The Austin Healey 100M was an upgrade to the successful 100S, with engine modifications increasing horsepower from 90 to 100 bhp. The original “100” name came from Donald Healey because of the car’s ability to reach 100 mph and the model and this was the first Austin Healey to be designated one of the “Big Healeys” to distinguish them from the Sprite.
The prototype of this car was unveiled at the 1954 New York Auto Show. The 190 SL, which was sold with an optional, removable hard top, had a new 1.9 litre straight four engine that was detuned to be used in later models. The styling on the 190 SL was very similar to the more powerful 300 SL, but did not use the tubular spaceframe.
Bill Mitchell’s design for the road-going 1963 Corvette was an overwhelming success. This was the first Corvette to be offered as a coupe and the “split-window” rear styling drew much attention, although this was removed from the 1964 model to increase visibility. The bodywork was fibreglass, supported by a steel ladder frame chassis.
By simply glancing at this Porsche 356C, it wouldn’t appear to have any superficial differences to previous models. However, once on the road, it would be impossible to miss the mightiness of the more elastic 95hp engine. The Porsche 356, which was the predecessor of the 911, was the first of the series to arrive with brake pads all-round, which are powerful and hydraulically actuated.
AC’s for many, the Shelby Cobra 289 is the most unexpected high-performance car of the golden era. It combines the power of Ford’s short-stroke V8 with the nimble sporting chassis. The Cobra was the first largely successful English American hybrid, with the idea coming from famous driver Carol Shelby, who with funds from Ford, refined and raced the car. It has a tremendously good power-to-weight ratio meaning the Shelby was winning races straight from its onset.
Pininfarina built 200 275 GTS Roadsters for the American market (including 14 in right-hand drive) from 1964-1966 with entirely different bodywork to the standard 275. It was intended to be more of a GT car and less of a sports car than its GTB brother. The 275 GTS was replaced by the 330 GTS, leaving no 3.3 litre convertible in the range until the creation of the 275 GTB/4 NART Spider.
“The body’s subtle, swelling curves and depressions reflect carefully calculated geometries based on the ellipse. The most prominent feature—the long, projecting hood—is modelled with a distinctive ‘power bulge’ that runs down the hood’s centre to accommodate the powerful engine.” Those are just a few of the words used by the Museum of Modern Art in New York City to describe one of its larger acquisitions. The E type is, quite simply, one of the most famous and instantly recognisable mechanical shapes ever created.
The DB6 succeeded the DB5 and had updated aerodynamics that were developed from windtunnel testing that began in 1965. The Volante (convertible) version was unveiled a year later at the London Motor Show. His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales owns a Volante, which was given to him by Her Majesty The Queen for his 21st birthday in 1969.
The 911T or Targa started production in 1966. This semi-convertible version of the successful Porsche 911 has a removable roof section and a full width roll over bar behind the rear seats. The Targa name comes from the famous Targa Florio, a now defunct Sicilian road race which Porsche had won 6 times at the time of the this model’s launch.
The first Countach appeared in 1974 and the model stayed in production until 1990. Lamborghini produced 2,042 examples in various specifications and it quickly became the iconic supercar of the era. The wedge-shaped body and “cabin-forward” design to accommodate the large V12 engine set the tone for supercar design for years afterwards.
In the mid-1980s Porsche was shocking the world with the unveiling of the 959 supercar. The 2849 cc, flat-six engine with a total output of 450 hp, meant the 959 soon became the "World’s Fastest Car”. The PSK four-wheel drive system is a technological highlight of the car, as it can vary the ratio of torque to the front and rear wheels. Go above 50 mph and the ride height automatically adjusts to its lowest setting.
The Ferrari was and still is an extremely potent track car. It was built to commemorate the prancing horse’s 40th anniversary and it went on to win the hearts of car enthusiasts around the world. Initially, the company intended on building 400 examples of this high performance car, but high demand dictated many more were required. The car was based on the 288 GTO's platform and given a twin turbocharged 3.0-liter V8 offering nearly 500 horsepower.
Named after a Honda/Pininfarina concept car and latterly known as New Sportscar eXperimental, the NSX production model was launched in 1990. The design benefitted from advanced aerodynamics and styling inspired by a F16 jet fighter cockpit and input from F1 World Champion Ayrton Senna during the final development stages. The NSX was the world’s first mass-produced car to feature an all aluminium body.
In 1978 Porsche launched the 928 model which was originally intended as a replacement for the famed 911. The 928 successfully combines power, handling and refinement. This model has the distinction of being the company’s only coupé to be powered by a front-mounted V8 engine and only one of seven front engined models that Porsche have ever produced.
The Bugatti EB110 is precious. Over a five-year time period there were only 84 completed models. This 1994 EB110 GT has a compact 3.5-litre DOHC engine that somehow manages to house a total of 12 cylinders. Amazingly this lightweight and compact engine also manages to pump out 561 horsepower at 8,000 rpm. The only reason this V12 can hit those numbers is thanks to an incredible four IHI turbochargers forcing air into the intake.
Ferrari claims that the 599 GTO is the fastest road car they have ever produced and is capable of completing a lap of the Fiorano test track in 1min 24secs, which is a second faster than the Enzo. The GTO weighed 200lbs less than the standard GTB, which accounts for the increased performance. This is only the third Ferrari to be given the GTO designation, but unlike the other two it was never designed for homologation in any racing series.
This is the upgraded version of the original Aventador, which was launched in 2011. The improved handling is due to magnetic pushrod suspension, which aids the car’s performance at higher speeds. Aerodynamic upgrades include a new rear diffuser and the introduction of an aggressive front splitter. The increased use of carbon fibre means that the Aventador has a power to weight ratio of 1 bhp per 2 kg.
The “LT” stands for Long Tail, evidence that this McLaren is fully track-focused but fully street legal. The seven-speed gearbox shifts twice as fast as the equivalent in the 650S and the car is 100 kg lighter. The titanium exhaust is one of the main areas where weight has been saved, but it also makes the 675 extremely loud when in sport mode.
The car’s EcoBoost engine is derived from Ford’s Daytona Prototype racing engine that won the 2014 Sebring 12 Hours, while the name is a direct link to the original Ford GT40 that won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1966. The bodymark also acknowledges the GT40 heritage but the styling and performance are aimed at a place in the expanding, and increasingly competitive supercar, market.