Thursday, 29 November 2012

Formula One 2012 - We Have A Winner

Anyone else get the feeling Schumi farted just before this was taken?
So, that was a pretty epic end to a pretty epic season finale, wasn't it? The man to beat gets tangled up with a local to make it look like the underdog would seize the title, only to come back through the grid, overcoming difficult conditions as changeable weather saw panic pit-stops and slithering sideways (as well as very nearly seeing a highly unlikely winner to the race) to get into sixth place, enough to clinch the World Driver's Championship by just three points. A more apt number of points to win by this season, there isn't. Sebastian Vettel is the youngest ever Triple World Champion, as well as only the third in history to win three in a row. This in a season when Red Bull also won the World Constructor's Championship for the third year in a row. I may have doubted how much of SebVet's success was down to him before, but after the Brazilian Grand Prix he had, and given the above stats, it's pretty hard to doubt him now. He joins a list of greats be becoming a triple world champ, one which includes Nelson Piquet, Jackie Stewart, Jack Brabham, Niki Lauda and, of course, Ayrton Senna, whose record for the youngest ever entrant to this elite club was snatched by the German Merman (a name I have made up because he's swimming in victory champagne).

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Porsche Puts A Roof On Its Prettiest-Ever Boxster, Makes Prettiest-Ever Cayman

2013 Porsche Cayman and Cayman S
It's no secret that to make a Cayman, you simply add a roof and 10 horsepower to the Boxster. However, the stiffer chassis that results, and perhaps a few other changes we don't see, have lead to the Cayman being considered as the benchmark sports car in its class/price range (which is also true of the Boxster anyway). But since the 2009 refresh of the Mk.1, or 987 Cayman, which added a Limited-Slip Differential, people have started to ask whether the Cayman S is actually a better deal than a 911 Carrera, something Porsche tried hard to avoid at the start, but seems to be OK with now, as the two cars appeal to different types. Those who want a 911 will still buy a 911, whereas people who aren't as picky will still spend plenty on the Cayman or Cayman S. Now we have a Mk.2 Cayman, and seeing as its Boxster sister has apparently come of age, this is going to be one exceptional mid-engined sports car. It also looks great, fixing the dodgy roof of the Mk.1 and getting a less smiley, more serious "face" than its topless twin.

Engines are the same as the new 981-generation Boxster, with a 2.7-litre or 3.4-litre flat-six on offer, but they make 10 more horsepower, at 275 and 325bhp respectively for the base model and the S. Because Porsche are cool, a 6-speed manual will be offered alongside the 7-speed "PDK" flappy-paddle 'box. Expect it to cost a bit more than the equivalent Boxster and get glowing reviews in every road test you read about it. Prices and other stuff will be added here when they publish it. UPDATE: Microsite here (with more colours!) and a press release here.

But I know what you're saying already. You're saying that it looks the same as the outgoing Cayman, and that Porsche's designers are lazy. There always has to be someone...

OK, because the Cayman is basically the Boxster with a roof and 10 more horsepower, let's compare Boxsters first. The 987 was designed around plain old 911 doors, like the original 986 from the '90s was. That means the sides are plain in general, because of Porsche's smooth, clean aesthetic (for its sports cars, at least). The key difference in the 981 is that the Boxster was granted its own doors, so with that freedom they deeply embedded the main air intakes, giving it the gradual dip into the car. They also made the characteristic rear arches a little more curved and pronounced in profile, while adding the double-decker headlights, à la 918 Spyder and updating the three front bumper grilles to fit with the new shape(s) better, giving clearly defined "cheek bones" in the process. Of course, my favourite touch is the rear LED lights, which have the pop-up spoiler arching down into them at the ends to make the reversers, which looks very smooth and very cool. The roll hoops are also chunkier and more shaped, possibly for aero reasons but I don't know if that's really why that is.

To make the Cayman, they added a fixed roof - which is now more 911-shaped in that it arches down more smoothly to meet the waistline at the spoiler, rather than having that dip in the middle of it where the rear window ended - and a reprofiled front bumper with less smiley/more aggressive Down-the-Road Graphics (DRG), or "face". As with the 987, the rectangular foglights have been replaced with a dot in the bumper grilles for the hardtop model.

So there. Just because it's evolutionary rather than revolutionary, doesn't mean they aren't trying. You just have to be paying attention for about two or three seconds. Here are some more pictures, because it looks great. The mostly-subtle changes really make a difference in my opinion.

The S version has a twin-pipe exhaust, whereas the standard Cayman features a single oval tailpipe, much like on the Boxster.
It would probably look better in a colour other than acid yellow though...
That's more like it.
The rear window no longer dips in at the bottom, making it smoother and, I think, prettier. Also, DAT SPOILER.
The question is, with only 20 fewer horses, about 50kg less weight and what Porsche's configurator reveals to be a £22,660 price gap, would you buy this over a 991 Carrera? Hmm......

Thursday, 22 November 2012

21 Years & 50,000 Hits - A Collection Of Thoughts

Pic unrelated.
Well, it's about time I wrote something here. Considering this blog has received 50,000 hits and it is/was my 21st birthday, I'm practically required to write something by unwritten laws, some of which I have set myself. I'm told the best writing is impulsive, so with a completely random picture chosen from my HDD, let's see what results of the next half hour or so. 2:14.

Well, first of all, there's the 50k views. Actually no, FIRST of all there's the fact that I've only gone and turned 21. I know, it was careless, I don't know what I was thinking, but it's happened now and I can't change it. My first birthday away from family is a weird one, although they did keep me feeling connected with them, so it was good as I could possibly hope for in that respect, plus I'm going home at the weekend to see them in person (and get more presents!), at which point I shall rejoin the Punto in the dance between man and machine that only a car or motorbike can provide. A motorbike is a closer, more physical dance, like Salsa, and such raunchy dancing isn't really my thing, as exciting as I'm sure it is, so it'll always be cars first for me. So that'll be fun. I'll have to choose my roads properly this time to get the most out of it, as well as see how Wokingham has evolved in the last month.

Click to embiggen.
Second of all, thanks for clicking. Whether you got here because you're on Jalopnik/Oppo+ or because you Googled your way here, hits are hits, and it's something I've been keeping track of out of habit. In fact - can I admit this? - every 1000 hits, I screen-cap the Total Page Views and save it. Yup. How thrilling is that? There's still stuff I've been meaning to do, some of which is now a little out of date, but I'm sure I can write around that. For example, barrel sprinting a Toyota GT86. How I've not pasted that across my blog and linked to it seven times, I don't know. I guess moving out interfered.  Not uploading a 2012 Goodwood FOS Mega-Gallery from July, however, is somewhat inexcusable. Regular readers - all 2 or 3 of you - may also have noticed that lack of Formula 1 posts of late. That's not because I've stopped bothering or stopped paying attention to the season. They'll be back after the season finale this weekend, with both a recap/summary and, for most of them, a lap-by-lap account to support it. Consider those posts as something to do when you get withdrawal symptoms over the winter period.

Speaking of F1, what a fucking season! It's been unbelievable, hasn't it? 7 winners in 7 races at the start while people scrambled for a solution to the blown diffuser ban and an understanding of the updated Pirelli tyres, the latter of which they do not stop going on about, and then Red Bull kicked their car until it worked as well as last year's, leading to four victories in a row for Sebastian Vettel (all at Asian GPs, as it happens). After leaving Asia for hotter places, Kimi Räikkönen finally won a Grand Prix after returning to the sport. That said, he might have been a little pissed off that the one race he won in his comeback year was in one of the two out of nineteen countries used that don't drink alcohol, which he expressed by swearing at David Coulthard on live TV. Lewis Hamilton suffered two excruciating failures in Singapore and Abu Dhabi Doo that saw him retire from a clear lead. One could thus argue that he should have 50 more points than he does, and be in the hunt for a championship, but then the same argument could also be levelled at Vettel in 2010, and of course the German merman (so-called because he's basically swimming in podium champagne by this point) has suffered the same fate this year too, at the European GP in Valencia which is mercifully being removed from the calendar next year due to Spain not having enough money for two races anymore.

But I digress. Lewis Hamilton, who is of course leaving McLaren for Mercedes next year. Why leave a team he's been with for 14 years in some form or other? Well, you don't marry your first girlfriend, or grow old in your parents' house. Not if you're normal. What's more, Mercedes-AMG have been touted as being the fast ones in 2014 when the rules get shaken up and we get V6 Turbo engines, KERS 'n' TERS (like surf 'n' turf for "flybrid" technology), simpler aerodynamics with enforced low noses and no doubt something else thrown in to slow Red Bull down. We saw a change in aero rules mix the field up in 2009, with Brawn GP rising from the ashes of Honda Racing and dominating up until a Newey-lead Red Bull hit their stride. Lewis and global mainstream brand Mercedes-Benz will be hoping for the same thing two years from now. Until then, wait, I've digressed again...

Coming back to 2012, Hamilton's luck finally turned around as he hoped to do something special with McLaren in the closing stages of their relationship. That thing was winning the first United States Grand Prix since the 2007 race at Indianapolis - a race he also won - and the first ever GP at the much-publicised Circuit Of The Americas, making him the first person since his idol Ayrton Senna to win the US GP in two different locations (Senna's being street circuits at Detroit and Phoenix). The track itself is a sort of Greatest Hits of Grand Prix Circuits, featuring the classics and some of their newer stuff. The first turn of all was a brand new one though, with a 40-metre ascent up to a tight hairpin, and then a rollercoaster-style drop and twist into the esses section reminiscent of Maggots and Becketts and Church at Silverstone, or perhaps the esses of Suzuka. The multi-radius lefts and rights then straighten out into pointier corners and some long straights, like modern "Tilke tracks", before going into a smaller, wider version of the stadium complex of Hockenheimring (which just looks fiddly) and winding through a mirrored and slightly diluted US spinoff of the many-apex'd Turn 8 at Istanbul Park Circuit, taking the drivers into Turn 19, which drops downhill just as you want to get the power down. This lead to many spins and slides wide, to the point where there was just as much rubber on the run-off area as the main track! Turn 20 rounds it all off basically just by joining it all up at the end, like the last turn of an improvised Scalextric track. Thank goodness they had the right piece left over for it...

Not my image. Don't hit me
So yes, well done Americans. You can be proud of that circuit. Not that you wouldn't be anyway. In fact, you seem to be pretty damn proud of everything you've ever done sometimes. This comes back to cars. At the moment there's plenty of hubbub about the upcoming C7 Corvette, as well as the new Cadillac ATS and Dodge SRT Viper SRT-10. Now, I have no reason to deny that Caddy and Dodge have done a great job with these two, and that they mark a big and important step forward for American cars and stuff, but the hype and pride gets annoying. By all means be proud, I don't mean they shouldn't give a fuck, but hype from US journos (at least the ones at Jalopnik) and the subsequent assumptions from readers that they're suddenly the best cars of their entire genre is too much, and people pushing Corvettes and Mustangs on you when you might like European or Japanese equivalents, while throwing around price tags and Nürburgring lap times and "FUCK YEAH" and "SUCK IT" in an overly competitive way is just a turn-off, in the same way that being forced to learn the violin makes you hate the instrument with an unbridled passion. They're even doing it with the Ford Focus ST, whose only truly American component as far as I'm aware is the badge. You can't force something on people if you want them to a) like it, or b) take it seriously themselves. If I say that I want an American saloon or sports car over a European one now, it'll feel like they've "won" somehow, as silly as that may sound. Also, whether it's as quick or not, a Mustang is not an M3, and the minute it becomes one is the minute it stops being the proper Muscle Car it's supposed to be - the M3 is serious, whereas a Mustang or Monaro or Camaro or Challenger should be more fun and crazy. Save the sports car stuff for the 'Vette, because that's what it's meant to be.

The reason I like muscle cars (when no-one's looking) is because they're like cartoon characters in real life. That's their appeal. Make them drive, look and feel like sports cars and they'll have lost that appeal. It just turns from cartoon to yet another live action flick, perhaps with more colours. Mercedes-Benz's AMG department know what's up. They make the C63, which is a normal car with a HUGE V8 that loves going sideways and sounding like a NASCAR car in a thunderstorm (although not quite as well as the SLS does that). That's a muscle car, despite being German, and the Coupé Black Series enhances that further with MORE POWER and more angry bits on it. Ford should rival AMG with the next Mustang, not M. Oh, and if I get an angry rebuttal from someone saying that the same thing happens here, then that's not me, and I don't like over-hyping regardless of nationality.

But anyway, angry blogger mode can wait until I need to vent about something and pick on something like stanced cars for making no sense to me whatsoever.

Ok, that took more than half an hour.

Friday, 16 November 2012

The Toyota Supra Will OFFICIALLY Return In 5 Years!

Toyota Supra Twin Turbo (Mk.IV)
It's a good time to be longing for automotive comebacks. First the AE86 gets a spiritual successor, then the Honda NSX is announced to return (as a hybrid...), then Alfa Romeo-- wait a minute, didn't I already write this?

Yes I did, when it was announced that the Mazda RX-7 will officially return in 2017. Well now it's happened again! Tetsuya Tada, Toyota's sports car boss, is making sure he has things to do other than the brilliant GT86, as an order from above - namely Toyota CEO and petrolhead Akio Toyoda - stated that they must make a successor to the legendary Supra "as soon as possible". Tada-san also said that "The 86 needed five years to develop, so at least five years is required for the others. A normal passenger car about two to three years. But sports cars need special parts, so it's five years."

So there you have it. '90s Japanese sports cars are back. GT-R, NSX, RX-7, Supra, all will exist along with the everlasting Nissan Fairlady Z and Mazda MX-5 by 2017. Who knows what else might return? The Nissan Silvia and Honda Integra as GT86 rivals, perhaps? Also, it's worth noting that Tada said "at least five years for the others." The same interview revealed that the 86 is in the middle of what will eventually be a three-car sports car range. So perhaps we could see a new MR2 underneath the 86, or a new Celica. Earthquakes cannot stop the Japanese!

So anyway, what do we know about this Mk.V Supra? Well, nothing concrete whatsoever, so we can only speculate. Given the 1992-2002 Mk.IV Supra (pictured above) was benchmarked against Porsche and the Honda NSX in the '90s, I think it's reasonable to consider this new car as a rival to the BMW M3, because Porsche's most comparable car from then, the front-engined 968, doesn't exist any more, and the current V8-powered M3 is the benchmark for front-engined luxury sports cars. Why not a rival to the perennial 911? Well it could rival the Carrera I suppose, but they won't beat it. The M3 is a better target.

Speculative rendering based on the FT-HS.
Engines? Well, it won't be as rigid a tribute to the previous model as the RX-7, as the legendarily modifiable 2JZ straight-six almost definitely won't be making a comeback. Only BMW really bothers with straight-six engines these days, because a V6 is easier to package, not requiring such a long bonnet. That said, the current 'E92' M3 ironically has a V8 rather than an I6, although all evidence points to its 'F30' successor having an I6 with no fewer than three turbochargers. Toyota could do a V8, as the Lexus IS-F features a 5.0 Yamaha-tuned unit producing 417bhp, but the reason the next M3 will have a turbo six instead of a bigger V8 is because of the trend for smaller turbocharged engines that combine power with much better fuel economy, so a twin-turbo V6 is more likely in the new Supra.

Actually, that's a thought. If the Supra went after the BMW, wouldn't it be trampling on the IS-F somewhat? If Toyota wanted to do that they'd make a coupé IS, which they sort of are except that it could be sold as a new model (see the LF-CC). So maybe I've got it wrong here...

Perhaps this will start out as a rival to the 370Z, Z4, TT, SLK and Boxster/Cayman instead, with around 300 horsepower. They'd have to make sure it didn't get caught up by the GT86, but then maybe that's why the boxer-engined car only has 200 horsepower. Could they have planned this out from the start? Who knows. But they could start with a 300 horsepower V6, perhaps based on the 276bhp 3.5-litre V6 used in the Lotus Evora, which is also available in 345bhp Supercharged form. They seem to prefer superchargers to turbos in sports cars as they continue to deny a turbo 86 and grin at suggestions of a supercharged one. So the Supra Twin Turbo may be replaced by the Supra SC, which could have 350 horsepower or perhaps even more.

But of course, it's not just about power, as the GT86 proves. They also have to get the chassis and suspension just right if they want to succeed. To do that with the 86, they needed help from Subaru, but the rally legends have no real experience with cars like Supras, so Toyota may have to team up with someone else, or even find the money to do it themselves. But who? And will we see it bogged down with hybrid technology or simply given KERS to reflect their TS030 endurance racer? It's all up in the air at the moment. We'll have to see how this one plays out, and it could be very interesting......


Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Toyota's Rebellion Against Nanny State Banned By Nanny State

Watch this advert by Toyota, showing a man tired of the dreary, censored world he exists in finding a GT 86 in the back of a chandelier collector's shack. Watch him escape the monotony and live at last in the real world behind the wheel of "The Real Deal", which you should definitely buy by the way.

Does it make you want to drift through traffic during a police chase on real public roads as large bollards rise from the ground at random? Does it make you want to go 80mph on a 30mph road and drive through enormous pixellated barriers? Well the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA), having been prompted to re-review the ad by a whopping two people, decided that it obviously does make you want to go full Niko Bellic through your town/neighbourhood/CGI world. Therefore, they've banned the ad in the UK and slapped Toyota on the wrists, presumably because it was a slow day in the office and they felt like doing something other than dismissing TopGear's continued efforts for a blood-thirsty Scirocco TDI ad, after a pair of Ned Flanders' kindred spirits complained to them that the GT 86 ad glamourised speed and promoted dangerous driving.

There are a number of reasons why this is bullshit.

First of all, Toyota know how hard it is to advertise a fun car, and told the ASA that it payed very close attention to the highway code when designing the advert, meaning they made sure it didn't glamourise or promote irresponsible driving. What's more, it's clearly set in CGI, not using a real man in a real Toyobaru until it's in the real world travelling non-driftily (which is now a word) at not-dangerous but still brisk pace along a road in the middle of nowhere that can only be empty, because there's a huge dimensional barrier on it rendering said road somewhat useless to other cars. So all the weaving in and out of sentient bollard creatures is fake, as fake as a video game like Need For Speed or Grand Theft Auto (OK, it may actually be more fake than GTA). The equally-computer-generated driver is also in control of the car at all times, which would be surprising given he's only ever been in auto-assist cars, until you remember he's not real and neither is his environment. Not even the car itself was real until it broke the barrier, which is actually somewhat ironic, come to think of it.

Oh, and heaven forbid that car fans - whom both the car and the ad are squarely aimed at - should see galmourisation or celebration of speed on British TV screens! It's not like we've had a one-hour show all about fast and exciting cars on our screens for over ten years or anything...

Finally, when it comes down to it, the point of this advert is not to tempt people into street-hooning what they can't handle. The point of this is that the GT 86 is the escape from monotony the modern man needs. We live in a world of front-wheel-drive hatchbacks with high, round front ends and small turbocharged engines and, increasingly, flappy-paddle gearboxes with only two pedals and numb electric power steering. The motoring world cried out for exactly the car that Toyota (with help from Subaru, lest we forget) subsequently gave us in the form of the GT86. Showing it breaking away from monotony of econoboxes and driver aids - which Toyota arguably started and definitely contribute heavily towards with the rest of their range - is exactly what a GT86 advert should do, in fact everything this ad does is right for this car. It depicted the rear-wheel-drive coupé with its low pointy nose and high-revving naturally-aspirated engine as something fun, something with some feel to it, which is precisely what motoring journalists have praised it for in-between blasting B-roads and taking tracks sideways with shit-eating grins on their faces. It's just you, the car and the road.

Unfortunately, feeling something in a car isn't allowed to be depicted in adverts. Movies and TopGear, yes, but 30-60 seconds in-between mind-numbing programs, no. Not in the apparent nanny state that will let a trigger-happy censoring agency ban a commercial by one of the world's biggest corporations after just two complaints from a population of around 62,641,000 people. Tens of millions are fine with it or don't care, but two stuck-up oversensitive people say no and that's it? What the hell?

I don't like that a car can't be advertised as fun or exciting for the driver. It can be depicted as stylish, roomy, economical, clever, luxurious, award-winning, trendy (although people who proclaim themselves to be cool never are - it's a rule) or capable of invisibly slapping onlookers in the face, but not as something you will enjoy driving. When the car you're advertising prides itself on that, what can you do? Drive it at 30mph along Calfornia's Highway 1 in a big daft cliché? Rapidly cut between shots of design details and a smiling model while blasting catchy pop songs? Yes, but those aren't good adverts. This was, and now it's banned in the UK. I guess we are not so far away from the dreary nightmare initially depicted after all...

Thursday, 8 November 2012

The Mazda RX-7 Will OFFICIALLY Return In 5 Years!

2002 Mazda RX-7
It's a good time to be longing for automotive comebacks. First the AE86 gets a spiritual successor, then the Honda NSX is announced to return (as a hybrid...), then Alfa Romeo Duetto/Spider is confirmed to return with a Mazda MX-5 chassis and Italian styling and power, and then the Alpine brand is confirmed to be revived by Renaultsport and Caterham in the form of a small lightweight MR sports car within the next three or four years. And now we have it from Mazda's sports car chief that the gorgeous rotary-powered RX-7 of the '80s and '90s will be back with us - and still sporting a peculiar Wankel engine - in 2017. Hallelujah!

But wait, wasn't there an RX-8? Shouldn't this be the RX-9? Well you'd think so, but Mazda probably want to use the name people remember fondly to draw a few more people in. What's more, the RX-8, while a very interesting car, wasn't the best-loved RX model ever, with its lack of turbo and extra weight from the addition of rear seats (and consequently those suicide doors) making it slower than the car it replaced. They can also chew through engines like nobody's business, an unfortunate potential drawback of rotary power. So RX-7 it is, then, to reassure you it's not an evolution of a flawed car. Well hey, if Porsche can replace the 997 with the 991, why can't Mazda go back a number?

People remember the RX-7 fondly because its light weight and unique high-revving engine made it an exciting sports car, and in the 1992-2002 FD generation it was one truly beautiful machine... right up until it's modified mercilessly by Vin Diesel or a drifting enthusiast. An earlier generation also entered Group B rallying in the '80s, and sounded like a swarm of hell's own bees. Finally, the car gained widespread popularity along with all the other Japanese sports cars when Gran Turismo swept the gaming world in the late '90s and the '00s. Some will love it purely for the oddball rotary engine, while others just want more affordable sports cars in the world (not that the RX-7 was the cheapest Japanese sports car around).

But what can we expect if they were willing to replace the 2002 FD RX-7 with a four-seater? Well, not a four-seater. This is a 7, not an 8, so it must be a light, two-door, two-seat sports coupé. We can however expect it to use Mazda's 16X engine, which I've rambled about before (fifth paragraph). It's basically an attempt to fix the flaws of the long-serving 13B rotary engine - low torque, unreliability and such like - as well as adding direct injection and a special catalyst that will mean it passes the strict Euro VI emissions rules that will come into effect in 2017, the year this car will appear. However, while the cons will be lessened, the pros will remain; this small, light, high-revving naturally-aspirated 1.6-litre engine will make a good 300 horsepower, which in a car set to weigh around 1250kg (the same as a Toyobaru GTBRZ86 and lighter than the last RX-7) should be plenty to be getting on with. Mazda sports division chief Nobuhiro Yamamoto says that a turbo version may come along later if necessary, although sharp throttle response and linear delivery are the aims for this engine, two things a non-turbo engine is best at. The weight figure will be obtained by extensive use of aluminium (sitting atop a stretched and modified next-gen MX-5 platform) and the joyous lack of a hybrid system or KERS, because Mazda sports cars are about purity. We can also expect a manual gearbox for that reason, I say, although a paddle-shift option wouldn't be surprising.

While it may weigh the same and could be roughly the same size as the Subarota FRBRZ-S86, it won't cost the same. The RX-7 was meant as a competitor to Porsche - and not just because they had originally copied the 944 for the styling - with the price reflecting that aim. While this "FG" RX-7 won't be chasing the 911, it's more likely to rival the Nissan Z, BMW Z4 and other such cars in the £30-35,000 range. Any more and badge snobbery would deny them success, I reckon, although it is meant as a premium product.

Mazda, you have five years to get this right... and I have five years to start saving up for one.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Renaultsport + Caterham = Alpine Awesomeness

From top-left to bottom-right: Alpine's Dieppe factory, Caterham's previous joint venture, a LOUD concept and all these things together.

If you haven't been brushing up on your '70s motorsport history and/or obscure French brands, and haven't played Gran Turismo 4 or 5, you can be forgiven for not knowing about Alpine. Despite being around from 1955 to 1995, they didn't really make a global impact on sports car building. Founder John Rédélé started out in the early '50s by using Renault 4CVs in road races and rallies like the famous Mille Miglia and Coupes Des Alpes (Alpine Rally), getting class wins in those and many other events besides. He went on to make special versions with performance upgrades like a 5-speed manual transmission to replace the 3-speed auto, and custom aluminium bodywork to save weight for his trips to Sebring and Le Mans (which, along with rallying, was something his car company would go on to have success in, but that's not our focus here). This lead to the Michelotti-styled Alpine A106 in 1955, which was moderately successful and spawned a convertible version later on. This evolved into the sleeker A108 in 1959, which I would find more information about if it wasn't superseded by the A110 in 1961, which is the Alpine sports car you need to know about. Largely because Caterham and Renaultsport are bringing it back (sort of) with an A110-50 Concept-based mid-engined sports car.