Its genesis was in 1975 with the rear-wheel-drive Mk1, which headed into a cutthroat battle for fleet sales against the ubiquitous Ford Cortina. But by the time the Mk3 was thrust into action, the Cortina had bitten the dust, leaving its replacement, the Ford Sierra, to pick up the baton. And for years, it was these two titans alone vying for the top of the new-car sales charts, leaving realtive minnows, such as the Austin Montego and Nissan Bluebird, picking up the scraps.
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The XJ's interior is looking a bit dated these days next to newer rivals, but it still has a wonderful ambience. Up front, the diamond-quilted seats (embossed with some questionable '575' branding) come with a wide range of adjustment, and those in the rear are treated to plenty of leg room; there’s little reason to opt for the long-wheelbase variant.
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Why? Well, while the Sierra was fed by an old-fashioned carburettor, the Cavalier had that 'i' for injection in its name. This gave it the legs not just over the Sierra but also the Fiat Croma and Mazda 626 we ran it against, vanquishing their top speeds with a heady 120mph flat out and streaking from 0-60mph in 8.9sec – one second clear of the Sierra and two whole clicks quicker than the Croma.
A 1959 V12 Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spider Competizione, is about to take its incredibly long name and rich motorsport heritage, to the RM Sotheby’s auction in New York. The estimate is $14m to $17m so all being well, the car could end up selling for as much as £13million, enough to see it claim a place among the most expensive cars ever sold.
Neither Alonso nor Toyota would confirm an impending deal. Alonso said at practice for this weekend's Brazilian Grand Prix: "So far, nothing to comment. We will see. Just rumors."
He credits its handling with saving his life one dark night when a bumper fell off a semi, forcing him to swerve into an interstate median, blowing out two tires in the process. "Had to obviously get the tires replaced and the car towed in that night. But any other car, there was no way in the world that I would not have hit that bumper."