Alfa took centre stage in the 2017 Targa Florio Classic…

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The 101st edition of the legendary “Targa Florio”, the world’s oldest surviving car race, was held in Sicily from 20 to 23 April. Originally conceived, funded and organised by Palermo magnate Vincenzo Florio for the purpose of establishing a “practical and precise criterion for assessing the travelling car”, the race has been held in various forms ever since 1906. Run in its modern form by the Palermo Automobile Club in association with its national parent organisation, the event involves three competitions, held simultaneously: “Targa Florio Rally”, “Targa Florio Historic Rally” and “Targa Florio Classic.

Alfa Romeo and Abarth are participating as Main Sponsors, with selected important cars from the Group’s past to star on the island’s roads in the Targa Florio Classic.

Alfa Romeo recorded some of the finest achievements in its racing history at the Targa Florio by winning 10 overall victories, 3 second places, 7 third places and 10 fastest laps. As well as this amazing tally, the brand also holds two records: for consecutive victories (6 wins from 1930 to 1935) and for first and second finishes in the same year (five times). This is not to mention the many class wins, with the Giulietta SZ and the Giulia GTA, TZ and TZ2.

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To celebrate this illustrious racing history, Alfa Romeo is taking part in the Targa Florio Classic with four splendid cars from its Museo Storico Alfa Romeo – La macchina del tempo at Arese.

We just tell you here a bit more about those cars…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Giulietta SZ (1960)

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One of the star attractions in the regularity competition for historic cars that will pass through key Sicilian locations with links to the famous race will be the 1960 Giulietta SZ. It is a second-series model with the distinctive “cut-off rear” (or Kamm tail) that easily achieves 200 km/h thanks to its amazingly efficient aerodynamics. Under the bonnet, a straight four, 1290 cc engine able to deliver 100 HP).

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Giulia Sprint Speciale (1963)

The Giulia Sprint Speciale was an evolution – with 1,600 cc twin camshaft engine – of the Giulietta version of the same name, designed by Franco Scaglione for the Bertone carriage-works on the car’s short-wheelbase chassis. It is one of his loveliest creations: long and wide (actually larger than the sedan), the Giulietta Sprint Speciale is an extremely low, streamlined coupé with sleek, curvy lines.

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The absence of bumpers and its large “shark mouth” radiator immediately gave it dream car status. But this sophisticated design was the outcome of meticulous aerodynamic research, which produced its low nose and distinctive cut-off rear. Performance was very impressive: its 1570 cc longitudinal front engine delivered 113 HP and powered the Giulia SS to a top speed of 191 km/h.

Giulia GTA (1965)

Of the Sixties Alfa Romeo models dearest to the hearts of the brand’s fans, the Giulia Sprint GTA, undisputed queen of the racing scene, enjoys a very special status. Its line is virtually identical to that of the standard production “GT” cars with bodywork by Bertone: the “A” in the name stands for “Alleggerita”, or “Lightweight”, pointing to its most significant difference from the standard Sprint GT.

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The steel bodywork was replaced by ultra-light alloy panels and – thanks to the elimination of the antidrum panels, the paring down of the equipment and the use of 14” magnesium wheels – this cut the car’s weight by more than 200 kg, giving a total of 745 kg compared to the 950 kg of the road Sprint GT. The 1570 cc twin camshaft engine was also modified to increase its power to 115 HP, for a top speed of over 185 km/h. The Museum’s car still has a road setup, which differs from the Sprint GT in just a few details, including the simplified handles, the lighter badge, the front air inlets, the alloy wheels and the special interior.

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1600 Spider “Duetto” (1966)

The 1600 Spider “Duetto” first appeared in 1966 and surprised everyone with its unusual, unconventional design by Pininfarina, quite different from other versions of the Giulia range due to its low nose and tapered “cuttlefish bone” tail, almost the opposite of the sedan’s trademark cut-off rear. Its mechanics were derived from the Giulia Sprint GT, with power boosted to 109 HP at 6000 rpm and wheelbase shortened to 225 cm: its performance and driving pleasure were firmly at the top of its class, with a maximum speed of 182 km/h, rear-wheel drive and independent-wheel suspensions. The Duetto’s rise to international fame was assisted by its unforgettable appearance in the film “The Graduate”, in which it was driven by Dustin Hoffman. It was produced in four series and various versions up until 1994: a very long career.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

 

 

Giulia is queen on Nürburgring… and on the road.

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Presently, we are testing the marvelous Giulia, in 136 HP Multijet Diesel guise, and besides the very willing engine and impressive auto box, the chassis really betrays the out and out thoroughbred character of this Alfa.

It certainly awakens the better driver in you, and this must have been the same for Alfa driver Fabio Francia. He took the wheel of the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, and let all the 503 horses of the V6 engine loose on the Eifel tarmac. The result is a legendary 7 minutes 32 seconds lap time over the Nordschleife, all for you to be seen on You Tube, we give you here the link, kindly transmitted to us by Wim Willems, Press Officer at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Belgium.

We suggest you enjoy it all, just revel by the furious V6 sound, the lightning fast gear changes of the 8 speed automatic transmission, shifting gears in just 150 milliseconds in race mode…

Of course, soon we will present you a full test report of this Giulia!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Audi World premiere in Detroit: the pinnacle of the Q5 model series with the SQ5 3.0 TFSI

Static photo Colour: Misano Red
Static photo Colour: Misano Red

Audi presents the new Audi SQ5 at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit. The sportiest member of the Q5 model series embodies more than ever the emotional concept of the practical SUV with the latest technology. It’s turbocharged, 3.0 TFSI offers delightful performance… Just read more below

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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Second Nissan Futures event focuses on autonomous driving and unveils bold uses for electric vehicle batteries…

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Nissan had autonomous little robots running around in the Barcelona registration hall of the Futures event… 

We already reported extensively about the first Nissan Futures event in London, and Nissan came in Barcelona up with an encore: this time it revealed the results of Europe’s most comprehensive study into the social and economic impact of autonomous drive.

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It amply showed how Nissan looks progressively into the future, and indeed Nissan has also further bold plans and applications of E-energy up its sleeve: Nissan and Eaton announced in expansion of their xStorage Home portfolio to include a range of six products, with pre-orders being opened in several European countries.

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The conference was held in Nissan’s Barcelona factory premises…

There is still more: xStorage Home to be complemented by xStorage Buildings as Nissan, The Mobility House and Eaton prepare to power up Amsterdam ArenA with electric vehicle batteries…

We tell you here more about all this, just read further.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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Our Jag goes into winter retreat..

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It is always an exquisite pleasure to drive our classic Jag, but with the first wintery and stormy days coming up it is time to give our faithful Type S a well deserved rest.

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As the Jag is lately beset with (slowly) leaking fuel tanks, we decided to get the car checked out and repaired, while it is standing protected in winter.

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So we acquired the expert services of Didier Spiessens, who will solve the tank problems and keep the car well cared for in his premises.

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We will soon tell you more about all this and treat you also on a full report about the activities of his firm Personal Car Services. We show you here some photos when he collected our car. More about the further developments soon…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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For your info, here you find the contact data of the Didier Spiessens firm:

Personal Car Services

De Robianostraat 76 – 2150 Borsbeek – Belgium

www.personalcarservices.com

didier.pcs@gmail.com

We drove the Abarth 124 Spider and the 595 Competizione: the sound, panache and fury of the scorpion…

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Cars with Italian red blood in their veins still exist. Thoroughbred automobiles which emit the most wonderful sound at the slightest blip of the throttle. Cars which seem to move even when they stand still. Cars where you almost would die for just to sit behind the wheel and drive them to the limit. With your right hand at the gearlever and the engine just screaming away. Looking at the beautiful instruments and enjoying the thrust, speed, smell and staccato sound. These cars are made since 1949. They are called Abarths. And they are getting more ravishing than ever, and seem only to grow in their unique magic. We drove the latest, much improved edition of the iconic 595, in the wonderful “Competizione” version, and last but not least, the Abarth 124 Spider, every bit as pure and impressive as its famous predecessor, which was born in 1972.

 Hans Knol ten Bensel

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40 years of Audi five-cylinder engines: the sound of fury (still) continues…

1983: five-cylinder engine triumphant in rallying: In the 1983 Corsica Rally, Audi competes for the first time with the Audi quattro A2, Group B. Its 2.1-liter turbocharged five-cylinder inline engine produces 265 kW (360 hp) at 6,500 revolutions per minute and delivers 450 newton meters (331.90 lb-ft) of torque at 4,000 rpm. At the end of the season, the Finn Hannu Mikkola wins the drivers’ title in this car. One year later, the Swede Stig Blomqvist replicates this success: he becomes world rally champion, while Audi wins the manufacturers’ world rally championship for the second time after 1982.
1983: five-cylinder engine triumphant in rallying:
In the 1983 Corsica Rally, Audi competes for the first time with the Audi quattro A2, Group B. Its 2.1-liter turbocharged five-cylinder inline engine produces 265 kW (360 hp) at 6,500 revolutions per minute and delivers 450 newton meters (331.90 lb-ft) of torque at 4,000 rpm. At the end of the season, the Finn Hannu Mikkola wins the drivers’ title in this car. One year later, the Swede Stig Blomqvist replicates this success: he becomes world rally champion, while Audi wins the manufacturers’ world rally championship for the second time after 1982.

Every car enthusiast has this sound ringing in its ears. The roaring sound of the high revving rally engine, the raw 5 cylinder staccato when the combustion efficiency bites above 4000 rpm, the growl, the flames in the exhaust, the “pop” explosions on gearchanges, we all know it. It is the symphony of Vorsprung durch Technik, and indeed, it has been going on for decades now.

1978: five-cylinder carbureted engine: In April 1978, the five-cylinder carbureted version with an output of 85 kW (115 hp) replaces the basic twoliter four-cylinder version in the Audi 100 (C2). The new 1.9-liter unit produces maximum power at 5,400 revs and delivers 154 newton meters (113.58 lb-ft) of torque to the crankshaft at 3,700 rpm. The engine is used in the Audi 100 5 (C2), the Audi 80 CD (B2), the Audi Coupé GT 5S (B2) and in the Audi 100 (C3).
1978: five-cylinder carbureted engine:
In April 1978, the five-cylinder carbureted version with an output of 85 kW (115 hp) replaces the basic twoliter four-cylinder version in the Audi 100 (C2). The new 1.9-liter unit produces maximum power at 5,400 revs and delivers 154 newton meters (113.58 lb-ft) of torque to the crankshaft at 3,700 rpm. The engine is used in the Audi 100 5 (C2), the Audi 80 CD (B2), the Audi Coupé GT 5S (B2) and in the Audi 100 (C3).

It brings also sweet memories to your servant, when as a young journalist I sat behind the wheel of the 80 Quattro saloon, with this 5 cylinder engine roaring under his right foot. It is all magic. And indeed, here, it calls for a small celebration in these columns.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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We drove the Nissan Navara 2.3 dCi 190 HP Double Cab Tekna: a car for all seasons…

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We were already quite impressed by the Navara at its presentation, and understandably we were  looking forward to a more extensive test of this versatile performer.

Indeed, the Navara truly delivered, and proved to be everything it was meant to be. An outstanding, well balanced, roomy and sturdy pick up, with very impressive performance combined with excellent economy and last but not least lots of style and mechanical refinement.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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Electric vehicles and the European energy grids, the story continues…

 

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 The first speaker on the conference was Eric Feunteun, Vice President Electric Vehicles Business Unit of Renault Nissan. He pointed out that electric vehicles are gaining market share, and rapidly so…

Indeed, EV’s and the European energy providers are going hand in hand towards an emission free mobility solution with clever distributed energy storage solutions.

Quite a mouthful, this paragraph.  But every element in it depicts indeed the way to go in the nearby future with our mobility. We attended an interesting Renault-Nissan alliance conference, where this brave new world was shown to us through a panel of significant speakers, at the latest edition of the EU Sustainable Energy Week.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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We drove the Renault Talisman Initiale Paris Energy TCe 200 HP EDC: enjoying the panache and performance of a noble French grand tourer…

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The Talisman has already impressed us with its excellent comfort, style and handling. The frugality of its 130 HP Diesel engine was nothing short of astonishing. Of course we wanted to know more. Given its state of the art suspension and chassis, this Talisman would be even more exhilarating to drive with more power, coupled to Renault’s latest 7 speed dual clutch automatic transmission. The dynamic Renault PR team provided us with a magnificent top of the range “Initiale Paris” version, a Talisman which offers all the luxury and panache of a noble French automobile. It proved indeed to be an exquisite experience, just read further…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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