Monthly Archives: July 2016

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Get Stuck In

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We are enjoying something of a purple patch from The Special Correspondent, last week he travelled to the vintage venue of Shelsley Walsh for something truly special…………….

In the Twenties and Thirties the Shelsley Walsh Hill Climb acquired considerable importance for British motorsport. After the Kop Hill accident in 1925, use of the public roads for competition purposes was completely banned, providing an impetus for Shelsley, which was located on private land. Participants in motor sport in Britain therefore had a choice of only the Worcestershire hill climb or Brooklands until Donington came on the scene in the mid-Thirties and Prescott in 1938.

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This had the effect of attracting good quality entries and manufacturers were certainly aware of its importance. For example, we find the Riley Motor Company electing to introduce its new “Nine” to the public at the 1926 Shelsley meeting. Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin attended the meeting in 1928 and famous foreign racing drivers like Rudi Caracciola appeared with the big sports Mercedes-Benz. The very rare Spanish Nacional Pescara came hunting European Hill Climb Championship points and Jean Bugatti, Ettore’s son, brought the four-wheel drive Type 53 Bugatti – alas, he crashed it at Kennel Bend. And there was even Count Premoli’s supercharged class-winning Bugatti-Maserati which had been towed all the way from Milan!

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In 1930 the Bergmeister Hans Stuck appeared with the blue and white 3-litre Austro Daimler and set a record time of 42.8 seconds which was not broken for nearly three years. In 1936 he came back with a C-type Auto Union Grand Prix car, with a shortened chassis and twin rear wheels. He was unlucky because it rained when he made his climb and the big German car with over 500 b.h.p. was too much of a handful in the conditions to set a new record – “too many horsepowers” – he proclaimed.

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The 80th anniversary of this appearance formed the highlight of this July meeting. The Audi factory had previously commissioned the totally faithful construction by Crosthwaite and Gardiner of a C-type Auto Union which Audi uses for demonstration purposes. The son of Hans Stuck, the well-known current driver Hans-Joachim Stuck, was dispatched complete with this car to Shelsley to give four demonstrations, two on Saturday and two on Sunday.
Here is the car in the paddock, where everyone can go:
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The mighty V 16 engine

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and the cockpit:
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Now we see Stuck letting the car loose on the hill, first approaching the Crossing with the Kennel Bend in the background,

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then in the Crossing

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and further up the hill turning into the Bottom S:
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During the lunch break Stuck gave a public interview in the Courtyard after which he freely chatted with the race-goers; isn’t he like his famous father?
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There was further nostalgia to be experienced – this is the Whitney Straight Maserati 8CM which went on to lower the record after Stuck (senior) had set it in the Austro Daimler:
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And here it is approaching at very high velocity the two S-Bends:
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There were, of course, masses of other cars taking part, including these potent three-wheeler Morgans, lined up in their sheds in the paddock:
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and the famous Shelsley Special Spider 11:
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On the Sunday afternoon Stuck gave his last demonstration of the Auto Union, this time wearing the cloth helmet and goggles used by his father in the pre-war days:
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It was intriguing to watch the mechanics inserting the electric starter in the shaft at the rear to bring the raucous V 16 to life;
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as Stuck sets off up the famous hill:

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The beautiful setting of Shelsley Walsh in the valley of the River Teme in rural Worcestershire. The paddock and main buildings are behind the trees on the right.

David Blumlein, July 2016

Reflections from the South Downs

The Special Correspondent paid his annual visit to Lord March’s Goodwood Estate for the Festival of Speed. He found much to admire and pass comment on, and he favours us with his reflections.
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How better to start a visit than to be confronted with the new Bugatti Chiron?
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One is not at Goodwood very long before one sees a rare gem such as this KTM X-Bow GT4. Developed by Reiter Engineering it uses an Audi 2.0 TFSI 4-cylinder engine.
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This 1924 Vauxhall Wensum is an example of the bespoke coachbuilt body styles fitted to the popular 30/98 chassis. Vauxhall’s works driver, A.J.Hancock, kept a fast motorboat on the River Wensum near Norwich, hence the boat tail and wooden marine decking interior.
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Following his Lambda masterpiece, Vincenzo Lancia created in 1931 the Astura with a brand new 2604 c.c. V8 engine for fast touring.

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This is a 1933 example with Pinin Farina bodywork, one of a batch of five cabriolets for Lancia dealer Ernesto Bocca.

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After the records by the 40CV cars in 1925 and 1926, Louis Renault asked his engineers to create a new record breaking car, the Nervasport, this a faithful recreation as the original has disappeared. It had a straight 8 side-valve engine and 3-speed gearbox. At Montlhéry in April 1934 it covered a record-breaking 5000 miles.

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2016 DB GeneralThis Mercedes-Benz W25 R attained over 230 m.p.h. in 1936.
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This is the 1940 Mille Miglia-winning BMW 2-litre, driven by Huschke von Hanstein and Walter Baumer.
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This unusual version of the Lotus Europa has a turbo BDA as used in the Zakspeed Capri. The car’s only noteworthy result was a sixth place at Hockenheim in 1979, driven by Harald Ertl.

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It took Ford three years to win Le Mans, achieving it with the 7-litre GT40 Mk 2 in 1966.
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They repeated their success in 1967 when Dan Gurney and A.J.Foyt drove this Mark IV.
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Ford returned to Le Mans this year with their new GT and successfully won the GTE Pro class.

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Here is their trophy:
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The 1936 Auto Union C-type warming up in the paddock.

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Here is its 6-litre supercharged V16 engine.
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An 1898 Stephens Dog Cart – note the independent front suspension!

David Blumlein, July 2016

Vintage Style

The Special Correspondent took a run out to the Chiltern Hills Vintage Rally recently. It proved to be a charming occasion with much to admire……………
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Made in Biggleswade by Berkeley, Britain’s biggest maker of caravans which had vast experience of glass-reinforced plastic fabrication, the Berkeley sports car, in 1956, was the world’s first production car to use a fibreglass chassis/body unit, pre-dating the Lotus Elite by some twelve months.
This car is Chassis no. 10 with the Anzani 322c.c. twin cylinder two-stroke air-cooled engine. Only 163 Berkeleys were made.
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A real vintage car, a 1924 Humber 12/25 saloon.

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Humber was a well-respected make which, in the Twenties, fitted their cars with overhead inlet and side exhaust valve engines – this is the 1795 c.c. 4-cylinder unit in this car.
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This is one of the first production Morgan 4/4s, dating from October 1937.

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Here is its Coventry-Climax overhead inlet and side exhaust valve engine.
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In 1957 came this rather charming Wolseley 1500, based on a modified Morris Minor 1000 floorplan and given a BMC B-series engine. This is a Series 3 version, produced from 1961 until 1965. The cars were made at Longbridge.
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A 1935 6-cylinder Riley Kestrel 15/6. The Kestrel was not a separate model but a body style built by Riley in their Coventry factory and available on a variety of their chassis. Riley – like Triumph and Singer – made far too many different models, a policy which hastened their demise.
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The Austin 16 was the company’s first new post-war model. It used the chassis of the Austin 12 which was introduced only a few days before the outbreak of war in 1939 but had a completely new 4-cylinder 2.2-litre o.h.v. engine developed for military purposes. It was a good car, comfortable, reasonably priced and with a good performance. It was the first production Austin car to have overhead valves.
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A 1935 Wolseley Hornet Special with the 6-cylinder single overhead camshaft engine. Wolseley only supplied Hornet Specials in chassis form, leaving buyers to select their own choice of body builder. This car has a one-off body by an unknown maker.
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Last of the legendary 1172 c.c. Ford side-valve engines. This one is in a 1960 Popular De Luxe. These Ford engines were the last side-valve units to be in production in Britain.

David Blumlein, July 2016

Geneva Reflections

The month of June has been its usual struggle, Le Mans consumes all time and energy from those who are involved, so some pieces have stacked up here at DDC Towers but fear not we are still rumbling away. The Special Correspondent sent me a few reflections from the Geneva Salon a while back, time to share them with the wider world.

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Designers of supercars give scant attention to the need of their occupants to carry some luggage – try squeezing even a holdall into a Bugatti Veyron! It seems that they have come full circle with the early vintage cars which had no normal facilities for accommodating luggage – suitcases had to be strapped to a grid at the rear of the car’s body.

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McLaren has made a reasonable attempt with its new 570GT to correct this omission as can be seen above.
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Porsche introduced their new version of the Boxster which was given the additional title of 718.
The original 718 dates from mid-1957 when Porsche produced a successor to the 550 and this was 20kg lighter and fitted with coil spring rear suspension dispensing with the low pivot swing axles. Low drag was a priority, even enclosing the headlamps behind Plexiglass.
Among successes in 1958 was a superb 3rd place overall at Le Mans courtesy of Behra and Herrmann. The 1960 regulations demanded a full windscreen as seen here and that year’s highlight was an outright win at the Sebring 12 Hours by Herrmann and Gendebien.
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This is the Morgan 4/4 80th Anniversary edition.
The first 4/4 prototype (called then the 4-4) appeared back in 1936, making the type now a world record for a production car. That prototype used a Ford engine and then the early production cars switched to the Coventry-Climax unit but the basic car is still the same with hand-rolled aluminium bonnet, ash frame and sliding pillar independent front suspension. Currently a Ford Sigma 1.6 engine is used with a Mazda 5-speed gearbox.
This special version is characterised by among other changes the disc wheels with brass centre locks, a quad bonnet strap, a brass mesh behind the grille and a brushed walnut dashboard.
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This beauty describes itself as a Touring Superleggera Disco Volante Spyder. It is based on the Alfa Romeo 8C Spyder and once one such donor car is received, Touring will build you one of these within six months.
It is inspired by the Alfa Romeo C52 Disco Volante of 1952 which can just be seen in the left background. The stunning original never made production – it produced too much front end lift!
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Recalling past successes, Abarth has come up with this impressive Rally Coupé version of Fiat’s new two-seater 124.
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Spyker is back! This company, one of the oldest and a pioneer of four-wheel drive, has a chequered history. More recently the cars were being made by CPP in Coventry but they closed down in November 2011.

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ADV replaced them and the association with Spyker was re-formed in November 2015 – they will make a few Ailerons and then this new Preliator.
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Surely the prettiest of all the Grand Prix Hondas? This, the RA 272, is also the first to win a Grand Prix, Mexico in 1965 with that gutsy little Richie Ginther at the wheel.

David Blumlein, July 2016