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Chairmans Ramble - Spring 1999

It's called 'Heritage Design', most of the rest of us have referred to it as 'Retro'. Looking through our biased window, it looks like the 240Z may have kicked this off, from a more balanced viewpoint there is still an argument that the original restored 240Z may well have kicked off this whole 'Retro', sorry 'Heritage Design' momentum. The other very interesting phenomenon is that Count Albrecht von Goertz appears to be fairly central to all of the fervour. The following extracts are from CAR magazine, March 1999.


BMW 507

Just 253 made, from 1956. Designed by Count Albrecht von Goertz, looked a million dollars and almost cost that.


BMW's 1997 Tokyo show car becomes late '99 reality. Aluminium structure and 400BHP engine.

Mercedes-Benz 300SL

The Gullwing. Mercedes won Le Mans in 1952.

Mercedes-Benz SLR

Show-car attempt to link look of Gullwing with nose of today's McLaren grand prix cars.

Ford Thunderbird

Much loved name from the surf-era '50s.

Ford Thunderbird

Return of the name. Platform, engine and dash lifted from new Lincoln LS8.

Datsun 240Z

Albrecht von Goertz only designed two really famous cars, and, what do you know, here's the other one. Secured a reputation as an interesting Japanese car when they were all dullards and a Jag E-type alternative that was actually reliable.

Nissan 240Z

Not a retro-take on the 240Z, they say, because Nissan, up to it's neck in pooh, can't afford to be backward looking.

Chevolet Nomad

Cult crossover mid-'50s estate based on Corvette parts.

Chevolet Nomad

Chevy's Detroit show-car leaps on two 1999 bandwagons: retro design and crossover utility-sports cars.

Dodge Charger

One of the more mental late '60s muscle cars.

Dodge Charger

In 1999, Chrysler group's Detroit concept cars preview green technology, and Charger runs with 325bhp natural-gas-fuelled V8.

Pontiac GTO

Blagged a name from Ferrari's finest but brash enough never to be confused.

Pontiac GTO

This last minute addition to Detroit's show-car ranks didn't carry much whiff of serious intent.

It is good to see Nissan and Goertz and the centre of this bandwagon but I have two major concerns;
One is Nissan is strapped for cash, can it afford to develop it? and on what platform? Nissan are currently rationalising the number of platforms being used, is there a rear drive platform to use?

Secondly, the Z entered the market with weak competition, there was none to speak of from Japan, whilst the MGB (Stop it Richard!) was the best from the UK. Today, apart from a large selection of current competent sports vehicles, there is one from Japan that I think could steal the thunder.

Take a look a the Honda S2000 roadster;

  • Price under £25,000
  • On Sale October 1999
  • Engine 1997cc VTEC
  • Power 240BHP
  • Gearbox Six-speed
  • Weight 1250kg
  • Performance
  • Max Speed 150mph
  • 0-60 5.5 secs

The new Z will have to be VERY good.


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