Category Archives: Vu de travers la Manche

The Lotus Eaters

If you think the current Grand Prix season has been full of unpredictable excitement, cast your mind back thirty years to 1982 when, against a backdrop of the FISA/FOCA wars and the transition from normally aspirated engines to turbos, no less than eleven drivers won races during the 16-race campaign.  Keke Rosberg wound-up as World Champion despite only winning one of the races – and he was driving an ‘outdated’ Cosworth-powered Williams.

There were plenty of other dramas too, the most tragic being the loss of Gilles Villeneuve at Zolder. Shortly before his fatal accident, the French-Canadian became involved in a spat with Ferrari team-mate Didier Pironi over driving tactics. The Frenchman – full of remorse at not having patched things up – himself suffered an horrendous accident during qualifying for the German Grand Prix a few weeks later, badly damaging his legs and so effectively ending his driving career. However, Patrick Tambay salvaged something for the Prancing Horse by winning that race at Hockenheim and Ferrari went on to claim the Constructor’s title despite winning fewer races than both Renault and McLaren.

Amongst the drivers to win races that year was Italian Elio de Angelis, the first his of his two victories for Lotus, when he crossed the line a scant 0.05-seconds  before Rosberg at the Osterreichring.

Amidst great  jubilation on the pit wall Colin Chapman famously threw his cap into the air. Little did we know that this was to be the last Lotus Grand Prix victory to be witnessed by the team’s creator for he would die of a heart attack in December that year.

I can actually say “I was there”, for I travelled to the German and Austrian races with Team Lotus, in some style I might add. I had previously worked for Lotus, leaving at the end of 1979 only to be let-down very badly in a promised new venture. I went on to work for a specialist car builder in London, but that business folded too, so I was job hunting.

With the two races being a double-header I thought it would be a good idea to get myself out there to look for work (well, that was my excuse!) but couldn’t really afford it. During the course of the British GP week-end I spoke to Lotus Team Manager Peter Warr about the possibility of hitching a ride on the transporter. To my surprise he was receptive and suggested I call a bit nearer the time. The response to that call was “sorry, no room on the truck but would I mind driving Colin Chapman’s Elite out to Hockenheim? Well, I really wanted a ride in a lorry but I didn’t need asking twice!

On the allotted day I duly left Ketteringham Hall in the black Elite, accompanying the transporter down to Felixstowe and across to Zeebrugge for an uneventful drive down to Hockenheim. Qualifying was overshadowed by Pironi’s horrendous accident and for the Lotus boys it was not a great day either. They had enjoyed little success so far in the season with the recalcitrant Type 91; de Angelis qualified 13th with Mansell even further back, lining up 18th on the grid.

The race saw de Angelis retire with handling problems but Mansell  salvaged some cheer on his 29th birthday by finishing ninth. We had already celebrated the occasion during the morning when the Goodyear guys marked up one of his tyres in a rather novel way – we all signed it! Despite the disappointments, the Team Lotus boys were as ever in good cheer.

We were sharing our hotel with the Renault team which at the time was hit with some internal strife between drivers Alain Prost and Rene Arnoux. At dinner in the evenings the French crew would raise their glasses with the time-honoured French toast of ‘Proste!’, to which the Lotus table responded very loudly with ‘Arnoux! It then turned into the nightly ritual of a bread roll fight.

I was duly entrusted with taking the Lotus Elite on to Austria, this time accompanied by Kenny Szymanski. Kenny was an American Airlines steward who miraculously managed to arrange his flight schedules so that he always turned up at the right place when a Grand Prix was on and spent the week-ends working as tyre man Clive Hicks’s assistant. Always very entertaining, Kenny was excellent company for the trip – especially as we broke down! Not just anywhere but in a tunnel. A passing mechanic (and a Lotus fan to boot) helped us push it out and we got it going again without really knowing how.

The Elite soon stopped again, our friend still following us. We built-up quite a little party on the hard shoulder as the Renault transporter stopped, the crew showing no hard feelings for the hotel mullarkey! Again we got it going and carried on, only to stop again. This time we were on our own and well into the evening. We were on a hill and couldn’t believe our good fortune when we investigated a side road opposite us to see a small hotel at the bottom, so we coasted down and checked in.

Much to Kenny’s amazement, the person who had checked in just before us lived in the next apartment block to him in New York! The next morning one of the team mechanics came out from the circuit and rescued us; the problem was some dirt in the fuel pump.

The Osterreichring enjoys a beautiful setting up in the hills with excellent spectating, the team’s hotel actually overlooking the circuit. Only downside was a monster thunderstorm that seemed to arrive regularly at 5pm every day! Qualifying proved a tad better than Hockenheim just a week before with de Angelis taking seventh on the grid and Mansell 12th.

In addition to the Elite the JPS-liveried Jet Ranger helicopter was also deployed for the weekend, being used by Colin Chapman to commute from the rather more salubrious hostelry where he and Hazel were staying. Naturally he wanted to land as close as possible to the paddock and was using a small grassed spectator area(!) at the end of the pits as helipad. Mike the pilot and I used to go and shoo the punters away when he was coming in. On race morning Mike and I duly went and taped-off the area and the ‘chopper landed, with the Old Man at the controls, Hazel alongside and Peter Dyke from Players, together with his wife, in the back.

As they landed, Mike went to the pilot’s door, yelling at me to go round the other side to open the door. As everyone disembarked, Mike got in, indicating me to do likewise. I obviously looked surprised, so he repeated it. I did as I was told and before I knew it, Mr Chapman was belting me in and putting a headset on me – I could now hear Mike properly above the rotors. “You said you had never flown. I’ve got to refuel so I’ve cleared it with the Old Man to take you with me”.

Talk about no time to panic! He was right, up until that time I had never flown, the reason being that I do not like heights so assumed I wouldn’t like flying. However, with no time to think about it, here I was in this little helicopter of all things. We flew out to a local airfield to refuel and upon returning to the circuit the morning warm-up was on so we followed it from the air – how cool is that! All fears of flying were forgotten and thankfully I had my camera with me so even recorded the occasion. To this day, I’ve never had a problem with flying.

The Italian Air Force aerobatic team had clearly been inspired by the Red Arrows performance at Brands Hatch a few years earlier and went one better by enveloping us in vapour trail as we stood in the pit lane! Once that excitement was over we settled down for an entertaining race that saw a delighted Elio de Angelis pip Rosberg by less than a car length to take a fantastic win. An overjoyed Lotus team swarmed onto the pit wall in celebration, me included, but little did we know then that Sunday 15 August 1982 would be the last time Colin Chapman would throw his famous black cap in the air.

Celebrations were short-lived as it was time to head for home. The Elite was staying behind so I found myself a lift as far as Luxembourg with Dan Partel, an American who had been responsible for re-establishing FF1600 and 2000 championships in Europe. Indeed a European FF2000 round was a support race at the Osterreichring, a young Ayrton Senna led all the way in his Rushen Green Van Diemen, followed home by Calvin Fish, now familiar to Americans as a TV commentator, complete with his delightful Norwich accent!

Once again we broke down, this time a stone jamming a brake on the poverty-model Fiesta that Dan had hired for the trip. From Luxembourg I got a train up to Eindhoven in Holland to spend a few relaxing days with some old family friends. The drama was not over though. They were driving me up to Zeebrugge to catch the ferry one evening when, as we approached the Dutch/Belgian border, a car we were about to pass suddenly did a U-turn (on a motorway!) across our path – he turned out to be a Greek who was lost. Both cars were written-off on the ensuing accident, fortunately witnessed by a group of Dutch policemen so there was no doubt about where the fault lay. The police even took us back home and I eventually caught the ferry home the next day.

So ended a momentous fortnight, the memories of which have remained with me to this day.
John Elwin September 2012 – All images courtesy of and copyright John Elwin

Deutsche Post



Others may try to emulate or even usurp Techno Classica’s position as the biggest and best classic car show in Europe but they’ve got a long way to go to match the sheer breadth and depth of quality drawn to the Messe Essen where organisers S.I.H.A. packed all nineteen halls of the huge complex and even have a waiting list of exhibitors. The visitors obviously appreciate their efforts too, as attendance figures of 181,400 testify – and that was up by just over 11,000 despite there bizarrely being a rival event staged in Stuttgart on the same weekend.

Techno’s strength is the sheer variety of exhibits from major manufacturers, high-end dealers, clubs large and small and an array of traders and autojumblers. Many European manufacturers are proud of their heritage; Mercedes for instance made much of the 60th anniversary of their SL models which began with the 300SL and that Le Mans victory in 1952, whilst the VW Audi Group now encompasses so many brands that they fill an entire hall with everything from a humble NSU to Lamborghini Countach. Opel meanwhile were concentrating on record breakers from their past.

Numerically, Porsche 911 was probably the most common car with every conceivable variant to be seen, but the factory chose to honour the RS Carrera with a pair of Martini-liveried racers adorning their area in the VW hall. 356’s abounded too with several restorers – most notably Hackenberg – displaying their abilities, whilst one of the dealers concentrated on cars that had clearly spent too long in the Californian sun!

BMW somewhat amusingly put a lot of emphasis on the British brands – Rolls-Royce and Mini – that they now own. But did they shoot themselves in the foot by displaying their latest Mini Coupe alongside a gorgeous Broadspeed Mini GT? The latest product looks truly hideous anyway, only emphasised by putting the Broadspeed gem beside it.

As befits a company that has passed its 100th birthday, Alfa Romeo has had much to celebrate in recent times and this year the boxy-looking but remarkably aerodynamically efficient Giulia saloon clocks up its 50th. Celebrations are taking place in Italy in June but in the meantime the factory brought an example along from their Museo Storico, whilst other examples were to be found on club stands, one of which was also marking the 40th birthday of the Alfasud, almost certainly the best small saloon of all time (well, this writer did own four of them over a 27-year period so should know!).

Moving on to a more obscure anniversary, did you know that the Volvo Amazon Kombi is 40 this year? Well, no neither did I until I got to Essen but Volvo devoted their entire display to the model, with examples in Polis and Fire Chief livery as well as a mildly customised one (it had big shiny wheels). Attracting most interest though was a rather ratty 1967 model that had been converted to electric power in 1995 and has subsequently covered some 200,000km despite having a range of only 120km. For longer journeys the owner takes a trailer-mounted generator with him.

Show organisers S.I.H.A. always mount an impressive central display and this year featured Spanish manufacturer Pegaso, bringing together a remarkable 21 of the total 86 cars built. They made for an eye-catching display arranged around the outside of S.I.H.A’s ‘palace’.

Indeed, look hard enough at Essen and you will find examples of many obscure and long-forgotten marques but who would have thought that a humble Riley would be awarded the ‘Best in Show’ accolade? Actually this particular representative of the Blue Diamond was not so humble, being a one-off coach-built model built for the 1949 Geneva Motor Show by Walter Koeng, who was better known for working on more upmarket brands. However, he created the Riley as his personal dream car and it remained in his ownership for many years until passing it on to a close friend. Only now has it come to market via well-known dealer Lukas Huni, who was showing it at Essen.

Having visited Essen several times in the company of a Riley enthusiast who has always been frustrated by the lack of Riley’s, it is somewhat ironic that he did not come this year as there were several examples to be found. In particular, pre-war sports cars were found on several dealer stands, a reflection of growing interest on the back of a burgeoning series of events in Germany for just such cars.

Whilst many of the dealers inevitably cram as many cars as possible into their allotted space, making inspection and photography difficult, it’s often some of the smaller traders and individual sellers that have the real gems. How about a 1961 Austin Mini Seven with less than 3,000 miles on the clock? This genuine, remarkably original example must be one of the lowest mileage Mini’s to be found anywhere and comes with all its original documents and some very period accessories.

The clubs run their own competition, leading to some innovative displays, some very well done, others a little bizarre (how about the gay car club promoting sex on the beach?) but again you never know what you’ll find. Whilst the Smurfs carrying out maintenance on a VW Kafer was different, equally so was the one and only 4-door version of the original Audi Quattro, restoration of which had only been completed the night before the show opened.

And that’s the beauty of Essen – there really is something for everyone. Next years’ event has already been confirmed for 10-14 April 2013, so make a date. More information can be found on

John Elwin, April 2012



Classical Gas

Silverstone Classic

Is biggest necessarily best?

The organisers of this year’s Silverstone Classic were proudly boasting that theirs was the biggest race meeting ever. With nigh on 1,000 contestants and 800 cars taking part they were probably right. Add to that something like 7,000 classic cars on site, almost 1,000 of which were E-Type Jaguars. But can you have too much of a good thing?

Some 80,000 fans descended upon the circuit, contributing to huge traffic jams building-up on the A43, entry into the circuit being slow as all those classics needed to be directed to their allotted parking area in what was a very crowded site. Not all of them made it that far even, as reports were coming in on Saturday of up to 100 E-Types having suffered overheating and other breakdowns en route.

Having made it into the circuit there was a lot to see and do. The competitors were split between two paddock areas, the impressive new Silverstone ‘Wing’ acting as home to many whilst others were based in the old paddock at the opposite end of the circuit. That was something of a logistical nightmare for teams with cars based in both paddocks, especially as the only means of getting from one to the other was via Routemaster ‘bus – nothing wrong with that, the buses were run very efficiently but with the sheer number of people, queues and delays inevitably built up and some very unfriendly security operatives would not allow you to walk between the two areas.

Well, with the gripes out of the way, how was the racing? Pretty good actually, with some close and exciting action, most classes getting two races each. The revised circuit was new to many so that was just as well, as even seasoned hands such as former BTCC Champion John Cleland were having to find their way around. Cleland was driving in the Jaguar E-Type Celebration race and got taken by surprise as he turned into the new-look Abbey for the first time – “where did tha-at come from? said the ever quotable Scot afterwards. Didn’t stop him from winning his class for near standard cars though. Jon Minshaw’s well-developed car (even been in a wind tunnel, allegedly) was the outright winner of both races. Such is the value of genuine original E-Type’s that many of the modified cars in this anniversary series of races have been specially built; they’ve still cost their owners six-figure sums however…

Group C got star billing with the first of their races being run as an ‘into the twilight’ affair on Saturday evening. Both Alex Buncombe (Jaguar XJR9) and Katsu Kubota (Nissan R90C) got the jump on Gareth Evans’ Mercedes C11 on the run down to the first corner and set off on a race-long battle over 15 laps. After swapping places several times Kubota led at the most important moment as they crossed the line, Buncombe having briefly been delayed by a backmarker whilst the Merc recovered to finish third.

If Saturday’s race was fast and furious Sunday’s affair was even more so. With Bob Berridge now in the Mercedes and Japanese F3 racer Hideki Yamauchi on board the Nissan the wick was really turned up  –  and remember these cars are now unfettered by the period fuel limitations – and again we were treated to a see-saw race as they swapped places but this time it was the turn of the Nissan to fall foul of lapped cars late in the race, handing the win to Berridge, such was the pace that they completed one more lap in the available time than had been managed the night before. Even so, a remarkable drive by Andy Meyrick saw his C2 Spice take the final podium spot.

Meyrick showed his versatility by taking both Grand Prix Masters counters too in his March 761. It was another version of the 761, built locally in Bicester that was grabbing much of the attention however. Jeremy Smith was giving the six-wheel March 2-4-0 its first ever race. Originally conceived for the 1977 season, it never actually raced in period although it was subsequently hill-climbed.  Unlike the Tyrrell P34, the March featured an extra pair of wheels at the back with smaller tyres than normal, thus reducing the drag. However, March was strapped for cash at the time and was unable to afford the sufficiently robust transmission casing needed to carry drive to the rearward wheels. The affair they did create actually twisted and damaged the internals on a short press demo run, so it was quietly put away. However, according to Mike Lawrence in his excellent history of March it turned out eventually to be their most profitable F1 car as they sold the rights to Scalextric!

Other excitement at Silverstone was provided by such varied machinery as Formula Junior, Under Two Litre Touring Cars (U2TC) and the RAC TT for Pre ’63 GT cars. In the latter Stuart Graham and Richard Attwood stole a lucky win on the very last lap in their Aston Martin DB4 when the leading Ferrari 250 GT crewed by Hans Hugenholtz and David Hart expired. U2TC went to the Leo Voyazides/Simon Hadfield Lotus Cortina after a nail-biting battle with the similar car of Howard Redhouse/Mike Jordan and the Jackie Oliver/Richard Shaw BMW. In shades of days of old we even had a TWO-wheeling Cortina at one point!  Often overlooked, the FJ tiddlers were thrilling with race wins going to Sam Wilson and Jon Milicevic, both Cooper T59-mounted.

Of course there was so much more to see with small sports cars and big saloons (where do all those V8 Fords come from?). Not all the Mustangs were on the ground either, for one took part in an air display together with a Spitfire. Amongst all the other anniversaries being marked this year, mustn’t forget that RJ Mitchell’s truly iconic design is 75.

Despite our opening comments, Nick Wigley and his team are to be congratulated for pulling together such a massive event but just sometimes less is more.

John Elwin, August 2011



En Vacances

We’re all going on a Summer Holiday!

So sang Cliff Richard many years ago as he rattled along in a Routemaster Bus, heading for the seaside with all his mates.

Well, it’s that time of year again. School’s out, the weather is turning nasty and the news channels are prophesying doom, gloom and traffic jams, but at least it’ll take your mind off overblown ‘phone hacking farrago’s and impending financial melt down. Here in France it’s just the same (although without the ‘phone hacking stuff) with the great holiday exodus getting under way.

‘Twas ever thus though, and just a few weeks ago we were given a timely reminder of what it was like in the seemingly more romantic times of fifty years or so past, when a classic run entitled ‘Route de Vacances’ ran from Lens to the Côte d’Opale resort of Berck-sur-Mer, a little way south of Le Touquet. As in times of yore, many people opted for to travel by classic ‘bus – back then they probably didn’t have the choice – so much so that a modern coach had to join the fleet of old-timers, but around fifty cars took part as well.

A lengthy lunch stop in the ancient market town of Hesdin saw the vehicles parked up in the Place d’Armes whilst the participants enjoyed their frites to the sound of the town’s brass band, under the leadership of its charismatic conductor.

I’m no expert on buses but a couple of long-nosed Merc’s somehow didn’t look very French, unlike the delightful little Citroen-based ‘bus. However, they all added colour to the occasion, as did many of the car owners, really going for the ‘vacance’ theme period caravans, loaded roof racks and outfits that would have done credit to the Goodwood Revival. Particular mention must go to a couple with a Renault Dauphine who not only looked the part but had a loaded roof rack and one-wheel trailer, not to mention period ephemera such as a transistor radio, camera and even a nodding dog on the back shelf!

Cars on parade included a healthy selection of French classics from Citroen, Peugeot, Renault and Simca as well as a few foreigners such as VW Beetle and even a Chevrolet Impala.

Suddenly it was two o’clock and everyone loaded up and the square was cleared in the minutes despite the chaos caused by a bus that needed to do a three-point turn and delays by the traffic lights.

So very French, so very laid back, so very friendly.

Bonnes vacances!

John Elwin, July 2011




Rolling Downs


After nineteen years it must surely be getting difficult to unearth yet more rarely seen racers with which to attract the crowds to Lord March’s front garden and this year’s event did have a slight ‘so what’s new?’ feel to it.


Nevertheless that did not deter a record attendance of more than 181,000 popping down to Sussex, many of them appearing to be first-timers and somewhat different to, shall we say, the regular crowd.

Jaguar Concept

Of course a large number were attracted by the Moving Motor Show event that ran on the Thursday for the second year. Such is the success of this that it is likely to become a slightly more stand-alone show run over two days earlier in the week.

Beauty is in the eye…

With the E-Type celebrating its’ 50th birthday this year, Jaguar was the featured marque with Gerry Judah’s customary sculpture in front of Goodwood House depicting an E-Type Coupé nose-diving into the ground; apparently the other way up was considered to look just too phallic! Whatever, looking as though it was made out of a re-cycled windmill it did not have the presence of Judah’s previous masterpieces although those lucky enough to see it after dark reckoned it was more impressive when floodlit. Strangely though, Jaguar themselves did not seem to make much of the occasion, unlike others before them.

See the C-Type

There was a dedicated Jaguar class taking to the Hill in honour of the Big Cat’s history at Le Mans; it’s 60 years since a C-Type took the first win and amongst those turning out was a rare appearance of a ‘Lowdrag’ C-Type built for the 1952 race. The streamlined bodywork might have increased performance down the Mulsanne but it also ruined the cooling and two of the three cars retired due to overheating, the third for other mechanical reasons. Amongst the E-Types being exercised were E2A, the early factory prototype that Briggs Cunningham took to La Sarthe in 1960 and ‘ECD 400’, the first E-Type to win a race in the hands of Graham Hill at Oulton Park in April 1961.

Beautiful Restoration

All eyes however were on the recently restored Lowdrag car that claimed Peter Nocker’s life at Montlhery in 1964.

Lindner Nocker E-Type

After languishing for many years the wreck has been rebuilt by Peter Neumark’s Classic Motor Cars Ltd business, representing some four years’ work and utilising as much of the original as possible – more than 5,000 hours went into the very individual bodywork alone. And no, it’s not for sale.

Future Past

With chatter about a possible return to Le Mans by the Tata-owned marque, former works driver, Andy Wallace, was on hand to remind everyone he has not lost his touch as he took to the Hill in a gorgeous Silk Cut XJR9LM.

Old Stinger

If Goodwood had a central theme it was the Indianapolis 500’s centenary, an impressive array of men and machinery being lured across the pond, ranging from the 1911 Marmon Wasp that won the first race, to most recent winning driver Dan Wheldon. Whilst some took to the Hill during the weekend an ‘Indy Track Moment’ took place each day.

Accident in Progress

A symbolic line of bricks was brought over from the Brickyard (must have been interesting explaining away that hand luggage!) and laid on the track in front of the House where 33 cars – the same number as form an Indy grid – were lined up behind a 1958 Chevrolet Pace Car, whilst an authentic American announcer did the introductions. Marching bands and majorettes added to the occasion before a roof-top guitarist pounded out ‘Back Home in Indiana’ before the familiar ‘Gentlemen, start your engines’ was given.

Parnelli Jones & Lotus 56

Amongst the stars who drove were Parnelli Jones, Al Unser Jnr., Danny Sullivan, Bobby Rahal, Emerson Fittipaldi and Dario Franchitti whilst Josh Hill got to drive grandad Graham’s ’66 race winning Lola – or at least the re-creation thereof.

Penske PC19

Two-times winner Dario was in seventh heaven though. With a keen sense of history he is a great fan of fellow Scot Jim Clark and having had the opportunity to briefly get behind the wheel of Jim’s ‘65 Indy-winning Lotus 38 so sensitively restored by Classic Team Lotus last year, he was able to have a proper run in the sister car that Bobby Johns drove to seventh place that year before Clark himself used it to finish second in 1966, making it a British one-two. Franchitti was even resplendent in Clark look-alike helmet.

Our Nige

Lotus was very much in evidence at Goodwood, as befits an event with the title “Quantum leaps that shaped motor sport”, for Lotus were responsible for many of them. Amongst the impressive array under CTL’s awning was a Type 25 (first monocoque chassis in F1), 49B (first F1 car to race with a high wing), 76 (first F1 car to run a semi automatic clutch), 88 (first F1 car to run with a composite monocoque, not to mention two chassis), 96T (first Indycar with composite monocoque).

88 Mate

It was a terrific vindication of all that Clive Chapman and his team have done to keep the Team Lotus to the forefront in recent years that Dan Collins set BTD during the Top 20 Shoot-out on board the twin-chassis Type 88.


It was another Lotus that caught Clive’s eye though, as Parnelli Jones had brought over the day-glo red STP-liveried 56 Turbine car with which Joe Leonard so nearly won the 1968 Indy – he was leading when with just nine laps remaining the Pratt & Whitney turbine suffered a flame-out, leaving Bobby Unser to take the first win for a turbocharged car. Mused Clive, “I think our winter project will have to be restoration of our 56B if I can find an engine.”

The Vulcan

The 56B was the F1 interpretation of the Indy car built for the 1971 season. It ran in Gold Leaf colours initially, debuting at the Race of Champions before Dave Walker gave it a brief  GP debut at a wet Zandvoort. In the wake of problems surrounding the death of Jochen Rindt the year before the car was painted gold and black and sent to Monza under the World Wide Racing banner for Emerson Fittipaldi, finishing eighth. After one more non-championship race the car was abandoned in favour of the Type 72, and for sometime languished in a corridoor at Lotus, where this particular writer made use of the flat rear deck to sort-out filing whilst working there. It did have its uses after all!

The Hamilton Brothers go head to head

Modern F1 cars no longer set times at Goodwood but many of today’s stars turned out, inevitably home-grown stars Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button received a tumultuous welcome. And without any FIA stuffed shirts in attendance to give him the seemingly obligatory dressing down, Hamilton truly entertained in a 2008 MP4-23. He also got to drive – with a little more respect – the 1981 MP4, John Barnard’s design that utilised the then novel carbonfibre and launched the now Ron Dennis-run McLaren on the path to future success.

Who says racing diesels are new?

Incidentally, McLaren test driver Chris Goodwin has invested some of his earnings in a McLaren M1B, the first chassis built and raced in the US by Chris Amon. Goodwin will be following in the footsteps of his long-time historic racing father Tony when he races it at the Revival.

Quick Vic & Chaparral

Other current F1 teams represented included Red Bull with an old RB1 for Mark Webber and Adrian Newey, Williams, Ferrari and both Team Lotus and Renault, all using older cars.

Last Year’s Model?

They reason they don’t use today’s cars is that the mileage counts towards their testing allowance and it also puts pointless mileage on the engines.

Mustangs for all tastes

Martin Donnelly somewhat bravely got back behind the wheel of a Lotus-Lamborghini 102, the model with which he ended his F1 career with a huge shunt at Jerez in 1990. The car, the only Lotus ever to have used a V12, has recently been restored by CTL and owner Andrew Morris also took a turn, although with very limited track time in the car it’s been a bit of a learning curve as there have been a few problems getting the Lambo to run cleanly and engine spares are not exactly plentiful.

Lotus Esprit

In keeping with the Motor Show theme, the majority of manufacturers now have a presence of some sort with from Audi, occupying their usual dominant pitch by the hill down to tiny Morgan, whilst newcomers Lotus were showing the new Esprit, now signed-off for production.

Terry Grant on the way to a record

Despite my opening comments, there was plenty to see at Goodwood, even a successful record attempt by Terry Grant for the longest distance by a 4-wheeled vehicle on two wheels – he managed to get his Nissan Juke all the way up the 1.1-mile hill, but one has to stop somewhere this’ll be it – until the Revival in September, that is!

And finally… no story is complete without a stunning Alfa Romeo

John Elwin, July 2011


Gentleman’s Relish

As the dog days of summer and scandals drag on, there is little to cheer us. However today I am pleased to announce that my old friend, John Elwin, has agreed to contribute to DoubleDeClutch. Here is his first post, with his reflections on the recent Salon Privé.


The 6th Luxury Super Car Event & Concours de’Elegance

22-24 June 2011, Syon Park, London

After five years at the Hurlingham Club, Salon Privé moved out to Syon Park, home to the Duke of Northumberland, where 200 acres of parkland – remarkably less than 10 miles from central London – afforded rather more space for this expanding show.

Arrive in Style

The rather exclusive event caters for those who want to inspect the latest in upmarket machinery whilst downing a glass or two of Pommery Champagne before enjoying an excellent lunch.

Italian Jobs

And some of the bolides on offer might well have looked more attractive after a glass or two of bubbly! A Bentley with yellow wheels, anyone?

Aston Extremes

Aston Martin brought along the latest Mirage and their new city car, the Cygnet. Sir Stirling Moss has apparently ordered one, so it’s sure to catch on.

A Maybach, allegedly

Rolls Royce showed a bespoke Phantom, but the behemoth from Goodwood is a relatively common sight in comparison with the Maybach – now that does have rarity appeal.

The New Old Jensen Interceptor

It was good to see some of Britain’s smallest of artisan manufacturers holding their own against the established names. Eagle E-Types were capturing a lot of attention with their E-Type Speedster, a discretely different take on the British icon which is celebrating it’s 50th birthday this year (in case you hadn’t heard…). Making a return to the scene is the Jensen Interceptor, Steve Bannister’s company now remanufacturing this 1970’s superstar. Starting with a tired original Jensen International Automotive restore and re-engineer to a bespoke specification – the car on show, painted in a Lamborghini lavender colour was powered by a 492bhp Chevy V8. There are plans for a GT Coupe based on the drop-top Interceptor. Drawings have been found for what would have been Jensen’s next model before the original company went out of business.

Hennessey Venom GT – not an eco car

Bearing little or no allegiance to the past is the Hennessey Venom GT. Loosely based on the Lotus Exige but clothed in full carbon composite bodywork it too is V8 powered but this one pumps out 1200bhp and reputedly can do the 0-60mph dash in 2.5-seconds before hurtling on to 275 mph, that should be enough to upset the eco-fascists! It’s in marked contrast to the similarly Lotus-based but very different Tesla.

House Guests

Almost ignored, but taking up the prime position in front of the house, was an incredible collection of Porsche Group C cars, no less than seven 956’s and eight 962’s.  This represents the full spectrum, from the original Rothmans 956 that debuted at Silverstone in 1982 and won that years’ Le Mans 24 hours in the hands of Derek Bell and Jacky Ickx, through to the ultimate interpretation, Jim Busby’s specially commissioned Miller car that scored the last Daytona 24-hour race win for Stuttgart’s finest in 1989. Derek Bell once again was one of the drivers, joined this time by Bob Wollek and John Andretti. (Editor’s note: Porsche fetishists, of which there are many, will surely remind us that the Kremer K8 Spyder that won the race in 1995 was based on a Porsche 962. Is it a Porsche? Debate and discuss. Then there is the small matter of The Racer’s Group triumph at the 2003 race in a 911………finest? Not a 911?)

Brun Porsche

The rest of the collection, pulled together over a ten-year period, included other works cars such as the Shell Dunlop versions, Walter Brun’s Repsol liveried machine, the last-ever factory built 962 which came within 15 minutes of stealing a Le Mans win away from the TWR Jaguar oufit. (Editor’s Note: The Brun car was in second place when it retired, the Brundle/Cobb/Nielsen Jaguar had led the race for 13 hours. It was no less heart breaking to see Jesus Pareja stopping at Mulsanne Corner and no less unjust.) Also represented were successful privateer British teams such as Richard Lloyd Racing and John Fitzpatrick, the former in particular highly modifying its cars in an effort to find an advantage.

Taxi for Il Duce?

A walk around the side of the house revealed the concours where everything from Mussolini’s Mille Miglia Alfa Romeo (it took top prize) to the Sir Norman Fowler’s 1934 Dymaxion 4 were to be found, the latter put together by the ever versatile Crosthwaite & Gardiner.

Nicely patinated Don Lee Special

Attracting almost as much attention but in totally unrestored condition was the Alfa Tipo ‘Don Lee Special’.

Lambo’s latest

RM Auctions were in charge of the Thursday evening sale with a large number of primarily Aston Martin, Jaguar and Rolls Royce lots on offer.

And finally.. tailpiece

An interesting day out with an opportunity to look at some rare, interesting and unusual machinery in pleasant surroundings and not too crowded – presumably there are not so many well-heeled bankers with bonuses burning a hole in their pockets now!

Smoking on the Grass

John Elwin, July 2011