Bentley at Blenheim

image_pdfimage_print

The Salon Privé is now firmly established as one of the top car events on the planet. It has a unique flavour, mixing old and new, all to the absolute highest of standards. I had missed the event for a few years, the offer of a pass for a few hours at the end of the show did not appeal, especially given the delights of driving around the M25 on a Saturday. Then I received an invitation from Dirk de Jager to join him with the Fiat 8V that he was displaying on Owners’ Day, I was very pleased to accept and the show did not disappoint, anything but.

In retrospect 2019 now feels to me like 1914 or 1939 might have done to those who experienced the great conflicts that followed those fateful years, not that I am comparing the pandemic to the slaughter of the World Wars, but I suspect things will be very different when we finally emerge.

Some of the activities that we took for granted like motor sport or concours d’elegance may just not happen once the economic impact of the past three months becomes clear. There will be less money to spend and we all may well have to concentrate on the essentials. This realisation is tempered with an optimism that, even if we consign 2020 to the dustbin of history, things will get back to normal within a few years. In the meantime let’s reflect on happier times. The Salon Privé has been one of the highlights of the UK motoring calendar over the past decade or so, the 2019 show maintained the high standard set over the years, that bar is high.

In common with events of this kind, there are several themes that run through the concours and the narrative hangs off this in the form of appropriately focussed displays. 2019 saw the celebration of Bentley’s centenary, indeed the final day at Salon Privé would witness the largest assembly of Bentleys in history with 1,321 examples surrounding Blenheim Palace.

Bentley’s own celebration of the milestone came in several forms, the most prominent of which was a concept car, the EXP 100 GT. In some ways it was difficult to know what to make of this huge creation.

The PR fluff that accompanied the car’s release was woke on an epic scale, full of right-on signals. “The interior takes Bentley craftsmanship in a new direction by seamlessly fusing sustainable materials with technology. It incorporates new directions being explored by Bentley, including the use of light in creating a wellness-enriching environment and Adaptable Biometric Seating that adds to the feeling of wellbeing.”

Having said that, one had to admit that there was a certain element of elegance running through the display, with the sinuous curves and sense of opulence and style clearly evident. I am not the target market, and never will be, so perhaps my views are irrelevant.

Another Bentley concept car, from another galaxy, is the recreation of the 1939 Corniche. The original car was inspired by the Embiricos Bentley, that had been styled by Georges Paulin. Bentley’s management were convinced that a sporty version of the forthcoming MKV would prove popular with the marque’s customers. I suspect it’s aerodynamic curves looked as surreal to the late ’30s enthusiasts as the EXP 100 GT does to me.

As the PR release says; ‘It was agreed that the Corniche should be built to investigate the idea. It would have a lightweight chassis, built from thinner-than-standard gauge steel, fitted with a tuned version of the Mark V engine matched to an overdrive gearbox created to suit. The Corniche was built as a collaboration between Bentley and third parties such as Georges Paulin, the French car designer who designed the bodywork and Carrosserie Vanvooren in Paris who made the bodywork.‘.

After a successful roll out at Brooklands in May 1939 the car headed for Europe but was then involved in two separate accidents. The second was quite severe, the chassis returned to the UK and the bodywork was to be repaired in France. The outbreak of the war overtook the project and the bodywork was destroyed during an air raid on Dieppe Harbour.

At the turn of the century enthusiasts attempted to recreate the Corniche. The project really came to life when Bentley CEO, Adrian Hallmark, took it in-house to Mulliner, the result is this stunning work of automotive art.

Although Bentley ceased competition when it was acquired by Rolls-Royce in 1931, that did not mean the end of the road for the chief ‘Bentley Boy’, Woolf Barnato. In 1934 he commissioned Wally Hassan to build a racer based on Bentley parts, including the engine from ‘Old Number One’, victorious in the 1929 Le Mans 24 Hours. The car was raced at many places, including Brooklands, with Oliver Bertram posting a lap on the outer circuit at 143.11mph. After the war it took part in the 1949 Spa 24 Hours but failed to finish.

Another initiative that Woolf Barnato made at Bentley was the introduction of a supercharger, designed by Amherst Villiers, for the 4½-litre engine to create the Blower Bentley. This road-going example, dating from 1930, was Barnato’s personal car, with coachwork by Gurney Nutting.

A pair of familiar faces at Blenheim were this Bentley 8 Litre and its owner, Mihai Negrescu. I had the pleasure of riding with him in this fabulous limousine a few years back on the Salon Privé drive day, perhaps I should revisit that tale soon.

The Bentley 8 Litre was W.O. Bentley’s swansong for the company he founded. This example had a bit of an odd history, ending up in Canada at one point. The excellent vintagebentleys.org provides the tale. “Jack Charters bought the car when he lived in the UK but took it over to Canada in 1948 and, with his wife, drove it across Canada in the winter from Halifax to Soda Creek 400 miles north of Vancouver where they lived. Jack died in a blizzard in 1949 and the car was rescued from the British Columbian wilderness by Capt. L. Goudy. He took the car to Vancouver and restored it. It was in a poor state having had a collision with a moose and the wings had been trimmed. It was also painted white by then. Capt. Goudy kept the car until at least 1971. Capt. Goudy recalls the time when he was stopped by the police in Vancouver and thought he was about to be charged with a motoring offence, but the officers only wanted to see the engine and then one of them stated that his uncle was called Lycett, and he used to race Bentleys. This, of course, was the famous Forrest Lycett.”

Now fully restored but still sporting the original interior, it is a jewel of an automobile, I hope to see more of it now that the owner has moved.

The very epitome of ’30s elegant motoring is this Bentley 4¼ Litre, with coachwork by H.J. Mulliner, form and function coming together in harmony.

This is another of Woolf Barnato’s Bentleys, delivered in July 1936 to his Mayfair home.

The Bentley day at Blenheim took place on the Sunday and, unfortunatley, I had a conflicting appointment. So I must make do with this dazzling selection of Bentleys from the main show. More from Salon Privé in the next week or so.

John Brooks, June 2020

The Devil is in………………..

image_pdfimage_print

One of the attractions of the Concours of Elegance held at Hampton Court Palace is the time to really look at the fantastic selection of cars on display. On the day the good news arrived confirming that the 2020 show will go ahead, even under restricted circumstances, we can have a look at some of the close-ups from last year.

The unmistakable red triangle signals an Alvis with this athletic figure on the radiator cap………..

Minerva, the Roman goddess of wisdom and strategic warfare, and the sponsor of arts, trade, and strategy; Lord knows her talents are needed now.

One of the most famous Aston martins of them all, 1 VEV, a DB4GT Zagato, campaigned by John Ogier’s Essex Racing Stable. One of just 19 examples built, it scored a podium in the hands of Roy Salvadori at the 1961 RAC Tourist Trophy but was mainly used as the team’s test car.

A symbol of quality for almost a century………………

More from the Palace later………….

John Brooks, June 2020

View from The Long Water

image_pdfimage_print

One of the highlights of my personal motoring year is the visit in early September to Hampton Court Palace for the Concours of Elegance. The setting and the cars are beyond magnificent, the event has yet to disappoint, since it started in 2012. Despite the pandemic, it is scheduled to take place this year on 4-6th September but who knows? In the first of a series of pieces looking back, here is Simon Hildrew’s personal view from 2019.

John Brooks, June 2020

The House on The Hill

image_pdfimage_print

In yesterday’s post I stated my intention to remain in an analogue world rather than the brave new digital one. If any confirmation were needed of this being the right course a breathless release arrived overnight confirming that ByKolles was on pole for the virtual Le Mans 24. No further evidence to present, m’ Lord. So continuing to mine the recent past in search of treasure we should once more look at Goodwood, this time the Festival of Speed and Simon Hildrew’s amazing photos.

In any normal year I would getting ready to cover Les Vingt-Quatre Heures du Mans later this afternoon. However, we are living in strange times; normally we would also be anticipating a trip to the South Downs and the Goodwood Festival of Speed. That pleasure is denied to us this year, so we must make do with memories. A look back at 2019 will have to do.

Speed and style are crucial elements in the DNA of the Festival of Speed, so is heritage. As the years roll by anniversaries hove into view, arguably one of the most significant in 2019 was Bentley’s centenary. Naturally there were many fine examples on display, but I was drawn to XM 6761, a 1922 3-Litre. This car is very significant for Bentley and Le Mans, as it was entered in the first race back in 1923, laying the foundations for the ‘Bentley Boy’ legend that did so much to raise the profile of the French endurance race in the early years.

Frank Clement and John Duff ignored W.O. Bentley and entered the 3-Litre, the only non-French car in the field. They set the fastest lap and eventually finished joint fourth after a stone punctured the fuel tank.

UU 5872 has been described as “The most valuable Bentley in the world. This is the actual – and totally original – supercharged 4½-litre that Sir Henry ‘Tim’ Birkin raced in the Le Mans 24 Hours in 1930. Its sister car won the race but this car played a key role in that victory when Birkin acted as a hare and, eventually, Caracciola’s chasing Mercedes SSK broke.” It is automotive royalty of the highest order

Mercedes-Benz were celebrating 125 years of motor sport, a truly great heritage. Amongst the many stars was this 1937 W125. Powered by a 5.6 litre supercharged straight-eight, the Silver Arrow took Rudolf Caracciola to a second drivers’ title.

Fast-forward a few decades to the Sauber-Mercedes C9 that conquered Le Mans in 1989 in the hands of Jochen Mass, Stanley Dickens and Manuel Reuter. Its rumbling V8 song is unmistakable.

Also eligible for a telegram from Her Majesty was Citroën, well they would be if they were not French. Despite that disadvantage they were especially welcome at Goodwood, having produced some of the world’s truly great cars, consistently marching to a different beat. Where would Maigret have been without his Traction Avant? What would France profonde have done without the 2CV?

Fifty years have passed since Sir Jackie Stewart won the first of his three World Championships. It was wonderful see the whole family as guests of His Grace, Lady Helen has not been well for a while. Sir Jackie has, in recent years, thrown his considerable energy and influence in the Race for Dementia charity, if anyone can help to defeat this terrible condition, it will be him.

Sir Jackie, and his sons Paul and Mark, demonstrated his championship-winning cars, a Matra and two Tyrrells.

Another champion from that era was Jacky Ickx. In ’69 he won the first of his six victories at La Sarthe, eclipsing all others, except a great Dane.

The Ford GT40 that carried Ickx and his co-driver, Jackie Oliver, to the closest victory in Le Mans history, 120 meters ahead of Hans Herrmann’s Porsche, is a legend in its own right. #1075 also triumphed in the previous year’s race, making it one of only four cars to win the French classic twice.

’69 also saw the debut of the Porsche 917 at La Sarthe, here Derek Bell is reunited with #045 that he shared with Jo Siffert in ’71. Of course during that race it was in the iconic Blue and Orange Gulf livery but during a restoration in the ’70s it was re-liveried as a Martini Porsche.

Richard Attwood drove #023 up The Hill, he and Hans Herrmann scored Porsche’s first outright win at Le Mans in ’70, the race immortalised by Steve McQueen.

Aston Martin celebrated a 70-year relationship with Goodwood. The parade is led here by the DBR1/2, its wundercar of the late ’50s, with two victories in RAC Tourist Trophy at Goodwood as well winning Le Mans in ’59.

Aston Martin were also the marque featured on the traditional sculpture in front of Goodwood House, courtesy of Gerry Judah.

As happens most years there is an automotive sensory overload during the Festival of Speed, just how important it has become is illustrated by the loss of the event in 2020, it will be back, and so will we.

In the meantime fill yer boots courtesy of Simon Hildrew’s magnificent gallery.

John Brooks, June 2020

A Revival, what we all need now.

image_pdfimage_print

DoubleDeClutch has been dormant for several months, too many paying projects, followed by the lock-down and the suspension of normal life due to the terrible virus that has wreaked such havoc on society. So, on a day that is grey and soggy, it is time to make the sun shine again, to truly believe that better days are ahead. What more fitting way to achieve this than to reflect on the recent past, courtesy of this fabulous photography from Simon Hildrew? More to follow as we get back up to speed but first a few reflections from Sussex.

Sitting in my office at lunchtime on the second Friday in June is a very unusual situation. For the past 37 years I would be running up and down the Le Mans Paddock and during the past decade I would be beginning to herd a bunch of grumpy cats, aka drivers, in the direction of Place des Jacobins for the Friday evening parade. At least I am spared that delight today.

We are living in weird times during this terrible pandemic, tomorrow there will be a virtual 24-hours of Le Mans, all very worthy I am sure, but not for me. I prefer my imagination to be rooted in the real world, even if it is the past.

So rather than a digital virtual world, let’s go analogue and where would be more appropriate than the Goodwood Revival?

Simon produced some stunning work back in September and it is high time to expose it to a wider audience, like this evocative moment in time from the Kinrara Trophy, surely automotive heaven.

I visited the Revival for the first time in several years and was greatly impressed at the high standard the event manages to maintain, even 20 years on from the first running. There is still great kudos in being invited by His Grace to compete, everyone who is anyone in the classic racing field has to be there.

It is also time to catch up with old friends and colleagues, such Peter Wyss, journalist and racer…….he has a podium at the Spa 24 to his credit.

Old friends come in many shapes and sizes, Andrew Cotton spotted an E-Type in the paddock, recognising it as the very car that his father had participated in many ’60s continental rallies, as a navigator. Big smiles were the order of the day, a common problem at the Revival.

Later in the day I was catching up with Ted Higgins, who was looking after this marvellous Vanwall, part of Bernie Ecclestone’s collection. We noticed a familiar face passing and it was too good an opportunity to miss.

Both champions in Gulf colours, James Weaver discusses style with Derek Bell.

Just count how many Le Mans victories are on parade here………..29 by my reckoning………..

There was a celebration of Sir Stirling Moss reaching his 90th birthday, with Lady Susie as guest of honour, here with His Grace in the timeless DBR1. Sadly, since this happy day the great champion has passed away.

The 75th Anniversary of the D-Day landings was also celebrated with an impressive display of military hardware, including this Sherman.

The airfield played host to fabulous collection, including this Douglas DC-3, another veteran of 6th June 1944.

‘Give me Goodwood on a summer’s day and you can forget the rest’ declared Roy Salvadori back in the day. September is pretty good too, whether we will enjoy the experience this year is open to question, my thoughts are not positive. So we must make do with images from the past, beats the virtual world any day in my humble opinion, especially when it is Simon behind the lens.

Enjoy his gallery.

John Brooks, June 2020

Kop Hill – Rare and Interesting

image_pdfimage_print

The comparatively recent revival of the hill climb at Kop Hill has been a notable success. Our Special Correspondent attended and unearthed his usual cocktail of rare and interesting.

One of the three Fox & Nicholl Talbot 105 team cars which won an Alpine Cup in the 1932 Alpine Trial. The cars had special bodywork by Vanden Plas and this one was driven by Norman Garrad. They all completed the arduous event without loss of marks!

Dating from 1937, this has to be one of the early four-wheeled Morgans.

It has the Coventry Climax overhead inlet and side exhaust valve engines.

An unusual body on a 1920 Trafford Park, Manchester, made Model T Ford. It labels itself a “Centredoor Top Hat “ saloon but while seating five, it was felt to be unstable and there was no safety glass at that time.

This Chevrolet Roadster is interesting because it dates from 1928 and is therefore one of the last Chevrolet four-cylinder models – it has an o.h.v. Mason-designed motor.

For 1929 Chevrolet introduced its superb 6-cylinder o.h.v. unit, nicknamed both the “Cast Iron Wonder” and “Stovebolt Six” which went on to power every Chevrolet car and light truck until 1954!

TAILPIECE

The capacious boot of a Gordon England Austin Seven Cup model.

David Blumlein, December 2019

Bright Sparkford

image_pdfimage_print

The Special Correspondent has been out West and he paid a visit to “ The much improved Haynes Motor Museum, Sparkford” as he described it. In this piece he brings us some of the highlights he found in the recently revised museum.

Visitors are greeted in the entrance hall by this gorgeous Rover 8. Designed for Rover by Jack Sangster, it has an air-cooled flat twin side-valve engine of 998 c.c. (enlarged to 1134 c.c.) and sold very well from 1921 to 1925 when it was overtaken by the Austin Seven.

The Horstman was manufactured in Bath, Somerset from 1914 to 1929. Initially it had a 995 c.c. 4-cylinder engine of Horstman’s own design and manufacture but after the Great War Coventry Simplex and Anzani engines were used. A 3-speed gearbox was mounted in the rear axle and a pedal was used to start the engine. Most Horstmans had open 2- and 4- seater bodies and a Super Sports model was offered. The cars performed well in the multiple trials of the period and a Horstman came fifth in the 200 mile race at Brooklands in 1923.

A 1926 Star Scorpio. The Star Motor Company of Wolverhampton built their first car in 1898 and by the start of World War 1 were one of the six biggest motor manufacturers in the country. They built well engineered if rather conservative cars – this Scorpio is typical, having a 4-cylinder side-valve 1745 c.c. engine. Unable to compete with the mass produced cars, the company closed in 1932, having made 15,600 cars altogether.

The Empire began life as a 20 h.p. 4-cylinder 2-seater, built initially in Indianapolis, and among its backers was Carl Fisher, the instigator of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. In fact, the prototype Empire was the first car to be driven on the new brickwork circuit. Under new ownership the car only lasted until 1919 despite new additions to the range.

Packard, Pierce Arrow and Peerless, the three “ Ps”, America’s  prestige car makers. By the mid-Thirties Packard felt the need for a medium- price car to enable more people to be able to buy a Packard. The result was the 120 Series with an L-head eight cylinder engine and a variety of body styles. It was just what the dealers needed and sold for the year from August 1935 50,000 units! The car was chosen as the Pace Car at the 1936 Indianapolis 500 and for the first time the winner would receive the Pace Car – Tommy Milton was the lucky new Packard owner!

Elwood Haynes started making cars in collaboration with the Apperson brothers but after a while the arrangement did not work out and from 1905 Haynes renamed the firm the Haynes Automobile Company. At the New York Automobile Show in January 1916 was introduced this Haynes V-12 with a 5842 c.c. ohv engine, built in-house. It became known as the Light Twelve and it was a real rarity –only about 650 were made.

The Duesenberg Model J, the most prestigious car of the Errett Lobban Cord empire. It has a Lycoming –built twin overhead camshaft four valves per cylinder straight-eight engine of 265 horse power and this example wears a Derham Tourster body. Only 481 of these masterpieces were made.

Sensation of the Chicago and New York Shows in November 1935, the Cord 810 was a radically new design, the work of Gordon Buehrig, E.L. Cord’s chief body designer. It used front wheel drive and an electrically operated gearbox. Powered by a 4730 c.c. V8 Lycoming engine, it was the first American production saloon to achieve a genuine 100 mph. This is the Beverly model.

David Blumlein, November 2019                                 

.

Rebirth of the Cool

image_pdfimage_print

Motor Racing is an essentially circular activity, much like life, though in that particular case it eventually comes down to the ever-decreasing variety. On a July Saturday, almost 50 years ago, I travelled in a state of great excitement to Kent, Brands Hatch to be precise. I was going to my first motor race.

My heroes were going to be there; Seppi and Pedro, plus the greats such as Jackie Stewart, Jochen Rindt, Jack Brabham and Graham Hill, I could not believe my good fortune. The 1970 British Grand Prix was chock-full of legends like Dan Gurney, Mario Andretti and John Surtees – another future ace, Emerson Fittipaldi, was making his F1 début.

I had devoured Motor Sport and Autocar for the previous year or two in search of knowledge of this exciting and glamorous scene and was just getting into another publication, Autosport. I was properly hooked on motor racing, it was all downhill from there.

The race is remembered for the last lap victory of Jochen Rindt, taking advantage of Jack Brabham’s fuel starved car. From my perspective in the grandstand at Clearways it was downright robbery, the Aussie had earned the win. A few weeks later this thought was tempered with the news of the Austrian’s death at Monza. That season had already seen Bruce McLaren and Piers Courage killed while behind the wheel of a racing car, we would witness the first, and hopefully the last, posthumous World Champion.

Years passed and I was fortunate to have some small involvement with the sport, mainly in the endurance racing sector. A familiar name popped up in the mid-90s, that of Brabham, this time David rather than Jack, or Sir Jack as he was honoured.

David was one of the top drivers of his time, a Le Mans winner, but also a genuinely good bloke, clearly his father’s son. Recently he has relaunched the family name in the world of high performance cars, indeed I wrote about the launch of the car some time back. HERE

A week or so back the Brabham brand returned to Brands Hatch as David raced the Brabham BT62 in its début, scoring a memorable victory in the first Britcar endurance race of the weekend. The one hour event on Saturday evening was held in torrential conditions as competitors raced into the sodden night. Co-driver Will Power struggled with a windscreen that misted up during the opening stint but when he handed over the elegant racer to Brabs at the mandatory pitstop he had done enough to lay the foundations for success. The pair were justifiably chuffed with the result, perhaps the first step on the road to Les Vingt-Quatre Heures du Mans in 2022.

The team were brought back down to earth on the Sunday morning when they were forced out of the lead in the second race with alternator problems. A very promising start and hopefully the prologue to a motorsport legend in the making.

DDC had the services of Simon Hildrew to illustrate this piece, as ever he did a brilliant job, more to come from him during the coming weeks as we attend to clearing the backlog of pieces ready to post.

John Brooks November 2019

The Magic of Monterey

image_pdfimage_print

One of the many pleasures of running things at DDC is how old friends pop in and contribute. Gary Horrocks will be a familiar name to anyone who has followed IMSA since Doctor Don revived the show at the turn of the century. Gary was of the stars in the world of DailySportsCar.com – his reporting of the American Le Mans Series was top notch, keeping absentees like myself informed and entertained in full measure. When he offered to give us a flavour of the scene around Monterey earlier this month, I jumped at the chance.

Laguna Seca under any name has always been a favorite track of mine.  I’ve been going there on an off and on again basis since 1984. 

Even after covering the ALMS and Grand Am series from 1999 thru 2016 and being at so many different tracks, any trip to Laguna almost felt like going home. 

When it was announced the featured “make” at the Monterey Historics was to be IMSA, I knew one way or another it was to be on my schedule.  50 years of IMSA sounded awesome.  Well, it wasn’t pretty, but I did manage to take in the sights and sounds for a day at least…

First of all, I opted to not apply for credentials – I didn’t expect to be “working” although eventually I did accomplish some work.  That brought on sticker shock – $90 for a Friday only ticket.  It was an additional $120 for Saturday. 

I’m sure there were packages available and such, but with prices like this, well yikes.  Then on top of that you have the business principle of supply and demand shining thru in regards to hotel rooms.  I saw a particular room I’ve used for the IMSA races at $170 a night up to a staggering $499 per night for this event.  As if the area isn’t expensive enough.  I’ve heard of many that are much better off than I that are staying away simply because of the expense.  This week isn’t for the common folk anymore…

Any trip to Laguna typically includes stops at In-n-Out Burger (a double-double will do just fine) as well as a stop at Canepa Motorsports.  During the week of the historics, their restoration shop is open for viewing and as always, their showroom and museum are open for your drooling pleasure…

This place is staggering.  Again, not a place that I really belong in, especially now being retired, but a great place to see some unique and special cars.  Thru the years that I’ve been visiting I’ve seen the inventory in both the showroom and museum change, but it seems that you can always count on the core being present. 

Gulf 917?  Check.  Mass/Ickx 962?  Check.  Audi R15 plus?  Check… 

What was of most interest to me was the appearance of the John Paul Greenwood Corvette.  This was the last of the line for Greenwood, but this Bob Riley car was the most extreme of a long line of extreme Corvettes.  I’d seen the car in the shop in 2016, stripped to the bare frame and to see it complete now was a sight to behold.  What a fantastic beast.

Anyway, on to the main event  the Monterey Historics.  Before arriving I’d stayed away from the entry lists on purpose – I simply wanted to be surprised.  I guess the car I most wanted to see (and hear) again was a Panoz.  Just one more time to see the beast in action.  While it wasn’t the coupe as I’d witnessed at Laguna in ’97 and 98, it was none other than the full on wacked out roadster I feel fortunate to have witnessed in 1999 and later.  Mags and Brabs could always be counted on to give it their all in the beast.  Even though it was typically an Audi show back then, the Panoz was still something to behold.  Good times…

Another highlight was Tommy Kendall’s RX-7.  If my feeble mind remembers correctly, this car was originally constructed by Jim Downing, raced by Jack Baldwin to two championships and served as Tommy’s entrance into IMSA racing.  All told, the car won 5 championships (Downing 1, Baldwin 2 and Kendall 2) in the IMSA GTU category.  None other than Dan Binks was Tommy’s crew chief back then and thru much of his career.  It was also Dan that was responsible for getting the car back in running order.  Tommy said, “we just wanted to get it running.  Mechanically it is great – Dan did a great job with it.  Cosmetically we didn’t do much to it.  It is as it last ran.  We did vacuum up the cat fur out of the car though.  My cat loved to sleep in the drivers seat when I was recuperating from my injuries.  It was sort of my therapy buddy…”  Dan added that the car is “quite slow when compared to today’s racing, even to a current street car.  We only got a bit over 300 hp in it.  That’s not much anymore.”

Even though there is a featured make, there are also other stunning cars in the paddock.  In this case it wasn’t just IMSA.  There are always an interesting assembly of F-1 cars, from back when the cars were unique and different.  Even if the featured make isn’t your thing, it is still worth the effort.  Just make sure you’ve the funds to make it work.

Anyway, what I was able to do didn’t disappoint.  Sure, I’d have loved to have had more time at the track, but it just didn’t work out this time.  At least I got one day at the track.  Poor Brian Mitchell – he and his lovely wife Linda made the trip, only for her to take a tumble on a pedestrian bridge.  The result of the fall was a wickedly messed up leg with multiple breaks.  He spent more time in the hospital with her than he was able to be at the track.  She faces a long recovery time – sadly she had just retired from many years of teaching.  Keep them in your thoughts…

Gary Horrocks, August 2019

Rare and Interesting at Techno Classica

image_pdfimage_print

It may be the dog days of summer but here at DDC Towers we are beavering away, playing catch up with material that has taken time to get posted. Here are the Special Correspondent’s reflections on the Techno Classica.

It was Clément Ader who made the first V8 engines and he entered three V8–engined cars for the tragic Paris–Madrid race in 1903. The race was stopped at Bordeaux because of the fatal accidents but all three of these cars successfully reached Bordeaux safely.

However it was de Dion who gave us the first production V8 car which was introduced at the 1910 Paris Show. This de Dion V8 dates from 1913 and its engine is of 4.6-litres.

In 1930 the Mille Miglia organisers introduced a Touring (Turismo) class for four-seater saloons to attract more entrants. In 1931 Alfa Romeo entered three 6C 1750 Gran Turismos with special “Aerodynamic” coupé bodies built by Touring – these can be considered the true ancestors of the modern GT.

In 1931 Gazzabini/Guatta came 8th and 1st in class; in 1932 Touring prepared new aerodynamic bodies and Minoia/Balestrieri came 4th and 1st in class.

This is a Talbot Grand Sport, chassis 110105. It ran at Le Mans three times but was never a works car. In 1951 it finished 17th; in 1952 André Chambas and André Morel raced it with two Roots-type superchargers fitted and brought it home 9th, the only Talbot to finish.

1953 was the car’s last race and Chambas had Charles de Cortanze (of Peugeot fame) as his co-driver – alas, Chambas spun after just 25 laps, damaging the gearbox and causing retirement; poor de Cortanze never got to drive!

During 1951 John Wyer, the Aston Martin racing manager, was hoping the new sports racing DB3 would be ready but , when  it became obvious that it would not be available until the end of the season, he decided to build two “lightweight” DB2 cars, registered XMC 76  and XMC 77. They had extensively drilled chassis, bodies in lighter 18-gauge alloy, Perspex side and rear windows and a power output of 128 bhp.

This car first appeared in the Production Sports Car Race at Silverstone in May and Parnell won the 3-litre class with seventh overall. At Le Mans Parnell shared with Hampshire to finish in 7th place and then Shawe-Taylor took another 7th in the Tourist Trophy at Dundrod.

In the 1952 Mille Miglia Parnell and Serboli finished 13th overall and in Switzerland’s Prix de Berne at Bremgarten in May Parnell came 5th, lacking the speed to challenge the Mercedes-Benz 300SL opposition.

TAILPIECE

A little Rovin microcar, made after World War 2 in the former Delaunay-Belleville factory at St Denis, Paris. One of these splendid machines won its class in the 1950 Bol d’Or at Montlhéry.

David Blumlein, August 2019