Lotus Elise, Le Mans Jaguar and 21-litre titan

| 1 Oct 2015

A brand-new issue of Classic & Sports Car hits the shelves in the UK today (1 Oct), and it’s bursting with news, features and buying advice. The 20th anniversary of the Lotus Elise is the big story of the month, while we also take a ride in a blistering Le Mans Jaguar XJR-9 and the 21-litre Métallurgique-Maybach. The sublime Lamborghini Espada and futuristic Alfa Romeo 8C also get a run out, plus there are in-depth drives in the first and last Bristols, as well as the luxurious Imperial Crown Coupe. 

This month’s cover is dominated by the Lotus Elise, which this year celebrates its 20th anniversary. But the car that saved Lotus didn’t have an easy gestation, and could so easily have been cancelled before its full potential could be realised. Malcolm Thorne digs a little deeper to discover the fascinating story behind one of the best-received sports cars of its generation, while also getting behind the wheel to fully appreciate the Elise’s sublime handling. 

Fans of pre-war titans will be mesmerised by the thunderous Metallurgique – a 21-litre monster powered by a Maybach engine similar to those used in period airships. That the incredible would-be record car was found in a dilapidated boatyard in Norfolk just adds to its sense of mysticism. Mick Walsh visits its current custodian, taking the mammoth veteran for a trip to the local pub, no doubt terrifying local road users as much as its own occupants!

Few modern classics are more deserving of the title than the Alfa Romeo 8C. Most of them were squirrelled away in private collections when new, and now they’re even more valuable. James Page teams up with marque specialist Richard Norris to take both Spider and Competizione variants on a storming drive along the south coast, taking a rare opportunity to experience one of the rarest and most desirable supercars on the road.

Described in period as both the ugliest model at the Earls Court show and one of the most dramatic looking cars of all time, it’s safe to say the Lamborghini Espada is a classic that polarises opinion. There’s no doubt in which camp Richard and Lynne Bull sit, though – the pair’s years long love affair with their car stretches from its early life as a shopping runabout through to its time as a multiple concours winner and fully restored beauty. Ross Alkureishi documents their adventures. 

There’s no arguing with the beauty – and purpose – of the 1988 Le Mans-winning Jaguar XJR-9. and who better to show James Page the ropes than the man who drove it to that famous victory, Andy Wallace? It may not be La Sarthe, but Blyton Park gives the endurance racing star plenty of space to get reacquainted with his old helm, and to demonstrate the full force of its V12’s 750bhp performance.

In stark contrast to the riotous Jaguar is the Imperial Crown Coupe, a car Martin Buckley reckons would be a perfect fit for Mad Men’s king of suave, Don Draper. And he isn’t wrong: not only is the 18 1/2 foot barge the height of luxury, it’s also fitted with a bonkers Mobile Director option. Turn to page 158 to discover what that involves, and to get Buckley’s verdict on one of the most imposing coupes of the 1960s.

The historic Filton Airfield is the latest in a long line of British landmarks to be razed to the ground. Simon Charlesworth returns to the site for a farewell tour, taking along the first and last Bristol cars to be built, a Type 400 and a Fighter. The British firm has a long association with the airfield, and a similarly tumultuous history. We take a nostalgic look at Bristol and the world-beating cars it produced. 

Classic & Sports Car – The London Show is previewed in full with a massive 15-page supplement, including a run-down of all the latest features, such as displays of Aston Martins and Sir Stirling Moss’ single-seater racers, plus dealer stands, art exhibitions and live on-stage interviews with Ross Brawn, Ant Anstead, Sir John Egan and Chris Goffey. 

The Goodwood Revival dominates the news, with a roundup of the event’s racing highlights, plus all the action away from the track. In events news, it’s a concours lover’s dream thanks to full coverage of Salon Privé, Chantilly Arts & Elegance and the Concours of Elegance. 

Of course, there’s all the latest comment from Mick Walsh, James Elliott, Simon Taylor and Martin Buckley, plus running report updates on the Jensen Interceptor, Austin-Healey, Lancia Gamma Berlina and Land-Rover Series IIA.

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Jaguar XJR-9

Alfa Romeo 8C

Imperial Crown Coupe