The Top Table

image_pdfimage_print

Salon Privé has evolved over the years from being a top-line classic car show to also being an event that the luxury goods market, automotive or not, is keen to be a part of. The event is truly a motor show for the 21st century. Its current home, Blenheim Palace, is a wonderful setting for this celebration of cars and other fine things. Our man with a camera, Simon Hildrew, popped along to record this sublime show.

An innovation at Salon Privé in 2021 was The Red Collection, a mouth-watering selection of red sportscars surrounding the cricket pitch. Included was this Ferrari 166MM, chassis 0008M, winner of both the Mille Miglia and Le Mans 24 Hours in 1949, and it is the only car that will ever achieve that amazing feat. I wrote a little more about the car earlier

The unmistakable ‘Piper GTO’ with the man himself, who purchased 3767 GT in July 1962. He raced it in the second half of the season finishing fourth in the Tour de France, with Dan Margulies, and then he won the Rand Nine Hours at Kyalami.

Also at the show was 4399 GT from 1963, rebodied to the 1964 update. An outright winner of the Tourist Trophy in ’63 with reigning F1 World Champion, Graham Hill, at the wheel. Hill enjoyed other successes with the Ferrari, as did Mike Parkes and Jack Sears. Both of these fantastic cars are in the collection of Lord Bamford and are regularly seen on the historic racing scene.

There was an astonishing array of automotive treasure on the lawns, so feast your eyes on the work of our maestro.

John Brooks, September 2021

Privates on Parade

image_pdfimage_print

While The Festival of Speed and The Revival attract most the attention at Goodwood, there is much else that makes up the recipe for this temple of speed. Regular meetings on a Sunday morning happen in a relaxed atmosphere, allowing those of us who appreciate the automobile to enjoy our vice. Last month there was such an occasion with a focus on classic cars. Snapper extraordinaire, Simon Hildrew, had his Nikons set to stun, enjoy the consequences.

John Brooks, September 2021

Welcome Back!

image_pdfimage_print

After nearly two years of disruption, courtesy of COVID-19, life is gradually getting back to some sort of normality. The Goodwood Festival of Speed was once more an automotive highlight, a jewel in the crown as it were. This event’s top line standard was even more remarkable than normal when one considers the obstacles that were faced and overcome. Our man behind the lens, Simon Hildrew, was on hand to bring us a vision of this fine spectacle.

A blue tide of Tyrrells heads up the hill, a tribute to ’70s grand prix at the highest level. Led by Sir Jackie Stewart who was crowned as world champion 50 years ago in a Tyrrell.

There were the customary off-track displays such as ‘Electric Avenue – The Road to 2030’ illustrating the current state of the EV market.

There were stars as well as cars, Tom Kristensen and Mario Andretti being just two of the luminaries that attended Goodwood.

His Grace hosted Tom Cruise after a surprise visit on the Sunday.

The Bonhams auction was full of dreams that some lucky person would take home.

There is always one….

And the lawns had a mouth-watering selection of vehicles such as this Hispano-Suiza.

Murray meets Rosberg via the IGN.

Simon’s gallery give a comprehensive account of the Festival of Speed, enjoy!

John Brooks, September 2021

Wisdom around the Fountain

image_pdfimage_print

The past two summers have been very strange while life has been put on hold but, as we approach autumn, things are beginning to return to normal. A sure sign of this is a post in our very popular series, Rare and Interesting, an exclusive from David Blumlein. Today he looks back to the Concours of Elegance in 2020.

The coming of production of unit-construction cars, for example the Citroën Traction Avant in 1934 and the Opel Olympia (Berlin Show 1935), sounded the death-knell for the many coach-builders and those which survived (as well as manufacturers themselves) continued to make bespoke special cars for wealthy customers. One such is this Aston Martin Victor, named after Victor Gauntlett, Aston’s former executive chairman. It is a full-carbon fibre one-off with a 7.3-litre V12 engine.

This writer firmly believes that the original Bentley Continental by H.J. Mulliner is the most beautiful of all Bentleys. The model was introduced in 1952 and this car was delivered in February 1953 through Franco Britannic Automobiles, the French Rolls-Royce agent. The car’s prototype “Olga” (registered OLG 490) acted as a Course Car at the Le Mans 24 Hour race. Soon the Company “spoilt” the original design by adding more luxury (and therefore weight) and changing the aerodynamics.

This MGA Twin Cam was one of a team of three sent by the Abingdon Competitions Department to the 1960 Sebring 12 Hour race where it finished fourth in class, driven by Jim Parkinson and Jim Flaherty. The MGA was very successful in North America – of just over 101,000 made 81,401 were sold in that market.

Sir Malcolm Campbell owned lots of cars and this Rolls-Royce Phantom II was his third Phantom.

With coachwork by Barker, this 1933 Sports Saloon had a 7.6-litre six-cylinder overhead valve engine of 120bhp.

This was the first public showing of Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s Ineos Grenadier, a 4×4 rival to the Land Rover Defender.

The Brabham BT62R was designed for track use but is now ready for the road.

In its long history the Ford Motor Company has embraced every aspect of the motoring world,  from the Tin Lizzie, making lorries for the Wehrmacht to winning Le Mans four times! This is the third iteration of its splendid GT40 concept, complete with V6 engine now, and a racing version won its class at Le Mans in 2016, the 50th anniversary of its spectacular triumph at the famous race.

McLaren keeps making lots of new cars and this Speedtail recalls the Porsche 908 “Langheck” which ran at Le Mans in 1968. Like Gordon Murray’s F1 the Speedtail has a central driving position.

David Blumlein, September 2021                                                                                                              

View from Syon Park

image_pdfimage_print

A sure sign that things are edging towards normality, there are now events that we motoring enthusiasts can actually attend. This weekend sees the Goodwood Festival of Speed happening and a few weeks back there was the London Classic Car Show.

Syon Park was the venue for this small, but perfectly formed show. There was something for everyone and those who did attend came away with a smile on their face.

There was a celebration of the E-type’s 60th birthday, bringing out ECD 400. Graham Hill scored the car’s first race victory in this vehicle, at Oulton Park.

The E-type was a mere whippersnapper compared with the Salvesen Wagonette, dating back to 1893, and the first car to built in Scotland.

The weather looked menacing at times but held off to add to the occasion. The show must have been a nightmare to organise, so all credit is due to those responsible. I look forward to returning to its very agreeable new home for the 2022 edition. Simon Hildrew was pacing the lawns and provides an excellent record of the event.

John Brooks, July 2021

New Kid on the Block

image_pdfimage_print

Starting a new motorsport club at this point of time is a bold move, but last weekend the Classic Racing Car Club put on quite a show at Thruxton, in their debut event. Competitors and spectators alike, were royally entertained as summer finally arrived in England.

There were familiar cars and familiar faces, such as Tiff Needell, who won his first race here, way back almost half a century.

The blue Ralt RT3 was also a voice from the past; I had witnessed it, and its driver, Martin Brundle, chase Ayrton Senna all over the UK in 1983, he very nearly caught the Brazilian.

Our main man behind the lens, Simon Hildrew, was on top form, the weather was wonderful and so are the images he has sent over to DDC Towers. Enjoy them, I certainly did.

John Brooks, June 2021

Back to Brands

image_pdfimage_print

One of the side effects of COVID-19 has been the loss of many of our traditional motor sport events, especially to the paying public. Thanks to the excellent vaccination programme we are beginning to go back to some form of normality. A couple of weeks back, the second May Bank Holiday was celebrated at Brands Hatch with the Masters Historic Festival. A good crowd was entertained by close and competitive racing, we might just be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Light is something that Simon Hildrew is still master of as evidenced by this fine gallery, enjoy his efforts.

John Brooks, June 2021

Not Seeking Closure

image_pdfimage_print

2021 is now in full swing, in the “real world” the insanity of 2020 seems set to continue for the time being. DDC Towers is a busy place, hence the shameful neglect of this website. However, I have been sitting on a sad, but beautiful, tale of one of the casualties of this wretched pandemic. Take it away Mr. Horrocks…………..

Closure on COVID-19 is something we’ve all been waiting to experience for what seems like a long, long time. But as the days go on, the only closure we seem to be seeing is that of businesses as they find the struggle to keep afloat eventually defeats them. Because of the various mandated restrictions that have been placed upon enterprises sadly many have been forced to simply shut their doors for good.

One of the closures due to COVID-19 was World of Speed Motorsports Museum. This collection, located south of Portland Oregon, was a haven for the gearhead. While it focused on the history of motorsports in the area, it really encompassed the entire world of motoring competition. When the doors initially closed for the first COVID-19 lock-down, the display floor was just transitioning from having Mustang as the featured marque to Ferrari. 

Unfortunately, the Ferrari exhibit was never to be seen by the public – the board of directors chose to lock their doors for good not too long after hoping to celebrate five years of being open. The celebration never happened. For those involved, the only closure was the locked doors.

I found about the museum in late 2014.  This looked to be a good place for me to deposit the items I’d accumulated in my travels – PR kits, programs and various handouts I had taking up space in my basement. When I donated the items, I was given a tour of the facility as well as introduced to some of the management. I soon found this was also a recruitment session as they were looking for volunteers. As it appeared that my involvement in covering racing was reaching a limited future, I thought why not? It was closer to home and wouldn’t involve any redeye flights in order to get back for work after an event.

 It was here that I was able to reopen an enthusiasm for all things motorsports as I’d been so micro-focused on sportscar racing for so long. Sort of bringing my gearhead life full circle. I found myself face to face with things from my youth – drag racing, Indycars, muscle cars, customs – you name it. There was even room for unlimited hydroplane boats, something I grew up with as a kid while living in the Seattle area.

And that wasn’t the only things from my youth. In these walls was none other than Challenger 1, Mickey Thompson’s massive 4-engined land speed record car that went 400 mph in 1960. This was a car that I’d built multiple models of as a kid – and still likely have one or two stashed away for safe keeping. Wow! It was also surrounded by other cars from his stable – all used to bring various records back to the United States as well as to his sponsors. Eventually Mickey’s son Danny brought the Challenger 2 that Mickey built in the late ‘60s back to the salt. He updated it and ran it to 448 mph at Bonneville in 2018. We had the two cars side by side for a while and it was spectacular.

I’d also found myself face to face with a car closer to home – a homebuilt drag car that I’d seen race when I was a young kid. It was made out of an old Dodge Pickup and featured a bed cover with an embroidered Thumper – the Thumper that stole the show in the Disney movie Bambi. That was important to a five-year-old me back then and suddenly became important to a much older me.

Through the nearly five-year run, the museum hosted tributes to many different and unique “marques”.  The first big one was to celebrate the 100th running of the Indy 500. This display garnered the museum some good notoriety, as it featured at times up to 35 Indy cars ranging from 1914 to 1997. Included was Jack Brabham’s Cooper from 1961, a Lotus 56 turbine from 1968 and the Nigel Mansell Newman-Haas Lola among many others.

Other features included Corvettes (including the 1961 model that was in the film, Animal House), Muscle Cars, Porsche 911, as well as the previously mentioned Mustang and Ferrari. Another spectacular exhibit was a tribute to Mario Andretti in 2019, celebrating the 50th anniversary of his win at Indy.  Up front and in your face was the Ford GT Mk4 that he and Bruce McLaren won Sebring in 1967 and next to it was a replica of his Daytona 500-winning Ford from two months earlier. That GT got everybody’s attention in a very big way. It was a stunning way to highlight the versatility of racers back then, especially Mario.

But it was more than the feature exhibits. As you can see in the accompanying photos, it was a spectacular ride. Unfortunately, it simply didn’t last. The hardships placed upon it due to COVID-19 was just too great to succeed.

I hope that we’ll soon be back to what we considered to be normal, or at least close to it. We can’t afford to have places we’ve enjoyed simply vanish from our existence. Sure, World of Speed was minor in the trials and tribulations of our modern times, but to many it was a great distraction from reality. We all are in need of positive distractions…

Good news is that much of the content from World of Speed has been distributed to other museums that are open or still have hopes in reopening. Just recently I saw one of the drag cars on display in the window of a speed shop/museum close to where I live. Also, the International Motor Racing Research Center located at Watkins Glen recently announced it had received a large shipment of archival material from World of Speed. Likely some of my old donations are also there. While it is good to see that some of the items that were at the museum are resurfacing elsewhere, it is still a sad reminder of what we had so close to home…

Gary Horrocks, January 2021