London is Calling…………….

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A new concours is always a welcome addition to the season, especially one as well organised and curated as the inaugural City Concours held in the heart of the City of London.

The event was held in the spectacular Artillery Gardens of the Honourable Artillery Company, a Georgian grassy haven in the midst of the capital’s financial district.

By any standards the City Concours was an instant success, a decent crowd appreciating the selection of fine cars on display and for sale. Year two will be even better and the word will get round the City to increase interest, looking forward to June 2018.

John Brooks, June 2017

 

 

Stoneleigh Special

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A while back The Special Correspondent travelled up to Stoneleigh for the latest edition of Race Retro. As ever he spotted a few gems hidden away amongst the sheds……………so Rare and Interesting it is…………………

The exhibiting club did nothing to enlighten their visitors about the cars on their stand but in fact the two Triumph TRs have important competition history. I am indebted to my good friend Rob Rowland, the former TR archivist, for giving me corrected information on them. This TR3 is an ex-works factory car driven by Annie Bousquet and Jo Ashfield in the 1956 Midnight Sun Rally to 13th in class.

A month later Tom and Anne Wisdom took it on the Alpine Rally, came 5th in class, winning an Alpine Cup. The car was then prepared with two other TR3s as factory entries for the 1957 Sebring 12-Hour race where it finished 21st and second in class, driven by Bob Oker and Ed Pennybacker.

This TR4 also has Sebring history. It was one of three selected at random from a shipment to the U.S.A. by Kas Kastner and race-prepared by his team for the 1963 race. This number 38 was hit from behind by an A.C. Cobra not long after the start but managed to finish 24th and second in class, piloted by Charles Gates, Bob Cole and Ed Diehl.
Some published results of the TRs at Sebring may contain unintended errors – these are the corrected versions.


This is a 1958 Lotus 15, powered by an aluminium alloy 3532 c.c. Buick V8 with twin Holley carbs giving 240 bhp and driving through an XK140 gearbox. The car was campaigned by Dizzy Addicott in 1961 and 1962.


Arnott was a family-owned manufacturer of superchargers and carburettors in Harlesden, north London. In 1951 they decided to design and construct a car for the 500 c.c. Formula 3 category. Designed by Daphne Arnott and George Thornton, the prototype had its first outing at Brands Hatch in the October. The car has a tubular chassis and uses torsion bar suspension. This car is one of a batch of 9 built in 1952 and in the September Gerald Smith had two wins on the day at Brands Hatch. Further successes were scored by Ivor Bueb, John Brise and Dennis Taylor.
An Arnott sports coupé with an 1100 c.c. Coventry Climax engine ran at Le Mans in 1957.


Not many will remember the Toj sports racers, the name an acronym for “Team Obermoser Jörg”, which embraced the racing activities of its German leader, a successful supplier of electrical equipment to industry in the 1970s. This is the SC302, built in 1977 and powered by a 3-litre Cosworth DFV motor. That season it gave the Alfa Romeos something to worry about especially when Rolf Stommelen was at the wheel!
TAILPIECE


A brace of 21st century racing Bentleys, the Le Mans Speed 8 and the GT3.

Donington Historic Festival

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The Donington Historic Festival continues to grow in scale and importance, 2017’s version was evidence of that. Our award-winning shutter-meister, Simon Hildrew, was on hand to capture the action for our edification………………

John Brooks, June 2017

Tip of the Hat

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I have the good fortune to edit this irregular website, I have a great bunch of contributors who are all champions in my view. Well, this opinion is shared by others as the work of our master photographer, Simon Hildrew, has been chosen as Sports Picture of the Year, at the National Association of Press Agency Awards.

You can see more HERE

Congratulations from us all, the award is well deserved.

John Brooks, June 2017

Kind of Blue

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Here in the UK we honour those who have achieved something special in many ways, titles, medals, honours, even good old cash and sometimes we put up a Blue Plaque on a building associated with them.

Earlier this year such an honour was bestowed to a school that was built on the former site of John Cobb’s house in Esher, Surrey. John Cobb was one of a band of intrepid British speed merchants whose exploits made them household names in 20’s and 30’s Britain.

Cobb held the Land Speed Record on three occasions and died while trying to add the Water Speed Record to his roll of honour.

On 7th October 1935 he smashed the lap record at Brooklands posting a 143.44 mph average speed round the banked track at Weybridge, driving the fearsome 24-litre Napier Railton. The track closed with the commencement of World War Two in September 1939 and Cobb’s record will stand for all time.

Allan Wynn of  the Brooklands Museum brought out the Napier for a demonstration that enthralled the school kids of all ages who were present on the day.

Amongst the guests of honour was Richard Nobel, the modern day successor to the lineage of Sir Malcolm Campbell, Sir Henry Seagrave and Cobb, who raised the bar to 633.468mph in 1983.

John Brooks, June 2017

View from the Gasworks End

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The 75th Goodwood Members’ Meeting was a perfect example of how to run a classic car event; speed with style, even the chilly weather did not soak us, rare for March down near Chichester.

Taking encouragement from others I broke out the Canon gear and shot for fun, I hope that the results are worth it.

John Brooks, April 2017

The Members Assemble

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The recent 75th Goodwood Members’ Meeting was a timely reminder of the good things about our sport. Great cars driven with verve and élan in front of a knowledgeable and enthusiastic audience, even the Spring weather held up, a great way to kick off another season.

Simon Hildrew was on hand armed with cameras, here is his brilliant catch.

John Brooks, March 2017

Rare and Interesting at the 2017 Rétromobile

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The Special Correspondent has been on his travels, the target in February was the Porte de Versailles and the Rétromobile, that celebration of the automobile that is an unmissable part of classics scene. He brings us a menu of rare and interesting……….


Today hatchbacks are justifiably popular but to the French they are nothing new. Citroën and Peugeot were, for example, making the “commerciales” from the late Twenties onwards. Here we have a 1939 Traction Avant Citroën Commerciale showing off the considerable capacity available.

Jacques Bignan was one of the big names in French motor sport in the Twenties. He made a variety of sporting cars , a 3-litre version winning the 1921 Corsican Grand Prix, a race considered to be the first proper sports car race. This car is a blatant case of badge-engineering – it is a Salmson AL3 with a Bignan radiator! Ever the enthusiast, Bignan spent too much money on racing and his company did not last the decade. However, one of his 2-litre cars won the 1924 Monte Carlo Rally and Jacques himself went on to win the 1928 event in a Fiat 509.

This is a very rare car, in fact the only known survivor. It is a Crossley Bugatti Brescia, part-machined and assembled by Crossley Motors Ltd of Gorton in Manchester.

Bugatti’s factory was in a pretty poor state after the Great War and he licensed out some production of his successful Brescia model to Rheinische Automobilbau AG in Dϋsseldorf in Germany ( the Rabag cars), to Diatto in Italy and to Crossley. Not many were made in England, possibly 24/25. A Diatto-Bugatti led home two O.M.s in a race at Brescia in 1921.

This was a surprise because this unique car has normally resided in the Le Mans Museum. It is the 2-litre class-winning Moynet which ran at Le Mans in 1975 with an all-female crew.

Still at Le Mans but a year later and again a unique car. This Lenham P71 used a 1.8-litre Ford engine but retired just after half-way.

The DB3 was Aston Martin’s first sports racing car. The company was hoping that the Le Mans organisers would soon abandon the prototypes which were introduced after the war as a temporary stand-in and get back to production-based sports cars but the prototypes were too big an attraction, so Aston Martin was obliged to join in!Prof. Eberon von Eberhorst was called in to design the car but its development turned out to be too protracted; furthermore it was late on the scene, it was too heavy and was powered only by Aston’s 2.6-litre engine which was inadequate.

It did take some class wins and won outright the 1952 Goodwood Nine Hour race against works Jaguar C-types but Aston Martin only found real success when “Willie” Watson, on his own initiative, offered the team his much lightened version, the DB3S.

J.A.Prestwich (JAP) was famous for making single and twin-cylinder engines for a wide variety of motorcycles, cyclecars, road cars such as the three-wheeled Morgan, the 500c.c. Formula 3 racing cars and others. In 1908 JAP decided to construct some V8 and V4 engines aimed at the budding aviation industry.
Here we see an overhead valve JAP V8 engine mounted in a pre-WW1 GN wooden chassis. It is the prototype unit and is one of only four known surviving JAP V8s; it has a capacity of 5-litres.
In a more modern context, JAP made the cylinder heads for the Lotus Cortina.

This is a DB Panhard 848c.c. with bodywork in aluminium by the coachbuilder Cottard of Bourg en Bresse. It was lighter than the plastic-bodied cars but only five were constructed, all in 1958. The third car made was destroyed during that year’s Tour de France Automobile at Reims.

A rare sight indeed! We associate the all-conquering 1100c.c. Salmsons of the Twenties with their superb twin-cam engines but before these Emile Petit had devised a clever arrangement whereby his 4-cylinder engine had its valves operated by only four pushrods! The special rockers can be seen.
TAILPIECE

Breguet was well- known as a French aircraft manufacturer from Toulouse and, because of the acute shortage of petrol during the German occupation in World War Two, Louis Breguet joined the ranks of electric car makers.

This is his A2 2-seater coupé with a Paris-Rhône motor mounted at the rear. It had a range of 65 miles, top speed 30 m.p.h.

David Blumlein, March 2017

Drive to Arras

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40th ARRAS BOURSE D’ECHANGES

With the centennial commemorations of the Battle of Arras just three weeks away, the organisers of the city’s annual classic car event must have felt they were fighting a new battle as gale force winds and lashing rain poured down during the run-up. Fortunately the rain at least had abated by the day itself and Club Ravera will have heaved a collective sigh of relief as the 500-space outdoor parking once again filled-up with classics of every sort, whilst indoors the large autojumble thronged with those anxiously seeking that vital component.

Fighting a battle of their own must have been Ray and Kathleen Brogan as they had journeyed over from Kent to display their ex-London County Council 1952 Reliant Regent three-wheeler van. With open sides and a top speed of 40mph it would have been quite a journey – their first problem was convincing Eurotunnel that the vehicle actually existed! They are regular visitors to the show, more usually with a Sunbeam Talbot, but this was the first time with the Reliant.

And they were not the only Brits to take part, with others bringing vehicles ranging from a stunning fabric-bodied Austin Seven saloon to a Ferrari 328 GTS. Morris Minor owners from Kent were also in attendance. They are in the main repeat visitors, knowing that they will get a very warm welcome from the organisers and show visitors alike.

The indoor display represented good variety, ranging from pre-war machinery such as a Chenard Walcker, Panhard and Peugeot, through to familiar cars and ‘bikes from more recent times. There was variety a-plenty too, from a Fiat Dino Spider to a 1941 Gnome-Rhone motor-cycle and sidecar that was used in large numbers on the Russian Front. Many were imaginatively displayed too, such as the Peugeot 404 and caravan in holiday mode. Amongst the clubs, the Matra Simca Rancho owners were celebrating the cars’ 40th anniversary, and in true French style the members were tucking into some very creamy chocolate cake!

Outside there was the inevitable plethora of Citroen 2CV’s and Traction Avante’s, including one rare LHD Slough-assembled 1950 Light 15, one of just 304 built between 1949-54, it was delivered new to Casablanca in 1951. There was even a couple of Lomax’s, one three-wheeled, the other with four wheels. The British-built kit car is based on 2CV components, but now with the relentlessly upward trajectory in 2CV values in recent times it must be becoming increasingly hard to source donor vehicles.

Otherwise there was the full spectrum from rat-look VW 1500 to a superb Aston Martin DB6 that appeared to have travelled a bit. Although French registered, the RHD car bore a Wales badge on the back and a New York City technical inspection sticker on the windscreen.

It was not the only car present to have crossed the Atlantic as Americana was very much in evidence with several Ford Mustang’s, an enormous Buick LeSabre and Chevrolet El Camino pick-up amongst others. The show was stolen late in the day though, by the arrival of a stunning black 1971 Buick Riviera which quickly had the crowds gathering round.

An extremely enjoyable event that not even the weather could spoil; always held on the third Sunday in March, it’s well worth a quick hop across the Channel.

John Elwin March 2017

A Classic at Antwerp

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The 40th Antwerp Classic Salon celebrated Ferrari’s 70th anniversary with a magnificent display of Prancing Horse machinery that included cars with significant history. The selection ranged from a 1947 166 Inter Coupe to an F40, and included a 500 Superfast that had once belonged to Peter Sellers together with a 275 GT Spider, formally the property of Raquel Welch. Those two cars alone could surely tell a few stories! Meanwhile, a 288 GTO was previously owned by Belgian driver Jean Blaton and also father-in-law of one-time Ferrari F1 driver Jacky Ickx. Blaton himself, now aged 87, raced sports cars under the peudonym of “Beurlys”, twice finishing third at Le Mans in a Ferrari.

Ferrari’s long associations with Le Mans was covered by a rarely-seen 512 BB in ‘European University’ colours, as raced at La Sarthe in 1981. The 512 BB was progressively developed by Pozzi and examples appeared at Le Mans over several seasons, starting in 1978 when a car due to be driven by the aformentioned Blaton retired before he got behind the wheel. The car on show at Antwerp (chassis #35525) was entered by Rennod Racing and driven by Belgians Dieudonné, Xhenceval and Libert, finishing ninth overall and third in class. The result was all the more credible as Dieudonné fell ill and only drove for four hours.

Ferrari’s origins were not forgotten either; before building cars in his own right, Enzo Ferrari’s team raced Alfa Romeo’s and on show was a 6C 1750 that Ferrari sold new to Luigi Scarfiotti, the father of later Grand Prix driver Ludovico. The car was entered in the 1930 and ’31 Mille Miglia events under the Scuderia Ferrari banner, finishing in sixth place on the latter event.

More modern Formula 1 activity was covered by an 87/88C that was used by Gerhard Berger en route to third place in the 1988 World Championship, beaten only by the battling duo of Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost.

Antwerp is not primarily about exotica though; whilst there are plenty of other rare and unusual vehicles to be found, it is also an event where more mundane machinery gets a look-in. Thus it was that the concours judges found themselves selecting as ‘Best in Show’ a rather superb Mercedes-Benz 280SE Cabriolet that was actually a hire car! The green machine would make the ideal holiday tourer. The concours classes were split into three ages groups, the earliest being for vehicles from 1885-1995, where first prize was awarded to a Talbot Lago whilst second went to a rather splendid MG TD.

The MG was offered for sale privately by the very engaging Stephan Mackertich, who lives in France, and had taken the MG in part exchange for a Jaguar E-Type. The English owner of the MG had apparently bought it fresh from a superb restoration and having driven it only a few miles decided an E-Type was what he really wanted. By contrast, Mackertich was also showing an unrestored LHD 1952 Morris Minor Convertible that he had brought in from Sri Lanka where it had originally been owned by a diplomat. The green car was well-patinated and the owner was inclined to keep it that way.

Again, in the 1956-1975 class it was the second-place car that had a lot of appeal, being a 1967 Alpine A11 in rarer cabriolet form but in the end it was just pipped by a Borgward. Alpine of course is very much in the news with the launch of the new A110. A Volvo might sound like an unusual choice, but the judges awarded the 1976-1990 class to a Belgian-built 1983 Volvo 240 Turbo that had been superbly restored by its passionate private owner at a cost of some 40,000 euros. The judges felt the fact that this was the work of an enthusiast rather than a restoration company deserved recognition and so it won out over a very low mileage 1988 Morgan +8 that local dealers Oldtimer Farm are selling. Third in that class went to an MVS Venturi Cup, not a marque seen too often at shows.

One hall at Antwerp is devoted to club stands and as ever the range of ingenuity and machinery on display covered the full spectrum, with everything from microcars to the mighty lime green Plymouth Hemicuda that local club Scuderia Antverpia was displaying. British brands were well represented, from Austin-Healey to Rolls Royce, the Healey club showing a rare Rolls-powered car. Aside from the Plymouth, Americana was also prominent, in particular by the Belgian Mustang Club, and from the ’40s & ’50s there was a monster hearse. Closer to home, Minerva was a local manufacturer with a factory not far from Antwerp and, although cars have not been built since the war, there is still a keen following. The factory was requisitioned by the Luftwaffe to use as a repair centre for fighter aircraft during World War Two, so not surprisingly, it was bombed by the Allies. Post war the company did for a time assemble Land Rovers, primarily for military use.

Amongst the rarities to be found was a Brazilian-built Volkswagen SP2. Dating from the mid-seventies it was an attractive sports coupe based on the period VW Variant chassis with a rear-mounted 1700cc flat four air-cooled engine. It was never officially imported into Europe so is quite sought-after. Almost as rare but very much in as-found condition was a Saab 92, whilst a Mercedes 190SL also posed as a barn find. At the opposite end of the scale, with unpainted body panels, was the superb 1934 MG Type P-Q owned by Gaston Lenaerts.

A busy autojumble and private car sale area rounds out the delights of Antwerp Classic Salon, an event which seems to steadily improve year on year. Always held on the first weekend in March, it is well worth a visit.

John Elwin March 2017