Experience the Silver Arrows

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Rewind roughly 60 years and you’ll find yourself in a time when the Mercedes Silver Arrows dominated the world’s racetracks, from Formula One to the World Sports Car Championship. Though these Grand Prix racing cars are still delighting spectators today, their history stretches back to June 1934 and the début of the Mercedes-Benz W 25 at the Eifelrennen motor race held at the Nurburgring. Silver Arrow was the nickname given to the series of sleek silver machines produced by Mercedes, due to the colour of the cars, and undoubtedly the speed at which they travelled – by 1937 the W 125, for example, produced 646hp, a level that wouldn’t be reached again until the 1980s, and speeds often exceeded over 300km/h.

The 300 SLR Silver Arrow was the car in which the legendary Sir Stirling Moss won the 1,000 mile Mille Miglia. Moss, whose parents had foreseen a life of dentistry for their son, first took part in motor racing in 1948 when he entered Formula 3 with a Cooper 500. Moss took to racing like a duck to water – winning 12 out of 15 races. A year later he was racing in Formula 2 and became the British Formula 2 champion in both 1949 and 1950. A move to Formula 1 was the obvious next step, and Moss did so in 1954 in his own Maserati 250F. In a season that saw him finish in 13th place, the highlight was a head to head duel with Mercedes’ top driver, Manuel Fangio. For the final 12 laps Moss led the Spaniard until an oil line broke. Though Fangio went on to win, he paid tribute to the young Englishman as the real winner of the race. That same year, Moss signed for Mercedes-Benz for the 1955 season, driving the W 196 R Formula 1 racing car, and later the 300 SLR sports racer, taking fourth place in the first race in Argentina, as well as the chequered flag at the British GP at Aintree.

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Blast from the past – Porsche’s tractors

Some people are often surprised to learn that their favourite supercar brands also produce vehicles that are more at home in a field. The first Lamborghinis, for example, were tractors, and are still manufactured today (after approaching Ferrari about a broken clutch on one of his cars, Ferruccio Lamborghini was told that as a tractor manufacturer he couldn’t know anything about sports cars, a mistake that led Lamborghini to peruse the creation of the perfect grand tourer). Then there’s Aston Martin, which was acquired by Sir David Brown, founder of a company of the same name that began manufacturing tractors with Harry Ferguson in 1936. Brown later purchased Aston Martin in 1947 and, although the two companies are no long aligned, what has become known as the ‘David Brown era’ saw the production of the famed DB series, the best known of which is probably the DB5.

Porsche falls under the same category. Their older tractors are quite rare, and quite expensive if they’re in good condition – late last year a lovingly restored 1959 Porsche Master 419 was put on sale via Done Deal for €49,500.

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Frankenstein Reborn – the new Juke-R

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The Nissan Juke-R took its first breath in 2011. Dubbed a ‘crossover supercar’ by Nissan, the sportier version of Nissan’s odd-looking endeavour was no slouch – the limited-run vehicle was powered by a VR engine block from the Nissan GT-R, had an impressive 485hp and could propel you from 0-100km/h in just 3.7 seconds. Not bad from an SUV made by the same people who thought the Nissan Cube was a good idea.

This year, the powers that be have decided the world could be ready for an upgraded Juke-R – imaginatively named the 2.0. To begin with, this new and improved version outputs 600hp. 600! For reference, that’s more than the Ferrari 458 Speciale and the Aston-Martin Vantage GT3, neither of which could be described as underpowered (the highest spec, but bog standard Juke, by the way, has a mere 187hp in comparison). If you can find a stretch of road long enough, the 2.0 is speculated to top out at just over 321km/h, at which point we imagine a little bit of urine will be coming out of whoever is behind the wheel.

The latest version has also had something of a makeover, making it an even more muscular and testosterone-filled incarnation, though calling it easy on the eye is a stretch of the imagination. Cooling vents in the front bumper are twice as big to cool the upgraded engine. The bumper itself has been upgraded to match the 2015 Juke, as have the front and rear lights, and the bonnet. There’s a new carbon diffuser in the rear bumper, and the wheel design is lifted straight from the latest GT-R. And, if you fancy a little colour customisation, you’re in the wrong place – matte black is still the colour of choice, and rightly so.

As with the 2011 edition, the Juke-R 2.0 remains a concept car for now, although should it receive similar enquires from well-funded car enthusiasts, we could be looking at another limited production run. 321km/h in a Nissan Juke? Surely that has to pique some interest.

Running on the rails

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Here in Ireland, trains are often the best or most relaxing way to commute to and from work in the cities (when they’ve not broken down, that is). Generally speaking there’s no stopping for red lights, no getting caught in traffic and there’s plenty of space to get up and stretch or move around – a very different experience to driving home in a car through Dublin or Cork city.

On the other hand, you can’t simply stop where you choose on a train, your luggage space is a lot more limited, and you have to share the rest of your booth or carriage with other people. And who wants that?

A one-off creation from Smart, however, has blended the two forms of travel in that greatest of desires that has driven humanity forward from a stone wheel to space-going rocket ships – to see if they could. The result of six months of engineering work and lots of CAD modelling has resulted in the Smart forrail, a modified Smart forfour designed to run along railway tracks.

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Don’t bank on driving this 919

Augusto Tokumori/Flickr

The Porsche 919 Hybrid (2014) Photo: Augusto Tokumori/Flickr

If you’ve just spent over $100,000 on a car, you hope that it will at the very least get you out of the driveway, and preferably down the road as well.

Someone has, however, dropped that large sum of money – $106,110,000 to be exact – on a 1:1 full-sized replica (minus drivetrain) of the Porsche 919 Hybrid (2014 edition), which was recently sold by the company via eBay. With just 13 replicas in existence, it’s the first one of its kind to find its way into private hands – generally speaking these models don’t leave the factory.

According the description: “The model car also includes the original signatures of the six Porsche 919 Hybrid drivers that participated at Le Mans 2014 and the WEC 2014 — Timo Bernhard, Brendon Hartley, Mark Webber, Romain Dumas, Neel Jani and Marc Lieb. This is a unique opportunity for a collector, Porsche enthusiast, museum or other public place to obtain this piece.”

The real version of the car features a turbocharged 2.0L V4 engine, paired with a lithium ion battery for energy recovery. Producing around 500hp and with a top speed of 340km/h, it made its competitive debut in the 2014 season at 6 Hours of Silverstone. Proceeds from the auction are going to the SportCares Foundation and Movement, based in Singapore, which was established to improve people’s lives “using sport as a force for social good.”

Although it’s ‘non-functional’, the model does features nifty livery, rotating front wheels and plug in lights. And, if you’ve got a big wall with plenty of free space, it can be wall-mounted. Totally worth it.