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When someone is asked to conjure up images of a Mercedes-Benz or even any classic car in their head, it is not difficult to suggest that the legendary 300 SL Gullwing appears. Acting as the longest running nameplate in the model range of Mercedes-Benz, and defining automotive innovation for over half a century, the SL is at first glance one of the most successful vehicles ever made. However, as the release of an all-new variant grows ever closer, I thought I would take a delve into the peculiar history of the what could be argued to be the company’s most important car ever, and how a revered nameplate vanished from relevance in the contemporary automotive landscape. 

First and foremost, a new SL is on the horizon, which often means that its a great time to look back at the heritage of the model and understand where its replacement will align. However, that’s where the trouble begins, as unlike other iconic cars of its type such as Porsche’s 911, the SL formula has not adhered to a linear evolution, but rather changed in function over time. As I’m sure I’ve muttered for the eighty billionth time, the original 300 SL W198 was derived from the W194 endurance racer and adapted to road use by the request of the official US importer of Mercedes-Benz motorcars, Maximilian Hoffman.

Hence, while the car can be regarded as a thoroughly European creation, its intended use was always for American shores. As sales of the race derived yet obviously unrefined 300 SL Coupe tailed off, the vehicle was heavily modified to create a model more suitable to the requirements of wealthy American clientele with the W198 II Roadster of 1957. The second iteration of the original SL had a more supple ride, luxurious accoutrements and was overall far easier to utilise on a day to day basis, despite DNA being very much embedded in the world of vintage sports car racing. 

This is where it gets rather intriguing as while the SL became an icon for a company aiming to rejuvenate its stodgy image in the wake of destructive global conflict, sales were always quite mediocre at 1,400 for the Coupe and a smidge over 1,800 respectively for the Roadster between 1957-1963. Thus, the SL was never destined to be a rampant sales success story, aiming squarely at the upper echelons of the market. So, why did Hoffman and Mercedes-Benz go to the trouble of turning the W194 into a production road car? Rather simply, it was with the intent to lure people into the showrooms at a time when owning a luxury car, particularly one of the European variety, was a novelty in the United States. The sporting image of the 300 SL was capitalised on further with what I consider to be the first SL in the succeeding lineage, the 190 SL. 

The 190 SL took the contemporary and curvaceous aesthetics of the 300 SL flagship and intelligently adorned it to rather more conventional engine and chassis components, supplemented by perhaps the most important feature of them all in the lucrative US market, the availability of true open top motoring. The 300 SL may have been a poster car for a generation, but the 190 SL was the true seller, reaching cumulative sales in excess of 25,000 units by the time it was replaced by the fascinating W113 230 SL Pagode. From this point, every SL produced would follow a simple recipe, to be a somewhat sporting but predominantly refined and luxurious two seater Roadster designed for the American market in mind, and one which was achieved by taking somewhat humdrum underpinnings from the company’s sprawling passenger car range, and clothing it in a svelte body and including a prolific amount of technological innovations.

Therefore, while every piece of marketing material likes to establish the connection from whatever new SL is on sale at that particular time with their original foray into sports car building in 1954, the link could certainly be said to be superfluous and unnecessary. Each generation of the more conventional SLs , so to speak, going forth proved itself to be a cultural iconic, a fashionable display of affluence and technological prowess. However, whereas cars like the 911 have merely grown more and more popular over time, the tables have been thoroughly reversed from the days not so long ago when R129 SLs flew off the showroom floors at an impressive rate, and a fledging fellow company from Stuttgart could barely muster enough sales to survive with their niche aircooled sports car.

In evaluation, I would thereby attribute the decline of the SL as a motoring icon to two pivotal factors. First and foremost, the resurgence of traditional rivals such as the Porsche 911 and similar vehicles becoming incredibly refined, reliable and easy to use which is supplemented by the industry shift away from roadster and coupes at the highest echelons of the market. Thirty years ago, it could be said that an SL was the most refined display of affluence and success, but in the modern era, an individual wishing to achieve the same inherent goal is tempted into the likes of Mercedes’ own lucrative Gelandewagen and other luxurious sports utility vehicles. 

Thus, as the world entered a new millennium, the SL had lost its panache, its relevance and enticing nature, a tale of what could perhaps be the longest running identity crisis in the automotive industry. However, a new, radical SL is in the works as we speak, aiming to eschew its antiquated image and redefine the brand’s longest running nameplate in a constantly metamorphosing automotive landscape.  


I’m very much aware there’s been quite the hiatus since I last covered some Porsches, so thought I’d rectify that with the spectacular 356. While it is often regarded as the genesis of the Porsche brand and its core model lineup, the history of the 356 is rather peculiar, shrouded in the difficulties of the immediate post war period. 

Debatably, the first car in the Porsche sports car hierarchy is the Typ 60K10, a series of three cars with aluminium bodies coachbuilt by Reutter designed to compete in the September 1939 Berlin-Rome rally and promote the KdF (Strength Through Joy) car which was the earliest iteration of the original Volkswagen Beetle. For quite obvious reasons, the race never took place and were placed into storage, one example ultimately being destroyed during WW2 itself and a second of the three cumulative examples having its roof decapitated by American troops and paraded around exuberantly until the engine inevitably died and the car was unfortunately scrapped. Pleasingly this very car has since been restored leaving two remaining examples. 

After the destructive global conflict receded, Ferry Porsche and Erwin Komenda would take the DNA of the Type 64 and adapt it into a contemporary sports car utilising a rear-mounted, horizontally-opposed aircooled four cylinder from the Volkswagen Beetle that supplemented a bespoke unitised pan and body chassis construction. From its inception until 1965, four distinct series of official 356 would be produced denoted by the nomenclature of; Pre-A, A, B and C. Initially the cars were produced in Austria in rather low volumes, with approximately fifty examples being completed in the first two years of production, but eventually this would skyrocket as the intriguing little sports cars found great worldwide commercial success, particularly in the United States through importer Maximilian Hoffman, an individual who suggested that an lower cost, open top variant would cater perfectly to his clientele. Thus, the iconic Porsche Speedster was born. Unfortunately the days of Porsche charging less for less are confined to a bygone era!


It’s almost intangible today to perceive just what a gigantic leap the R129 generation was over its immensely popular processor, the iconic R107 SL which remains to this day the highest seller in the SL lineage. By 1989, the R107 was an eighteen year old design that traced its roots to the W114 saloon of the 1960s. Thus the replacement model was long overdue, brining an array of technological innovations to the market on an almost unprecedented scale. 

Rather amusingly, the best sales year for the ancient R107 was its last, defying conventional sales patterns. Regardless, when the 129 debuted at the Geneva Motorshow in 1989, five years after most elements of its design had been completed as the company decided to focus on the launch its somewhat more mainstream models and further refine the aesthetics and technologies of their new flagship. Such innovative implementations included; electronic damping, a hidden automatically-deploying roll over bar, magnesium seat frames with integrated belt adjusters and many other accoutrements. 

At the beginning of production, one could order a 300SL, 300SL-24 or 500 SL with the 600 SL arriving in 1992. Prices were almost unfathomable by contemporary standards, with a base 500 SL setting back an affluent customer the equivalent of $150,000 in today’s money (80,000 approx.) but despite this the R129 would go on to cement itself as a staple of the Mercedes-Benz model range and sell over 200,000 units in its lifetime, quite the decrease from its predecessor, but actually far better when one considers the sales figures per annum and shorter production lifetime, being replaced by the R230 generation in 2002. 

Hence, it’s one of the most enticing modern classics available today, but despite the heavy depreciation from their one exorbitant prices, this prolific technological complication doesn’t come cheap!


This post is pertaining to one of the most peculiar and tasteful cars ever created, the Aston Martin DB5 by Radford, an intriguing shooting brake based upon what most likely is the most special car in the illustrious history of Aston Martin. 

Despite being a thoroughly coachbuilt affair, the shooting Brake variant of the DB5 was commissioned by the factory, but outsourced due to their inability to meet demand with the regular production model, a repercussion of the artisanal yet archaic methods of manufacture, that rather amusingly were retained until the demise of the Aston V8 at the turn of the millennium. 

As for the motorcar itself, modifications carried out were very extensive indeed, with virtually all the components behind the A-pillar being heavily altered or new. Each model was based upon a model that was completely manufactured by AML themselves and then later converted to Shooting Brake specification, resulting in the exorbitant sum of over £6,000 for a completed car. Hence only eight RHD cars were completed, and four LHD examples, establishing it as a highly exclusive classic and the rarest variant of the DB5 by a considerable margin. Despite this, Radford would once again produce a Shooting Brake variant of an Aston, after the debut of the revised successor, the DB6. 

Aston themselves would go on to produce some incredibly elusive examples of the V8 in shooting brake configuration many years later, which I shall perhaps share at a later date. As for Radford, the company would continue making some highly fascinating cars throughout the 1960s including tatted up minis that found homes with the Beatles and even Enzo Ferrari, modified Bentleys and the bodywork for the prototype Ford GT40 before going into liquidation. However, the company has recently been revived with the backing of Jenson Button and other prominent members of the automotive community, thus, I’m sure some rather intriguing things will be emerging over the next few years.


Until now there’s been a distinct lack of French motorcars gracing the page, hence why I thought I’d delve into a little detail about one of my favourite French marques of them all, Facel. 

First and foremost, Facel was founded as a sub-contractor for the aviation industry but also did a spot of coachbuilding for other manufacturers such as Delahaye, Panhard and even Bentley. If you head over to my stories, I’ll include some supplementary info on some of this particular cars. The Facel Vega brand itself was established in 1954 by Jean Daninos as rivals to the upper echelons of European luxury and sports cars at the time such as Mercedes-Benz, Rolls-Royce, Bentley and Aston Martin. Fellow French marques such as Bugatti had by that time all but disappeared, so in many respects, Facel’s entry into the segment was a welcome return. 

Under the “Vega” moniker, the company would produce a series of motorcars making use of Chrysler V8 powerplants supplemented by a host of innovative accoutrements including tubular chassis construction and double wishbone front suspension. 
Rather intriguingly, over three quarters of production would be designed for export markets due to high taxation for powerful vehicles in native France at the time, leading to a surprising sport of popularity in Great Britain, Switzerland and other European countries with wealthy clientele. 

Facel Vegas found a rather surprising popularity with prominent European figures in period too, with owners including; Pablo Picasso, Stirling Moss, Tony Curtis, Frank Sinatra, the President of Mexico and Dean Martin. Quite amusingly, Moss would use his personal Facel Vega HK500 on excursion between different European races as opposed to flying like most of his competitors and team mates alike. 

By the year 1960, Facel wished to enter their cars into somewhat higher volume production, which they initiated with the debut of the Facel Facellia, a more affordable and compact offering in their portfolio to compete with more established rivals in the segment such as the Mercedes-Benz 190 SL.

Unfortunately, despite the foray into volume production with the Facellia seeming promising at first glance, the company eschewed their traditional application of American engines in favour of developing their own four cylinders designed by Carlo Marchetti which proved troublesome tarnishing the reputation of the model from the onset.

Just a smidge over one thousand cars would be produced before company executives resigned and the project was ultimately cancelled, although this was still a considerably higher amount than cumulative production of any other model they had debuted until that time. It has been said that Facel would loose money on every car they manufactured during their brief foray into car building, merely supported by profitable enterprises in other unrelated sectors.


This peculiar car before you is the somewhat lesser-known Lamborghini 350 GTZ, a car created in the early years of Lamborghini which paved the way for establishing the marque as a builder of renowned supercars for many years to come. 

Based upon a conventional 350 GT chassis with styling courtesy of Enrico Spada, two of these intriguing cars were commissioned in 1965 with one of them subsequently displayed at the London Motorshow in November of the same year. The aesthetic qualities of the GTZ were rather peculiar as while it could be considered to be conventional attractive in many respects, the design was regarded to be quite generic and overly reminiscent of existing designs adopted by rivals Ferrari and Maserati. 

Despite the original 350/400GT being designed by Touring, Ferrucio Lamborghini was far more infatuated with the more progressive designs by Bertone that would go on to turn the company into a vanguard of avant-garde design with the transverse Miura and Countach. 

Personally, I do indeed find the GTZ to be an attractive car but can certainly agree with the historical sentiment that it’s looks are rather mundane for a contrarian coachbuilt creation. Sort of akin to a more squarish 275 GTB or Maserati Mistral in profile.

Now for a little delve into the intriguing and somewhat tumultuous history of one of the most revered marques in the world, Automobiles Ettore Bugatti or merely “Bugatti”. 

One cannot discuss Bugatti without first understanding it’s founder, Ettore Bugatti, whom was born in Milan in 1881, but would go on to proclaim both himself and the company he founded as French for the rest of his days. Interestingly, when the company was revived in the late 1980’s by fellow Italian entrepreneur and Ferrari dealer, Romani Artioli, the company was firmly established as an Italian affair centred around an avant-garde production facility in Campogalliano, Modena. Despite this deviating period, the spiritual home of the marque has always been Molsheim, Alsace, France (Although complicating matters further, it was technically in German territory upon locating there in 1909).

The approximate eight thousand cars that the company produced in the inter-war and immediate post war era were characterised by their meticulous attention to detail and sporting prowess ranging from the highly competitive Type 35 and Type 37 lightweight racers and conversely catering to a clientele more in pursuit of elegant and luxurious transportation with the Type 57 and 41 Royale.

Unfortunately, despite Bugatti managing to cement itself as a builder of the most desirable cars in the world in an era of decadence and opulent elegance, an array of events would fear the company apart from the tragic death of Ettore’s son, Jean, at the wheel of the “tank-bodied” Type 57 on the outskirts of Molsheim to the economic repercussions of both the Great Depression and ravaging consequences of World War II which left the factory in a state of complete and utter disrepair. To compound matters further, Ettore himself passed away in August of 1947 while overseeing the development of a new supercharged motorcar leading to an unfortunate and gradual demise by 1952, with the remaining assets later being purchased by rival Hispano-Suiza’s aerospace division. 

After a series of revival attempts Bugatti would eventually return to its spiritual home at Molsheim after the rights were purchased by the sprawling Volkswagen Empire, which continues to hand build limited production models at the site today.

As promised, I’m continuing my delve into some of Pininfarina’s most intriguing creations and personal favourites of mine. 

Far from the first Mercedes-Benz revised by the Turin firm (more on those to come very shortly), the 230 SL by Pininfarina was a svelte hardtop coupe variant of the Stuttgart marque’s recently introduced roadster. The 230 SL in its conventional form replaced not just one, but two motorcars, the much-revered W198 II 300 SL Roadster and the 190 SL Roadster / hardtop coupe. In the 1960s, Mercedes-Benz was gradually shifting away from their sporting image to focus more intently on providing safe and thoroughly engineered luxury vehicles for their wealthy clientele as opposed to road-legal racers.

Merely two months after the W113 230 SL debuted in Geneva, the Italian coachbuilder had a young American stylist by the name of Tom Tjaarda work his art. While the W113 has become famously nicknamed the “Pagoda” for its concave removable hardtop designed to improve rigidity and roll over safety, the Pinin special would omit it for a new coupe profile. Few elements remaining aesthetically similar on the exterior as components, but overall the distinctive shake of the conventional 230 SL was preserved, yet in a more rakish silhouette. 

While it was proposed that a limited run of models could be produced, only one example was completed, and thus the 230 SL by Pininfarina remains a very special vehicle indeed. Over the years it would transition from its original to a shade of red and then black, but to the best of my knowledge the car has been restored to its original 1964 specification. 

I’m personally very fond of the look of the Pinin 230. Painted in darker colours and fitted with Bundt alloy wheels later in its life it had a somewhat more ungainly appearance, but back in its original configuration I think its remained a timeless and pleasantly simple design which is nicely differentiated from the conventional car on which it is based.

The hunt for a vehicle encapsulating every conceivable function is more than difficult, but a worthy pair of candidates would surely be the Coachbuilt Bentley Val d’Isere and Continental Sports Estate, perfect for shooting excursions in the country or parading through the south-east Asian jungle. 

Firstly, the Val d’Isere was not merely a Turbo R with a hatchback affixed to its rump. Built by Robert Jankel, the cars came equipped with a novel four-wheel drive system, whereby the rear wheels were driven conventionally by the Turbocharged engine directly, and the front wheels were driven by hydraulic motors mounted in the wheel hub assembly. 

The Sports Estate contrastingly, was commissioned by RR/Bentley in house. Twenty four examples were built, all destined for the same elusive customer. Power came courtesy of a modified variant of the conventional V8 powerplant, from the Continental R Sufacon, and beyond the obvious visual alteration of the rear estate body, the cars came adorned with bonnet louvres and certain examples were fitted with either reflective glass, louder exhausts and various other accoutrements. As shown in the factory Renderings displayed here, there were three separate compartments in the rear boot for housing rifles and refreshments, access to the water-injection system for the engine and a leather-wrapped spare tire holder. 

While both cars remain a rare sighting on public roadways, on occasion it is possible to see the odd Sports Estate or Val d’Isere departing from Harrods or milling around the west end. The blatant majority of the vehicles built by the British firm remain with their original customer.

First and foremost, I apologise to anyone expecting an article on the venerable, and very lovely yellow, Honda NSX seen above. In this article I’m instead delving not into the minute details of the everyman’s Japanese super car, but rather discussing the very fabric of how such a car, and many others like, it came to exist in such a tumultuous economic climate as that in 1990s Japan. Thus, you’ve been warned....a comprehensive undergraduate thesis on the modern Japanese economy is in store, but its so much more than that.

After coming to the sudden realisation that I’m rather intrigued by contemporary Japanese culture in general yet hold virtually no deeper knowledge on their unique and widely-regarded automotive produces, I’ve decided to submerge myself into uncharted waters, by going down a boredom-induced rabbit hole over the last several days in order to try and gain some deeper insight into the mysterious characteristics of the Japanese automotive industry and culture encapsulating it.

In essence, Japan’s unprecedented economic growth in the 1980s, spurred by a surge in demand for technologically-revolutionary consumer goods in the Western world and a relentless striving for growth at home as the world become increasingly more homogenised and globalised facilitated the Japanese economy to grow to new heights. In the unpredictable and dilapidated post-war economy, the Japanese populous were incentivised by the government to save what little money that had accumulated or retained and spend little on trivial goods.

However, by the dawn of the 1980s, the consumer base and especially the country’s largest conglomerates were flush with capital that they were eager to utilise leading to the considerably more indulgent spending and a desire for the most technologically-radical products from consumers and a mission, so to speak, to produce the most over-engineered and avant-garde product lines by the manufacturers.

After all, if they had the money to spend, and people had the money to buy, no one loses. Billions upon billions of dollars (and many more yen) was pushed into the development of a sprawling range of models to an overly-obsessive degree. It seemed that the engineers, abundant in investment capital, were simply making the most astonishing and niche products they could devise and then worrying about selling it to the increasingly wealthier Japanese consumers later. Did the world fundamentally require a mid-engined kei-sized micro car with gullwing doors from Mazda and Suzuki, no. Did the world need tremendous performance coupes with 4WD, ceramic turbochargers, four wheel computer controlled and electronically actuated steering systems, advanced satellite navigation and twin-rotor experimental powertrains, no, of course not.

However, this striving to push the envelope of engineering boundaries and to introduce radical new technologies to the consuming public for the first time is one of the most significant eras in the automotive world. Conversely, if it seems too good to be true that a country that experienced nuclear warfare and a complete reconstruction of society and one as small as Japan, could sustain this unprecedented growth and technological implementation, you’d be right.

By the early 1990s, the overvaluation, over-leverage and over-dependency on unsustainable economic market growth and the exploding property market soon caught up on Japan, and decimated not only the economy as a whole, but quickly coerced a reality check onto the manufacturers. The seemingly endless streams of investment capital for automotive development quickly vanished along with the financial status of most of the Japanese populous, most of which had been held only by the increasingly expanding yet now stagnant property market, leading to what many now refer to as, “Japan’s lost decade”.

While today, Japanese cares have become a staple of quality and conformity in the industry, it is always intriguing to indulge in their almost unbelievable past. A time when they built cars for anyone and everyone, virtually irregardless of the financial motivations of implications. Today, such beloved vehicles to Japanese aficionados have returned, consisting of the new Honda/Acura NSX, BMW Supra and Nissan GTR, but it is perhaps the original efforts, devised under seemingly limitless budgets and potential that catch the heart of many still.

This intriguing car before you today is the spectacular 1968 Bentley T1 Speciale by Pininfarina, which I thought I would delve into following unexpected levels of interesting pertaining to previous posts on both the Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL 6.3 Coupe by Pininfarina and of course, the familial relation, the succeeding Rolls-Royce Carmargue. 

Speaking of that aforementioned car, the Carmargue would perhaps never come to fruition without the creation of this particular unique Bentley model. Commissioned by Pininfarina for James E. Hanson, a prominent British aristocrat and designed by Paolo Martin, the T1 Speciale was intended to provide insight into a future flagship series-produced Bentley penned by the hand of the Italian design house. The car and its distinctively angular aesthetic proportions made quite the stir at both the French and British motor shows, particularly to those in the higher echelons of Rolls-Royce, Bentley’s parent company at the time, but contrary to what was perhaps expected, it was decided that the relationship between the British marque and the Italian Design House would produce not a new Bentley Flagship, but rather one under the more then-established Rolls-Royce moniker, eventually culminating in the Carmargue. 

Personally, I much prefer the design of the Bentley to its successive production variant under its sister brand, simply by virtue of the somewhat more curvaceous design being more overtly attractive compared to the purely crisp lines of the later Carmargue. Expanding upon this, the Bentley Speciale seems to also tie into the heritage of Bentley as a historic British motoring brand more successfully than that of Rolls-Royce, harking back to the ravishingly beautiful Continental Series 1 of the immediate post-war period. 

The turn of the Millenium was an intriguing era for sports and supercars as it marked the beginning of a convoluted transformation towards making high performance vehicles easier to drive, more accessible to a wider audience and more technologically advanced. The traditional configuration of abundant horsepower, naturally-aspirated engined mated to manual gearboxes and other more analogue attributes had begun to shift in some cases towards the implementation of more electronic driver aids, increased refinement and of course, the first widespread utilisations of “F1-style” sequential manual gearboxes, which are perhaps more colloquially referred to as “paddle-shift” or “flappy-paddle” gearboxes.

These gearboxes which were theoretically easier to use to a less-skilled driver or perhaps merely one that isn’t accustomed to the somewhat tricky nature of certain manual transmissions in performance cars were condemned by many automotive enthusiasts but warmly embraced by a plethora of affluent customers. Hence, within this recent automotive period, there was a peculiar amalgamation of both the last inherently analogue supercars and more modern, easier to use, variants that coexisted in the marketplace.

Many of these offerings came with both the option of the traditional gated manual shifters and the optional and expensive paddle-shift configurations. Despite the high price customers of theses aforementioned cars, such as the much revered Lamborghini Mucielago and Ferrari 599 were available with both, but with the blatant majority of customers opting for the more modern transmission its certainly a rare treat to find such a modern performance car equipped with a traditional gear lever, and thus many of these so called “final analogue supercars”, have become increasingly treasured by automotive collectors around the world as the final iterations of an automotive concept, whereby man and machine are fully connected to one another.

Expediting upon that, many of the paddle-shift transmissions were not only incredibly expensive to optionally configure but even more immensely costly when they broke, which unfortunately was rather often due to the rather rudimentary state of the technology that had yet to mature, with customers essentially being early adopters and having to experience both the benefits and repercussions of that fact.

Nonetheless, while many of the supercars and sports cars from this automotive era are considered technologically outdated and involving to drive compared to their manual counterparts, it must also be taken into consideration that virtually every performance car on the market today has forgone both the naturally-aspirated engine and the manual gearbox in favour of more powerful and emissions-friendly turbocharged engines and more versatile automotive dual-clutch transmissions, which are both significantly improved over their predecessors.

Today, only one argument remains standing against the modern supercars and that is that it has become to easy, to accessible to drive, losing that visceral edge and semblance that make them so exclusive in the days gone by.

It’s the start of a new week, so what better way to cruise down some open country lanes with the roof down pondering your life decisions than in an early model variant Mercedes-Benz SL of the venerable R107 generation. Of course, for those that desire a somewhat more practical automotive alternative the SLC variant, in essence an SL on a lengthened wheelbase and fixed coupe roof, has you covered.

In recent years the R/C107 chassis has appreciated considerably in value by virtue of its elegant style, relative reliability and mechanical simplicity and ease of operation in comparison to other roadster of its time. The later model 560SLs seem to garner most of the attention from enthusiasts, but to my own aesthetic perspective, the earlier, more simplistic design is even more perfect.

It may not be the fastest Mercedes-Benz SL Produced nor the most inherently valuable, but it can certainly be considered to be the most significant ever produced, being the most successful in the historic line.

Mercedes-Benz has an illustrious history of producing some of the most elegant and luxurious cars ever produced, and it is perhaps its longstanding line of full-size grand touring coupes which represent the pinnacle of those characteristics. It can be disputed to the end of time as to which S-Class generation is the best, using all manner of objective and subjective criticisms and acclaim, but the 126 generation can surely be said to have a worthy place near the top of the list to many Benz aficionados.

The 126 S-Class was to many the definitive S-Class, a vehicle that pushed the envelope of technological innovation and boundaries, whilst retaining the traditional Mercedes-Benz internal values of quality and mechanical dependably (*cries in DaimlerChrysler era). Following the implications of the global fuel crisis and oil embargo in 1973, Mercedes-Benz was presented with the challenge of making their flagship model more fuel efficient than its W116 predecessor which they achieved throughout the intelligent optimisation of aerodynamic proportions and elegantly integrated deformable bumpers, which replaced the ungainly and obtuse units found before.

Simultaneously, while fuel efficiency was of a higher priority than before, it must also be said that safety was perhaps the most significant innovation of the venerable 126 series, with the first commercial implementation of a frontal airbag in a passenger car being realised near to the onset of the vehicle’s production which was supplemented by the inclusion off automatic seatbelt pre-tensioning devices in conjunction with a significantly reinforced and more intelligently designed passenger safety cell. In all, the array of technological safety innovations found throughout the 126 made it certainly one of the safest vehicles on the road in its historical heyday.

This generation is further heralded by enthusiasts as it represented The perfect compromise between the relative mechanical simplicity of earlier Mercedes-Benz models which had been lost by the time the impressively over-engineered but complicated W140 debuted in 1991 but also had many of the most advanced safety and driving technologies that make it one of the most viable means of classic car transportation, even to this day.

Since its initial debut in 2016, the Tesla Model 3 has quickly cemented itself as the vanguard of the electric vehicle segment, and as of March 2020 is the best selling electric car ever produced, coming in at a cumulative amount of over 500,000 units. The success of the model can be attributed to a plethora of variables that in conjunction with one another have made the Model 3 not only one of the most aspirational electric vehicles, but also one of the most aspirational across the entire global vehicle market, surpassing longstanding competitors from legacy automakers such as the highly regarded Mercedes-Benz C-Class and BMW 3-Series in many markets. The vehicle is extremely multi-faceted as it intelligently combines impressive electric range and performance with surprising practicality, safety and technology.

In order to ensure that their best selling model to date remains competitive in the contemporary marketplace, Tesla has unveiled a host of revisions to the car for the 2021 model year, contrary to the Californian company’s usual strategy of gradually implementing minor changes one at a time. Since Tesla dissolved their official press outlet earlier this year, (the most credible source now being Elon Musk’s Twitter which isn’t saying much) the changes to the compact executive car have been observed via Tesla’s official configuration tool. In comparison to many mid-cycle refreshes, the aesthetic and technological alterations to the Model 3 are relatively minor but should allow it to remain competitive. These consist of progressive aesthetic changes to both the interior and exterior, supplemented by improved vehicle efficiency and several new features.

First and foremost, starting on the outside, the aluminium-imitation trim adorning the side windows has been replaced by a glossy-black finish, similar to that adopted on the newly-introduced Model Y Crossover, which provides an overall more sporting aesthetic. Iterative improvements have also been made to wheel designs that contribute to efficiency by marginally reducing the drag coefficient of the vehicle, along with the inclusion of the intriguingly named “Uberturbine” wheels on the Model 3 Performance, also borrowed from the Model Y.

Similarly, changes to the interior of the electric saloon are relatively minor, but they should improve the aesthetic design and inherent functionality of the interior. There is now a heated steering wheel with a metallic-style finish and a new center console, which replaces the controversial “Piano Black” version on early cars which provided a minimalistic touch but accumulated scratches with ease. Thus, it has been replaced with a new design that adopts a Matte-finish along with a new wireless charging bay. With regard to improvements in efficiency, the standard-range plus now has 263 miles of range, an increase from 250 miles of range and the Model 3 Performance now has 315 miles of range, up from an officially stated 299. These increases of range have apparently been facilitated by the revised exterior design, more efficient motor design and improved software, although without a press outlet it is virtually impossible to confirm this information officially...unless you have a hotline to Musk himself.

Further convenience features have also made their way into the Model 3, which aim to make it a more luxurious automotive experience such as a powered boot lid and double-panel glass windows such as those found in higher end vehicles such as the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and others. Overall, while it must be said that the changes to the Model 3 are relatively minor, in the next few years competition from traditional automakers such as the Volkswagen Group and Daimler AG will begin to trouble the Model 3’s monopoly over the segment if it doesn’t remain competitive and attractive to consumers.

Do you find the new changes to Tesla’s most affordable vehicle to be sufficient and if so have they convinced you to purchase one? Let us know via the ongoing discussion on our social media outlets.

On the surface, the new VW ID.4 is merely another compact SUV from the Volkswagen Group's abundant corporate stable but is actually far more significant than that. First and foremost, it is based on Volkswagen's impressive MEB platform, which has been engineered exclusively for vehicles with electric powertrains and is set to underpin more than 300 models by the year 2030.

This comes as part of Volkswagen's aggressive electrification strategy that relies heavily on the process of economies of scale and cross-utilised componentry and has already been used on the electric VW ID.3 hatchback, which has been a highly important product strategy for the group following the highly publicised and damaging Dieselgate scandal. For reference, VW first-ever electric SUV will be highly practical for a vehicle with such a comparatively small footprint and overall dimensions.

Thus, the ID.4 is marginally larger than the equivalent Tiguan but smaller than a Touareg or Atlas larger SUV. The design is somewhat conservative for a contemporary electric vehicle, but in our opinion we think this will make it considerably easier for consumers to transition from existing internal combustion engined counterparts to electric vehicles. The new SUV borrows many of the aesthetic characteristics from other vehicles across Volkswagen’s copious portfolio, but predominantly from the compact electric ID.3 with which it shares much of its components and technology. The overall shape is aerodynamic and sleek, especially compared to the somewhat squarish proportions of the similar Tiguan, and is adorned by a slim LED strips that span the front and rear fascia of the vehicle along with an elegant “floating roofline” which hides some of the inherent visual bulk of the car and giving it a more sporty appearance in profile.

Inside, the minimalistic theme continues with two digital displays controlling  and providing the predominant amount of information from the car, which can be optionally ordered in either a conventional black or eye catching if subjective white. The remainder of the interior is somewhat sparse but practical and easily accommodating of a several children, animals and any other manner of accoutrements they bring. Perhaps the most important aspects of the new ID.4 however, are not the design nor the practicality but its impressive technological capability and highly competitive price. VW themselves have stated that the ID.4 is the most important launch in the company’s history since the original Beetle, demonstrating just how serious the Wolfsburg marque are in capturing market segment from not only Tesla and other EV manufacturers but from the entire vehicle market itself.

Hopefully the launch of the new ID.4 will be considerably less controversial than the launch of the Beetle however, which was unveiled in an “interesting” political context. To facilitate their lofty aspirations, the ID.4 will be able to attain a minimum of 250 miles upon launch in the most affordable variant which itself is priced at a very impressive $39,995 before government incentives, undercutting the comparative Tesla model Y by over ten thousand dollars. Further expediting upon this is the when VW’s ID.4 production plant in Tennessee begins production of the new vehicle in conjunction with the existing plant in Wolfsburg, the price should be reduced to approximately $35,000.

Firstly, it is inconceivable to discuss the latest generation of BMW’s M3 sibling M4 without discussing the immensely polarising nasal treatment adorning the front fascia of the car before delving into the impressive performance and technological capabilities of the car itself.

For several years now, the Bavarian marque has been attempting to transition the designs across its product portfolio away from the same homogenous design which has resulted in some of the “aesthetically-challenged” grilles and front-end treatments that have graced such vehicles as the first ever BMW X7 large SUV and the more conventional BMW 4-Series.

In consideration of the overall vehicular designs as a whole, while styling is an extremely subjective area, it seems very easy to proclaim the M3 as the more attractive or at least less overtly offensive of the two, although this may be in large part to the rather ostentatious shade of puke yellow on the M4 press car.

The proportions of the M3 seem not only more natural, but more evocative of other BMW designs and and yet is simultaneously distinctive enough compared to the regular 3-Series saloon. For instance, the rear fenders of the M3 seem more pronounced and sporty in comparison with the M4 which has less differentiation between the regular 4 Series and the M Variant.

Additionally, the M3 retains the traditional design characteristic of the “Hoffmeister Kink”, a trademark aesthetic feature of the rear pillar shape that has been present on virtually all post-war BMWs but is surprisingly omitted in the most part from the 4-series, giving it a less distinctive approach at a passing glance and a silhouette, if we dare say,  strongly resembling of the current Ford Mustang.

While BMW has stated there has been an overwhelmingly positive response to the new M3 and M4’s exterior design, it appears that the Munich brand must have avoided all corners of social media and the online automotive community for some time! However, beauty (or the overt lack of it) is up to the eye of the beholder, and even if you find the aesthetics of the two new cars extremely repulsive, they are incredibly impressive cars in their own right.

While new BMW M3 and M4 come equipped with a similar gargantuan grilles, there is an array of justifications for the performance credibility that the new models offer. This primarily includes the fact the standard variants of the upcoming M3 and M4 will come equipped with both a 473hp twin-turbocharged inline-six engine and a six-speed manual transmission.

Those that are lusting for more performance and willing to reject the rare offer of a manual transmission will find consolation in the 503-hp competition variants of the M3 and M4 which will come fitted with an eight-speed automatic transmission. The powertrain that is set to be utilised within both the upcoming M3 and the M4 is BMW's new S58 twin-turbocharged 3.0 inline-six has already found use within the Bavarian marques compact performance SUVs, the X3M and X4M.

While the two cars have certainly divided opinion with their awkward aesthetics, there can be no denying that it will remain a considerable force within the competitive performance car segment. Luckily upon further research, we have discovered that the new BMW M3 and M4 will be available, thankfully, in black so there is a viable opportunity to own one of these two impressive machines without public embarrassment

Ferrari has a longstanding tradition of producing exclusive one-off variants of its regular production models for discerning customers and the newly-revealed Ferrari Omologata is no exception. The car itself is based upon the architecture of the 812 Superfast but retains only the underlying structure and headlights of the standard car with the rest being individually sculpted to the tastes of the customer.

Ferrari’s design team, headed up by Flavio Manzoni, handcrafted the Omologata entirely out of aluminium, featuring a flattened oval grille, which tapers up to a rounded section over the front wheelarches. That sweeps back to that new rear with those three horizontal transversal ‘cuts’, while a new rear spoiler is said to offer downforce, and set off the car’s “aggressive, sporty stance”.

The car similarly features a host of retro touches reminiscent of past V12 gran tourers from the Maranello brand, such as the “crackled” black paint finish applied to the interior dashboard as seen in cars such as the legendary 250 GTO. The colour of the Omologata is equally unique, being finished in a new shade of red christened, Rosso Magma.

While the revisions to the Omologata have been somewhat minor, to our eyes the aesthetic improvements have turned the 812 Superfast from an attractive car into a beautiful car even more befitting of the marque’s illustrious history.

In this week’s edition of auction finds we’ve come across an intriguing example of a W113 generation Mercedes-Benz 230SL “Pagoda”, which certainly defies convention for better or worse. In its original form, the 230SL was designed to be the replacement to two iconic cars in the Mercedes-Benz lineup at the beginning of the 1960s, the mesmerisingly-beautiful 300SL Roadster and more affordable 190Sl, which in itself borrowed many components from its more expensive Gullwing and Roadster brethren but instead utilised a more conventional four-cylinder engine and omitted the radical and expensive space frame construction, that in itself facilitated the need for the 300SLs defining feature, the “Gullwing doors”.

Designed by Frenchman, Paul Bracq, the W113 was designed to more usable and attainable than its historical predecessors while retaining the same timeless style and comfort. Perhaps the most famous feature of the car is its removable hardtop roof which was nicknamed the “Pagoda” due to its concave shape which was somewhat reminiscent of the Japanese temples with a similar aesthetic shape.

Far from being merely a styling feature, the roof incorporated a concave shape to make it stronger in the advent of a rollover and serious collision. In fact, the W113 was one of the first cars ever produced to incorporate front and rear energy-absorbing crumple zones into its structural design and would adopt even more safety measures throughout its production life including a collapsible steering column, deformable interior components and rear disc brakes.

Originally the 230SL was powered by a six cylinder engine but this example is instead silently propelled by an electric motor and battery pack. However, the cosmetic and mechanical shape of this particular example we discovered on popular online action site bring a trailer is poor to say the least, being in dire need of replacement or refurbishment on virtually every component and panel with visible rust and paint defects throughout the car and an interior infused with fragments of a Persian-style rug and mismatching and discoloured upholstery.

However, before you set  out to burn this example as a heretical offensive to the worldwide classic car community, the original engine of the vehicle had been lost from the vehicle from some time and had actually sported a Ford V8 before the previous owner completed the EV conversion. While this W113 is far from perfect, for the right price it is certain that it will be able to enjoy its second life in zero emissions

The Mercedes-Benz SL is one of the most iconic cars produced by the historically-rich Stuttgart marque, tracing its roots all the way back to 1952 with the W194 300SL racecar that attained spectacular victories at the 24-hours of Le Mans, Mille Miglia and Carrera Panamericana, which soon birthed the iconic W198 300SL Gullwing and Roadster road cars and continued all the way to the current R231 generation.

Daimler Benz's official importer of production cars in the US in the early 1950s, Max Hoffman, suggested to the then-conservative management that a commercial version of the W194 racer could be a commercial success among affluent American consumers, culminating in the now-iconic 300SL Gullwing. Hoffman himself was also directly responsible for the inception of the Porsche 356 Speedster and BMW 507 Roadster of the same era.

Over each subsequent generation, the Mercedes-Benz SL gradually became increasingly more refined and luxurious in nature, transitioning from a high-calibre sportscar more towards a highly-opulent Roadster with the W113 "Pagoda" designed by Paul Bracq and R107. The SL found success particularly within the North American markets where its unique combination of luxurious appointments, sporty styling and open-top characteristics made it a staple of the Mercedes-Benz lineup.

Many significant innovations have been introduced throughout the history of the car such as the first injected petrol-engine in the 300SL, deformable front and rear crumple zones in the W113 and the first implementation of an automatically-deploying safety rollbar in the R129 generation.

However, by the late 2000s, the legendary and historic SL had begun to lose its sense of prestige within the consulted Mercedes-Benz lineup as it was surpassed by more technologically advanced and performance-orientated cars such as the SLR McLaren and SLS AMG. With the upcoming model, however, the German marque is aiming to reinvigorate the SL and allow it to return to its more sporting roots.

Hence, the new model is currently being developed by the in-house performance arm, AMG, and will likely share its platform and powertrains with the popular AMG GT sportscar. Further differentiating itself from previous models, the new SL will abandon the folding metal-hardtop roof that has been standard-equipment since the introduction of the impressive R230 generation in 2001 in favour of a fabric soft top.

To make it more competitive with a fellow rival from Stuttgart, there will also be 2+2 seating for the first time discounting the "Kindersitz" single jump seats found in some early models in the 1960s. The upcoming and highly anticipated SL is currently undergoing its test cycle as officially confirmed by Daimler AG, and should debut after the new Mercedes-Benz S-Class around the year 2021.

After an extraordinarily long hiatus, Maserati has at long last unveiled their first mid-engined supercar since the breathtakingly beautiful Maserati Bora rocketed onto the automotive scene all the way back in 1971, which itself spawned a V6-powered less model known as the Merak. The all-new MC20 also pays respectful homage to the Maserati MC12, a highly-limited mid-engine affair based on sister brand Ferrari's Enzo, that was conceived to allow Maserati to compete in the FIA GT Championship in 2004. While the MC12 itself was not a true Maserati and more of a reskinned Enzo, the new MC20 recognises the historical model with its name, with the MC standing for "Maserati Corsa" or Maserati Racing and the "20" referring to the year of the new model's unveiling.

The all-new MC20 had somewhat of troubled fruition, starting out in development similar to the MC12 as a Ferrari project for a revival of the venerable Dino as an "entry-level" mid-engined supercar in the Maranello marque's range. Conversely, Maserati was to develop a replacement to the ageing Gran Turismo in the form of a svelte and sporting two-door coupe which would be known as the Alfieri, and be reminiscent of a plethora of Maserati's historic front-engined Grand Tourers. In an unexpected change of events, the two brands ultimately exchanged projects during the early stages of initial development and thus the Dino became the MC20 and the Alfieri became known as the Ferrari Roma. Following on from decades of decline and a wave of uninspiring saloons and SUVs, the MC20 is set to reinvigorate the brand as a vanguard of Italian sportscar building and bring many of the technological and aesthetic attributes of more expensive mid-engined Ferrari's and Lamborghini's to a somewhat more attainable price point.

From a purely aesthetic standpoint, the new Maserati MC20 is free of the abundant creases and intakes that adorn equivalent Italian supercars and instead adopts a very minimalistic if conservative design approach that gives the car a contemporary but timeless overall look. From the front, the vehicle is highly reminiscent of the legendary V12-powered MC12 with a low-set and delicately proportioned grille and traditional "Trident" logo.

This new frontal design is additionally set to be replicated in future Maserati models, along with many other newfound aesthetic elements. Overall the design is an interesting harmony between the aesthetic and the functional, contrary to many of Maserati's traditional automotive designs, which is largely exemplified by the cooling of the centrally-mounted V6 powerplant, whereby a trident shaped vent is cleverly incorporated into the rear glass.

Similarly, the butterfly-doors of the Italian supercar are not purely for ostentatious gestures but are a functional necessity facilitated by the lightweight carbon fibre tub that extends across the area where a traditional door opening would be to enhance structural rigidity. There are some elements of the design that aren't necessarily beautifully-proportioned in the traditional sense but there can be no denying that it is considerably more enticing to look at as a comprehensive package than any other Maserati in almost two decades.

While it is fundamental that a Maserati must be an object of aesthetic intrigue, the engine has an equally as important role to fulfil. Named "Nettuno", it is the first engine developed from the ground up to be an exclusive Maserati powerplant and consists of a 3.0-litre V6-orientation which is supplemented by two turbochargers. While this is considerably smaller than many of the MC20's rivals such as the Audi R8 and Lamborghini Huracan, the engine is capable of producing a highly impressive 630hp and 538lb-ft of torque, which in turn facilitates a spring to 60 miles per hour in under three seconds. This mesmerising performance is put to the road courtesy of a DCT (Dual-Clutch-Transmission) that sends all the power through the MC20's real wheels only.

On the inside, the MC20 continues the contemporary and sporting theme, contrary to most recent Maserati Models. Instrumentation is fully digitalized with both a driver's display and an ancillary touchscreen for configuring vehicular controls. Abundant carbon fibre is laced throughout the cabin and a range of traditional and more daring colour schemes are available from a tasteful tan leather to a striking yet brand-orientated blue!

The MC20 is also set to take the Maserati brand even further into the future automotive landscape with a tri-motor all-electric version of the supercar on the way, which will produce in excess of 700hp! It seems then that Maserati is back to producing cars that capture a sense of aspiration that has been lost for almost half a century.

For almost a decade, Tesla has been recognised as the global leader in the production of mass-market electric cars with the unprecedented success of its Model S and 3 saloons that have gone on to dominate their respective market segments in many global markets, a product of their yet unmatched technological capabilities and a never-ending cascade of publicity.

While the company has already been challenged by many of the legacy automakers such as Audi and General Motors along with a host of new startups, none have as of late managed to knock the Californian brand of its pedestal. However, a fellow California startup may be one of the first to revert this trend. After four years of concepts and teasers, Lucid Motors has released the fully production-ready variant of their Air EV.

Rather than trying to market a more attainable EV than Tesla or the other European luxury brands, Lucid Motors is positioning their Air EV as a technological pacesetter of the battery-electric industry and will thus be more luxurious and capable than any other electric vehicle currently on the market today. In its inception the Air EV will be a very pricey affair, setting the customer $169,000 for the range-topping variant before local or national incentives. While this price is considerably higher than the blatant majority of EVs currently available to purchase, the specifications and capabilities are at unprecedented levels.

First off, the Air "Dream Edition" will be capable of attaining a mesmerising 0-60 time of 2.5 seconds but perhaps even more impressively has the equivalent of 1080hp! The Air will continue to accelerate all the way to a top speed of 168mph which is higher than either the Tesla Model S Performance and Porsche's Taycan EV. The vehicle sets an arguably even more impressive benchmark for EVs as when equipped with 19-inch aero wheels and the range-topping 113kWh battery-pack, can achieve a range of 503 miles.

This is over a hundred miles more than the current leader, the Tesla Model S Long Range Variant and more than double that of the sporting Taycan Turbo S. Inside the Air is adorned with the now-customary touchscreens, although this particular model comes equipped with an impressive if distracting 34-inch curved glass display.

The car is set to enter production in Arizona late this calendar year and we will have to see whether it will be capable of taking Tesla's crown for the producer of the most advanced electric vehicles.

The new (W223) Mercedes-Benz S-Class has finally officially debuted, revealing itself to once again be the vanguard to its automotive segment and quite possibly the most advanced car in the world to this date. There are a plethora of technological marvels to be found within the new S-Class; including capability and hardware for upcoming Level - 4 autonomous driving, whereby a driver is not required to operate the vehicle on any intrinsic level.

Beyond the evolutionary exterior aesthetic which continues the Stuttgart marques "Sensual Purity" design language, the new S-Class eschews the traditionally-conservative interior layout by adopting two individual displays. The latest iteration of the S-Class will forgo the predominantly horizontal interior design and layout of the current model, known internally as the W222, and instead adopts a more vertical orientation largely reminiscent of some of the historical predecessors.

Design elements such as the flowing central console that integrates the large primary infotainment display and recessed dashboard with offset climate vents provide a far more contemporary and progressive aesthetic than its more traditionally-luxurious predecessor. The German marque has said that many elements of the interior ambience and design have taken direct inspiration from high-end yachts, which can be seen most expressively in the open-pore-wood inlays which are in infused with vertical real aluminium inlays.

The new model's interior has largely been designed to cosset the rear passenger, wherein the most significant markets of China and the US, the most important characteristics of a large luxury saloon are rear legroom and technological capabilities. To ensure this is the case, rear passengers will be able to access the same infotainment functions as those in the front, which is mirrored through new OLED rear screens.

The driver's display has three-dimensional projection technology which makes it appear that certain objects and information are placed in different perspectives which are supplemented by a large touchscreen central display equipped with a fingerprint recognition system and an updated of Mercedes-Benz's much-revered MBUX infotainment system, which itself offers multiple drivers profiles, holistic voice commands and much more.

There is also the first implementation of an augmented-reality display on the windshield, which projects live information such as traffic directions and warnings directly into the driver's path. The S-Class has also been a longstanding pioneer of automotive safety, and this continues with one of the first uses of a rear-passenger airbag which supplements the host of active driving features that facilitate the vehicle to avoid an accident in the first place.

Other innovations include a rear-wheel-steering system, which surpasses previous implementations of similar technologies with up to ten degrees of oscillation available, reducing the techno-barges turning radius by a very impressive two metres. W223 S-Class also has a considerably augmented lighting system over its already highly capable predecessor, with a new optional DIGITAL LIGHT system, which allows the car to project information and warning signals onto the road ahead for both the driver and other road users.

It is almost certain that the new S-Class continues the longstanding tradition of being one of the most advanced automobiles on the road, and if it can live up to the reputation of its highly-revered historical predecessors, the new W223 S-Class will endure as the segment leader until the debut of the next generation.

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