Tuesday, April 14, 2009

1935 Alta 2-Litre History

While the cars in modern racing always seem to be manufactured by major car companies, this was not always the case. In racing, for example, some independent teams built their own cars and the 1935 Alta 2-Litre vehicles showcase their innovation. Below you’ll find information on this historic car and its importance to racing.

Some Background

Before you can understand this particular car, you need to understand a little bit of the background surroundings its development. The team known as Alta (a shortened version of Alberta) was headed by Geoffrey Taylor (1904 to 1966). He had a strong background in automotives thanks to building components for motorcycles and other vehicles when he was still in his late teens.

In 1928, Taylor built his first car. He used a chassis frame from the A. B. C. auto parts company for whom he worked. He also added a 1,074 cc engine with an aluminum block – the engine was fabricated completely from scratch by him when he was just 24 years old. He raced the car, known as PK4053, in a London race in 1930 and did place in the race.

After this incredible success, the car was put into production in 1931. Taylor’s engine was used in the production but the chassis was replaced with one from Rubery Owen. All of these early models were open bodied, two-seaters. They weren’t about giving the rider a smooth ride but instead getting the fastest speeds possible. And they succeeded. The vehicles could reach speeds of between 85 and 110 mph – an impressive accomplishment in the 1930’s.

However, the cars weren’t just about speed. They also had amazing acceleration which made them an ideal choice for sprints, races, and trials. In 1934, the Alta car even broke a speed record.

Big Changes & Success

Just one year later, the original car went through some modifications. One-seater bodies were developed so the car could hit other racing circuits. Plus, two more versions of the engine were put into production – the 1,496 cc and the 1,961 cc. Both of these models included chain drven camshafts – another important innovation to the model. Just two years later, the 1,496 cc model was altered to be “supercharged.” What this meant was changes in the car’s design had significantly reduced its weight. And lighter cars are capable of reaching faster speeds in less time so the car was believed to be headed for greatness on the race track.

Thanks to the improvement in the weight of the car (mainly due to changes in the nose of the vehicle) the Alta vehicles were able to win a number of races and showed tremendous promise as a front runner for racing dominance in the years to come. Taylor was already hard at work on new designs and a new chassis that he thought would make the machine an even more impressive powerhouse. Unfortunately, things were not too turn out that way for Taylor.

The Unhappy Ending

All of Taylor’s plans were brought to a halt thanks to World War II. Because of a shortage of the very supplies Taylor needed for these vehicles, he was unable to continue building or designing. All of those materials had to be used for the manufacturing of weapons. However, he continued planning and was intending to pick up where he left off as soon as the war ended.

Of course, the war did not end quickly. The war lasted from 1939 to 1945. Even after the end came, however, shortages on the materials Taylor needed kept him from getting back to his work immediately as he had hoped. By the time he did manage to return, the car he managed to design and develop was sadly under classed by those being created by major manufacturers. His car would no longer be able to take the limelight on the race track.

Eventually, Taylor gave up the car making business. When Formula 1 racing debuted, the idea of independent car makers like Taylor developing their own vehicles was a thing of the past. Although the engines he had designed continued being manufactured under a different name for a long time, Taylor was not involved and after being ill for a long time he died in 1966 without any further victories for his Alta vehicles.

However, the achievements of his 1935 Alta 2-Litre did leave quite an impression on the history of racing and on car enthusiasts for decades to come.

Friday, April 10, 2009

1950 Allard J2…the best of Mid 20th Century Euro-American Automotive Engineering

If you have been looking for a stunning sports car that exemplifies the best of English and American technological innovation and design the 1950 Allard J2 tops the list. These cars were produced during the 1950s and they were incredibly popular during this time period. What was even more amazing is that the cost of these cars was quite moderate. These cars enjoyed a popular appeal in both Europe and America when they were first produced and still today they are one of the most highly sought of older sports car models. This roadster was only produced as a limited series of 99 vehicles between the years 1950 and 1951.

The J2 Allard gave a driver an impressive amount of speed and performance and the handling was smooth enough to make them suitable for highly experienced or novice handlers. When the 1950 Allard J2 was put onto the racing circuit the sporty vehicle quickly earned first place listings in race courses on both continents. Sebring and Bridgehampton were only two of the places where this little speedster earned its reputation. Today these well built coupes are perfect specimens to be used on road rally courses and of course the cars are highly desirable by people who only want them placed in show competitions.

One of the best known construction features of the 1950s Allard J2 is the split I- beam axle used in the front end design. This gave the cars that fiercely distinct elongated nose; but it also made it possible to attach the special telescopic shock absorbers and heavy coiled springs that created an exceptional ride. There was a track rod at the rear of the split axle design and it was fashioned from three separate sections. In addition there were two idler arms at the rear and two radial arms which were also attached to the axle beams. To give the vehicle additional stability and suspension assistance there was a de Dion axle connected to the axle at the rear with the same style of coils and telescoping shocks that were used at the nose assembly. The incredible power of the J2 Allard in 1950 was made possible by a special Ford torque tube which was very much different from what other similar speedsters were using.

When the very first of the 99 1950 Allard J2 vehicle models were being rolled off the assembly line they were made with the souped up V8 Mercury flathead engines. These engines gave the cars incredible power and speed but as the racing legend of the Allard J2 models grew the increased need for even better speed was a must. This need was answered by installing new V8 engines in the Allard vehicle line including the Ardun OHV flathead and the Chrysler Company’s powerful Hemi V8 model.

The chassis of the original 1950 J2 Allards all had exceptionally deep sides and these were interconnected with four big bore tubing assemblies. The cars transmissions had more bracing than just the four large diameter tubes and this gave the vehicle outstanding stability but still the overall weight was quite light. This made these roadsters one of the speediest sports car designs on the road.

The lightweight bodies of the 1950 Allard J2 sports coupes were constructed from featherweight aluminum sheets that were molded and then attached with specialized bolts and fasteners. The fasteners were designed for quick and easy release and together the bolts and fasteners made stripping the car easy and fast. This meant that if the cars needed to be worked on by a mechanic, upgraded, or repaired it could be done in the shortest time frame possible. Even road, in-house or mechanical testing on the vehicle was able to be accomplished in unusually fast turnover times due to the innovative engineering and design of the cars.

There were some specific 1950 Allard J2 vehicle models that were only built for competition on the racing circuit. These powerful workhorses were equipped with the strongest V8 engines and tanks designed to hold 40 gallons of racing fuel. You could always tell one of these cars because the place the spare tire is mounted is not at the tail end of the car but on the side midway between the driver cockpit and forward fender.

A J2 Allard in 1950 was an amazing machine with some superior statistics including a 331 cc Cadillac V8 engine. This powerhouse could knock out 300 horsepower without flinching, and remember this was almost 60 years ago. The automotive engineers were forward thinking and highly innovative when it came to creating power and speed for the 1950 Allard J2 cars. In addition to a 331cc engine the Allard used triple, double barrel carbs and meticulously designed camshafts that combined to deliver some of the most powerful roadsters of the mid 20th century. Sports car enthusiasts pay dearly whenever they have a chance to purchase one of these rare cars from the 1950s.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

1992 Alfa Romeo Spider Veloce Weaves a Web of Mystery over Buyers

Alfa Spiders have always been considered to be much more than just a vehicle. These cars were produced from the 1960s to the 1990s and they were always available only in limited production numbers. The highest number of these cars produced in any one year was just over 5100. This rarity added to the allure and mystique that always accompanied the Alfa Romeo name. The Alfa Spider Veloce convertible that was marketed in 1992 remains a favorite for many today and when one is advertised for sale it will not stay on the market very long.

These exquisitely crafted machines have always been regarded as being special Italian racing cars. They come with an illustrious pedigree and an automotive DNA history rich with speed, luxury and dashing looks. To own one of these cars has brought an owner a certain amount of cachet and to drive one has been a privilege of some and a fantasy of many sports car enthusiasiasts around the world. The 1992 Alfa Romeo Spider Veloce is one of the rarities in this famous line of automobiles because it has clout, speed and visual appeal to both sexes of all ages.

Beginning with the earliest Alfa Romeo cars their reputation was described as a sports car for gentlemen and was not considered the type of vehicle that one would take slogging about in the forests or on off road tracks. Ideally one would not subject the Alfa Romeo cars to rough handling or excessive speeds just for the sake of showing off in front of others. These cars were pampered and coddled by their owners and were known to be a bit a bit balky and petulant if maintenance or care was neglected or postponed. Given proper consideration and treatment the Alfa Romeo would deliver a quality ride to a gentle and generous owner or driver.

The sexy sleek lines of the dashing Alfa Romeo had always attracted attention and the 1992 Alfa Romeo Spider Veloce was certainly no exception. The chassis of these cars have a uni-body design that has proven to be extremely durable and imparts a particular elegance to the feel and handling of this automobile. When you factored in the lightweight, aerodynamic build of the car, the high tech engineering design and the flashy look of the vehicle it was easy to see why drivers from many countries lusted after them. Even the price tag placed on the vehicles was very affordable, especially when compared with many other luxury sports cars from Italy, Germany or even the United States.

When the 1992 models were placed on the market they were greeted by an enthusiastic group of sports car lovers. The interior and dash components were covered with real leather in the upscale Veloce vehicle, although there were some suede accents made for inserts in both the seats and the doors. The base units of the same year had only vinyl covering for their seats. The small amount of plastic that was used in the interior dash components was well constructed and very little cracking was seen, even today, many years after the original manufacturing date.

These 1992 Spider Veloce models came with toneau covers made of leather and they also had canvas tops that were surprisingly resilient in many different kinds of weather. Mechanically these speedsters were cars that you could rely upon to get you where you needed to be with style and elegance to spare. The engines were twin overhead cams with four cylinders and although regular maintenance was a mandatory for the best performance, the engines in these cars were amazingly easy to work on.

The last of any major changes to the Spider car line came with the Series 4 line up that lasted from 1990 through 1993/94. The largest of the design differences was in the mechanics of the car. An electronic Bosch Motronic fuel injection unit was installed complete with its own electric fan. The Spider also had the spoiler removed from under the front bumper as well as the spoiler that usually graced the top of the trunk. New lights were installed in the back of the vehicle and they stretched the entire width of the rear end. The physical changes to the North American models began in 1991 and they included power steering, new plastic bumpers, driver airbags and the loss of the beloved spoilers.

There were two choices of Spider convertible created by the Alfa Romeo Company. The base model and the upscale Veloce roadster were the options available. There were not many differences in these cars. The Veloce vehicle had leather seats instead of the vinyl units and slightly larger wheels. The Spider Veloce model had 15” alloy wheels with special hubcaps. If you selected the upgraded vehicle you also received great air conditioning units and a canvas top as standard equipment. In 1992 almost 4000 of these cars were made and sold in Europe and North America and today collectors avidly seek them out and will pay top dollar for an original 1992 Spider Veloce vehicle in mint, or nearly mint, condition.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

2004 Acura NSX Sport Car Magic

The 2004 Acura NSX was a beast of a vehicle when it was first released. The price tag on this car hovered around $90, 000 and there were plenty of buyers anxious to put one of these vehicles their garage. The NSX by Acura was originally brought to the American and Canadian markets in 1989 and the concept car took everyone by surprise. The design was aerodynamic and ultra modern and there were new materials being used that were making these cars a hot topic among sports car enthusiasts.

The 2-door style of the vehicle made it clear that it was built as an engine muscle car and not a family sedan. The lightweight top was removable if you accessed the two levers located on the interior of the roof. Although the first year was definitely a peak year for sales, the car continued to do well throughout its annual reincarnations. When the 2004 Acura NSX debuted, it was being pitted against well-known muscle cars like the Lamborghini, Aston Martin, Corvette, Porsche, and Dodge Viper.

This was a powerful speedster that came in a 3L, V6 engine with a 4 speed automatic transmission. The transmission of the vehicle did have a stick shift feature that you could choose to use to add some flair and excitement to your sports car driving fun. There was also a 3.2L V6 engine with a 6 speed manual shift. The addition of 6 gears was the most coveted model by most who were adding this vehicle to their personal line-up. The V6 engine contained a 10.2 compression ratio, 78 mm stroke and a 90mm bore. There was also a double overhead cam on all of these vehicles with variable valve timing/camshaft and 4 valves per cylinder.

The 3.0 L 181 cc engine was somewhat outclassed by the 3.2L 194 cc engine. The 3L model could provide 252 Horsepower at 6600 rpm but the 3.2L version delivered 290 Horsepower at 7100 rpm. The difference is torque was also notable with the 3L giving 210 lb/ft at 5300 rpm and the 3.2L providing 224 lb/ft at 5500 rpm.

Traction control, anti-lock4 wheel disc brakes, and dual front airbags were standard equipment on the vehicles that gave drivers a little extra safety and stability when on the wide-open roads. The mileage for this 2004 Acura NSX sportster was 17/24, which was not too shabby considering that it was built to be pushed at high speeds.

Knowing that this car would be a hot ticket item there were plenty of available color options for both interior and exterior. A customer could take what model happened to be at the dealer that day or choose Grand Prix White, Berlina Black, Silverstone Metallic, Indy Yellow, Long Beach Blue Pearl, Imola Orange Pearl, or New Formula Red as their exterior color preference. The Yellow, Red, and Blue were the most commonly seen colors for this car. Interior color options included orange, yellow, camel, onyx, silver, blue, white, and red.

This all aluminum uni-body car construction provided a lightweight build that could deliver on both unleashed power and responsive, exquisite handling. The engines of all of the 2004 NSX sports cars were created to provide the least amount of friction at all times. These engines were known to be phenomenal workhorses no matter the punishment they were subjected to. The driver remained the focus of this design and this was perhaps the biggest draw for people looking to make the purchase of this super star vehicle. The deep seats kept the driver riveted to the center of gravity and made driving this sports car a truly memorable experience.

The sound system in this sports car is everything you could have requested if you had been the design engineer in charge. The CD changer was then a new feature in 2004 and was mounted in the trunk. There was 165 watts of power provided through a subwoofer at the passenger’s foot, a midrange tweeter that was positioned to the rear of the seats, and speakers mounted low on each door. If music was what you wanted to hear as you drove this vehicle to work then the dynamic sound system delivered the goods.

The Acura 2004 NSX has a rear wheel drive that is stable and dependable. The unique heavy-duty design of the clutch reduced up to 50% of the shifting loads on the vehicles by using the integrated dual and triple coned synchronizers. There was also a Torque Reactive Differential which gave additional control and stability to a driver by decreasing the inside wheel spin whenever the sports car would corner a turn.

The interior of the car was luxury and speed all wrapped up in one glorious package. A full leather upholstery job was only the tip of the design iceberg. There was a Bose AM/FM cassette player; fully powered 4-way bucket seat; keyless entry; 6 CD changer, telescoping sports steering wheel; windshield wipers with variable control; and power windows-doors-mirrors and locks. Add to these a tachometer, floor mats, climate controlled air conditioning, power steering, and cruise control. Even this long list still does not cover all of the features presented on the 2004 Acura NSX vehicles.

Friday, April 3, 2009

2009 KTM X-Bow Winter Drift

KTM Motorcycles came out with their first sports car at the Geneva Motor Show in 2007 with the KTM X-Bow. There was a limited edition of the X-Bow as well...The X-Bow Dallara (there are only going to be 100 made.) This is in honor of Dallara, the Italian specialist in racing and sport cars. This Italian company is also involved with developing and tuning of the chassis. The chassis itself is a double wishbone and has push rod suspension in the front. An extra option is a racing chassis that has an altered suspension and settings and has a pre-loaded adjuster so you can adjust the ground clearance.

The X-Bow is a lightweight mid-engine vehicle that has a carbon fiber monocoque (Greek and French word meaning single shell.) This is a construction technique that supports the structural load by using the object's external skin instead of using an internal frame or truss that then is covered with a non-load-bearing skin. Another term for this technique is called Uni-body construction.

This is a highly developed technique for Formula 1 racing, racing cars and those expensive and exotic sports cars. This particular shell is manufactured by specialists in Wethje, South Germany. It has a crash box located in the front and a "solid sandwich structured floor pan." Because of the carbon fiber shell, the vehicle is only 2,370 pounds. Because it has such a low weight, it can outperform many of the other super cars that are more powerful.

This sports car was designed for wintertime fun, so it is equipped with four-wheeled drive. It is also equipped with two liter Audi TFSI Inline-four. The engine weighs 1742 pounds. Torque is 229 pounds per foot. Horsepower is 240 or 7.3 pounds per horsepower. Top speed is 0-62 in 3.9 seconds.

This vehicle, with its radical and advanced technological solutions, is designed for the ultimate true open-air car driving experience. So this means that there isn't a roof or windshield. At least, not in the conception phase, when it was first introduced in 2007 at the Geneva Motor Show. That was so the focus was to be on the deliverance of the driving experience that only can be found riding a motorcycle. There have been very small alterations from the prototype and the production model that was on exhibit in 2008.

There it was seen that that, for the most part, the biggest change was to enlarge the central air intake located between the headrests. This is to allow for greater engine cooling during demanding activities.

Another obvious change is the new instrument arrangement. Originally, all of the indicator and controls along with a display on the steering wheel, which was proven not too be such a good place for them. So now the display, which is shower-proof, is now located on the center console top. And the control buttons are still on the steering wheel.

Another big change was the addition of small polycarbonate side windows and a smaller windshield. Also new is the seating upholstery. The seat shells have to be rigid and are made from carbon so that the seats can be fixed right to the monocoque, so the cushioning is necessary and comes in different sizes to fit the drivers. Also available is a pedal box that is mechanically adjustable so the driver can set up a driving position that is comfortable. And if you like the "sporty sound" the KTM X-Bow has a silencer with twin exhaust pipes for fine-tuning. Many of the options that are also extra in the Dallara edition you can order for the standard KTM X-Bow except for the Dallara plaque and the special graphics.

Currently, it is certified for being road legal in most of the European countries. The "European Small Series Homologation Regulations" that is set for the first part of 2009 will make it road legal in all of Europe.

Speaking of Europe, even though authorities do not require that the driver of the X-Bow to wear a helmet, KTM stresses that they recommend that you do. At the Geneva Show, they had two available (both had the X-Bow branding). The models were the Arai Closed Racing Helmet and one from Schuberth, a German company. The Arai meets requirements from motor sports authorities by providing comprehensive protection whereas the German one has better peripheral vision.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

2006 Adrenaline Murtaya

On April 11Th 2006, Adrenaline Motor-sports in Cornwall launched a kit car, The Murtaya. A kit car is basically like a modular home except it is a car. The kit comes complete, meaning that it comes from a single donor. This happens to be the 1993 to 2000 Subaru Impreza so you don't have to search hard for extra additions to tweak the performance of the car. In that case, the WRX and the STi models make great extra donor parts in either design, the normal aspirated or turbocharged. But if you are going whole hog then the Impreza Type R or Type RA will go a long way to making your standard package into a great sports car.

People can purchase the kit and assemble it themselves. This was done for financial reasons. It comes in different packages. The main two packages are road spec and the race spec. and the road spec. The road version has a full windshield, air conditioning, leather interior, sound insulation, central locking, and power windows. If you decide to modify the car it is suggested to purchase if possible a whole car (good place to look is the local junk yard.)

To design this car so to ensure that all parts fit as they should, they used CAD modeling and a lot of analyzing. The main concern was the chassis. It needed to be strong so it would be capable to handle the extreme stresses that it will be under.

The basic kit package has these components.

Main Monocoque, Trunk lid, front clam shell, both doors, dashboard, door trim panels, center console, front sub-frame, gear selector rod modifications, steering column modifications, prop shaft, pedal box bracket, steering column bracket, door hinges, pitch stop mount bracket, trunk hinges, bonnet hinge (the protective hinged metal cover over a motor vehicle's engine.)

So the rest of the car that is needed you would need to get from another donor car. A great place to look for whole donor cars is auction houses. You could just go to the local junk yard just for a partial car but a whole car is best you never know what part you need to use or just do some extra modifications. This kit was designed for the home mechanic who is looking for an exciting project for home assembly.

There are three versions of the road version. Standard, WRX, and STi Type-RA or Type R. The standard has all wheeled drive with a 5 speed manual transmission. The WRX has horsepower in the lower 200 range and is a 5-6 speed manual transmission. The WRX STi version will have horsepower in the upper 200 range. The STi Type-RA has a 6-speed transmission, driver controlled central differential. The five-speed Road car's weight is 2035 pounds. The six-speed road Car's weight is also 2035 pounds. Whereas the track car has the lowest weight at 1870 and that is with it being a 6-speed manual transmission.

All of the car versions feature "a composite monocoque tub with GRP front clam shell." There is a multi pointed space frame that is bolted to the main tub where the engine and the front suspension is bolted in. Whereas the rear suspension, gearbox, prop shaft center bearing are bolted right on the monocoque. This to allow a stiff platform for the suspensions to keep the wheels on the ground.

The exterior of the car was also the result of extreme designing work that took in the visual impact. While also taking into account things like plenty trunk space. Overall, when it is finished the car has great visual appeal with every day practicality to do things like shopping, weekend trips, going to work, or going camping.

Before it was even considered ready to sell, it went through a battery of circuit testing at the "Brands Hatch International Circuit", which was viewed by the public and where it was clocked at 400 miles per hour. This car project was under the supervision of these three men, Neil Yates...the managing director, Daniel Muir...head designer and Tom Taylor...head engineer. Which, by the way, is where the name of the car came from these men's last names..."Mur from Muir, Ta from Taylor, Ya from Yates."

"True Concept Cars" is handling of the distribution of the cars in Europe. "True Concept Cars" is located in Budel, Netherlands. Their target customers for worldwide markets are in North America, China, and Russia.