Currently reading: Buy them before we do: second-hand picks for 11 June
Here we’ve gathered five ICE engines in the cars that made them famous, staring with the VW Corrado VR6
5 mins read
11 June 2021

In Autocar’s recent tribute to the internal combustion engine (5 May), some of our writers named their favourite engines of all time. Here we’ve gathered five of those engines in the cars that made them famous, starting with the Volkswagen Corrado VR6.

“Its narrow-angle vee allowed this big-chested sophisticate to fit under the workaday bonnet of a Golf or that wedgy slice of heaven, the Corrado,” wrote James Disdale. What’s more, we’ve found an example of said Corrado. Registered in 1994, it has done 175,000 miles and looks bright, at least in the pictures. It’s finished in a classy dark blue with grey leather.

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We’re clearly big fans of the VR6, but we know that it isn’t without its problems. For example, the timing chains can stretch and jump teeth, especially beyond 100,000 miles. Replacement is an engine-out job costing about £800. Fortunately, this car has just had that work carried out.

Other jobs done in recent years include new wheel bearings all round, a new clutch master cylinder, new driveshafts and new engine mounts, plus it has just been serviced.

We would scrutinise the body for rust under that lovely finish, as it can strike at the sills, wheel arches, screen surrounds and front wings.

Most spares are easy to source, with the exception of some trim and the headlights and foglights. On that point, VW Heritage sells protective headlight covers, which we would fit quickly. The seller says all the electrics work, including the active spoiler, which can be troublesome.

All in all, then, this is a Corrado that sounds like a worthy home for Disdale’s beloved VR6.

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Bentley Continental GT 6.0 £23,950: Tom Morgan said Bentley’s twin-turbo W12 “delivers train-like torque in a refined and unstressed manner”, and nowhere are these qualities better demonstrated than in a Conti coupé. This 2006 example has just 36k miles and a full main-dealer service history.

Austin Metro 1.0 Mayfair £3500: The humble BMC A-series was Steve Cropley’s favourite. There’s a myriad of cars cradling one, but we settled on a Metro. The 1986 Mayfair is only 29k miles in and looks fresh out of the box. Gold paint, brown velour, tinted glass and 46bhp: a modern classic.

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BMW 320d Sport £10,198: Mark Tisshaw’s vote went to BMW’s dependable and versatile 2.0-litre diesel engine. It landed in 1994 as the M41, but we’ve zoned in on the later B47. Here it’s serving in a one-owner 2015 320d that comes with 60k miles and a 12-month mechanical warranty.

Porsche 911 GT3 £133,990: The 4.0-litre flat six under the lid of this 911 GT3 “is a clenched fist of an engine but so usable day to day”, said Richard Lane. He was clear that its finest hour was in the 991.2-era model, so we found one. This 2018- reg missile has done 7000 miles.

Auction watch

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Renault Fuego GTS: ‘A poor man’s Porsche 924’ was what motorists of the 1980s termed the Renault Fuego four-seat coupé. It sure looked the part, with legendary motoring scribe LJK Setright going so far as to describe it as beautiful. The Fuego (that means ‘fire’ in Spanish) was launched in 1980 and was based on the workaday Renault 18. It was the first mass-produced car to be designed in a wind tunnel, the first to have remote central locking and the first to have remote audio controls on the steering wheel. Very few remain, so someone was lucky to bag this well-preserved 1982 GTS for £6700.

Future classic

Alpina B3 Touring £79,315: We’re hardly sticking our necks out in forecasting future classic status for an Alpina, but this B3 is just so good that we didn’t want you to miss it. Autocar’s road testers awarded the model no less than five stars in its road test, describing the Touring as “one sensationally well-rounded product” and an “especially rare gem”. There are only a handful for sale, all of them either brand-new or low-mileage 2020 or 2021 registrations. Our example is a 2020 car with delivery mileage that’s only around £2500 less than new. Still, that’s a saving of sorts.

Clash of the classifieds

Brief: Could I have a £15,000 car that makes me look like a millionaire?

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Mercedes-Benz SL 500 £12,000

Bentley Arnage R £14,995

Max Adams: Even if your budget isn’t that of a millionaire, you might as well pick a car that a millionaire would have driven, much like my Mercedes-Benz SL. Indeed, old money still drive SLs of this vintage, and it could be on the verge of renewed interest now that its R107 predecessor is rocketing in value.

Felix Page: As a noble sportsman, I will concede that your SL makes for a fine old smoker. But a real millionaire gives no thought to the cost of car maintenance, which is why this aged Bentley Arnage R makes for a convincing runaround for a would-be high-flier. What will go wrong first? Who knows, but it’s bound to cost a bomb, so surely its owner has deep pockets…

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MA: The beauty of my car (besides the looks) is that it’s not a temperamental, hand-made beast of burden. Besides, if you have deep enough pockets to run an old Bentley, you can PCP a new one and suffer the heartache when your ‘old smoker’ fails to proceed.

FP: Ah yes, but then James would have nothing to do on Sunday mornings. This Arnage R needs a new manifold gasket, a suspension system service and a touch of paintwork.

MA: Whereas my SL saves him £3000 from his original budget, which is enough for a swanky driving holiday (once international travel restrictions allow) to all the places where millionaires go: Monaco, Portofino, Klosters…

FP: Indeed, lovely places. But even when he’s made his millions, James will still be a petrolhead, so I can see him heading first to Le Mans. And how better to see La Sarthe than from an Arnage?

Verdict: I don’t think I would be rich for long with the Bentley, so it’s the Mercedes for me.


A life well lived: Tracing 120 years of the combustion engine 

Analysis: UK’s ICE ban to have global impact 

How I weep for the death of the combustion engine

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SAS32 11 June 2021
Surprised to see BMW's 2.0d in this article as it was plagued with timing chain issues up until around 2014 when they introduced a replacement.