Monthly Archives: November 2011

The Edge of the Precipice

1955 Le Mans 24 Hours

16.00 on June 11 1955 and the start of the Le Mans 24 Hours. The leaders, Castellotti and Maglioli in their Ferraris and the Jaguars of Hawthorn and Beauman are already streaking away up towards the Dunlop Bridge. The Mercedes Benz trio, strangely mired in the mid-field battle, struggle to get up to speed. Fangio has not yet got into motion, jumping into his car after the traditional Le Mans Start he managed to get the gear lever stuck up his trouser leg. He got away last.

Two and half hours later after some intense competition between the Jaguar and Mercedes factory teams, disaster struck as Pierre Levegh’s 300SLR collided with the Austin-Healey of Lance Macklin. The car was pitched onto the safety bank and then flew into the crowded terraces. Levegh and 83 spectators were killed and many more were injured, it was the worst accident in motorsport’s history.

The photo, taken from the excellent Mercedes Benz press site, shows just how narrow the track was at that point and how exposed both the spectators and the pits were.

John Brooks, November 2011


Poster Boys

Porsche are not only famous for their excellent cars and ferocious racing teams, they have over the years issued a series of posters that reflect the self image of this premium brand. The message comes across as understated “cool”; it must have been a dream to have Steve McQueen as the poster boy for Porsche.

Enjoy the trip down memory lane.

John Brooks, November, 2011

A Very Classic Car Show

A trip up to the NEC with our Special Correspondent to the Footman James Classic Car Show is an educational experience, one that I would not miss for the world. Here is his look at some of the Rare and Interesting cars that were on show.

Volvo P1800 Aston Martin

In the early 1960s Aston Martin commissioned Tadek Marek to design a smaller version of his 3.7-litre DB4 engine. Rather than create the same engine minus two cylinders, Marek opted to develop a completely new 4-cylinder engine. Three prototypes were built and it was decided to fit one into a  Volvo P1800 as a test bed.


Four Pot Aston

It worked quite well although 30 kgs heavier over the front axle but Aston Martin realised that the engine would be too expensive to produce and the project was abandoned. The Volvo P1800s were assembled initially (1961-1963) by Jensen Motors of West Bromwich as there was insufficient space at that time in Volvo’s Swedish factory.


A to B


We’ve all heard of the Ford Model T, the Tin Lizzie, of which 15 million were made. In 1927 Henry Ford introduced his Model A as a replacement and then in March 1932 he announced his famous flat-head V8 which went on to be produced for the next 21 years.


Four For Ford


So what is a Model B? Basically it is a V8 chassis and body with the Model A 4-cylinder side-valve engine. It had a short production run in its home country, March to September 1932, although the 4-cylinder option remained available for cars and commercials up to 1934 and longer at Dagenham. Ford alone has since made over 100 million V8 engines!


Sud Power


Alfa Romeo was state-owned after 1933 and depended on Government investment to keep going. In the 1930s there was plenty of military work to satisfy Mussolini’s imperialist ambitions and the company’s chief output was lorries and aero engines. After the war Alfa was able to turn to the mass-production of cars for the first time with the excellent 1900 but by the 1980s more investment was needed to replace the marvellous Alfa Sud which had been built in the factory near Naples.


Cherry Picking


In 1984 a stand-by was hurriedly concocted, the Arna. It was a Nissan Cherry body with the front suspension, engine and gearbox of the Alfa Sud transplanted into it. It was assembled in the Naples plant and you could buy either an Alfa Romeo Arna or a Nissan Cherry Europe – apart from the badges they were identical.


Lanchester 14


Frederick Lanchester was one of the world’s outstanding car designers who pioneered so many of the features we take for granted in our cars today. I like to single out his brilliant concept of the “ counter-balance shaft” that designers resort to when they want to smooth out the inbalances inherent in larger capacity four-cylinder engines.

His eponymous firm was taken over by the BSA-Daimler group in 1931 and then some of the cars were little more than badge-engineered Daimlers. However, this process was reversed when the company put the Lanchester 14 on the market in 1951. It was a 2-litre OHV four-cylinder car with, interestingly, independent front suspension by laminated torsion bars. The car spawned in 1953 the six-cylinder 2.5-litre Daimler Conquest and a year later its twin-carburettor version, the Conquest Century.

Quite out of character the Daimler company entered three of the latter for the Touring Car Race at the 1954 Silverstone International Trophy meeting and, thanks to Reg Parnell and George Abecassis, they took the first two places in the 3-litre class; Ken Wharton’s car was unable to avoid a spinning competitor.



Alejandro de Tomaso was an Argentinian racing driver who drove in the 1950s in sports car races with a Maserati and OSCA. Having expressed strong opposition to the Peron régime , he found it expedient to abandon his native country and to settle in Italy whence had come previous generations of his family.

In Modena in 1959 he started up his own company. At first he made some prototypes and single-seater racing cars, the latter mainly for the recently introduced Formula Junior category, and even some cars for the new 1961 1.5-litre Formula One although these generally failed miserably, only achieving finishes in national events such as the 1961 Naples Grand Prix (5th) and the 1963 Rome Grand Prix (4th).

In the meantime he was developing road-going production cars, the first being the Vallelunga in 1963, a mid-engined GT coupé with an aluminium backbone chassis and a Ford Cortina engine, some fifty or so being completed. With an eye on the Shelby Cobra market in the U.S.A. he developed this backbone theme for a bigger car which appeared at the 1966 Turin Motor Show. This was the Mangusta – Italian for mongoose, the only animal that kills cobras! The car had a 4.7-litre Ford V8 with bodies coming from Ghia, styled by Giugiaro. It was rather heavy with 66 per cent of its weight over the rear wheels yet 400 cars were made up to 1971. It was  succeeded by the more successful Pantera, a steel monocoque design which had the benefit of much Ford investment.


Sole Survivor

Coventry-Victor was an engineering firm that specialised in supplying small capacity flat-twin side-valve engines to other manufacturers. In 1926 it produced its own three-wheeled car with a chain-driven rear wheel and in 1932 this was up-graded using more luxurious bodywork designed by C.F.Beauvais who was responsible for styling the Avon-bodied Standards, Singers and Crossleys of the Thirties.

In 1949 Coventry-Victor decided to build a four-wheeler and constructed six prototypes, four saloons and two open-bodied, which were code-named Venus. These had 747 c.c. flat-four engines mounted forward but driving the rear wheels.The car on show appears to be the sole survivor of this abandoned project as all were ordered to be cut up. It has been residing in the Coventry Transport Museum’s reserve collection and it is a pleasant surprise for it to be seen on public display at last!



This is the last of Vincenzo Lancia’s masterpieces and it went into production in February 1937, sadly the month of the company founder’s premature death. Lancia had a deserved reputation for producing well-engineered and technically innovative cars and the Aprilia carries on Lancia’s enviable tradition.

At the start of the Thirties Lancia realised the need to produce smaller-engined cars to appeal to a much wider segment of Italian society and the 2-litre Artena and the 1.2-litre Augusta were launched, two excellent cars. The Aprilia was conceived to take over from them. It possessed a pillarless monocoque saloon body with “fast-back” styling at the rear, the whole yielding an admirable (for the time) co-efficient of drag of just .047. It was powered by a typically Lancia V4 engine but this time it was a fresh design with hemispherical combustion chambers and had a capacity of 1.3-litres at first growing two years later to 1.49. Front suspension was Lancia’s independent sliding pillar arrangement from the Lambda but at the rear was a completely new independent design utilising a transverse leaf spring and torsion bars while the rear brakes were mounted inboard.

Such an exciting specification lent itself to sporting achievements – for example, Luigi Villoresi used a special Zagato-bodied Spyder version to win its class in the 1938 Mille Miglia and normal production saloons were still winning their class in the Mille Miglia as late as 1951 and 1952 .The Aprilia’s eventual successor, the Vittorio Jano-designed Aurelia, can be seen in the background – this was another masterpiece!

What do these following two cars have in common?







Standard Issue

Answer: they both use chassis and mechanicals supplied by the Standard Motor Company.

The SS1, the forerunner of the line of Jaguars, used the Standard 16 side-valve engine and chassis; the Railton Ten had an unmodified 1938 Standard 10 chassis!

David Blumlein, November 2011

Day For Night

November is supposed to be like February, a time where little goes on in the motorsport world, a time when those of us who charge around during Spring, Summer and Autumn can catch our breath.

Let’s Go For A Nice Spin In The Country

But as Burns would have it:

“The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men,

Gang aft agley,

An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,

For promis’d joy!

Sign Language

So this year against the run of form, it is frenetic, with PR releases and potential projects flying in from all sides. I should complain.

Lotus Blossom

Poor old DDC has been a bit neglected of late so here is a first look back to an Indian Summer. For a multitude of reasons I was not able to make the annual hike over to Atlanta and Petit Le Mans.

I Pad?

So what could I do with the free weekend? It was suggested that I try the BritCar 24, held at Silverstone. A 24 Hour club race round Silverstone, doesn’t sound that appealing.

Not Mellow Yellow

Shows how wrong I could be, it was great. OK it was not Le Mans and never could be, given the vast gulf in budgets and tradition. However it had the same essential DNA, the struggle to maintain speed and reliability over the length of a whole day. Les Vingt-Quatre Heures du Mans back in the 20’s to the 70’s would have looked very familiar territory for the 2011 BritCar 24 field. Not sure I can imagine Bob Berridge as one of the Bentley Boys but the qualities required to race through the night in what are largely road based cars would be the same.

Sunshine Special

I have to admit that the weather helped, warmer and less humid than Road Atlanta, Silverstone at its best. Had I turned up a year previously I might not have been so favourably disposed…23 hours of rain, yuk.

The Lord Chamberlain

The pitlane was full of familiar faces, some almost pleased to see me. I am not sure if it is in the FIA regulations but no 24 Hour race seems complete without Hugh Chamberlain, though he does assure me that he did not attend the 1923 Le Mans.

Fly Like An Eagle

Competitive, yet cordial would be my assessment of the grid, this was meant to seriously enjoyed.

The Short Clan

The press, such as we were, got first class treatment from Steve Wood and his team, keeping us well supplied in updates and coffee.

Star Light

My final conclusion? Rather pleased I went and if the mad schedule of the 2012 FIA World Endurance Championship does not drag me off to cover the Six Hours of Uranus or some similar God forsaken place, I’ll be back. You should go too, it gets you back to your roots.

John Brooks, November 2011







Double Dutch


Some stories are worth repeating, so this tale of laughter is certainly qualified in that respect. Over 8 years ago I ended up in a hotel bar with Toine and Mike Hezemans…………….

Spa 24 Winner

After another lashing of Schwien-something or other at the dining table, Cotton, Lister and I drifted past, and then back into, the hotel bar.  We stumbled upon Mike and Toine Hezemans.  Mike is one of the ballsiest drivers in the FIA GT championship, brave to the point of lunacy, commitment being his middle name and also bloody quick.

None of that should come as a surprise to anyone lucky enough to find themselves enjoying a convivial beer or three with his father, Toine. That particular strain of DNA is rare indeed, probably just as well, too much of this concentrated brew would be dangerous………but what the hell?  You only live once.

950 Kilometres of Brands Hatch?
Toine is a larger than life figure in every respect…….as a driver he competed at the highest levels, a multiple champion in sportscars and touring cars. These days as a team owner and manager, he has a reputation for an uncompromising approach. I recalled the first time we had met several years back, oddly enough in another hotel bar in Germany.

My first sportscar race was the 1971 1000Kms of Brands Hatch…….I reminded him of this big moment in my life and his reaction was the same that night as it was at this weekend………
”F##king race, two laps up in the lead and 50kms to go the f**king engine let go”.
Nice to get a consistent view of history. Time certainly is a healer.

Carlo Chiti

Toine was a driver with the Alfa Romeo factory in the late 60’s and early 70’s, a time he recalls with great affection. Although Alfa had a reputation for being a touch chaotic, their approach to testing the touring car programme was more akin to F1 in the modern era, than those freewheeling times.
”We spent a month at Balocco with ten cars, when one broke it would be taken away and another sent out……that way we discovered all the problems and fixed them before the racing began. The title was easy then.”

Alfa Romeo’s competitions department, Autodelta, was run then by the imposing figure of Carlo Chiti…….a man of constant invention and tinkering.
”Chiti was always coming up with something new……sometimes copying shamelessly from others………I was at the factory with Masten Gregory and the boss was very keen to show his new design for a tyre jack…………..very similar to Jim Hall’s Chaparral jack……….but this of course was made of titanium as Alfa had a special forge that had been put in at great expense, so it had to be used at every opportunity.”
”So Chiti was showing off in front of us drivers and put the jack under one of the racecars for a demonstration…….gave a mighty pull and promptly broke the lightweight handle in two and ended up flat on his back. He did not see the funny side, so us roaring our heads off and crying with tears of laughter did not go down well.”

”It was sometimes fantastic to be a works Alfa driver. I was leading the Targa Florio in 1971 (with local hero Nino Vaccarella) and somehow fell off the road on the last lap, within a minute two hundred locals had carried the car back to the tarmac and off I went again.”

Don’t Try This At Home, Kids

”Vic Elford in the leading Porsche had a puncture during the race and while he was round the front of the car some of our fans stole the jack and wheel nuts from the back of the vehicle. They really wanted us to win.”
Nonsense, I said, that just shows the native cunning and good sense of the Sicilians, Porsche spares were always worth more then Alfa bits.

Always good value too is Toine.

John Brooks, November 2011

Where Have All The Windshields Gone?

Good Seats Still Available

They say the devil is in the details. If so, the Rolex Sports Car Series, NASCAR’s venture into the world of road racing, is indeed bedeviled by them. Or, perhaps it would be better to say by one of them. That particular pesky detail is the appearance of the championship’s Daytona Prototypes. A sports racer which many feel could well be at home as part of New York City’s taxicab fleet.

Eye of the Beholder

While not exactly ugly in the ultimate sense, their prosaic appearance does run counter to the traditional  prototype’s role of being the ultimate in automotive technology,- of providing the fan with the notion that he or she has witnessed their “dream” racer in the flesh. And, while those thoughts  can be attached to such cars as Mark Donohue’s more than 1000 horsepower Can-Am 917/30, or today’s 200 plus mile-an-hour Audi and Peugeot turbo diesel coupes, there is no such connection with the Rolex DP set.

The Right Crowd?

Rather the Daytona Prototypes, up top now at least, have been somewhat squashed versions of NASCAR’s American-bred Cup series stockers. Unfortunately, this has been bad news for a series that otherwise is more than good. Consider for a moment that the equality of the competition over the years has to so close that at the recent Rolex 24 Hour season openers the difference between first and second has more often than not been measured in just a few seconds – this after a full day of competition.


Style Is Timeless

In fact the equality of performance is a hallmark of the NASCAR owned tour, as is the quality of the drivers. But, in the end, like the late comedian Rodney Dangerfield, the Rolex has gotten no respect. And why? Because of the appearance of the Daytona Prototypes. Now, however, the Rolex folks are unveiling the revised Daytona Prototype which features more traditional, and better looking cabs, especially in terms of the widths of their original overly wide windscreens.

Journey's End

These new cars while a great improvement over their predecessors, are, unfortunately, still a long way from being the sleek NASA-like machines road racing’s audience has come to expect. And, it is this which leads us to the question of whether or not they’ll be enough to change the so-far lackluster opinion so many have of the Rolex series.

Fear And Loathing?

Perhaps, though, an even more important question is, “does anybody at NASCAR really care?” For all the talk about promoting the championship, there are some who believe that its main purpose in life is to coral the pool of “gentlemen” racers that have been the foundation of the sport for the better part of a century. Thus denying their presence to the American Le Mans Series, which until the addition of its spec Le Mans Prototype and all Porsche GTC production categories, had suffered from chronically small fields.

GT Charge

Regardless of the truth of that position, the fact remains that in terms of the “show” the Rolex has been on par, and sometimes better than that put on by the ALMS. Yet, the fact that it has been less than a hit with the fans has all come down to appearances, rather than substance. Obviously the “Second Gen” Daytona Prototypes are meant to change that. Will they? For that we’ll have to wait and see. Either way, as so many have found out; in today’s “five second sound bite world” appearances do count.

Bill Oursler, November 2011

Show Time

The 2011 Footman James Classic Motor Show is taking place this weekend. Unfortunately it is at the NEC, Birmingham. But more on that in a minute.

The show has expanded since last year and features many interesting, and in some cases, unique cars. This Volvo P1800 with a 2.5 litre, 4 cylinder Aston Martin engine is a good example of the gems on display.

Another one off is the only surviving Coventry Victor Venus dating back to 1949. It is a mystery as to how it is still around, given that the factory ordered all 6 prototypes to be destroyed.

Sometime in the near future our Special Correspondent will have a detailed look at a few of these gems, till then you will have to live with this gallery.

One thing that really does need to be done is for the Health & Safety Executive to prosecute the management of the NEC for the appalling lighting in the halls. Those condemned to labour on the stands for three days are in severe danger of getting Seasonal Affective Disorder. I cannot imagine that the hire of the NEC is cheap, so why proper illumination is not provided is beyond me.

One bright light at the Show is the enthusiasm and deep knowledge of the members of the various car clubs. Their dedication keeps long departed brands like Hillman and Humber alive. Long may that continue.

So, if you get a chance in 2012, go to the show, it is full of treasures and rarities.

John Brooks, November 2011

1962 Tojeiro-Ecosse Coupé

In 1962 Ecurie Ecosse commissioned John Tojeiro to design and construct two Prototype GT cars for the team to race at that year’s Le Mans. The cars had multi-tubular space frames, independent coil suspension and bodies designed by the artist Cavendish Morton who had already done some work for Tojeiro, particularly the special A.C. Tojeiro for Le Mans in 1958.
These Ecosse cars became the first British mid-engined GT coupés, pre-dating the Lola GT. The first car just made it to the start of the Le Mans race with a 2.5-litre Coventry Climax engine but it retired after eight hours with the Cooper-Knight gearbox locked in two gears at once.

This is the second car, chassis TAD-5-62, which went to Le Mans purely as a source of spares and for the 1963 season was equipped with one of the lightweight aluminium Buick V8 3.5-litre engines that were just ceasing production for the Buick Special; this was coupled to a Chevrolet Corvair gearbox.
It had a “Kamm” tail and smoother roof-line and was re-numbered TAD-1-63. Its first appearance was at Silverstone in May where Douglas Graham practised but non-started owing to an oil-pipe breaking on the grid. However it took its first win at the end of June in Jackie Stewart’s hands at Charterhall. In the meantime the first car also acquired a Buick engine.
In 1964 the second car was re-engined, this time with a Shelby Cobra Ford V8 and was now numbered TAD-1-64. It was ready for Silverstone in May and Stewart finished sixth in the sports car race (race no. 50). He also finished eighth in the sports car race supporting the Grand Prix meeting at Brands Hatch and John Coundley had a win with it at the end of September at the Kentish circuit. However, the cars were not fast enough to compete in the sprint races and not reliable enough for endurance races.

In 1965 they continued to run in suitable national events – for example ,rally driver Andrew Cowan had a win with the Ford-engined second car at the B.A.R.C. Silverstone GT race at the end of June.

In 1966 the first car was sold off to Canada and the spare Buick race engine went to Rover as that company was developing its own production version which became the famous Rover V8. The second car was retained and converted into an open sports car although the roof section was preserved. Unfortunately Bill Stein had a most horrific accident at the Grand Prix meeting at Brands Hatch – he came off at high speed at Paddock Bend and hit the earth bank whereupon the car jack-knifed itself into total destruction; Stein was very lucky to survive despite multiple injuries.
Eventually this second car was re-built by Jim Tester using a new chassis which was fitted with the original roof; it later became the property of Tom McWhirter.




David Blumlein, November 2011

Open Day at Fiskens – Fine Historic Automobiles

Central London to the West of Hyde Park is place of museums and mews. Tucked into one such development, just around the corner from Gloucester Road Tube, is Fiskens, well known, and well respected, dealers in classic cars. Actually they are the antithesis of “car  dealers”; I am old enough to have worked in London when Warren Street was the centre of rough and ready car dealing, Fiskens is nothing like that, nor is their stock. Gregor Fisken, Le Patron, is well known in motorsport circles, whether for his British GT campaigns or his results at Le Mans. He is also known as a “goto” guy when it comes to acquiring rare and classic automobiles.

So when the invite to pop into Town have a look around their small, but select, showrooms at an Open Day hit the mailbox, it seemed a good excuse to have a look at some great cars. I accepted with alacrity. The cars did not disappoint, there was even an old friend on display but more of that in a minute.

The mid 70’s Group 4 & 5 regulations produced some crazy concepts, none more so the Porsche 935-78 aka Moby Dick. The Italians were not going to be left out of the party and lurking near the back of one of the rooms was a bright yellow De Thomaso Pantera in full Group 5 spec.
As the description goes:
Chassis 02343 was sold new to the Italian Vincenzo ‘Pooky’ Cazzago, Italy who had it prepared by Scuderia Brescia Corse. Under his name, the Pantera was then entered at the following races:
April 1972 – Montlhéry – Cazzago – 13th overall

April 1972 – Monza 1000km – Cazzago/Casoni – 5th overall, 1st in class

June 1972 – 24 hours of Le Mans – Cazzago/Casoni/Pasolini/Moretti – DNQ

June 1972 – Monza Coppa Gran Turismo Speciale – Cazzago – 1st overall

Sept 1972 – Monza Coppa Intereuropa – Cazzago – 6th overall
After the 1972 season 02343 was sold to Gianpiero Moretti for the Momo Racing Team to use. Moretti raced 02343 throughout the 1973 and 1974 seasons, mainly at Italian races.
In 1975, the Pantera was acquired by Ruggero Parpinelli who at the end of the season had it converted to Group 5 specification by Achilli. In this new specification Parpinelli raced at the 1976 Giro d’Italia, where he retired with technical problems.

A really nice car, might be fun to take on the Tour Auto.

A world away from the boxy Pantera was a 1928 Bentley 4.5 litre but in its day it was an even more effective (and successful) racer.  Woolf Bernato and Bernard Rubin won the Le Mans 24 Hours in 1928 driving a Bentley 4,5 litre and the following year examples finished 2-3-4. So purchasing this car would have been the equivalent of nipping down to the Audi showroom and picking up an R18, perhaps the Bentley would be a better bet for a trip to Waitrose to shop for a few essentials.

The cachet of the “Bentley Boys” still exists today and this elegant tourer is physical manifestation of that.

This example was ordered through Jack Barclays by first owner John Mavrogordato, chassis HF 3195 passed its final factory test on 14th March 1928. Originally supplied with a long bonnet and staggered screen, Bentley records show that the radiator was chromed and Lucas P100 headlights fitted in late 1929. It is largely unchanged since its return to the factory in 1929.
A beautiful example of a pre-war classic that still look just right some 80 years on.

Another very interesting car was the Ecurie Ecosse Tojeiro Ford, one of the first mid-engined GTs, our Special Correspondent will be having a look at this in more detail tomorrow.

A truly British classic of the early 1920s is this Vauxhall 30/98.


The Laurence Pomeroy designed Vauxhall 30/98, considered by many to be one of the finest engineered  British sporting cars of the Vintage period, had its heart in the 4.5 litre, four-cylinder side-valve engine that was mounted in a conventional but lightweight chassis. As with ‘OE56’, many were fitted with factory built four-seat Velox tourer coachwork which was relatively light, giving a formidable power to weight ratio for its time. A fully road-equipped 30/98 was capable of around 85mph, and when stripped for racing the company guaranteed a top-speed in excess of 100mph for the later overhead valve models, a capability that was often demonstrated in period at Brooklands.

Of the total production numbered at 312 cars, a large proportion were exported to Australia, and we understand ‘OE56’ to be one these. The earliest known owners of ‘OE56’ were the McSweeney family of Canowindra New South Wales, who owned it from 1945 to 1955 when it passed to Barry Ford. Its next owner, Norm Joseph, sold the Vauxhall to Jim Cuthbert in 1958 and Jim in turn passed it on to Barry Burnett in 1961. The Rainsford family acquired the car from Barry in 1968 and retained it until earlier this year.
Having spent all of its life in Australia under the ownership of true enthusiasts, this splendid early ‘OE’ has retained all of its original features. Finished in Royal Blue with matching leather interior, ‘OE56’ represents a wonderful opportunity to acquire a handsome example of what is considered by many knowledgeable enthusiasts to be one of the finest British sporting cars of the Vintage period.

What collection of classic cars would be complete without a Ferrari? So the bright red example of a 1965 Ferrari 275 GTB/C Competition sitting under the Fiskens’ logo was most appropriate.


The latest arrival in our London showrooms is one of the rare and highly sought after 275 GTB/C Competition models built by the Ferrari factory for the 1965 season. Although these competition cars looked similar to the road cars, from nose to tail, the differences were significant. They featured ultra lightweight aluminium bodies, six carburettors on a full competition engine along with other details such as outside fuel fillers as well as extra body louvers. Beautifully presented in Rosso Corsa and prepared, regardless of cost, to be a front running circuit racer that is still at home on the road, this 275 GTB/C has successfully participated in all the major events including Goodwood and Le Mans Classic.

From an Italian classic to a British one, arguably one of the most elegant cars ever built, a 1956 Aston Martin DB3S, utterly desirable and, for me, totally unaffordable, still we can all dream………..


Only 11 factory team cars were built for competition use with chassis 11 being the last built by the competition department. Not content with racing a production DB3S and desperate to acquire a works car, it was supplied to the up and coming young American Rod Carveth, who used his friendship with the legendary team manager John Wyer to secure chassis 11. Carveth himself flew to England and stayed at the works in Feltham for two weeks to ‘help’ with the assembly of his new race car. It was painted black and delivered to him in California in mid-August 1957 with his first event at Elkhart Lake in September, sharing the driving with previous Watkins Glen winner George Constantine.

Carveth raced extensively throughout the rest of the season at Watkins Glen, Bridgehampton, Palm Springs and Laguna Seca before sustaining an accident at Nassau when 3S/11 was sent back to the factory for repair.
He continued to race in 1958 and in the Autumn of 1959 took the car to Australia, competing at Bathurst, Orange, Fisherman’s Bend and Mount Panorama scoring an outright victory and four class wins! On his return to California, the Aston was sold to Ed Leslie and Rod purchased the ex-works Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa, chassis 0666 TR to continue his racing exploits.

All of which sportscar magic leavesto the last my personal favourite and old acquaintance, a Jaguar XJR-9. My first major sponsor photo contract was with Castrol in 1988, so I would have followed this example, chassis 688, around in those years.
Chassis J12-C-688 was one of the famous Silk Cut Group C Jaguar XJR 9’s of the 1988 season, the sixth and final XJR 9 built by TWR. It was raced in all but one of its six races during that 1988 season by the impressive paring of ex-Formula One ace Jan Lammers and the talented young Scottish driver Johnny Dumfries. The best result of the season came when Martin Brundle joined Lammers to come second overall  at the Spa 1000 Km’s. J12-C-688 competed in a further four races in the 1989 season, most notably at Le Mans with drivers John Nielsen, Andy Wallace and Price Cobb, who qualified it 8th, sadly retiring due to a failed head gasket.

One of the most recognisable and iconic racing cars of the 1980s, this Silk Cut Group C Jaguar  XJR 9 formed part of a racing programme that took Jaguar back to the forefront of motor racing. Chassis J12-C-688, especially with its 2nd place finish at Spa, was an instrumental part of Jaguar’s World Sportscar Championship victories of 1988 and played a central role in reinstating Jaguar as a motorsport leading manufacturer.

10/07/88 – Bruno 360 Kilometres – 3rd – Jan Lammers, Johnny Dumfries

24/07/88 – Brands Hatch 1000 Kilometres – DNF – Jan Lammers, Johnny Dumfries

04/09/88 – Nürburgring  1000 Kilometres – 8th – Jan Lammers, Johnny Dumfries

19/09/88 – Spa 1000 Kilometres – 2nd – Jan Lammers, Martin Brundle

09/10/88 – Fuji 1000 Kilometres – DNF – Jan Lammers, Johnny Dumfries

20/11/88 – Sandown 360 Kilometres – 4th – Jan Lammers, Johnny Dumfries

21/05/89 –Dijon – DNF – John Nielsen, Andy Wallace

11/06/89 – Le Mans – DNF – John Nielsen, Andy Wallace, Price Cobb

25/06/89 – Jarama – 6th – John Nielsen, Andy Wallace

23/07/89 – Brands Hatch – DNF – John Nielsen, Andy Wallace

An excellent way to spend a few hours, considering what amounts to automotive art of the highest level, so thanks, Gregor, for the opportunity.

John Brooks, November 2011