Some people of a certain age remember steam engines. Living proof of an industrial revolution that helped change the world whilst making the most modest of train journeys a noisy, dirty but somehow enthralling, emotive experience. The job of a train driver was high on the wish-list of most adolescent young men smitten by the glamour of those powerful steam engines.

And then came the electric train. Clean, fast, efficient but with all due respect to train operators today, young boys stopped wanting to drive them.

The death of the steam-age and the arrival of electrification occurred a number of decades ago and yet the internal combustion engine, in some ways as primitive as the steam engine, has survived. Perhaps it is that childhood passion to control something mechanically powerful that even as adults we (as petrol-heads anyway) have an addiction that is hard to overcome.

And so times, however and inevitably, are changing (or rather evolving) again. Autonomous, electric cars are the future we are told and like it or not, just like the fans of those prodigious steam locomotives the baton will be reluctantly passed on to a new generation.

But, for the time-being at least, that looks like a dream for the future which means that today we can still experience the sheer joy of driving a car that was designed for pleasure and not just for purpose.

Despite being powered by relatively old technology, the new cars of today are frustrated by modern technology which means that they do a specific job for which they were built in the safest, most efficient manner that the (constantly evolving) law demands. Driver aids are de rigueur.

However, a car built in the analogue age will offer just about the purest mechanical connection to the dynamics of driving a car with four wheels and British sports cars of the 1950’s and 60’s provided the perfect ingredients for an evocative drive.

Enter the ‘Big Healey’ that we have on sale here. Read the rest of this entry »

1969 Jaguar E-Type Series II Roadster

January 2019 was unpredictable. Brexit, the weather, the economy, post-Christmas retail sales figures and credit card bills hang heavy in this month but the predictable part is that the first day of Spring draws ever-closer and each day passed adds another minute of extra daylight. Woohoo!

Another predictable event is the start of the car auction calendar and as usual The Car Spy is keeping a keen eye on activities to see what clues we can glean from the state of the car market here in the UK and then next month in Europe.

Car auctions are probably the best indicator of car values we can refer to when it comes to the buying and selling of cars. If we had a British Pound for every time we were told by a seller that their car was ‘worth “x” all day long’ then yours truly would be sitting on a super-yacht in Monaco whilst writing this post.

Reality is an unpleasant experience when it comes to a market correction in car values but it is unavoidable. For the past ten years we have seen astonishing prices paid for sometimes very mundane models (in our opinion) and excessive premiums paid for the privilege of owning certain new models.

We just hope that those who came in at the top of the market have bailed out by now because the indications are that the market has ‘softened’. That’s the polite way of describing it anyway. Read the rest of this entry »

1997 RUF CTR2

RUF Automobile is delighted to offer for sale on behalf of the current owner this beautiful, left hand drive, genuine ‘W09’ VIN RUF CTR2.

Afficionados of RUF will know that the company is in a unique position to source body shells directly from Porsche and then create its own individual interpretation of a highly capable sports car. All RUF-manufactured cars come with a VIN that starts ‘W09’ since the company is recognised as a manufacturer in its own right by the German authorities.

The CTR2 is the evolution of the legendary CTR ‘Yellow Bird’ and only sixteen RUF CTR 2 models were built between 1995 and 1997. The CTR moniker is derived from ‘Group C, Turbo, Ruf’. The 3.6 litre powerplant in the CTR2 is actually based on the engine used in the Porsche 962 Le Mans Group C car

Capable of sprinting from zero to 60 mph in under 3.5 seconds and hitting a top speed in excess of 220 MPH (354 km/h), the CTR2 was one of the fastest production supercars in the world, capable of out-running Ferrari’s F50 (193 mph), Jaguar’s XJ220 (213 mph), and performing on par with Nissan’s R390 GT1 (220 mph).

The one million dollar McLaren F1 was the only other production car at the time which was later found to have performed better under testing, by 1998, making the RUF CTR2 the second fastest production car of the day.  Read the rest of this entry »

1986 Gemballa Avalanche

Remember the 80’s? Shoulder pads, footballer mullet hair-do’s, Don Johnson sleeves, Dallas, Wham, leggings and Yuppies of course.  If you liked cars, however, you might struggle to pick a favourite from the era of the ‘wedge look’ (Google TR7). Nonetheless the best hot hatch of all time, the Golf GTi (okay and the 205 GTi), was born back then along with the Ferrari F40. So some salvation at least from the acknowledged decade of excess.

Individualism was also high on the agenda in the car world of the 1980’s and the likes of TVR, Morgan, Marcos and Lotus enjoyed a level of editorial exposure that typically McLaren, Lamborghini, Porsche and Ferrari enjoy today. Different times indeed.

Of course car design is a very subjective thing. The traditional, conservative path tends to be trodden by the mainstream guys because, well, that’s the market they target in order to sell the most cars.

So how does individualist design stack up in the twenty teens? That can be answered in a heartbeat. In order to survive in the long term, no company can afford to be too adventurous because the numbers have to add up. Keep it safe, in other words.

The likes of Trevor Wilkinson and Colin Chapman would have a very big hill to climb these days so therefore all credit to the likes of Horacio Pagani and those designers that stretch our imaginations much further than our conformist world would prefer.

Uwe Gemballa was a car designer of his time and fortunately there are still a few of his sensational designs around 30-plus years later today. This 1986 Gemballa Avalanche is a superb example that is available to purchase right now.

Finished in Pearlescent White with a Black Leather interior this super-rare, left hand drive Gemballa Avalanche was first registered in the UK in April 2018 and was originally supplied brand new to a dealer in Puerto Rico, USA in 1986.

The Porsche 930 Turbo may well have been one of the fastest and most highly regarded sports cars of the 1980’s but a market for specialist tuners emerged during that time with RUF and Gemballa quickly making a name for themselves. Gemballa was founded in 1981 by Uwe Gemballa, an engineer who started out creating bespoke interiors before developing a strong interest in aerodynamics and associated aftermarket products. Gemballa soon turned his attention to producing complete cars based on Porsche 930’s and quickly gained a reputation for outrageous designs combined with wild performance.

The Avalanche debuted in 1985 with a price tag of 390,000 DM (nearly $700,000 in 1989) and quickly became the wheels of choice for some very high-profile celebrities such as the rap-musician Vanilla Ice who immortalised the car in the lyrics of one of his songs – “Of course a Vanilla rides the groove like a Gemballa Porsche”.

Each Avalanche was created by Gemballa with mostly bespoke body panels plus individual interiors filled with the latest technology for the time. Mechanical upgrades were completed by RUF with the cars being finished off by Gemballa to specific customer requirements.  Read the rest of this entry »

1986 RUF Porsche 930 Flatnose BTR

Finished in Guards Red with a Black Leather interior this left hand drive 1986 Porsche 930 Turbo Flatnose was first registered in the UK in April 1989 and originally supplied through Porsche in the Netherlands it was well optioned from new, the most obvious of course being its distinctive body shape. This vehicle started life as a genuine factory Slantnose, Flatnose or ‘Flachbau’.

As if a 911 Turbo Flatnose didn’t stand out from the crowd enough, early in the car’s life it was sent to world-renowned Porsche tuners RUF Automobile GmbH, who are the only recognised partner of Porsche and, in fact, are recognised by the German government as a manufacturer in their own right. The customer opted for a BTR conversion (B = Group B, T = Turbo, R = RUF).

The basics of the RUF BTR start with the engine, which had the original partially-finned cylinder barrels replaced by those with air-cooling fins around their complete diameter. The bore was increased giving a new displacement of 3.4 litres from the original 3.3 litres. RUF added unique Mahle Pistons plus connecting rods and 935 type camshafts. The intake manifold was replaced, as was the exhaust, A larger KKK K27 unit replaced the turbo, and a larger free-flowing intercooler was added along with the installation of a larger oil cooler behind the RUF front spoiler.

RUF also went to great lengths to modify the standard Porsche 930 4-speed transmission by adding a 5th gear with the help of Getrag. Next, the shift linkage was improved, becoming both lighter and more positive than the stock unit. The cars were lowered and the suspension was stiffened, RUF also fitted their single-piece forged alloy wheels, sized 9×17 and 10×17.  Read the rest of this entry »

2013 RUF RtR 'Narrow Body'

RUF Automobile is delighted to offer for sale this extremely rare, right hand drive RUF RtR which is the first of its type to be available in the United Kingdom.

Afficionados of RUF will know that the company is in a unique position to source body shells directly from Porsche and then create its own individual interpretation of a highly capable sports car. All RUF-manufactured cars come with a VIN that starts ‘W09’ since the company is recognised as a manufacturer in its own right by the German authorities.

This Canary Yellow RtR was built in Pfaffenhausen in 2013 and has since recorded only 600 miles since new having mainly been used for shows such as the Geneva Auto Salon and as a press demonstrator by RUF Automobile.

This particular example is rear wheel drive and fitted with a RUF-built 645 hp twin-turbocharged 3.8 litre flat-six boxer engine which is mated to a six-speed manual transmission.  Read the rest of this entry »

1994 Porsche 968 Club Sport

The 968 ‘Club Sport’ or ‘CS’ was Porsche’s attempt to appeal to track-minded enthusiasts by capitalising on the excellent chassis dynamics of the familiar 944/968 series. By lowering the car by 20 mm, tweaking the suspension and stripping off some of the ‘luxury’ elements of the 968 a credible 100 Kg weight-saving was achieved which allowed the CS to sprint to 60 mph in 6 seconds and then on to a top speed of 162 mph. The Club Sport was even crowned ‘Performance Car of the Year’ in 1993 by Performance Car magazine in the UK going some way to establishing the CS as a sports coupe with serious credentials.

This very presentable, right hand drive, 1994 example on sale here is finished in Solid Black with Black cloth interior complemented with red ‘Club Sport’ side-panel script and red painted 17″ Cup alloy wheels. Originally supplied new in New Zealand this 968 CS was imported and registered in the UK in 2016 and comes with an appropriate V5 document.  Read the rest of this entry »