Monthly Archives: July 2011

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Past Time

Just One Cornetto……………………

Looking through the excellent archives at www.sutton-images.com for another project, I stumbled upon this. Forty years ago this week, Ferrari mechanics are pictured at the Nurburgring, enjoying a post lunch ice cream whilst contemplating the guts of a 312B/2.

They got the Meccano set back together in good order and were able to see their drivers Clay Regazzoni and Mario Andretti finish 3rd and 4th. Team leader Jacky Ickx, starting from the front row, speared off the Nordschleife on lap 2, while chasing eventual winner, Jackie Stewart.

Not sure what Alonso would make of it all……………………………………..

John Brooks, July 2011

Classic Group C

To those of a certain age, the Group C era of endurance racing was arguably the pinnacle. That is not to say that today’s battles between Audi and Peugeot are any less compelling, but perhaps time adds a lustre to the competition of the 80’s.

We are fortunate that the cars themselves are still around, even if those who drove them at the time, have, for the most part, left the stage.

The weekend just past saw the huge motorsports extravaganza, The Silverstone Classic, take place. We will get an expert eye’s view on the event in due course but in the meantime I will bring you a gallery of the Group C entry.

John Brooks, July 2011

Images courtesy of the Silverstone Classic.

 

Motor Klassik

Over the past few seasons we have had good reason to be grateful for the Patrick Peter Organisation arranging a series of historic sportscar races, known as Classic Endurance Racing. There have been a great number of unusual and interesting cars to see, something new nearly every race.

In the previous years they have acted as a fantastic support to the Le Mans Series events but in 2011 they have gone off on their own highway. Till the ILMC reached Italy.

So last month in Imola it was great to see the pack of veterans back. So much so, I hung around at Variante Alta, camera poised. In the warm Italian sunshine, with your eyes closed you could imagine it was 30 years ago, the song remains the same.

Ars Longs, Vita Brevis.

John Brooks, July 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.

Bellissimo

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.

Inspirational

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

 

One Stop Past Barking

Ford UK should be getting a telegram from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth ll any time now. They celebrate 100 years of activity in this country, starting with a showroom in Central London in 1911.

One Stop Past Barking

Like most of the car manufacturing industry they have been prolific recorders of times past, having huge photo libraries available. Through the excellent Newspress service, Ford have made a selection of images from the period available to outlets such as DDC.  So here they are. Above is a Ford Cortina from 1970 dangling above Dagenham. Why? No idea, but someone in marketing thought it a good way of spending the budget.

O ye’ll tak’ the high road, and I’ll tak’ the low road

The Model-T is not readily associated with off-roading but 100 years ago an intrepid snapper caught an even more intrepid driver ascending Ben Nevis in one of Henry Ford’s finest.

Tower of Power

Ford has become part of the fabric of the nation. Maybe not as much as Tower Bridge but you know what I mean. Dating from the time of fashion crimes, 1976, I should know, I was there, guilty as charged. A bronze Fiesta and a couple of hipsters.

Constable Country

When you look at Dagenham now, it is hard to imagine this is how it looked 100 years ago.

Ford Haus

Henry Ford decided the “Detroit of Europe” would be built on the Thames, just east of London. This is how it looked at the height of its power, in 1957.

Merlin Magic

But Ford in the UK were not just about motor vehicles. Here in Urmston, Manchester the company produced Rolls-Royce Merlin aeroplane engines. There was a war on, you know.

You can ‘ave it for a ton, Guv.

The Dagenham factory opened in 1931 but really became successful when Ford concentrated its marketing efforts on the likes of the Model Y, emphasising price and value for money.

I Walk the Line

After World War Two, the model range continued to be conservative but the production lines were kept busy.

No Morris Minor

The affluence of the 50’s meant refining products to bring them into line with the demands the post war era market. Introduced in 1953 the Ford Anglia 100E sold for £360, over 300,000 were produced. Here the unlucky couple in the car encounter that scourge of quaint English villages, The Morris Dancers.

Field of Dreams

I am not sure just what brand values this shot would have been trying to extol.

Now Listen Here, Men.

Changes in the way that cars were sold to increasingly demanding public meant that Ford had to move with the times. “Ford executives were invited to abandon the office for fresh air and a chance to see the Mark ll versions of Ford’s popular family cars. Launched in 1956 and marketed as the ‘Three Graces’, the Mark ll Consul, Zephyr and Zodiac marked a further step in British motoring away from post-war austerity towards glamour and modernity.” Or so the press release says.

Summer of Love

Ford harnessed the power of motorsport to enhance their brand during the 60’s, taking on Ferrari at Le Mans and eventually crushing them.

Where’s the Milk?

Back in the U. S. of A., a partnership with Lotus brought victory at the Indianapolis 500. Jim Clark is about to receive the Borg Warner Trophy.

Cosworth Power

Even more significant in the long term was the Ford Cosworth V8 engine project. It powered the changes in Grand Prix racing, taking it to a truly global level. Colin Chapman and Keith Duckworth ponder the beast.

Tartan Terror

All of this activity had significant input from Britain and Ford UK.  And a significant effect on the sales performance of Ford here.

Escort Service

Not just on the tracks but also in the forests.

Left Hand Down, a Bit.

And if motor sport was not enough to attract the attention of the buyers, there were always promotions and gimmicks. Sometimes involving motor sport as well. Here Graham Hill, the current Formula One World Champion, drives the original Quadricyle. This was built by 32-year-old Henry Ford in 1896. Constructed of wood and metal it weighed only 500lbs, had a top speed of 20mph and no brakes, it rather looks as if Graham has just discovered that feature. Quite why someone who was driving for BRM in F1 and Le Mans was doing this sponsor work is not clear.

Queue Jumping

Not all gimmicks involved sport. This madness raised money for charity.

Holy Concept Car, Batman

When in doubt mix a pretty girl and a concept car, covers all the bases. As Ford PR tells the story,  The Futura Concept Car was built in 1954 and designed to “garner valuable engineering data and test public reaction to styling”. A decade after its debut the Futura became the inspiration for the Batmobile in the popular 1966 television series. Although radical in appearance the Futura featured many ideas seen as mainstream today such as power-steering, power brakes, dual exhausts etc.

Bright Spark

Sometimes Ford UK were ahead of a trend. In 1967 the Ford Comuta concept vehicle was used to demonstrate the potential of the electric vehicle. With a top speed of 40mph and a total range of around 40 miles on a full charge the Ford Comuta was never going to oust the best-selling Cortina as the drivers’ favourite. Even Ford’s assistant managing director at the time, Leonard Crossland recognised electric motors would not replace combustion engines for long journeys, saying: “…their uses will be primarily as city centre delivery vans and suburban shopping cars.”

Reach for the Stars

Using the latest cutting edge technology to boost your current product line seems such a good idea at the time but in retrospect may not be quite so clever.  The Sierra and the Space Shuttle look about as 80’s as shoulder pads and yuppies. Look at how relaxed security is, it is almost as if commonsense prevails.

Stuck in traffic

Commonsense, no evidence here.

Happy Birthday, Ford UK. Britain would have been a poorer place, in every sense, without you.

John Brooks, 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.

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


Alfa, Alfa, Alfa

The Brooklands Double 12 brought out fine examples of motoring art from Italy and specifically from Alfa Romeo. The Italians have created some of the most beautiful cars ever to turn a wheel, occasionally a dog too.

Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 Bertone

Almost the first car that the Special Correspondent and I tripped over on our arrival was this fabulous machine. It was a Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 SS Bertone dating from 1942.

Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 Bertone

It was brought to England by its current owner, Corrado Lopresto, who has restored the car to its original glory.

Artist’s Signature

Along the way it has won awards at Pebble Beach and Villa d’Este, including the 2011 Coppa d’Oro, it doesn’t get any better than that.

Tail Piece

According to my good friend Wouter Melissen the design was the work of Mario Revelli di Beaumont.

Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 Bertone

You can read up more about this fantastic car on Wouter’s excellent site HERE . Strange thing, probably a coincidence, but when you Google this car, most of the websites that describe it at Villa d’Este or Brooklands use a remarkably similar wording to that of UltimateCarPage, when it talked about the car a year ago at Pebble Beach. Spooky, this internet thing.

Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 Bertone

One thing that struck me is the question of how did this car get built at all? In 1942 World War Two was in full flow, Italy was fighting alongside Nazi Germany in the Western Desert and on the Russian Front. All materials were rationed and there was strict control of industrial activity. It must have been very powerful JuJu that allowed the war effort to be diverted to build this one off. Perhaps the Italians have always had a better sense of what is important and what is not, most of them would have seen through Mussolini’s bombast by that time. Certainly nothing like this could have been built in war time Britain, the Man from The Ministry would never have allowed it.

Badge Engineering

The car was built in 1942, delivered to Concessionaria Oreste Peverelli in Como, then rescued from Italy to Switzerland to remain intact during the Allies’ invasion of Italy. It is a thing of beauty and we were lucky to see it at Brooklands.

Alfa Romeo Montreal

Less exotic but still very worthwhile was this Alfa Romeo Montreal.

Alfa Romeo Montreal

The styling say 1970’s in the same way as the Bertone classic says 30’s.  Yet this does not detract from it, there really was Life on Mars.

Another exhibit that purported to date from the 30’s was this weird creation.

Alfa Romeo 6C 2300 Aerodinamica Spider

It is described as a secret project commissioned by Vittorio Jano.

Someone has taken a lot of time and trouble to post up a full history on Wikipedia.

Cockpit

In 1935, Vittorio Jano, working with the brothers Gino and Oscar Jankovitz, created a one-off mid-engine prototype on a 6C 2300 chassis (no. 700316),which Jano had shipped to Fiume, Croatia in 1934. The brothers Jankovitz had been close friends with leading Hungarian aerodynamicist Paul Jaray, and the prototype, called the Alfa Romeo Aerodinamica Spider, was an especially early and clear example of ponton styling — a genre that would overtake automobile styling and last until the 1960s. Jano had intended to fit a V12 engine, though that possibility disappeared when Jano himself was fired from Alfa in 1937.

Based on documents kept in the family Jankovits the history of the car’s development is as follows:
Summary of the “Aerospider” Alfa Romeo Jankovits – 6 C 2300 Aerodinamica Spider “Aerospider” (constructed 1934-1937)
The prototype of modern automobile design and the first car which had been constructed and executed as a sculptural whole.
The combination of a very advanced aerodynamic body with the engine behind the central driver’s seat, on the most advanced chassis of its time makes this Alfa Romeo unique in the history of automobiles.
This special version of an Alfa Romeo 6C 2300 belonged to a secret project by Vittorio Jano and the brothers Jankovits.
The Aerospider represents:
The first supercar of “modern” sports car design.
The first mid-engined car with central driving position in the history of automobiles designed to keep the centre of gravity in the middle of the car – 60 years ahead of the McLaren F1
The first car designed to take account of newly developed principles of aerodynamics, to provide low-drag both externally and internally.

The article makes a whole batch of other claims about the car.


There is even a bit of James Bond, or should that be “The Spy Who Came in From the Cold” provenance attached?

The car was ‘liberated’ from East Europe in a dramatic way, according to the story.

No V12.

Any public appearance of the futuristic looking Aerospider would have caused a sensation, but because of the secrecy surrounding the project, and then the onset of the war, the prototype remained hidden in the Jankovits’ garage in Fiume, and was not seen by anyone from outside the garage. On Christmas Eve 1946, Gino Jankovits drove the Aerospider at full speed under the toll-bar of the closed communist controlled border into Italy. Border guards fired volleys of shots after him, but the low, streamlined body saved Gino’s life. Only the rear tyres were destroyed by the bullets, which also caused some dents in the rear of the car’s bodywork. To get money they had to sell their car to an Anglo-American officer. Then the Alfa disappeared for about 20 years until it was rediscovered in England. In 1978 the Aerospider was recognized by the well-known Alfa Romeo historian Luigi Fusi, who had worked with Vittorio Jano at the time of the Aerospider project. He wanted to acquire the car for the Alfa Romeo Museum. The acquisition failed, but the prototype did eventually return to Italy, 30 years after its birth, to be restored at last to its original condition as a racing car.

Original?

However, Alfa Romeo is a brand that inspires loyalty and enthusiasm amongst the Alfisti to a degree seldom seen by other motor manufacturers. So when a rare beast like this appears from nowhere it will attract commentary and not everyone has accepted the authorised version.

Brooklands

Indeed, when I asked my colleague, the venerable Special Correspondent what he thought, he was somewhat dismissive. He backed up this opinion by later confirming that the car was not in the Alfa Romeo bible ‘Alfa Romeo Tutte le Vetture Dal 1910’ by Luigi Fusi. That confirmed it, as far as he is concerned, that this car is not an Alfa Romeo. Others have written blogs about this vehicle, one can be found HERE that eloquently puts the case for the prosecution.

Proof?

Another comment that was published, “Respected antique dealer Colin Crabbe was told by Luigi Fusi of the Alfa Romeo Museum that the Jankowits car is not an Alfa Romeo, what ever the current owner seems to think, none the less it is an extremely interesting Alfa Romeo powered special, stories of the car dodging bullets to escape communist Yugoslavia are comically wide of the mark, the car and its occupants were allowed to leave the Yugoslavia with a perfectly normal travel permit, it was never designed for anything other than a straight 6, Alfa V12’s did not exist at the time the car was conceived by the Jankowits Brothers.”

More Proof?

Still, there are those who maintain that this story is true. The car has been exhibited at Goodwood’s Festival of Speed and, of course, Brooklands, giving some credibility to that version of events. Being less of a purist than those like the Special Correspondent, I am inclined to enjoy that car for what it is and am glad that we are able to see it today.

Alfa Romeo 1900C SS Zagato Coupe

One car that attracts only enthusiasm is the Alfa Romeo 1900C SS Zagato Coupe. Even the rain storm that hit the event that day could not dim the glow from the car.

Name Check

A fitting way to end this salute to Alfa magic on display at Brooklands last month.

John Brooks, July 2011

 

Brooklands’ Best

Instead of the usual trek across countries and continents, the journey last month was just down the road. Brooklands, the world’s first purpose built motorsport track, is but a few miles from base. As a child going to school in Weybridge I could hear the testing of VC10 engines echoing down the hill from the Vickers factory located at the site. My Grandfather even worked there at one stage, so I certainly feel a connection with the place.

Clubhouse Racer

So when our Special Correspondent suggested a trip to the Double 12, how could I resist? The Brooklands Museum is a unique place, preserved by the efforts of a few true believers.

Hill Street Blues

OK, the site is now a business park, manufacturing having disappeared from the place many years ago, much like the rest of the UK. A substantial part of the famous banking remains, plus the Clubhouse and hangers.

Concorde

Indeed there is as much aviation history on site as motoring, ranging from Concorde to the war planes that were built here during the past century.

Crew Bust

There is also a collection of the ancillary vehicles that would have been found at airports during the past 50 years.

Continental Auto?

Cars and Aeroplanes sit comfortably together, a Connaught and a P1127 pose in the sunshine.

Record Breaker

However the purpose of the visit was to admire the collection of cars that were assembled, some of which would be static displays, such as the aero-engined monsters that raced around the Surrey track before WW2.

Instant Classic

Some are more authentic than others, the less worthy cars attracting the ire of our Special Correspondent.

Warning

But the message was clear, speed it was.

Mon Ami Mate

There was a good mix of cars at the 2011 Brooklands Double Twelve, some road and some with true racing heritage.

Mike Hawthorn made his name racing a Riley Ulster Imp before signing up with Ferrari on his way to becoming Britain’s first Grand Prix World Champion in 1958. The Riley is now proudly displayed, complete with a hat tip to the former owner.

Broadspeed Cat

At the other end of the racing spectrum is the Jaguar XJ12C, the results never quite matched the presence.

Not a Dolomite Sprint

However it was the road going cars that really caught my fancy. The Triumph Dolomite Roadster from the 30’s is elegant and understated.

Staff Car

Another Roadster, this time from the 50’s, as Mercedes Benz continues the line of elegance on display with the 300S

190

Mercedes Benz were well represented, as might have been expected, given that Mercedes Benz World is the next door neighbour. A very tidy 190.

Gentleman’s Carriage?

And beloved of megalomaniacs everywhere, be they Pop Idol, Film Star or plain old Dictator is the imposing 600. Any list of former owners that contains the likes of Elizabeth Taylor, Elvis Presley, Enver Hoxa, Idi Amin and the Shah of Persia is sure sign that the vehicle is exceptional. A Zil or this, maybe Kim Il-sung was not so crazy after all.

Social Hill Climber

Of course being a Mercedes it is still in full working order, raring to run up the Test Hill.

DS23

I will make a separate post on the Alfa Romeo gang that showed up but I was much taken by the French contingent. I have always had a soft spot for DS Citroëns, my father had a couple, they just ooze Gallic style and flair. Nice DS 23 Pallas.

Delahaye 235 Cabriolet

What about this beautiful Delahaye 235 Cabriolet? The line ended with this model.

Delahaye 135

Before the World War Two, Delahaye had been very successful in competition, winning both the Monte Carlo Rally and the Le Mans 24 Hours outright, the model a 135.

360 Degrees

In complete contrast is the Subaru 360 or Ladybug……………..it did get up the Test Hill, though not with the same speed as the 600 Merc.

Diana Dors or Gina Lollobrigida?

Which would you prefer now? Sunbeam Rapier or Lancia Aurelia? The Special Correspondent favoured the Italian.

OK, Squire?

Hens’ Teeth? A Squire from the late 30’s, one of only seven made.

Malvern Marvel

Early Eccentricity from Malvern, a Morgan Runabout.

Threewheeler

The three wheeler concept has been revived by Morgan this year, I have to admit that I did not know what to make of it. Having seen one in the flesh, I am convinced, a brilliant car for a summer’s day.

Minor Moggie

Yes please.

Cat out of the bag

This 1935 SSI Airline saloon is the car that preceded the Jaguar……………..

Over The Hill and Far Away

So another good day out at Brooklands, it should be a must do for anyone who has petrol in their veins.

More on the Italians later.

 

John Brooks, July 2011