A Glimpse of British GT, 2015 – style

The Special Correspondent has been a long time supporter of GT Racing, especially in recent years the excellent British GT Championship. So he seized an opportunity to preview the 2015 edition with a visit to Brands Hatch a week or so back.

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Wednesday 25 March – Media Day for the British GT at Brands Hatch. Wet weather was forecast but it was dry and sunny the whole day. This year the splendid entry of 35 cars is almost completely balanced between the GT3 cars (18) and the GT4s (17), this latter class becoming deservedly very popular. A number of cars spent useful time on the circuit – here are some of them:
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One of three BMW Z4 GT3s entered, this being run by Barwell Racing for Jon Minshaw and Phil Keen.
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There are Aston Martin Vantage GT3s aplenty. No. 4 is one of the Oman Racing Team cars.
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This RAM Racing Mercedes-Benz AMG GT3 is one of two expected to run this year.

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New this season are two McLaren 650S cars entered by Von Ryan Racing.
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Hopefully the Toyota GT86 will race more regularly this year.
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Lots of Astons in the GT4 category this season. Here Beechdean’s car is entering Druid’s Bend.
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Good to see three Lotus Evoras – no. 77 is the car for Lotus Engineer Gavan Kershaw;

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no. 54 is one of the two Ultra Tek Racing entries.
TAILPIECE
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The part of the Lotus that hopefully the other GT4 contenders will see!

David Blumlein, April 2015

A Continental Tour

 

The Special Correspondent has been visiting shows on the continent, Paris and Bremen have been his targets. He brings us a fine selection of the rare and interesting from these venues, sit back and enjoy the automotive education. 

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The Bugatti Type 43 is considered to be one of the four “landmark” cars from Ettore’s factory, the others being the Brescia, the Type 35 Grand Prix car and the Type 57 from the Thirties.

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The Type 43 could be thought of as the McLaren of its day when introduced in 1927. Based on the Type 38 chassis it had a Type 35B 2.3-litre 8-cylinder supercharged Grand Prix engine mounted in a Molsheim open four-seater body of narrow torpedo shape with a single left-hand door. The car ran on the detachable rim alloy wheels from the Grand Prix car.
The car had no outstanding success in competition – a team of three works cars could only manage 6th, 13th and 16th in the 1928 Mille Miglia. It tended to be unreliable and had a certain proclivity for catching fire (Campbell’s at the 1928 Tourist Trophy, for example).
Bugatti made just over 150 of them and it seems that one was presented to Louis Chiron in lieu of payment for racing successes!

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The Germans were undoubtedly the pace-setters in the art of streamlining in the 1930s as exemplified by the Mercedes factory’s recreation of their 1938 W29 5.4-litre Stromlinien-Limousine.

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Le Mans enthusiasts tend to be familiar with Grégoire’s little front-drive Tractas which did well at the 24-Hour race but do they know of this very pretty Type E two-seater built for the road? It is powered by an American-made 2.6-litre Continental 6-cylinder engine.

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What do these three cars have in common, the Amilcar CG SS……..

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……the Delaunay-Belleville Type H.C.4……

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and the Hotchkiss 864 Vichy?

The answer is that they all emanated from factories in the northern Parisian suburb of Saint Denis. Away from car lovers the Abbaye of Saint Denis is famous as the place where the pointed Gothic arch which adorns so many cathedrals and churches in Europe was invented.

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This lovely 1935 Rover 14 Streamline Coupé reminds us that streamlining to the English manufacturers at that time invariably meant what we came to call “fastbacks”. Nevertheless, with a 6-cylinder 1600 c.c. o.h.v. engine fed by 3 S.U. carburettors, this car could reach 131km/h. Rover made just 300 of them.

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1937 Bugatti Type 57S (surbaissée) with a 3.3-litre 8-cylinder, built for T.A.S.O. Mathieson, a very competent amateur driver. It has a unique cabriolet body by Corsica. He raced it in the 1938 Tourist Trophy at Donington, finishing 20th and 4th in class.

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This car is the beginning of the HWM story. John Heath used this sports racer in 1948. It had a tubular chassis, pre-selector gearbox and a 4-cylinder twin –carburettor 2-litre Alta engine. It first raced in the Jersey Road Race, retiring after 19 laps when the timing chain broke. He was encouraged to enter it for the revived Spa 24-Hour race but his co-driver, George Abecassis, crashed it during the night. A front wheel parted company twice (!) during the Paris 12—Hours in September. All this led to a heavily revised car for 1949 and soon to the Formula 2 HWMs.

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This is a Ford Eifel, the German version of the Model C, built in the Köln factory. Henry Ford had a rather sympathetic relationship with Hitler which explains the continued presence of the Ford factory in Nazi Germany. The Wehrmacht was always desperately short of lorries during the war and Ford helped to oblige.

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Adler commissioned Hans-Gustav Rohr to design a 1501 c.c. front-wheel drive all independent suspension car with bodywork by Ambi-Budd – this was the Adler Trumpf, introduced at the 1932 Geneva Show. It was very successful and came to be built under licence by Imperia in Belgium and Rosengart in France. Ultra-streamlined versions eventually ran successfully at Le Mans and Spa.
TAILPIECE

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Here is the former Karmann factory in Osnabruck, rescued by VW.

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David Blumlein, April 2015

 

Rétromobile 2015 – Classics with a Gallic Flavour

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The 2015 edition of Rétromobile had the usual top quality ingredients, a combination of cars, clubs, manufacturers, dealers and petrol heads served up as automotive haute cuisine.

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Perhaps the biggest act was the Artcurial sale of the Baillon Collection. This made headlines all around the globe…..nothing like a “barn find” raising millions to grab the attention.

I looked at it earlier HERE

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Back in 1977 this Porsche 936 and its drivers, Jacky Ickx, Jürgen Barth and Hurley Haywood came from last place to win the Le Mans 24 Hours, destroying the hopes of Renault along the way. More on that HERE

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The Bugatti T41 aka Royale was the last word in luxury motoring between the wars, just six were sold, all different. This example is described HERE

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Another fantastic restoration job from the folks at Mercedes-Benz Classic on this 540K, the full story can be found HERE

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The Retromobile is a must see/do for anyone with petrol in their veins, make a date in the diary for 2016.

John Brooks, April 2015

The Right Crowd

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The 73rd Members’ Meeting held at Goodwood a few weeks back was a resounding success according to all who attended. Less desperately crowded than the Festival of Speed and less theatrical than the Revival, the MM is focussed squarely on celebrating great racing cars.

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Fortunately here at DDC we have the services of ace snapper Simon Hildrew who has really captured the spirit of the event. So enjoy this vision of great cars in a grand setting.

John Brooks, April 2015

London Calling

2015 London Classic Car Show

There was a new classic car show launched this year in London’s Docklands. The London Classic Car Show is further evidence of the strength and popularity of the premium automotive heritage movement and was considered by observers to be a success right from the word go.

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There were the usual suspects for an event of this nature in the UK, top end classic car dealers, TV celebrities, motor sport legends, plenty for the crowd of over 25,000 to ooh and aah over.

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Next year the Show will be back at the Excel London, and the date has shifted to 18-21 February to avoid any potential clashes, it is certainly one for the diary.

John Brooks, March 2015.

Maastricht Motors

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Back at the beginning of 2015 the Special Correspondent and I hopped over the Channel to Holland for the InterClassics & TopMobiel show. We were not disappointed, there was much to enjoy at Maastricht and I wrote the event up in more detail HERE So now it is time to post up a small gallery for a wider look.

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At the show an announcement was made that the organisers would launch a new event in Brussels on 6-8 November. If Maastricht is anything to go by, it will be worth a look.

John Brooks, March 2015

Geneva Salon

The month of March kicked off with a lightning quick trip to Geneva for the 2015 Salon……..and it has been a madhouse since……….so now getting a moment to pause and draw breath it is time to post a small gallery from the PALEXPO. Roll on Frankfurt.

John Brooks, March 2015

 

 

Testing Times

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A quick trip to Barcelona last week for the FIA WTCC Media Launch. Under the new regulations introduced last year Citroën dominated the Championship with José María López taking a well deserved title. The French factory team probably expect to continue that state of affairs in 2015.

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However it was clear that Honda has other ideas, there was a mood of quiet optimism present in the JAS Motorsport camp. The Honda has been revised and a lot of work has gone into improving the engine.

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The Championship kicks off in Argentina at Autódromo Termas de Río Hondo on 8th March but the really big news is that there will be two rounds on the Nordschleife in May. That will be the first World Championship event held at the full Nürburgring track since 1983.

It is already on my to do list…………..

John Brooks, February 2015

Testing Times at Brooklands

The Special Correspondent has been spending some time down at Brooklands since finishing his Spa 24 Hours’ history. As is his wont, he regularly finds cars that are rare and/or interesting and the recent VSCC Driving Tests event was no exception to this rule. He shares this discovery with us below.

John Brooks, February 2015

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The Société des Moteurs Salmson made aero engines during the First World War as well as magnetos and other components; they also made some of their own aeroplanes. With the cessation of war contracts they diversified into car production and initially they made G.N. cyclecars under licence at Billancourt in Paris. This is a Salmson-G.N., recognisable by its brass radiator and steel body. Salmson- G.N.s were used after the war by the Paris police.

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This 1923 Crossley 19/6 tourer is powered by a 4-cylinder side-valve 3.6-litre engine. It has no front brakes and a 4-speed gearbox with the traditional right-hand change.
Crossley was a very versatile company, making engines, commercial vehicles and buses at their Gorton, Manchester plant and is remembered especially for its 25 h.p. RFC/RAF staff car which became standard equipment during the First World War.

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This Frazer-Nash BMW 319/55  was first delivered in February 1937. It is back at Brooklands after 78 years, having taken part with Don Aldington at the wheel in the 1937 JCC Brooklands Rally. It has a 6-cylinder o.h.v. engine.

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Rileys were at the peak of their powers in competitions in the Thirties and the factory entered no less than six cars for the 1934 Le Mans 24 Hour race. They were driven down by road from Coventry, calling in at Brooklands for some preparatory laps on their way to France. This Riley Imp, one of two specially prepared Imps for the race, was driven by Jean Trevoux and René Carrière but lost two laps early on in the pits for repairs to the tail following a spin at Mulsanne. This left it 44th and last but it recovered to 12th and 3rd in class. The car made up for this later that year by winning its class in the Tourist Trophy on the Ards circuit.

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Here is the famous Napier-Railton, a brute of a car! Commissioned by John Cobb with a view to tackling the World 24 Hour record, it was designed by Reid Railton and built by Thomson and Taylor at Brooklands. Gurney Nutting supplied the bodywork and Napier the 502 h.p. version of the First World War “Lion” W-12 aero engine with cylinders in three banks of four, giving it a capacity of 23,970 c.c.

The car won its début race in the 1933 August Bank Holiday Brooklands meeting but then went to Montlhéry to try for the 24 Hour record but tyre failures spoilt this. Back there again in 1934 but the very competent Riley driver, Freddie Dixon, crashed it. So it was over to Bonneville Salt Flats in America in 1935 and here the car took the record at 137.40 mph driven by Cobb, Charlie Dodson and Tim Rose-Richards. This success was repeated a year later when Cobb, Hindmarsh, Brackenbury and Rose-Richards pushed the record for 24 hours up to 150.6 mph.

After the war ownership of the car eventually came to the Hon. Patrick Lindsay who raced it at Silverstone in the 1960 Martini Trophy meeting, coming third behind two E.R.A.s. It now resides with loving care in the Brooklands Museum.

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An example of a rare “chain-gang” Frazer-Nash. This is a 1932 “Exeter” model of which only 5 or 6 were made and named after the London-Exeter Trial – Frazer-Nash cars scored twelve Premier awards in the 1931 event. It has the usual Meadows engine but the bodywork is by Corsica.

TAILPIECE

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Here is an offside view of the brute’s engine!

David Blumlein, February 2015

Heavy Load

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In Paris for the Retromobile, that great classic car show, that truly brings Gallic automotive flair out for admiration. Sometimes though muscle will beat brains, Goliath gets David and this 70 ton monster was the Big Daddy back in 1944. Nicknamed the Königstiger or the King Tiger it was, perhaps, the most feared armoured vehicle that the Allied soldiers on either the Western or Eastern Fronts would have to face.

Even at rest in the Porte de Versailles it has real menace and when the bellowing 23 litre V12 engine was fired up we all jumped for cover. If you are in Paris over the next few days get down to the show, it is packed with great cars.

John Brooks, February 2015