The pursuit of pure speed has resulted in a number of oddly shaped cars. But perhaps none more so than the 1951 land speed record car designed, built and driven by Piero Taruffi. The car goes by several names, including the Italcorsa and Tarf II – it also got the fitting nickname “Bisiluro” (twin torpedo in Italian).
Piero Taruffi was an Italian racing driver and engineer. His passion for fast machines began with motorcycles, but he soon moved on to cars, and his considerable talent allowed him to pilot some of the fastest machines of the era from numerous manufacturers including; Alfa Romeo, Bugatti, Cisitalia, Ferrari, Maserati and Mercedes-Benz. During his racing career he notched up several victories – including the last ever Mille Miglia. He also broke several dozen speed records.
The Tarf II was based on an earlier design called the Tarf I. Both cars featured the same twin boom design, but the Tarf II was fitted with a larger 1,720 cc Maserati four-cylinder engine which developed 290 horsepower thanks to the addition of a supercharger. A chain transferred power to the rear wheel.
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The Toyota Publica Sports was a concept car introduced for the first time at the 1962 Tokyo Auto Show. It was a preview of Toyota’s very first production sports car, the Toyota Sports 800. The Toyota Publica Sports featured an unusual sliding canopy which provided access to the interior. There were no doors, and the occupants had to climb over the sides to gain entry. The canopy could be completely removed to turn the Toyota Publica Sports into a dinky roadster.
For a first try at a sports car, the Toyota Publica Sports was quite attractive. It wasn’t particularly stunning, but it was also far from ugly, especially with the roof removed. The Publica name was taken from a much more pedestrian small family car the company started producing the year before. Publica had been selected by Toyota as the company wanted to give the car mass market appeal. They thought giving it a name which sounded similar to Public might help.
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David Brown Automotive have just unveiled their first model. Called the David Brown Automotive Speedback, the car’s styling is a mix of classic British sports cars. There’s plenty of Aston Martin in there. Err, well actually that’s about all there is. It’s almost completely Aston Martin. It should be said that the David Brown of David Brown Automotive has no connection with either Aston Martin, its founder, Sir David Brown, or with the David Brown Group.
So got that? This is an entirely different David Brown from the Aston Martin David Brown, who just happens to be building cars that look like classic Aston Martins but they aren’t.
What you get for your money (prices are still to be announced) is a classically styled GT car with modern underpinnings. Those underpinnings come from Jaguar – the Speedback is based on an XKR – and as such it is powered by a 5.0 litre supercharged V8 which produces 510 horsepower. Although the company say they can tune the engine to any level requested.
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As cars become increasingly more like rolling gadgets, they’re starting to lose a bit of their character. There’s nothing wrong with progress and trying new things, but new doesn’t always mean better. There’s a reason why people are drawn to classic cars. In many ways they are more interesting and unique than modern vehicles. It was before the days of badge-engineering and follow-the-leader designs, designers weren’t afraid to take risks and try different ideas.
Below are listed five classic automotive design features which are either dead and buried, or rapidly facing extinction. But each of them deserves to be preserved or returned to more mainstream automotive design.
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A rare unrestored 1939 Lagonda V12 Hooper is headed to auction next month in Birmingham, England. The unique matching numbers car was built for the wife of the owner of Hooper Bodies Ltd, a noted coach builder of the time. The car was first registered in 1939, but with the Second World War breaking out just weeks later, the car was put into storage before being sold on in 1952 to a collector called Harry Ellard.
After Ellard’s death in 1984, the collection was sold off, and this car went to its third owner where it stayed until 2001. The current owner has had it in storage for the last 13 years and the car is now in need of a complete restoration – although as you can see all the parts are there and in relatively good condition.
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Classic face-off is a feature where we show you a couple of similarly priced classic cars from the same era, and you vote for the one you find most appealing.
Luxury German cars don’t come cheap. Correction. Brand-new luxury German cars don’t come cheap. Ones from the ’80s with high miles and dodgy engines can be dirt cheap.
Take these two for example. Back in the day they would have been obvious status symbols. Now they’re just big hunks of stationary metal and rubber waiting for someone to step up and give them a new lease of life.
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Back in 1969, Isuzu tried their had at developing a mid-engined sports car. The car was designed by Tom Tjaarda (the same man who designed the De Tomaso Pantera), who at the time was working for the Italian automotive styling firm Ghia. The concept, called the Bellett MX1600, made its world debut at the 1969 Tokyo Motor Show.
Despite sharing the same name as the production Isuzu Bellett, the Bellett MX1600 concept only shared an engine with its more conservative-looking namesake. The car was powered by a 1.6 litre DOHC inline 4-cylinder engine from the Bellett GT-R. The engine was mounted just behind the two-seat cockpit and powered the rear wheels.
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David Brown Automotive, the brand-new British automotive company who are selling themselves as a heritage marque, have just announced the initial round of details regarding their first car.
Going by the codename “Project Judi” and based on a Jaguar XKR, the as-yet unnamed car features the exact same chassis, drivetrain and performance specifications as the XKR. Although it is said to use an entirely original body and interior design.
This means the car will boast a 510 horsepower, 5.0-litre Supercharged V8 engine, driving the rear wheels via a 6-speed automatic transmission. The 0-62 mph time is 4.8 seconds, and the top speed is 155 mph (electronically limited).
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Nicholas Mee & Co, an Aston Martin Heritage Dealer in West London, have just finished putting the final touches to a fully functional kid-sized car inspired by the legendary Aston Martin DB models of the 1960s. But this is no rickety pedal car. It has a steel chassis, composite bodywork, leather seats, a wood rimmed steering wheel and Brembo disc brakes.
Power for the DB Convertible Junior comes from a 110cc four-stroke engine with key-operated electric start. The transmission is a semi-automatic three speed unit. Top speed for this “kids” car is a remarkable 46 mph! Although this can be restricted downwards.
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To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the FIA approved small block Shelby Cobra – which competed in the 1964 World Manufacturers Championship series against marques like Aston Martin, Jaguar and Corvette – Shelby American is introducing a special limited edition model.
50 examples of the continuation (CSX7000) Shelby 289 FIA Cobras will be produced. Each will be painted “Viking Blue” with FIA stripes and roundels, feature a black FIA interior, special billet anniversary badges, original style wheels and a variety of additional options.
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