In late 1907, American automotive pioneer Byron Carter reputedly came across an innocuous scene. A lady, driving across the Belle Isle bridge in Detroit, had stalled her Cadillac. Getting it restarted was no mean feat, as it involved setting the timing correctly and hand-cranking the engine. Carter was no stranger to the process, having developed and patented several automotive technologies. He had also founded two automotive companies, the second of which - called 'Cartercar' - would be bought out by General Motors in 1909. Naturally, he stopped to help the stranded motorist. Carter, who was 44 at the time, promptly set about cranking the engine over in order to get the car and its driver on its way. Unfortunately, the owner didn't retard the ignition; consequently, a cylinder fired before the piston had reached the top of its stroke, viciously driving it back down the bore and causing the engine to kick back. The crank, suddenly reversed and spun with tremendous energy, broke … [Read more...] about PH Origins: The electric starter
If there's a particular model that illustrates the turbulent past of Lamborghini, it's the Diablo. This is a car that was conceived under the stewardship of Patrick Mimran, underwritten by a cash injection from Chrysler and continued through various guises into the Volkswagen Group years. Its replacement, the Murcielago, served as the embodiment of a modern and cutting edge Lamborghini; the Diablo spanned present and past both. Certainly it was unflinchingly old school in approach. Fitting for a car named for the devil. True, it remained one of the fastest cars on sale until it was discontinued in 2001. But its design and technical make up were very much from the 1980s, when it was shifted from the drawing board to development. When the Diable arrived in 1990 it used a 5.7-litre V12 with 492hp, but the engine eventually grew to 6.0-litres, and power peaked at 595hp in the limited-run Jota. Even before the VW Group's Audi brand took control of Lamborghini, then a 35-year-old company … [Read more...] about Showpiece of the Week: Lamborghini Diablo
Here's a bit of trivia. Did you know the very first Chrysler V8 engine used in a Bristol was actually a Canadian engine, not an American one? It was the 313cu in A-Series 5.1-litre V8 that found its way into the 1961 Bristol 407, a fine engine that naturally shared a lot with the iconoclastic Chrysler Hemi but was sensibly modified for mass production in the more everyday Dodges and Plymouth cars. Such were the vagaries of measuring power in the US in those days that the quoted 245hp figure could safely be ignored. More realistic was an output of around 200hp - in those days, just about enough. So it came as something of a disappointment when, many years later, that stunning concept-car-made-good the Plymouth Prowler went into production with a mere homegrown V6 under its extraordinary bonnet, rather than a hulking V8. Imagine what wonders it might have achieved with a pumped-up Hemi under there, pushing out enough heave-ho to get this pseudo-hot rod from New York to LA in the blink of … [Read more...] about Plymouth Prowler: Spotted
It's an interesting thing, isn't it, that new Cupra Ateca? Reaction to our first drive on the PH Forums was positive - surprisingly so given its potential, as an SUV with a bodykit and added schportiness, for ridicule. "I'm certainly interested, even if I'm not convinced by the whole Cupra thing," said forumite IforB, currently an Audi S3 Sportback owner, while JMF894 added: "Really like this. When our 2 Series GT is up for changing, I could well be very interested." Indeed, to drive, the hot Ateca is far better than you might expect from an SUV that's trying to be a hot hatch. Mind you, you could equally argue that it's exactly what you'd expect from a Golf R shoved up on stilts. There's the now-familiar power and flexibility of that EA888 engine, along with the usual vaguely uninspiring engine note overlaid with some fun - if rather artificial - pops and bangs. There's immense traction from a smart four-wheel drive system, as well as loads of grip, albeit without the dexterity you'd … [Read more...] about Cupra Ateca: PH Trade-off!
Evidence dating back to the days of Cain and Abel suggests sibling rivalry really does exist, and it seems for every David Milliband there's an Ed prowling ominously in the wings, or a Noel ready to do battle with Liam. When VW launched the boxy Golf way back in 1974 it also gave the world a lightweight sibling in the form of the Scirocco. The Golf caught the public's imagination and, with one or two mild hiccups, has never let go of it since. The subcutaneously similar Scirocco, a low and lithe coupe designed by il maestro Giugiaro, was a beautiful car that was much admired but always doomed to play second fiddle, especially so when the iconoclastic GTI version of the Golf appeared in 1977. Even I have been happy to believe in the virtues of the ancient Mk1 Golf GTI, despite never having set foot in one. Last year, the chance came to drive one, and I found it to be such a demoralising experience - mostly due to its unassisted steering, which was so heavy I thought it had broken - … [Read more...] about Volkswagen Scirocco: Spotted