The RIFT Rewind: Top Car Facts of 1999
06th October 2020
Welcome back to the RIFT Rewind, where the celebration of our 21st birthday is still going strong. This month, we’re turning the Time Telescope on some of our favourite vehicular facts and statistics from the year RIFT was born. With the just-released Fear Factory of Gary Numan’s classic “Cars” blaring on the stereo, let’s buckle up for another 1999 run-down.
BMW’s first SUV
Back in the days when Land Rover was still owned by BMW, this was the company’s first Sport Utility Vehicle (or Sport Activity Vehicle, as they put it), and featured all-wheel drive with either manual or automatic transmission. The range has since expanded to include, with the latest version, a choice of 7 different models. As a bold step in a new direction, though, it’s definitely worthy of a spot on our list.
A modern classic: The Audi A2
While it was probably a little too expensive to make at the time, the aluminium-bodied Audi A2 was a legitimately bold experiment. It marked the first time a 5-door vehicle for sale in Europe could boast under 94.2mpg (at least with the 3L model) – with designers stating that the aim had been to carry 4 passengers from Stuttgart to Milan on a single tank. Production costs drove the prices higher than most found comfortable, but it definitely still has its admirers and a place in automotive history.
Birth of the Ferrari 360
Boasting an all-aluminium space-frame chassis and a 28% lighter design than its predecessor (the F355), the F360 was the supercar that would take Ferrari into the 21st century in style. It had versions designed for both road and track, with the 360 Modena being followed up by the 360 Spider and special edition Challenge Stradale. The race versions were all based on the Modena, and the range stayed in production for a full 6 years until the F430 took to the road as its successor.
1999’s Fastest Car: The Dodge Hennesey Venom 650R Viper
With blistering acceleration that took it from 0-60mph in 3.7 seconds, the 1999 Dodge Hennesey Venom 650R Viper was ranked as the fastest car in its class. It beat out its chief competition, the Lamborghini Diablo VT Roadster, by almost a whole second. Weighing in at 650 horsepower, you probably wouldn’t be hopping into it for your weekly supermarket trip, though. This beast packed a V-10 engine and a recommended price tag of $173,990.
Top Seller: The Ford Fiesta
When the world rolled over into 1999, Ford was riding its crest, with an amazing 4 contenders to the title of Best Selling Car in the UK. Facing off fierce competition from the venerable (and retiring) Escort, which had an amazing year in 1998, the Fiesta kicked off 1999 at the head of the pack for an impressive 3rd win on the trot. By then, it was already on its 4th generation, and it took another Ford contender (the all-new Focus) to eventually knock it down a peg.
So, what kind of wheels were you rolling in the early days of RIFT? How many times have you traded up in the last 21 years? No one ever forgets their first love or their first car, so feel free to sound off on our Facebook page about yours - and keep checking back for more RIFT Rewinds as 2020 rumbles on.
Remember, if you're paying to use your own car to travel to different places for work you're probably due a tax refund - even if your employer reimburses you for some of the cost. Check for free if you're owed anything now, using our tax rebate calculator it takes less than a minute.