A Recollection of Times Past

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The Targa Florio was the last of the open road races, a breed that died out in the early ’70s, changing attitudes to safety ending this toughest of challenges to man and machine.

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The Sicilians are rightly proud of the heritage of this great race, so celebrated the 100th edition recently with a collection of fantastic cars that had starred down the years. Porsches, Ferraris, Alfa Romeos and many others brought the memories flooding back of the Circuito Piccolo delle Madonie

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There were also a number of the gladiators present who risked life and limb back in the day. Former champions such as Arturo Merzario, Vic Elford and Gijs van Lennep were joined by other luminaries such as Jacky Ickx and Andrea de Adamich.

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DDC’s Simon Hildrew made the trip to the tip of Italy to bring us this wonderful gallery………………Bella Vista!

John Brooks, May 2016

Route des Vacances

John Elwin is currently hitting a rich vein of classic car events, this one came to him in his corner of France and it displayed a true Gallic motoring flair.

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“We’re all going on a summer holiday!”
Who can forget the words to Sir Cliff Richard’s jolly little sing-a-long ditty as he and his pals headed for the seaside in a big red bus? That scenario was created (almost) on a chilly Sunday morning in Northern France recently.
Introduced only a few years ago, the ‘Route des Vacances’ has rapidly become a major event, a must-do for participants and onlookers alike.

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Catering for classic cars and coaches, it retraces one of France’s traditional holiday routes from the industrial and mining area around Lens to the Cote d’Opale seaside resort of Berck-sur-Mer. And being France, there’s a lengthy lunch stop in the market town of Hesdin, attracting throngs of interested bystanders. The event is always run on Pentecost Sunday, which this year was in mid-May and blessed with rather cool weather more akin to a British bank holiday.

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The popularity of the event was proven by the fact that some 400 vehicles took part, together with about 900 people, many of whom travelled in the half dozen or so classic coaches. Cars ranged from pre-war Citroëns and Renaults right up to a BMW Z4, which looked rather incongruous amongst the more traditional classics. As you would expect, French brands dominated numerically with Citroën leading the way, thanks to a huge group of unruly 2CV’s but Peugeot, Renault and Simca were well represented too. British sports cars are popular in France, so MGBs abounded and Triumphs …well, triumphed.

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We caught up with the activity in Hesdin, where the awaiting crowd was entertained by the town’s excellent brass band, before the big bass drum was drowned-out by a cacophony of air horns and the like, announcing the arrival of the first of the cars. From around 11.30 a steady stream of cars, many entering into the holiday theme by towing period caravans or with loaded roof-racks, were marshalled into parking places either in Place d’Armes or one of the side streets – with so many participants parking was at a premium.

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Despite acting like a bunch of delinquent children the 2CV brigade were the most organised, arriving rather noisily altogether but they parked very neatly in a line along a one-way street, albeit facing in the wrong direction!

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Whilst some enjoyed a picnic, many others queued to buy traditional ‘les baraques a frites’ from a couple of friterie vans. One of them is run by Christine, who is something of an institution in Hesdin; having been serving frites to locals and tourists alike for 40 years, she’s said to be the richest woman in town!

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All too soon, 14.30 arrived and it was time to pack-up and head for the coast. All at once of course, which leads to more good-humoured noisy chaos as exit from the square is dictated by a set of traffic lights a short distance away. However, they were soon on their way, with the coaches bringing up the rear. One of them contained a party from Chorale la Lievinoise – I wonder what they were singing?
John Elwin, May 2016

Chiron

The launch of a new Bugatti is a very rare event, like the alignment of the planets, it may come but once or twice in our life spans. So the opportunity the witness the latest model from this most exclusive of brands in the flesh was not to be missed by our Special Correspondent. So he set course for Geneva and here are some of his reflections.

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For this scribe the chief excitement of the 2016 Geneva Motor show was the début of the Bugatti Chiron. Based on the Veyron, the Chiron pushes all the limits of its predecessor further ahead.

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It’s taller and wider and the 8.0-litre quad turbo W16 has been re-developed to give a staggering 1,479 b.h.p., almost 300 b.h.p. more than the Veyron, by dint of stronger titanium connecting rods, enlarged (by 30%) turbos while 1.4 kg have been machined off the crankshaft. There is an up-graded 7-speed Ricardo DCT with a bigger crown wheel, stronger universal joints and stouter driveshafts. Carbon silicon brakes with eight pistons and an air-brake help to arrest the unbelievable performance. The car sits on a new lighter carbon-fibre monocoque to which is attached the adaptive suspension and specially developed tyres. The carbon-fibre bodywork is a bold mix of curves and straight lines and a cutaway rear end is used to get rid of the enormous heat.

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Some 300,000 miles of testing has proved that these improvements are up to the job and customers (existing Veyron owners are given first refusal) are invited to part with a mere £1.9 million as from the autumn. To reassure them the road car is limited to a top speed of 261 m.p.h. Bugatti expects to make up to 500 Chirons, taking production up to 2024.

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Let us not forget that there was an earlier Bugatti Chiron, a concept car which appeared at the Frankfurt Show in 1999. It was a 2-seater mid-engined coupé, labelled “EB 18/3 Chiron”, the 18 indicating the number of cylinders and the 3 representing Volkswagen’s project.
So why Chiron, and who was he? Like Pierre Veyron he was a successful Bugatti driver but he drove other marques as well.

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He was born in Monaco in 1899, the son of the Maître d’Hôtel in the Hôtel de Paris. Having joined the French Army as an artilleryman, he became the chauffeur to Marshal Pétain. He was then able to obtain a Bugatti T22 which was prepared and supported by Ernest Friderich who was the Bugatti agent in Nice. In 1923 Chiron started taking part in local sprints and hill climbs, registering an initial success with a 3rd place in the Mont Agel hill climb.

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By 1926 a Bugatti T35 was bought for him by Alfred Hoffman, heir to the Hoffman-La Roche pharmaceutical empire, and Chiron finished 4th in the Grand Prix de Province, his first circuit race; a win at the Grand Prix de Comminges followed. For 1927 Hoffman obliged with a T35T which was converted to T35B specification. A first at Miramas was scored and then a second in the supporting race to the French Grand Prix. Chiron took 7th at Indianapolis in a Delage 15S 8 before going on to Brooklands where he finished 4th in the British Grand Prix.

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All this brought Chiron to the attention of Ettore Bugatti who invited him to drive for the works team. So for 1928 a T35C was used to win at Rome, Reims, San Sebastian and the Grand Prix d’Europe at Monza. In 1929 he won again at San Sebastian and took victory in the sports car Grand Prix von Deutschland. By now the T35 was becoming outclassed but he still managed to win at Spa.

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The twin-cam T51 restored his fortunes and in 1931 he won his home race, the Monaco Grand Prix, as well as taking a shared victory (with Varzi) in the French Grand Prix; he also won at Brno. 1932 began with a 9th place in the Monte Carlo Rally, Chiron driving a big Type 50 Bugatti, but back on the circuits the T51 was in turn being outpaced by the P3 Alfa Romeo; nevertheless, he managed victories at Nice, Dieppe and Brno again.

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So in 1933 it was all change to Alfa Romeos, initially teaming up with Caracciola to form Scuderia CC but this fell apart when the German ace crashed badly at Monaco. Chiron joined Scuderia Ferrari and threw away a certain win at Monaco with two laps to go in 1934. He made up for it with a splendid victory over the full might of the German teams in the French Grand Prix at Montlhéry. A season with Mercedes-Benz in 1936 did not work out well and this prompted his (premature) retirement. He was tempted back to drive sports T150C Talbots in 1937 and won the French Grand Prix, whereupon he retired once again.

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Chiron returned to Talbot after the war and won the first post-war French Grand Prix at Lyon, repeating the victory at Reims in 1949. His best performance in 1950 was a 3rd place at Monaco in a Maserati 4CLT/48. In the 1951 Monte Carlo Rally he brought his Delahaye 175S up to 5th overall by being the fastest in the Test around the Monaco Grand Prix circuit. His last Grand Prix was at Monaco in 1955 when he finished 6th in one of the Lancia D50s at the age of almost 56 years; he had won the Monte Carlo Rally the year before in a Lancia Aurelia. Non-qualification at Monaco 1958 in a Maserati 250F saw his last Grand Prix appearance, and a class win that year in a Porsche Carrera at the Vuillafans-Echevannes hill climb brought his impressive career to a close. He then devoted himself to organisation with the Monaco Club and died in 1979, appropriately, in Monaco.
The new car has much to live up to!
David Blumlein, May 2016

Delicious Dinos

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The range of Ferraris that bear the name of Enzo’s son, Dino, hold a special place in the automotive heaven. Grace, beauty, style, and class are all associated with this sub-brand. To my generation the cars known as Dino conjures up the vision of the 246 GT from the late 60’s but of course Dino covered a far broader spectrum of cars and engines, both on road and track.

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At the recent Rétromobile there were two reminders of just why this name is held in such respect and affection. The ACO were celebrating the 110th anniversary of the formation of the club and favoured the Parisian crowds with a display of cars from their museum. Even in such august company one vehicle caught my attention. At first glance this Ferrari 206GT was both familiar and strange at the same time, the lines had much in common with the road car that, presumably, it preceded but there were questions…………..

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Some light digging through the library answered these enquiries. This Dino was a one-off, a road legal version of the racing Dino 206S and dated back to 1965. That autumn it was the star of the Paris Salon, an audacious piece of styling from Pininfarina.

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The mid-engined, pocket-sized GT turned heads with its swoops and curves, the Plexiglas nose stretched over the full width of the car, a precursor of the similar treatment that would be seen on the Daytona.

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One of the motivations behind this GT and the whole Dino program in the middle-60’s was the desire for to homologate the V6 Dino 65º 4-cam engine, the rules stated that Formula Two powerplants had to be based on a road unit. This suited both Ferrari and Fiat who would produce a Fiat Dino in roadster and coupé formats utilising the race-bred engine..

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It was also part of the financial tidal wave that would see Fiat acquiring 50% of Ferrari’s shares in 1968, thus guaranteeing financial stability at Maranello. The Italian industrial giant would swallow up almost all of Ferrari by 1988. Ironically Fiat’s own financial issues are currently being resolved by the flotation of Ferrari on the New York Stock Exchange, Gianni Agnelli’s investment and foresight really paid off in the long term.

Another important Dino was to be found in the halls downstairs, that will be dealt with in the next post.

 

John Brooks, May 2016

 

 

A Meeting of Members

John Elwin crossed The English Channel bound for Goodwood and the 74th Members Meeting, though it was not all plain sailing though as his observations show………Simon Hildrew is on his usual top form with cameras in hand.

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To the wider world the 2016 Goodwood  74th Members Meeting will be remembered for a couple of spectacular, if freakish, accidents which received widespread coverage but for those who took the trouble to go to the track on what was a bitterly cold weekend, it will long be recalled for some thrilling racing.

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In particular the rarely seen Edwardians, the thundering machines warming the hearts of an appreciative crowd. Demonstrations of three disparate groups of relatively modern racers were well received, but are they really necessary?

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A highlight of the event was the Alan Mann Memorial race, celebrating the 50th anniversary of Ford’s famous Le Mans victory with an all-GT40 grid – some of which were even original cars! With much of the initial development work having been done at Goodwood, they provided an excellent spectacle as they raced into the dusk on Saturday evening. As a result of a litany of mechanical failures and incidents hitting others Steve Soper/David Cuff emerged as worthy winners.

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For sheer spectacle though, the GT40’s had to give best to the amazing array of machinery that appeared for the SF Edge Trophy race for Edwardian cars. These leviathans, many of them aero-engined, are rarely seen racing and the spectators were spellbound by a fantastic three-way battle for the lead as Duncan Pittaway’s relatively small GN-Curtiss emerged victorious, ahead of 23 year-old Argentinian Mathias Sielicki’s Delage V12 and Julian Majzub’s Sunbeam Indianapolis.

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The Gerry Marshall Trophy Group 1 Touring Car Race was actually two races, with Chris Ward (Rover SD1) winning Saturday’s 15-minute race from John Young’s Ford Capri and Nigel Garrett’s Chevrolet Camaro. Sunday’s 45-minute two-driver race saw father and son Grahame and Oliver Bryant driver to victory with Ward, co-driven by reigning BTCC champion Gordon Shedden in second place. Young, sharing with Steve Soper was third. Soper’s good fortune ran out in the Whitmore Cup race, retiring his Lotus Cortina to leave a slightly disappointed(!) Richard Meaden as runaway victor in another Cortina. Apparently Soper was the rapid journalist’s hero and he was looking forward to a battle.

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The Graham Hill Trophy GT race was ended under full-course yellows after Karsten Le Blanc crashed his Cobra heavily but the race for the lead had become a battle between a pair of Cobra Daytona Coupe’s, James Cottingham beating Andrew Smith to the flag by half a second.

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The Brooks Trophy race was fittingly won by Barry Cannell’s Cooper-Climax T51, an ex Brooks car! The race was marred by the potentially nasty accident that befell Stephen Bond. His Lotus 18 clipped a spinning Cooper exiting the chicane and was launched into the air, clearing the fencing and ending up hanging over the spectator tunnel, which fortunately was empty at the time, Bond suffering injuries to his shoulder.

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The Derek Bell Cup went to Andrew Hibberd (Brabham BT8) who was a comfortable winner once last years’ victor James King was forced into retirement. The Bruce McLaren Trophy was red-flagged after just two laps and not re-started following a serious accident. A body panel flew off Marc Devis’s Lola T70, hitting Michiel Smits, causing him to heavily crash his T70. There were serious concerns for his safety and he was eventually taken to hospital where he was found to have damaged vertabrae. Thankfully he is well on the road to recovery back home in Holland and has vowed to return next year. The brief race was awarded to Nick Padmore in yet another T70.

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Lengthy repairs were required to the tyre wall, with the result that the remaining races were reduced to just ten minutes in duration. Will Nuthall (Cooper-Bristol T23) won the Parnell Cup whilst Sam Hancock simply stormed off into the distance in the replica Cunningham C4R to claim the Peter Collins Trophy some 26 seconds clear of Steve Boultbee Brooks’ Aston Martin DB3S – and that after just ten minutes of racing!

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As has become de rigeur at Goodwood, three high speed demonstrations entertained the crowds between races. The first was for Super Touring cars, the class celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. A colourful array of machinery including Alfa Romeo, Audi, Ford, Honda, Nissan, Peugeot, Renault, Vauxhall and Volvo took to the track, all in original liveries. What’s more some were re-united with their original drivers, including former champions John Cleland, Andy Rouse and James Thompson, whilst the ever-enthusiastic Emanuele Pirro was back behind the wheel of the Audi A4 with which he began his long career with the manufacturer driving in Germany’s STW series in 1997. He was proud of the fact he was wearing his original overalls too!

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A Group 5 Sports car demonstration saw a mind-blowing array of Porsche 917’s, Ferrari 512’s and Lola T70 Mk3B’s blasting their way round the circuit. Adding to the occasion, former Le Mans winners Richard Attwood and Derek Bell took part in Porsche Salzburg and Gulf-liveried 917’s respectively.

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The F1 period being celebrated was the ground effect era; since this was also the Cosworth DFV era there was no shortage of cars. Since Lotus was effectively responsible for bringing both into F1so it was perhaps fitting that the marque dominated the display, Classic Team Lotus alone bringing six cars, including examples of Types 78 and 79. Clive Chapman himself got behind the wheel of the 88B, whilst Indianapolis 500 winner and avowed Lotus fan Dario Franchitti got his first taste of DFV power by driving the twin-chassis 88. He loved it!

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Inevitably questions have been raised once again about the safety of Goodwood in the modern era, but neither accident on the day could be attributed to the circuit. Good fortune played a part in Bond’s accident however. Had it happened at the much busier Revival Meeting the odds of spectators being in the Tunnel would have been higher, leading to a greater chance of injuries or worse. The accident involving the Lola T70’s raises different questions not entirely related to that particular incident.

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The reason the circuit was closed in 1966 was that cars of this type were simply becoming too fast for the venue. Fifty years on, the circuit remains much as it was in 1966, but these ‘historic’ cars have received continuous development, and at the same time whilst the current drivers are mostly competent they are not on a par with the likes of John Surtees or Graham Hill who raced them in period. Perhaps it is the competitors that should be under scrutiny rather than the circuit?

John Elwin, May 2016

The Boss’s Car

The Artcurial sale at this year’s Rétromobile was bursting with interesting cars, one of the cream of the crop was this Ferrari……………..

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What do you give to the man who has almost everything? This was the conundrum faced by the management of Ferrari back in 1986. They wished to make a gift to the President of Fiat, Gianni Agnelli, to celebrate his 40th anniversary as head of the Italian industrial empire, which, of course, included Maranello’s finest back then.

Eventually the corporate equivalent of the Papal Conclave White Smoke was seen in the skies above the Ferrari factory, they would build “L’Avvocato” a car. Not, I grant you, an original thought, but the vehicle itself would more than make up for that lack of creativity.

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In 1984 Ferrari unveiled their latest supercar, the Testarossa, to an appreciative audience at the Le Lido in Paris, a venue that has seen its share of curvaceous red heads in its time. Powered by a 4,943 cc flat-12 engine giving around 400bhp, this elegant two-seater put Ferrari firmly back at the head of the performance pack. It was also the first high performance Ferrari to be designed with the contemporary lucrative North American market in mind. That meant considerable changes to previous approach to building cars, comprehensive regulations covering safety and pollution had been legislated and had to be complied with.

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So, a very special car to begin with, but one example was to be even more special, unique in fact, Agnelli’s present from Ferrari would be a Testarossa Spider. Chassis 62897 entered the production line at the end of February 1986 and four months later it was delivered to the Boss in time to enjoy the Italian summer, complete with a personalised licence plate TO 0000G, no detail too small on this project. Even the choice of colour, silver, was part of a plan, the symbol for this element in the periodic table is AG.

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The building of a Spider was no matter of just hacking the roof off and pulling together some canvas contraption to give a measure of protection from the elements. Pininfarina were tasked with providing a solution befitting the car and, more importantly, the recipient. The chassis was reinforced to reclaim the rigidity that had been lost with the removal of the roof as were the windscreen pillars. The new rear deck enhanced an already handsome automobile and provided an ingenious solution to storing the roof when not needed.

One other significant modification aimed directly at Agnelli was the option to dispense with the clutch and drive the Testarossa in automatic mode, he had sustained leg injuries in an accident back in his youth and this sometimes made using a manual transmission system uncomfortable.

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Agnelli kept the car till 1991 when he sold it one of his poker-playing buddies, how the other half lives. Despite entreaties from Ferrari’s customers the factory refused to produce any copies, so those desperate to enjoy a similarly configured Testarossa were reduced to commissioning the likes of Pininfarina to recreate their work. It is said that they built a number for the Sultan of Brunei.

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The family of the lucky poker-player recently decided to sell and that is how I came to encounter the car during the Rétromobile. Despite the market conditions generally trending downwards, the Testarossa sold and exceeded its estimate to finally reach €1,210,080 – about eight times the amount that a Testarossa with a roof made at the same auction. The new owner not only has acquired a piece of history but also automotive art of the highest order.

A Vintage Crop at Silverstone

The Special Correspondent visits Silverstone for the Spring VSCC meeting, rare and interesting is his quarry…………….

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A beautiful spring morning tempted me to drive up to Silverstone to this event where there is always an abundance of interesting cars especially when the sun shines to lure owners out with their treasured possessions. Before leaving the car park I came across this lovely Lea Francis.

It is a 2.5-litre Sports – they made 77 between 1950-53. Lea Francis was active in competitions before the war, particularly in the late Twenties when they won outright the 1928 Tourist Trophy and scored two class wins at Le Mans in 1929 and 1930.
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A very unexpected visitor! A 1913 Morris Oxford, representing the start of the extraordinary William Morris story. These early cars had the White and Poppe engines.
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At the other end of the scale! This is a 1928 4.5-litre Bentley, one of the Team cars. It came 7th in that year’s Tourist Trophy, never a race to suit the big cars of W.O. In the first Double Twelve at Brooklands in 1929 it retired but redeemed itself at Le Mans by completing the quartet of Bentleys which dominated that year’s results at La Sarthe. In the final Brooklands Six Hour race it came 3rd and managed 5th in the Irish Grand Prix.
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This is the Nash-Healey which finished 3rd behind the two Mercedes-Benz 300SLs at Le Mans in 1952, driven by Leslie Johnson and Tommy Wisdom, winning also the 3,000-5,000 c.c. class.

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It is known as X8 and was hurriedly put together to replace the Le Mans Coupé (X6) which was badly crashed in the Mille Miglia.
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The big 4.1-litre 6-cylinder pushrod Nash engine.
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I loved this 1929 Amilcar Type M, completely unrestored.

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Amilcar, of St Denis in Paris, is chiefly remembered for its little sports two-seaters, rivals to the Salmsons in the Twenties but at the time of this saloon the company was giving up competitions and concentrating on touring cars.

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Here is its side-valve 1244 c.c. motor.
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A Kurtis 500 with solid front axle and Chevrolet small-block V8 – all very American!

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There were masses of Frazer-Nashes at Silverstone. This is a Sebring model, the last of the Isleworth-built two-seaters – this one made in August 1954, the first of just three.
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This Riley is a mixture! It has a Sprite chassis but is allegedly powered by the engine from Raymond Mays’s “White Riley” which had developments leading to the E.R.A. engines which were of course Riley-based.

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TAILPIECE
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Appropriately for this meeting some BMW 328s with right-hand drive marketed as Frazer-Nash-BMWs to reflect Isleworth’s involvement with the Munich company.

David Blumlein, May 2016

The Italian Job

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Name the odd one out – Maserati, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Pagani, Bugatti, Lancia, Alfa Romeo. Easy I hear you cry, Bugatti! – Though Ettore Bugatti was born in Milan almost all of the cars that bore his name were built at Molsheim in the French province of Alsace. Since the acquisition of the marque by the Volkswagen Group production has returned to Molsheim. The rest are all Italian car companies so that is that.

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However, there was, some 30 years ago, an attempt to revive Bugatti and locate it in the shadow of Modena (where else in Italy?) at a purpose built factory in Campogalliano. The author of this plan was Italian automotive entrepreneur Romano Artioli who somehow persuaded the French state-owned industrial conglomerate, Snecma, to sell him the rights to the brand of Bugatti, succeeding where so many others before him had failed. Perhaps he made them an offer they could not refuse.

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Artioli had a vision of the car he wanted to create, this had been hatched over several years with an old friend, Ferruccio Lamborghini, yes that Lamborghini. This was going to be the fastest, greatest car in the world and to achieve this aim Artioli recruited some of the stars of the local auto industry. Designer Marcello Gandini was a logical choice given his record with such supercars as the Alfa Romeo Montreal, De Thomaso Pantera, Ferrari Dino 308GT4, Iso Grifo, Lamborghini Miura, Lamborghini Countach, Lancia Stratos and Maserati Khamsin plus many others. The technical side was handled by Paolo Stanzani who drew up the initial concept of a two seater mid-engined sportscar with four-wheel drive, powered by a 3.5 litre V12 with four turbochargers giving over 600bhp in extreme form. Chassis were initially planned to be aluminium but this lacked the necessary rigidity so French aeronautics experts, Aérospatiale were called upon to develop and build a carbon fibre unit.

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Artioli managed to fall out with both of his project leaders prior to launch but the EB110GT continued its development and during this period recorded a record speed of 212.5mph, making it the fastest production car on the planet. The EB110GT was launched in 14th September 1991 at La Grande Arche de la Défense to the west of Paris to a crowd of 5,000 media and guests. The date was the 110th anniversary of Ettore Bugatti’s birth and 1,800 VIPs celebrated into the night at a sumptuous reception and dinner at the Palace of Versailles.

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Such extravagance set the tone and were to have consequences particularly as there were cost overruns at Bugatti and, to compound matters, Artioli acquired Lotus Cars from General Motors. He also launched the Ettore Bugatti fashion brand, all of this funded by a combination of personal wealth and borrowings. Artioli’s luck deserted him, his principal income streams, a large Ferrari dealership and being Suzuki’s agent in Italy, were experiencing difficulties with the general economic situation and the financial crisis that hit Japan at that time. Two other factors worked against the EB110GT, failure to get a foothold in the vital North American market and the arrival on the scene of the McLaren F1 which took SuperCar performance levels to a new dimension.

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In an attempt to drum up business in the face of the new arrival from Woking an even more extreme version of the EB110 was launched, the Supersport, but it was too little too late. The planned output of 300 units per annum was never achieved and in the end only 140 cars were built, including 38 Supersports.

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The end for Artioli’s Bugatti dream came in September 1995 when the corporation was declared insolvent with debts of $125 million, eventually after a couple of years of financial and legal wrangling the Volkswagen Group acquired the Bugatti brand. The Veyron was the next exotic chapter in the story of Bugatti and the recent launch of the Chiron at the Geneva Salon points to the future.

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So the EB110 is a rare beast, so to encounter two of the Supersports sharing the same stage is highly unlikely scenario, that they were in the company of a prototype EB112 saloon is even more so, this is hen’s teeth territory.

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The trio had been owned by Monegasque businessman, Gildo Pallanca Pastor, and closer inspection showed the cars to be even more important that I had first believed. The two Supersports appeared to have competition history, that much I figured from the sponsors’ logos, one turned out to be a world record holder. On 2nd March 1995 Pastor set a new record for a car on ice of 296.34 km/h (184 mph) at Oulu Finland, the record being set on winter tyres without spikes.

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Pastor was not finished with returning Bugatti back to the race-tracks, following the lead of Michel Hommel who entered an EB110SS in the 1994 Le Mans 24 Hours. The car ran competitively till an accident near the end of the race forced it into retirement. Pastor took his other SS to the USA and ran in two races with two finishes in 1995 before heading to Japan for the Suzuka 1000kms, a round of the BPR Global Endurance Series. He was partnered with 1993-Le Mans winner Eric Hélary but transmission problems caused the Bugatti to retire. Pastor entered the 1996 Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway. Joining him at the wheel was Derek Hill, son of 1961 F1 World Champion Phil Hill, and Olivier Grouillard but they went out after 154 laps with gearbox failure.

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This inspired Pastor to enter Le Mans but that initiative sank almost at the start of Pre-Qualifying when ex-Ferrari F1 star, Patrick Tambay, crashed the Bugatti beyond immediate repair and, aside from a club race at Dijon a few months later, that was the end of the competitions career of Bugatti, which is unlikely to be revived under the current ownership.

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The EB112 also warrants more attention, something it attracted in spades at the 1993 Geneva Salon when it was shown to the world for the first time. Powered by a 6 litre V12, the elegant saloon design was the work Giorgetto Giugiaro at ItalDesign. The engineering team was under the guidance of the great Mauro Forghieri, whose work for Ferrari in the ‘60s and ’70s is legendary, producing four drivers World Championships and eight Constructors titles. Two EB112 prototypes were built and the project was set to go into production in 1996 but the financial disaster that engulfed Bugatti ended that dream.

Under the new owners Bugatti returned to its spiritual home in Molsheim, the automotive Risorgimento was done.

John Brooks, April 2016

Techno Prisoners?

Prize-winning Fiat 8V Vignale

The Techno Classic is one of the great car shows in the historic calendar and we are fortunate to have John Elwin pay his annual visit to Essen and bring us his observations.

Swedish BP tanker on Autostadt stand

Size isn’t everything, or so they say, but they think differently in Germany where Techno Classic Essen has long held sway as the biggest and best classic car show in the world (as Jeremy Clarkson might say). Show organisers’ S.I.H.A. were not content with that however, and the biggest just got bigger.

Pozzi Ferrari

Despite having previously had a total floor space of 120,000 square metres to fill, S.I.H.A. have a growing waiting list of exhibitors wanting to join the party; construction work is due to start imminently on an upgrade and expansion to the Messe Essen, but three extra halls were added to the show this year by taking over the adjacent Grugahalle concert venue, together with a temporary structure, to give a total of 127,000 square metres spread over twenty one halls. Squeezed into that space was some 1,250 exhibitors representing thirty different countries, whilst the in excess of 2,500 classic vehicles on display must surely have satisfied the tastes of every one of the record 201,034 visitors who passed through the show during the five days.

A girl can dream

There, that’s the statistics dealt with, but what was the show like? Pretty good actually, although admittedly my visit was briefer than normal this year, meaning that I probably missed as much as I saw.

Droptop Mercs

I did notice that – going against the grain – some of the manufacturer displays were a little reduced from previous years, notably Mercedes-Benz and BMW. They were impressive, all the same. Mercedes’ emphasis was on cabriolets, with a fine display from down the years, well laid out as usual.

BMW 635 Convertible prototype

BMW have a centenary to celebrate this year and so the emphasis was on BMW Classic, with little evidence of Mini and Rolls-Royce history to which they usually like to lay claim. Cars on display were predominantly from the various 3-Series generations as well as the 1500/2002 predecessors.

BMW 2002 turbo

Amongst them was a 2002 Turbo, complete with mirror-image script across the front. From the early days of ‘all or nothing’ turbo power, it was said to be a bit of a handful on the road. Oh, and there was an aeroplane hanging from the ceiling…

VW Golf-based concept

Apparently untroubled by their woes in other parts of the world, the VAG constituent brands once again filled an entire hall with machinery from the back catalogues. VW itself was majoring on 40 years of the Golf GTI, which in keeping with the ‘getting bigger’ theme has put on a bit of middle-aged spread over the years, but then haven’t we all?

Porsche 924 prototype

By contrast, Porsche was also celebrating the 40th anniversary of the transaxle models by showing a 1974 924 prototype, which looked rather more bulbous than the eventual production models. Also on view was a 1995 928 GTS, the very last one built – but weren’t these cars supposed to spell the death-knell for the 911 range, which twenty-one years later is still showing no signs of fading away?

Audi Group S rally car

Audi can always be relied upon to bring along something interesting and this time it was a prototype rally car. Back in the mid 1980’s the World Rally Championship was contested by fire-breathing Group B monsters such as the Peugeot 205 T16 and Metro 6R4, whilst Audi was using the closer-to-production quattro. With a revised set of rules, designated Group S, due to be introduced in 1987 Audi set about creating the Mid Engine Rally Prototype. However, a series of dreadful accidents led the FIA to can both Groups B and S, eventually taking rally cars back to a more production-like formula in a bid to curb performance, consequently Audi’s new car never turned a wheel in anger. It has to be said that the plain white machine is not the prettiest thing to emerge from Audi but no doubt it would have been effective.

Audi Avus concept

Far more appealing was the Audi Avus quattro concept car alongside, which dazzled the crowds with its polished aluminium bodywork at the 1991 Tokyo Motor Show.

Abarth's new rally-prepared 124 Spider

Elsewhere on manufacturer stands, Alfa Romeo gave its new Giulia model its German debut, shown alongside some of its forbears, whilst Fiat and Abarth both had examples of the very appealing new 124 Spider, Abarth’s being in rally trim. Volvo meanwhile was marking the 60th birthday of the Amazon.

Mistral-bodied Jaguar XK120

You can always count on the high-end dealers to bring along some interesting exhibits and this year was no exception. Switzerland’s Lukas Hüni never fails, this time showing a one-off re-bodied Jaguar XK120. In 1954 Californian Bob Young Dahl tried to buy a C-Type to race in West Coast events, but Jaguar had sold out of the model, offering him instead an XK120SE, which he bought although he really wanted the racer. However, he discovered that the British company, Microplas, produced a glassfibre body called the Mistral, so he obtained one and had it fitted to his Jaguar. He contested a number of races but eventually badly damaged the car and lost interest. It lay unloved in storage for many years before being bought and repaired in 1989, eventually finding its way to Belgium in 1999. Subsequently Frenchman Xavier Lebeuf took it on and conducted an extensive restoration, such that it now has an FIA technical passport and is up for sale.

Bentley R Graber Convertible

Thiesen’s had a couple of fine examples of the Bentley R-Type’s with very different bodywork. The 1950 Contintal Cabriolet was one of just four produced with bodywork by the Swiss Carosserie Graber, the rear-end styling displaying similar lines to those deployed on the Alvis by the same company. Meanwhile the aluminium bodywork adorning a 1955 Continental Coupe was a one-off creation by the French company of Marius Franay, working in conjunction with Chapron.

Ferrari 250 GT Boano

Axel Schuette Fine Cars is another dealer that is always worth a visit, and this time the stand was home to the FIVA ‘Best of Show’ concours winner in the shape of a 1961 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta. In addition to that award a panel of journalists – including your correspondent – also make their own choices in various classes in addition to ‘Best of Show: Cabriolet/Limousine/Coupé. Here we too demonstrated a definite bias in favour of Italians by picking a 1938 Alfa Romeo 6C 2300B Pescara, 1934 Lancia Astura Series 3 and a 1953 Fiat 8V Vignale respectively.

1960 Fiat Abarth record breaker

Two very different Italian machines but with a common link in that they were both styled by Pininfarina attracted a lot of attention too. Remarkably, they both dated from 1960 but couldn’t have been more different. American dealer Hyman had the remarkable Pininfarina X, whilst Auto Classic srl brought the Fiat Abarth 1000 record-breaker on its first journey away from Turin, where it has resided in a private collection, in more than fifty years. Originally conceived as an engine test bed, the sleek silver machine – dubbed ‘La Principessa’ by the mechanics – went on to establish no less than eight speed records in the hands of various drivers such as Giancarlo Baghetti and Umberto Maglioli at Monza in September/October 1960.

Fangio's Mille Miglia Merc, or is it

The Italian theme was continued by show organisers’ S.I.H.A., the subject of their central display being the 1955 Mille Miglia. It was headed up by a Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR from the Mercedes Museum and ‘replicating’ Fangio’s car from the race in which he finished second to Stirling Moss. However, amongst the others on display was the fourth-place Maserati A6 GCS and the Ferrari 750 Monza that came home sixth.

1951 BMW Canta

There was just so much more to see at Essen, but time ran out. I’ll just mention three very different exhibits, all with a BMW connection, that caught the eye. Upstairs in the private sales area was a ‘prototype’ 635 Cabriolet – was it a factory job? Looking like new on Rareparts.nl stand was a very low mileage BMW 600, somewhat optimistically described as a Limousine, whilst French specialist La Galerie Des Damiers brought along a 1951 BMW Canta – a combination of a BMW 750cc engine mounted in a tubular chassis and clothed in aluminium bodywork by Canta of Turin. It might be a tiny machine but it’ll want an awful lot of work!

Next years’ show takes place on 5-9 April 2017. For info: www.siha.de

John Elwin, April 2016