Now lightly modified, or resto-mod, classic cars are nothing new. In fact they’re so common that they’re only really worth mentioning in exceptional circumstances. This is one of those circumstances.
The original Jaguar Mark 2 was a luxury sedan built from 1959 to 1967. It was a handsome car and sold in good numbers. Interestingly it was particularly popular with both UK criminals and law enforcement alike, mainly because of its speed, but also because of its spacious interior – which was capable of carrying five adults in comfort.
This particular Jaguar Mark 2 is a little different. First off it’s owned by Jaguar’s design director Ian Callum. And secondly it’s far from standard. Callum redesigned the Mark 2 to his own specification, restyling the exterior, interior, and upgrading the drivetrain and chassis. The car took 18 months to build, and all the work was carried out by Classic Motor Cars Limited (CMC).
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To celebrate the launch of the six new lightweight Jaguar E-types to be built by Jaguar Heritage, the company have teamed up with the British watchmaker Bremont to create limited edition watch which will be offered to buyers of the new E-types. Just six watches will be built.
The Jaguar/Bremont chronometer watches are inspired by the black dial from the Lightweight E-types tachometer. The chamfered hour and minute hands are designed to emulate the needle on the tach, while each watch also features the unique engine number of the car it is paired with.
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In the early part of the 20th Century, automotive designers were just starting to understand the benefits of aerodynamic bodywork, although at the time it was called ‘streamlining’. Streamlining was still a pretty new idea, most manufacturers still made their cars in the shape of a box, with a vertical front grille and windshield and quite literally no attempt was made to manage or control the flow of air around the vehicle.
Aurel Persu was one of the first men to understand the importance of aerodynamics. Born in Romania in 1890, he was a graduate of the Royal Technical College of Charlottenburg in Berlin. Persu was inspired by the simple raindrop, and wanted to create a vehicle which had a similarly low drag coefficient. His masterpiece was the Persu Streamliner, a teardrop shaped vehicle with aerodynamic bodywork and wheels which were set within the body – as opposed to sticking out, like on most other vehicles of the time.
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Icon are a US-based company who specialize in rebuilding classic 4x4s – including the Ford Bronco, Jeep CJ7 and Toyota Landcruiser – and fitting them with the latest technology, drivetrains and equipment. They also do other stuff, like building what look like decrepit, rusting old cars, but underneath are high-powered modern drivetrains.
However Their latest project would take them from being a car restoration company, to being a car manufacturing company. Icon’s founder and boss Jonathan Ward is currently in the early stages of designing a stylish streamliner-inspired automobile called the Icon Helios, after the Greek god of the Sun.
The styling of the Icon Helios is influenced by aircraft and automobiles, from the 1930s. It features a curvaceous unpainted aluminium body, with much of the engineering left on show, like the individual rivet heads.
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The original one-of-a-kind Napier-Railton was a beast of a car. Built in 1933 by Reid Railton for the British racing driver John Cobb, the Napier-Railton was powered by a 24-litre aircraft engine which produced 580 horsepower. The transmission was a three-speed non-synchromesh manual gearbox which sent power to the rear wheels. Interestingly the car only had brakes on the rear wheels, despite the fact it has a 168 mph top speed!
From 1933 to 1947 the Napier-Railton broke no less than 47 World speed records. The car is currently owned by the Brooklands Museum, and it is kept in perfect running order.
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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.
In this round we have a couple of vehicles which at some point in their lives could have been described as fine luxury automobiles. Now however they could euphemistically described as “fixer-uppers”. Just over a decade separates their production dates, although perhaps surprisingly its the older car which seems to have had an easier life. One is a finely honed German machine, the other was cobbled together by Englishmen toiling away with hand tools and overcoats. Both of them offer character by the bucketload.
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In 1955, Ford’s luxury division, Lincoln, flirted with the idea of building a sports car. The bodywork of the Lincoln Indianapolis Exclusive Study was developed by the Italian coachbuilding company Boano. It was based on a Ford chassis, and the car’s styling was penned by Gian Paolo Boano, the son of the company’s founder.
The Lincoln Indianapolis was unveiled to the world at the 1955 Turin Motor Show in Italy. It featured aviation-inspired styling, stacked headlights, large lateral air intakes and a streamlined cockpit. It was painted in an extremely eye-catching bright orange hue and topped off with numerous chrome trim elements.
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In the 1970s, car design was all about the angular wedge. “Make ‘em pointy and they will sell” was the motto of car designers at the time. Actually it wasn’t. But it may as well have been. Italdesign was no exception, in fact they were one of the champions of the wedge design. And when they designed a four-seater sports coupe for Audi in 1973, how could it be anything else.
The Audi Asso di Picche concept by Italdesign was based on an Audi 80 platform. Although interestingly it wasn’t Audi who commissioned the car, it was in fact designed at the request Karmann Coachworks. Karmann hoped that they could get Audi interested enough in the car to get them to order a limited run which Karmann would then manufacture for the company.
The styling of the Audi Asso di Picche (Italian for Ace of Spades) was partially inspired by a previous Italdesign concept, the Boomerang supercar – which had been designed for Maserati a couple of years before. However for the Asso di Picche the extreme styling and unusual window configuration of the Boomerang was ditched for something a bit more sensible.
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After the Second World War, car designers started to get really creative. Many became obsessed with trying to make their creations look like wingless fighter jets, adding fake jet-engine like air intakes and numerous fins and wings. The 1956 Pontiac Club de Mer concept was no different. Except for the fact it didn’t look too over the top.
The Pontiac Club de Mer de mer (Sea Club in French) was designed at GM’s then brand new Technical Center under the leadership of the company’s superstar car designer Harley Earl. It was conceived as a racing-inspired sports car which would offer, comfort, performance and style. Paul Gillan, the head of the Pontiac Styling Studio and his team of designers then got to work coming up with hundreds of sketches and proposals. Based on feedback from the top brass, the designers made amendments and changes to the concept before moving on to develop a full-size clay model.
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The Stout Scarab was a peculiar but also rather clever automobile developed by the famous engineer William Stout back in the 1930s. The car was designed from the outset to be more practical, safer, spacious, comfortable and versatile than any other car available at the time. Many people have since refered to the car as the very first minivan, and that’s a fairly good approximation of what the Stout Scarab was. But it was also much more than that.
William Stout made his name in the aviation business, designing numerous aircraft which were well ahead of their time and brought in new ideas and improvements to the industry. Stout used his aeronautical expertise when designing the Scarab – which was styled by John Tjaarda. In particular in creating an aerodynamic shape which helped reduce the car’s fuel consumption.
The Stout Scarab was based around a monocoque chassis and body – unlike almost every single other car of the time which still relied on a separate chassis/body combination – reducing the overall weight. The interior layout was also unusual. Instead of a front-mounted engine driving the rear wheels through a long driveshaft. The engine and transmission of the Stout Scarab were placed at the rear of the vehicle behind the passenger compartment. This drivetrain position meant the interior could be much more open, and the entire floorpan perfectly flat. A long wheelbase also helped increase the amount of usable room inside the vehicle.
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