Monthly Archives: November 2018

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Investigations in Essen

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The sharper blades amongst you will have noticed the absence of the Special Correspondent for most of 2018. There were several reasons for this unfortunate state of affairs, time spent finishing off his next book, then some health issues, all conspired to deprive us of his wisdom. The good news is that he is fighting fit once again and that the book is now in the production stage, more on that exciting prospect later. Even better news is that he has a series of pieces stored up to carry us through this season of short days and miserable weather. Earlier this year we hopped on the train and made our way to Essen for Techno Classica, here are some of the delights that he found in the halls……….

Often overlooked is the Lamborghini Islero, a replacement for the 350GT/400GT and made from 1968 to 1970. It had a body by Marazzi who founded his Carrozziera in 1967 outside Milan, employing some workers from the bankrupt Touring concern – Marazzi is remembered especially for his production of the beautiful Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale.

The Islero was the first Lamborghini to appear at Le Mans: a private Islero 400GT, painted a gorgeous red, practised in 1975 but it was too heavy and failed to qualify.

This Type 640 Skoda was the first of their cars to be given the name Superb. It had a 6-cylinder side-valve engine of 2,492 c.c. and was built from 1934 to 1936. This was also the first Skoda to have hydraulic brakes.

Porsche built 44 of their 365/2 coupés in their original home in Gmϋnd, Austria. They proved ideal for competitions with their aluminium body, high torsional stiffness and aerodynamic efficiency.

The rally-plate on this example recalls the outright win by Polensky and Linge in 1954 on the Liège-Rome-Liège, always one of Europe’s toughest events.

Once in power the Nazi Party was both quick and keen to promote German motorsport and one of the important events of the mid-Thirties was the 2000 km durch Deutschland Trial, a demanding run around this big country.

The major German motor manufacturers built special cars for the event, not least Mercedes and the Auto Union combine, and this Horch 830 Coupé was one of a team which took part in July 1933. A 3-litre V8 supplied the power.

This is a DB-Renault, one of three built for Le Mans in 1954. They were unusual in several ways: they were the first cars to come from Charles Deutsch and René Bonnet with a mid-mounted engine, they used Renault motors whereas all DBs from 1950 had used exclusively the flat-twin Panhard engines and they had central driving positions. This car is chassis 2003 and, like its team-mates, failed at Le Mans It also retired in the Reims 12-hour race but Jean Lucas won his class at Amiens and finished 5th at La Baule.

DB did not repeat the experiment and stuck with Panhard power till the end but when Bonnet split with Deutsch for 1962 he turned completely to Renault power and mounted the 4-cylinder engine amidships in the Djet.

Veritas was one of the main small companies instrumental in the revival of German motorsport in the immediate years after the Second World War. They used the chassis and engine of the pre-war BMW 328 as the basis of their initial production and created modern streamlined bodywork, the tuned machines being successful in domestic sports car races.

The company went on to make some attractive road-going coupés and as the supply of BMW engines dried up, a 2-litre 6-cylinder overhead cam engine made by Heinkel was used. Eventually one of the founders, Ernst Loof, set up on his own at the Nϋrburgring this is one of four Nϋrburgring Coupés of 1957.

TAILPIECE

This microcar, the Zϋndapp Janus, was the only car made by the German motorcycle manufacturer. Powered by a single-cylinder two-stroke 245 c.c. engine giving just 14 h.p., the car with opening front and rear doors was named after the Roman god Janus who had two faces.

 

David Blumlein November 2018

 

 

A Celebration of Rob Walker

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Dorking is a quiet market town located in a very attractive part of Surrey’s North Downs, local landmarks include Box Hill and Denbies Vineyard. For those of us with inclination to burn petrol at speed Dorking will forever be associated with R.R.C. Walker Racing that was located at the Pippbrook Garage in the heart of this community.

Robert Ramsay Campbell Walker was born on August 14th 1917, so staging the Rob Walker Centenary Festival  in October 2018 seems a little odd, perhaps too much time spent at Denbies…….but I digress and I must say that the organisers did a first class job in honouring this sometimes overlooked, but hugely influential, figure in post-War British motor sport.

The numerous spectators that witnessed the demonstration of old racers around the closed streets were given a raucous display. Robbie Walker was on hand to enjoy this fine tribute to his father.

Another son representing a famous father, was David Brabham, a top flight sportscar driver and Le Mans winner in his own right. Sir Jack Brabham was one of three Formula One World Champions who drove for Walker, the other pair were Jochen Rindt and Graham Hill.

However it is the relationship and deep friendship between Rob Walker and Sir Stirling Moss that the team is arguably most famous for. In the period from 1958 to 1961 Stirling scored seven Grand Prix wins for the team, most notably in 1961 at Monte Carlo and the Nürburgring, seeing off the more powerful Ferrari squad through sheer talent and determination. Regrettably Sir Stirling’s health is not up to public appearances at present so his absence left a big gap that the organisers filled admirably in a most appropriate fashion.

Moss was rightly famous and revered as a Grand Prix star, indisputably the leader of the pack after Fangio retired. However his exploits in endurance racing are just as notable. The ’55 Mille Miglia triumph in the Mercedes-Benz is legendary as are the Nürburgring 1000kms wins in ’58 and ’59 for Aston Martin. In 1960 Moss won the Tourist Trophy at Goodwood driving a Ferrari 250 GT SWB #2119, an achievement in itself but staggering when one considers that it was two months and one day after his horrific accident at Spa in the Belgian Grand Prix. Doctors forecast a minimum recovery period of six months but Moss was able to recuperate way faster than that. It later emerged that he had tuned in the Ferrari’s radio to hear the commentary of Raymond Baxter as rattled off the laps. This beautiful Ferrari is now the proud possession of one Ross Brawn, a real enthusiast.

Almost exactly a year later and Moss was back at Goodwood in another 250 GT SWB, this time #2735. Frankly the opposition was not the strongest and consisted of another 250 GT SWB, driven by Mike Parkes and three Essex Racing Team Aston Martin DB4 GTs, two of which were Zagato-bodied and driven by Roy Salvadori and Jim Clark. The third was an ordinary DB4 GT in the hands of Innes Ireland. Moss won with ease in the end after a crash in practice, there was no word as to whether he turned on the radio………..

These Ferraris are amongst the most elegant of all GT cars…………and here there were a brace – Bellissimo!

The weather was kind and a great time was had by all who attended, let’s hope that this event becomes a tradition……………in the meantime enjoy another stunning portfolio of photos from Simon – Bellissimo indeed!

John Brooks November 2018

Escorting at Brands Hatch

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The Ford Escort, star of track and rally stage, has hit half a century of competition. How appropriate then that Brands Hatch was the venue a month or two back for a celebration of this yeoman of the track and street.

Of course in a virtually dry summer there would be downpours during some of the action, but lurid angles and consummate car control are the bread and butter of the touring car brigade.

Back in 1968 I had just been following the sport for about a year, not been to a race, that came in 1970. However I would devour Motor Sport, Motor Racing and Autocar with the fervour of a new convert. There was an exciting world of speed brought to life by the likes of Eoin Young, Michael Cotton, Denis Jenkinson and Innes Ireland to name but a few. That year the BTCC title was taken by Frank Gardner in the Escort that is shown above and for the enthusiastic crowd that braved the rain the demonstration laps of XOO349F were a highlight of the HSCC meeting.

Our local star, Simon Hildrew, was on hand to capture the spirit of this episode of time travel to the ’70s, the land of The Sweeney, The Three-Day Week, Punk and some very dubious taste in fashion – Never Mind the Bollocks indeed.

John Brooks November 2018

The Farnham Flyer

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The clocks have slipped back, dark afternoons are now in prospect as Autumn’s grip on 2018 slips and Winter arrives to conclude proceedings. For those of us with a motoring habit to fix, events are now heading indoors till the Spring. However, almost as a form of salute to what has been a remarkable Summer, there have been one or two last rays of automotive sunshine in the past few weeks.

Sixty years ago there were celebrations in Britain’s Motorsport community as Mike Hawthorn had secured the Formula One World Championship, the first driver’s title to won by a Briton. It is a strange paradox when we consider that Lewis Hamilton has now secured his fifth such title, an achievement that is almost commonplace or natural. Times have changed for sure.

Although Hawthorn was actually born in Yorkshire he is commonly associated with Farnham in Surrey. So a few weeks back the streets were closed off and there was a celebration of the “Farnham Flyer”.

Wreaths were laid at his grave, as he died in a car crash a few short months after he retired as Champion.

A fine selection of classic cars led the parade, many with a personal connection to Hawthorn.

The local police even got in on the act bringing out their own classics.

Typically after such a dry and hot summer, it tipped with rain all day, but that could not dampen the spirits, as illustrated here by Simon Hildrew’s wonderful imagery.

John Brooks November 2018