Mclaren Supercar Aims At Ferrari

The McLaren MP4-12C is perhaps the ultimate in high performance sports cars. While McLaren are best known for their involvement in formula one racing, they are going global with this exclusive road car.

McLaren have invested heavily in the UK in new production facilities and aim to produce 4000 cars annually. Their intention is to become an exclusive supercar manufacturer and already they have two further models in the pipeline. The 12C was benchmarked against the incredible Ferrari 458 Italia, which they say they have eclipsed in performance and design. The 12C is powered by a new M838T 3.8-litre twin turbo V8 engine, designed by McLaren Automotive. It produces 441kW of power and 600Nm of torque. This is 16kW more than the Ferrari 458, and it is also 51kg lighter. It has a claimed O-lOOkm/h of 3.1 seconds on to a top of 330km/h.

Mated to the M838T is a dual clutch, seven-speed 'SSG' transmission. The 12C is equipped with a host of electronic aids, with the transmission able to be switched through 3 settings: normal, sport and track modes. Each provides a progressive immediacy of gearshift, operated through steering wheel controls.

The SSG transmission include a pre-cog feature, which allows the driver to pre-load the clutch by applying moderate pressure to the shift control, thereby decreasing latency to practically zero for virtual instantaneous gear shifts. The SSG system has another trick in its box. If the driver enters a sharp corner too quickly, requiring a strong braking action, there is every chance he will not be in the ideal gear for smooth acceleration out of the corner. If the left-shift control is depressed and held, instead of 'clicked', while under braking, the transmission matches engine speed to the correct lowest gear.

Automatic mode, launch control and winter modes can also be selected on the active dynamics panel, which changes all electronic functions to suit the conditions.

Much of the monocoque body is carbon fibre, with McLaren drawing on extensive technology developed for F1 race cars, and uses a proactive chassis control featuring adaptive damping for more responsive and comfortable handling and ride than conventional suspension systems allow.

The MP4-12C will have a price tag in excess of $500,000 and will be available in Australia through Trivett Prestige Automotive Group in Sydney.


Scandinavian rally drivers have long been known for their driving prowess - especially in frozen conditions where there is more snow and ice than tarmac or gravel.

To prove once again their remarkable abilities under these conditions, Finland's four-time world rally champion Juha Kankkunen has been clocked at an amazing 330.695km/h - that's more than 205mph in the old money - in a Bentley Continental Supersports convertible.

As well as winning the 1986, 1987, 1991 and 1993 world rally championships, the Finnish driver boasts seriously impressive motorsport credentials, including winning a total of 23 WRC championships events and the 1988 Dakar rally.

Driving on the hazardous frozen waters of the Baltic Sea off the coast of his home country and using E85 bio-ethanol, the all-wheel drive, six-litre, 12-cylinder Bentley allowed Kankkunen to break his own 2007 world ice speed record of 321.6 km/h set in the Continental GT at the same location.

During the run, Kankkunen had to overcome temperatures as low as minus 30 degrees Celcius, sudden snow blizzards and potentially dangerous crosswinds on the 16.5km track that was established on a 70cm-thick layer of sea ice.

The new record was achieved on a 1000m long measured distance with the speed certified by the Finland's traffic police and based on the average of two runs in opposite directions. A representative of the Guinness Book of Records ratified the measured speeds.

Kankkunen said that back in 2007, he narrowly missed the magical 200mph mark in a Continental GT.

"When I heard about the Supersports, I was determined to go record breaking again with the Bentley boys," he explained.

"This time, with over 600bhp under the bonnet, a Quickshift transmission and the security of the all-wheel drive system, the Supersports convertible was the perfect car to go for the record," Kankkunen added.

He said that 200mph came up after 5km on sheet ice.

"Then it was just a question of getting everything right in the timing zone and hoping the snow kept away. There's nothing to beat driving a Bentley at these speeds; the conditions

may be perilous but the car responds so well to the slightest adjustment which gives you the confidence to push even harder," Kankkunen said.

As with the previous record-breaking drive in the Continental GT, the Anglo-Finnish team used a car with a minimum of modification.

The Bentley was fitted with a heavy-duty roll cage and shod with Pirelli SottoZero II 275/40R20 winter tyres. A rear-bumper-mounted parachute was added for extra safety and front-and-rear spoilers provided optimum high-speed stability on the treacherous surface.

Bentley's new chief Wolfgang Durheimer describes the new ice speed record as an amazing feat. "We will be celebrating this achievement with a very special 'extreme' Bentley that will be the most powerful model ever to bear the famed Winged B emblem," Durkeimer announced.

After making its debut at the recent Geneva motor show, just 100 examples of the car will be built. Hi


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By 1960, the Chevy Corvette had got over its initial teething troubles and established itself as "America's Sports Car". With its light weight fibreglass body and potent induction options, including fuel injection, for the 283ci V8 engine, the Corvette certainly had the pace to match its fast looks.

If the Corvette's development and engineering team had their way, the 1960 'Vette would have been very different from the model that was actually produced. In late 1956, 'Chevrolet Engineering', headed by Zora Arkus-Duntov, started work on Project XP-84, codenamed "Q". The Q Corvette was envisaged as a coupe only, with a convertible only added late in the program. The Q Corvette was developed with a fuel-injected V8 engine in mind and, more interestingly, a rear transaxle with inboard-mounted brakes. The theory behind this was two-fold. Moving the transmission to the rear would improve weight distribution, while also freeing up cockpit space for the driver and passenger.

The project got as far as a full-size clay model and some advanced mechanical specs, but a combination of factors, both within Chevrolet, and in the general auto marketplace, meant the project was dropped in early 1958. If it had gone ahead, the Q Corvette would have represented a new direction for Chevy's sports car. The styling ideas posited by the Q car would first appear, in part, on the 1961 models, before coming to fruition with the "Stingray" Corvette of 1963.

Starved of development money, at least for the time, the Corvette soldiered on largely unchanged from 1958 to 1960. Even with increases in sales, the Corvette was, at best, only a break-even proposition for Chevrolet, but it did bring a lot of people into Chevy dealerships, and that value couldn't be measured. Despite a steel strike that shut down assembly for a month, 1960 was the best Corvette production year to that time, with over 10,000 built.

The 1960 design was arguably cleaner than the 1957-58 models, but the differences between a 1959 and 1960 Corvette are minimal, to say the least. There were a number of mechanical changes, though. An aluminium clutch housing for manual transmission-equipped models reduced weight, while aluminium alloy heads for the 283ci V8 would have further reduced weight - if they had gone into production. While casting alloy rocker covers was trouble-free, achieving the same with alloy heads back then proved too difficult, the heads warping when overheated. As such, all production Corvettes were fitted with regular cast iron heads, but using the same improved intake and exhaust manifolding as the abandoned alloy versions. An aluminium radiator did make it into production, but was only offered with the high horsepower versions of the V8. In 1960, that meant the fuel injected engines and high lift cam carburetted engines. If the engine produced 270hp or more, the


Red Car

1960 CHEVROLET CORVETTE Roadster. Roman Red. Good, clean, tidy car. Comes with removable hard top. No rust or major repair issues. Located Gold Coast, QLD. Urgent sale. USA-19. Ph: Dave - 0439 427 427, QLD $67,500

Turquoise Car

1960 CHEVROLET CORVETTE Roadster. Cascade Green. Both hard & soft tops, Mild 350, 4-spd manual, this is a great, clean car. Matching unit for Roman Red roadster - would make ideal "his 'n' hers" cars. Suitable articles for Super fund. Located Gold Coast, QLD. Urgent Sale. USA-27. Ph: Dave - 0439 427 427, QLD. $67,500

lighter radiator was fitted. Similarly, ordering a 1960 Corvette with fuel injection meant that the Powerglide auto couldn't be optioned to match it. Changes to the cylinder head, compression ratio and camshaft meant the fuel-injected engines produced more torque for 1960, too much for the Powerglide to handle. The 3-speed manual was the base transmission option for 1960, but more than half the units sold for that year were optioned up with a 4-speed manual.

Reflecting the emerging status of the Corvette as a cruiser rather than a bare-bones sports racer, the heavy duty suspension option was deleted for 1960, but a new rear anti-roll bar and thicker front bar were fitted as standard. This improved ride and made for more neutral handling, although the Corvette still had a tendency to oversteer.

Externally, the 1960 models are almost indistinguishable from the 1959s. The only exterior changes were a slightly modified shape to the removable hardtop and a shuffling of the available colour options. The same seven basic colours were offered, although some had new names (such as Sateen Silver instead of Inca Silver) and variations in tint. Contrasting paint on the side coves was a factory option. While popular now, this wasn't widely adopted when new, with only around 35 percent of 1960 buyers choosing the option. Generally, the paint-outs for the side coves were in white, with silver applied to 'Ermine White' and 'Tuxedo Black' models.

Inside, modified seat patterns and pointed tips on the needles of the small gauges were the only interior changes from the 1959 models. The dash layout remained the same, one of the most stylish of the era and one that still impresses today. The large semi-circular speedo sat atop a central tacho, with fuel, temperature, volt and oil gauges arranged symmetrically on each side. Below those, the light, wiper, ignition and lighter switches were arranged in similarly symmetrical order. If selected, the optional AM 'Wonderbar' radio sat at the top of the central console, which also allowed for fitment of controls for the optional heater. A clock sat at the bottom of the console. Interestingly, the Corvette was one of the first Chevrolets to feature seatbelts as standard equipment. Optional in the first few years of the Corvettes life, lap seat belts had become standard equipment in 1959.

The lack of difference between the 1958 to 1960 Corvettes seems to have little effect on their popularity today. Retrospectively labelled as the 'CI' (ie. first generation Corvette), the 1953 to 1962 models are desirable machines today, but nowhere near as prodigious as the C2 (1963-67) and C3 (1968-82) machines that followed. If you can find one, they make for a great, fun Summer cruiser, as well as a good investment. (U



283ci OHV 16V V8


3.87 x 3.00 inch




230hp @ 4800rpm / N/A (w/

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  • aili piili
    What is the difference between a regular Corvette and a Corvette Stingray?
    7 months ago

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