Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Lamborghini Restores the World’s Wildest Miura


By: Sebastien Bell
The Lamborghini Miura is one of the most beautiful designs ever committed to steel, but its beauty and rarity mean that once you’ve seen one, you’ve pretty much seen them all. Well, not quite all.
The Miura SVR started life as Miura body number 383. Born a Miura S, it was delivered to a dealer in Turin in 1968 after being the display car from the 50th Turin Motor Show.
It changed hands a few times, before coming into the ownership of Heinz Straber. The German immediately took it back to the factory and asked them to make it truly special.
Inspired by the Jota, a special race car developed by Lamborghini test driver Bob Wallace, the SVR you see here took 18 months of work to complete.
Straber then sold it to Hiromitsu Ito, who took the car back to Japan, where its legend was cast then diecast. The car was eventually featured in “The Circuit Wolf” manga and famed toymaker Kyosho later made a scale model of it.
Beloved by readers of the manga and longed for by model collectors, the unique legend of the Miura SVR precedes it. Now, the car is now finally back in Concours condition.
“The full restoration took 19 months and required a different approach to the way we normally work,” said Paolo Gabrielli, Director of Lamborghini Polo Storico, which completed the restoration. “The original production sheet wasn’t of much help, as we relied mostly on the specifications from the 1974 modifications. The challenge for the Polo Storico team was even more daunting as the car arrived in Sant’Agata in pieces, although the parts were all there, and with considerable modifications. The only variations on the original specifications were the addition of 4-point safety belts, more supportive seats and a removable roll bar. These were expressly requested by the customer and are intended to improve safety during the car’s racetrack exhibitions.”
The Miura SVR is now back in Japan. Its first stop? Nakayama Circuit. Even after all these years, it’s still a circuit wolf.


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Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Singer DLS May be the Most Desirable Porsche 911 Ever


By: Sam McEachern
The Singer DLS, which stands for Dynamics and Lightweighting Study, has finally made its official debut today.  
Singer reimagined the air-cooled 964 Porsche 911 in a way no one has before with the DLS. The California-based company hired on Williams Advanced Engineering, an offshoot of the Williams Formula 1 team, to help develop the 4.0-liter flat-six engine – which is making an incredible 500 hp. The engine uses four-valves per cylinder and also features a myriad of magnesium components to help keep the weight down, along with a carbon intake plenum. Williams also helped out with various tuning for the car and developed Singer an F1-inspired throttle map. The 911 DLS sends power to the rear wheels through a Hewland six-speed manual gearbox.
As for the exterior, it features an aero kit designed using CFD that actually works to keep the DLS planted through the corners. A front splitter and two front air vents help to reduce front-end lift, while a vent worked into the rear window directs airflow to the large rear ducktail spoiler. There are also intakes in the rear side windows that help direct cold air into the engine bay and improve cooling. The 18-inch BBS ‘Fuchs’ wheels are shod in Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires and hide a set of large carbon ceramic brakes from Brembo.
The interior gorgeously blends old-school style and modern-day materials with an exposed gearshift linkage, a retro-look Momo steering wheel, drilled carbon and titanium pedals,  carbon fiber rear chassis bracing and a carbon fiber instrument panel. There are also beautifully made carbon fiber seats from Recaro. We’ve never seen a cabin that is so achingly cool, and we probably never will again.
The Singer DLS will be making runs up the hillclimb course at the Goodwood Festival of Speed this weekend in West Sussex, England. If you can’t catch up with it there, it will also be present at Monterey Car Week in California, which begins on August 23rd.


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Monday, July 16, 2018

Volkswagen Isn't Volkswagen

By: Jason Torchinsky

One of the concepts carmaker PR and marketing people have come to really latch onto in recent years is the idea of a carmaker’s “DNA.” By DNA, they mean a fundamental set of ideas, technical concepts, and design that have come to define a given manufacturer. It’s not a bad way to think about things, but it can lead you to some strange conclusions. Like this: there is no Volkswagen. Well, not DNA-wise. The company we call Volkswagen today is really made from Auto-Union DNA. I’ll explain.
Not all carmakers have especially clear roots, but some certainly do, and Volkswagen was one of them. Carmaker DNA can evolve and change, just as biology likes to do so much. A company may start making cars with a certain technical concept, then gradually evolve and change the concept, possibly ending up with something radically different.
Take Renault, for example. Right after WWII they were making cramped, curvy, little 4CVs with a water-cooled inline-four at the rear. They later developed this car into the Dauphine, which had basically the same engine in the same place, but a much more modern body style. Then came the Renault 4, which moved that same engine up front, driving the front wheels, and surrounded it with a spacious, boxy wagon-like body.
The differences between that 4CV and the Renault 4 are pretty dramatic: opposite layout, radically different look and design, but there’s still a clear, unbroken path of development of that Renault DNA. The changes and evolutions came from within, and often repurposed the same crucial parts in new ways.
Other carmakers have specific cars that have clearly and dramatically evolved technically, but still retain the fundamental DNA. Our Jeep-obsessive David Tracy was explaining how radically different the latest Jeep Wrangler is from the original Willys Jeep, being well over twice as big and sharing zero parts, but I maintain the fundamental Jeep DNA is retained.
The basic technical layout and design of the car are the same, the role of the car is largely the same, the overall look and design has been deliberately maintained—yes, it’s completely modernized, but it’s a modernized version of the same fundamental idea.
Now, with Volkswagen, things are quite different. For decades, the company’s DNA didn’t make radical evolutions at all. When the time finally came for a change, internal plans for new developments were passed over in favor of a wholesale injection of all-new DNA from an outside source: Auto-Union.
If we want to get all biological about this, the water-cooled, front-engine, front-wheel-drive Auto-Union designs and DNA were like an invasive species that came into Volkswagen and gradually—but fairly rapidly—took over the overall organism.
In more detail, it went like this: Volkswagen had relied on their basic DNA of rear-mounted, air-cooled horizontally opposed engines since the original KdF Wagen/Beetle from 1938. They developed this into commercial vehicles (Type II), sporty cars (Karmann Ghia), family cars (Type 3 and Type 4) and even niche cars like the VW Thing or the Fridolin.
Sure, developments happened like fuel injection and unibody construction on the Type 4, but fundamentally, it was the same 1938 tech. When they realized—almost too late—that the time had come for a radically more modern design, they put aside the in-house developments of their DNA, the EA266 project, in favor of technology from an outside company, Auto-Union, which Volkswagen had purchased in 1964.
Volkswagen also purchased NSU in 1969, and while their fundamental technology was close to what Auto-Union used (water-cooled, front engine/front drive) the real seed for modern VW came more from the Auto-Union side.
Auto-Union’s DNA is interesting as well, since Auto-Union was really four companies: Wanderer, Horch, DKW, and Audi. Of all of these DKW was the biggest seller, making mass-market front-wheel-drive cars using compact two-stroke engines. Wanderer and Horch were premium brands (VW actually didn’t get the rights to Horch, which is surprisingly still owned by Daimler-Benz) and Audi was sort of a dead marque.
The Auto-Union DNA that VW bought really came from Mercedes-Benz through one engineer’s rather gorgeous prototype, as I’ve written about before. I don’t really consider that true Mercedes-Benz DNA, though, because cars using that DNA were never actually sold as Mercedes-Benzes.
That DNA was used in Auto-Union cars thanks to Mercedes-Benz’ purchase of Auto-Union in 1958. They wanted to move DKW from two strokes to four, and they had the engine design to do so. This became a new DKW, which got a name change to Audi to distance itself from DKW’s smoky two-stroke past. When VW bought Auto-Union in 1964, that Audi eventually developed further and became the basis for the first Passat.
So there you have the DNA for Volkswagen as we know it today tracing its roots back not to some ancestral VW, but to an Auto-Union developed from a Mercedes prototype.
Sure, VW still built their traditional air-cooled, rear-engined designs (and sometimes Franknsteins with air-cooled front engines) for quite a while (remember, Beetles lasted until 2003 in Mexico) but, really, the development thread of that true Volkswagen DNA was dead.
VW DNA did sort of manage to keep alive by spawning the one true Volkswagen DNA offshoot, Porsche, which keeps the remnants of original VW DNA alive to this day, significantly evolved, of course, with its rear- and mid-mounted, boxer-engined cars, the 911, Boxster, and Cayman.
Those cars are more Volkswagen than modern Volkswagen is.
If we’re really going to use DNA as a guide, then that new Jetta you saw on the road is really better thought of as an Auto-Union Jetta. Is life more exciting if you think of every Golf you pass as the latest DKW?
Really, if VW was all about the open disclosure of their DNA, the Volkswagen nameplate would be gone, and Audi would be the primary brand, possibly with DKW as a sub-brand. Modern Audis do have a pretty clear DNA history back into their Auto-Union/DKW roots, after all.
Volkswagen isn’t the only company like this, of course. And, once you start really digging, the whole automotive landscape gets a lot richer and more interesting. Subaru, for example, is said to have studied the Lloyd Arabella flat-four engine extensively when developing their own flat-four.
Those flat-four engines are still the core of Subaru’s DNA today—does that mean a little bit of Lloyd lives on deep inside the crankcase of every Outback?
I’d like to think so.


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