2013 is set to be a pretty rock ‘n’ roll year in the automotive sphere, with a variety of iconic manufacturers and models enjoying significant anniversaries.
While last year buzzed with excitement over the Ferrari 250 GTO, the Mercedes SL and various others, there’s plenty more to look forward to in the coming year.
And although the cars we’re talking about here may be out of the financial reach of most of us as an ownership proposition, there are many ways to get involved in the festivities. Now, go and stick the kettle on, make yourself a nice cup of tea…
…have you done it? OK, don’t forget the biscuits…
…and enjoy our guide to six fun things that you and your family/friends can enjoy together in what we shall henceforth be calling ‘The Year of the Awesome Cars’. That’ll catch on, guaranteed.
Bruce McLaren founded his racing team half a century ago in 1963, and the company has been thrilling and delighting overgrown schoolboys (and actual schoolboys) ever since. From Formula One to Can-Am, breathtaking road cars to their own CGI animation studio, it’s a company simultaneously grounded in clinical precision and woven from colourful dreams.
McLaren’s party piece these days is to relentlessly irritate the Red Bull Racing team in the F1 arena. Now, it would be nice to mark their half-century by watching them duke it out at the British GP, but going to Formula One races is quite expensive.
Why not convince your local pub to subscribe to the Sky F1 channel? Then you can watch McLaren bloody Red Bull's nose in comfy surroundings, with pork scratchings and a chewy pint of ale. Cheers!
The Lotus Cortina was a work of genius from Ford’s marketing department. The mkI Cortina had been launched in mid-1962, and the Lotus variant followed soon after in ’63, featuring a twin-cam development of the Kent engine as honed by Colin Chapman. They monkeyed around with the suspension, fitted an Elan gearbox, painted them white with green stripes, and took ‘em racing. And boy, were they successful!
…and you can relive that 1960s magic in a very authentic setting: get yourself all dolled up in your retro sixties finery, head down to the Goodwood Revival in September and see the Dagenham heroes thrashing around the iconic Goodwood circuit. They don’t hang about – look out for them cocking a front wheel on the tighter corners!
Automobili Lamborghini S.p.A. was a company borne of spite. Ferruccio Lamborghini, a tractor manufacturer, owned a Ferrari road car that was rather less than reliable; the famously spiky Enzo Ferrari refused to accept his suggestions for technical improvement on the grounds that he was ‘just a tractor maker, and could not know anything about sports cars’. So Lamborghini set up his own rival company in 1963, just to teach Enzo a lesson.
To celebrate fifty years of Modenese catfights, why not nip over to Italy for the Lamborghini Grand Tour? OK, it might be a bit pricey but hey, you only live once. It could be a good dust-up. Just don't forget to check your travel insurance and airport parking arrangements before you go, y'hear?
The motoring landscape would be very different without the 911. Hanging the engine behind the rear axle is weird, physically-speaking, but Porsche have persevered with it and flourished – there are no bad 911s, they’re all renowned for being sensational to drive. And it was way back in 1963 that the first one emerged. Built as a larger, more comfortable replacement for the 356 (itself proudly bearing its Beetle origins), it’s evolved remarkably over the decades while still looking fundamentally similar.
To celebrate this evolutionary duality, why not try a variety of 911s on a driving day at Silverstone? This one puts you behind the wheel of the 1980s G-Series, the early-nineties 993 - last of the air-cooled 911s, fact fans - and the brand new 991, so you can judge the differences for yourself. (Don’t do what our friend did though, and accidentally spang one of their 911s into a fence. Embarrassing, that.)
Icon of brutish American muscle, the Corvette is celebrating its 60th birthday this year. That’s the same age as Michael Bolton, Tony Blair and Hulk Hogan, and it has to be said that the cheeky Chevy is still looking more racy and svelte than any of them.
Chevrolet have recently revealed the all-new 2014 Corvette Stingray, to much media hype, hyperbole and hyperventilation, which will allow you to slyly swoop into the shadows and scoop up the Corvette 427 60th Anniversary Convertible – a special edition based on the outgoing model. It’s got a 7.0-litre V8, 505bhp, and will hit 60mph in 3.8s.
Of all the celebrations suggested in this list, buying this Corvette is by far the silliest and most expensive, but look at it objectively: you’re getting Ferrari pace for $76,000 – that’s under £50k. Which, in terms of bhp-per-pound, is a stone-cold bargain. Perhaps.
OK, this is the biggie – forget all that ’fifty years, sixty years’ nonsense. Whippersnappers. Aston Martin are ONE HUNDRED YEARS OLD. How amazing is that?
Lionel Martin and Robert Bamford joined forces in 1913 to sell Singers from an unassuming mews in West London – they actually started making their own cars in 1915, but let’s not nitpick. From those early days of slotting Coventry-Simplex engines into Isotta-Fraschini chassis, to the modern assault of V12-engined goliaths and zingy V8 sports cars, theirs is a history rich with thrust, success, devastation, rebirth and, overall, oodles of style.
To bask in the glorious warmth of Aston Martin’s achievements, why not join them for ‘Centenary Week' at Gaydon, the company’s Warwickshire home since 2003? Full details are yet to be released, but they’re teasing us with suggestions of factory tours, design masterclasses, exhibitions and ‘a spectacular Aston Martin birthday party’ – all sounds pretty cool, right? Keep an eye on things here.
So, a diverse selection of stuff to do there. But if that all seems like a lot of effort and you can’t be bothered to go out, let me just leave you with this: footage of Jim Clark and various others racing Lotus Cortinas at Crystal Palace, 1964. If that doesn’t warm your cockles, perhaps you should give your cockles a bit of a rethink.