Fioravanti - the master of Ferrari 
F100 Roadster
It made me amazing 
how unimaginative the
360 Modena is


  F100 coupe


Fioravanti's other great creations 
Since Leonardo Fioravanti left Pininfarina in 1988, the Italian giant studio did not penned any Ferrari better than Fioravanti’s years. The pre-Fioravanti Ferraris were the ugly 250GT and just-OK 275GTB. The Fioravanti Ferraris include Daytona, Dino, 308/328GTB, Berlinetta Boxer and Testarossa, all are considered as the most beautiful Ferraris till today. The post-Fioravanti Ferraris are 348/F355 (evolved from 308/328), 456GT/550M (inspired by Daytona) and the functional but unartistic F40 and F50.    
During his 24 years service with Pininfarina, he designed 8 Ferraris by himself and guided another 5, including the aerodynamics layout of Testarossa. Unlike many nowadays stylists, Fioravanti is also an aerodynamic expert - he started life in Pininfarina as aerodynamist - which explained why his designs could be kept original throughout the production adaptation process. This can be reflected in the sleekness of his designs, including the F100 concept car.
Since he left Pininfarina, he joined Fiat briefly and then established his own design studio. The F100 shown in 1998 was the first concept supercar wearing his family name. It made me amazing how unimaginative the 360 Modena is. The latest F100r roadster version even incorporates a patented bubble shape windscreen and hood cover, which reduces turbulence in open cockpit. It was the result of computer fluid dynamic modeling, proving the 62-year-old master designer is still in the leading edge of car design business. 

Time Tunnel

Nissan in 1989 
Back to 1989, Nissan was one of the most prosperous giant car makers in the world. Already in a strong second position in Japan and one of the top 10 worldwide, Nissan seemed optimistic to overtake arch-rival Toyota sooner or later. Think about it, in that year it got the most fearsome mass produced sports car in the world - the Skyline GT-R, the luxurious flagship Infiniti Q45 which was praised as a Japanese BMW, the best bargain coupe of the decade, Silvia 200SX, and the sexy Fairlady 300ZX. Nissan satisfied keen drivers of all kind. On the other hand, it was producing a series of icon cars - Be-1, Pao, S-Cargo and Figaro - showing that the giant company was flexible and market-sensitive. In 1989, Nissan also beat Mercedes to launch the world's first 5-speed automatic transmission. 
In then, if someone predict a decade later the company will be bankrupted and received by Renault, no one would have believed. However, too many good cars result in inflated cost and overlapping. Some cars still existed because they used to exist. Some cars were added because they have to rival Toyota head on. The whole country was in the bubble economy which burst in around 1993. Bosses realised their trouble too late ....

10 Mysteries

Being a car enthusiast for so many years, I still have some mysteries unanswered: 
  1. Why do people keep saying this car beautiful ? Ferrari 250GT SWB

  3. How can everybody rushes to build premium cars ? Seems no one like to sell Ford or Opel.

  5. How can the Editor-in-chief of Chinese version Car And Driver insist BMW 330xi has no center differential ? He seems doesn’t know very well with the car he tested. Pls read AutoZine Technical School, Mr. Lau.

  7. Why British teams dominate F1 racing while the country’s automotive industry completely collapses ?

  9. Why does Pontiac call its Aztek as the world’s first SRV (Sport Recreational Vehicle) ? Isn’t that Renault Scenic RX4 ?

  11. Why does Top Gear treat Jeremy Clarkson like a Hollywood star ? seems every bit an ordinary car writer and doesn’t look very handsome. Paul Frere is my favourite - a Le Mans-winning driver, mechanical engineer, test driver to Porsche, 40 years journalism experience, speaks multi-language ...

  13. How can Autocar tested a lack-of-run-in Renault Sport Clio in wet and expressed disappointment about its 8.1 sec time for 0-60 ? In France debut it recorded 6.6 sec, recently did 6.64 sec in UK in their long term test car. Any apologise to Renault ?

  15. How can 360 Modena accelerate quicker than new 911 Turbo ? same engine capacity, one of them has two turbo and the other not. Autocar recently measured the former 8.9 sec for 0-100, beating Turbo’s 9.4. Won 0-100-0 as well. That’s an F1 gearbox car !

  17. Why good magazines must die ? Motor, Performance Car, Fast Lane, Complete Car, (Chinese) Auto Magazine (the best Chinese one I’ve ever read), New Car World (another Chinese zine I like) .... the remaining becomes more and more commercial, seems like writing for fools.

  19. Why AutoZine die ? this one I know - because AutoZine is a good magazine !

 The Great Escape

If problems exist, denying them can just make things worse. Mercedes denied the roll over risk of A-class. Audi denied TT’s high speed instability. What were the outcome ? Even though everybody knew the problems were trivial, the public is always willing to see the deceivers fail and apologize. This is just the basic psychology. 

In contrast, Peugeot 607’s handling problems are more obvious, but PSA admitted right from the beginning and tweaked the chassis immediately. Though not completely solved, the positive attitude silent the public. What a great escape !

Reader's Letter
I've looked at your site from time to time, finding it beyond believe that someone could both hold down a fulltime job and build and maintain such a wealth of information. At the same time, I'm pleased for you that your are "getting a life", as the phrase goes. Cars are fine, but they are finally not that much (I'm 53, and have been outgrowing this interest).  

Over the years, I've moved up from a European VW VR6, 1992 while in Norway, then an M3 while in US, followed by a 911-C4, which I sold before coming here to Jakarta. Last summer, I ordered a 360 Modena, now supposedly ready for delivery in Germany in the Fall.  

I perfectly agree with your judgement that the Modena is a notch above the others cars in the same class, notably the Porsche Turbo -I've only driven the previous model, which is a delight because of the tremendous torque, but the extra weight compared even to my C4 was noticeable and took away some agility. Transient response is what makes a car for me - and I imagine that the extremely light cars, like the Elise and the Caterham (sp?) must be a delight. (I've made the effort, by the way to go the Jim Russell Racing School in Canada, considering it irresponsible to be running around in a high powered car without some notion, however modest, of car control.)  

The European VR6 was a truly great and fun car, proving that it's possible to produce a good car that doesn't cost a ton of money. Again thank your for your great effort and all the best in your future activities.  

regards, ulrich k.  
Ulrich and/or Evelyne Kiesow

First off I think this is one of the best sites I've seen in some time, but I have a couple comments. You say that the WX3 had a 7 liter pushrod V8 which is not true. I once saw this motor and when I saw it the motor was a DOHC V8 (assuming it was 32V) not the pushrod Chevy V8 of the older models.  

Also on your comments: "The V8 grew to 7 litres, in normally aspirated form it was claimed to be delivering 700 hp (who believe a pushrod V8 could do that ?) and in twin-turbo form it output 1200 hp, nearly matching the most powerful tank in army."  

I have seen numerous 700+hp pushrod V8s that do live for more than just a quarter mile at a time. Is a 700hp V8 any more inprobable than a 6 or 700hp 1.3L rotary turbo? And as for a 1200hp twin turbo that is very possible though I can not say that their figures were completely accurate especially when figuring available pump gas and emissions laws. But look at the Nissan Skylines twin turbo straight six engines, I've seen these produce over 1,000hp from less than half the displacement. And of course there are the BMW 1.5L turbo 4-cylinder engines (based on a street car engine) that produced well in excess of 1,000hp in a Formula 1 car, and the 2.0L turbo Quad Four 4-cylinder used in the Olds Aerotech record breaker producing 1,000hp and running 260+mph.  

I just wanted to point out that these kind of numbers are indeed possible, though I will admit I can not say that Vectors claims were completely true just that the numbers are possible if not totally realistic in a street legal machine. Thank You. 


Well Mark, the Modena has been in-garage for a full week now. As a previous owner of the---  

1) '87 328 GTS  
2) '91 Testarossa  
3) '93 348 Spider  
4) '95 355 B  
5) '99 355 Spider  

----the 360 Modena is every bit the Italian NSX. It is dynamically as "user-friendly" as the Honda but adds 110 HP and that fabulous Body by Pininfarina/Alcoa. Even the radio/CD works well on those rare occasions when someone riding with you gets "antsy" as you downshift and upshift to hear the two stage exhaust WAIL. This car is a threat to your Driver's License in any country on the globe. It will be interesting to see if folklore criticizes the the Modena as it did the NSX for being too good. Ferrari has a real "New Millennium" platform in the Modena. I can't wait for the 550 replacement.  

Your reader and supporter,  

Ed Yates  

Hi Mark: 

Your technical School articles are excellent, I learnt a lot from it. However, I found one mistake. Quoting from your article: 
"When one wheel is riding on a hump, the anti-roll bar will be twisted and transfer the force to another wheel to push it down, so car body will remain balanced." 
This is wrong. When one wheel is pushed up by a bump, the anti-roll bar will be twisted and transfer the force to the other wheel to PULL IT UP as well. The function of the anti-roll bar is purely to reduce body-roll, not to counteract bumps. In fact, anti-roll bars will cause the ride to deteriorate. 
On a different note: Your website is fantastic! I'm sad to hear you're abandoning it. Can you at least pass it along to another auto-enthusiast to continue maintaining it? By the way, I hope you've saved up enough money to buy one of your dream cars by now! 
yours truly 



You wrote about the "over-classifying" of the Lincoln LS. Now hear this:The Auto Motor und Sport described the 360 Modena as a "hard to handle mid-engine sportscar".The 911 GT3 won the test........ and why? Becouse it's a german car. 

Andrew Flieg 

would you please add Geoff Lawson (most modern jags, including xj220) and tom gale (viper, stealth, intrepid) to your designers' page? I believe that some of the most attractive cars of the last decade are their work... 

Dan Becker


Corvette, 911 and Skyline


From the beginning, one of the core values of AutoZine is talking about and comparing cars from 3 continents. Now the site is coming to an end and I'd like to have a conclusion about this topic. Let me take Corvette, 911 and Skyline as examples, not only because they are my front-page cars but also because they represent the spirits and traditions of the USA, Europe and Japan respectively.  

It is quite unbelievable that the C5 Corvette is still built on the same format as muscle cars 30 years ago, most notably is the big pushrod V8. Well, what else can characterise American performance cars ? For a company having no tradition at all, GM's preference of pushrod V8 for Corvette is mostly due to cost reasons. You know, when the Cadillac had already got multi-valve V8s as standard, the C5 still developed the pushrod LS1 engine because the profit margin of Vette used to be very slim and the volume is not as big as perceived - although the Vette is the dream car of every American boys and engages a lot of covering pages of American car magazines, annual sales is just around 33,000 units, or double of the exclusive-feeling Porsche 911. Mercedes builds more high profit SLK than it. 

Production cost and development budget used to limit the success of Vette.  While performance per dollar is still unmatchable, handling used to be Corvette's weakest aspect. Remember American magazines compared the C4 with Japanese rivals like Supra, 300ZX and gen III RX-7 ? every occasion the Vette won in grip but lost in steering, balance, transmission and of course ride comfort. The C5 is much better, but hardly called as a winner. Its steering and shift quality still lag behind the best of the world. The Getrag gearbox can get overheated for continuous hard use. The plastic and fit & finish of interior is the poorest.  

Using the budget to enhance performance instead of refinement is the philosophy of this car as well as many American performance cars. However, I can't help praising the work done by the C5 considering the budget it got. While the pushrod V8 sounds old, it can amaze European by its compactness and lightweight. It's powerful, torquey and maybe not as thirsty as we believed. It let us rethinking why we need multi-valve and smaller capacity at extra cost ... anyway, the development potential of the LS1 is limited, so is the days lying beyond pushrod engines. Without multi-valve and variable valve timing, pushrodder will not be able to keep pace with the progress of modern engines. Even GM's trucks are switching to a 24-valve inline-6 with VVT and variable intake. Who else is still in favour of pushrod ? 

While pushrod V8 may die in the next decade (although unlikely to happen in the 2003 new Corvette), the Vette will live forever. It is still the symbol of American sports cars. I have no doubt that it will continue to be superfast, cheap and unrefined. That's good to all over the world, as we don't need another 911 or Skyline.


While American sports cars are designed base on market analysis, European sports car specialists are usually driven by engineers’ passion and perhaps the will of a few legendary masters, namely Enzo Ferrari, Ferry Porsche, Colin Chapman, Ferdinand Piech etc. Therefore European sports cars have strong characters - no matter strength or flaws. Every marque has its own persistence in a unique philosophy, say, Ferrari persists in V12, Porsche 911 persists in flat-six, Lotus must be lightweight, Morgan is wooden frame .... now you may say most of such persistence have been sacrificed for customer needs, but European car makers manage to retain their traditional character in a new packaging, because they care about traditions and image. 

Take the 911 as an example. From the first one in 1964 to the latest 996 Turbo, everything has been changed but one can easily tell you both of them comes from the same breed. The evolutionary shape is one of the main reasons. In the 60s, the frog-eyes headlights were deemed to be a functional rather than artistic design, but once they became the symbol of 911, they were retained, evolved and enhanced gradually. Yes, gradually. While Japanese cars change styling completely for every generation, European cars deliberately retain the spirit of the old styling as much as possible, though every generation modernize a bit. In this way, the frog-eyes of 911, double-kidney grilles of BMW and Ferrari’s wave shoulder line are printed deep in our memory. 

In R&D, European sports cars specialists are far more radical than US opponents, because they know strong image depends on engineering excellence rather than styling. GM might be the father of automotive styling (Harley Earl restyled all GM cars every model year), but it doesn’t understand engineering is the decisive factor for building a strong marque, therefore Cadillac Allante failed. On the contrary, Porsche spent a lot of money to research and develop engine technology, Tiptronic, 4-wheel drive, PSM stability control, aerodynamics, ceramic brakes .... a lot of time spent to test and tune the cars in Nurburgring the big ring, a lot of attention to quality of material and selection of suppliers. This is hardly believable for a car maker so small in production volume - last year around 30,000 cars built. How can it find the development budget ? The answer is to sell cars at premium price. A 911 might cost less than double of a Corvette, but the resultant profit margin is several folded. Therefore Porsche can afford a high percentage of engineering cost. The real question is how to sell so many premium 911s. The answer is again strong image. You see, the establishment of image depends on the quality of product. Once the image is improved, price could be raised to lift the quality of product again. The success of Porsche and Ferrari are the result of such long-term accumulation. 


In contrast, Japanese car makers have the tradition of "no tradition". Although they have some of the world’s longest serving name plates, say, Toyota Crown, they change everything ground up every generation. This is because they are more market sensitive than self-confident. Another reason is that they are hard working - while European cars usually serve for 7 years with a mid-life facelift, Japanese used to launch new generation every 4 years. (Maybe a bit longer now because of recession) 

They stunned the world times to times by demonstrating their ability to beat the Western even without any experience. 240Z, MR2, Lexus LS400, 300ZX, MX-5, NSX, Skyline GT-R, S2000, Yaris ... when they decide to make a world class machine, nothing can stop them. The European might take 20 years to do so, the American might say impossible from the very beginning, the Japanese do it in one night - in fact, a lot of nobody-know sleepless nights. They are hardworking, serious and care about details. This explain why they build the world’s most reliable cars. The English don’t know what quality is. The Italian ignore quality. The German talk about quality. Only the Japanese carry out quality.  

Compare with the European, Japanese is even more technology-fancy. The Skyline, for example, has all the most sophisticated technology that the Western can’t imagine, such as computer-control multi-plate clutch 4-wheel drive and computer 4-wheel steering which implement the most adequate understeering / oversteering. Whenever European pioneer a new technology, the Japanese will follow very soon and further enhance it. Whenever the Japanese made a technology standardize, the European may take 5 or 10 years to match. Examples are multi-valve engines and 4-wheel drive (now nearly all Japanese new cars have it as option). 

Versus Big Three, Japanese car makers found the USA market is their promised land. They achieved double-figure growth annually, took the first 2 places of car sales chart with Camry and Accord,  established luxury arms there. They dominated the compact-size segment, then the largest selling mid-size segment. Where the Big Three left, they engaged that market. Where the Big Three is concentrating (i.e. SUV), they are gearing up to challenge. So, against the Japanese, Big Three seem now in a danger zone. Once the SUV love affair dry out, they will find difficult to go back. 

The disadvantage of Japanese cars used to be lack of character and boring handling. However, since the GT-R, many Japanese performance cars were tuned in Europe, such as Lexus IS200. Some may even be styled by foreign designers, such as Yaris. The combined effort of Japanese and European has been proved to be world beating - Japanese reliability, technology and value for money, Euro-style handling and look.  

The problem for Japanese cars remains to be lack of tradition. That’s not good to them because they can’t enjoy premium price due to accumulated image, but benefit real car lovers, as we can enjoy superior cars at bread-and-butter price.  
Corvette, 911 and Skyline, all are interesting cars to me despite of different philosophies behind them. I hope they will be long live forever and never be ruined by globalization. 

- Mark Wan, 14 July 2000.

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