In 1913 manufacture of airplane engines under the name of Rapp Motoren Werke was started.

Bayerische MotorenWerke came into being in 1916 through a merger between Rapp Motorenwerke and Gustav Otto Flugmaschinenfabrik. They began to produce aircraft engines and then moved on to motorcycle engines but didn’t go into car production until 1928.

When they took over a small company called Dixi, BMW inherited the licence to manufacture Austin Sevens. BMW continued with the work that Dixi had been doing in producing these British designed cars known as the 3/15 CV. In 1929 a sports version won the team prize in the Alpine Cup and then went on to win the class prize in the 1930 Monte Carlo Rally.

In 1933 a chap called Frits Fiedler was made chief engineer and was responsible for their six cylinder engine which was fitted to the 303(1173cc, 30hp) in that year. This was the beginning of a long run of performance cars including the 328 of 1937 which came to win the Mille Miglia with an average speed of over 103mph, it was driven by Von Hanstein. The last car to be produced before the Second World War was the 335 which had a 3485cc engine.

After the hostilities had ended production resumed in 1952 with the 501, later models included the 502 and 507 but production was low and during the fifties recovery from the ravages of war was slow. In 1959 BMW had bankruptcy looming over them and had to come up with a car that could be sold in quantity to bring in some needed revenue. Again going back to building a car under licence they chose the Italian Isetta. A small runabout it ws produced from 1955 to 1962 and had some success helping the company to stay in business over this period. During this same period in 1959 BMW started production of another little car called the 700 with just 2 cylinders and a Michelotti designed body it was a great success and over 180,000 where built until 1965. The biggest impact for BMW came when they brought out the 1500 in 1962, the range consisted of 4 door (1800 – 2000) and 2 door (1602 – 2002) saloons.

During the period 1968 to 1977 BMW produced a run of 2500 and 3300cc saloons culminating in the famous CS coupes.

Over the 1970s BMW went through a period of updating there range and also rationalizing their production into 3 basic lines.

In 1972 the Series 5 was launched including 4 and 6 cylinder saloon models with 1800-3500 and also the Series 7 which where 6 cylinder engines only and where more prestigious and well equipped models. The later Series 6 coupes where to be developed from the Series 7. In 1975 the Series 3 was launched including 4 and 6 cylinder saloon models with 1800-2300.

BMW have moved on with their basic 3 models to become one of the most prestigious car manufacturers today, they have gone through many changes as a company havng at times owned Rover before selling it to a company formed by the Rover management team, and Land Rover before selling to Ford but not before getting some ideas for the BMW X5 off roader.

The factory car stereos in BMWs have steadily improved over the years and they now offer high fidelity audio systems. Some people prefer to use marine stereo systems in their convertible models just in case they get caught in a sudden rain storm or other inclement weather. The quality of boat marine speakers has improved dramatically as well, making them an excellent choice when one is worried about potential water intrusion.

BMW have been adding to their range with special models such as the popular Z3. They have also competed favourably in all major motorsport arenas including Formula 1. Their expertise and knowledge has been brought to the public road in their M (Motorsport) series of vehicles denoted by the famous ‘M’ badge on their most special road cars like the M3 and the M5. These cars are usually tested against some of the best sports cars in the world including Porsche.

They have also contributed in no small way to one of the fastest road cars ever built, the McLaren F1 has a BMW 6.1 litre V12 engine to drive this formidable car onto 235mph.

BMW have also brought back the Mini and Mini Cooper S with great succes and own the Rolls Royce name and on 1st January 2003 delivered the new Rolls Royce from their new factory in Goodwood, this is the first all new Rolls Royce for some considerable time.


Born in Richmond, Surrey in 1928, Colin Chapman was the talented engineer who founded the Lotus marque. In 1945, the 17year old Chapman entered University College, London to study engineering.

Around the same time he and fellow student Colin Dare started a part-time car sales business. Demand was high soon after the Second World War and the business flourished – at least until late in 1947 when petrol rationing ceased. Chapman and Dare were left with a pile of stock which had to be disposed, mostly for less than cost.

However, one car remained, a 1930 Austin Seven registered PK 3493. With no demand for such a car Chapman decided to turn the car into a “special” by removing the fabric bodywork and completely dismantling it. This was a common practice amongst young car enthusiasts around this time, the body work of such cars often having all but disintegrated, whilst the mechanical components remained serviceable.

Chapman then stiffened the “A-frame” chassis by reinforcing the channel section. Although this hinted at Chapman’s future design ethic, it was his treatment of the bodywork that perhaps showed a sign of things to come. This was a door-less construction using alloy-bonded plywood mounted on a stressed framework with triple bulkheads to reinforce the car’s frame. The
design owed much to aviation construction principles.

By 1948, the car was complete. Not only did it bear the registration OX 9292 but also the name Lotus, Chapman’s nickname for his girlfriend (later to become his wife) “my little Lotus Blossom”.

Also in keeping with the time, Chapman entered the car into competition trial events, in between which the car was continually modified.

Time for the second Lotus, which Chapman also based on an Austin Seven and completed in 1949. By 1951 however, Chapman’s attention was drawn to the 750cc Formula racing and he decided he could produce a track car. Both Lotus Mark 1 and 2 were sold and Chapman started from scratch with another Austin Seven.

It was at this point that Chapman began a fruitful association with Michael and Nigel Allen, two brothers who were 750cc fans. Thus construction of two Lotus Mark Three’s began in the brothers well-equipped workshop. The new lightweight design sported an aluminium body and also a protective under shield. The engine’s inlet manifolding and ports were divided to improve aspiration.

The new car’s first event was at the Castle Combe circuit in May 1951, Chapman taking first place and lapping everyone bar the second placed car. By the end of the season Chapman had a series of successes under his belt in what was then the most competitive 750cc racing car in the country.

Naturally, fellow competitors wanted copies of this incredible car and Chapman realised the potential for manufacture. In partnership with Michael and Nigel Allen the business became the Lotus Engineering Company on 1 January 1952 and construction of the Lotus Mark Four began.


Ford is one of the oldest vehicle manufacturers on the planet, along with Mercedes Benz.

Founded by Henry Ford on June 16, 1903, when he and 11 business associates signed the companies article of incorporation, starting with just $28,000 in cash. Henry Ford’s philosophy was that the future of the car market lay in the production of affordable vehicles for the mass market and this led to the production of the Model T. This model ran from 1908 to 1927.

Henry Ford is probably best known for pioneering the moving production line, or moving assembly line. Vehicles moved along a conveyor, travelling through the factory and workers stood at the side of this line and fitted the same parts to vehicles as they passed by, repeating the same task on multiple vehicles. This kept costs down as unskilled labour could be used to fit parts. Training in one aspect of production line was required.

Ford Motor Company is now a globally recognised brand and has acquired many other manufactures oveover the years, such as Lincoln, Mercury, Mazda, Jaguar, Land Rover, Aston Martin, and Volvo.


Founded in Blackpool, England in 1922 by two motorcycle enthusiasts named William Lyons and William Walmsley, originally named the Swallow Sidecar Company, to produce motorcycle sidecars. However in 1926 the company began building the Austin Seven, a small car. The name of the company then changed to the Sparrow Sidecar and Coach building Company, and began making custom car bodies for Morris, Fiat, Wolseley and Standard.

Manufactured in 1931 the company’s first car the SS1 was based on a Standard six cylinder engine and a modified Standard chassis. They also produced a SS2 model which had a smaller four cylinder engine.

The company was changed to SS Cars Ltd in 1933 and Lyons became the Managing Director, with Lyons buying his partner Walmsley out in 1936.

During the war the Swallow Sidecar plant was turned over to the war effort and after the war the companies name was changed to Jaguar Cars Ltd and production was resumed.

Jaguar XJ40In 1946 the company developed the XK120 which was fitted with a six cylinder 3442 cc OHC engine. This was followed by the XK120 Roadster, which had an alleged top speed of 120mph, superb road holding, styling and a smooth ride. In 1951 the XK120 Fixed head Coupe was introduced, with a better trimmed interior and wind-up windows.

Jaguar introduced the XK140 in 1954, and the MK1 in 1955 with the MKII released in 1959 with a larger glass area and a new dash.

1961 saw the launch of the Jaguar E-Type, probably the best know of all Jaguars with over 74,000 cars being sold between 1961 and 1975. The E-type is still held up as an icon of the 60’s and even now the car is still sought after by enthusiasts and collectors.

During the late 1960’s, early 1970’s – Jaguar merged with the British Motor Corporation Ltd which then merged with Leyland to form British Leyland and around this time Jaguar released the XJ-S.

The 1990’s brought back an air of prosperity back to Jaguar with releases of models such as the XJ220, which boasted a top speed of 220mph and a 0-60 time of between 3.6 to 3.9 seconds from a V6 twin turbo charged 3.5 litre engine producing 542bhp @ 7000rpm.

– 0 to 60: 11 seconds
– Top speed: 110 mph
– BHP: 125 bhp
– Engine: 3498 cc
Performance 0 to 60: 10 seconds
– Top speed: 122 mph
– BHP: 160 bhp – 180bhp for SE – 210bhp for M
– Engine: 3442 cc straight 6
– Weight: 2800lbs / 1270kgs
– 0 to 60: 17.5 seconds
– Top speed: 120 mph
– BHP: 190 bhp
– Engine: 3442 cc straight 6
– Weight: 2750lbs / 1247kgs
– 0 to 60: 7 seconds
– Top speed: 150 mph
– BHP: 265 bhp
– Engine: 3800 cc
– Weight: 2721lbs / 1234kgs
– 0 to 60: 3.8 seconds
– Top speed: 220 mph
– BHP: 549 bhp
– Engine: 3498 cc V6 Twin Turbo
– Weight: 3025lbs / 1372kgs

Aston Martin

Founded in 1913 by Lionel Martin and Robert Bamford with their first Aston Martin car registered in 1915. During the early 1920 the Bamford & Martin cars competed in the French Grand Prix and broke world speed and endurance records at Brook lands. The company went bankrupt in 1924 and was bought a Lady Charnwood, however the company failed again in 1925 and by 1926 Lionel Martin had left and the factory was closed. In 1926 a number of investors took control of the Bamford & Martin company and renamed it to Aston Martin Motors Limited with premises in Feltham. Financial problems where to re-appear in 1932 with the company being rescued by L. Prideaux Brune, this followed with the company passing to Sir Arthur Sutherland in 1933 with production now being focused on road cars.

During the war years the Aston Martin plant was turned over to production of aircraft components. In 1947, David Brown Limited bought the company run by Sir David Brown, the same year the David Brown Company also acquired Lagonda which enabled the Aston Martin and Lagonda company to share resources. In 1955 the company also acquired the coach building company of Tickford of Newport Pagnell, to where production is moved. The DB series of cars begins production in 1952 with the DB2/4 going into production in 1953. The DB3 goes into production in 1957 and the Italian styled DB4 in 1958. Later models where the DB5 (1963), DB6 (1965-70) the DBS and DBS V8, renamed the Vantage (1967-72).

Aston Martins financial history has been somewhat chequered in the past with numerous owners until the Ford Motor Company took overall control in 1993. Ford invested substantially in Aston Martin opening a new factory in Bloxham. Production rose dramatically during the period 1995 – 2002 with the DB7 and V12 Vantage range. 2003 saw the introduction of the DB9 and a year later the DB9 Volante. 2003 also saw the return of Aston Martin to motor racing with a new division to the company called Aston Martin Racing, who with Prodrive produced the DBR9. Winning its class in the Sebring 12 hour race and a fourth overall.

– 0 to 60: 12.4 seconds
– Top speed: 117 mph
– BHP: 107bhp / 125 lb ft
– Engine: 2580 cc Six Cylinder
– Weight: 2500lbs / 1134kgs
0 to 60: 6 seconds
Top speed: 158 mph
BHP: 180bhp / 140 lb ft
Engine: 2901 cc Six Cylinder
Weight: 2050lbs / 929kgs
0 to 60: 7.5 seconds
Top speed: 140 mph
BHP: 263bhp / 245 lb ft
Engine: 3671 cc Six Cylinder
Weight: 2884lbs / 1308kgs
0 to 60: 8.6 seconds
Top speed: 135 mph
BHP: 282bhp / 280 lb ft
Engine: 3995 cc Six Cylinder
Weight: 3450lbs / 1564kgs
– 0 to 60: 8.4 seconds
– Top speed: 150 mph
– BHP: 325bhp / 295 lb ft
– Engine: 3995 cc Six Cylinder
– Weight: 3417lbs / 1550kgs
DB6 Vantage
– 0 to 60: 6.5 seconds
– Top speed: 148 mph
– BHP: 325bhp / 290 lb ft
– Engine: 3995 cc Six Cylinder
– Weight: 3417lbs / 1550kgs
– 0 to 60: 6.2 seconds
– Top speed: 165 mph
– BHP: 335bhp / 361 lb ft
– Engine: 3239 cc Six Cylinder
– Weight: 3630lbs / 1646kgs
DB7 Vantage (2003)
– 0 to 60: 5.0 seconds
– Top speed: 165 mph
– BHP: 420bhp / 400 lb ft
– Engine: 5935 cc twelve Cylinder
– Weight: 3914lbs / 1775kgs
– 0 to 60: 4.7 seconds
– Top speed: 186 mph
– BHP: 450bhp / 420 lb ft
– Engine: 5935 cc Twelve Cylinder
– Weight: 3700lbs / 1710kgs


Founded by Tractor manufacturer Ferruccio Lamborghini in 1963. Lamborghini was a wealthy man and when the Ferrari he owned began to give him problems and his local repair shop could not solve these problems, he took the car directly to Ferrari. Enzo Ferrari, who was a man known for his arrogance told Lamborghini the problem was not with the car but rather with the ‘Farmer’ behind the wheel and that he should go and drive tractors because he could not drive cars. Lamborghini who was an enthusiastic owner of sport cars and had already built several kit cars and was also one of the wealthiest men in Italy, decided he would build his own cars.

The first car was the Lamborghini 350GT, which had a 3.5 litre V12 engine closely followed by the 400GT which was a 2+2 seated sports car, with an enlarged 3929cc version of the 3.5 litre engine found in the 350GT. Producing 320bhp.

The car which most people think of as the first Lamborghini is the Miura , which used a 3.9 litre V12 producing 350bhp. It had a 0-60 time of 5.5 seconds and a top speed of 179mph which was always hairy to try as the fuel tank was at the front and as it emptied the front end would lift at speeds of over 150mph.

The next Lamborghini that most people remember is the Countach, maybe because posters of the Countach adorned many a bedroom wall in the mid 70’s to early 80’s. Its fair to say the Countach looked like nothing before it. Originally fitted with a 4 litre engine, producing 385bhp with later models having a 5.2 litre engine with 455bhp. The later model could get from 0-60 in 4.9seconds and sprint to 182mph.

Although the Countach was stunning to look at and had superb performance it was noted as being difficult to drive due to heavy steering, heavy gear changes and heavy clutch movement, as well as having virtually zero rearward visibility making parking very difficult.

The next vehicle to emerge from Lamborghini, which blew the world away was the Diablo, the replacement for the Countach. Introduced in 1990 with a 5.7 litre, 48 valve, V12 engine producing 492 bhp with 580 Nm (428 lbs.ft.) of torque at 5200 rpm. With a 0-60 time of 3.9 secs and a top speed of 202mph in earlier models, rising to 208mph in later vehicles. By the end of the Diablo in 2001 the engine size had risen to 6 litres, with 550 bhp and also gained a 4WD system.

Perhaps the most memorable thing most people will remember about the Countach and the Diablo is the way the doors opened which was upwards and forwards.

Most recently Lamborghini has been purchased by Audi, with the Murcielago and Gallardo models having been released, these cars are capable of 0-60 in 3.8 seconds and 4.2 seconds respectively. The Gallardo will crack 190mph and the Murcielago will top over 200mph.
Lamborghini Diablo, Lamborghini Mercialargo.

Porsche 968

The Porsche 968 is essentially the successor to the Porsche 944. It has the classic GT front engined, rear wheel drive layout with the added advantage of a rear transaxle giving almost perfect weight distribution. The low nose line and wide wheel arches help to accentuate the beautiful lines of this classic shape, a reel head turner especially in Porsche Guards Red livery or Speed Yellow.

The hidden headlights of the 944 have gone and been replaced with visible pop up headlights similar to the Porsche 928, helping to bring the look of the car in line with the look of the 928 and the 911 (964) at that time. The practical advantage is that the headlights get washed along with the rest of the car instead of having to pop them up to wash them.

The interior remains as produced in the 944 with the famous ‘oval dash’. The same robust materials have been used which have given all Porsche owners many years of trouble free motoring.

Porsche 968
The door mirrors have been streamlined with the tear drop effect and the wheels are 5 spoke Cup design alloys as with the 911(964) and 928 GTS. As with the Porsche 928 there is a ‘bee sting’ aerial mounted on the roof. The rear bumper is now almost indistinguishable from the bodywork, being more blended and with integral rear light clusters, at the rear we also find the spoiler is the bridge type..

Because of the engine heritage and these bodywork changes some people have referred to it as the daughter of the 928.

The engine is a very sophisticated version of the 4 cylinder, 3 litre, 16 valve unit first used on the Porsche 944 S2. All alloy with Vario Cam for optimum power throughout the speed range. Improved combustion chamber and inlet manifold design, give the engine 240 HP at 6200 rpm and torque of 305Nm at 4100rpm (58Kw/Litre). At the time of production the engine had the highest displacement per cylinder of any car engine and also the highest torque output of any unblown 3 litre engine. Clearly Porsche had invested massive development on this engine with the required result. As with previous engines twin balancer shafts keep vibration and noise down to more than acceptable levels.

The rear mounted gearbox is a 6 speed manual or a 4 speed tiptronic, the first ever on a production car. The tiptronic utilises the research and development done jointly by Porsche and Bosche to manufacture a unit that combines the best qualities of a manual gearbox for the open road with the best qualities of an automatic gearbox for town driving.

Porsche 968
The chassis is a delight with it’s near perfect weight distribution and very stiff characteristics helped by the torque tube connecting the engine to the gearbox also some 911 components have been used in it’s production.
All round independent suspension, McPherson struts up front with semi trailing aluminium arms at the rear.

Porsche brakes have always been the envy of most road sports car manufacturers, as this is usually where most road sports cars start to fail, no matter how fast they are in a straight line if you can’t take a bend at the right safe speed then you can’t use the cars speed. The Porsche 968 has carried forward this important philosophy with little or no discernable fatigue even under harsh use. Self ventillating discs, open ventillation alloy wheels and a study of the air flow around the discs contribute to more than adequate cooling and so minimal fatigue and break fade. ABS adds even more safety to the already excellent braking system. The wheels themselves are designed to prevent the tyre coming off the rim in the event of a sudden pressure loss at speed.

Double galvanised bodywork, a 10 year anti corrosion warranty and 3 year paintwork warranty ensure the high bodywork standards associated with Porsche cars.

AC Cobra

The Autocar & Accessories Car company was started by John Weller in 1901 with financial backing from John Portwine a wealth South London tradesman. In 1904, the first vehicle they produced was a 5.6hp air cooled single cylinder tricycle delivery vehicle known as the Autocarrier. A passenger carrying version was made in 1907 which was called the Sociable with production running until 1915. The name AC was used for the first time and the company became known as Autocarriers Limited.

By 1928 there where seven models on offer from a two seater coupe to a coachbuilt saloon, but by 1929 the company had gone into voluntary liquidation due to worldwide recession.

The right to use the AC Car Company name was purchased in 1930 by brothers William & Charles Hurlock, producing hand-built cars. During the 1930’s AC cars had good results in the RAC and Monte-carlo rallies as well as an outright win in the 1933 RAC rally, driven by Miss Kitty Brunel.

By 1953 the AC Ace, an open top two-seater sports car had gained notoriety as a tough car which could be used on a daily basis and then raced or rallied at weekends.

In 1961 talks where undertaken with Texas racing driver, Carroll Shelby ( with backing from Ford, proposing installation of Ford V8 engines in to the light weight chassis of the AC Ace which resulted in the AC Cobra. Some say the resulting Cobra is the reason the Uk has a 70mph speed limit as in 1963 a coupe version of the car was recorded at 185mph on the M1. The following year a 70mph limit was introduced on all British Motorways. The guiness book of records also listed the Cobra as the fastest production car in the world. In June 1963 the Cobra was entered in Le Mans 24 hours race and finishing 7th Overall behind 6 Ferraris. Never the less in 1964 the Cobra is Fourth overall and first in the GT Class, defeating Ferrari.

During the 1970s to early 1980s AC developed the AC ME3000 a mid engined V6 3 litre car.

AC Cars was sold by the Hurlock family in 1986 to the Ford Motor Company.

AC is noted as the oldest car manufacturer in the UK.

The Cobra
0 to 60: 5.5 seconds
Top speed: 135mph
BHP: 225bhp / 300 lb ft
Engine: Ford v8 4942 cc