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Sports Cars

New events such as the Mille Miglia in Italy and the Le Mans 24-hour race in France in the 1920s meant that by the following decade competitive automobile racing was thriving. It led to many manufacturers developing models that could be used on both road and track, with marques such as Alfa Romeo and Aston Martin producing fast cars designed to appeal to customers with a competitive edge.

Salmson S4, 1929


Engine1,296 cc, straight-four
Top speed56 mph (90 km/h)

French carmaker Salmson offered the S4 in a range of body styles, and fitted it with a modern double-overhead-cam power plant.

Austin Seven Ulster, 1930


Engine747 cc, straight-four
Top speed80 mph (129 km/h)

This aluminum-bodied race version of the Austin Seven, first launched in 1922, added competition success to the model’s mainstream popularity.

Aston Martin Le Mans, 1932


Engine1,495 cc, straight-four
Top speed85 mph (137 km/h)

Aston’s two-seater Le Mans sports model was named in recognition of the marque’s participation in the celebrated French endurance event since 1928.

Aston Martin Mk II, 1932


Engine1,495 cc, four-cylinder
Top speed80 mph (129 km/h)

The epitome of the small British sports car of the period, the Mk II was lower than its predecessor, thanks to a redesigned chass

Alfa Romeo 8C 2600, 1933


Engine2,556 cc, straight-eight
Top speed105 mph (169 km/h)

This later version of the famed 8C featured a bigger power plant and was used with further success by Alfa’s official racing team.

Alfa Romeo 8C 2300, 1931


Engine2,336 cc, straight-eight
Top speed105 mph (169 km/h)

Designed by the automotive genius Vittorio Jano in 1931, the celebrated 8C dominated Blue Riband races such as the Mille Miglia in Italy during the early 1930s.

Alfa Romeo 8C, 1034


Engine2,336 cc, straight-eight
Top speed105 mph (169 km/h)

Among the many Italian coachbuilders to clothe Vittorio Jano’s iconic 8C model was the legendary Pinin Farina, with a typically beautiful interpretation.

MG PB, 1935


Engine939 cc, straight-four
Top speed76 mph (122 km/h)

Revising the 1934 MG PA led to the larger-engined PB a year later, which was available in coupe and convertible body styles.

MG TA Midget, 1936


Engine1,292 cc, straight-four
Top speed79 mph (127 km/h)

Introduced as a replacement for the PB, the sportier TA Midget featured MG’s first hydraulic brakes and, on later models, a synchromesh gearbox.

Fiat Balilla 508S, 1933


Engine995 cc, straight-four
Top speed70 mph (113 km/h)

A year after Fiat’s new Balilla was launched in 1932, a Sports (S) version of the family model was made available with extra horsepower.

Jaguar SS100, 1936


Engine2,663 cc, straight-six
Top speed95 mph (153 km/h)

Less than 200 examples were made of the SS100 sports model, one of the last before the “SS” was dropped from the company’s name.

Morgan Super Sport 3-wheeler, 1936


Engine1,096 cc, V-twin
Top speed70 mph (113 km/h)

In the 1930s Morgan expanded the technology on its three-wheelers; buyers could now choose models with three speeds rather than just two.

Morgan 4/4, 1936


Engine1,122 cc, straight-four
Top speed80 mph (129 km/h)

After 27 years of building three-wheeled vehicles, in 1936 Morgan launched its first four-wheeler in the form of the evergreen 4/4 model.

AC 16/80, 1936


Engine1,991 cc, straight-six
Top speed80 mph (129 km/h)

The six-cylinder engine in the elegant 16/80 was first introduced in 1919, and would go on to power ACs until the early 1960s.

BSA Scout, 1935


Engine1,075 cc, straight-four
Top speed60 mph (97 km/h)

Known as a manufacturer of cars, motorcycles, and three-wheelers, BSA launched its first modern-looking sports tourer, the Scout, in 1935.

BMW 328, 1936


Engine1,971 cc, straight-six
Top speed93 mph (150 km/h)

Le Mans and Mille Miglia winner, the streamlined 328 was one of the finest sports models of the late 1930s.

Wanderer W25K, 1936


Engine1,963 cc, straight-six
Top speed90 mph (145 km/h)

The svelte and stylish W25K came from German carmaker Wanderer, which was part of the Auto Union car manufacturing group that included Audi.


It is a quote. The Definitive Visual History Of The Automobile 2011

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