After years of setbacks, misfortune and defeat at the hands of Porsche, it’s good to see Toyota achieve their second straight year of success at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Although the victory might be slightly hollow as Toyota are the only manufacturer team competing in the fastest LMP1 class, this is a significant achievement in what is, in the opinion of yours truly, the greatest motor race in the world. A huge achievement for the drivers, Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Fernando Alonso as well. It’s no mean feat for a team of three drivers to constantly drive a car at extreme speeds for 24 hours straight.
Doug Demuro has an excellent review of the legendary Porsche 959. With electronically controlled adaptive suspension, all-wheel-drive, torque vectoring, ABS, sequential turbochargers and a part Kevlar body, the 959, released in 1986, truly was 15 years ahead of its time. With a 0-100km/h acceleration of 3.7 seconds and a top speed of 317 km/h, the 959 remains fast even by today’s standards.
There are some really interesting vehicles going up for auction next Monday at Shannons. Here are my picks:
1963 Fiat 2300 Ghia Coupé: I especially like the wraparound design of the rear windscreen, with the curved glass C-pillars and a bone line that extends from the side around the tail creating a unique, elegant look for a vehicle of this vintage.
1953 Porsche 356 ‘Pre A’ Coupé: The 356 was the first mass produced Porsche, and the ‘Pre-A’ models were the first of the first of these. The fact that this car was the progenitor for a legendary brand is enough for it to make the list.
1971 Ford Falcon XY GT-HO Phase III Sedan: An Australian legend, the acronym ‘GT-HO’ stood for ‘Grand Touring-High Output’, and true to its word, this car held the record for the fastest four-door sedan in the world. Its reputation was confirmed by winning the 500 mile Bathurst endurance race in 1971.
Just revealed, here are my initial thoughts on the new Bentley Continental GT:
- The blue paint in the press photos is sensational.
- The exterior design, whilst being an evolution of its predecessor, is clearly much better resolved. The front grille and bonnet are now flush and integrated with the rest of the front bodywork, creating a much more refined appearance than the slightly lumpy previous Continental GT.
- The same can be said of the rear styling. The crisp tail, uncorrupted by spoilers, combines very well with the ovoid tail lamps and exhaust pipes to develop a wide and low appearance. This is a welcome improvement from the ungainly rear of the previous Continental GT.
- I'm very intrigued by the 'Super Formed' process that is used to make the side body. Whilst the exact method is unclear, it has clearly resulted in sharper, more muscular haunches that serve to add further width and definition to the tail.
- With regard to interior architecture, the separated, dual-cockpit design with vertical centre console has been swapped out for a wraparound dashboard with a much stronger focus on the horizontal plane. This is clearly a positive change as it develops a roomier, more airy and open feel to the interior.
- The interior also appears to be a successful melding of VW Group infotainment with Bentley's traditional craftsmanship. This is probably best exemplified in the three sided 'Bentley Rotating Display', which replaces the 12.3 inch infotainment display from the Porsche Panamera with Bentley's own analogue instruments when not in use.
- The new dual-veneer wood, and option of diamond knurling, are both exquisite, and create further opportunity for personalisation as expected at this end of the market. This level of craftsmanship, combined with VW Group technology, is a step up from other GT competitors such as the Aston Martin DB11.
- Being based on the new MSB platform jointly developed with Porsche and also used in the new Panamera, this Continental should be a much sportier drive than its VW Phaeton based predecessor.
Overall, the new Continental GT is a very impressive vehicle at first glance, with stunning interior and exterior styling. Perhaps more than any other GT, it demonstrates how advanced technology from one of the world's largest automakers, together with traditional craftsmanship, is an unbeatable combination.
Excerpt from the Panamera press release:
Clockwise from top left: the 2017 and 2014 Panameras with the 2016 911 Carrera 4S, bottom, provided as a comparison.
As evident from the images above, Porsche's press release is spot on. The new Panamera gets rid of the old model's ungainly hunchback shape, with the rear LED light bar, together with the sharply creased tail and upper bumper, developing a clear link to the 911. As per Porsche's press release, the new model creates a clearly defined identity as a sports-oriented GT, improving significantly upon the elephantine, confusing oddity that was the previous model.