x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Top 5: Cars named after race tracks

What finer way for a manufacturer to immortalise the venues that have seen the greatest racing than to name a new car after one.

Bentley Brooklands
Bentley Brooklands

De Tomaso Vallelunga

Before the lairy and gorgeous Mangusta and the ill-fated but fantastic Pantera, De Tomaso built fewer than 60 of these fantastic little cars. Named after the Italian race track where De Tomaso had enjoyed some success in racing, it was one of the very first mid-engined production sports cars. Its body was fashioned from fibreglass and its 1.6L engine was sourced from the contemporary Ford Cortina. A brave design, it was underdeveloped but showed De Tomaso was thinking ahead.

 

Bentley Brooklands

There have been two Bentley models named after the world's first purpose-built motor racing venue in the UK. One was basically a special edition Rolls-Royce built between 1992 and 1998, but the second version was much more worthy of the name. Just 550 were hand crafted from 2008 to 2011 and the two-door body, closely related to the venerable Arnage gave the car more gravitas than practically anything else on the road. It could liquidise its rear tyres, too. A stunning car.

 

Chevrolet Monza

John DeLorean reckoned the Monza looked just like the Ferrari Daytona's cousin, the 365 GTC/4, but as a former Chevrolet boss his eyes were playing tricks on him. The hatchback Monza's sloping rear roofline looked (slightly) familiar but that's where the Ferrari similarities ended because the Monza, named after the race track in Italy, was a contrived mess. Produced between 1974 and 1980 in a wildly varied range of body styles including the classic "woodie wagon" look. Confused? Us too.

 

Lancia Beta Montecarlo

Originally planned for production as a Fiat, the company realised the Montecarlo could be sold at a higher price if badged as a Lancia. Pininfarina came up with a frankly stunning shape and the mid-engined sports cars made a name for themselves on two counts: they enjoyed success as Group 5 race cars in 1980 and 1981 and, like all other Lancias of the era, turned into piles of brown powder at the first sight of rain. Monte Carlo is in Monaco, in case you're wondering about the name.

 

Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona

The moniker was never sanctioned by the factory but it's one that stuck. Ask anyone about the 365 GTB/4 and they'll probably offer nothing other than a blank stare but mention Daytona and they'll get it straight away. The media came up with the nickname after Ferrari took a 1-2-3 podium at the 24 Hours of Daytona race in 1967 and the car, while lovely to look at, was years behind the rival Lamborghini Miura in its design. Ferrari made amends in 1973 with the mid-engined Berlinetta Boxer.