2014 has been a heck of a year in the motoring world.
So, how do we distil the entire 12 months, bubbling with exciting cars, events and happenings, down to 10 brief shots?
Why, just like this…
Maserati celebrates 100 years
“Luxury, sports and style, cast in exclusive cars” – that’s the Maserati ethos, and it's been hammering together its fancy motors for 100 years now.
Ok, it's possible to buy a salesman-spec diesel one today, but let’s gloss over that.
So, the company has been out celebrating. Pretty much any car show, event or gathering that you can name in 2014 has had a sizeable Maserati centenary stand, showing off iconic and desirable models from the marque’s road-car and competition history.
Our favourite? The shiny new Alfieri concept, as showcased at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. Look at those teeth, it’s like a massive shark.
A very smart (and very quick) Merc
Mercedes is being clever with this one, the newly unveiled GT.
It continues the bloodline of the McLaren tie-in SLR, which was superseded by the gullwing-doored SLS AMG. You’ll spot that it's now hyphenating the model as ‘Mercedes-AMG’, so there’s performance baked right into the title.
The car’s aimed squarely at the same marketplace as the ubiquitous Porsche 911 too, but the clever part is that Mercedes is selling it as being ‘not a 911’. Well, it's not actually saying those words, but it’s implicit.
It’s around the same size and price, but it’s a luxury GT rather than an overt sports car. With 911-matching performance and handling. It should sell like hot Stollen. Looks pretty darned gorgeous too, doesn’t it?
For years, motorists who’ve ducked under the Thames via the Dartford Tunnel, or hopped over it via the QEII bridge, have had to pull up at a gate and throw a handful of shrapnel into a hopper.
But as of late 2014, it’s working on the same principle as the London Congestion Charge zone: automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras read your number plate as you go through, and you can either pay in advance or cough up online or by phone later on.
Does this set a precedent for ANPR-based road tolls rolling out across the country? Er, possibly, yes. Keep watching the skies.
The ultimate hot hatch?
Arguably the ultimate iteration of the hot hatch genre blasted out of Turin this year. Sure, we’ve seen loads of spiced-up Fiat 500s before, but the 695 Biposto really is bonkers on toast.
‘Biposto’ translates as ‘two-seater’, and you’ll find little inside beyond that pair of buckets, some harnesses and a rollcage. Oh, and oodles of carbon-fibre.
It’s got a fancy Bacci Romano gearbox that’s worth about £10,000 by itself. There’s also race suspension, data-logging, a titanium exhaust, and it weighs under a ton. This is the hot hatch turned up to 11.
However, it does cost £33,000, rising to around £50,000 with all the options. Which is quite a lot.
Koenigsegg made something terrifying
The world’s first megacar emerged this year. And that’s not just marketing hyperbole – its power output of 1,360PS is equivalent to one megawatt.
Furthermore, the insanely frightening One:1 enjoys a perfect 1:1 power-to-weight ratio (hang on… that might be where the name came from), with its 1,360PS propelling 1,360kg.
It’ll do 0-62mph in 2.8 seconds, and go on to a top speed of 280mph. Two hundred and eighty! And in doing so, it’ll rip a wibbly hole in time itself, possibly jump-starting the second Big Bang. Be afraid.
Lewis Hamilton wins another F1 World Championship
Lewis Carl Davidson Hamilton, MBE is quite good at motor racing. You may have noticed.
He was approached by McLaren at the age of 10, taken under their wing, nurtured, loved, and caressed toward his first Formula 1 World Championship win in 2008. He nearly won it in his rookie year in ’07, finishing just a single point behind Kimi Raikkonen.
He ditched McLaren in 2013, moving to Mercedes-Benz. Many suggested that this was a mistake. But Lewis knew what he was doing, and in 2014 he now has more silverware. And he’s also Sports Personality of the Year to boot. Good for him.
A logical Mustang
It’s taken half a century, but we’re finally getting Mustangs over here with the steering wheel on the right side. Which is nice.
There’s also a brilliant dichotomy that Ford is presenting to buyers: will they choose the ‘proper’ engine, or the smart one?
Muscle cars should have V8s, as any Confederate flag-toting Nascar enthusiast will bellow at you, so the new ’Stang has a brawny 435bhp 5.0-litre V8 to play with. But you can also get a four-cylinder 2.3-litre version too. Anathema! Sacrilege! Well, it does have 310bhp and decent economy.
Goodness, this new Mustang is actually quite sensible. At least, that’s what you can tell your bank manager.
The mother of all barn finds
As any regular window-shopper of eBay or Auto Trader will mutter through gritted teeth, ‘barn find’ is a much-overused phrase these days. More often than not, the seller actually means ‘tired old car’.
But this find has left the classic car world gobsmacked. In a nutshell, 60-odd cars were discovered in a series of wonky barns, many of which have been there for 50 years or more.
The collection includes unique creations, and some hitherto assumed lost – Talbot Lagos, Avions Voisins, Delahayes, to name but a few.
They’ll be sold off at Retromobile next year, for eye-watering sums, as the auctioneers gleefully rub their hands together and plan a restocking of their wine cellars.
The constant expansion of the Mini brand now bolsters the standard three-door hatch with a new five-door, a Coupe, Clubman, Roadster, Convertible, Countryman, Paceman, Clubvan… So a fresh kind of roadster is just the ticket, right?
One of the darlings of the 2014 show scene, the Mini Superleggera was crafted by legendary coachbuilders Touring – that which built various Aston Martins in the '60s and what-have-you.
It’s got a lightweight spaceframe, hand-beaten aluminium panels, and copious Union Flag motifs. Bit of a looker, isn’t it? Let’s hope they put it into production.
If one car really characterises 2014, it’s this.
What BMW has achieved here is to craft a car that appeals to as many people as possible, without it ballooning into an SUV. Its eco credentials please the environmentalists, the performance is mind-blowing, the looks are astonishing and it’s practical enough to carry stuff about and use every day.
It also manages to be a genuinely fast sports car (try 0-62mph in 4.8 seconds) while packing a mere 1.5-litres of three-cylinder propulsion. And, er, some batteries and stuff. Top Trumps will never be the same again.
So, quite a year, then. And just you wait until you see what 2015 has in store!