Tag Archives: ROFGO Collection

image_pdfimage_print

Excel as Expected

The classic car and historic racing scenes continue to grow like Topsy. Driven by enthusiasm for the past or speculation for the future, or a combination of both. They are like the Terminator, they cannot be stopped or reasoned with. How long this will go on for is anyone’s guess. But for now let’s enjoy the spectacle.

To cater for this wave of nostalgia a number of shows and events have sprung up in recent years. Some disappear almost as soon as they arrive but one or two survive, grow and thrive. A good example of this group is the London Classic Car Show, now with four editions under its belt at the Excel in Docklands.

In a smart strategic move it joined forces with the Historic Motorsport International thus achieving a broad appeal, covering all the bases.

The show is attractive to the dealers as it is in close proximity to London’s financial centre and the timing is optimal, close to bonus time too.

The ROFGO Collection has been one of the most popular features of shows and events over the past decade. In a recent development there has been a merger with the respected classic dealership, Duncan Hamilton. The collection and the business have relocated to Hampshire and are well positioned to be a major player in this market sector. I am hoping to pay a visit in the near future.

Celebrities seem to play an increasing part of the landscape in our daily lives. Some have more validity than others, and into that category would surely fall Sir Winston Churchill.  Widely regarded as the greatest Englishman of the 20th Century, his profile has been lifted by a recent Oscar-winning movie. Churchill was frequently seen in this Daimler DB18 Drophead Coupé during the years from 1944 to 1949 touring the country.

The car is one of just three survivors of the model and features unique bodywork from the Carlton Carriage Company, though the actor is an optional extra – allegedly.

At the 2017 LCCS there was a fabulous display of Ferraris to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of Maranello’s finest, the curation being the work of Joe Macari. For 2018 the theme was less exclusive, being Getaway Cars.  OK the Excel sits somewhere between the ’60s Manors of the Krays and the Richardsons but I cannot be the only one who questioned the taste of this collection. Some of these cars were connected to actual crimes not film or TV make believe.

Perhaps the highlight of this group was the Volvo P1800 that was used in the first series of the British TV show The Saint. Dating back to 1962 this car is highly original, even featuring the number plates used during filming.

The Show was opened by Quentin Wilson and two blokes I had never heard of, celebrity power has its limits.

Mention of Joe Macari brings to mind Ferraris and Maseratis and all manner of Italian exotics but the car that caught my eye on his stand was this 911 GT2. It was dressed up in the livery that it ran at the 1998 Pokka 1000 Kilometres held at Suzuka. It was a familiar sight as Nigel Smith, one of its drivers, was a client back then.

A name from that time that was also a client was Lister. Now under new ownership it launched a new car, the Lister Thunder, at the show. There were claims of 200+mph and 666bhp, certainly it looked muscular, almost on steroids.

Another Jaguar-based special was the elegant XK140 with unique Pinnifarina bodywork, apparently inspired by the legendary Max Hoffman, North American importer of both Volkswagen and BMW during the ’50s and ’60s. Even in such company as this show attracts the XK140 was a standout feature.

Perhaps the biggest star of the show was Nigel Mansell, 1992 Formula One World Champion. He is seen here in conversation with Henry Hope-Frost. Henry was killed in a motoring incident last week, a good man gone way too soon, he will be much missed.

Simon Hildrew was on top form as ever with cameras in hand, so enjoy his stunning work in the following gallery.

John Brooks, March 2018

Blue & Orange

There is an odd feeling evident in London over the past two months. The Olympic Effect, usually heavy on cost and light on return, has changed the way Londoners react to each other, pockets of civility have broken out, a new found confidence in the national identity. Whether this will last is anyone’s guess, perhaps the feelgood atmosphere will fade as the autumn slips into winter. It would be nice to think that the Games really will have a legacy.

As if in harmony with the wider world, on the motoring front it is as if London has taken to impersonating the Monterey Peninsula, during the Pebble Beach Concours week. In the past seven days those of us who are into fine automobiles and the like, have had several birthdays and Christmases all come at once. Kicking off the week was Chelsea Auto Legends, then on Wednesday I toddled over to Syon Park for the 2012 Salon Privé, then the past two days were spent marvelling at the Windsor Castle Concours of Elegance. I defy anyone to match the sheer quality of the cars on show, truly one is fortunate to be in this part of the world right now.

So rich and varied has the content been at the latter two events I consider it almost impossible to produce a single blog post that would do justice to the story. So for the next week or so I will take elements that caught my eye and try and bring them to life for the readers.

In the past two years one of the most significant additions to the historic sportscar scene has been the ROFGO Collection. Put together for a private collector by Duncan Hamilton & Co., the central theme that runs through it is that the cars included were sponsored by Gulf Oil, so plenty of icons to choose from.

The collection was the centrepiece display for the 2012 Salon Privé and certainly did the event and location justice.

Oldest car in the collection is the Mirage M1, winner of the 1967 Spa 1000 Kilometres, a race that put Jacky Ickx on the map and established his reputation for being special in the wet. If your local track is Spa then………………

This Mirage was the first to wear the colours of Blue and Orange, a sponsorship deal that was arranged between team owner John Wyer and Gulf Oil VP and sportscar nut, Grady Davis. The funding enabled John Wyer to form JWAutomotive with John Willment. He then recruited John Horsman, David Yorke and Ermano Cuoghi to create one of motorsport’s legendary outfits.

Next on the lawn was the Mirage BRM M2, not one of the cars to trouble the record books and probably the worst to come out of JWAutomotive. Unreliable and with wayward handling, the scale of disaster was disguised in the wake of the double triumph for the team at Le Mans in 1968 and 1969 utilising the venerable GT40. Porsche were on the horizon with the 917, this canine could be quietly forgotten.

The stuff of legends, a simple recipe. Take the coolest guy on the planet, the coolest car of almost any time, the greatest race of them all, season with an insane Hollywood budget and cook at high pressure for several months, final result is immortality.

“A lot of people go through life doing things badly. Racing’s important to men who do it well. When you’re racing, it… it’s life. Anything that happens before or after… is just waiting.”

Steve McQueen, Gulf Porsche 917 and Le Mans, what more needs to be said?

An unmistakable profile, the Porsche 908/3, a clear signal of Porsche’s determination to pound the opposition into dust. Problems with the 917 at Nürburgring or on the Targa Florio? Well run the 908/3 instead.

JWAutomotive had an involvement with a German manufacturer a whole year before signing their deal with Porsche. They acquired a Mercedes transporter in 1969 and at Salon Privé the ROFGO Collection showed off their restored truck for the first time in public. Speaking with the collection’s chief mechanic, Ted Higgins, we both agreed that it would be very cool to use this to take the cars to the next Le Mans Classic, though whether Ted would play Michael Delaney or Tommy Hopkins, was open to question.

In 1969 Gulf Oil also backed a couple of Formula One teams, so it was no real surprise to find a Brabham BT26 on the lawn.

The other famous association between Gulf Oil and motorsport some 40 years ago was with McLaren, whether in Formula One with the M14A.

Or in Can-Am as illustrated by the M20, truly giants roamed the earth during that brief era……….

Gulf Oil all but disappeared after the take over by Chevron Oil in 1984, but the brand still existed in the UK. A relaunch of the company in 1991 included a plan to tap into the enthusiasm of British Le Mans’ fans. So in 1994 Gulf were back at Le Sarthe.

Not only was Gulf blue back, but so too was 1971 Gulf Porsche 917 driver, Derek Bell. Five time victor at La Sarthe, including in a Gulf Mirage in 1975, Bell was the ideal ambassador for the brand and still quick enough to be second fastest overall in Qualifying. The Kremer K8 was a development of the Porsche 962.

 

The next step was to reunite with the other famous racing marque, McLaren.

In 1995 and 1996, Blue & Orange were reunited on a pair of F1 GTR’s resulting in many race victories and the 1996 BPR Endurance Series titles for Ray Bellm and James Weaver.

1997 saw the launch of the FIA GT Championship, with the Gulf liveried longtail F1 GTRs.

And one of the greatest endurance racers of them all, the Audi R8 also sported Blue & Orange in 2001.

Paul Belmondo brought the colours back to Le Mans in 2006 with his Courage C65.

Since that time another icon of the motoring world, Aston Martin has turned Blue & Orange. A DBR9……………

Then back as a prototype on the Lola Aston Martin LM P1

The ROFGO Collection is fantastic, Automotive art of the highest order. Even more fortunate is the willingness of the owner to share his treasures with the rest of us, not a cheap enterprise. It was a highly polished jewel at the centre of the 2012 Salon Privé, in total harmony with the ethos of the event.

John Brooks, September 2012