I will try my best to provide detailed info on various cars and what is like to live with them, I have already produced a few for Jaguar-car-forums, I will do my best to be unbiased, but it will be hard for some cars. I will re-produce press releases and copy from other motoring news.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Jaguar F-Type Coupe ‘Lightweight’ Club Sport plotted

It looks like there’s going to be a more focused, lightweight Jaguar F-Type Coupe ‘Club Sport’ on the way as Jaguar seek to exploit their new sports car.

The new Jaguar F-Type Coupe is the first proper sports car from Jaguar in 50 years, and it looks like Jaguar are plotting to extend the appeal of the F-Type Coupe with more focused versions.

We’ve already seen the Jaguar Project 7 F-Type with a hefty dose of DNA from the D-Type – even if that was billed as a one-off – but it now seems Jaguar are looking for a limited production run of a lightweight F-Type – perhaps the Jaguar F-Type Club Sport.

Motoring in Australia managed to bend the ear of F-Type Production Director Russ Varney, who had some interesting speculation to add fuel to the fire over the rumours of a more focused F-Type Coupe.
Varney said he would like to take the F-Type Coupe to the point where it was still a proper F-Type but with lower weight – around 200kgs lighter – by taking a holistic approach across the car and lightening it where possible – including carbon fibre panels – which would all be possible with a 500 production run every year.

The obvious power plant for an F-Type Club Sport would the the F-Type R’s 542bhp supercharged V8, but Varney seemed to hint that a more powerful supercharged V6 could offer a possible route.

Whichever route Jaguar choose to make the F-Type lighter and more powerful, it seems likely they will be heading in to proper supercar performance territory, with a 0-60mph in the mid 3 seconds and a price that will be heading towards £150k.

But what is clear is that when (not if) Jaguar produce a more focused, powerful and lighter version of the F-Type, it will be the F-Type Coupe they use, not the Roadster.


Ginetta Juniors - James Kellett at Brands Hatch

James Kellett is used to making history, he became the 2013 Ginetta Winter Series Champion, and did this by winning all of the races, and this huge achievement,  has made him a face that's becoming very well known around the paddocks of all the race tracks in the UK...
Not only did James win the Winter Series Championship he also took the 2013 Ginetta Junior Rookie Cup, but that's not all, James, was also the 2010 British Super Cadet Champion, 2011 World Manufactures Cup, (Daytona, USA) Champion, 2012 British KF3 Open Champion he even went on to win the coveted Kartmasters GP trophy the same year.
But it was 2013 that took James into car racing with Ginetta  and the Juniors Championship, where he gained top Rookie status with 7 podiums that included his first Ginetta win at Rockingham and a credible 6th place finish at the end of the season.
The entire Ginetta series from the Juniors and GT4 Supercup,  follows the British Touring Car Championships around the UK, along with the Clio cup, and other great wheel to wheel race series.

Now, It brings us to 2014, and another season with the Ginetta, and the first race at Brands hatch on the small Indi circuit, with one race on the Saturday and live showings of all races on Sunday, James was back to good form with a great 2nd place in Race 1 (Saturday).

Race 2, well, not as good, with a great 5th grid position James was was up there with a perfect chance of getting to the front, but with a nudge on the rear just after the drop of the flag, James, and two other drivers were forced into the barriers and it did not look too good for James in the 2nd race of the weekend.
After a few more corners the Safety Car was launched which gave James the ideal chance to get back into the Frey and after a few laps under the SC James was right on the tail end of the pack. A dogged determination saw James slowly work his way through the field and into the top ten.
Just as thoughts of a decent points finish after the dire start, a spin dropped James further down the pack and a final place finish at 15th. So, after the first weekend James managed to gain a 2nd and 15th and a total points haul of 36 with currently puts him 6th position in the Ginetta Juniors league table, a deficit of 38 points on the leader, Jack Mitchell, however, James will not allow this to remain this way, and will fight back in the next race meeting, Donington Park on the 19th April.
We Wish James well in this season of Juniors, and with any luck, and a decent points haul this year, a move to another championship next year, and hopefully to BTCC. James has amazing support from his parents, and hopefully I will be able to report his racing triumphs for the rest of this season. 

Audi's new TT line-up could be expanded to include the launch of a 'family car'.

According to Audi technical chief Ulrich Hackenberg, the company is “working on future derivatives of the TT” in addition to the established coupé and roadster versions. “We are looking to see if there is more we can do,” Hackenberg said. “Could the TT be extended as a family car?”
Audi has already shown two high-performance TT-based concepts - the TT Ultra and 414bhp TT Quattro Sport - in the past 12 months. It has also had a second stab at a TT shooting brake, unveiling a concept based on the recently revealed third-generation TT.

It’s thought that Audi’s decision has been triggered partly by a plan to move from today’s 49-model line-up to 60 models over the medium term. The TT has become a highly potent sub-brand thanks to its status as a design icon. But despite its high profile and a relatively affordable starting price of £25,000, the TT sold just 18,353 units last year (down from 21,880 in 2012) - a tiny fraction of the 1.6 million cars that Audi sold globally in the same period. 
Sales of coupés in general are suffering in today’s market. According to figures from automotive analyst JATO Dynamics, coupé sales fell by 31 per cent in Europe last year, making it the worst-performing segment. Premium coupé sales were also down by 21 per cent.

By contrast, sales of cars in compact premium sector rose by 24 per cent in Europe last year, second only to small SUVs and crossovers in the major market niches. 
Global sales of the Audi A3 jumped from 164,666 in 2012 to 221,097 last year, while sales of the Q3 compact SUV jumped from 106,466 to 152,163 over the same period.
These shifts in the new car market make it clear that the biggest opportunities for more mainstream derivatives of the TT lie in the compact premium sectors. A compact saloon or fastback to compete with the Mercedes-Benz CLA would be the most logical immediate extension of the TT family. 
The biggest question for the Audi board is whether a compact TT saloon would work based on the new A3 saloon’s MQB platform, rather than on a stretched version of the coupé’s expensive steel and aluminium hybrid architecture. The former platform would be essential if Audi wants to build a direct CLA rival.

Audi is running to catch up with the CLA, which has proved to be a smash hit, especially among the affluent under-40s new car buyers so sought after by premium car makers. Indeed, Scott Keogh, president of Audi US, said the market for entry-level luxury cars will “increase by 400 per cent” between now and 2020. 
Audi has commissioned a series of celebrity-endorsed advertisments in the US for the launch of the A3. Additionally, a 64-page guide to holding parties to attract ‘cool, young and urban’ customers was sent to Audi’s 280 US dealers.

The manufacturer wants to see the A3 being marketed to new car buyers aged from their mid 20s to early 40s. If it can get a firm foothold in this booming segment, a TT-inspired follow-up would be a huge help to Audi in the US.
The TT family so far
  • 1995 TT concept

The original TT concept was commissioned by Ulrich Hackenberg and realised in four weeks by J Mays and Freeman Thomas.

  • 2005 TT Shooting Brake

The second-generation TT — based on a sophisticated hybrid steel and aluminium platform — was previewed by the 2005 Shooting Brake.  

  • 2013 TT Ultra Quattro

The Ultra Quattro concept was 283kg lighter than the stock Mk2 TT thanks to the extensive use of carbonfibre in the structure.

  • 2014 TT Shooting Brake

Audi repeated its Shooting Brake concept trick early this year. This incarnation heralded the arrival of the third-generation TT.

  • 2014 TT Quattro Sport

Mk3 TT-based concept featuring a 414bhp 2.0-litre TFSI engine, giving a power-to-weight ratio of 308bhp per tonne. 


BMW confirms US plant expansion and new X7 large SUV

  • Investment of one billion U.S. dollars by 2016
  • Production capacity to reach 450,000 vehicles Expansion will create 800 new jobs
  • BMW Group extends X family with new BMW X7
  • Production of new BMW X4 ramps up in Spartanburg
The BMW Group is expanding capacity at its U.S. plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina. “To meet strong global demand for our BMW X models, we will invest a total of one billion U.S. dollars in our Spartanburg plant by 2016. This will increase annual production capacity by 50% up to 450,000 vehicles from 300,000 currently,” explained Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG, Norbert Reithofer, at a special ceremony in Spartanburg on Friday commemorating 20 years of production in the U.S.

Among the guests attending the ceremony held on the plant grounds were U.S. Secretary of Commerce, Penny Pritzker; Governor of the state of South Carolina, Nikki Haley; Board of Management member for Production, Harald Krüger; and head of BMW Plant Spartanburg, Manfred Erlacher.

BMW X7 to be built in Spartanburg
BMW X3, X5, X5 M, X6 and X6 M models have been manufactured so far in Spartanburg, BMW’s centre of competence for X vehicles. Friday’s event celebrated the start of production of the BMW X4. Norbert Reithofer also announced a further expansion of the X model family: “With the BMW X7, we are developing another, larger X model, which we will produce at our U.S. plant for our world markets – once again underscoring our commitment to the U.S.”
During the ceremony, BMW Board of Management member for Production Harald Krüger talked about the importance of the U.S. to BMW Group’s overall production strategy: “The BMW Group aims for a good balance of growth between all markets and continents. The Spartanburg plant is an important building block in our international network of 28 production and assembly facilities in 13 countries today. It makes a vital contribution to profitable, globally-balanced growth.”
Krüger continued: “The BMW plant in Spartanburg is the best example of our successful strategy of ‘production follows the market’. The state of South Carolina has supported us as a valuable and reliable partner throughout our 20-year involvement in the region and played a decisive part in making the U.S. our second home.”

Spartanburg workforce increases to 8,800
The plant’s expansion will also increase the number of employees at the U.S. facility significantly. “Expansion at the site will create 800 new jobs, bringing the total workforce in Spartanburg to 8,800,” Reithofer explained. “It will also make Spartanburg the largest plant in terms of production capacity in our global production network,” he added.
According to a study released by the U.S. Department of Commerce, the annual export volume of BMW’s Spartanburg plant totals USD 7.5 billion – which makes the BMW Group’s American facility the largest vehicle exporter in the United States, based on total exports excluding NAFTA. Approximately 70% of Spartanburg’s production is exported to BMW markets around the world.

A recent analysis published by the Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina found that BMW Group activities in South Carolina had a total impact of around USD 16.6 billion on the state economy. The BMW Group’s presence in South Carolina supports a total of 30,000 jobs. The study also cites the importance of the BMW Group for South Carolina’s economic standing, improving technological and manufacturing competitiveness and establishing a high level of training.
Since the start of production in 1994, Spartanburg has built more than 2.6 million vehicles for BMW customers around the world. The models BMW X3, X5, X5 M, X6 and X6 M are all produced at the plant. In the near future, a plug-in hybrid version of the BMW X5 will also be produced here. A total of 297,326 vehicles were manufactured in Spartanburg in 2013, with around 1,100 vehicles currently produced per working day. The Spartanburg site presently employs around 8,000 staff.

Classic cars to benefit from expanded Gaydon Museum, after lottery grant award.

The British Motor Industry Heritage Trust, based at the Heritage Motor Centre at Gaydon, Warwickshire has been awarded a Round Two grant of £1.45 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for its Museum Collections Centre project, it has been announced.  The award is the culmination of more than 2 years work to develop plans for a new building in which to store and display more than 200 historic British cars from the collections of both the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust and its partner the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust.
The £4 million project received initial support from HLF in 2011, and the latest HLF grant, together with match funding from Jaguar Land Rover, The Garfield Weston Foundation and both Trusts, will enable work on this exciting new project to begin in the spring of 2014.

The new Museum Collection Centre will enable people to view many cars from the reserve collections of both Trusts for the first time in a purpose-built facility which will also include a vehicle restoration and conservation workshop and space for enhanced education and lifelong learning programmes. In addition, the project will also include an ambitious programme of activities aiming to involve people locally and regionally through outreach and learning events.  It will also aid the further development of the Trust’s existing volunteer programme which allows people to become more involved with the collection, by helping with its conservation and interpretation.
Tim Bryan, Head of Collections & Interpretation at the Heritage Motor Centre said: "We are delighted that, with the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund, Jaguar Land Rover and our other partners, this exciting project will become a reality.   It will allow us to make our collections far more accessible and will enable people to learn more about the motor industry, which has played such an important role in the West Midlands".
Reyahn King, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund for the West Midlands said: “We are delighted to support this project that not only provides a new and improved display and storage venue for these historic cars, but also creates opportunities for more people to learn about their conservation."

GLA makes its debut way off road at a Salt Mine.

Grip is at the core of the new GLA-Class – its 4MATIC system providing reassurance and traction in all conditions.
Fittingly, the GLA has made its British debut at the very core of the UK, some 189-metres below ground within the vast Winsford Rock Salt Mine in Cheshire – the site which supplies much of the gritting salt for our roads, providing grip and reassurance to the UK’s drivers.

In a unique project to take the car as far off the beaten track as possible, four standard, road-going examples of the new GLA were lowered, nose first, into the mine before being driven through the broken terrain of a network of more than 130 miles of tunnels running beneath Cheshire in what is very much a working mine.
Winsford, operated by Salt Union, is the UK’s largest rock salt mine and its oldest working mine – the mine stretches 5km east to west and 3km north to south. Mining operations since the 19th Century have left a void space of 23 million cubic metres

Combining the unique suspension setup of the new GLA which aims to strike a balance between on- and off-road demands and the traction afforded by 4MATIC, the car thrived in the challenging conditions within the mine – its traction systems coping with the broken terrain and salt road tunnels with ease. The Intelligent Light System (ILS) fitted to the cars meant the eight-metre high tunnels (most of which are completely dark) were lit up spectacularly.

The GLA was driven in the empty spaces left behind by the mining of salt – spaces now being filled by a thriving DeepStore document storage business. Organisations such as the National Archives now store millions of physical files deep below the ground in a secure and extremely dry environment – the mine naturally remains at a constant 14 degrees – making it ideal for such purposes.

Meanwhile, above ground, the GLA has gone on-sale – with prices starting from £25,080 OTR for the GLA 200 CDI it joins the M-Class, G-Class and GL-Class in a thriving Mercedes-Benz SUV line-up. 

David Brown Automotive, a new marque for a new era with classic looks, God this car is stunning !

This car, is without doubt, a breath of fresh air in the British cottage industry of car making, maybe, Cottage Industry is a bit harsh, as the quality of design, and build is as good as anything currently available,  the attention to detail is second to none, the graceful lines, the leather and wood interior are as good as any you could expect to get from marques with far more experience, Bentley, Aston and Rolls come to mind, the stunning looks of this car just scream retro, yet, the only way i can call this car is a Classic Modern Classic.

The Jaguar underpinnings are a brilliant choice, it gives this Aston, oops, DB, oops, David Brown Speedback a low slung aggressive stance, if this car can go, like it looks, then all i can see for this new British brand is a bright and LONG future. Yes it is a huge nod to the past with the Aston look, but with Mr Bond and his Aston constantly in the public eye, it is a car that wont go out of fashion, and those spoked wheels just take it a further step in the right direction.

This car is a brilliant choice, what next, well there is already an Eagle E-Type at huge money, what about a modern interpretation of the XK120, only time will tell if this new quality marque will expand further, but for now we will have two stunning cars to ogle, and just maybe, the posters on boys and girls, bedroom walls, will once again have something truly British, true quality, and a real car to aspire too, it has been too long, but a great british icon has been woken from its slumber and will rise to once again be the car of choice, well, for those with deep DEEP pockets.

Can I have a test drive please ?

Jon Mower

  • New model revealed to the media at exclusive preview in London
  • Speedback name announced
  • Car to be exhibited at Top Marques Monaco in April
At an exclusive media briefing in London, David Brown Automotive unveiled its unique handcrafted GT car for the first time. It was also revealed that this exciting and highly anticipated new car, which is designed, engineered and hand-crafted in Britain, will be called Speedback: a name which reflects the elegant yet purposeful lines of the V8 powered sports coupé.

Speedback will remain at the venue in London over the weekend for viewing and will then travel to Monaco to be shown publicly for the first time at the exclusive Top Marques show, which runs at the Grimaldi Forum from 17th to 20th April. The car will be on display on stand F3 and the full team will be available to discuss the car, its specifications and to take orders during the event.

Company founder and CEO, David Brown has a long-standing background in engineering, vehicle manufacturing and an equally strong enthusiasm for both classic and contemporary cars (although he has no connection with either Aston Martin, its founder, Sir David Brown, or with the David Brown Group). With his concept for a classically styled GT car with modern mechanicals and reliability, he began to assemble his specialist team some two years ago.

He said: “The launch of Speedback is the realisation of a dream for me, and is the result of skilful and dedicated work by a team of highly talented designers, engineers and craftsmen. I am delighted at the reaction of the media, our suppliers, potential customers and friends, and I look forward to presenting the car to the public in Monaco. The Speedback name perfectly reflects the classic sports car tradition of the past, whilst also doing justice to the sophisticated silhouette of the car’s hand-built body and unique styling which features amongst much other detail, a fold-down picnic seat.”
The car revealed today is the result of 18 months of hard work by the David Brown Automotive team, including highly-experienced Chief Designer, Alan Mobberley. The car, which has been engineered and handcrafted in Coventry, proudly uses traditional British materials and craftsmanship. Speedback promises exceptional performance and handling from the latest Jaguar 5 litre supercharged engine. Customers of Speedback are able to request any level of tuning or engine enhancements they desire.

“This car will appeal to anybody who desires a truly individual sports car, which can boast a fine British pedigree and which will only be produced in limited numbers, thus ensuring the kind of exclusivity associated with Britain’s once proud heritage of traditional, high-quality, automotive coach-building”, said David.
Also on display was a unique handcrafted 1:4 scale British granite model of Speedback, crafted by Lapicida in Harrogate.

The London media briefing and subsequent launch party was held at the London showroom of specialist stone suppliers, Lapicida, another of David Brown’s business interests. Guests were also able to lean against their handcrafted marble bar and enjoy speciality beers from one of David’s latest business venture, BAD Company; a craft brewery based in North Yorkshire. The three brews, Dazed & ConfusedLove Over Gold and Comfortably Numb were the perfect accompaniment to this handcrafted British car.

Today also saw the full David Brown Automotive website launched, featuring full information on Speedback, beautiful images of the car and the craftsmanship behind it. You can also join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook using #HistoryInTheMaking.

The Modern Day Bentley Boys - The team announces its all star line up for 2014.

  • Six-strong team of Bentley Boys to drive for M-Sport Bentley
  • Guy Smith, Andy Meyrick and Steven Kane continue partnership
  • Duncan Tappy, Jérôme D’Ambrosio and Antoine Leclerc complete team
Team M-Sport Bentley is pleased to announce its driver line-up for the 2014 motorsport season with a vastly experienced international team. Six Bentley Boys will drive two Continental GT3 race cars, starting with the five races of the 2014 Blancpain Endurance Series, looking to put Bentley back on the top step of the podium.

The first car sees the continuation of the all-British driver line-up that powered the Continental GT3 to a stunning fourth-placed debut at the Gulf 12 Hours in Abu Dhabi last December. Long-standing Bentley Boy and Le Mans 24-Hours winner Guy Smith will drive with experienced GT3 racers Steven Kane and Andy Meyrick. Balancing a range of different experience between them, Smith, Kane and Meyrick have shown a great working relationship, second only to an impressive turn of speed.

The second Continental GT3 will be piloted by a European driving team. Englishman Duncan Tappy will be partnered with Frenchman Antoine Leclerc and Belgian former F1-racer Jérôme D’Ambrosio, who makes his GT3 debut after several successful years of open-wheel racing.

Brian Gush, Bentley’s Director of Motorsport, comments:
“Our six modern day Bentley Boys give me great confidence for the year ahead. The selection process has been tough after having had so much interest, but these six racers have shown the prodigious talent combined with the experienced, dedicated approach that we need. The whole team is now in final preparations for the season ahead, and we’re all extremely eager to get to Monza so that the real racing
can begin.”
The Modern Day Bentley Boys
Guy Smith has been a Bentley Boy since 2001, and drove the Speed 8 Prototype to victory at Le Mans in 2003. Since then he has raced in the USA in the former ALMS championship, including winning the title in 2012.
Steven Kane has enjoyed a fifteen-year career so far, racing primarily in touring cars and sports cars. He competed in the Blancpain Endurance Series last year with JRM, finishing the championship in fourth position.  

Andy Meyrick has a proven track-record that includes a fourth place finish at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and experience in British F3, VLN and GT3 categories. Last year, Andy spent time racing on both sides of the Atlantic, in the Blancpain Endurance Series in Europe and as lead driver for the innovative DeltaWing Racing programme in the USA.
Duncan Tappy started racing at the age of 10, competing and winning in various open-wheel championships. His experience includes A1 GP, the Monza 1000 km Le Mans Series race, Porsche Carrera Cup and the Superleague Formula. He has spent the last two years driving GT3 cars in the UK and Europe.
Antoine Leclerc becomes the first French Bentley Boy since Jean Chassagne in the 1920s. An accomplished racing driver with a decade of GT experience, Antoine drove full seasons of the Blancpain Endurance Series, including the 24 Hours of Spa, in both 2012 and 2013.

Former F1-driver Jérôme d'Ambrosio has enjoyed a high-profile career that has progressed from karting to the pinnacle of motorsport. After working up the open-wheel racing ladder, Jérôme drove for Virgin Racing in the F1 World Championship in 2011. He finished 16 Grand Prix in 2011, including two 14th place results in Australia and Canada.
Full driver profiles are available on request. The 2014 Blancpain Endurance Series begins at Monza on 11th-13th April.
Click on the following links for driver profiles: