A round-up of the quickest Minis, an incredible one-off Rolls-Royce Phantom and an Audi R8 vs Ferrari F430 shootout all feature in the February issue of Classic & Sports Car, plus we drive one of the most famous E-types ever built – 4 WPD.
A six-car Mini tribute takes top billing in the latest issue, with a comprehensive test of the fastest models, from the initial 997cc Cooper through to the turbocharged ERA of the 1980s. Also put through its paces by Simon Charlesworth is a MkII 'S', its 1275 GT replacement, an early '90s Cooper S-Pack and the final Cooper LE S Works of 1999. Each of the cars shares the same lineage, but subtle differences to the formula result in a completely different characteristics. A more comprehensive overview of the fast Mini range will be difficult to find.
Next up is the stunning Vanvooren-bodied V12 Phantom III – the most sophisticated Rolls-Royce ever built, and the only of its type left in existence. As well as being a marvel of over-engineering, the cabriolet also boasts a fascinating history, which Mick Walsh delves into throughout the six-page feature.
Also under the spotlight are two future classic supercars – Audi's R8 and Ferrari's F430. Both can be bought for the same price as an Austin-Healey, so an extensive road test was needed to fully appreciate which car is the better secondhand buy. Common knowledge tells us that the Audi is soulless and the F430 pretentious but, as James Page discovers, the reality is quite different.
A full-blooded hot lap of Goodwood in Jaguar's greatest Lightweight E-type gets us back in the classic mood as James Page meets one of his motoring heroes – 4 WPD. The ex-John Coombs example was one of the first production cars, and became the prototype Lightweight. Its journey from standard car to Ferrari GTO-slayer to historic racer is one heck of a tale.
Considerably less valuable and slightly less well-known, but in no way less intriguing, is the Matra-Bonnet Djet. The result of missile manufacturer Matra giving the kiss of life to Rene Bonnet's '62 Le Mans prototype may seem like a poor man's Alpine-Renault, but Jon Pressnell finds out that the little French rocket has a great deal to recommend it.
Another mysterious marque is investigated next: Tatra. Andrew Roberts becomes well acquainted with four of the firm's finest exports, a T87, T603 and brace of T613s, charting the models' development from 1936 through to 1995. Each of these rear-engined leviathans boasts a thumping air-cooled V8 engine, but which is the more dynamic to drive? Dave Richards puts his foot down to find out.
With the beach-racing scene booming both at home and abroad, we had to visit Pendine Sands in Wales to relive the success of last September's meet – and are we glad we did! But that isn't all, we also travelled to New Jersey's Wildwood beach to see how American hot rod enthusiasts put rubber to sand. Julian Balme visits two very different events with some striking similarities. It's not to be missed.
There's a full round-up of the C&SC team's 2014 highlights, too, from our favourite cars and most memorable adventures to our greatest heroes.
Topping that, however, is the news that a scarcely believable group of classics has been unearthed in France: the Baillon collection. The star of the 60-car find was the ex-Alain Delon Ferrari 250GT SWB California – but that's just the beginning.
Of course, there's the latest comments from all your favourite columnists, plus a fresh round-up of the best books, garage gear and models to hit the shelves in recent weeks.
A new car joins the pages of Our Classics this month, while others gain a fresh engine and gearbox.
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