cc fuel-injected quad-cam monster that powered it was a very distant relation of the 118PS (87kW) 1.5-litre that introduced the Colombo 41 years earlier.

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An orange Dodge Charger parked in the countryside

Chrysler Hemi | Legendary engines

Chrysler Hemi | Legendary engines

The Chrysler Hemi engine is as profoundly etched in the American Automotive psyche as the Ford Flathead and Chevrolet LS small block. 

The Hemi is so called because of its half-hemispherical combustion chambers and rounded pistons, which have a smaller surface area than a flat head piston, allowing less energy to escape from the engine in the form of heat, the peak pressure is higher, and you get more power. Hemi-engine valves can also be bigger, allowing more air into the engine and the quicker release of exhaust gases, with spark plugs placed in a more efficient position – top dead centre of the cylinder, which shortens the burn distance of the air-fuel mixture.  

While the Hemi engine is as American as Budweiser and burgers, the USA wasn’t the first country to build a hemispherical engine, and who exactly did is up for debate; it’s thought the half-sphere combustion chamber originates as far back as 1901 – not long after the combustion engine itself. Belgian company Pipe is believed to have been the first to manufacture a hemispherical engine for sale in 1905. Two years later, Fiat used the technology for Grand Prix racing under the bonnet of the 130 HP.

Chrysler’s first Hemis weren’t used in cars at all but instead for the military, in the M47 Patton tank and the P-47 Republic Thunderbolt fighter aircraft, before the technology trickled down into civilian life in 1951 in the first-generation 331ci (5.4-litre) 182PS (134kW) Firepower overhead-valve V8. By 1958, the technology had spread across all of Chrysler’s brands, including Imperial, Desota (where it was called the Fire Dome) and Dodge (Red Ram) in capacities ranging from 4.0 to 6.4-litre. 

The second-generation hemispherical engine, the 426, was launched in 1964 and was the first motor to carry the legendary Hemi nametag. Legend has it that the CEO of Chrysler, Lynn Townsend’s son, came back from a day watching motorsport raving about the power of Pontiac race cars, which infuriated his father, who promptly demanded Chrysler build an engine that could win on circle-track and straight-line racing.

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The result was the 6.9-litre V8 Hemi, built for the 1964 Plymouth Belvedere NASCAR, powering the car to first, second, and third place at that year’s Daytona 500. Dominating the podium was not a popular move with other teams, and the 426 was banned in 1965 because the engine gave an unfair power advantage and wasn’t available on a road car. 

A year later, the Hemi returned to NASCAR and made its first mass-market appearance in a road car when Dodge fitted a Street Hemi V8 to the Charger and Coronet. These road-ready motors had a lower compression ratio, milder cams, plus a toned-down intake and exhaust, but were still good for a healthy 431PS (317kW).

Around the same time, the Hemi earned its nickname – ‘the Elephant Engine,’ at the drag strip; it was massive and nearly indestructible, but also slower than the old 392. 

It wasn’t until 1966 when the 426’s full potential was unleashed, albeit accidently when Big Daddy Don Garlits, attempting to highlight the engine’s shortfalls, cranked the timing of his 426 dragster up to 40 degrees (the old 392 would crack its cylinder walls at 34 degrees) and went on to set a new world record crossing the finishing line at 214mph. 

Pushing the timing to 50 degrees freed up even more performance, with the car crossing the line at 219mph. As Garlits puts it, “That was it, that was the end of the 392 for me.” Dragsters running 426s have since produced more than 11,153PS (8,203kW) running the same cylinder heads and two-valve combustion chambers. 

While second-gen Hemi engines were reserved for race and high–performance road cars, the third-generation 5.7-litre Hemi was also fitted to mainstream machines like the Dodge Ram truck, Chrysler 300C saloon and Jeep Grand Cherokee offroader. The newer engine had near-perfect hemispheres and modern advances like fuel injection, variable valve timing, and cylinder deactivation.

A more potent third-gen version wasn’t introduced until 2005 – the 6.1-litre Hemi. A product of Chryslers’s Street and Racing Technology (SRT) division, the 6.1 brought power up from mid-to-late 300 horsepower to 431PS (317kW), thanks to a modified engine block, improved pistons, and a freer-flowing intake. Since then, the engine has spawned more and more powerful iterations like the 6.4-litre Apache and 6.2-litre Hellcat.

But the most powerful Hemi’s still carry the famous 426ci displacement of the Elephant Engine, and the most powerful of those is the Dodge Direct Connection 1500 Hemi crate engine, so named because it develops a cool 1,500 horsepower running on E85 ethanol.

The 1,500 is a fitting tribute to the Hemi engine, which can trace its roots back to WWII and has triumphed in NASCAR and NHRA drag racing alike. Could the dawn of the EV finally kill it? The burgeoning crate-engine market makes us think the Hemi might be harder to kill than even Big Daddy Don Garlits could ever imagine.

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Aston Martin DBZ Centenary Collection

Stunning Aston Martin DBZ Collection up for sale at incredible price

Stunning Aston Martin DBZ Collection up for sale at incredible price

For £6.1million, the DBZ Centenary celebrated Zagato’s 100th birthday with the Superleggera-based DBS GT Zagato and a classic DB4 GT Zagato continuation. Just 19 pairs were made and for the first time since, a matching pair has come up for sale.

Available with Nicholas Lee & Co, this pair comes finished in Caribbean Pearl over dark blue, with both cars in brand new condition.

Aston Martin’s long-standing relationship with Zagato has been particularly fruitful over the past 20 years or so, with absolute stunners such as the DB7 GT Zagato, V12 Vantage Zagatos and the Vanquish Zagato family. The most recent in the DBZ Centenary Collection however, came, in an unprecedented move, as a pair of cars rather than just the one.

The DBS GT Zagato is the only of the two cars to be road legal. The DB4 is technically a brand new car, so given it was built as an identical replica of a car first built in the ‘60s, it’s not compliant with various safety and emissions regulations that govern modern road cars.

The DBS, though, is the ultimate continent crosser, with an incredible motorised grille opening and closing in accordance with the cooling and feeding needs of its voluminous 5.2-litre 770PS (566kW) twin-turbo V12 engine. It’s actually identical to the V12 later used in the run-out DBS 770 Ultimate. Obviously the rest of the bodywork is entirely bespoke too and made out of carbon-fibre. Even the headlights are bespoke, which is a first for a 21st-century Zagato Aston.

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“In the 40 or more years I have been dealing in Aston Martin cars, I have never seen demand for the Zagato variants dwindle,” said Nicholas Mee.

“They remain irresistible; beautifully crafted, timeless in design and incredibly rare, they’re always near the top of a collector’s wish list. With the DBZ Centenary Collection we have a pair of cars that’s likely to never be repeated by Aston Martin, as it moves away from Continuation models. This is a chance to acquire both an icon and a future icon of one of the automotive industry’s most enduring and effective unions.”

So, what about the thorny issue of price? Being so rare, surely values have shot to the moon from that £6.1million original asking price? Actually… no. Quite the opposite in fact. Grab a bargain, with this princely pair being available for ‘just’ £3.75million.

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Audi A2 front exterior

Audi A2 | Cars that were ahead of their time

Audi A2 | Cars that were ahead of their time

When the Audi A2 went on sale in the late 1990s, the world wasn’t ready for a posh small hatchback with the high price of a much larger car, and it went out of production in 2005, never to be replaced.

When Audi began designing its new small car, it had a clear mission statement: “Create a small Audi, not a cheap Audi.” As a result, the A2 had the same deep paint finish and tight panel gaps that saw buyers flocking to its A4 and A6 saloons.

But the A2 was also cleverer than its larger siblings. Under its smart finish lurked a lightweight aluminium space frame chassis. This meant the A2 – safe, well-built, and with genuine space for four adults – weighed about the same as the Peugeot 106 without any of those attributes.

The benefits of being small and light were twofold. The A2 was one of the sweetest-handling cars in Audi’s line-up at the time, but it was also very efficient. Petrol models could top 45mpg, and the innovative diesel – with three cylinders and a turbo – nipped the heels of 70mpg.

Continental buyers got an even better option, a 1.2-litre diesel called the 3L because it could travel 100 miles on three litres of diesel, equating to a mammoth 94mpg and a 700-mile range from its thimble-like 21 litre fuel tank. Audi threw the kitchen sink at the 3L, giving it new seats, an alloy engine block and magnesium wheels to save weight, while also improving the car’s aero and adding an automated manual gearbox for efficiency.

Sadly, buyers couldn’t leap the hurdle that was the A2’s price, which meant the tiddly city car cost more than a Ford Mondeo.

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Fast forward 20 years, and things couldn’t be more different. High-spec small cars are all the rage, and performance has taken a back seat to efficiency. Even the A2’s tall body is in vogue in the form of the sea of crossovers currently on sale.

If it had been sold now, the A2’s story could have been very different, as it is, it remains one of the hidden gems of Audi’s back catalogue and one well worth exploring if you want a cheap run around with some great engineering behind it.

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Jaguar XK120

Jaguar XK | Legendary engines

Jaguar XK | Legendary engines

Powering everything from Le Mans racers, to tanks, serving for some 43 years from its debut in 1948, is one of the most significant internal combustion engine families not only of Jaguar’s history, but perhaps of all time. We of course refer to the Jaguar XK straight-six engine, the 75th anniversary of which will be celebrated at the 2024 Goodwood Revival.

The engine’s tenure reflects perfectly the brief set by Sir William Lyons back when development of a new engine began, as early as 1942: higher than normal output, that could stay ahead of the competition without revision for many years.

And he had the perfect team for the job, in William Heynes, Walter Hassan and Claude Bailey. As Jaguar (formerly SS) had used four- and six-cylinder Standard engines in the pre-war years, these configurations were drawn up, prototyped and tested, with both single and twin-cams investigated.

Eventually, a six with two overhead cams was found to be the best solution, thanks to the increased versatility and refinement of the configuration, as well as the added benefit of more cylinders being associated with a more premium image. For production sportscars, a longer block good for a bit of extra capacity was added to afford it more torque. And so the XK straight-six was born, debuting in 3.44-litre, 162PS (119kW) form in the 1948 XK120 and would later be seen in numerous (confusingly-named) Jaguar saloons, including the Mark VII, VIII, Mark 1 and Mark 2.

Sir Lyons might have specified ‘without revision’ but the XK’s incremental evolution was arguably underway before the 120 had made its debut at the 1948 London Motor Show.

The hunt for power was on, with power outputs leaping past 180PS. Then, using the C-type (not that C-Type) ‘red head’ for the XK120C adding higher-flow carburettors, improved porting and larger exhaust valves, for up to 213PS (157kW). As compression rose and porting improved, that rose to more than 250PS in the XK150 SE of just a few years later.

The so-called ‘short-block’ 2.4 (more like 2.5-litre thanks to being 2,483cc) powered the lower-powered Jaguar Mark 1 and Mark 2 saloons of the mid-‘50s to late-‘60s.

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It was the power and performance of the XK engine and the slippery bodies of the XK-badged sportscars that yielded the succession of top speed records, with which Sir Lyons was obsessed. That obsession culminated in Sir Norman Dewis piloting a highly modified XK120 to a 173mph speed record on 20th October 1953.

The XK engine was of course the heart of a number of legendary racing cars and powered Jaguar to some truly historic results – victories among them. Beginning with the Le Mans-bound C-Type, the XK got fruitier cams and triple carburettors for over 200PS. The C-Type took victory at Le Mans on its first go in 1951 and again in 1953, though the latter can in addition to the reliability and performance of the XK, be put down to the revolutionary disc brakes.

For 1954, Jaguar introduced the D-Type, perhaps its most famous XK-engined racing car and certainly its most successful. Using a revolutionary monocoque construction and more advanced aerodynamics, the XK was the carryover element, albeit getting improved oiling, valving, breathing and fueling, in addition to both an increased displacement to 3.8 litres for 1957 and reduced displacement (per FIA mandate) to 3.0-litres in 1958.

While the D-Type scored Jaguar its Le Mans hattrick in 1955, 1956 and 1957, it’s the 1957 result with D-Types locking out the top four, in addition to coming sixth, that’s the greatest testament to the XK engine’s sturdiness. Its wings were clipped for 1958 though, with the FIA’s 3,000cc mandate. Though racing versions of the E-Type road car of the 1960s found some success, the top-flight career of the XK ended with the D-Type. In that glorious decade of racing, the XK racked up five Le Mans wins among numerous other sportscar victories the world over.

Nevertheless, powering what Enzo Ferrari described as “the most beautiful car ever made” isn’t a bad post-racing gig, right? Yes, the XK lived on into the 1960s as the heart of Jaguar’s newer-generation sportscar, the E-Type, with 3.8-litre (as seen in the latter years of the XK150) and 4.2-litre versions in the Series 1 and Series 2. Though the V12 took over as the flagship the E-Type in the 1970s, the XK lived on in Jaguar’s saloons.

A 2.8-litre version of the short block served throughout in the late 1960s and early 1970s in the XJ6, before being replaced by the ‘new’ 3.4-litre engine, with a straight-port head and stiffer bottom end to the original.

Having already powered the Mark 2, S-Type, Mark IX and Mark X in 3.8-litre form, the 4.2 carried on in Daimlers and Jaguar XJs for the next two-and-a-bit decades, gaining in some cases modernities like Bosch fuel injection, until being replaced in the early 1990s. The last Jaguar to use the XK6 was the 1987 Jaguar XJ6, surviving in the Daimler DS420 until 1992.

Speaking of non-Jaguar applications, the XK was popular in everything from the Lister and Tojeiro racers of the late 1950s, to the FV101 Scorpion Tank. It was also used in Panther’s cars, alongside the V12.

Even the XJ6 that largely replaced the XJ began life as an XK, though revisions to the block and internals technically informed its new designation. The bottom end of the XK engine went largely unrevised, all the way from its 1948 introduction, to its final outing in 1992.

Due to demand Jaguar itself even began remanufacturing the cast-iron 3.8-litre block – as seen in the original E-Type – in 2020, with the engine supplied with no less than a 12-month warranty. Mission accomplished eh, Sir William?

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Austin J40 Continuation exterior

Austin J40 Continuation is a unique new design from Savile Row

Austin J40 Continuation is a unique new design from Savile Row

Austin Pedal Cars and Savile Row clothmaker Holland & Sherry have teamed up to launch the J40 Continuation, a modern take on the classic J40 now fitted out with a bespoke interior courtesy of the London tailors.

The model has been built for the 2024 Concours on Savile Row event, which celebrates bespoke tailoring, crafts, and cars. This Austin J40 Continuation wears a lick of turquoise paint over the hand-formed aluminium body, trimmed with chromed aluminium hub caps.

Inside there’s a lightweight pedal system, a rack and pinion steering system with a three-spoke, wood rim Moto-Lita steering wheel, in front of a full instrument panel. For journeys big or small, there’s storage available with an opening boot and further details including an opening bonnet with rocker cover and spark plugs. There’s even working headlights.

Holland & Sherry cloth covers the individually designed interior, with a tailored seat and handbrake gaiter to match. You can even get a matching leather satchel and tool-roll, as part of a set of unique accessories.

This design is built, as the originals were, to be used as a childrens’ toy, but Austin Pedal Cars suggest this J40 is a fine addition to a private collection or even as a piece of interior art – how’s that for a centrepiece in your living room?

We understand that every vehicle is unique, which is why our Agreed Valuation policies take the true value of your classic car into account.

The collaboration between Austin Pedal Cars and Holland & Sherry marks the launch of a design programme for the Austin J40 Continuation taking place from 22nd-23rd May, where prospective owners can order a new J40 built to their own specification. 

Mark Burnett, Managing Director of Austin Pedal Cars, said “To collaborate with a bespoke Savile Row brand like Holland & Sherry is a real honour for Austin Pedal Cars. The wonderful J40 Continuation we have created combines the best in British style and design. We look forward to showing the car at the Concours on Savile Row event this week.”

These little pedal cars have become synonymous with the Goodwood Revival thanks to their regular appearance in the ever-popular Settrington Cup. We wonder if any of these new Continuation models will make it onto the grid in the future.

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Jeep Cherokee XJ exterior

Jeep Cherokee XJ | Cars that were ahead of their time

Jeep Cherokee XJ | Cars that were ahead of their time

The Nissan Qashqai might be credited with being the world’s first crossover, but arguably, the Jeep Cherokee XJ – which preceded the Nissan by more than two decades – is more deserving of the title.

In 1984, guided by market research, Jeep realised that new-car buyers wanted a smaller SUV with car-like handling and improved efficiency next to a full-sized off-roader like the company’s Wagoneer of the time.

The resulting Cherokee XJ, a testament to innovation, was 500mm shorter, 150mm narrower, 100mm lower and more than 450kg lighter than its big brother. Its surprisingly roomy interior was made possible by the monocoque underpinnings, a revolutionary departure from the bulky ladder frame chassis that had been an element of off-roaders up to that point.

Jeep offered the Cherokee as a three- or five-door car with fuel-saving rear-wheel drive. Buyers could also choose from two different four-wheel-drive options – a part-time system and permanent four-wheel drive – allowing them to get a perfect car for their exacting needs.

Jeep even decided against fitting a powerful V8 engine – potentially sacrilegious in the USA. Instead, you chose from a 2.8-litre V6 laterally replaced with the venerable 4.0-litre straight-six or two 2.5-litre engines running on either petrol or diesel.

We understand that every vehicle is unique, which is why our Agreed Valuation policies take the true value of your classic car into account.

With its monocoque chassis serving up surprisingly nimble handling, the Jeep proved to be an instant hit. Its success across the pond carried over to the UK, where it appealed to buyers who had enough of the poor build quality and wayward handling of their Land Rover Discovery’s.

Even today, the XJ remains a popular model. Its blocky looks translate into a timeless design, and the car has developed a reputation for being incredibly tough and, by modern standards, easy to fix.

So the next time someone waxes lyrical about the Qashqai’s transformative effect on the UK’s new car market, remind them that – actually – it was Jeep’s idea.

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Toyota Supra A80 front exterior

Toyota 2JZ | Legendary engines

Toyota 2JZ | Legendary engines

Few engines of the modern era, or even throughout motoring history as a whole, have as much name cache with all from die-hard enthusiasts to casuals, as Toyota’s 2JZ GTE.

The versatility, the tunability, the sturdiness of this 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged straight-six has made it a darling of the tuning world and of course, a bit of a movie star.

Serving between 1991 and 2002, primarily as the flagship engine for the A80 Supra, Toyota’s flagship sports GT, the 2JZ GTE is the ultimate development in the Japanese marque’s line of JZ straight-six engines.

For the early 1990s, the stock 2JZ GTE was an incredibly sophisticated and innovative thing, using sequential twin turbocharging for a balanced power delivery and matched the 964 Porsche 911 Turbo of the time for power with some 300CC less capacity. No wonder the 1995 993 got a bump to 3.6 litres and over 400PS.

Toyota didn’t sleep on the 2JZ GTE either, adding Variable Valve Timing for 1995. The naturally-aspirated version even got direct injection towards the end of its life, in a bid to improve efficiency and reduce emissions.

But it wasn’t this engine’s out-of-the-box 280-320PS form that defined it. It was what was possible when you opened the taps on it, because it’s perhaps one of the most overengineered, under-stressed engines ever sold.

Obviously there are inherent benefits of an inline-six – superior balance, incredible smoothness – but the 2J goes further. It’s shot through with go-harder engineering, with a bombproof iron block, great coolant and oil flow and even a forged crank.

This engine, using the stock bottom end, is a high-flow head, lumpy cams, a single turbo and some ancillary supporting mods away from near-on tripling its factory output, reliably so. And the sky is very nearly the limit the more money and mods you throw at it.

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It’s something tuners realised quickly and throughout almost all of the 2J’s three and a bit decades, drag racers, drifters and all enthusiasts hungry for power have been shooting them through with steroids and beating on them from dawn til’ dusk, with relatively few issues.

Such was the fame of the 2J (and JZ family) in tuning car culture that it was the obvious candidate to be the hero engine (in the hero car) of a low-budget street racing movie. You may have heard of it – The Fast & The Furious.

A silly film though it and its many sequels are, there were no falsehoods or fictions perpetuated about the 2JZ. It’s every bit the athlete that the film portrayed. The result today is that the mk4 Supra is a lauded modern classic and the engine a living legend.

It’s still a top-shelf choice for those who want to modify and tune for big power today, with multiple drift champion James Deane just one of its many proponents, using one as he does in his crazy ‘Eurofighter’ E92 BMW 3 Series drift car. Some are also now on the hunt for ever-rarer unmodified examples of the Supra and other 2JZ GTE-engined Toyotas. Either way, this is a hero engine that many millennial enthusiasts grew up to meet, and happily, it almost always lived up to the hype.

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