Autumn in Paris

2014 Automedon

Le Bourget is the place to head to in the Autumn if you are near Paris and looking for some classic cars. Automedon is the name of the show and it is a very worthwhile effort, focussed on the clubs and enthusiasts who are steadily being priced out of the really big events, such as Retromobile.

2014 Automedon

Cutting off the base of the classic car movement in pursuit of profit is not a wholly French trend, I heard similar mutterings at the NEC last week, it really must stop. If not then the big events will suffer too in time.

2014 Automedon

However rather than preach to the choir I will instead have a quick look back at the show, which was truly delightful. One of Automedon’s great attractions is the authentic Gallic flavour of the show. At present the French Car industry is in the doldrums, however there is still much to celebrate from the past.

2014 Automedon

Typical of the flair traditionally found in French automobiles is this Citroën DS19H Le Paris, only one of nine built the Carrossier, Henri Chapron.

2014 Automedon

Chapron’s creations are much in demand, adding style to the already iconic DS range, this is the kind of confident approach that is lacking in today’s French motor industry.

2014 Automedon

This Simca 8 Deho Sport, dating from 1938, is an example of pre-war co-operation between car companies as it was built on license from Fiat. Once again the French attitude gives it an art deco feel with form as important an element as substance.

2014 Automedon

A Citroën SM may not be an obvious choice for motor sport but this very car ran in the 1974 Spa 24 Hours with factory backing and was entered by Guy Ligier.

2014 Automedon

It did not finish the race as Guy Chasseuil crashed out at Les Combes.

2014 Automedon

There was a particular tribute to Panhard and D.B. at Automedon with an impressive collection on display. I will prepare a separate piece on the Le Mans’ cars that were at the show. D.B. was the imaginative name that the alliance of pioneering aerodynamicist Charles Deutsch and René Bonnet, a racing driver and constructor of some repute, gave to their business.

2014 Automedon

One strange car that did catch my eye was D.B. Formule 1 from 1955. This was one of those ideas from a brain-storming session that should have been dismissed at once, instead of escaping to the drawing board and then into the real world. Front wheel drive and half the weight of the more conventional racers. It was powered, if that is the right expression, by a 750cc supercharged engine derived from a Panhard twin. This unit produced a reported 85bhp, which was about a third of that available to drivers of a Maserati 250F, and the engine was hung out over the front axle.

2014 Automedon

This whole project had the hallmark of a cunning plan drawn up by Baldrick and in the one time that the cars raced, the 1955 Pau Grand Prix, the results demonstrated the madness of the scheme. Starting from the rear of the grid, Claude Storez retired but his team mate Paul Armagnac managed to trundle round to the finish, some 18 laps down on Jean Behra, in, of all things, a Maserati 250F.

2014 Automedon

Another weird creation that came from the D.B. stable was this D.B. Racer, aimed at the growing 500cc Formula 3 category in the early 50’s. A Panhard engine powering the front wheels, the car enjoyed success in the French arena till more conventional designs from the likes of Cooper relegated it to the sidelines.

2014 Automedon

A much better racing record for this Snobeck Racing Services Alfa Romeo Alfetta 2.5 GTV 6 which raced very successfully in the early 80’s in the French Touring Car Championship.

2014 Automedon

In 1982 Danny Snobeck finished third in the Drivers’ Championship, the following year he went one better, only beaten by his team mate Alain Cudini. Their twelve victories across the two seasons were racked up against quality opposition such as Jean-Louis Schlesser and Jean-Pierre Beltoise, as well as saloon aces such as René Metge and Claude Ballot-Léna.

2014 Automedon

Automedon was much more than motor sport, it afforded an opportunity to stretch the imagination of the exhibitors, like Garage DSMP, whose Citroën DS21 pick up truck had me expressing doubts initially.

2014 Automedon

However the more I considered it I grew to approve, it would a seriously cool car to take to the seaside whether Saint-Tropez or Santa Monica. Le Beach Boys, anyone?

2014 Automedon

I am not entirely convinced about the though processes that led to this diorama or why anyone would attempt to bring the spirit of Daktari to Automedon.

2014 Automedon

At least the image of the Great White Hunter was dented by the lioness smugly about the feast on the poor unfortunate’s right forearm.

2014 Automedon

Another strange scene from the wilds of Quebec is this Simca 8 Estate, sorry Station Wagon.

2014 Automedon

It would appear to have been modified to do duty as a chainsaw, cue “The Lumberjack Song”, take it away Mr Palin.

2014 Automedon

When in doubt chuck a bale of straw on the car and Hey Presto it is a barn find.

2014 Automedon

Another prominent feature of shows such as Automedon are the stalls selling, well selling anything………..

2014 Automedon

Books anyone?

2014 Automedon

Models of course

2014 Automedon

Oil cans

2014 Automedon

And for those who have a sweet tooth.

2014 Automedon

There is a strong motorcycle presence

2014 Automedon

And the Custom Car fans are catered for

2014 Automedon

Before and after Restoration, Sir. Well that’s what they would like you to believe.

2014 Automedon

Outside the car parks have all manner of goodies to enjoy, a very British pair of Rovers.

2014 Automedon

A brace of Maigret Citroëns aka Traction Avant.

2014 Automedon

A beautiful Panhard CD, named after its designer, Charles Deutsch, sits alongside a VW camper van, which was considerably more popular than the French sportscar.

2014 Automedon

René Bonnet’s side of the business, Automobiles René Bonnet, was eventually acquired by Jean-Luc Lagardère’s Matra empire, the first car designed and produced in house was this 530.

2014 Automedon

More Matra style was seen outside Automedon, continuing the mid-engined trend these Murenas.

Automedon is a charming, and thoroughly French, classic car show. For those of us on the good side of the English Channel it is just a trains from London, then a suburban service from Gare du Nord, if you have the time in 2015, go, you won’t regret it.

John Brooks, November 2014

 

 

It’s a fair Kop, Guv’nor

2014 Kop Hill

Another weekend, another event, once more celebrating the automotive culture. This time the journey takes me to Buckinghamshire and the revival of the competition at Kop Hill.

2014 Kop Hill

Between 1910 and 1925, excluding the War years, there was a hill climb at Kop Hill. It attracted many of the big names of the time.

2014 Kop Hill

Two giants of the Land Speed Record battles in the 20’s and 30’s, Malcolm Campbell and Henry Segrave, both ran at Kop Hill as did such notable racers such as Count Zborowski and Raymond Mays.

2014 Kop Hill

In 1925 there was a non-fatal accident at Kop Hill, and the RAC banned all competition on public highways on the UK mainland.

2014 Kop Hill

In 2009, after a number of commemorative runs, the hill climb was revived. The aim was to use the event to benefit local charities and to enjoy a good day out mucking around with cars.

2014 Kop Hill

So now in the sixth running of the revived Kop Hill Climb there is very much a party atmosphere, mixing cars and family fun.

2014 Kop Hill

On the Hill there are some like Jay Kay who are serious in his LaFerrari.

2014 Kop Hill

Those in the Rolls-Royce are less so.

2014 Kop Hill

A good crowd in excess of 15,000 enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere in the beautiful Chilterns, just beginning to turn autumnal in the late September sunshine.

2014 Kop Hill

There was much to see and do………..and here is a small gallery that attempts to capture the flavour of the day.

John Brooks, November 2014

Yellow Streak

2014 JB General

Delving into the archives on another project I stumbled across this attempt at ‘art’ in the bygone era of film…………such shots were almost always a leap in the dark with no idea till later as to how they would turn out, if they worked you were a genius, if not quietly slip the slide into the bin and say no more. All you could do is check the light meter, the aperture, the shutter speed and take a deep breath.

This 333 is headed for the back stretch chicane at Daytona International Speedway on route to 4th place in the 1999 Rolex 24.

2014 JB General

It was driven by the non pro crew of Lilian Bryner, Enzo Calderari, Carl Rosenblad and Angelo Zadra, a pretty good result for the Europeans in this tough race.

John Brooks, November 2014

May the Force be with You………….

2013 Brooklands Military Day

One of the benefits of having an outlet like DDC is that I get to decide the priorities, no deadlines to be chased or avoided.

2013 Brooklands Military Day

It is almost 12 months since I trotted along to Brooklands for their Military Day, a fact that I was reminded of when getting notice of the 2014 event.

2013 Brooklands Military Day

So I thought that I would dig out a small selection of shots from 2013 to act as an advertisement for Sunday 16th November.

2013 Brooklands Military Day

It is not just the vehicles but as is typical of such events here in the UK, there are those who enjoy re-enacting history, be they Churchill or MacArthur.

2013 Brooklands Military Day

Or just humble Volkssturm

2013 Brooklands Military Day

Even the Red Army got in on the act.

2013 Brooklands Military Day

Whatever the motivations of those participating it is an event worthy of attendance, particularly in this year of commemorating the First World War and all the other conflicts that have taken place in the last century.

2013 Brooklands Military Day

Details of the day can be found HERE

John Brooks, November 2014

The Classic Style

Silverstone Classic 2014 Picture by: Simon Hildrew www.simonhildrew.com

The Silverstone Classic is the World’s Biggest Classic Motor Racing Festival, a simple fact.

Silverstone Classic 2014 Picture by: Simon Hildrew www.simonhildrew.com

This year’s edition, the 24th, attracted 94,000 spectators who were treated to a full menu of delights on and off the track.

Silverstone Classic 2014 Picture by: Simon Hildrew www.simonhildrew.com

The car clubs were on hand, en masse, adding to the occasion.

Silverstone Classic 2014 Picture by: Simon Hildrew www.simonhildrew.com

Retail therapy was readily available….

Silverstone Classic 2014 Picture by: Simon Hildrew www.simonhildrew.com

Stars old and new joined in.

Silverstone Classic 2014 Picture by: Simon Hildrew www.simonhildrew.com

And there was racing on track with some old favourites like this Ferrari 512S

Silverstone Classic 2014 Picture by: Simon Hildrew www.simonhildrew.com

Group C was, as ever, a highlight even in this fantastic company.

Silverstone Classic 2014 Picture by: Simon Hildrew www.simonhildrew.com

Touring cars in their old battle field – modern

Silverstone Classic 2014 Picture by: Simon Hildrew www.simonhildrew.com

And classic

Silverstone Classic 2014 Picture by: Simon Hildrew www.simonhildrew.com

All in all the Silverstone Classic is a great celebration of automotive culture. If there one catch, it would be that it clashes with the Spa 24 Hours, so tough choices have to be made.

DDC is extremely lucky to have the services of top photographer, Simon Hildrew, and his work available to us. Enjoy his personal view of the this great event.

John Brooks, November 2014

 

 

Autumn Colours

Goodwood Revival 2014 Picture by: Simon Hildrew www.simonhildrew.com

The 2014 Goodwood Revival has come and gone. The great and the good came to salute times past and more specifically, Sir Jackie Stewart.

Goodwood Revival 2014 Picture by: Simon Hildrew www.simonhildrew.com

Other national treasures such as John Surtees and Sir Stirling Moss were also present and in great demand.

Goodwood Revival 2014 Picture by: Simon Hildrew www.simonhildrew.com

Younger stars were also seen down in Sussex, like this cheeky chappie, recently graduated to the Werks Porsche team.

Goodwood Revival 2014 Picture by: Simon Hildrew www.simonhildrew.com

The three days on the South Coast are packed with great racing and many memories both past and present……….we are really fortunate to have this captured so eloquently by our old friend Simon Hildrew……pour a cup of coffee and take in the work of a real photographer.

John Brooks, October 2014

 

 

Day After Day

2014 JB General

Two days are never the same in my business. A visit to Woking on Thursday, to McLaren GT and a look at the 650S GT3………..then a quick photoshoot with a road going version and Concorde at Brooklands………a big thank you to the great folks there.

2014 JB General

Then up to Silverstone yesterday for the Sir Jack Brabham Memorial Service. A proper salute to a great man and a true Champion. More on these stories in the coming weeks…………..

John Brooks, October, 2014

Some Thoughts on Le Mans 2014 from Our Special Correspondent

2014 Le Mans 24

If Toyota were the pre-race favourites, Porsche were the star attraction. Since their last outright win in 1998, they had contented themselves during the intervening years with supporting their favoured private customers in the GT categories but now they were ready to add to their impressive record of sixteen wins in the race, although Audi was steadily creeping up on them, finishing this race with their thirteenth win, comfortably ahead of Ferrari’s nine set as far back as 1965.

This was the first confrontation between Porsche and Audi at Le Mans for overall victory and Porsche was attracted back by the challenge of the new LM P1 regulations. To help they had added the ex-F1 driver Mark Webber to their driving strength. The Australian had appeared at Le Mans twice before but this was to be the first time he had driven any racing miles: in 1998 his Mercedes CLK LM, while being driven by Schneider, suffered engine failure after only nineteen laps before Webber had a chance to take the wheel; in 1999 he was the innocent victim of two “flights” when the Mercedes CLR took off during Thursday’s practice and again in the Saturday warm-up, denying him a start in the race. Fortunately he was not hurt in either spectacular accident.

The Webber/Hartley/Bernhard Porsche 919 Hybrid no. 20 led the race at the 21st hour but mechanical failure at this late stage left it unclassified.

2014 Le Mans 24

Not only Porsche came back – so did Ligier, after thirty-nine years. This happy event came about when Jacques Nicolet, the man behind Oak Racing which won the LM P2 class at Le Mans last year, decided to buy through his Onroak Automotive concern Ligier’s racing operation at Magny Cours. The two men share a deep passion for racing and the outcome was the appearance of three brand-new Ligier JS P2 cars, a completely new design all of which finished the race, one of them coming second in the class after leading for some of the way.

2014 Le Mans 24

A pre-race press conference afforded me the opportunity to meet and talk with Guy Ligier, a very special privilege.

2014 Le Mans 24

The success of the Jota Sport Zytek Z11SN in winning the P2 class this year reminds us that it is not necessary to have a new car in order to do well at Le Mans. This design dates from 2011 and Jota acquired theirs in 2012. I recall a privately-entered Aston Martin, a design conceived for the 1953 season, coming second overall in 1958!

2014 Le Mans 24

It was the Thiriet Ligier which claimed second.

2014 Le Mans 24

The Oreca-based Alpine followed in third. Will we see a home-grown Alpine soon, I wonder?

2014 Le Mans 24

What a superb struggle was put up by the leading contenders of GTE Pro! Ferrari 458 Italia, Aston Martin Vantage and the new Chevrolet Corvette C7.R were at each other’s throats from the start – here they are at the Ford Chicane.

2014 Le Mans 24

Unfortunately Aston Martin had to withdraw their no.99 car after Fernando Rees crashed it badly in practice.

2014 Le Mans 24

Their other car gave up the fight, finishing a lowly 35th.

2014 Le Mans 24

It was the well-tried AF Corse Ferrari of the experienced Bruni, Vilander and Fisichella which took the spoils, as they did two years ago.

2014 Le Mans 24

The no.73 Corvette finished second in class.

2014 Le Mans 24

Last year’s winners, the Manthey Porsche, was next up.

The two Manthey cars were never really in contention because their previous success earned them a Balance of Performance ballast of 25kg! Something wrong here – I thought motor-racing was about the best driver/team winning. Shades of a circus act, alas.

2014 Le Mans 24

Some compensation for Aston Martin came with their winning the GTE Am class ahead of Porsches and Ferraris, thanks to their Danish drivers.

2014 Le Mans 24

This was for the most part a dry race but very heavy showers interrupted proceedings in the third hour and created some havoc. Audi lost their third car, AF Corse their no.81 Ferrari.

2014 Le Mans 24

Toyota no. 8 struggled back badly hurt although it eventually worked its way up to third by the end.

2014 Le Mans 24

Not so lucky was one of the Greaves Motorsport Zyteks:

2014 Le Mans 24

ZEOD – Zero Emissions On Demand, or should it be ZEOT – Zero Effect On Track? Two years ago the predecessor of this bizarre machine was put out of its misery by being punted off the track by a Toyota; this year it failed mechanically after just five laps, the first retirement.

Are these to be taken as omens for Nissan who were at great pains to inform the whole Le Mans community that they were going to win in 2016? True, their engines filled the first five places in P2 but we have yet to see a Japanese manufacturer emulate Mazda’s achievement in 1991. Yes, in that year a Nissan Skyline did win the Spa 24 Hours but Mazda had done that too, ten years earlier with the RX-7 in 1981! My thoughts are that Nissan should have a quiet word with Toyota. Still, as the experienced Manceaux would say, On verra, we shall see.

2014 Le Mans 24

Happily no lasting harm to drivers who crashed – here is Audi 1 just before its destruction on Wednesday evening.

Audi did very well to build up a replacement by Thursday evening’s practice and managed to enlist Marc Gené to replace Loïc Duval. The Spaniard knows a thing or two about having a massive shunt in the Porsche Curves – he destroyed a Peugeot 908 HDi-FAP in 2008!

2014 Le Mans 24

And Audi knows a thing or two about winning 24 hour races. Cars 2 and 1, despite having their turbos changed, outlasted the others to be on top yet again:

TAILPIECE

2014 Le Mans 24

The Drivers’ Parade was very short of interesting old French cars this year but one of note was this escapee from the Le Mans museum:

2014 Le Mans 24

It is a 1912 Type F Amédée Bollée and if you look inside the cockpit you will see no gearchange lever. That is because it is the inner ring on the steering wheel!

David Blumlein, July 2014

The Price is Right

HSCC_Superprix_2014-0068

The HSCC SuperPrix run recently at Brands Hatch was further proof, if any were needed, of the huge popularity of historic racing. I would venture that this success is not just riding on the back of a wave of nostalgia but shows that there is a profound unease about the direction that some forms of present day motorsport have headed.

HSCC_Superprix_2014-0010

I read this interesting piece on DailySportsCar.com earlier in the week, neatly illustrating the contempt of Formula One for the fans who pay for themselves rather being corporate liggers. £175 for basic admission, that is just taking the piss. Especially when you read how most of the teams are struggling to survive financially. That applies to the circuits as well, so the money is being syphoned from the sport and from its fans.

HSCC_Superprix_2014-0018

So no wonder folks vote with the wallets and enjoy the racing at Brands Hatch, motor sport fans tend to be bright people and can see when they are being had over. In any case who would not rather see Fluxie strutting his stuff rather hearing Vettel whine about how unfair it is that he is not dominating.

HSCC_Superprix_2014-0007

Simon Hildrew was out and about in Kent, so we are fortunate to have more of his top notch work to enjoy.

John Brooks, July 2014

Best of British

Celebrations for sure as a result of Bentley’s historic win but for the first time in sixty-three years three old established British sports car marques found themselves competing together in an international endurance race – we had at Silverstone Aston Martin, Bentley and Jaguar all running in the Blancpain Endurance Series Silverstone 3 hours on May 25.

Aston Martin was represented by five Vantage GT3s with the V12 6-litre engine, a works car of this type winning this race in 2013. Bentley raced officially for the first time at Silverstone with their two M-Sport Continental GT3s and the private Generation Bentley Racing Continental GT3. The Swiss Emil Frey Racing team brought their G3 Jaguar XKR.

We note that the first ever Bentley saw the light of day at the end of 1919, the first Aston Martin appeared in May 1921 and Jaguar dates back to 1931 when William Lyons (later Sir William) presented his SS car at the Olympia Show.

Here are some of their modern representatives in practice:

2014 JB General

One of the Vantage V12 versions of the Aston Martin.

2014 JB General

One of the M-Sport Bentley Continental GT3s at Luffield

2014 JB General

This Jaguar XKR has been developed privately by the Emil Frey team but did not ,alas, last long in the race.

2014 JB General

A Bentley at Brooklands! What turned out to be the winning car reminds us that the very first race win for a Bentley car took place at the real Brooklands.

2014 JB General

The first of the Continental GT3s to fall into private hands, chassis no. 3, is the Generation Team car.

In the Race:

2014 JB General

The Bentley chases the Art McLaren down the Wellington Straight

2014 JB General

The Bentley leads! History was about to be made!

David Blumlein, July 2014