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MERCEDES W196 LOTUS CORTINA MERC A Full story sto of Fangio’s lost racer
Reunited with Sir John Whitmore ore
£4.70 | ISSUE 120 JUNE 2013
C L A S S I C
P E R F O R M A N C E
C A R S
GTO VS F1 Will the McLaren ever replace the Ferrari as the ultimate classic? The experts decide
JAGUAR F-TYPE FIRST DRIVE
Jabbeke, Norman Dewis and the E-type successor
WHY WE LOVE THE SOUND OF ENGINES The science behind our aural satisfaction
PRE-WAR ASTON MARTIN
GINETTA’S IVOR WALKLETT
Bonhams is delighted to announce that its Goodwood Festival of Speed Sale will feature perhaps the most important Historic racing car ever to be entered for public auction – one of the hallowed Mercedes-Benz factory team’s Grand Prix contenders tailor-made to contest the first truly-postwar Formula 1 World Championship race series in 1954.
For further enquiries please contact:
UK +44 (0) 20 7468 5801 [email protected]
Chassis number ‘00006/54’ – is the actual racing car in which Juan Manuel Fangio promptly dominated the punishing 501km (311-mile) German Grand Prix, to win in 3hrs 45mins 45.8secs.
Further entries invited
Europe +32 (0) 476 879 471 [email protected]
USA +1 415 391 4000 [email protected]
The ex-Works/Juan Manuel Fangio German and Swiss Grands Prix-winning 1954 2½-litre Mercedes-Benz W196 Formula 1 Grand-Prix Single-Seater Chassis No. 00006/54
Photo: “The Spitzley/Monkhouse Collection”
Friday 12 July 2013
International Auctioneers and Valuers – bonhams.com/cars
REGISTER TO BID TODAY
above 1953 Ferrari 340/375 MM Berlinetta ‘CoMpetizione’ Coachwork by Pinin Farina; Chassis no. 0320AM opposite main 1965 Ferrari 275 GtS Coachwork by Pininfarina; Chassis no. 07189 Left 1967 laMBorGhini Miura p400 Chassis no. 3087 right top 1962 MerCedeS-Benz 300Sl roadSter Chassis no. 198.042.10.003044 right bottom 1947 CiSitalia 202 SMM ‘nuvolari’ Spyder Coachwork by Carrozzeria Garella; Chassis no. 002S MM; 1947 Mille Miglia Works team entry
VILLA ERBA 25 MAY 2013 LAKE COMO, ITALY
UK +44 (0) 20 7851 7070
GERMANY +49 (0) 40 441 95 737
CANADA +1 519 352 4575
1949 Daimler DB18 Drophead Coupé Coachwork by Barker & Co £20,000 - 30,000 No reserve
Collectors’ Motor Cars Motorcycles & Automobilia
In Association with The VMCC Banbury Run Woodstock, Oxford Saturday 15 June 2013 Entries now invited Bonhams Oxford regional sale rooms are the perfect location for a motoring sale, with all the in-house facilities you would expect from a fully operational auction house. On-site catering will be available all weekend.
Motor Cars +44 (0) 20 7468 5801 [email protected]
Automobilia +44 (0) 8700 273 617 [email protected]
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Catalogue +44 (0) 1666 502 200 [email protected]
International Auctioneers and Valuers - bonhams.com/cars
Contents JUNE 2013 // ISSUE 120
Features 56 ferrari 250Gto and mlaren f1 Three decades apart yet still ultimates in their own right: but can the F1 take a tilt at the GTO’s connoisseur crown? Cover story
74 fanGio’s mercedes W196 Hero worship: Doug Nye on the full story of Fangio’s lost racer 88 …and fanGio himself A five-times World Champion, yet all the other drivers loved him 90 jaGuar f-type New sports car tested – with the legendary Norman Dewis 102 aston martin international Driving a pre-war tourer that wears its history on its sleeve 112 the music of enGines Why are we moved by an engine’s voice? Here’s a music lesson
116 rolls-royces on shoW BMW’s Rolls-Royce exhibition celebrates ten years of ownership 122 the octane intervieW: ivor Walklett Mr Ginetta also happens to be Britain’s most prolific car designer 128 volksWaGen Xl1 A fuel-miser extraordinaire, this is VW’s alternative hypercar
136 artist: adrian GodinG A view of the classic-car world through stained glass 140 eX-Whitmore lotus cortina On track in the 1960s’ most original surviving racing saloon
aston martin international
‘The sweet-revving 1500 is just itching to show what it’s capable of’ O C T A N E j u n e 2 013 7
CONTENTS JUNE 2013 // ISSUE 120
REGULARS 14 NEWS AND EVENTS Goodwood revs up; Essen winds down
32 NEW CAR NEWS Hot-hatch wars and Caterham 7 revived 38 DIARY Book now for Le Jog, plus other essential dates 40 LETTERS Dron’s days in Dolomites stir some memories 43 JAY LENO Not all Jay’s favourite cars are iconic 45 DEREK BELL The East takes over where the West le oﬀ 47 STEPHEN BAYLEY Oriﬁces: the aesthetic debate starts here
49 ROBERT COUCHER Sobering thought for those who drink and drive 50 GEARBOX Restorer and historic racer Tony Merrick 53 PASSED IT! TONY DRON A smashing time in Touring Car racing
54 SUBSCRIBE! Octane for less – plus FREE Felix Petrol mug 152 GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN Ian Fleming, the man who made old Astons pricey 154 ICON Kalakala car ferry; more streamliner than liner
156 WATCH Vacheron Constantin reissues a classic 158 AUTOMOBILIA Collectables so cool they could kill you 162 PRODUCTS, BOOKS, MODELS An easy way to become much poorer 168 OCTANE CARS Editor’s Citroën SM limps towards mobility 172 CHEQUERED FLAG Motor sport news and analysis 179 THE MARKET News on auction and dealer sales 266 DAY IN THE LIFE The rallying Whyte sisters 8 J U N E 2 013 O C T A N E
WHO TO CONTACT
The world’s most desirable cars DOES IT MAKE SENSE to compare a 1960s Ferrari 250GTO with a 1990s McLaren F1? Probably not – at least not if it’s a direct comparison. But if you view the F1 as the modern-day GTO in terms of desirability, competition history, ethos and even dimensions, then suddenly there’s a fascinating case for comparison. Luckily for us all, renowned motor sport historian Doug Nye has long seen the link, and has driven both 250GTO and F1 on many occasions (as well as writing comprehensive books on both competition Ferraris and the development of the F1). His feature comparing the two cars makes for fascinating reading. To back up Doug’s piece, equally renowned racer-journalist Mark Hales, who has raced 250GTOs and tested F1s, explains how the two feel to drive on the limit. It would be hard to think of two writers better qualiﬁed to write this feature. While we’re on the subject of the most desirable machinery, we also have the full story on one of the most important racing cars to come onto the market for decades: the ex-Fangio Mercedes-Benz W196, expected to fetch £10 million at Bonhams’ Festival of Speed sale later this year. Octane was the only magazine granted full photographic access to the car. The feature starts on page 74. One last thing. We’re coming up for our tenth anniversary, and to celebrate, Octane columnists past and present Sir Stirling Moss, Rowan Atkinson and Nick Mason (plus Jay Leno on videolink) will be coming together for a readers’ evening at the Royal Automobile Club on 29 May. Want to come along? More details on page 48.
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10 J U N E 2 013 O C T A N E
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j Ten years of Octane j Alfa Romeo 1900 Zagato j On track in Gerry Marshall’s Old Nail Firenza j ‘New’ Stratos j Mercedes 280SL vs 3.5 Cabriolet j Team manager Stuart Turner’s ten greatest drivers (Contents may be subject to change)
12 j u n e 2 013 O C T A N E
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IGNITION NEWS // EvENtS // NEW carS // DIary
Mini Cowley factory hits its 100th p18
lA jOllA CONCOurs Pacific petrolhead gathering p26
hOT hATCh wArs pt2 Peugeot vs Renault vs Ford: again p32
Goodwood plans 20th Festival Lord March reveals his plans for the 2013 Festival of Speed and Revival Meeting Words and photography Steve Havelock
Goodwood has announced the details of this year’s Festival of Speed and Revival Meeting, with a preview event packed with star cars, bikes, collectors (including DJ Chris Evans and chef James Martin, drivers (note Jochen Mass photographing the cake, above) and glamorous girls. With the Festival of Speed celebrating its 20th anniversary, Lord March announced that this year’s event would be a reflection on the highlights and key moments from those last two decades. ‘When we were putting the 20th anniversary book together,’ he said, ‘I looked at all the cars, the drivers, the bikes and the riders that have been here over the last 20 years and I realised that this little piece of ground here, the 200 acres in front of the house, has played host to more of the greatest cars and drivers in the world than anywhere else. ‘All those cars I dreamt of as a child have been here and taken part in this event. In that first year we attracted something like 25,000 people. The event now attracts well over 185,000 people and
is the biggest car event of its type in the world.’ One of the many cars expected to return to the Festival in celebration of the 20th anniversary will be Bob Riggle’s ‘Hemi Under Glass’, the spectacular Plymouth Barracuda wheelie car that thrilled the crowds and set fire to the straw bales on its last appearance at Goodwood. The famous sculpture in front of the house will mark another big birthday: the 50th anniversary of the Porsche 911. Meanwhile a crop of other anniversaries that will be celebrated includes 90 years of Le Mans, 60 years of the World Sportscar
‘This little piece of ground here has played host to more of the greatest cars and drivers in the world than anywhere else’
Championship, 50 years of McLaren, Lamborghini, the Mini-Cooper S and the Ford Lotus Cortina, and 40 years of the World Rally Championship. Also expect to see the cream of the current Formula 1 teams, the best of the Cartier Style et Luxe, exciting rally cars in action at the top of the hill, World Land Speed Record cars, NASCARs, stunt riding, live bands, air displays and much, much more. It promises to exceed even past form. The Revival Meeting at the historic motor circuit will feature an all-Ford GT40 race and, in the RAC TT, a number of Ferrari 250LM prototypes, both models celebrating their half-century. There will be a tribute to Jim Clark on the 50th anniversary of his first World Championship and special activities to mark 100 years of the Tour de France cycle race. The Festival of Speed takes place on 12-14 July (with the Moving Motor Show starting on 11 July) and the Revival on 13-15 September. Meanwhile, for the surprise hit of the preview day, turn the page… //www.goodwood.com/motorsport O C T A N E j u n e 2 01 3 15
IgnItIon // NEWS
Van power commissioned
Looks like any Transit but is, in fact, Jaguar XJ220-powered. And it’s done Goodwood… Words John Simister Photos John Colley & John Simister
The marshals were sceptical, and directed the ageing white Ford Transit behind Goodwood House where the maintenance vehicles are supposed to go. ‘No, no, we’re in the event,’ insisted the Transit’s occupants, despite the wording on the van’s sides. Really? How so? The wheels and the exhaust pipes give the clues. The tyres are unexpectedly low in profile and, especially at the back, rather wide. Owner Don Law invites me inside, to join him and racing driver Gareth Lloyd (right) for the press day run up the Goodwood hill. Don’s son Justin, multiple historic race-winner, is otherwise engaged driving the Law family’s Jaguar XJR8. Seeing Don makes me realise what this Transit actually is, because I saw it a few years ago at his establishment where several Jaguar XJ220s are usually being improved. Yes, it’s that unexpected variant, the Transit 220. ‘Years ago, Tom Walkinshaw told me he had a Transit with an XJ220 engine in the back,’ Don tells me. ‘He asked if I’d like to buy it. I thought he meant the engine was sitting in a crate or something, but it
‘Six hundred twin-turbo bhp pour into the rear tyres, which light up obligingly’ was fully installed complete with transmission and rear suspension. It was a development mule, the ultimate diguise. ‘Walkinshaw made me sign a document to say I’d scrap the van after I’d taken the engine out, but I couldn’t bear to do it. Then TWR went bankrupt so it didn’t matter. Now we use it on the road. Justin and I play in a band, and once we blew off an Impreza Turbo at the lights with all the band’s equipment inside.’ So here we are on the startline, behind Renault’s Alpine A442 Le Mans car. The bottom of the vista ahead is shaped by a collection of burger cartons, sweet packets, yesterday’s Sun and other van-travel detritus – all stuck in place. Just as well; Gareth selects first gear via the un-Transit-like gearlever (this and the extra dials are the only internal clues that this is not as Ford intended), meters in a lot of revs and drops the clutch. Six hundred V6-cylindered, twin-turbocharged bhp pour into the rear tyres, which light up obligingly. The smokescreen is magnificent, the revs stay level as grip builds up and we’re catapulted off the line in a gently fishtailing scream of menace. ‘I haven’t driven it in anger before so I’ll take it easy in the bends,’ says Gareth. ‘It’s a bit top-heavy and Justin got it on two wheels once.’ The Transit, receiving perhaps the biggest cheers of the day, feels tidy as we exit the first bends and howl past the house, but the combination of speed and altitude is an odd one. ‘It feels a bit flexible at the front,’ Gareth observes as he fine-tunes the line, ‘but it really steers well considering it’s all standard Transit there. Struts and a big space where the engine used to be. Must be the weight distribution.’ So it’s the ultimate White Van – and it once appeared on a well-known TV motoring programme disguised as an ice cream van. The ice cream would surely have whipped itself. ‘Reckon we’ve a chance of “Best Start of the Day” there,’ muses Gareth. 16 j u n e 2 0 1 3 O C T A N E
1968 Ford GT40 Gulf/Mirage Lightweight Racing Car sold for a world record of $11 million at monterey in 2012
now inviting consignments
monterey 16-17 august 2013
poRToLA hoTeL & spA And MonTeRey ConFeRenCe CenTeR
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IgnItIon // NEWS
Cowley celebrates 100 years A bullnose Morris was first off the Cowley line in 1913. These days it’s BMW’s ‘Plant Oxford’, churning out new Minis. Octane was there to mark the centenary Words John Simister
Today’s ‘PlanT oxford’, as the one-time Morris factory in Cowley is known under BMW’s ownership, is the oldest factory in the entire BMW Group. Today it produces as many new-shape Minis per year as it made all manner of BMC fare in the 1960s, yet occupies half the land area and employs well under half the people. And it celebrated its centenary on 28 March. Exactly 100 years earlier to the day, a ‘bullnose’ Oxford was the first car to leave the gates of William Morris’s new factory, built on the site of an old military academy. Thereafter Cowley also produced other vehicles within first the Nuffield Group and, from 1952, the British Motor Corporation. British Leyland, Rover Group and BMW eras followed, all marked by a public exhibition – complete with landmark cars – at the factory’s eastern end. A further array of historic machinery was at the exhibition’s opening, including an Austin-Healey Sprite built when demand exceeded the Abingdon factory’s supply, a US-spec, Sterling-badged Rover 800, and probably the two most significant Cowley 18 j u n e 2 01 3 O C T A N E
products in the form of a Morris Minor and an original Mini. The former was a limited-edition, lilac-coloured Minor 1000000, celebrating the model’s landmark as the first British car to be replicated a million times; the latter was a 1960 Mini-Minor in the same Cherry Red as your reporter’s 1959 edition, parked the other side of the former assembly hall’s wall. Speeches from plant managing director Frank Bachmann, BMW Mini board member Harald Krüger, and transport minister Patrick McLoughlin talked up the present and the future, with much new investment for the next-generation BMW Mini’s production, but it was the reminiscences of past and present employees that added the colour. Training manager Donna Green’s earliest memory is of her father, who worked in the building currently housing the exhibition, meeting her after a shift as he cycled out of the gate among a swarm of other bicycles. Ian Cummings, who worked at Cowley for 42 years, and whose mother and grandfather worked in the on-site Pressed Steel Fisher body
plant, remembers the noise and smell of oil and hot metal. Now he’s a tour guide in today’s squeakyclean factory; ‘It couldn’t be more different,’ he says. But the star of the show was Eric Lord, whose 93rd birthday coincided with the centenary day. He retired in 1979 after a 39-year career that began with assembling De Havilland Tiger Moths for use as wartime trainers. ‘The first car job I had was as a planning engineer, working out how to assemble the Morris Eight Series E. The production plan called for two minutes per task for each man, so there was quite a bit of leapfrogging and men falling over each other. ‘Putting the Mini into production threw up all sorts of problems we had to solve. Issigonis would come in – he loved playing dice – and you had to handle him properly to get him to help you. Not ‘There’s a problem with your car’, but ‘Can you help us solve our problem?’ For most of its 100 years, Cowley was one of Britain’s biggest car exporters. It’s pleasing to know that, today, Plant Oxford still is.
In the body finishing shop. Here craftsmen do the final rubbing down of paint before varnishing.
The ‘fettling bay’ in Cowley’s own foundry, where castings had their rough edges removed.
Bolting on the cover plates for back axles, with torque tubes attached, in the erecting shop.
The trim shop, pictured here in the early 1950s, with plenty of seat cover pleating going on.
A view of the sawmills in the 1920s, producing parts for wooden body frames and dashboards.
Early Morris Minor assembly, in this case the MM model, produced from 1948 to 1953.
In 1925, ‘Bullnoses’ were finished off in a less automated manner – and in cramped conditions.
O C T A N E j u n e 2 0 1 3 19
IgnItIon // NEWS
credit suisse sponsors goodwood race control Private bank Credit Suisse has announced that it is to extend its partnership with Goodwood Revival by sponsoring the historic Race Control building for seven years. Erected in World War Two, when Goodwood served as an airfield, the building later became the nerve centre of race-day operations and, although currently undergoing restoration, it will be used at the Revival this summer. // www.credit-suisse.com
Join stirling, rowan and nick Book now for An Evening With Sir Stirling Moss, Rowan Atkinson and Nick Mason at London’s fantastic Royal Automobile Club to celebrate ten years of Octane magazine
BraBus classic offers new two-year warranty The classic car division of the company better known for its tuning expertise is now offering a two-year warranty with unlimited miles to buyers of its meticulously restored Mercedes-Benz classics. Each car that passes through the Brabus workshop in Bottrop, Germany, receives a nut-and-bolt overhaul, with the body stripped and dipped before painting and all mechanical components replaced or reconditioned. Seems pretty unlikely that you’ll be needing that warranty, then. // www.brabus.com
sir stirling moss, Rowan Atkinson and Nick Mason, all former Octane columnists, are to star in a special tenth anniversary ‘An Evening With...’ event at the Royal Automobile Club, London, on 29 May. Current Octane columnist Jay Leno will also record a special video message from his famous workshop, to mark ten years since Octane was launched. The evening will provide a unique opportunity to hear tales of racing and historic and supercar ownership from Stirling, Rowan and Nick. All three have been regular contributors to Octane since the magazine was first published in May
2003 and they continue to be active in the historic racing and classic car world. Sir Stirling is always great value recalling his racing days, and promises to be highly entertaining in company with renowned actor Rowan (McLaren F1 owner and a keen historic racer) and Pink Floyd drummer Nick (also a great
historic racer and owner of a huge collection of classic cars). The event will be held in the Royal Automobile Club’s elegant Mountbatten Room, the capacity of which is just 120 – so this will be an intimate event for those lucky enough to secure a place. Tickets cost £115 per person, which includes a three-course meal with wine. Tables of ten are also available to book. The evening starts at 7.30pm, with dress code as lounge suits/cocktail dresses. To book tickets, visit the online shop on www.octane-magazine.com (click on ‘Shop’) or call 0844 245 6971 or +44 1795 414866 from overseas. See you there!
new uK heritage centre planned
A centre for historic car and aviation businesses moves closer to reality
vauxhall 30-98 turns 100 The 30-98, Britain’s first 100mph car, turns 100 this year and Vauxhall has confirmed that it will be supporting a variety of classic car events this summer as part of the centenary celebrations. The manufacturer and its iconic speedster will be in attendance at the Brooklands Double Twelve festival as well as CarFest North and South, and a centenary run has also been organised for 5 July, with as many as 100 30-98s expected to take part. // www.vauxhall.co.uk
20 j u n e 2 013 O C T A N E
Plans for a motoring and aviation heritage centre near Bicester, Oxfordshire, have taken a step closer to reality as a former Ministry of Defence site has been sold to Bicester Heritage. The collective is headed by VSCC member Dan Geoghegan, who said facilities on the ‘time-capsule RAF station’ would be leased out to businesses and organisations working in the heritage and specialist engineering sectors. ‘We have 50 high-quality pre-war buildings, including four hangars on 47 acres. It’s a five-year development plan but we’re hoping to have the first units operational by autumn. It’s a large site and we need to be thoughtful and methodical about how it’s developed. With 200-300 trees it’s got glorious avenues and is far from a windswept airfield.’ Geoghegan said he envisaged the centre as ‘a platform for historic cars and aviation, a place where you can come and meet like-minded people, perhaps work on your own car on a very club-like campus and also where people can
come just to see cars and aircraft. Our hobby would benefit tremendously from having all the skills on one site. We’ll need meaningful catering, and perhaps accommodation too.’ The enterprise is potentially bigger than its closest equivalent, Meilenwerke in Germany, which has classic car garages, storage, a restaurant and a car-themed hotel.
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IGNITION // NEWS
King’s Mercedes in the UK First UK appearance for the 500K commissioned by King Hussein of Jordan
WIN A VW CAMPER Octane is supporting the Rosie’s Rainbow Fund charity, which raises money to support sick and disabled children. Named a er Rosie Mayling, who died aged just 11 on the same day that Octane launched, the charity is oﬀering the chance to win this classic restored VW camper, at £2 per entry. We ask all Octane readers to consider entering the competition. // www.rosiesrainbowfund.co.uk
KING HUSSEIN OF JORDAN’S replica of a famed Erdmann & Rossi Mercedes-Benz 500K is to make its ﬁrst ever appearance in the UK. The streamlined Mercedes-Benz is based on a 500K ordered by the Iraqi royal family at the 1935 Berlin Motor Show, which was delivered in 1936 with bodywork by the coachbuilders Erdmann & Rossi of Berlin-Halensee. Decades later it passed to Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussein, who then lent it to King Hussein of Jordan. The King had the car shipped to a pre-war Mercedes-Benz specialist in Germany, where its body was painstakingly replicated. The original was shipped back to Iraq before the second Gulf War, but has since disappeared from view and is presumed to be hidden away in Baghdad.
The replica body was mated to an original Mercedes-Benz chassis, number 113640, with the aim of returning the completed car to King Hussein. However, due to the conﬂict in the Middle East and the King’s illness (and death in 1999), the car remained in Germany. It is now owned by the Schäfer family, and usually displayed in Germany’s Technik Museum Speyer and the neighbouring Auto & Technik Museum Sinsheim – the largest private transport museums in Europe. However, it has just been announced that the car will appear in the UK at the St James’s Concours of Elegance in the grounds of Marlborough House, London, on 5-7 September. For more details on the concours please visit www.concoursofelegance.co.uk.
NEW HISTORIC RELAY RACE The 750 Motor Club has launched a new, historic version of its popular Birkett Relay Race. The new Historic Birkett will complement, not replace, the existing race, and will have a 1974 cut-oﬀ date, with classes set by engine capacity – plus a separate class for pre-war cars. It will be run at the Snetterton 300 circuit on 2 November over four hours, with teams of two to six cars welcome. // www.750mc.co.uk UK ROAD TAX EXEMPTION TO CHANGE TO PRE 1974 The Chancellor of the Exchequer has announced that the cut-oﬀ for vehicle excise duty in the UK will be extended by one year from 1 January 1973 to 1 January 1974 as of April 2014. The decision would seem to pave the way for the re-introduction of the rolling tax exemption, although the Government currently denies that the rolling exemption will return.
VOISIN EXHIBITION The Mullin Automotive Museum in Oxnard, California, has extended its La Vision de Voisin exhibition due to overwhelming demand from visitors. It will now run until 25 June, highlighting a collection of Voisin automobiles, motorcycles and industrial designs, and honouring the life and work of Gabriel Voisin. Although only open on selected days, the exhibition has already attracted over 6500 visitors. // mullinautomotivemuseum.com
22 J U N E 2 013 O C T A N E
Bugatti sets open-car speed record A new world production car speed record for the last generation of the Veyron BUGATTI HAS SET yet another world production car speed record a er an open-topped Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse WRC reached 254.04mph at VW’s high-speed test facility in Ehra-Lessien, Germany. This is the same venue that Bugatti used to set the outright production car speed record of 267.856mph in a Veyron Super Sports back in 2010, with regular Bugatti test driver Pierre-Henri Raphanel at the wheel. Chinese racing driver and supercar collector Anthony Liu took the controls for this latest record attempt, and Bugatti invited Octane along to witness him break 254mph, and to see the new world-best mark veriﬁed by oﬃcials from the German TUV institute. To celebrate its achievement, the marque will produce eight ‘WRC’ editions of the Veyron Gran Sport Vitesse, ﬁnished in the same orange and bare carbon bodywork as the record-setting car and priced at €1.99 million plus local taxes. Six had already been sold as Octane closed for press. During the record attempt, Bugatti
CEO Wolfgang Schreiber noted that all 300 Veyron Coupés are now sold and, of the 150 targa-topped Grand Sport models Bugatti intends to build, just 68 remain unsold. ‘The last Veyron Grand Sport will roll oﬀ the production line in Molsheim in 2015, a er which production of the Veyron will cease,’ said Schreiber. ‘I expect values of all Veyrons to increase at this point, as people come to realise just how amazing
this car really is.’ Bugatti is planning to replace the Veyron with a four-door supercar similar to the Galibier concept ﬁrst shown in 2010, but Schreiber conﬁrmed that the project has moved on massively since then. Like the Veyron, the new car will continue Bugatti’s tradition of being the ultimate in terms of performance and exclusivity when it goes into production in 2015.
SATUrDAy AUGUST 17 SUNDAy AUGUST 18 Pebble beach ca USa
NoW iNViTiNG CoNSiGNMeNTS ThroUGh JUNe 1
Formerly the Property of Marion Chinetti Approximately 1,500 Miles from New
1972 FerrAri 365 GTB/4 NArT DAyToNA SPiDer
Coachwork by Michelotti
+1 310 899 1960
T R E A T Y
S A L E S
Image courtesy KlementasKI collectIon
P R I V A T E
Kidston s.A. 7 Avenue Pictet de Rochemont, 1207 GenevA, switzeRlAnd tel+41 22 740 1939, FAx+41 22 740 1945, www.Kidston.com
EHIND THE SCENES ON FACE
K I d S T o n
Illustrated 1955 Lister Jaguar (ex-Jim CLark) CLIENT PORTFOLIO 1932 MG C Type Montlhery Midget (Le Mans class winner) 1939 Lagonda V12 Drophead (ex-Briggs Cunningham) 1947 Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 Sport by Ghia 1957 Maserati 200Si (ex-Franco Cornacchia/Carroll Shelby) 1959 Maserati 3500 GT Vignale Spyder Prototype 1963 Porsche 356C Carrera GS 2000 1968 Lamborghini Miura P400 2006 Porsche Carrera GT Please note that to respect client confidentiality not all motor cars available may be shown
iGNitiON // EVENTS LA JOLLA CONCOURS D’ELEGANCE
The Jolla club
Growth for Southern California’s springtime riposte to Pebble Beach
Words Richard Truesdell
THE NINTH ANNUAL edition of the La Jolla Concours d’Elegance got the West Coast season into gear following the previous month’s East Coast event at Amelia Island. La Jolla presented more than 150 pre- and post-war classics from the US and the great European marques, with a rare Toyota Sports 800 roadster thrown in for good measure. Among the pre-war American classics, the crowd favourite was Tom M White’s 1937 Cord supercharged phaeton, a car once owned by cowboy movie star Tom Mix. It stood out even among cars such as Donnie Crevier and Larry Alderson’s 1931 Chrysler Imperial Waterhouse. British cars were well represented. In addition to the expected onslaught of Rolls-Royces, Bentleys and Jaguars, four cars rarely seen in the US caught our eyes. First was Malcolm Page’s 1928 Aston Martin T-Type convertible. Next were two Sunbeams, Ed Stewart’s 1953 SunbeamTalbot MkII A saloon along with Dannie and Craig McLaughlin’s 1953 Sunbeam Alpine Mk1, looking as if it had just driven off the set of To Catch A Thief. Triumphs included Eric Hoover and Deborah Gator’s 1968 TR5 PI (petrol injection) and the 1964
26 j u n e 2 013 O C T A N E
Spitfire owned by Harry Connally that was recognised by the judges with a class win. A strong representation of cars from Germany, Italy, France, and Spain included Beverly and Tom Gould’s 1970 Porsche 911E Targa. Among the Mercedes-Benz cars on display, long-timer owner Karl Heinz Keller’s 1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K special roadster had an impressive presence. For French quirkiness, Pascal Giai’s stunning 1967 Citroën DS21 Pallas is a car rarely seen in the USA in such impressive condition. Of a strong field of Italian exotics, two cars were stand-outs. First was Peter McCoy’s 1958 Ferrari 250PF Cabriolet Series 1, while the judges were equally wowed by Perry and Judith Mansfield’s 1972 Lamborghini Jarama coupé. Octane’s favourite had to be the 1937 Hispano-Suiza K6 station wagon owned by Peter and Merle Mullin, which combines European flair with American-style woody coachwork. Making the transition from Europe to America was Carl Schneider’s one-off 1952 Packard coupe. With coachwork sketched by Pininfarina in 1949, this car bore more of a resemblance to its British contemporary, the Bentley Continental coupé.
Two Corvettes stood out among the dominating 1963-1967 Sting Rays. First was the absolutely perfect first-year 1953 Corvette roadster of Gary Hiltunen. Among the Sting Rays, Mike Vietro’s 1963 Corvette race car had a starring role with Elvis Presley and Ann-Margret in 1964’s Viva Las Vegas. Among the muscle cars, top-class honours went to Larry Boord’s 327-powered 1966 Chevrolet Nova L79 coupe. But the real treat for American-car lovers was Herm Rosenman’s 1965 Dodge Coronet 990 WO-51, a fully documented lightweight drag car first bought from the legendary Mopar dealership in Chicago, Illinois, Grand Spaulding Dodge. Best of Show among the pre-war entrants went to Paul Emple’s 1937 Bugatti Type 57 cabriolet with coachwork by Paul Nee. Best of Show, post-war, was Russell and Elena Hook’s 1954 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing. The large crowd registered this award’s acceptance with sustained applause to end a perfect day on the shores of the Pacific. Below La Jolla provides a spectacular and beautiful location; the concours provides cars to match.
1986 Ferrari Testarossa with only 8,300 miles from new Estimate: (£) 50,000 - 60,000
The International Trophy Sale 17th May 2013 The Wing Silverstone Circuit
View our full lot list at www.silverstoneauctions.com www.silverstoneauctions.com
01926 691 141
igniTion // EVENTS
10-14 April Essen, Germany
End of an Essen era
The 25th Techno-Classica was as foot-achingly extensive as ever, but held in the current halls for the last time Words and photography Delwyn Mallett
This year’s Techno-Classica Essen was the 25th and rather neatly dovetailed with the 50th anniversary of the Porsche 911. However, given that this is the biggest classic car show of its kind, Porsche’s presence, at least to this enthusiast, seemed a little low-key, restricted to a Porsche Classic stand showing a handful of ‘cooking’ early 911s and promoting the range of restoration parts that Porsche can supply. Perhaps Porsche took this approach because elsewhere in the vast complex of halls that make up the exhibition centre there were more than enough 911s on dealers’ and restorers’ stands to satisfy the most ardent fan, and nearly all were for sale – Steve McQueen’s price record-breaking slate grey 911S among them. Nevertheless, it was a surprise that none of Porsche’s historic and iconic racing 911s made it to the show. As always the number of cars on display, from the major German manufacturers such as MercedesBenz, BMW, Audi and VW as well as the classic car 28 j u n e 2 013 O C T A N E
dealers and also the single-marque clubs, was quite overwhelming. Sadly for the Brits, one aspect of the Essen show that British visitors have to get used to is the sight of British motoring heritage being displayed as part of the German companies that now own them. There is something quite depressing about seeing a dozen original Minis as part of the BMW presentation. Perhaps even worse is to see the massive Volkswagen display featuring a whole gaggle of magnificent vintage Bentleys (as well as Bugattis and Lamborghinis, of course). Another sobering thought is that you just know that somewhere in the labyrinth of stalls packed with secondhand parts there lurks the elusive bit that you have spent years looking for – if only you could find it. Even if you do by some miracle stumble upon it you will almost certainly not be able to justify paying the simply outrageous prices that most of the dealers were asking. I watched one chap sort out
Above The 25th Techno-Classica celebrated many anniversaries, including 50 years of the Porsche 911. Highlights included this patinated recreation of a Fiat Streamliner (top right).
a handful of period 1960s press release photos of a not-particularly-rare Italian car and being told, on asking the price, that they were original photos and that they were an eye-watering €200 each! For some, gasping at the extraordinary prices fetched for yesterday’s ephemera is all part of the fun and, if you have the stamina to keep going through all 12 huge halls, fun it certainly is. Whatever your automotive poison, from Abarth to Zündapp, you will find it at Essen, and there is always the rare treat ready to take you by surprise. The car that I most wanted to take home this year was not a fully restored Mercedes SSK, all black and chrome, or one of more than a dozen immaculately restored 300SL Gullwings, but a little Fiat streamliner, with faded red paintwork and crazed Perspex. As tiny as a tadpole and as slippery as a salmon, it looked as if it had just finished a 1940s Mille Miglia – so imagine how disappointed I was to find that this was no carefully conserved barn find, but an artfully created replica. It did look fantastic, though. It seems that the Essen halls are to be demolished later this year to make way for a new complex. It will be interesting to see if the new building will be able to retain the magic of the current Techno-Classica.
MAJOR SUMMER SALE BROOKLANDS, SATURDAY, JUNE 1
This 1992 Ferrari 512 TR with full Maranello history (Est: £36,000 - £45,000) is one of 100 motorcars, 100 classic motorcycles and 100 lots of automobilia that will be offered at Historics’ major summer sale Preview: Friday, May 31st, from 10.00 - 20.00 Sale Times: Automobilia: 10.00 Motorcars: See website Motorcycles: See website Entry by catalogue. Includes complimentary access to Brooklands Museum
FINAL CALL FOR ENTRIES To consign and for further information Tel: 0800 988 3838 / 01753 639170 E-mail: [email protected]
www.historics.co.uk FINE CLASSIC & COLLECTOR CAR AUCTIONEERS
ignition // EVENTS
22-24 March Avignon, France
Above and below Tours took in the region’s finest roads and scenery; displays were French orientated, including one to mark Alpine’s 50th anniversary (bottom, centre).
Av i g n o n M o t o r F e s t i vA l
French and fanciful
Gallic marque anniversaries are the highlight of this year’s Avignon show and tour Words Richard Dredge Photography magiccarpics.co.uk
While Brits are busy celebrating Aston Martin’s centenary and McLaren’s 50th birthday, the French are marking their own centenary – that of Salmson, along with five decades of the Alpine A110. Which is why, at France’s second-largest annual classic motoring event (after Rétromobile), the Avignon Motor Festival featured superb displays of both Salmsons and Alpines, charting the racing history of the latter brand from its earliest days right up to the dramatic A110-50 concept unveiled last summer. The focus on Gallic marques comes as no surprise, as Avignon attracts an almost exclusively French audience. As a result, this Vaucluse-based fixture takes in just about every French marque from Panhard to Hotchkiss, Voisin, Amilcar and Bugatti. The Festival is made up of two key strands: a non-competitive invitation-only tour restricted to just 60 pre-war cars, and a 50,000m2 static show. Known as the Jacques Potherat Trophy, and named after the late driver and author, there was a different tour on each of the event’s three days, each taking in the region’s superb roads and scenery. A highlight of the tour was Jurgen Jenrich’s superb Wanderer W25K, while the Bodin family (Christian, Nicolas and Pénélope) brought a trio of Fiat Coppa d’Oros. Just two entries came from the UK: Trevor 3 0 j u n e 2 013 O C T A N E
Swete in his Invicta S-Type and Mark Palmer in his Frazer-Nash. Plenty of other British marques were represented in the tour though, including Bentley, Lagonda, Alvis, Morgan, Aston Martin and MG. Few enthusiasts ventured onto the tour routes, preferring instead to immerse themselves in the 2500 vehicles on show at the Parc des Expositions. ‘Although 1950s and 1960s cars are popular, newer classics are becoming increasingly common,’ explains event committee member Patrick Hornstein. ‘Models such as the Peugeot 205GTi, Matra Murena and Renault GTA are now guaranteed
to turn up, alongside rarities of all kinds – but over 90% of the cars here are at least 30 years old. Also on show are commercials, tractors, hot rods, military vehicles and modern sports cars. That’s what makes Avignon so great – the variety and unpredictability.’ Around half of the show was based inside, with art, scupltures, cars and automobilia all either up for grabs or on display. So if you needed fresh instruments for your 4CV or some wheeltrims for a Traction Avant, this was the place to be. Literature hunters could immerse themselves in dozens of stalls, while if you wanted a new project you could choose from a Vespa 400 and a Panhard PL17. While the autojumble, displays and tour took place on all three days, a Meguiars-sponsored concours d’elegance on the Saturday added a little extra to the weekend. But it’s not as though you’re scratching around for stuff to fill the time, which is why it’s worth blanking out 21-23 March 2014 in your diary now. // www.avignon-motor-festival.com
FRIDAY 3RD SATURDAY 4TH SUNDAY 5TH
Donington Park’s historic motor racing festival
Now extended to three days
With a packed programme of historic races from the 80s back to the 20s Group C sportscars HTCC for 1966-85Touring Cars with 70s Celebration HSCC Historic F2 ‘1000km’ for pre-72 sports-racing cars U2TC pre-66 under two-litre Touring Cars Masters pre-66 GT Gentlemen Drivers Masters pre-66 Touring Cars
E-type Challenge Pre-63 GT Formula Junior
Stirling Moss Trophy for pre-61 sportscars Royal Automobile Club Woodcote Trophy for pre-56 sportscars HGPCA Nuvolari Trophy pre-1940 GP Cars with Hall & Hall
Over 400 world-class historic racing cars. Special Ayrton Senna tribute. 1,000s of classic cars on display from classic car clubs. Live action from Group B and Historic Rally Car Register rally cars. Trade village featuring memorabilia, art, photos, books, clothing, models, toys and autojumble. Kids’ zone. Cafés, bars and food outlets. Access to all areas including spectator zones and paddocks. Free parking.
Tickets. Discounted advance tickets available now from only £12 a day for the Friday, £20 for the Saturday or Sunday and just £36 for a three-day weekend ticket. Plus children under 16 go FREE! Telephone the ticket hotline or visit our website to buy online.
24hr ticket hotline: 0844 873 7355 or www.doningtonhistoric.com OUR PARTNERS
For general enquiries please telephone +44 (0)1728 684 410 or email [email protected]
Details correct at time of going to print. The organisers reserve the right to change plans and timing. Please check the website for the latest updates.
ignition // NEW CAR NEWS
Hot hatch wars: the remake
Can Peugeot regain the hot-hatch highground of yesteryear in the face of new Clio and Fiesta rivals?
Words John Simister
32 j u n e 2 013 O C T A N E
Ah, hAppy dAys of hot-hatchdom. It was a good quarter of a century ago that Renault’s 5 GT Turbo battled with Peugeot’s 205GTI and Ford’s Fiesta XR2. Quite a lot of Octane readers grew up with one of these, I’d guess. The battlefield has been quiet these last few years, with Renault alone making the running with a fine series of Renaultsport Clios. Meanwhile Peugeot’s star faded and Ford didn’t take the task seriously, concentrating instead on very fast versions of the bigger Focus. But now these three protagonists are back in the spotlight, their simultaneously launched
offspring vying with new vigour for the accolade of best hot hatch. Meet the contestants. Peugeot’s 208GTI uses a 197bhp turbo 1.6, a joint PSA/BMW engine found in lower-power guise in the overweight, hard-riding and unloved 207GTI that so signally failed to rekindle the old 205 flame. The fast 208 has three doors, three pedals and six manually selected gears. It’s lighter than its predecessor, and is the company’s most thoroughly thought-through attempt yet at regaining the top slot it once owned. Renault has re-thought the fastest
18 & 19 May 2013
MOTORMART Up to 200 cars for sale
Over 1000 stands of motoring parts, ac accessories and automobilia
Celebrating 100 years of Morris motoring. See a display of over 200 vehicles.
Entry includes National Motor Museum Palace House Beaulieu Abbey World of Top Gear BOND IN MOTION
SUN DAY ONLY FEA TUR ES:
VE R sSO RTOU T ND RO Y’ S LA OL D SO DBaUR husiast ent er Rov d Lan all must for WAL KA BO UT AU CT IO N AD INs G TR UN K teuTRr jum bler for ama
Advance Tickets £8.70 One Day £15.50 Two Day Call 01590 612888 (+£1 handling charge on non-online orders)
Stand Enquiries 01590 614614 www.springautojumble.co.uk Beaulieu, Hampshire SO42 7ZN Exit 2, M27 Peugeot’s latest hot hatch, inside and out, alongside the last good one it made: the legendary 205GTI.
ignition // NEW CAR NEWS
Five-door-only Clio trades high-revving 2.0-litre for equally powerful 1.6 turbo but is ruined by its gearbox; hot baby Ford thrills on track and in corners, though ultimately it’s hobbled by an unnecessarily firm ride.
Clio’s place in the world, moving away from a high-revving 2.0-litre engine and a three-door body to a turbo 1.6 (related to Nissan’s Juke unit) and five doors – the only door-count offered on the new Clio’s shell. The engine still has 197bhp (same as the 208) but with a much plumper torque curve and it’s now fed through an obligatory six-speed, double-clutch gearbox with paddleshift and an automatic mode. Ford’s current-shape Fiesta has long been the most enjoyable ‘supermini’ – not that any of these cars is properly small any more – to drive, so it’s a surprise that the rapid version has arrived only now, with the range-wide facelift. That facelift includes a bold new nose with a grille reminiscent of either an Aston Martin’s or a Mk1 Cortina’s, depending on your mindset. The Fiesta ST has been mooted for a while; it was nearly three years ago that a Ford engineer mentioned to me the problems they were having in keeping the under-bonnet temperatures low. The new grille saves the day, it seems. Power here is 179bhp, again from a direct-injection, 3 4 j u n e 2 013 O C T A N E
turbocharged 1.6. Body-plan and gearbox mirror the Peugeot’s, but the Fiesta is cheapest at £16,995 with the plusher ST2 at £17,995. The Peugeot costs £18,895, the Renault £18,995, with the Lux version an extra £1000. Early reports of the Fiesta on a track suggested it would be the favourite. Ford’s 1.6-litre Ecoboost engine is an almost ludicrously torquey unit with practically no turbo lag, and in this application it emits a
hard (helped by a torque-vectoring system that nibbles the inside front wheel’s brake as needed, well before the ESP safety net intervenes), tail happy to hang out to help point you into a bend. Sounds great – except the ride is firm and fidgety to the point of major annoyance on anything but a dead smooth road. The Focus ST isn’t like that, so why spoil the Fiesta? Now, the Clio. It doesn’t feel quite as quick as the Fiesta, although it is:
‘The one you’ll enjoy the most for longest is the 208GTI. Peugeot is back on top’ deep induction roar at low revs thanks to a bulkhead-directed diaphragm in the intake tract. The gearbox has a sweet, accurate shift, the steering is weighty enough to give confidence yet quick to respond crisply to subtle inputs. It’s one of the better electrically powered systems around. It gets better. Clamped in your enveloping Recaro seat you can flick the Fiesta through bends with hilarious vigour, front wheels gripping
blame the throttle mapping. And you could also blame the one thing that kills proper Clio enjoyment, which is that gearbox. Renault says it’s the future, it reflects motor sport practice and the target market wants it, but it’s not even a good double-clutcher. The shifts are too slow, even in the hardest-core mode, and the ratios are bizarre with huge gaps between second, third and fourth.
You feel frustrated and detached from the action in equal measure, so the fact that the Clio matches the Fiesta for handling fun (torquevectoring here, too) while riding much better fails to save it. Renault, sadly, appears to have killed the goose. And the Peugeot? It shouts its attributes less loudly, so at first it’s a touch underwhelming. But the more you drive it, the better it gets. It has no torque-vectoring but appears not to need it, simply tracking cleanly through corners once you trust the quick but initially numb steering controlled by a small wheel set almost in your lap. The engine fluffs and pops agreeably on each gearchange, the balance is enjoyably throttledependent and, crucially, the GTI rides with much of the suppleness of its famous ancestor. All three have similar pace, with 62mph arriving just under seven seconds from a standstill, and similar economy. But in the end the one you’ll enjoy the most for longest is the 208GTI. Peugeot is back on top, with the most complete and well-rounded car here. Surprised? Me too.
BROOKL B ANDS
DOUBLE TWELVE DOUB
MOTORSPORT FESTIVAL 15 & 16 JUNE 2013
F O D N E T K R E O E A W OTORSP M C I S CLAS
BOOK NOW to enjoy special advance booking discounts Plus, special rates for GRRC, VSCC, BTM, CSMA and IAM Members
Visit www.brooklandsmuseum.com or telephone 01932 857381 Brooklands Museum, Brooklands Road, Weybridge, Surrey KT13 0QN Media partners
IGNITION // NEW CAR NEWS INDUSTRY INSIDER
WHEN THE economy ﬁrst faltered in 2008, many European countries were quick to introduce innovative car-scrapping schemes speciﬁcally designed to bolster new car sales. They worked but were expensive to implement and, one by one, quietly withdrawn. By 2010, new car sales soon dri ed downwards. What no-one could have predicted was how low demand for new cars was going to get and, for many markets, 2013 is proving to be disastrous. Even Germany is starting to suﬀer from a glut of new cars becoming available, with sales in March down 17% on last year’s (which weren’t that great anyway) despite huge discounts being oﬀered (14% oﬀ is the average), but it’s the Italian market that’s really bad, with new car sales dropping to their lowest level for 47 years and now expected to reach only 1.11million by the end of 2013 – 55% lower than they were in 2007. For the Fiat Group, the consequences of this dramatic drop are enormous because, historically, 56% of Fiat’s new car sales have been made in its home market. But that’s all changed and dealers are closing throughout Italy, with 20% lost over the past ﬁve years, and this trend is expected to accelerate as a result of the crash in car sales. It’s not just the bread-andbutter end of the market that’s suﬀering badly. As Lamborghini CEO Stephan Winkelmann recently remarked, while the market for high-end supercars in Italy was stable at around 2000 units a year in 2007/8, it shrunk to just 400 in 2012 and this downward spiral is continuing, with sales at Porsche tumbling by 36% in the ﬁrst three months of 2013 (compared with 2012); Ferrari sales are down similarly. The big surprise, though, is the UK, where new car sales have been climbing. Experts are putting that down to the long-established company car culture in the UK, with ‘business and ﬂeet’ sales accounting for 48% of purchases. Companies have continued to buy because today’s deals are better than ever and having a company car scheme remains a popular and eﬀective way to retain key staﬀ. Given the turmoil elsewhere, it’s remarkable to think that the 5.9% rise in new-car registrations in March is the 13th consecutive month of growth in the UK. Long may it continue.
36 J U N E 2 013 O C T A N E
Worth a bit of pain
Sure, it’s cramped, but Caterham’s £28,000 Supersport R entertains like few other cars Words David Vivian Photography Dean Smith
IT MAY BE one of the most impractical cars on the planet, but the stats are compelling: four cylinders, 2.0 litres, no turbos, 180bhp, 535kg, 336bhp per ton. As you scissor yourself into the Supersport R’s bare, cramped cabin, hang on to that power-to-weight ﬁgure. It’s virtually identical to that of a Porsche 997 Turbo S. Fun and games? You bet. The regular 140bhp 1.6-litre Sigma-engined Supersport may be a junior member of the family but it’s pretty quick by any conventional yardstick. Put Ford’s thicker-wristed 180bhp 2.0-litre Duratec lump in a car so light you suspect it could be propelled by a stiﬀ breeze and the accelerative thump in the kidneys becomes very palpable indeed, even from modest revs in a high gear. Not that this will stop you nudging the stubby, aluminium-orbed gearlever around its close-coupled gate for the sheer joy of it. As with any Caterham, the intensity of the driving experience revolves around inputs and feedback. Caterham’s quoted 0-60mph time of 4.8sec isn’t quite as heart-stopping as the power-to-weight ﬁgure would suggest, but don’t be deceived. The R’s small-diameter rear wheels shod with 175mm-wide Avons limit take-oﬀ, but roll-on pace is as addictively brutal as you might hope. It’s more than thrilling enough to send your adrenal glands into overboost on the road, and
Above and right
Colin Chapman got the 7 so right back in 1957, it’s merely had to evolve since. Now with 180bhp from a Ford 1.6; still only weighs 535kg.
there’s the delightful prospect of being able to shoot down vastly more powerful machinery on track. In evolutionary terms, the Supersport R is an eﬀective replacement for the R300. As such, you get a few cherry-picked components, including the dampers from Caterham’s still racier oﬀerings teamed with the regular Supersport’s adjustable double-wishbone suspension up front and de Dion arrangement at the rear, a pretty aggressive limited-slip diﬀ, a full harness, uncompromisingly snug composite sports seats, and shi
lights that illuminate at 7500rpm. On a sunny day and twisty tarmac that isn’t too bumpy, few cars will keep your behind as forensically informed about the road surface, and the steering, as ever, is so quick and direct you can almost think the Supersport R around bends. So if you feel like indulging in a bit of tail-out action, you’d better think ahead and be fast and accurate with the correction. What sets the Supersport R apart is a punchy, ﬂexible engine that makes the stupendous performance feel more progressive and accessible. And that has to be good.
Cape Horn November 2013
Unique, month long, timed event, taking in the best of Argentina and Chile... get off the beatentrack to one of the four corners of the earth.
5th Classic Safari May 2014
V I N TA G E R E L I A B I L I T Y T R I A L
The Road to SINGAPORE - MALAYSIA - THAILAND - BURMA
A relaxed event, blending top-notch comforts with the remote driving roads of Africa. Overnighting at luxury-lodges and specially designed with couples in mind, it includes flights into the Okavango Delta. A highly memorable, breathtaking route.
6th Flying Scotsman April 2014
Britain’s longest (and largest entry) timed rally for pre-war Vintageants, organised with the massive support of over 500 marshals driving remote roads from London to Edinburgh.
The Road to Mandalay February 2015
Starting in Raffles, Singapore we drive through Malaysia into Thailand, then cross the border into Burma to finish in Mandalay. Opening this frontier is a true first. We are just back from our first route recce, check out the website for our report.
2nd Trans-Am June 2015
An all-new route to suit Vintage and Classics, from Halifax, Nova Scotia, across the wildest parts of Canada and America - through the woods where they filmed the Last of the Mohicans - to finish in Seattle... Sea to Shining Sea.
Peking to Taj Mahal June 2016
In the style of our Peking to Paris, a totally new route. Venturing into the wilds of Mongolia then turning south to cross Tibet, to camp at the foot of Mount Everest. Driving into Nepal and on to the fabled Himalayan roads of Northern India to finish with a prize giving at the Taj Mahal.
NEW YORK TO ALASKA
If you’re one of the few who can’t stand life stuck in a rut and just long to get out more, give the most experienced team in classic rallying a call...
T: 01235 831221 E: [email protected]
iGnition // DIARY Best events
Le Jog ‘A PLEASAnT nIGHTMARE.’ ‘Brilliant!’ ‘Tough.’ These are just some crew reactions to HERO’s Land’s End to John o’Groats Reliability and Touring Trial, which is cited by even the most experienced campaigners as one of Europe’s most relentlessly demanding timed events.
Open to cars built before 1984, the 19th running of this December ordeal promises to test participants with a 1500-mile route along some of Britain’s toughest roads, and, no doubt, some foul and unpredictable weather. Said route is mainly comprised of minor roads from the extreme
where, when, how much WHERE? Land’s End, England, to John o’Groats, Scotland WHEn? 7-10 December (but book now) HOW MUCH? From £2777 for a crew of two. That covers all accommodation, meals and coffee stops, as well as the black-tie welcome and awards dinners HOW TO GET THERE? From London, head south-west until you fall off our little island WHERE TO STAy? See above MORE InFO? www.heroevents.eu
south-west of England to the north of Scotland. It takes in long regularities and navigation sections, driving tests on private land and occasional smooth forest tracks. While crews will be allowed some shut-eye on the Saturday and the Sunday, they’ll find themselves driving through the night on the Monday. As you’ll appreciate, it takes a little luck and quite considerable skill just to make it to John o’Groats in one piece, and all who cross the finish line quite rightly receive an award, but there is also an assortment of special – and highly coveted – prizes for the quickest and most heroic crews. It is testament to the challenge posed by Le Jog that in 2012 just one gold medal was earned. You’ll need a well-prepared car to tackle the various tests the organisers will throw at you. If you don’t have one, or if you don’t fancy sploshing your own classic through a river, check out the HERO Arrive and Drive scheme. The one thing you don’t necessarily need is experience – in fact, HERO positively encourages novices to enter, and recognises their achievements with the Absolute Beginners award. If you feel that a little tuition might be in order before blasting around the Highlands, however, HERO offers a training day covering topics such as car prep, map reading and dealing with regularities. This year it will take place on 11 October at RAF Throckmorton, Worcs, and those filled with confidence after a few hours of instruction can put the theory into practice the following day on the HERO Throckmorton Challenge. Sarah Bradley
new route for coppa d’oro deLLe doLomiti Under its new organisers the Coppa d’Oro delle Dolomiti will take a new route through the mountains of northern Italy: participants in pre-62 and exceptional pre-65 cars will be flagged away from and finish in Cortina d’Ampezzo, covering 500km of winding roads in-between. A concours-type competition will take place on 28 August before the cars roll out of Cortina on 30 August for two days of spectacular driving. // www.coppadorodelledolomiti.it/en cLassic cars weLcome at de haviLLand moth raLLy The de Havilland Moth Club International Rally is set to return to Woburn Abbey in Bedfordshire after a five-year absence – and classic car owners are welcome to join aviation fans for a weekend of flying displays, competitions and heritage fun. Tickets for the event, which takes place on 17-18 August, will cost £10 each on the Saturday and £15 on the Sunday. // www.dhmothclub.co.uk uk hosts citroËn sm meet Usually held across the Channel, the annual meeting of the SM section of the Citroën Car Club will this year take place in the UK. Enthusiasts will gather at Hatherley Manor Hotel in Gloucestershire on Friday 17 May and spend the weekend exploring the area before enjoying a tour of the Morgan factory on the Monday. // www.semantics.uk.com
listinGs 26 April – 12 MAy Tuscany & Umbria Tour Italy. Classic Travelling Tour open to all Jaguars. 27-28 April MSA Spring Classic South Wales, UK. New two-day non-competitive tour around beautiful South Wales. 27 April – 5 MAy London-Lisbon Trial & Tour London, UK – Lisbon, Portugal. HERO Cup qualifying event. 28 April MG Owners’ Club Rally Arundel Castle, West Sussex, UK. Over 150 classic MGs gather at the medieval castle. 3-5 MAy Donington Historic Festival Donington Park, Derby, UK. Now extended to three days. 3-5 MAy Concours d’Elegance of Texas Montgomery, Texas, USA. Now in its second year.
4 MAy Warren Classic and Concours Woodham Walter, Essex, UK. New international concours. 4 MAy Auto Italia Italian Car Day Brooklands, Surrey, UK. The UK’s biggest Italian car show. 4-5 MAy Classic Days Magny Cours, France. Weekend of classic racing at the iconic circuit. 5 MAy Goodwood Breakfast Club West Sussex, UK. Soft-top Sunday. 6-9 MAy St Mawes Classic Car Festival Cornwall, UK. Open-air classic car show and concours. 10-11 MAy Tour Britannia Warwickshire, UK. Unique tour with regularity stages. 11-12 MAy Grand Prix de Pau Historique Pau, France. Held on city circuit.
38 j u n e 2 013 O C T A N E
12 MAy Wallingford Classic Rally Oxfordshire, UK. Includes a parade through the historic town. 12 MAy Simply French Beaulieu, Hampshire, UK. French cars of all sorts gather in Beaulieu. 12-21 MAy Mille Miglia Tour Brescia, Italy. Scenic Car Tours ten-day tour to the Mille Miglia. 16-19 MAy Mille Miglia Brescia, Italy. Legendary historic road racing event. 17-20 MAy International Citroën SM meeting Gloucester, UK. Annual SM meeting comes to the Cotswolds. 18-19 MAy Spring Autojumble Beaulieu, Hampshire, UK. A warm-up for the international autojumble later in the year.
24-26 MAy Spa Classic Spa Francorchamps, Belgium. Now in its third year. 24-26 MAy Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este Lake Como, Italy. Stylish, worldclass concours. By invitation only, public admission on the Sunday. 26-27 MAy Motorsport at the Palace Crystal Palace, London, UK. Sprint and time trial event. 28 MAy – 29 June Peking to Paris Motor Challenge 2013 China to France, via Mongolia, Russia and Eastern Europe. Amazing endurance rally returns. 1 June Cultra Hillclimb Northern Ireland. World’s oldest active hillclimb, celebrating 100 years of Aston Martin and 50 years of Porsche 911.
1-2 June La Vie en Bleu Prescott, Gloucestershire, UK. French car celebration at the famous hillclimb. 1-2 June Greenwich Concours d’Elegance Greenwich, Connecticut, USA. Rapidly growing concours. 2 June Goodwood Breakfast Club West Sussex, UK. Supercar Sunday. 4-9 June Modena Cento Ore Classic Apennine mountains, Italy. Classic car regularity rally. 5-8 June Three Castles Welsh Trial North Wales. Classic car rally for novices and experts. 7-9 June Kent Country Rally Kent, UK. Scenic Car Tours trip ending at Bromley Pageant.
7-9 June Jersey International Festival Jersey, UK. Touring, motorcycle and competition event. 7-9 June Wings Wheels and Goggles Teuge airfield, Netherlands. Aeroplanes and vintage cars compete in pre-war rally. 7-21 June Trans-Alpine Tour France, Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland. Two weeks of spectacular mountain driving with Classic Travelling. 8-9 June Autodrome Heritage Festival Montlhéry circuit, France. Extended to two days for 2013. 8-9 June XK 65 Celebrations Luxembourg. Jaguar XK celebration in heart of Europe. 9 June Bromley Pageant of Motoring Kent, UK. Huge outdoor meeting.
Make sure you put these dates in your diary
motorSport At the pAlACe
26-27 May, London, UK The sprint and time trial event returns for the fourth year running to the parkland grounds of the old Crystal Palace in south London. Historic and hi-tech cars alike will tackle the narrow, twisting course, while the open paddock will allow visitors the opportunity to chat to drivers and mechanics. There’s sure to be plenty of additional entertainment for all the family, including Kit Car Village, a large display from the Classic Racing Motorcycle Club, and Diggerland. // www.motorsportatthepalace.co.uk
17-20 July, Gröbming, Austria Open to historically significant pre-1973 sports and racing cars, the Ennstal
14-16 June Cholmondeley Pageant Cheshire, UK. Festival with fast cars, boats and aeroplanes, and a concert with fireworks. 15-16 June Brooklands Double Twelve Weybridge, Surrey, UK. Tests, speed trials and concours at the historic Brooklands circuit. 16 June Custom & Hot Rod Festival Beaulieu, Hampshire, UK. Rapidly growing hot rod show. 20 June – 6 July The Arctic Highway Challenge Norway. Traverse the epic Arctic Highway with Scenic Car Tours. 22-23 June Mugello Classico Firenzuola, Italy. Non-competitive sprint on closed roads. 22-23 June 24 Hours of Le Mans Le Mans, France. The ultimate endurance race.
Classic will, as ever, feature an array of amazing machinery, with some 50 marques likely to be represented. First staged in 1993, the Classic attracts some of the biggest names in motor sport and sees participants drive through nearly 600 miles of picturesque Alpine scenery before a regularity challenge. Old-fashioned sportsmanship is the order of the day, as electronic timing and navigation devices are banned.
This is not red.
24-26 May, Spa, Belgium Touring Cars are to make a welcome return to Spa-Francorchamps this year, with the introduction of two Endurance Touring grids at the third Spa Classic. Eligible cars, which include models that competed in the Spa 24 Hours in period, will line up in two categories (pre-1966 sub-2.0 litres, and cars of all capacities built between 1966 and 1984 all capacities) for one daytime and one night race. They join grids for Classic Endurance Racing, Group C, 1960s Endurance, Trofeo Nastro Rosso, 911s and Historic Formula 2. Other highlights include a Bonhams sale, soap-box and slot racers and club displays. // www.spa-classic.com
23 June Brooklands Ton-Up Day Brooklands, Surrey, UK. Celebration of the first 100mph motorbikes, in association with the Ace Cafe. 27-30 June Cuervo y Sobrinos Cup Vintage regularity rally through the heart of the Italian, Swiss and Austrian Alps. 28-30 June Vernasca Silver Flag Vernasca, Italy. Prestige hillclimb on Piacenza’s closed roads. 29-30 September Bressuire GP Historique Bressuire, France. Historic racing event held on public roads of the rural French town. 7 July Gaydon Mini Festival Motor Heritage Centre, Gaydon, UK. All Minis welcome. 12-14 July Goodwood Festival of Speed
Goodwood, West Sussex, UK. Celebration of motor sport in the grounds of Lord March’s home. 12-14 July New Forest Weekend Hampshire, UK. Weekend away for Jaguar owners with Classic Travelling. 21 July Classics at the Castle Sherborne Castle, UK. Over 1000 cars, from veterans to supercars. 3-4 AuguSt Castle Hill Car Festival Barnstaple, Devon, UK. New classic car festival, held in the parkland grounds of the Castle Hill estate near South Molton.
This is MG Flame Red BLVC61 Do you see what we see? We’re obsessed with classics, which is why we insure nothing else. Join us – hagertyinsurance.co.uk or call 0844 811 3534
Octane makes every effort to ensure accuracy on these pages, but recommends that you contact event organisers before setting out. Visit the Octane website for contact details.
O C T A N E j u n e 2 013 39
Letters Write to: Octane letters, Octane Media Ltd, 5 Tower Court, Irchester Road, Wollaston, Northants NN29 7PJ, UK. Email: [email protected]
, fax: +44 (0)1933 667309. Please include your name, address and a daytime telephone number. Octane reserves the right to edit letters for clarity. Views expressed are not necessarily those of Octane magazine.
L e TT eR O F T he M ONTh
majorly amusing hOW GOOd tO read dave selby’s piece on the best car that nobody cares for, the daimler Majestic Major [Octane 118]. In 1979 I was 17 and wore black suits and black nail varnish; scarcely surprising, then, that the only motor I wanted was a daimler Landslide-Majority. Its appeal went beyond the pure Gothic: here was a car that you’d never heard of, had 250-odd horsepower and was the size of a rolls, but could be had for plausible money. alas, they were not easy to come by and many wistful afternoons spent thumbing through exchange & Mart in Wh smith’s finally landed a humber Pullman hearse instead, in a Cheltenham scrapyard; a fine car but the 4.0-litre six fell short of the craved daimler ‘Pursuit’ v8; besides, I had no driving licence. ten years later a really ratty Major, a saloon, slipped through my fingers when a film producer outbid me, the car smoking off through a haze of blue into the movie the Krays. But eventually I got one, a complete basketcase. Fortunately I was by then the proprietor of a shabby yet prestigious garage in the heart of London’s heathman’s road, so restoration was no problem. so did it live up to anticipation? Yes, but for surprising reasons. the performance was there, of course; the baritone exhaust faultless. Parts of the car were really lovely. But gradually the styling began to sink in and at last I saw the car as so many others did – a black cab. Gawd, how these cars need rodding. But it’s the gearbox I recall with most affection. the dMM has a torque converter lock-out; so, having paddled about in the lesser ratios, the transmission gives a sort of mechanical hiccup and locks the drivetrain solid in top, giving all the drivability, response and economy of a manual ’box. schplendid! and you can bump-start it! the handbook says something like: ‘run the car down a steep hill. When a speed of at least 20mph is reached, engage d. the car should start immediately.’ Mine did. But it’s not a procedure for the faint-hearted.
I have just read, with the usual anticipated enjoyment, issue 113 of Octane. the reason for the delay in making the comments hereunder is not due to the time taken in transporting said magazine to the antipodes via the next convict ship. sadly it is a consequence of my having to wait for my son to read several issues and then post them up to his penurious parent. I greatly enjoyed reading about the Windsor Concours of elegance – but why did they choose to call it that? Why not the correct ‘Concours d’elegance’? Was it because the event was held at Windsor Castle and hence some stuffy Francophobe decided that it just ‘wasn’t on’ to have a Frog name at Windsor? to the best of my knowledge, ‘concours’ is not one of the many words that have become commonly used in both english and French (‘elegance’ itself is a prime example). I venture to say, without any disrespect meant, that the great majority of Octane readers would not know that ‘concours’ means ‘contest’. Concours of elegance is a horrible mixture that is neither one thing nor the other. I know that Octane has but a small involvement, but please use whatever influence you might have to change the name. Next thing I’ll be reading that someone competed in ‘two Grand Prixes’! howard westmoreland queensland, australia
jo burge suffolk
the letter of the month
W IN s a s t Y L I s h L e at h e r Wa L L e t F r O M G t O L O N d O N
GTO London’s 250GTO Nero wallet is part of its Ferrari-inspired gents’ accessories collection. Inspired by the iconic Ferrari 250GTO, each wallet is handmade in soft leather, with monogrammed satin lining and sterling silver steering wheel emblem, and is worth £255. GTO London accessories are all handcrafted and include cufflinks, tie pins, key fobs and money clips. Designs reflect signature Ferrari components – classic steering wheels, spinners, ignition, carb trumpet, shift gate, tyre tread, connecting rods – and each is approved by Ferrari experts, to ensure accuracy. www.gtolondon.com
4 0 j u n e 2 013
ON PaGe 27 of your wonderful issue 118 is a short piece about older open-top Lamborghinis and, as historian of the marque, I’d like to offer a correction (or two). the Miura roadster was not the first open Lamborghini ever built. this honour must go to the 350Gts, a very pretty touring design first shown at the 1965 salone dell’automobile di torino and then exhibited also at the Brussels motor show; this 1965 photo
shows the first Gts (of only two reportedly built) in front of the old sant’agata office block on a foggy day. the turin motor show was held in November and fog is a norm in sant’agata in autumn… the beautiful Miura roadster, on the other hand, does not even have a roof; if you look at the side elevation of the car you will appreciate why. For purely aesthetic reasons, the engine hood ‘buttresses’ of the roadster were kept lower than in the coupé version, and this difference in height between the top of the windscreen and the rear section may explain why no roof was ever fitted to the Miura roadster. as the car was designed stricly as a prototype (the factory had its hands full at the time building ‘normal’ Miuras, espadas and Isleros), the lack of a roof was not a problem. dr stefano pasini bologna, italy
dron on dolomites
tONY drON’s artICLe in Octane 119 about Broadspeed’s development of the triumph dolomite sprint for racing gives interesting insight into the team’s refinement of triumph’s slant-four engine, and I was impressed by the final output of 210bhp for the 1978 season. the development of the engine didn’t stop with the sprint, however: saab produced an improved 2.0-litre version for its 99 from 1972, and boosted output to 143bhp with turbocharging from 1978. the swedish version proved very reliable and remained in production until 2009, delivering a final output of 225bhp for that year’s 9-5 aero. My 1973 99L has done 150,000 miles with its 1.85-litre triumph engine. It now needs replacement of the single camshaft drive – one of the weaknesses that were eliminated in the swedish-built versions. tor ingebrigtsen tromsø, norway
tONY’s Feature took me straight back to the early ’80s when, as an engineering apprentice at London transport, I bought a sprint, uBh 458N, white with a black vinyl roof. Of course, I tinkered with the car. I had the pistons and con-rods beautifully balanced by an eccentric local engineer in Finchley Central who got them down to within 0.5 of a gramme of each other – the starting
imbalance was 12 grammes – and this resulted in a much smoother, free-revving engine. I lapped the 16 valves by hand, with the blisters to show for it. I then fitted a competition head gasket, a 12-vane water pump and a Kenlowe electric fan and had no overheating problems whatsoever. An SAH straight-through exhaust from Dunham & Haines added a wonderful exhaust note, and Spax adjustable shocks helped tame the wayward handling a bit, but it was still very tail-happy. I was such a regular visitor to my local British Leyland dealer, Broadfields, in Cockfosters, that they gave me trade prices! A pair of ubiquitous Cibié Oscars were mounted on the front bumper and a Sharp radio/casette with a graphic equaliser hidden beneath the glovebox. Those were the days: cheap insurance and petrol, which gave us the freedom to drive for pleasure, even on meagre apprentice’s wages. stavros marangos north london
poor man’s ferrarI
I reAD wITH InTereST Mark Dixon’s mention of his Fiat 2300S Coupé in Octane 119. Having acquired this 1966 model from a French collector, I am so pleased I did. while it has been nothing but trouble since arriving here on a trailer last May, and I have only managed to drive it once – without brakes – from Surrey to Goodwood House last August, I am nevertheless smitten! what I thought was a perfect example of the beautiful ’60s Italian GT has proven not to be; however, this three-owner, 66,000-mile example is going to end up as it should be, not concours but preserved and used like Mark’s. According to the DvLA, there are only eight in the UK and that is quite something as far as I am concerned: an exclusive club of ‘poor man’s Ferraris’.
This is not green.
peter jerram london
yOUr COver FeATUre on the Alfa romeo GTA (Octane 119) immediately brought to mind a memorable day in September 1966 when, accompanying my good friend and our respective ladies in his brand new 1500 Beetle, we were stopping and starting our way through the Cheshire backlanes in the queue for the annual Oulton Park Gold Cup race meeting. Suddenly our conversation was drowned out by the ‘woofling and snorting’ of a car behind us ducking, diving, and hurrying its way through the long line of slowly moving spectators’ cars. ‘I’m going to let this one through,’ announced my normally unyielding friend, to my surprise. what followed was a spectacle guaranteed to warm the hearts of us red-blooded young racing fans. none other than Brian redman himself, our very own Lancashire hero, at the wheel of the red rose racing Alfa romeo GTA, complete with Italian registration plates and racing numbers. Later, at trackside, we really rooted for Brian and the Alfa GTA and he didn’t disappoint, taking second in his class and fourth overall in the Touring Car race. I’ve had a very soft spot in my heart for racing GTAs ever since.
davId alderson northants
frazer nash-bmw found
I wAS very InTereSTeD in the details and photo of Charles wells’s father’s Frazer nash-BMw 327/80 in Octane 119, because I now have the car and am nearing completion of a major restoration. It was previously owned by Sam Hunting, the proprietor of the westgate Motor Co, Peterborough. He had the BMw for many years and used it extensively, and I well remember admiring this very unusual vehicle as a schoolboy. By the time Sam died in 1983, KMT 774 was in very poor condition but was sold at auction along with his house and effects. After that it passed through the hands of two half-hearted owners who came to realise that these cars are complex, expensive and quite difficult to restore. I am plodding away methodically and look forward to using the car’s capabilities as Charles wells describes in his letter. The photograph shows it in 1965, when it was featured in an article in the Peterborough evening Telegraph – the accessories on the car are very ’60s and will not be put back on!
This is Austin-Healey British Racing Green 8120 Do you see what we see? We’re obsessed with classics, which is why we insure nothing else. Join us – hagertyinsurance.co.uk or call 0844 811 3534
O C T A N E J U N E 2 013 41
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EFG International’s global private banking network includes offices in Zurich, Geneva, London, Channel Islands, Luxembourg, Monaco, Madrid, Hong Kong, Singapore, Shanghai, Taipei, Miami, Nassau, Bogotá and Montevideo. www.efginternational.com
JAY LENO T H E
C O L L E C TO R
’M TRYING TO understand why I enjoy driving certain cars that, to many, might not seem remarkable. I have a 1971 Mercedes-Benz SEL 6.3 and I also have a modern AMG E55, as well as an SLR. So why is the 6.3 my favourite of the three to drive? It’s certainly more primitive than the other two. When it was introduced it was the fastest four-door in America, with its 6.3-litre engine and 250 horsepower. It felt like a real 250, not like an American 250. When I was a teenager I worked at a place called Foreign Motors. We were importers of Mercedes-Benz as well as other ‘ﬁne foreign cars’. It was my job to detail them and deliver them to their new owners. I remember at the time Mercedes ran an ad asking why anyone would pay $10,000 for a four-door sedan, which seemed like an outrageous price at the time, and they had the whole list of reasons. When I delivered a 6.3 to a customer it always seemed like the richest, most luxurious car in the world. When I drive mine now I notice the leather seems richer than new cars’ but the electric window switches don’t integrate the way they do in a modern Mercedes, the doors are way thinner and the steering wheel rim is extremely slim. But there’s something about driving it that’s fulﬁlling. I was driving mine spiritedly and noticed, as I put my foot in while going around a corner, the right rear tyre li up and spin. I laughed to myself. It has air suspension, quite sophisticated back in the day, but that spinning wheel made me smile because it seemed so primitive. It seems much easier to place on the road because there’s not so much space between me and the outside, and there’s a lot of fuss and noise - like when you turn on the air-conditioner – that you don’t get in a modern Mercedes. There’s a rawness about it that I like. This one has 326,000 miles on it. It’s got a few dings and dents and I picked it up quite cheaply. It’s my favourite style, with the two headlights stacked on top of each other. It looks like a prestigious car. But perhaps the reason I like it now is because it was so unobtainable in my youth, just so far out of my reach. When the 6.3 came out I was washing cars for $1.50 an hour. I would have had to work for ten years to have one. It’s also about the time in which you grew up. When I was young anything with less than four doors might as well have been a Ferrari, because I grew up in a rural area in New England and people drove big four-door sedans or Galaxies or pick-up trucks.
It was the type of place where you’d go uptown and you’d go home at 10:30 and someone would call up and say ‘Hey, a Corvette drove by!’ And you’d say ‘Nooooooooo! I missed it! I should have been hanging out with you guys!’ There was a guy a couple of towns over who owned a Vincent Black Shadow motorbike and he would ride through town. He never stopped, just went on through. And people would say, ‘Oh, that guy came by the other night. Where does he live?’ When I moved to California 25 years later my friend called me and said ‘Hey, that Vincent that used to go through town is for sale.’ Well, I bought it! I didn’t know what it looked like, I’d only seen it go by, but I had to have it. It was such a legend! I get a huge kick out of riding it now, and there are maybe ﬁve guys in the whole world who are impressed that I have that one. As soon as I got it I called a friend from high school I hadn’t seen in 15 years and said ‘Remember that Black Shadow? I got it!’ He said ‘You did?!?’ He was so excited. My wife thinks I’m crazy. She sort of understands most of the cars but there are some she just doesn’t get at all. One is a 1966 green Hemi Coronet, blackwall tyres, dog-dish hubcaps, no power brakes, no power steering, but a big 426 dual-quad Hemi. It was the biggest, baddest Hemi and came with a 90-day warranty. My wife thinks it looks like a taxi. Most Dodge Coronets were taxis, but down in the front quarter panel of mine is a little insignia that says ‘426 Hemi’. It might as well say Ferrari or Lamborghini because that was the car of legend when I was a kid. It doesn’t stop, it doesn’t go around corners, but you put your foot in it and it’s really fast. That was the one you had to have, but it was just a dream back then. I think with these cars it all has to do with that sense of the unobtainable. The prettiest girl in high school still seems attractive to me because you go back to how she looked in high school. I guess it’s why we love classic cars; they hark back to another era.
‘IT WAS THE BIGGEST, BADDEST HEMI AND CAME WITH A 90-DAY WARRANTY. MY WIFE THINKS IT LOOKS LIKE A TAXI’
Comedian and talk show host Jay Leno is one of the most famous entertainers in the USA. He is also a true petrolhead, with a massive collection of cars and bikes (see www.jaylenosgarage.com). Jay was speaking with Jeremy Hart.
O C T A N E J U N E 2 013 43
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Derek Bell T H E
L E G E N d
f late, there has been much harrumphing among F1 fans about the number of Grands Prix being hosted outside Europe. By way of an example, France, which has been involved in top-flight motor sport for more than 100 years, no longer has a round of the World Championship. And therein lies the rub: in recent years, races have been played out in countries with no motor sport back story or, judging from the empty grandstands, much in the way of local interest. For well-articulated reasons, this doesn’t sit well with those who have followed the sport for decades. I understand their viewpoint completely, but a recent trip to China opened my eyes to the possibilities for motor racing in emerging markets. I was on duty representing Bentley, which was launching the Continental GT Speed over there. Just getting into China was in itself quite a feat, not least because of the paper trail I had to hike arranging visas and suchlike. Then there were the flights: I flew from LA to London and then had a 13-hour flight to Shanghai to look forward to, but on arrival I was amazed at how straightforward it was passing through immigration: it’s harder getting into the UK as a Brit! It really is a remarkable country and in many ways a contradictory one. It is obviously boom time in many areas, with skyscrapers sprouting out of the ground like sunflowers, and with such growth comes wealth. Hosting a round of the F1 World Championship brings with it a certain international cachet, hence the number of races currently being held in places many of us struggle to pronounce, let alone spell. China has hosted a Grand Prix nine times, and the Shanghai International Circuit – which is where we held the Bentley launch – was in period the most expensive track ever built and is a fantastic facility. It reputedly cost a whopping $240m ten years ago which, truth be told, is a drop in the ocean compared with some of the Middle Eastern venues that have come along since. The thing is, car ownership is a relatively new phenomenon in China, which is patently obvious when you venture onto the roads. It was a 90-minute drive from the hotel to the track, but our minibus driver attempted to do it inside an hour. I’m not normally a nervous passenger but I was terrified! What is strange is that I didn’t see a single damaged car during the trip. Somehow everyone stays shiny side up. Chinese drivers have no fear.
Because car culture has been around for only a few decades, motor sport is still considered something of a novelty yet interest is growing exponentially. Last year, Ma Qing Hua made history by becoming the first Chinese-born driver ever to participate in a Grand Prix weekend when he drove for the nowdefunct HRT team. The former Chinese Touring Car Champion took part in the opening practice session for the Italian GP at Monza and is now Caterham’s reserve driver. He is every inch the local hero; one employed by a leading Chinese TV channel to explain all things F1 over the course of a race weekend. You may not have heard of him, but his name is every bit as big as Alonso’s or Räikkönen’s over there. He is competing in GP2 this season to gain experience and I wouldn’t bet against him blazing a trail for Chinese drivers in F1 within the next few years. He certainly has the backing to make the leap, but question marks still surround his ability at this level. Needless to say, established squads are tripping over themselves to court the yen. Motor racing is an egregiously expensive business and, as I have mentioned before in this column, even the biggest teams are hurting in the current economic climate. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to see the Chinese acquire an established ‘name’ once interest really begins to take hold. Entrepreneurs from other emerging financial powerhouses have done it – not least Force India (née Midland/Jordan) and Russian-owned Marussia F1 Team (née Virgin Racing) – so there is a precedent. Ultimately, China, India, Russia and the like will benefit in the long term from having a proper grassroots involvement in motor sport. Which is where British firms come in. Right now there is a real opportunity for them to export their knowhow and this can only be a good thing. Motor sport will always have some degree of support in Europe and North America, but we shouldn’t be complacent. Our continued enjoyment of racing in the West could one day be contingent on support from the East.
‘France has been involved in motor sport For more than 100 years, yet no longer has a World championship round’
Derek took up racing in 1964 in a Lotus 7, won two World Sportscar Championship titles in 1985 and 1986, the 24 Hours of Daytona three times in 1986, 1987 and 1989, and Le Mans five times in 1975, 1981, 1982, 1986 and 1987. He was speaking with Richard Heseltine.
O C T A N E j u n e 2 013 45
STEPHEN BAYLEY T H E
A E S T H E T E
Y SUBJECT THIS MONTH is oriﬁces. A car’s principal air intake and its close relations, the louvre and the duct, have o en been the deﬁning features of a design. But as smoking legislation threatens the minor art form of the commercial ashtray with extinction, so automotive power systems and aerodynamics are diminishing the role of the hole. Still, I have a fanciful idea that you could write a history of car design by studying the shape of air intakes alone. If you want examples of the extraordinary aesthetic subtleties, games of proportion and nuanced semantics that designers so artfully deal with, you could do no better than immerse yourself in the automobile oriﬁce as it evolved from the mid-1950s. Put it this way, I think most readers would be able to identify ‘1957 Vanwall’ from the shape of the Frank Costin-designed air intake alone. In terms of visual language, the stuﬀ that preoccupies aesthetes, that’s an extraordinary testament to the power of design. I like the orotund magniﬁcence, with echoes of the language of Dante, that Pininfarina uses to deﬁne the presa d’aria in the valuable little Lessico della Carrozzeria : ‘Imboccatura attraverso la quale il ﬂusso d’aria viene canalizzato nei punti richiesti per il raﬀreddamento di parti meccaniche o per raﬀrescare l’abitaclo.’ Like the most moving parts of Dante, this is best le unmolested by translation, but if you take anything as seriously as Pininfarina takes the air intake, you will be bound to pay close attention to its design. Ferrari 275GTB? Could a hole be more beautiful? Basically, hot engines and brakes need cooling and so do the passengers. Thus the need for holes to capture and channel air. Because they have some of the characteristics of a mouth and nostrils, the front elevation of a car can resemble a human face, a little bit of theatricality in which the lights play the part of eyes. As Charles Darwin showed in his 1872 study The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, the mouth is peculiarly articulate. A little ﬂexure of the lips can change the meaning of a facial expression from ecstasy to revulsion via doubt. This human parallel gives the air intake such gestural power. To understand how science must defer to art in making a car beautiful, consider the revolting air intake of the 1952 Cunningham
C-4RK. This was the work of the pioneer aerodynamicist Wunibald Kamm and it looks, if we are honest, like a puckered oriﬁce where the sun is not known to shine. Compare with the 1958 Scarab, once routinely cited as ‘the most beautiful racing car ever made’, and I see no reason to argue with this assessment. This was the work of Lance Reventlow, not a scientist, but a playboy heir to the old Woolworth’s fortune. The Scarab’s major air intake is a delicious slit, a beautiful, crushed ellipse taken to exquisite points at its extremities. Sublime. The E-type comes rushing to mind. The original had a gorgeous aperture with sexual suggestions there for all to drool over, a major psychological factor, surely, in the car’s popular success. The later V12 needed more cooling, thus a bigger intake, which compromised the art as much as the heavy engine ruined the handling. A few extra horsepower bought at a terrible aesthetic cost. And now there is the F-type. I know they have agonised about this, ﬁnessed the radii, studied the data, sent the car to clinics, but, I am sorry: no. If you want to see how a rectangular intake works artistically, consider the ’64 Mustang or the ’66 GT40. Minor intakes important too. As aerodynamics shi ed from guesswork to technology, cars appeared with NACA ducts. The acronym belongs to NASA’s predecessor, the National Advisory Council for Aeronautics, whose wonderfully expressive intakes were depressed ﬂush into the bodywork so as not to cause drag. Shaped in plan like an architect’s ogee arch, they created vortices that caused suction which multiplied the volume of air taken in. The history of the NACA duct begins with the North American YF93 interceptor of 1950 and ends 37 years later with Ferrari’s F40. In between, gloriously kitsch fake ducts appeared on Mustangs and Corvettes, evidence of Detroit’s depravity. And the 1989 Ferrari 348 had a front intake that is entirely bogus. Imagine the Pope in a wig! I like vulgar fakery in America, but not in Italy. That was the moment Ferrari began its aesthetic decline. As I say, you could write a history of car design by looking at holes alone.
‘IT LOOKS, IF WE ARE HONEST, LIKE A PUCKERED ORIFICE WHERE THE SUN IS NOT KNOWN TO SHINE’
Author, critic, consultant, broadcaster, debater and curator Stephen co-created the Boilerhouse Project at London’s V&A, was chief executive of The Design Museum, and fell out with Peter Mandelson when he told him the Millennium Dome ‘could turn out to be crap’.
O C T A N E J U N E 2 013 47
Commemorate ten years of Octane in An Evening With our most celebrated columnists at the Royal Automobile Club, London
Past and present Octane columnists Sir Stirling Moss, Rowan Atkinson and Nick Mason (with a special video message from Jay Leno) will host our spectacular night, sharing their favourite motoring experiences. The price of £115 per person includes a three-course meal with wine. Buy online at www.octane-magazine.com (click on ‘Shop’) or call 0844 245 6971 (from overseas, call +44 1795 414866). Book early as tickets are strictly limited. When 29 May 2013, 7.30pm Where Royal Automobile Club, Pall Mall, London Price £115 per person (tables of ten are also available) Dress Lounge suits/cocktail dresses
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ROBERT COUCHER T H E
D R I V E R
UST BACK FROM the Octane ‘oﬃces’ in Cape Town, where I spent my time driving a range of interesting vehicles and pondering the continuing and growing appeal of what are loosely termed classic cars. As you might have read in this magazine, my old father keeps a 1937 Derby Bentley in the Cape and, in the name of research, I spend a good deal of time behind its large and ﬂexible steering wheel. One sunny morning a friend joined me for a drive through the vineyards of Constantia and he was quite bemused by the whole exercise. ‘Oh, the door opens the wrong way,’ he said, climbing into the Sportsman saloon. ‘And where’s the gearshi ?’ he asked, before discovering that it is on the right-hand side of the driver, perfectly positioned for the full up-the-trouser-leg routine. The start-up procedure amused him: ﬂick on the ignition lever on the dash, pull on the (admittedly a ermarket) fuel pump switch and allow the carbs to prime. Then retard the ignition by sliding the steeringboss-mounted chrome knob down a tad, open the similarly mounted throttle override knob a snitch, and thumb the chrome starter button. Once the 4¼-litre six ﬁres, you then need to adjust the controls to full advance and drop the revs down to a comfortable idle. For someone who has grown up driving a car that opens with a ‘blipper’, getting the Bentley running is quite a procedure, but one he did seem pleased to observe. The Derby has no synchro between ﬁrst and second, so the change needs to be exacted with a double-declutch and the drive is very… involving. Bowling through the lanes, we enjoyed the easy nature of the Bentley – a true ‘silent sports car’. But let’s not kid ourselves: the experience of driving a classic car is increasingly far removed from that of sitting at the wheel of a modern vehicle. Modern motor cars continue to morph into electronic entertainment centres, propelled by alternative energy power plants, making classic cars seem ever more anachronistic – and, in my view, all the more enjoyable for it. Most would argue that the enormous technological advances of recent years have been welcome, and it is certainly true that cars are now safer and easier to drive than ever. The widespread adoption of electronic stability controls and computer-controlled braking has no doubt prevented a great many accidents, and on our traﬃc-snared motorways an automatic gearbox is inﬁnitely
more sensible than a manual. In fact, it seems likely that manual transmission will be regarded by the average motorist as a positively prehistoric bother in ten years’ time. Already Ferrari and McLaren, manufacturers of the ﬁnest supercars on the road today, no longer oﬀer manual transmission and Porsche has followed suit with its latest hardcore 911. Some modern test drivers lament this, but the market apparently does not: virtually all supercars bought now are ﬁtted with some sort of auto ’box. While it would simply be untrue to suggest that a 458 Italia, with all its little circuit boards, is no fun to drive, it is indisputable that the electronic gadgetry packed into modern vehicles deprives drivers of many of the dynamic sensations experienced by classic car enthusiasts. But back to my recent trip to South Africa. The country has long suﬀered appalling road accident death rates. Over a single Easter weekend, more people die gruesomely on the roads in South Africa than are killed in an entire year in Britain. The authorities have introduced hard-hitting measures to reduce the incidence of drinking and driving, and widespread roadblocks and frequent arrests seem to be having the desired eﬀect. Quite rightly, almost nobody gets behind the wheel a er a drink anymore, and on the radio and television there is the most frightful advertising campaign which puts out a pointed message: if you get caught drinking and driving you will be thrown into jail with a bunch of uncivilised animals, and in all likelihood be gang raped and contract AIDS. Honestly! This ad campaign would immediately be banned over here because it is violent and racist, but boy, does it work. So, roll on the future motoring module – one that is comfortable and near-silent on the motorway and will drive you home if you are a little over-refreshed. Meanwhile, for proper driving pleasure, old motors like the Bentley can be taken out and enjoyed, with skilled inputs being rewarded with exciting dynamic responses, with no nannying computer in sight.
‘FOR SOMEONE WHO HAS GROWN UP WITH CARS THAT OPEN WITH A “BLIPPER”, GETTING THE BENTLEY RUNNING IS QUITE A PROCEDURE’
Robert grew up with classic cars, and has owned a Lancia Aurelia B20GT, Alfa Romeo Giulietta and a Porsche 356C. He currently uses his properly sorted 1955 Jaguar XK140 as his daily driver, and is a founding editor of this magazine.
O C T A N E J U N E 2 013 49
Vice-president and ex-chairman of the HGPCA, world-class restorer and historic GP racer TONY, 73, was raised and worked at his parents’ ﬁlling station and garage in Leicester. In 1960 he started racing his MG J3 750cc with the VSCC and met Sandy Murray, owner of ERA R1A, which Tony raced for the next 23 years. Embarking on a career with historic racing cars, he worked for Tom Wheatcro restoring 15 of his cars before joining Neil Corner’s stable, and in 1974 Tony set up on his own near Reading. Largely self-taught, he has restored and race-prepared countless historic Maseratis, Ferraris and Alfa Romeos, and a BRM V16. He has worked with the BMW Museum and with Mercedes-Benz on projects including the restoration of their two priceless 300SLR coupés, and raced a variety of GP cars (including his own Ferrari Dino) for 16 years before retiring in 2000. ‘I have managed to make a lot of dreams come true, both for myself and for others.’ Steve Havelock
1 // ERA MODEL AND BOOK I raced Sandy Murray’s ERA R1A for 23 years, and the ﬁrst of those served as my introduction to top level historic racing. This History of ERA book, published by David Weguelin in 1980, is copy 1 of 100 and is signed by Prince Bira. It includes a lovely photo of Sandy and me. 2 // BRM V16 STEERING JOINT This reminds me of what British and BRM engineering was like in 1951. It’s a beautifully made universal joint from a steering column. They could have bought one oﬀ the shelf for ﬁve pence but they chose to make their own, which cost ﬁve hundred quid and was probably heavier. 3 // 300SLR COUPÉ MODEL I restored both of the only two 300SLR coupés that Mercedes made. They are considered the most valuable things in the Mercedes museum, and are quite amazing to drive. 4 // 1954 PETROL PRICE LIST This reminds me of when I used to pump petrol at my parents’ garage. Petrol was just four shillings a gallon. When I was eight I was caught driving a customer’s Morris Eight across the forecourt. My dad died when I was 12 and my mum carried on running the place.
5 // GERMAN GP WINNER’S WREATH This oak-leaf wreath was won by Tony Brooks at the Nürburgring in the Vanwall in ’58, and it was in the Vanwall transporter when I bought it from Vandervell. 6 // HORNBY LOCOMOTIVE As a small boy I had loads of Dinky Toys and model railway engines. This is one of them – it’s a clockwork Hornby O-gauge model of the Bramham Moor. 7 // MERCEDES 300SLR VALVE This is a desmodromic valve from the straight-eight engine. It’s hollow for lightness and ﬁlled with sodium for cooling. It’s also tapered, unlike modern valves, which are parallel.
8 // 1890 MAGAZINES I’m fascinated by the Forth Railway Bridge, which took seven years to build. A paper on it was written for the Institute of Mechanical Engineers, and I’d always wanted to see it but could never ﬁnd a copy. At a car auction in Hendon I bought 16 bound copies of Engineering from 1890, one of which included the complete Forth Bridge paper – a real bonus.
9 // SILVER TROPHY I bought a very rare 1932 Maserati 4CS 1500 with Brianza bodywork from Eric Stewart of the band 10cc. It was in a poor state and took 22 years to restore as it was a spare-time sort of project. In 2001 it won Best of Show at Techno-Classica Essen and I was really chuﬀed. 10 // FERRARI DINO GP PICTURE I raced my Dino for 16 years up until 2000. At Imola, the engine stopped on the grid and a guy from the 12th row whacked into the back of me. I then had some health issues so decided to retire from racing and my business. This is a computer-enhanced photograph of me in the Dino, printed onto canvas.
8 // 50 J U N E 2 013 O C T A N E
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1926 BENTLEY 3 LITRE Ex-‘Scrap’ Thistlewaite Le Mans entry A private entry run by the factory in the 1926 Le Mans driven by charismatic playboy owner Tommy ‘Scrap’ Thistlethwayte and co-piloted by wartime hero and Bentley Boy Captain Clive Gallop. Further competing in the Boulogne race week before being retired from racing, ‘Number Nine’ remains the only Super Sports to have competed at Le Mans. This is the first time this important Bentley has been offered for sale in a generation
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TOURING CARS: A NON CONTACT SPORT, APPARENTLY
ALAN MANN COLLECTION
OURING CAR RACING is still, I reckon, misunderstood. It has always been a serious business, even though it was ﬁrst promoted as a bit of fun in which dad could race the family car. But it never was like that. The best manufacturers have always been involved, seeing it as extremely important. The 2013 British Touring Car Championship has just got oﬀ to an impressive start at Brands Hatch but the old joke is already doing the rounds: the Touring Cars are back with a bang. There’s some truth there but it’s a gross overstatement, because the fact is that today’s BTCC features top-class drivers in ten diﬀerent makes of car. All right, there was some ‘nudging and nerﬁng’, as it used to be called – come to think of it, how did the verb ‘to nerf’ ever get into the motor racing lexicon? We all know that this isn’t a contact sport, yet there usually is some bumping these days, even in F1. Perhaps it’s inevitable in Touring Car racing, with such hot competition. Vitally, I did note, there didn’t seem to be anything casual or nasty about the driving in this year’s BTCC opening meeting, in which veteran ace Jason Plato took the spoils with his works MG. This is fast racing, top cars lapping Brands’ Indy circuit in the 48-second bracket. Plato got bumped going into the last corner of race two, taking him and his assailant oﬀ, but they both recovered and Plato retained the lead to notch up his 76th career win. When they hit each other like that, some saloon car racing old-timers raise their hands in disgust and insist that it wasn’t like that in their day. That’s rubbish, and I can prove it. The types who complain the loudest about contact in modern motor sport are even older than I am and – whatever the editor likes to believe – there are still such people around. My time in Saloon/Touring car racing was in the 1970s, when it was fairly clean, but I remember one exception when a well-known competitor deliberately drove into me oﬀ the startline at Silverstone in a 1978 British Championship race. He’s dead now, meaning he can’t answer back, but his name isn’t important anyway. He tried very hard to push me into the concrete pit-wall all the way along that ﬁrst straight and I was quite relieved when he braked ﬁrst for Copse. There was no point in complaining about it as oﬃcial observers never seemed to see anything. I reckoned they had to be registered blind to be considered for the job. That driver’s criminal behaviour was an isolated incident and I never saw anything else of that kind in top-level saloon car racing back then. However, plenty of people will tell you that it was all good clean fun in the 1950s and 1960s. They will tell you, and I’m sure they believe it, that the very idea of contact with a rival’s car was utterly unacceptable.
Brands Hatch, 1967. An innocent Graham Hill in Team Lotus Cortina Mk2 ploughs into Frank Gardner’s spinning Ford Falcon. Collecting Hill like that must have been embarrassing… and so much for 1960s saloon racing’s air of ‘good clean fun’.
‘WHITMORE’S HOPES OF WINNING ENDED WHEN ONE OF HIS TYRES WAS PUNCTURED BY THE WHEEL NUTS OF ANOTHER CAR’ That probably was true of open-wheelers in those days, when the slightest touch was likely to end in death or serious injury. In saloon car racing, things were rather diﬀerent. Let’s look at how it really was 50 years ago, which was well before my time. Unlike today, back in 1963 the British Saloon Car Championship was run in classes, based on engine size. Going into the penultimate round at the Oulton Park Gold Cup meeting in September, the battle for the title was between Jack Sears, in the 2000cc class, and John Whitmore, in the 1300cc class. Driving one of the newly homologated Lotus Cortinas, Jack ﬁnished third overall behind the Ford Galaxies of none other than Dan Gurney and Graham Hill – those were the days! Obviously, Jack won his class, took maximum points and deservedly won his second British Saloon Car Championship. In the 1300cc class, further down the ﬁeld, there was a lot of body bashing on the ﬁrst lap. Whitmore’s hopes of winning the title ended in
less than two miles when one of his tyres was punctured by the wheel nuts of another car. The 1963 BSCC was decided by that unfortunate if relatively minor incident but two years later, in 1965, the premier British saloon car racing series was blighted all season by bashed bodywork. The ﬁrst corner in the BSCC round at September’s Oulton Park Gold Cup looked like a demolition derby. This mad moment has been mentioned before but it’s well worth reminding ourselves that six of the leading cars went oﬀ in one accident. The apparent racewinner extricated himself from the mess but his car was disqualiﬁed later because the engine was illegal. A er this season’s great start, I shall be watching the BTCC more closely through the remaining rounds. The drivers have my respect, my only complaint being that they seem to be paid much better than I was 35 years ago. Keep it clean, chaps – the world is watching.
Having started his racing career in Formula Ford, Tony made a name for himself in 1970s Touring Cars and since then has raced an astonishing variety of sports and historic machinery. He is also a hugely respected journalist.
O C T A N E J U N E 2 013 53
M c L a r e n F1 & F e r r a r i 25 0 G T O
T H E I C O NS
They’re two of the most desirable cars in the world – and they have more in common than you might think. But can McLaren’s first hypercar ever aspire to the mantle of the ultimate Ferrari? PhotograPhy Charlie Magee ON THE FACE OF IT, the comparison seems an unlikely one. Pitch an early-1960s Ferrari against a McLaren that appeared more than half-a-century later? Yet there’s no dispute about their desirability, that’s for sure: the going rate for a 250GTO is north of £20 million and, while the F1 is worth only a fraction of that, as fractions go it’s still a substantial amount – say £2.5-3 million. But the suggestion for this unique back-to-back came from no less an authority than the motor sport historian Doug Nye, who provocatively claims that the two cars have more in common
56 j u n e 2 013 O C T A N E
than you might think. Over the page, you can read his entertaining explanation of what links the GTO and the F1. And, to continue the theme, Mark Hales explores the way the two cars drive; while international classic car broker (and F1 owner) Simon Kidston speculates on how they may both fare on the market in years to come. We’ve also included some comments from the two individuals lucky enough to own our feature cars. You certainly need to be very well-heeled to buy one, these days – but do they cost a fortune to run? The answers may surprise you…
S qua r E u p
O C T A N E j u n e 2 013 57
M c L a r e n F1 & F e r r a r i 25 0 G T O
Doug nye on The Big Question Provenance, race history, ultimate design and engineering credibility: both have it. So does the McLaren F1 stand a chance of matching the 250GTO in the eyes of seasoned enthusiasts?
was a bit fazed when Ron Dennis phoned me. Ooh-err. We hadn’t spoken in years, ever since I’d completed the owner’s special edition of our McLaren F1 book Driving Ambition and Ron had decreed that, although I could have a copy, I would have to pay full price for it. I have seldom been more deeply unimpressed. Never before had I been refused a discount on one of my own books. On principle I suggested an alternative destination for the volume in question. I think I’d already blotted my copybook when he’d suggested that I’d make an ideal manager for a McLaren F1 Bonneville record attempt. I’d honestly confessed that while I’d love to do it, his confidence was wildly misplaced, I actually knew my limitations, and by his standards I’d just prove I couldn’t even run a bath. Another – unspoken – reason was that I couldn’t see myself willingly wearing some team uniform, plastered in sponsor logos from people and 58 j u n e 2 013 O C T A N E
products I might detest. Hmm – but now he again wanted something from me. I opened the conversation by remarking ‘Oh gawd – what have I done wrong?’ Chuckling, Ron assured me that he simply wanted to check some ancient history and we had an enjoyable half-hour or so exploring the field. But my notions of old McLarens’ monetary value were laughably out-of-date, as he made clear. I then readily explained in detail what my long-time associates at auctioneers Bonhams totally understand. I’m a history man, not a money man, and to me no old banger can itself be worth more than five to ten grand. It’s then that genuine stature, proven record, superstar association and – above all – market perception add the zillions. In contrast, a long-overdue lunch with Gordon Murray – creator of the McLaren F1 – went rather better. We giggled a lot, recalling when he had invited me to tag along with the inaugural McLaren Cars project – as a kind
of semi-resident Boswell to his Dr Johnson – very early in the piece. He and McLaren’s late, wonderful, Creighton Brown had first asked me to sign a confidentiality agreement which, in puzzlement, I did. Then they took me down into the workshop at their spanking new Albert Drive factory in Woking, and there sat a rough-cut MDF cockpit mockup. It was at the time all that existed of the McLaren F1. Its windscreen was defined merely by strings stretched between tacks in the timber header rail and scuttle top. Creighton’s confidentiality agreement was explained by the arrow-head seat layout and centreline driving position. Despite my prejudice against ‘ordinary’ roadgoing supercars, I recognised that Gordon had brought me in on the birth of something truly wonderful – and in later years it proved a real privilege to tell the full story. This March, part of that story came full circle. The great Nick Mason and I found ourselves co-presenting a group
of our favourite cars to a select – but frankly dauntingly highly qualified – audience at the 7th Connoisseurship Symposium in Miles Collier’s fantastic Collection at Naples, Florida. We had only an hour, more or less, for that module, but spent 25 minutes of it on the very first car selected: the McLaren F1. Within that select audience there were several owners of F1s and, significantly, of 50-year-old Ferrari 250GTOs. Nick himself, as a discerning connoisseur of truly great cars, has one of each. Back in the late ’80s when he ‘only’ had a £70,000 GTO he had lent it to mutual friend Murray. And this is where, though my sense of attached monetary numbers is demonstrably inadequate, I can claim some insight. Nobody would claim that a GTO offers 21st-century refinement, quiet, comfort and mod cons. But by happy circumstance the Ferrari design team that developed the model in 1961-62 provided one of the best-balanced, most driveable and forgiving private-
Above More than 30 years apart, the new car with an engine more than twice the size and power of the older one’s, but the older car worth ten times as much as the newer one. Will time alter that ratio?
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M c L a r e n F1 t a k e s o n F e r r a r i 25 0 G t o
‘Only a minority of life-sentence “car guys” will ever possess the funds to indulge their enthusiasm’ owner quasi-competition cars of all time. Nick tells me that today he’s perfectly happy to have his GTO circuitraced on a Sunday by professional drivers (with a realistic prospect of a decent result), while remaining confident that the car will emerge fit enough for his wife to take it on a comfortable, enjoyable – and QUICK! – week-long Rallye Feminin next day. What’s true today was just as true 50 years ago when the first of the 39 Ferrari 250GTOs built first rolled out of Maranello’s factory gates. It was Nick who loaned his Ferrari F40 to Gordon back in 1989 for the engineer to experience what a standardsetting contemporary ‘supercar’ did well, and what it did poorly. The old 250GTO went along so Gordon could also study the essence, the soul, the character of a truly iconic connoisseur’s car… and to absorb the experience that cannot be defined by factory drawings, data recordings, nor numbers on graph paper. Nick assured Gordon: ‘I don’t know how you do it, but that’s what you need to capture!’ Today, $35 million is regarded as the benchmark price for a 1962-63 Ferrari 250GTO. Yet $40 million has been offered for one or two, and rejected by long-term owners who know darned well that, if they sell, they’ll probably never own another. Once sold it’s lost forever. For many (of the favoured few), a GTO is for life. But let’s now address another aspect of car connoisseurship. Only a minority of life-sentence ‘car guys’ will ever possess the funds to indulge their enthusiasm. What’s common between us all – both those who can buy, and those who can’t – is that we are all conditioned to a great extent by the whizzbang wonders of our youth. I grew up made absolutely starry-eyed by Carrera PanAmericana Lancia D24s, Le Mans D-type Jaguars and, of course, Mille Miglia Mercedes-Benz 300SLRs. Then we were smitten by Aston Martin DBRs, the 250GTOs… and the affordable E-type Jaguar. Slip five years or so and the Ford GT40 plucks the heartstrings. For fans of ’70s vintage, the Porsche 917s and Ferrari 512s surely float their boat. From the 1980s it might be Porsche 956s and 962s, the Walkinshaw Jaguar XJRs or Lancia’s startling LC2s – and more recently the Le Mans Audis or Peugeots? But for decades now, purebred racing cars – even sports-racing cars – have become track-day propositions. As with zoo animals, freedom could kill them. Attempt to run one on the open road and it’s a toss-up what will happen first: expensive breakage, or arrest and prosecution. I have driven both a number of 250GTOs and a Ferrari 275LM on the open road and the high-tide of usability is plainly exceeded by the latter. Hair-trigger clutch, hopeless O C T A N E j u n e 2 0 1 3 61
M c L a r e n F1 & F e r r a r i 25 0 G T O
‘if a modern-era successor can achieve recognition as the future 250GTO, it has to be the McLaren F1’ three-quarter visibility, the LM proved as uncongenial for road use as the 250GTO is a delight. And for perennial teenagers deeply imprinted in youth by GTOs, the wealth to acquire one provides entry to the coolest of private clubs. This remarkable usability – the GTO being equally at home on road or track, in Historic motor race, club rally, concours, shopping trip or (if you’re rash enough) pub crawl – will remain the GTO’s prime asset as long as governments permit private motoring. But if there’s a modern-era successor rapidly achieving recognition as the future 250GTO, I think it has to be the McLaren F1. This carbon-composite V12-byBMW-engined wonder offers (albeit in a more variantdependent manner) as much of the 250GTO’s usability as 21st-century traffic law can concede. And if we compare it, inch by inch, by record and charisma, with the 50-year-old Ferrari, the parallels become quite fascinating – save for one critical factor. That critical factor is initial design philosophy. When Giotto Bizzarini’s little design team began work on what became the 250GTO they were consciously producing a racing car. Then, 30 years later, Gordon Murray’s little design team specifically produced an uncompromised road car… in no way a road racer, but a purebred road car. So before we go further, just park that essential 180-degree difference and let’s proceed with that in mind. I’m going to present a worst case, contrasting the broadly useable yet racebred Ferrari 250GTO Berlinetta family with the reluctantly race-developed McLaren F1 GTR Coupés. McLaren’s more numerous standard F1 road cars, of course, have accrued no competition record to challenge the Italian’s. At not too great a pinch, an enthusiastic owner could still drive his F1 GTR to the race meeting and back, without too intense grief to follow. After all, the F1 GTRs were basically road cars fitted with rollcage, fixed wing and nose spoiler. Even the 1997 ‘Longtail’ versions shared the same mid-section structures. While 39 Ferrari GTOs were made – including the platypus-nosed GTO/64s – McLaren Cars delivered 28 F1 GTRs, so the British cars are rarer. A comparison of the two designs is intriguing, considering that both are V12engined. The mainly 3.0-litre two-cam Ferraris, of course, have the power unit mounted ahead of the two-seat cabin and a tiny boot pre-packed by fuel tank and spare wheels. In contrast, the 6.1-litre four-cam McLaren has its BMWdeveloped engine amidships, behind a cabin that in road trim offers three seats, centre-drive, and further practical baggage space in the helicopter-style side lockers. Yet despite the McLaren’s better packaging, overall dimensions are within a gnat’s of one another. Ferrari 62 j u n e 2 013 O C T A N E
M c L a r e n F1 & F e r r a r i 25 0 G T O
250GTO: length 4300mm, width 1760mm, height 1235mm and weight 950kg. McLaren F1 GTR: length 4287mm, width 1820mm, height 1140mm and weight 1050kg. That weight disadvantage of even the racing F1 GTR still gnaws at Gordon Murray. He’d aimed at a metric tonne, no more, but that remains a rare miss. In period the Ferrari 250GTOs contested nine FIA World Championship-qualifying events in 1962, 14 in 1963 and 13 in 1964, including such races as the Sebring 12 Hours, Nürburgring 1000Kms, Spa 500Kms and the Le Mans 24 Hours (two seconds and a third there). In these events the GTO derivatives finished in the top three places as follows: 1962: three first places, six seconds and three thirds (from seven of the nine races). 1963: four first places, seven seconds and two thirds (from eight of the 14 races). 1964: three first places, five seconds and three thirds (from six of the 13 races). This record for the Ferrari 250GTO in period is noble, without really fulfilling the praise since heaped upon it. In period, while I for one adored the look, sound and success of these magnificent motor cars, much more enthusiast attention was paid to their Ferrari sports-prototype sisters, which were normally storming around much faster in overall contention. One question must be asked, however, involving proper historic perspective. It’s quite simple. Who did the GTOs beat? In 1962-63 the answer was most often the 250GT Short-Wheelbase Berlinettas they had superseded. Anybody else? In category, no. Come 1964, the Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupes began to out-muscle them at top level, so the fine finishes mainly of the GTO/64 cars as listed above demand credit. OK, now spool forward 30-odd years to the McLaren F1 GTRs’ era, 1995-97. Here we saw a broadly GTO-like pattern of mainly private owner/drivers campaigning their cars in rather more races; 13 in 1995, 20 in 1996 and a final dozen in 1997 before, with FIA connivance, Formula 1 swallowed virtually all top-level motor race funding – and worthwhile sports/GT racing died. The 45 individual races are too many to list here, but let’s summarise the F1 GTRs’ record in those three seasons, 1995-97 inclusive. 1995: ten first places (from 13 races), seven seconds and six thirds. 1996: 16 first places (from 20 races), seven seconds and five thirds. 1997: six first places (from 12 races), one second and three thirds. In essence, during 1962 the now so legendary, so revered Ferrari 250GTOs won one in three of their races. In the parallel race season of 1995 the McLaren F1 GTRs won once per 1.3 races contested. During 1963 the Ferrari 250GTOs won once in every 3.5 race outings. In the parallel race season of 1996 the McLaren F1 GTRs won once in every 1.25 race outings. During 1964 the Ferrari 250GTOs won once in every 6.5 race outings. And in the parallel race season of 1997 the McLaren F1 GTRs won every second race contested. Taken overall, through 1962-64 the Ferraris won one in four of their races, and during that period they also achieved a hat-trick of three consecutive outright victories in the FIA GT World Championship. In contrast, while racing – it must be said – in a devalued era of endurance competition through 1995-97, but latterly against strengthening (and some claim rule-bending) opposition initially from Porsche, then Mercedes-Benz, the McLaren F1 GTRs won once in every 1.3 race outings, far outperforming the illustrious 250GTOs’ record.
Far left and above There can be few sights more evocative than that of the 12 intake trumpets topping a 250GTO V12’s Weber carburettors; tacked-on speedometer is evidence of the GTO’s race-only heritage: the revcounter is dead ahead of the driver.
1962 ferrari 250GTO ENGINE 2953cc V12, SOHC per bank, six Weber 38 DCN carburettors POWER 300bhp @ 7500rpm tORquE 254lb ft @ 5400rpm tRANSMISSION Five-speed manual, rear-wheel drive StEERING ZF worm and peg SuSPENSION Front: double wishbones, coil springs, telescopic dampers, anti-roll bar. Rear: live axle, locating rods, Watt’s linkage, semi-elliptic leaf springs, telescopic dampers BRAKES Discs WEIGHt 1050kg approx PERFORMANCE Top speed c170mph. 0-60mph c6.5sec (dependent on gearing)
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M c L a r e n F1 & F e r r a r i 25 0 G T O
Right and far right Central driving position means right-hand gearshift for all, though only GTR drivers get to see this extra bank of controls; mid-mounted 6.1-litre BMW V12 is a genuine Le Mans-winning powerhouse, and a bespoke design by M-Sport’s Paul Roche.
1995 McLaren F1 GTr ENGINE 6064cc V12, DOHC per bank, 48-valve, electronic fuel injection POWER 600bhp @ 7000rpm (standard road car 627bhp @ 7400rpm) tORquE 480lb ft @ 4000-7000rpm tRANSMISSION Six-speed manual, rear-wheel drive StEERING Rack and pinion SuSPENSION Front and rear: double wishbones, coil springs, telescopic dampers. Front anti-roll bar BRAKES Vented discs WEIGHt 1021kg dry PERFORMANCE Top speed 240mph. 0-60mph 3.2sec
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The McLarens also won Le Mans outright, in 1995, which is a feat the GTOs – facing sports-prototypes – never managed. As Gordon recalls: ‘The McLarens could have just tooled round for 24 hours and still dominated their class, but instead they went for an outright win. If anyone had told me one of our road-car-based GTRs would would lap 16 seconds slower than the prototypes in the wet, at night, I wouldn’t have disagreed. But when JJ Lehto was 16 seconds a lap faster, I was blown away! They went balls-out! And won…’ And the F1 GTRs also won the GT Championships of 1995-96, then added the All-Japan Championship of ’96, and even the 1998 British GT Championship. So it is with eminently good reason that the carboncomposite McLarens of the 1990s are now increasingly highly valued by an emergent new generation of knowledgeable car connoisseurs. I vividly recall the day, early in the F1’s test programme, when Creighton Brown let me drive the works prototype homeward from its proving ground, and in Millbrook village – as we took a sharp right at a junction – we saw a dog-walker coming towards us on the footway. And the instant he saw that new grey McLaren snuffling into the corner, he threw up his hands, dropped to his knees and salaamed energetically in our honour. And then equally vividly (how could I forget) I recall the day on the Classic Adelaide Rally in Australia when the generous Paul Vestey let me drive his Ferrari 250GTO on the Gorge Road special stage past the Kangaroo Creek reservoir. With thin Perspex door windows slid ajar, we ripped down that gloriously rhythmic road in mainly third and fourth gear, the wailing Italian V12’s exhaust note, up around 7000rpm, reverberating back at us from the sheer roadside rock faces. That was pure aural sex. And while the McLaren record absolutely shines against that of the fabulous Ferrari GTOs’, I must confess I remain more grateful for the latter. Aah nostalgia, the real thing. Thanks To both owners and to Kentvale Transport (see page 164).
M c L a r e n F1 & F e r r a r i 25 0 G T O
Owning a Ferrari 250GTO ‘IT’S BEEN INCREDIBLY EASY to own!’ claims Sir Paul Vestey, who bought chassis 4115GT over 30 years ago from noted car collector Neil Corner. ‘I think we replaced the rings in the engine once when it was smoking a bit, and changed the synchros in the gearbox, stuff like that, but that’s all. ‘I’d always wanted a GTO since seeing them race in the 1962 TT, and when the chance came up to buy this one I moved
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heaven and earth to do so, selling a D-type and a DB3S to raise the money; the whole process frightened me so much I lost my voice and my wife had to do the deal! The car has an honourable rather than a distinguished competition history: it went to Germany when new, and did quite well in local flugplatzrennen and the like. ‘It sounds boring to say it, but the ownership experience has been totally
painless. We’ve done dozens of rallies, including several Tour Autos, and took it to Australia for the Classic Adelaide – thrashing it around closed roads in the Adelaide hills was great fun. Really, it’s quite a simple car mechanically, and you’d struggle to wear it out just using it for road-rallies. ‘It’s the favourite of all my cars and despite its value, I’ve never been tempted to sell – it would be like selling the family’s pet dog!’
Owning a McLaren F1 ‘It’s not partIcularly comfortable as a road car – no air-con, fixed side windows – so I haven’t put a lot of miles on it; you wouldn’t want to take it down the pub…’ says the owner of chassis 07R, the F1 GTR that came fifth at Le Mans in 1995. ‘But when you’re on the move, it’s terrific. One of the best drivers’ cars ever. To sit in traffic I’ll take another car! ‘I bought the GTR more than ten years ago.
I wanted something that had race history, and this one was subsequently converted for road use, which suited me. We recently took the rollcage out to make room for a passenger, but that’s all I’m going to change. It’s undeniably expensive to own, but a privilege at the same time.’ While acknowledging that F1 parts prices are expensive, McLaren’s Marcus Korbach, of the company’s Special Operations
department, says: ‘For a car of this type, servicing costs compare very favourably. We’re committed to remanufacturing parts for the future, and we also offer a brokerage service – buy an F1 through McLaren and you will receive a mini-library of information about that particular example. ‘The F1 for us is a very important car, and we try to look after its owners, with either myself or one of my team available 24:7.’
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M c L a r e n F1 & F e r r a r i 25 0 G T O
Mark Hales on driving GTO and F1 No power-assistance, no driver aids, no safety nets: both the Ferrari 250GTO and McLaren F1 hark from the analogue age. How do they compare?
oth of these cars are powered by engines with 12 cylinders arranged in a vee. One is mounted in the front, the other lies behind the occupants, is twice the size and produces twice the power. One has a ladder chassis, like most things made in the previous 50 years. The other has a moulded carbonfibre chassis tub, race technology from the missile era. The newer car boasts fully independent suspension all round; the earlier model, a beam axle at the back like an old Cortina, while the tyres on the later car – those four underappreciated pieces of distress purchase – are twice as big. And yet the pair have a few things in common. In 1961, Ferrari allowed young maverick Giotto Bizzarrini to develop the GTO from the 250GT SWB (stands for ‘short wheelbase’), allegedly so he could make a few quid from wealthy customers who didn’t have a Ferrari GT for Le Mans. Some 30 years later, Ron Dennis, then CEO of McLaren, would doubtless cite promotion and branding as the reason for developing a GTR version from the F1 road car, but I suspect he charged well for a conversion that Gordon Murray – McLaren’s design guru – was very reluctant to build. Murray is on record saying that if he’d wanted to build a race car, that’s what he would have done and he definitely wouldn’t have started from there. The F1 you see here was converted from race spec to road legality by McLaren but retains its race gearbox, wing and splitter. What, then, of the drive? Neither car has any power assistance for anything so the steering in each needs firm effort, but any messages coming back to the rim are purer, something that’s hard to find these days. Whichever one I drive though, I always find myself wishing for more grip from the tyres... The vintage Dunlops on the GTO are about the width of those on a modern hatch – indestructible certainly, but old-technology crossplies nonetheless. Aim the car toward the turn and ease the rim towards the apex. Wind up all the joints and linkages and take up the slack. Feel it load up. Just a touch too fast in and the front will nose wide; 70 J u n e 2 013 O C T A N E
not enough and the car will feel vague and imprecise. Get it about right, add-in the weight shifted forward by the brakes, and the energy will rotate the car almost before the corner, make it take a set as I get further into the turn. Now I’ll feel the weight on the steering changing as the geometry moves with the body’s attitude, but I’ll try not to let the tail slide wide and call for opposite lock. Instead, sense the point in the process, the exact time to tread on the power to squat the back properly, stop the rotation and hold the attitude. If I do it right the car will drift nicely and I can hold the yaw with steering almost straight and barely a nudge at the wheel to keep it all going. If I don’t, either the front noses wide and I have to wait, tease it back, then start again; or the back slithers wide and I have to reverse the lock, wait, let the car come straight, and... start again. It’s all adjustable and intimate in a way you absolutely don’t find these days, but it won’t do the work for you. No doubt you’ll arrive at the same turn much more quickly in the F1. The 6.1-litre BMW engine is massively, endlessly powerful and it seems to sweep you forward with a gruff, growly insistence that barely diminishes with the next gear. Feel the brakes grumble and judder as I shed the extra speed, then aim into the corner. Now, despite the lack of assist, I’m searching for messages that mean something. There are kicks and twitches but no absolute confidence that the front will go where I want, and it’s a feeling that changes with speed. The faster you go, the more vague the front becomes while the rear gains stick because air is flowing over the wing. You definitely aim rather than steer and only when you can see the exit and the car is more or less straight, squeeze on the power. But I’ll still do it carefully... The rubberwear was the best Bridgestone could make and still call road tyres, but if the fronts struggle with the effort of turning the car, the rears have even less defence in the face of 480lb ft of torque. And it’s when they spin up that the position of the engine asserts itself: you can be well out of shape in an instant without asking for it, and in fourth gear.
‘Two magnificent engineering statements: each deserves its iconic status’ None of this makes either car any the less impressive. Each is still a magnificent engineering statement and each deserves its iconic status but you still have to see them for what they are. Certainly in the case of the McLaren, the halfway house between race and road is not an entirely comfortable one, and it’s fairly safe to say that Gordon would have approved still less; fit a set of slicks to the F1 and lower the front end to keep out the air that would lift it – turn it back into a race car in other words – and it gains precision and imparts more confidence. The GTO wouldn’t respond in quite the same way because it has the engine in the front and a chassis that isn’t anything like as rigid, but it doesn’t really need to. There wasn’t the enormous difference between road and race models in those days and indulging the slipping and sliding until you find out how to get the front and back ends in harmony is part of the appeal. Besides, the research is nothing like as scary. It wouldn’t be right to end without a mention of engine and transmission. It’s a signature we see so rarely these days but the feel, and in particular the sound, are essential parts of each car, as is the challenge of negotiating clunky synchros and the gear-gate to produce a swift, smooth gearshift. Take that away, fit something turbocharged and controlled by paddles, and the performance might be similar, but the cars would no longer be icons.
M c L a r e n F1 & F e r r a r i 25 0 G T O
Simon Kidston on the market The going rate for a 250GTO is £20 million or more – but will the F1 ever catch it up? International classic car broker Kidston adds his two-penn’orth
can’t believe the run-up in McLaren F1 prices’ is a comment I hear frequently. I can’t claim to be clever enough to have predicted this trend myself, much less to know where values are headed from here. A generation ago the same refrain frequently applied to Ferrari 250GTO sales, when the first one openly touched the million-pound mark at auction in May ’87 and the press thought the world had gone crazy. Many will remember well what came next: the same car was worth ten times that amount just three years later, before dropping to a fifth of its peak by 1992, and climbing steadily for the next two decades until today, when GTO values are generally regarded among insiders as ranging from $30+ million to more than $40 million depending on which car and, perhaps more importantly, which owner. The two most frequent reasons car collectors sell are to help finance something else, or to trade up, and it’s hard to see either applying to a GTO owner. Does the market view the McLaren F1 as the next Ferrari GTO? I took part in both anniversary tours last year (the second as an impostor when a generous owner lent me his 72 j u n e 2 013 O C T A N E
car) and it’s surprising how many serious collectors own both, despite scoffing at most supercars. The exclusivity is a big part of the F1’s growing status, which is almost selffulfilling. Its integrity of purpose – conceived by a world-beating Formula 1 racing team led by a legendary designer, not a marketing department, and with no concession to cost or corporate rules other than excellence – again sets it apart. As Doug clearly shows, its racing history speaks for itself. And last but not least (rival pretenders take note), usability is the F1 road car’s trump card, as anyone who has driven theirs to the pub can attest. Like Doug Nye, I also spoke at the recent Collier Symposium and, again, the F1 was very much a hot topic among the heavyweights present. I remember auctioning one with almost delivery mileage back in 1998 for barely £400,000. A Latin 250GTO owner came to see it during the viewing and decided not to bid, decreeing that we had clearly overpriced it. To suggest that classic-car values will only go upwards is self-serving, and history shows otherwise, but I’d expect the mid-term price graph for both models to mirror each other, albeit at different levels. Longer-term, the
‘i’d expect the mid-term price graph for both to mirror each other, albeit at different levels’ current price ratio of six F1 road cars to one GTO might close as a new generation of buyers takes the lead and, equally, the discount for an F1 GTR (two seats and no luggage space) compared with an F1 road car may reduce as values climb and they get driven less. I just wish I’d started saving before 1998. End Thanks To Kidston SA, Geneva, who have discreetly handled Ferrari 250GTO and McLaren F1 sales over many years; +41 227 401939 or [email protected]
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This is the only Mercedes-Benz W196 that survives outside captivity – yet the most successful. Doug Nye uncovers the car in which Fangio won his second F1 Championship PhotograPhy Tim Andrew
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US! AUS! AUS! Das spiel ist aus! Deutschland ist Weltmeister!’ Extrovert soccer radio commentator Herbert Zimmermann’s barely coherent shriek of ‘Over! Over! Over! The game is over! Germany is World Champion!’ remains familiar in Germany today. On 4 July 1954, at Berne in Switzerland, the underdog West German team had just beaten favourites Hungary 3-2 to win the FIFA World Cup. Some claim that this memorably redemptive moment became the first time post-war that the German National anthem had been played at such a major sporting event… Yet that same day, at the Reims-Gueux circuit in France, Juan Manuel Fangio had led home team-mate Karl Kling in a brand-new sister Formula 1 Mercedes-Benz W196, to finish first and second in the French Grand Prix. That shattering GP success was Mercedes-Benz’s first since 1939. So 4 July 1954 became a doubly great day for Germany. It might be recalled by most as ‘The Miracle of Berne’ – but within the motor racing world, Reims witnessed something far more inevitable. The Italian axis of Maserati and Ferrari had been trembling at the prospect of a comeback by what Mr Ferrari called the ‘TransAlpini’ – and their worst nightmares were fulfilled. Those silver cars bearing the three-pointed star were back. Perhaps it was doubly significant that, seven weeks later, after a second comeback victory in the German GP at the Nürburgring, Fangio
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and Mercedes-Benz added a third great win, this time in the Swiss GP, which also clinched a second Formula 1 Drivers’ World Championship title for the brilliant Argentinian. He raised his trophy at Berne’s Bremgarten forest circuit, only a couple of miles from the Swiss city’s picturesquely named Wankdorf Stadium, where elated German soccer captain Fritz Walter had so recently brandished the World Cup. Denis Jenkinson of Motor Sport magazine set the scene for it all when he wrote: ‘The name of Mercedes-Benz was one of the most powerful in Grand Prix racing between 1934 and 1939, and during those years they brought a science into motor racing that was revolutionary; at the same time they speeded up the process of racing car design to a pace that forced many of their competitors to abandon Grand Prix racing… With the approach of the new Formula 1 that was due to begin with the 1954 season, Daimler-Benz announced that they would be represented… by an entirely new team of Mercedes-Benz racing cars.’ When these entirely new, futuristically alien, streamlined W196s with their wheel-enclosing bodyshells emerged at Reims, fans recoiled in astonishment. Drivers Juan Fangio and Karl Kling immediately qualified first and second, then finished 1-2 in their debut race there. Over the fleeting 14 months that followed – completing the 1954 season then on through 1955 – the Mercedes-Benz W196 single-seater
cars contested 12 World Championship-qualifying Grands Prix. They won nine of them, confirmed Juan Manuel Fangio’s 1954 Drivers’ World Championship, then carried him to a second consecutive Drivers’ title in 1955. With perhaps tacit generosity on Fangio’s part his regular teammates Karl Kling and Stirling Moss won the non-Championship 1954 Berlin GP and the Championship 1955 British GP. Earlier in ’55 Fangio had also won the Formule Libre Buenos Aires City GP. Through that second season of the W196s’ meteoric yet brief career, the Daimler-Benz factory team had also campaigned its related 300SLR sports-racing cars. They proved totally unbeatable, winning every Sports Car World Championship race entered except Le Mans, from which the team was withdrawn when running 1-2. Finally, on 16 October 1955, Stirling Moss and Peter Collins won the Targa Florio in Sicily to add the Sports Car title to Fangio’s Formula 1 Drivers’ crown. That night, roly-poly team manager Alfred Neubauer received a letter from Fritz Nallinger, Daimler-Benz AG’s director of research and design. Neubauer read: ‘After mature deliberation the management committee has decided… to absent itself… irrevocably from motor racing for several years.’ With both World Championships won and total road racing domination re-established, Mercedes-Benz had nothing left to prove.
Some 32 years later, in September 1987, I interviewed Daimler-Benz’s revered former chief engineer, 81-year-old Rudi Uhlenhaut, for BBC TV in his old office at Untertürkheim. We talked of cars and stars, design and development, racing and record-breaking; Rudi – a fine driver and a brilliant development engineer – was then a small yet still imposing and charismatic figure. He apologised for his English, which was actually perfect (his mother was American), explaining that in retirement he was out of practice speaking it. But about his company’s post-war return to serious motor racing in 1954-55, his words were crystal clear. He said: ‘Believe me… I do not speak propaganda. But when we returned to racing in the mid-1950s, our directive was to be the best, and to win both the Formula 1 Drivers’ Championship and the Sports Car Championship. We did that, and – while we could have done better – when our board took the decision to withdraw, we were the best.’ That was no idle boast. Uhlenhaut’s words were simply a statement of fact, embodied within W196 chassis 00006/54 – which Bonhams will be selling at its Goodwood Festival of Speed Sale on 12 July. This is the only W196 out of captivity; the only survivor not preserved within either Daimler-Benz or an international museum. Yet it is the most successful. It is the only surviving Mercedes-Benz W196 to have won not just one World Championship-qualifying Grand Prix race, but two. It is the first O C T A N E j u n e 2 013 77
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1954-55 MERCEDES-BENZ W196R ENGINE 2496cc roller-bearing slant-eight with central power take-off, twin-spark, desmodromic valves, Bosch mechanical fuel injection POWER From 257bhp @ 8250rpm (French GP 1954) to 280bhp @ 8700rpm (mid-season 1955) TRANSMISSION Five-speed manual rear transaxle STEERING Worm and roller SUSPENSION Front: double wishbones, torsion bars, telescopic dampers. Rear: low-pivot swing axles, torsion bars, telescopic dampers BRAKES Shrouded inboard drums, servo-assisted WEIGHT 650kg (dry) PERFORMANCE Top speed c170mph, dependent on gearing
m cne d ww 19i6n t e r n a t i o n a l a setro measr- b te i nn zn e
‘For those who understand its history, Fangio’s german and swiss gP-winning “triPle-oh-oh-six” is absolutely iconic’
A piece of history – from behind the wheel
Octane’s own Tony Dron on driving the Mercedes-Benz W196 Studying the cockpit of the MercedesBenz W196, I thought it might feel a bit odd. The driver sits astride a wide transmission tunnel, with the clutch pedal on the left and the brake and throttle pedals on the right. Oddly enough, once inside I never noticed it. Getting aboard involves removing the steering wheel before settling on the upright, armchair-like seat. Despite the transmission tunnel, the driving position is surprisingly comfortable. Serious concentration is demanded by the gearlever, tucked out of sight under one’s right leg. The gear pattern seems counter-intuitive: to select first, you press a button on the top of the lever, allowing access to the left side of the gate – the action is left, then forward; second is ‘back-right-back’, then it’s straight forward for third, ‘back-right-back’ again for fourth, and straight forward once more for top. The mental process required is like performing a familiar action, back to front while looking in a mirror. It feels very odd, mainly because of those forward movements of the lever when changing up. With so much to compute when driving a GP car, it’s essential to discipline the brain in advance for this gearbox. In his superb book The Mercedes-Benz Racing Cars, Karl Ludvigsen states that every W196 driver found the shift pattern puzzling, adding that even the great thinking driver Piero Taruffi confessed to grabbing second instead of fourth on his first practice lap in a W196, sending the revs ‘sky-high’. Taruffi reckoned it was only the desmodromic valvegear that prevented the valves from touching the pistons and blowing the complex straight-eight to pieces. These thoughts were on my mind for my first drive in a W196 and it was a relief that I made no mistakes. That was back in 1983 at Hockenheim, when I was fortunate enough to attend an exclusive test of several historic Mercedes-Benz racing cars. The invitation came from DaimlerBenz’s press director Günther Molter, who had been with the company in 1954-55 when Mercedes-Benz returned to dominate Grand Prix racing. Juan Manuel Fangio took the drivers’ title with Mercedes-Benz in 1954 and 1955, usually with young Stirling Moss following inches behind. When the management suggested that Moss should hang back a bit, in case Fangio made a mistake, Moss famously replied: ‘Fangio does not make mistakes.’ Believing that no W196 was ever allowed to be used for magazine track tests, I was amazed when Mr Molter gave me three separate sessions at a sunny Hockenheim circuit in this car. One of the short-wheelbase lightweight models, with outboard front brakes, it was built for Monaco in 1955. Fangio was leading the Grand Prix there in this car when it suffered a rare mechanical failure but he went on to win the Dutch Grand Prix, again in this same car, a month later. Part of the reason for the outstanding success of Mercedes-Benz in F1 at that time lay in the attention to detail – if a part failed,
effective modifications were made immediately. Another factor was the speed with which major changes could be made. For the return to F1 racing, the team had calculated that superiority in straight-line speed was the number one goal and the original W196, with its long wheelbase and streamlined body, was easily the best F1 car of its time in that respect. When Fangio said he would prefer an open-wheeled body, to improve his precision in placing the car, new bodies were finalised in days. Then, unexpectedly, the nature of F1 racing changed for 1955 as slower, more twisty circuits took over from the traditional fast tracks with their long straights. Mercedes-Benz quickly designed a new W196 with a wheelbase of 87.0in, about six inches shorter than before. These came to be known as ‘medium-length cars’ when this car, with its 84.7in wheelbase, appeared a few weeks later. One thing about the short-wheelbase W196 that appealed to Moss was that the outboard brakes didn’t send brake dust up through the cockpit. In tests at the Nordschleife, Fangio and Moss found the short W196 rather hard work but they were both 5.5 seconds a lap quicker than they were in the medium-length car that day. Other drivers that day, Karl Kling and the engineer Rudi Uhlenhaut, were unable to exploit the comparatively nervous short car’s potential in the way that Fangio and Moss could. At Hockenheim, a much easier, smoother circuit than the Nürburgring, I found this short W196 very effective, with good brakes and roadholding. It turned in well and the steering felt sharp and responsive. Its hint of nervous behaviour, understeer to twitchy oversteer, was nothing to worry about on Hockenheim’s geometrically excellent turns. I can’t remember the rev limit I was given but it was well below the 1955 maximum of around 8700rpm. It sounded magnificent and pulled strongly from low revs without coming violently ‘on song’ as the revs rose. Driving it in such conditions was pure, addictive pleasure. When I stopped after my last run, the first person to speak to me was Jenks, none other than the famous Denis Jenkinson, who wanted to know all about it. ‘Mind you,’ he said after a while, ‘it’s been detuned to run on normal fuel so you haven’t experienced the full power it had in 1955.’ He had a point there. In 1955, between Monaco and the Dutch GP, Fangio wisely chose a long-wheelbase open-wheeler W196 for the Belgian GP, which he duly won on the ultra-fast old circuit at Spa. Some 20 years after my amazing experience at Hockenheim, I was lucky enough to drive Fangio’s Spa winner in the Festival of Speed at Goodwood, thanks to another invitation from Mercedes-Benz. Again, the weather was fine and the car ran faultlessly. I was surprised by how fast the much longer W196 seemed in the relatively confined space of the narrow hillclimb. It felt quite big too but it handled benignly in an understeering to neutral attitude. Most of my concentration, however, was fixed on getting that mind-boggling gearshift right.
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open-wheel version of the landmark W196 to have won a race, and it is the actual car in which Fangio clinched the second of his five Formula 1 Drivers’ World Championship titles. It is to be offered in remarkably unspoiled, almost ‘barn-find’ condition – its sophisticated mechanicals believed to be complete, and runnable after proper preparation – and it is a Grand Prix car in whose presence enthusiasts simply stand and stare. For those who understand its stature, and its history, Fangio’s German and Swiss GP-winning ‘Triple-Oh-Oh-Six’ is absolutely iconic. But there’s more. As a work of supreme mechanical artistry it surely transcends mere motor racing. It is emblematic of German industry’s post-war re-emergence from obliteration. Daimler-Benz escaped from the cataclysm in 1945-47 making bicycles and servicing US Army Jeeps. Historian Karl Ludvigsen has described how, in the late 1940s, anyone who enquired about a return to racing would be told: ‘Please, we are fighting for our very lives. We have no time to think of such things…’ From July 1948 the ‘European Recovery Program’ – better known as the Marshall Plan – pumped $13 billion into Western-aligned economies. Germany received a share from 1949. Mercedes-Benz car production gathered pace and the board considered racing to promote the brand’s resurgence. A foray to the Argentine Temporada series in February 1951, using pre-war-designed W154 Grand Prix cars, then disappointed. That April, Mercedes-Benz’s new 300 production car was launched. Its six-cylinder cast-iron engine was adopted to power a new sportsracing car to publicise the marque’s rebound in 1952. The result was the spaceframe-chassised ultra-light W194 300SL ‘Gullwing’ Coupé. These handsome cars showed formidable form that year, finishing 2-4 in the Mille Miglia, 1-2-3 at Berne, 1-2 at Le Mans, 1-2-3-4 (in Spyder form) at the Nürburgring, and first and second in the Carrera PanAmericana. For that Mexican trip competitions manager Neubauer shipped-in the two successful W194 Coupés, two Spyders, two 3½-ton trucks and nearly 40 personnel. To study just one of his team movement sheets is 82 j u n e 2 013 O C T A N E
Above, from left to right Patinated bodywork and flaking paint are testament to 00006’s originality; air is directed through crossmember, which sits above huge inboard drum brake. Wide seat necessary because pedals are separated by wide transmission. Gearshift pattern is mind-boggling.
to gaze at a work of art. Every border, every customs post, even individual customs officers, were named, telephone numbers provided, hotels and meal stops booked, rendezvous venues pinpointed, individual journey-stages all given target times. Not only European but also American competitors looked on, and blinked. Mercedes-Benz really had returned. Through 1953 the factory’s racing efforts concentrated upon development of the all-new 2½-litre naturally aspirated Formula 1 cars for 1954. These roller-bearing-engined W196s broke new ground, successfully introducing to Formula 1 lightweight spaceframe chassis construction, fuel-injected straight-eight ‘laydown’ engines with desmodromic valve actuation, all-round inboard-mounted brakes, and all-independent suspension with low-pivot swing axles at the rear. These definingly complex cars emerged late, missing the first two World Championship rounds in Argentina and Belgium. Charged with providing his team with every advantage, Neubauer had schmoozed 1951 World Champion Fangio into signing-on for ’54. Neubauer offered him two options: either a full race fee to miss early-season GP races for which the new Mercedes would be unready, or to forgo that fee and be free to drive for another team. Fangio chose freedom, stayed with Maserati and immediately won both early GPs in a 250F. Then at Reims that first weekend of July he switched to the three-pointed star. Decades later Fangio recalled: ‘The best team was Mercedes… I never had any worries when I was driving for them, because the team was so strong technically. If I asked them to make a change of any kind, they got down to work, and in no time at all I was back at the wheel with things as I wanted them to be. That’s why I won eight of the 12 races
I drove in with them. In another three I was second, third and fourth, and only retired in one at Monaco 1955. In my estimation, 75% of the credit for a win went to the car and the group whose work backed it up, and the remaining 25% went to the driver, and to luck.’ While the original enveloping-bodied Stromlinienwagen W196s had shone at superfast sun-soaked Reims, they proved a handful around Silverstone in the British GP. It was cold, and the circuit was slick with drizzle. Mercedes’ tyre supplier, Continental, had been out of majorleague racing for 15 years and the slithering streamliners’ skittishness was due more to inadequate grip than any deficiency in driver view. An alternative open-wheeler slipper-bodied W196 had been planned for the tighter courses, especially for the following German & European GP at the Nürburgring, but the programme was still running late. As Fangio recalled after he’d clouted marker tubs during practice at Silverstone, both he and Kling vigorously lobbied Neubauer and engineer Uhlenhaut that night in The Five Arrows Hotel at Waddesdon, near Aylesbury, emphasising that the promised open-wheeler was not merely preferable for the Nürburgring, but absolutely vital. In response, three open-wheeler W196s were hastily finalised for Mercedes-Benz’s home race; the Reims-winning Stromlinienwagen chassis 00003/54 stripped and rebodied, plus two sister cars – chassis 00005 and 00006 – built new as open-wheelers. In the Nürburgring race, Fangio would drive car ’6, Kling ’3 and pre-war Champion Hermann Lang (aged 45) car ’5. Herrmann drove a Stromlinienwagen, car ’2. Fangio qualified his brand-new ‘Triple-Oh-Oh-Six’ on pole position, while Kling lost a wheel on the Tiergarten Straight and had to start way down the grid. But Fangio and his protégé González, driving for Ferrari, ended practice utterly distraught because their dear friend and compatriot Onofre ‘Pinocho’ Marimón – promoted by Fangio’s defection to lead the Maserati opposition – had crashed fatally at Wehrseifen. There is a hugely affecting photograph of González sobbing
inconsolably into Fangio’s shoulder. That night both searched their souls. Should they race? Could they race? It speaks volumes that they promptly ran 1-2 as the Grand Prix began. ‘Triple-Oh-Oh-Six’ outpaced the Ferrari, but was itself caught and passed by team-mate Kling’s W196, charging up from the back of the grid. While Fangio sat back in second place, confident he could handle the German driver/engineer in the closing stages, Kling was a man on a mission before his home crowd. Then he began to taste and smell a fuel haze blowing past him in the cockpit. His car’s tail-tank was leaking; his apparently crazy pace was to build time to refuel. Neubauer became frantic. Fangio: ‘This was not how the race was supposed to run… but I was not responsible, so every time I passed the pits I pointed at Kling as if he had no right to be there.’ Neubauer angrily signalled to Kling: ‘FANG-LANG-KLING’. But the veteran Lang could not maintain the pace, spinning off when his W196 seized. With six laps to run the 300,000 crowd eagerly anticipated a home win for Mercedes-Benz and Karl Kling, but the commentator at the Karussel suddenly announced that Fangio had retaken the lead, and Kling was slowing. He stopped at the pits with a broken transmission mounting. It was wired in place and he rejoined to finish fourth. Having conserved his brand-new car, and ever confident he could have disposed of Kling had he kept running, Fangio hurtled home in ‘Triple-Oh-Oh-Six’ to cement Mercedes-Benz’s comeback with this home-race victory. Three weeks later, Fangio won the Swiss GP at Berne from his compatriot González’s Ferrari and fresh-faced Hans Herrmann, third in his sister W196. Again Fangio’s mount had been ‘Triple-Oh-Oh-Six’ and as he took the flag in this car so he clinched his second Drivers’ World Championship title. Thereafter, Hans Herrmann was assigned ‘Triple-Oh-Oh-Six’ as his car for the Italian GP at Monza, in which he finished fourth behind Fangio’s winning Stromlinienwagen, chassis 00004. And in the season-ending Spanish GP at Barcelona, Herrmann O C T A N E j u n e 2 013 8 3
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‘As A work of supreme mechAnicAl Artistry it surely trAnscends mere motor rAcing’
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retired with spark plug trouble and engine failure, caused largely by over-rich mixture selected as a precaution in hot weather. Old ‘Triple-Oh-Oh-Six’ was then confined to test duties through 1955 when Stirling Moss joined Fangio and Kling in the full-time factory team. The car was finally recalled to the colours for the season-ending Italian GP at Monza, in which Kling drove her with typical intensity. He ran a strong second behind Fangio’s leading (and eventually winning) Stromlinienwagen chassis ’2 until 00006’s propeller shaft parted, due to the rare omission in assembly of a locating dowel. Kling was bitterly disappointed, yet Mercedes dominated: Fangio first and guest driver Piero Taruffi second in open-wheeler chassis ’15, the last W196 built. In fact there had been no chassis ’11 and, of the 14 Mercedes-Benz W196 cars built, nine would survive intact until 1991-92 when writtenoff chassis 00005 was revived for display in the Daimler-Benz Museum, making ten today. In fact the factory preserves six W196s – cars ’2-5-810-13 and ’14 – while ’3 as an open-wheeler and two Stromlinienwagens, ’9 and ’12, are in customer-country museums. So how did ‘Triple-Oh-Oh-Six’ escape into private hands? After its final race, driven by Kling at Monza, it had been prepared to full race standard and was then consigned to the Daimler-Benz Exhibitions Department on 22 December 1955. In June 1965 it was exhibited in Munich and during 1966 it starred at both Le Mans and Hockenheim. It then appeared at the 1967 British Grand Prix before being used for tyre testing at the Untertürkheim factory test-track, and displayed in Berlin and at Stuttgart University. Display duties followed in 1969 in Luxembourg, Berlin and Hamburg. A Daimler-Benz Museum archive document records that, as of 5 November 1969, the ‘car should be available at any time for R Uhlenhaut for testing purposes’. On 24 June 1972 the car ran in engine tests at Untertürkheim before, on 22 May 1973, Mercedes-Benz officially presented it as a smarter replacement for the deteriorating car ’14 to the freshly reconstituted National Motor Museum at Beaulieu, Hampshire, England. Some years later the NMM authorities decided to offer the car for sale, to help finance construction of a library and lecture-hall complex. This decision was controversial but agreement was reached, Mercedes-Benz earned credit for supporting Beaulieu’s new John Montagu Building and ‘Triple-Oh-Oh-Six’ was sold to Anthony – now 8 6 j u n e 2 013 O C T A N E
Grand Prix liBrary
‘Its stature Is Immense, not only as the “FangIo car” oF the 1950s but also as a shInIng star oF groundbreakIng engIneerIng’
Top and above Fangio giving ‘Triple-Oh-Oh-Six’ its winning debut in the 1954 German GP, then clinching his second World Championship next time out in the 1954 Swiss GP. The subsequent 1955 bodywork (which remains fitted today) is simpler and lighter.
Sir Anthony – Bamford of JCB Excavators. He soon sold it on to French collector Jacques Setton who wanted ‘simply the world’s most rarefied, most exclusive, Grand Prix car’. It passed to German businessman Friedhelm Loh who, in 1999-2000, ran it at the Grand Prix de Monaco Historique and the Goodwood Festival of Speed. The car was then resold and today, after many years out of public view, ‘Triple-Oh-Oh-Six’ is to find another owner in the Bonhams Festival of Speed sale. Its stature is immense, not only as the iconic ‘Fangio car’ of the 1950s but also as a shining star of groundbreaking Mercedes-Benz engineering. Perhaps above all it is emblematic of worldwide post-war recovery. It’s a monument to modern Germany’s resurgence in making friends, not enemies – and to human endeavour’s ability to rebound from cataclysm. As such it celebrates not only World Champion innovation, performance and pace, but also the return of peace. Thanks To Bonhams, www.bonhams.com.
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The hero himself
Juan Manuel Fangio won five World Championships yet managed to charm all the drivers he so frequently beat Words Doug nye Juan Manuel Fangio was simply one of the greatest racing drivers of all time. And he was also one of the nicest and finest of human beings. Stirling Moss says it all when he recalls: ‘Fangio was a man with so many attractive character traits – that one would like to regard as one’s own, but knows that one lacks – it hurt.’ To almost matchless speed, balance, fantastic vision, anticipation, technical knowledge and mechanical sympathy, he added amazing anticipation, maturity, humility, and simple common sense. A World Championship-qualifying Grand Prix win in his era was a rare achievement. Few GPs were run each year. During his entire glittering career he started only 51. Yet of those he won a record 24. What’s more he started all but two from the front row of the grid – and 29 of those from pole position. Some say that while Fangio was the standard-setter in a GP car, he wasn’t so good in sports cars. Fangio himself believed in fate, and always said that was just his luck. He told me once: ‘All my bad luck struck in sports cars, in Grand Prix races my luck was good…’ But it surely took more than luck in sports cars to win for Lancia in the five-day Carrera PanAmericana road race through Mexico, and for Ferrari and then Maserati in two Sebring 12-Hour races, and twice to finish second in the 1000-mile Mille Miglia, for Alfa Romeo, then Mercedes-Benz. Fangio could dominate in almost any racing car he drove – and his rivals in 1950-57 looked to him as the benchmark, the man by whom they measured their own ability. He came into top-class European Grand Prix racing not as a boy, still learning the ropes, but as a full-grown man. He had built his reputation in his native Argentina, driving progressively modified production saloons from 1936, then single-seaters. His first major victory had come in 1940 – in the incredible 8 8 j u n e 2 013 O C T A N E
Gran Premio Internacional del Norte – from Buenos Aires to Lima, Peru, and back – a mere open-road matter of 5800 miles. He won in a Chevrolet V8 Coupe and became not only Carretera Champion for 1940 and ’41, but also an Argentine national hero. When racing resumed post-war in 1947, Fangio resumed winning. He was an experienced and trained mechanic, with his own workshop business. When his national Automovil Club Argentino went to race in Europe, he was selected as lead driver. Yet when he made his European racing debut – at Reims, France, in 1948 – he was already 37 years old. He returned for another European tour in 1949 when he won repeatedly in Maserati 4CLT, Gordini and Ferrari cars entered by the ACA. His exploits earned him an Alfa Romeo works drive for 1950. In that inaugural season of the FIA Drivers’ World Championship he ran team-mate Nino Farina to the wire, but the Italian just edged the title. But in 1951 none could match Fangio’s works Alfetta, and he won his first World Championship, beating Alberto Ascari and
Ferrari. In June 1952 he broke his neck in a Maserati crash at Monza, and was out of racing for six months. When he bounced back in 1953 he drove for Maserati in Grand Prix events and for Alfa Romeo and Lancia in sports cars. He won that year’s Italian Grand Prix for Maserati – finishing second in the Mille Miglia sports car classic despite broken steering in his Alfa Romeo – and won the Mexican Carrera PanAmericana road race for Lancia. He signed for Mercedes-Benz in 1954, but the Germans’ super-sophisticated new W196 cars would not be ready until mid-summer. So Fangio first won the Argentine and Belgian Grand Prix races in the brand-new Maserati 250F before swapping to the streamline-bodied Mercedes-Benz W196 at the French Grand Prix. He instantly won again, and in Mercedes cars then charged on to win the German, Swiss and Italian GPs and his second World Championship title. Through 1955, with Mercedes all season, he became the sport’s first-ever three-time World Champion. When Mercedes withdrew from
racing at the end of 1955, and governmental regime change had occurred in Argentina, Fangio was vulnerable not just in racing, but also under financial investigation back home. Enzo Ferrari offered him take-it-or-leave-it terms to drive his Lancia V8-based cars in 1956, and in a late-season surge Fangio clinched his fourth World Championship title… for them both. Fangio and Ferrari never bonded, so after that mixed experience and at the age of 46 he returned to one of his first loves – Maserati – for the season of 1957. And it was in Maserati’s works Lightweight 250F cars that he won his last Argentine Grand Prix – and the Monaco GP, and the French GP, and, most spectacularly, yet another German Grand Prix. With five World Championship titles to his credit Fangio called a halt to fulltime racing in 1958. Early that year he won the nonChampionship Buenos Aires City GP in a Maserati 250F, then made one final Formula 1 appearance in the 1958 French GP at Reims, where he had made his European debut ten years before. In the ‘Piccolo’ Maserati, despite
Above and left In the W196 at the Nürburgring for the 1954 German Grand Prix, which he won; after victory in the 1955 Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort, and another win by him for Mercedes-Benz.
a broken clutch, he finished fourth. As Fangio accelerated out of the last corner there, towards the finish line, Mike Hawthorn rushed up behind in his race-leading Ferrari. And seeing Fangio, he backed off, to let the driver his rivals knew as ‘The Old Boy’ complete his final race unlapped. Here was a
measure of the respect in which Fangio was held by his peers and rivals alike. For decades after his retirement, Fangio – the Latin-American superstar blessed with an almost Nordic coolness and calm – remained that rarest thing within the sporting world: motor racing royalty. End O C T A N E j u n e 2 013 89
J AG U A R F -T Y P E
kings Jaguar has just launched the F-type, latest in a long and distinguished line of sports cars. We drive it – and talk with veteran Jaguar tester Norman Dewis and his modern counterpart, Mike Cross Words Mark Dixon
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e’ve been waiting for this car for nearly 40 years. Ever since the E-type Series 3 went out of production in 1974, enthusiasts have been anticipating the arrival of an F-type. And now, after numerous false dawns and dashed hopes, it’s here. The car was launched to the world’s press just a week before this copy of Octane was printed, and these words are being typed out in a hotel room somewhere near Pamplona, Spain, at the end of the first day of the official launch. But a few weeks earlier, Jaguar invited a very small number of magazines – including Octane – to participate on an F-type road run to the Geneva motor show. There was no chance of a drive then, but to whet our appetite Jaguar laid on ‘a bit of a do’ along the way. 2 March 2013. Jabbeke, belgiuM ThE SmAll TOwn of Jabbeke, pleasant though it is, would have remained in global obscurity had it not been chosen by Jaguar back in the early 1950s for a series of recordbreaking attempts using their latest sports car, the XK120. The man behind the wheel then was a young vehicle tester called norman Dewis. And, on a freezing cold day in march 2013, he’s back at Jabbeke, now aged 92 but sharp as a tack and as cheerful as ever, to witness le mans winner and top chap Andy
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wallace do some high-speed runs in an F-type in ‘homage’ to norman’s valiant drives of six decades earlier. The car Andy’s driving is the V8S, a real monster of a sports car with 488bhp on tap. It’s the top of a three-car line-up that also includes V6 and V6S models – all of them roadsters, because Jaguar won’t officially confirm yet that it intends to build a coupé (although it will, don’t worry). Unfortunately, the actual piece of road that norman used for his test runs all those years ago is now a busy motorway, and even Jaguar doesn’t have the clout to shut it down for several hours. So the local authorities have found an authentically 1950s-looking piece of dual-carriageway nearby, and a small group of cold-looking journalists and Jaguar personnel are huddled in a farm entrance as we wait for Andy to do his stuff in front of the cameras. From our vantage point, the road looks straight until it vanishes into the distance, but just out of sight is a savage curve; it’s also bumpy, due to upheaval by tree roots, and far too short. Andy is really going to have his work cut out to achieve anywhere near the V8S’s artificially limited top speed of 186mph before slamming on the brakes to avoid running into the crash barriers – and the curious Belgians who have gathered to watch – at the other end. As a helicopter throbs overhead, carrying a photographer who’s doing his best ‘I was there
at the fall of Saigon’ impression, Andy floors the accelerator and lights up the tyres of the F-type. It sounds incredible as he spears into the distance, the V8 howling, and the helicopter in hot pursuit. we’ll learn later that the pilot’s truly impressive flying skills gave Andy an unexpected thrill on one of his run-pasts; as she – yes, the pilot was female – hovered above the road but several metres below the treeline, the downdraught from the rotor blades caused the speeding F-type to lift momentarily from the tarmac. which is not what you really want when travelling at 170mph-plus. Andy’s maximum speed is recorded as 179mph – which is less than 7mph faster than the 172.41mph that norman Dewis set in a bubble-canopied XK120 (below left) in 1953, albeit achieved in barely half the distance. But, of course – as norman is quick to point out – Andy’s speed is not an ‘official’ one; it’s the highest figure measured during several runs rather than the average of just two, and it has not been independently verified. Norman’s record at Jabbeke is safe, and is likely to remain so for all time. It all took place six decades ago, but the memory of Tuesday 20 October 1953 is as vivid in norman’s mind as if it were yesterday. It was his third visit to Jabbeke since he’d joined Jaguar as its chief test engineer in January 1952, and the reason for the trip was to claim back a record that norman had set in April 1953, driving an XK120 fitted with a C-type engine – but which had been broken by a Pegaso V8 coupé the following September. ‘The weather was absolutely perfect,’ he recalls. ‘We had five miles of closed road to do each run – two miles in, then the measured mile, and two miles out. So I’m doing the runs, and long before I get to the chequered timing board I’m pulling 5800rpm, which was what I’d been told was the safe maximum. my foot’s flat to the board and the revs are still rising – five-eight, five-nine, six – and I’m thinking “ooooh!” and that a rod’s going to come out of the side and spoil the whole day, but it’s smooth as silk and we make it. we were pulling six-two in one direction and six-three in the other. ‘I was more concerned about the tyres, however, because the tread had been buffed right off so there was only 2.5mm of rubber left, which had been calculated as being what we needed to do one pair of runs. Dunlop’s tyre man, “Dunlop mac”, was there at the end of the first run to make sure the canvas wasn’t showing through…
J AG U A R F -T Y P E
‘The V6’s response is instant and satisfying, and the quick-action steering makes precision overtaking a doddle’
‘When I’d finished my runs, I went back to where team manager Lofty England and all the others were gathered, and they were all just standing there quietly, and Lofty says to me: “Is there a problem with the car, Norman?” I say, “I don’t think so, it’s running perfectly.” He replies, “There must be, you’re slower now than you were in April – there must be a fault with the revcounter.” Then he walks across, gives me a big hug, and says: “Norman, you bugger, you know what you’ve done? One hundred and seventy-two point four!” ‘Lofty says, “We must ring Sir William [Lyons] and let him know” and he gets hold of him on the phone, and Sir William says, “Well, that’s not very quick” because he’s thinking the speed is in km/h rather than mph! ‘Once that’s sorted out, Sir William says to me, “Well done, Dewis! I’ve told England to take you to Brussels, and you can have a little party tonight – but don’t forget: Champagne’s very expensive…’ 9 4 j u n e 2 013 O C T A N E
Norman would spend 33 years working for Jaguar, retiring in 1985, shortly before the launch of the XJ40. On his watch he oversaw the development of every new Jaguar model from the XK140 onwards; one of his first jobs was to test the Dunlop disc brake. The stories along the way are legion – not least his infamous high-speed crash in the XJ13 prototype (Norman’s stated ambition is to reach 100mph in the now-restored XJ13 when he’s 100 years old) – and well detailed in Paul Skilleter’s superb biography Norman Dewis of Jaguar – Developing the Legend. At Norman’s retirement party, the track manager at MIRA proving ground revealed that, from 1953 to 1976, Norman had covered 1.25 million miles at over 100mph on the banked circuit. After his retirement, Norman intended to forget about work and spend some much needed quality-time with his wife Nan. But, tragically, Nan suffered a stroke early in 1986, and her death in 1993 meant that Norman
subsequently found himself drawn back into the enthusiastic Jaguar community. Since then he’s had what’s effectively a second career giving talks to Jaguar clubs and acting as an ambassador for the company, which has realised what an asset it has in this lively, funny, endlessly cheerful man. Needless to say, Norman was keen to get behind the wheel of the new F-type, which he tried at MIRA shortly before the official launch. ‘Very impressive!’ is his verdict. ‘The ride and handling I think are superb – I can’t really fault it in that respect [Norman was driving the V6S]. I got it sliding about, and controlling it was so effortless – as near a neutral steer as you could want. Just beautiful.’ But, never afraid to speak his mind, Norman does have one reservation. ‘The price tag. The reputation of Jaguar was founded on its cars’ value for money. I’d like to see Jaguar get back to that position, when people ask in amazement – how can they do it for the price?’
Anti-clockwise from top Norman Dewis at Jabbeke in April 1953, at the wheel of the aeroscreen-equipped XK120 in which he achieved nearly 141mph; back at Jabbeke, and back in an XK120, in March 2013; Mike Cross with his ‘baby’, the new F-type.
8 April 2013. NAvArre regioN, SpAiN TODAY’S THE BIG DAY. We’re finally going to get behind the wheel of what Jaguar is calling ‘arguably its most important car of the last 50 years’. We’ll decamp straight from the plane at Pamplona airport into waiting V6 F-types and drive for an hour or so to Navarre race circuit, where we’ll be allowed to thrash the hotter version of the V6, the ‘S’, around this challenging track. Then we’ll put some serious road miles under the V6S, as an appetiser to tomorrow’s main course: the V8S. Studying the press material on the flight over reveals that, while the F-type looks a substantial car, it’s actually shorter than any other current Jaguar. But it’s also wider, something that it’s impossible to forget on the twistier sections of our test route. I’m paired up for the launch with Octane contributor and Car of the Year jury member Andrew English, and neither of us will ever come to be totally at ease with the F-type’s girth.
But the upside of the F-type’s considerable mass is that you feel as though you’re getting a lot of car for your money – which will be £58,500 for the V6, £67,500 for the V6S and £79,950 for the V8S. As Norman Dewis has perceptively commented, 80 grand is a lot for a Jaguar, well into Porsche 911 Carrera territory and knocking on the door of the Aston Martin V8. Is Jaguar being a touch over-ambitious? It certainly looks impressive. Opinions may be mixed about the new-shape grille – see Stephen Bayley’s column on page 47 – but it lends the F-type an appropriately muscular look, and is a massive improvement on the now-horribly dated appearance of the current XKR-S. No-one has a bad word to say about the rear three-quarter view, however, which (to this writer) with its slimline rear lights and swelling haunches is strongly reminiscent of BMW’s pretty Z8. Hardly a bad thing. Inside the car it’s very much old-school roadster, with two large analogue dials in front
of the driver and a cluster of clearly labelled switches below the central touchscreen display (OK, so that’s not quite so old-school). A prominent grab rail sweeps down over the passenger’s side of the centre console to separate the two occupants: ‘The brief was to make this interior unashamedly driver focused… a little bit selfish,’ admits chief designer Alister Whelan. Next impression: the V6 may be the ‘basic’ F-type, but it’s plenty fast enough. The stated figures are 0-60mph in 5.1sec and a top speed of 161mph, which should leave no-one feeling dissatisfied. Whether driving with the eightspeed transmission in full auto mode or shifting manually via the steering wheel paddles or joystick-style ‘gearlever’, response is instant and satisfying, and the quick-action steering – a good old-fashioned hydraulic rack, Jaguar’s fastest-reacting ever – makes precision overtaking a doddle. It sounds pretty good, too, with a crisp V6 howl. O C T A N E j u n e 2 013 95
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‘The brief was to make the interior unashamedly driver focused – a little bit selfish’
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Not, however, as good as the V6S. There had been much speculation before today about whether the V6S would actually prove the pick of the bunch, the most satisfying car to own and drive. The V8S is much more powerful – but there were suggestions that maybe it just has too much power. Chief test engineer Mike Cross – Jaguar’s closest equivalent to a Norman Dewis of the 21st century – had already gone on record as saying that the V6S was his personal favourite. ‘It depends on where you’re driving, but in the UK I’d personally prefer the V6S. The V8S is very fast and you need quite a lot of space to stretch its legs. But that’s just my opinion. Within Jaguar Land Rover, the preference is probably split 50:50.’ By the end of the first day of this two-day launch, we were ready to side with Mike. Yes, the V6S is faster than the V6 – 4.8sec to 60mph, a top speed of 171mph; it has more power (355bhp in the ‘S’ compared with the V6’s 335) and slightly more torque (339 vs 332lb ft). And it sounds noticeably different, more threedimensional than the V6, thanks to its ‘active’ exhaust system that opens valves to provide extra resonance when you step on the gas. The result is a hint of warble that makes a surprising difference to your aural pleasure. But the biggest division between V6 and V6S is the suspension. Don’t get us wrong, the V6 strikes a fine balance between ride comfort and taut handling. But you are stuck with that
particular set-up and it is inevitably a compromise, albeit a good one: there’s a certain amount of jiggle at lower speeds, while the car doesn’t always feel as completely tied down as it might, corner to corner, when you’re pressing on. However, on the V6S (and the V8S) you can additionally choose a setting that firms up the dampers for when you want to drive harder. And these two models, unlike the V6, are also fitted with active suspension that monitors vehicle inputs 500 times a second and constantly adjusts itself to suit. The biggest compliment we can pay the V6S is that, in its normal ‘comfort’ setting, it is genuinely reminiscent of the original E-type (but without the E’s roll oversteer). Hacking along at serious speed, it rides beautifully and handles superbly. The firmer mode, in contrast, is just a little hardcore for anything less than a billiard-table surface. A surface of the kind you’ll find at the Navarre circuit, opened as recently as 2010 and a perfect mix of fast straights, sweeping bends and a number of much tighter corners. Jaguar decided that the V6S would be ideally matched to this circuit – and they were right. On any of the F-type range, you can pull back a little toggle switch to put the car into Dynamic mode. This weights up the steering, sharpens the throttle response, makes gearchanges happen faster and further up the rev range, and permits a greater degree of slip
Clockwise from above Norman Dewis’s first visit to Jabbeke was in September 1952, to make a maximum-speed run for The Motor ’s test of a production C-type, when he recorded 143.7mph in appallingly wet weather; at speed in the 172mph bubble-canopied XK120 in October 1953; Jaguar line-up of MkVII, C-type and XK120 the previous April, with (left to right) mechanics Joe Sutton and Len Hayden, team manager FRW ‘Lofty’ England, and Norman; the official timekeepers’ card from Norman’s October ’53 record-breaking run, showing that it was all done-and-dusted by 8.39am, with an average maximum of 172.412mph.
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Left 1988 Le Mans winner Andy Wallace pays tribute to Norman Dewis in an F-type V8S at Jabbeke, March 2013; despite having a rather-too-short piece of closed road, he ran it up to 179mph.
vehicle integrity’, and he works across the Jaguar Land Rover group, not just on the products bearing the leaping cat. He started his career with British Leyland in 1976, and like Norman Dewis he was involved with competition driving at a relatively low level but had no formal circuit driving instruction. ‘When you’re developing cars, what’s more important than outright speed is consistency, and the ability to interpret what a car’s doing from an engineer’s viewpoint. What’s different from my job compared with Norman’s is that I don’t do the kind of marathon journeys that he used to undertake. Instead, there’s a lot of simulation in the virtual world, which allows us to accelerate the process. But on the other hand cars are now more complex – adaptive suspension, electronic diffs, different driving modes, and so on – and all these systems have to be optimised, which takes time. ‘I do a lot of short drives – we’re fortunate in having some lovely, challenging roads in Warwickshire – and then once a month or so we’ll go off to Wales, or the Nürburgring. It’s also really important to include city driving and traffic; the fast stuff is actually quite a small part of the process. You can tell a lot about a car from how it performs at low speed.’
at the rear before the stability control takes over. It turns the V6S into a track-day warrior; and if you partially switch out the stability control, you can have enormous fun steering the car on the throttle out of corners. Naturally, you’d want the suspension set to Dynamic for track use, too. But the clever thing is that you can mix ’n’ match any of the attributes in the Dynamic package by opening up the touchscreen and ticking the appropriate boxes. So, for example, if you’re driving a particular road and you decide that you’d like the extra-snappy gearchanges but would rather have the lighter steering and softer damping, you can ‘check’ or ‘uncheck’ the boxes on the display. It’s a great solution to the problem of driving a car engineered for one particular set of circumstances – the manicured B-roads of Germany, for example – in a place 9 8 j u n e 2 013 O C T A N E
less suited to it (the Third World road surfaces of post-winter Britain). Mike Cross confirms that those two locations make effective parameters for determining a chassis set-up. ‘Our experience has shown that if a sports car works in the UK and it works in Germany, it’s probably going to be pretty good everywhere.’ Mike has been involved with the F-type ever since it was a gleam in the eyes of design chief Ian Callum and his team, and has nursed it through every stage of its development since the initial ‘Statement of Intent’ was drawn up, long before any prototypes turned a wheel. ‘The overarching requirement was that it had to be a sports car, but a sports car in a Jaguar way: the way it steers, handles, stops and goes, how it sounds.’ Mike’s official job title is ‘chief engineer,
9 April 2013. pAmplonA, SpAin MR ENGLISH IS NOT a morning person, and he’s more than happy to let me have first stint in the V8S on this drizzly, grey, Spanish morning. But as we clear Pamplona, and I move out to overtake a lorry on the first long straight of country road, he soon wakes up. ‘Jeez! That’s seriously quick!’ he exclaims. And I wasn’t even trying. It soon becomes evident that the phrase ‘with power comes responsibility’ is an apt one when applied to the V8S. This thing is monstrously fast, and injudicious use of the loud pedal will have the back end stepping out in the blink of an eye, however much the electronic stability aids may protest. That supercharged 5.0-litre V8 is trying to send nearly 490bhp through the rear wheels only, and Mike Cross’s comment about needing to be in the right place to exercise the V8S properly now seems like an epic piece of understatement. The Bonneville salt flats would be a good starting point. But, of course, having access to such excess is completely addictive, and the soundtrack is pure muscle-car, a meaty V8 beat that swells
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J AG U A R F -T Y P E
and swells as you open the taps – so much so, you may even (heresy!) consider switching out the ‘active’ exhaust. You can’t let your guard down for a second in the V8S, or it could bite you in the backside. By the time we stop for coffee, Andrew and I have independently reached the same conclusion: yesterday, we were convinced that the V6S was the F-type of choice, but now we’re not so sure… The V8S is a fabulous machine, and suddenly that hefty price tag doesn’t seem so outrageous. Has Jaguar finally – finally! – produced a
worthy successor to the E-type? Yes. It won’t have the same historical impact as the ‘E’ did in 1961, but then no car ever will again. It’s not without its flaws: the front-end styling is an acquired taste, the interior doesn’t feel particularly special (surprising, this, when you compare it with an XJ saloon’s), and the luggage compartment is dismally shallow. But the F-type is a good car, and possibly a great one. As one insider commented during the launch: ‘Land Rover is on the crest of its wave right now. Jaguar is just starting to ascend.’ The F-type will help it get there. End
2013 JAGUAR F-TYPE ENGINE 2995cc V6 or 5000cc V8, Roots-type twin-vortex supercharger, four valves per cylinder POWER 335 / 355 / 488bhp @ 6500rpm (V6/V6S/V8S) TORQUE 332 / 339lb ft @ 3500-5000rpm (V6/V6S), 460lb ft @ 2500-5500rpm (V8S) TRANSMISSION Eight-speed ‘Quickshift’ auto/manual, rear-wheel drive, mechanical LSD in V6S, electronic LSD in V8S STEERING Hydraulic rack and pinion SUSPENSION Independent coil-and-wishbone; active ride on V6S and V8S BRAKES Discs WEIGHT 1597 / 1614 / 1665kg (V6/V6S/V8S) PERFORMANCE 0-60mph 5.1 / 4.8 / 4.2sec. Top speed 161 / 171 / 186mph (V6/V6S/V8S)
Above There’s a nod to the E-type in the shape of those rear lights; the V6 has a central pair of exhaust pipes, the V8 two pairs, positioned outboard.
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a st on m a rti n n ew i n t er n ation a l
100 years of
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The early 1930s were a tough time for Aston Martin, and the New International of 1932 was cheaper to produce than the car it replaced. But, as Mark Dixon found out, it was also better
PhotograPhy Matthew Howell
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OU HAVE TO ADMIRE his honesty. About three-quarters of the way through his report and road test of the Aston Martin New International fourseater, Motor Sport ’s scribe declared: ‘After testing it at Brooklands, we set off along devious routes with the firm intention of seeing if it was possible to blow it up. 4000 to 4500 in all gears, cornering as fast as the road allowed, up and down the box… the car seemed willing to stand this indefinitely.’ The writer isn’t credited, but the dry humour has all the hallmarks of founding editor Bill Boddy. He didn’t blow it up, and concluded that ‘one is safe in calling the New International a genuine 70mph car’. From which you may conclude that it wasn’t the fastest thing to leave Aston’s Feltham works, even by the standards of the 1930s. But then, outright speed isn’t everything, and there are some pre-war cars that may not seem to be terribly fast on paper but which turn out to be remarkably good at eating up the miles cross-country. Riley’s Kestrel saloon springs to mind: fitted with the Wilson preselect gearbox, which lets you choose the next gear before you need to engage it (very handy when getting set-up for a corner), it’s a brilliant little road car. And having just driven the actual car that Bill Boddy (perhaps) tested in 1932, 10 4 j u n e 2 013 O C T A N E
I reckon the Aston Martin New International could be another. Aston’s output wasn’t exactly huge in the early ’30s. It offered two kinds of car: a sports tourer – which, for 1932, would be the New International – and the Le Mans sports racer, a copy of the team cars it fielded for the 24 Hours. The latter proved much more popular than the former, with over a hundred built, whereas just a dozen New Internationals found buyers. This New International was the works development hack, and had a hard early life. It was used as a team tender for Le Mans in 1932, where, according to Motor Sport, ‘it arrived carrying more luggage, tools and spares than one would have believed possible for a car of its dimensions’. In ten months it racked up about 20,000 miles in the hands of Aston Martin’s then-owner, the London motor dealer Lance Prideaux-Brune. When the car was sold at the end of the year, the works build sheet stated with surprising frankness: ‘Speedo put back (9000m)’! The speedo read 37,801 by 1936, when the build sheet records that the Aston needed body repairs after an accident. There’s a bit of a gap in its history then until the 1950s, when two brothers owned it briefly in succession. Tony and Colin MacEke are both still hale and hearty – and both crashed it at different times, too. Speaking from his home in Devon, Tony
recalls: ‘I bought the International in 1957 for £175 to replace the Austin Seven special that I’d built the previous year. Although I didn’t have the Aston long, I did like it. I remember going on holiday in it to Cornwall. On the way back it was absolutely tipping down with rain, and I pulled out to overtake a van. The driver stuck his hand out, which made me wonder if he knew something I didn’t… Just in front of him the road curved sharp right, with no warning, and I skidded into a bridge parapet. Fortunately we weren’t going very fast by then!’ Tony had the car repaired, but soon afterwards his head was turned by a Le Mans model and he sold the International to his brother. Colin, who now lives in Gloucestershire, had an equally adventurous rite of passage with it: ‘The wing nuts on the [cable-operated] brakes were vulnerable to vandals, as I found out when I went into a ditch to avoid an accident. From then on I fitted lock nuts. But my constant worry was the oil filter, for its [securing] threads were almost gone and I could never get a decent seal. When asked at garages if I needed any oil, I’d say “Yes, let’s start with a gallon and see how we go!”’ Colin had to sell the Aston after a couple of years, when a young family meant it was no longer practical. An Army officer who was being posted to Germany bought it: ‘I pointed
Clockwise from far left Originally a hardworking Le Mans support car, MV 2543 is these days only required to carry its current owners and their labradors; the 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine needs a little work yet, but is full of promise; the Laycock gearbox is an unexpected delight.
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A ST ON M A RTI N N EW I N T ER N ATION A L
1932 ASTON MARTIN NEW INTERNATIONAL ENGINE 1493cc four-cylinder, OHC, iron block with alloy head, dry sump lubrication, two SU carburettors, magneto ignition POWER 55bhp @ 4500rpm TRANSMISSION Laycock four-speed manual, rear-wheel drive STEERING Worm and sector SUSPENSION Beam axles, semi-elliptic leaf springs, friction dampers BRAKES 14in drums, cable operated WEIGHT 965kg approx PERFORMANCE Top speed 72mph. 0-60mph 22sec approx
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out the oil problem but it didn’t deter him and I watched him drive off with oil pouring out with a mixture of relief and nostalgia.’ The buff logbook that’s still with the car shows that the Army man last taxed it in 1966. And yes, he crashed it too, according to Aston specialist Jim Young – who bought his first Aston in 1952, also a New International. Jim knows the car well. ‘It has some interesting features: the back axle is an experimental ENV unit, and the body is different from subsequent production cars, with deeper side valances over the chassis members. Pre-war Astons are incredibly well made and durable, and two of the most used pre-war cars in the AMOC are New Internationals. Their biggest disadvantage is that they’re relatively heavy.’ MV 2543 hasn’t been on the road for nearly 50 years, due to engine problems that weren’t resolved until it came into the hands of vintage car fettler and enthusiast Nick Benwell, proprietor of the famous old Phoenix Green Garage, which is located next door to the even older Phoenix pub, birthplace of the VSCC. Octane’s photoshoot will be the first time in several decades that it has covered any proper mileage on a public road. Painted red with black wings in 1963, the car was blue when the MacEke brothers owned it, but dark green before that, and the works build sheet says that it left the factory in
black… In 1932, Aston was going through a particularly tough period. Its cars had a good reputation for quality but they were expensive, and the main reason for that was because everything was produced in-house, including the gearbox and back axle. So for the New International, intended to replace the International that had debuted in 1929, these major components were bought in: the gearbox came from Laycock, and the spiral-bevel back axle from ENV. And for the first time in an Aston, the gearbox was bolted direct to the back of the engine, rather than mounted separately in the chassis and connected via a short propshaft, in vintage car tradition. Accepting these ‘compromises’ meant that Aston could cut a hefty £120 from the retail price, which was now £475. That was a big improvement but it was still an awful lot of money for a 1500cc tourer in 1932. The sporting motorist of the early ’30s could choose from a wide range of marques (Singer, Riley and British Salmson to name just a few) that offered similar or better performance for under £400, which helps explain why only a dozen New Internationals would be built. So was the New International a duffer? It wasn’t an especially quick car, nor a particularly rakish looker, despite having an underslung chassis and cycle wings. The engine was overhead-cam but it was a 1.5-litre four-cylinder rather than a straight-six, which
‘When asked at garages if I needed any oil, I’d answer “Yes, let’s start with a gallon and see how we go!”’
Clockwise from far left For a car that has barely been driven for the last 50 years, the New International inspires a surprising amount of confidence when barrelling down narrow country lanes; MV 2543 is a characterful surivivor, not a gleaming concours queen, and it’s all the better for it.
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Above At rest in the Phoenix Green Garage, spiritual home of the VSCC – and literal home, for a time, of Denis Jenkinson. The Aston’s patinated appearance fits perfectly here.
you might have expected in this price bracket. But get behind the wheel and you’ll find that, just as Aston claimed in its advert at the time, the New International is a ‘most satisfying car’. That big, sprung four-spoke wheel is the nerve-centre of the Aston’s cockpit, its boss housing a hand throttle and advance/retard lever for ignition timing. The gearchange is ‘back to front’ – in other words, first is up and to the right, fourth down and to the left – and there’s a chunky, stubby little lever protruding from the end of a long alloy remote-shift casing, which is mounted on top of the gearbox and projects back into the cockpit. The fullwidth dashboard is a simple piece of varnished wood, and not original to the car; a 1958 snapshot shows that it had Aston’s centraldash arrangement back then. Remember that this car has a central throttle (with the brake to the right of it) and press the electric start, and the Bertelli-designed inline four instantly thrums into life. It’s one of the all-time classic engines, a dry-sump unit with valves arranged to give combustion chamber turbulence for optimum performance, and it sounds smooth and refined. Nick has kindly made the car available for our photoshoot with barely 24 hours’ notice, and he warns me that the ignition timing may not be set quite right. So it proves. The little 110 j u n e 2 01 3 O C T A N E
1500 is clearly down on performance, but you can sense that it’s just itching to wake up and show what it’s capable of. It feels like a peppy little thing, sweet-revving and willing, but just a bit under the weather at this moment. Once wound up to speed, the International is a pleasure to hustle along a typical English backroad. The steering is beautifully light and direct and, guided by those cycle wings that turn with the front wheels, you can position it to the inch in a corner. But more surprising is the quality of the gearchange. Motor Sport complained that ‘two or three seconds is lost on each change if one waits the correct time’ – and perhaps that’s the case if you’re absolutely caning it, but in normal motoring the lever slips between ratios as clean as you like, with a lovely solid precision, almost like a much bigger version of those tiny levers fitted to Cotal electric gearchanges. It’s one of the nicest features of the car, and no Aston customer should have felt shortchanged because they were buying something not made at Feltham. Driving with the caution appropriate to something that’s not been exercised in half a century, the cable-operated brakes aren’t a problem, and a bigger danger would be locking those skinny 21-inch tyres on a greasy road. But because you can position the car so accurately and can see all the extremities, you
‘The sweet-revving 1500 is just itching to show what it’s capable of’ feel confident in hustling the Aston past oncoming traffic in narrow country lanes. You don’t actually need to slow down very often. Yes, this is a well-used and, er, extremely patinated vintage car, but it has huge character and I suspect it’s going to give the new owners a lot of pleasure. They plan to use it as a general runabout, labradors in the back, and they’re adamant that it won’t be tarted up. It’s the right decision: once you started, you’d really have to go the whole hog and rebuild it from the ground up. Better that this small piece of Aston Martin history wears its scars with pride, rather than become just another shiny toy. End ThAnkS To Nick Benwell at The Phoenix Green Garage, Hartley Wintney, Hampshire, +44 (0)7762 116129.
ENGI N E musIc
The music that moves us
The sound of a thoroughbred engine is music to any petrolhead’s ears – but why? And how? Here’s Octane’s guide to pulses, pitches, firings and frequencies, and our reaction to them Words Rob Scorah // M ain photograph Mark Dixon
It’s a ‘bloke’ thIng, Isn’t It? A big engine in the Goodwood paddock coughs, splutters and snarls into life, quickly winding itself up to a full howling bellow. Ladies might frown and decide it’s time for another glass of Veuve Clicquot, but the gentlemen will stand entranced around the open clamshell lid, mesmerised by the chattering, singing, multi-cylinder monster. The more cylinders the better. It’s like it’s alive; it has a voice, an innate musicality – a soul. But why is its sound a symphony rather than a cacophony to the devoted, and why do otherwise sane men respond to its call so strongly? Maybe it’s because both we and engines produce sound in a fundamentally similar way, or maybe it’s because some of the principles that drive a good deal of the world’s music also govern the way our motors sing to us like mechanical orchestras. So before we go any further, let’s look at a few basic principles – as well as some exercises you can do. Sound waves are basically air pressure: one single wave consists of a rise to a peak of high pressure followed by a corresponding drop to low pressure. That wave repeats rapidly and we perceive it as a pitch, measuring those repetitions per second in Hertz (Hz). For example, at a concert the A the oboe plays for the orchestra to tune up to is 440 Hz. Now that orchestra, or a band for that matter, has strings you can scrape or pluck, various tubes you can blow down or things you simply hit. Although people and engines 112 J u n e 2 01 3 O C T A N E
also have quite an array of inner tubes, their central sound-producing apparatus is none of the above. We and the V12s use what’s called a pulse-train generator. Your vocal cords produce sound as a series of discrete glottal blips (they’re your pulses), which, when strung together fast enough, form a single tone. Try it yourself; make a low, frog-like croak in the back of your throat and steadily increase the rate. If you don’t run out of breath, it gradually turns into a pitch – you are forced to sing a low ‘uurrr’. It’s similar to running your nail along the teeth of a comb. Now, in a four-stroke engine, for every two revolutions of the crankshaft, a piston goes up and down twice, but fires only once – that being its glottal blip/pulse. In a four-cylinder, for every turn of the crank two cylinders fire; in a V8, four, and so forth. So the more cylinders, the higher the pitch (potentially). Okay, here’s something else for you to try. Grab a V8, preferably an evenly balanced one with a flat-plane crank like the 3.2-litre Ferrari used in the 1980s Mondial. Now, stick it on a test bench, drag it into your front parlour and set it down next to the piano. Start it up and let it idle – it should settle around 968rpm. That’s 968 revs with four ignition pulses on each, making 3872 bangs a minute; 64.5 pulses a second. That’s our frequency; 64.5 Hz. Go over to the piano and, playing around near the bottom of the keyboard, you should find that a low C (actually 65 Hz) sounds pretty near. Of course, there’s lots of other racket going
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Left Rob Scorah trained in classical guitar and composition before turning to studio production in the 1990s. He also lectured in sound design and digital recording, but the lure of writing about cars ultimately proved stronger than a PhD in the computer-aided writing of music.
on (and not just the neighbours banging on the door); the motor could also be said to have its own percussion in the valve train. Again, at this rate, their rapid snapping will be perceived as a pitch – most notably of the induction valves faintly singing in the intake manifolds at perhaps twice the engine’s pitch. Still, Ferrari’s 3.2-litre is fairly uniform; if we really want to strike up the band, let’s listen to something altogether more irregular – such as Chevrolet’s famous 5.7-litre small-block. Crankshaft design and the evenness of the cylinder firing order can have a big effect. The Ferrari’s flat-plane crank engine, with its 180-degree-spaced journals, gave us very even firing (optimising power delivery and fluid flow, of course) and therefore a very regular frequency and relatively homogenous, uniform sound. But the small-block’s 90-degree crank produces asymmetrical firings that will have an acoustic signature. Instead of a steady bangbang-bang, we’ll get b-bang, b-bang, b-bang. Spinning that up into running frequencies, it might ring out as a whole different note (even assuming the same revs) or more likely, with the ‘b-bang’ constituting a single pulse, a different ‘timbre’ or tone to our engine. Back in the days when I was a university music lecturer, one of my areas of study was granular synthesis. It proved quite a convincing way of replicating human voice sounds, again by using those small pulse building blocks. Irregularities in the basic pulse rhythm or changes to its attack and decay were (like the b-bang) subsumed in any given pitch. But as with the Chevy, they gave rise to added ‘overtones’ in the sound, so, as well as that basic pitch (the fundamental), you hear ‘harmonics’. These overtones/harmonics are multiples of the fundamental, most likely having the ratios 2:1, 3:2, 4:3, 5:4. That all sounds a bit dry and abstract, but we don’t hear the numbers. It’s the overtones that give a 1 14 J u n e 2 0 1 3 O C T A N E
‘The enthralling soprano banshee wail of a big V12 engine can carry a ghostly human quality’ sound its signature, make it interesting or make us feel it’s alive. We hear the music generated by the numbers. Time for another exercise and a bit of music theory – with Julie Andrews. Bring out your copy of The Sound of Music from behind your copies of Octane and stick it in the DVD player; you’re going to sing along to Doe, a Deer. Why? Because it will teach you to recognise those ratios as basic major scale intervals. (Don’t worry, you don’t have to dress up as a nun…) Okay; doh-re-mi-fa-so-etc and on up to ‘doh’. Doh to doh is an octave; ratio 2:1. ‘So’, the fifth, is 3:2. They’re the ones that probably emerge first, followed by some higher dohs and ‘fa’, the fourth, 4:3. The harmonics resonate more strongly if you blow harder down any given tube or drive the resonant system harder. Doh-so-doh is a commanding harmonic relationship that underpins a good deal of Western music. It is also much favoured in rock guitar power chords. Think of the opening chord to Thin Lizzy’s The Boys Are Back in Town – a sound also rich in Marshall Stackinduced harmonics. Now, if you were to chop and loop that chord, wouldn’t you have something akin to an engine drone?
But our motors have even more ways of playing chords. Firing order and exhaust routing also have a musically dramatic effect. For example, the small-block’s cylinders are numbered, left: 1, 3, 5, 7 and right: 2, 4, 6, 8. But it fires 1-8-4-3-6-5-7-2. Going down a single exhaust system that might still sound fairly even, but each side pipe gets only half the pulses with yet more pauses and syncopations. This drops the pitch a sort of inexact octave and gives our V8 its distinctive burble. Also, now we’ve connected exhausts to our engine, we’re effectively letting it play a wind instrument, so we could do with reviewing some very basic acoustic theory. A given length of tube (flute, clarinet, side pipe) will produce a sound wave/frequency roughly a little longer than itself, so a longer pipe equals a deeper pitch (think piccolo versus Alpine horn). But don’t forget, the engine isn’t just blowing air down the pipes like some fairground organ, it’s effectively singing down them. Try it for yourself; get the vacuum cleaner’s extension tube and sing-cum-raspberry down it, raising the pitch over time. You’ll notice two things: one, you look a complete plonker (more so if you did dress up as a nun); and two, as you raise the pitch, there will be a moment when you are ‘in tune’ with the tube, when your note hits its most resonant frequency. The wavelength is the same length as the tube and bounces back and forth, reinforcing itself. Now when an engine ‘sings’ up to that pitch, the sound might not be exactly harmonic – in tune – with its own song, so most engine power chords will remain more complex than Amajor followed by E7. But there are moments when it all comes together perfectly. Even aftermarket exhaust manufacturers have woken up to our desire to hear our motors sing and have tuned their systems so the pipes come alive at a particular rev range. The award for best singing voice probably goes to the V12s. Their multiple firings per second (and often less compromisingly routed exhausts) gift them the higher frequencies, allowing them to get into the higher singing registers of the human voice. Unlike the guttural American V8s, or more humbly brusque ‘fours’, their soprano banshee wail can carry a ghostly human quality. Perhaps that is what enthrals their owners so, forcing them to spend fortunes on their upkeep. But it’s the ability of all our engines – from big old ‘singles’ to impossibly convoluted V16s – to sing and chatter to us in such a way that creates an intimate dialogue and deep rapport between us. We understand their spirit and they resonate with ours. End
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rolling back the years With much to celebrate in 2013 and its future looking rosy, Rolls-Royce delves deep into its illustrious past at a new exhibition in Munich
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n a year packed with major automotive anniversaries, Rolls-Royce has as much to celebrate as anybody. We are now a decade removed from the launch of its state-of-the-art Phantom, a car that cemented the renaissance of the marque under the ownership of BMW Group, and this year also marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of the company’s co-founder, Sir Frederick Henry Royce. Business is fairly booming, too: for the third year in a row, the world’s most revered luxury car manufacturer announced record sales. The perfect time, then, to stage the first ever Rolls-Royce exhibition at the BMW Museum in Munich. Running until the end of March 2014, the ‘Strive for Perfection’ show traces the marque’s history in quite some style, going right back to the day Sir Henry Royce first met Charles Stewart Rolls in 1904. Open to the public and supported by London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, the exhibition is spread over 1000 square metres and features 15 stunning RollsRoyces dating from 1907 to 2012. Star cars include a 1954 example of the ultra-exclusive Phantom IV and the unique 1926 10EX – an experimental model engineered and driven by Royce himself. This and other pioneering machines are linked with the 21st century by today’s Phantom and Ghost. Alongside the cars are informative displays that concentrate on other aspects of Rolls-Royce design, craftsmanship and engineering. The iconic ‘Spirit of Ecstasy’ bonnet ornament and ‘Pantheon’ radiator grille are highlighted, as are the company’s historic advertising and its traditional coachbuilding techniques. It seems unlikely that so many significant Rolls-Royces will be displayed together again any time soon, so make a left at Dover and get yourself over to Munich, post-haste. // www.bmw-welt.com/en
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Phantom II Continental The standard Phantom II was unveiled in 1929 following a period of considered development. Royce then asked body designer Ivan Evernden to build him a one-off short-wheelbase version, which when completed boasted a tuned engine and stiffened suspension. The sales department was as nonplussed by the car as Henry was delighted, but they soon warmed to Evernden’s creation after it took top prize at the 1930 Biarritz Grand Concours d’Elégance. Pictured above is a 1933 Fixed-Head Coupé, and to its right is a 1934 Touring Saloon.
1964 Silver Cloud III 1966 Phantom V Limousine ‘At 60mph the loudest noise in the new Rolls-Royce comes from the electric clock.’ A classic bit of advertising that helped shift more than 7000 Silver Clouds. And it wasn’t much of an overclaim, either; in fact, the only better way to travel in the 1960s was in the rear of a chauffeur-driven Phantom V (on right), as a certain Queen Elizabeth II would attest. 118 j u n e 2 01 3 O C T A N E
1969 Silver Shadow Two-Door Saloon 1972 Phantom VI Limousine The most successful model in the company’s history, the Silver Shadow broke with many Rolls-Royce conventions, most notably ditching a separate chassis in favour of a monocoque body. Relatively small and light, it was dwarfed by the 6m-long Phantom VI (on right), which represented one very big last hurrah for proponents of traditional, coachbuilt luxury cars. Some 374 had been sold when production ended in 1991, with the vast majority of these sporting Pullman limousine bodies courtesy of Mulliner Park Ward.
1952 Phantom IV Sedanca De Ville The Phantom IV was supplied to royals and heads of state only. Just 18 were built over a period of six years, and all but one survive. Based on a modified Silver Wraith chassis, the Phantom IV was powered by an inline-eight which was optimised for driving at low speeds for ceremonial purposes, but it was also able to hit 100mph when the Duke of Edinburgh booted his driver out of the way and put his foot down.
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2003 Phantom Limousine Those concerned that Rolls-Royce might lose some of its traditional character under BMW must have been reassured when the Phantom was unveiled in 2003. With its aluminium structure it represented a quantum leap in terms of engineering, but retained pleasingly familiar proportions. Four years later, the Drophead Coupé version (on right) was received warmly, optional stainless steel bonnet aside…
1914 Silver Ghost Tourer Rolls-Royce went the extra mile – quite literally – to convince the public of the quality of its cars: in 1907, a 15,000-mile reliability trial was organised and, in 1911, a specially built Ghost (similar to the one pictured, right) trundled all the way from London to Edinburgh in top gear without complaint.
1926 Phantom I 10EX Sports Tourer 1935 20/25 HP Sedanca De Ville Even if the slab grille compromised its aerodynamics somewhat, the prototype 10EX (on left) was a significant attempt at producing a lighter, nimbler, more streamlined car, and one from which many coachbuilders borrowed over the next few years. The 20/25 HP, meanwhile, was born of Henry Royce’s astute realisation that the demand for chauffeurdriven cars would inevitably decline, and the ‘little’ Rolls – no less luxurious than its larger counterparts – was the company’s best-selling model in the 1930s. End
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omparing statistic for statistic, Ivor Walklett is arguably the most prolific car designer active in the UK today. Now in his eighth decade, he has penned more than 30 individual models over more than half a century and now the latest is only a few months away from its big reveal. Together with his elder brothers Bob, Trevers and Douglas, Ivor co-founded Ginetta in 1958 and remained the creative force behind the marque until the early ’90s. He’s still operating in the specialist sports car arena via his Essex-based DARE concern, and his enthusiasm is infectious. Llike all journeys into the unknown, his move into the automotive world began with an idea. ‘My brothers always blamed me for getting them involved with cars,’ he laughs. ‘They were perfectly happy as agricultural building engineers. Specials were all the rage in the ’50s and as a young man I was keen so I took a pre-war Wolseley Hornet which belonged to them and chopped it up! I finished the car, but it handled appallingly. That was the start of the learning curve. We had the knowledge and facilities to fabricate things so we built the first proper Ginetta, the G2. It was a simple Clubman’s car with an aluminium body and cycle wings. It went on sale in 1958 and we just carried on from there. ‘Of course, making car bodies from aluminium wasn’t really cost-effective so the arrival of glassfibre was a big thing for small firms such as ours. I first read about Bakelite’s polyester resin in Automobile Engineer magazine and our next car – the G3 – was the first Ginetta to be made in this manner. We contacted Bakelite and they sent along this blustery chap by the name of Langford-Allen to have a look at our plaster mock-up. ‘We’d made it in mother’s greenhouse, which had panes missing so temperatures were all over the place. LangfordAllen – I can’t remember his first name, but then chaps in those days didn’t use first names – was horrified. He took one look and… Well, that was when he became rather blustery! He said we’d never be able to make a proper mould, and that we needed to move the buck somewhere drier. That wasn’t going to happen as it weighed about two tonnes, but we learned quickly and each of us had a role to play.’ Ivor’s was as designer, with Trevers lending his engineering skills while Bob and Douglas managed the business and the shop floor respectively. But it was the model that followed, the ageless G4, that saw the brothers eschew the safety net. From then on they would concentrate solely on making cars, and the 122 j u n e 2 013 O C T A N E
The driving force behind Ginetta sports and racing cars is now in his seventies – and still active after five decades in the job Words Richard Heseltine // Portraits Lyndon McNeil
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Clockwise from top The ever-friendly and animated Walklett talks about the G16 sports racer (top right), which has recently seen much success in historic racing, and the perenially popular G4 – a version of which is still in production; period brochure for the G3, available in kit form.
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company moved from rural Woodbridge, Suffolk, to West End Works in Witham, Essex. ‘Actually, I conceived the G4 before the G3 but it was a much more complex car and, as such, took longer to come together. When we launched the G4 [in late 1960], it took off and we’re still making them today. Originally, we were going to use a short-stroke 750cc Coventry Climax engine, which Lotus used to win the Index of Performance at Le Mans, but then they decided not to put it into production. We did think about using the Standard 8 four, and the price was right, but eventually we settled on the Ford Anglia 105E unit. And, of course, we carried on developing the car and got into racing in a big way. ‘Trevers and I were always pushing for us to get more and more involved in motor sport. You have to remember what it was like back then. The 1960s really were a revolutionary
period and competition was fierce. The G4 went really well, and the only driver to consistently get near Chris Meek in our works twin-cam G4R [‘R’ for IRS] in 1964-65 was Jackie Oliver in his Lotus Elan. We did our first single-seater, the G8 Formula 3 car, in 1964. It had a lot of potential, and was very forgiving to drive, but if you were low down the pecking order for engines then you were always going to suffer. I don’t think we received particularly good service from Holbay.’ The next model, however, would clean up in sports car racing at national level. ‘We’d been building a Formula 2 car for Willie Green but he opened a door he shouldn’t have while visiting the factory and saw our G12 prototype. He then asked if we could change his order and put his one-litre Cosworth SCA engine into a G12 instead. His was the first. He and Chris in our works entry won everything in 1966-67, but it
was designed as a small-capacity GT car so there wasn’t much room for development. That’s why we did the G16.’ While the model has latterly been a front runner in historic racing, this shapely sportsracer never quite realised its potential in period. ‘John Burton went well in the first car with a Cosworth FVA engine, but then BRM’s Wilkie Wilkinson offered us a two-litre V8 for the works car. It would cost the same as a Cosworth unit and would produce 270bhp, compared with 240bhp. It was too good an offer to turn down. Unfortunately for us, we weren’t able to refine the car further as we spent all our time chasing problems with the engine, which were eventually traced to the pick-up off the flywheel. BRM never got round to sorting it, which was incredibly frustrating. However, by the end of the ’60s we were beginning to move more into
road cars so the G16 gradually went on the backburner. The pace of development in racing car design was such that it was hard to stay competitive and also break even.’ While there had been previous attempts at road cars, the pretty G15 was the first to sell in volume. Launched at the 1967 Earls Court Motor Show, this Imp-engined sports car became an instant hit; hence the move to a new, larger factory in Sudbury. ‘We couldn’t make them fast enough,’ Walklett smiles. ‘We also introduced the G21 [in 1970, although deliveries didn’t start for a further two years] but then along came the oil crisis, the imposition of VAT and the three-day week. It was an awful time, what with all the strikes and so on. We’d fully Type Approved it, as we did with the G15, and with the 1725cc four-cylinder Sunbeam engine the G21 was a lovely car. But we were up against the MGB GT
‘We were always pushing to get more involved in motor sport. The 1960s were a revolutionary period’
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‘I’ve always liked
at a time when British Leyland was being subsidised by the Government so we never stood a chance. Fortunately, we hadn’t sold our old place in Witham so we moved back in.’ It wasn’t a great time for Ginetta. ‘To be honest, I don’t have particularly fond memories of that period. The G15 continued to sell for a while because the price was right and, while we hadn’t conceived it with racing in mind, Barry Wood was very successful in ModSports in our works car. The problem was, we started to lose orders for the G21 due to the economic climate. Then we received a letter from Chrysler saying that it was about to stop production of the Imp! ‘They behaved honourably, and offered us an all-time requirement deal whereby they would build and store engines for us, but that meant we would have to make quite a large investment. We also investigated putting a Skoda engine and ’box in the G15, but that didn’t come to anything. We also did a small batch of VWengined cars for our US importer Art Allen [Ivor looks aghast at the memory] but we were on a hiding to nothing there.’ Ginetta survived the ’70s building the occasional car and selling spares while also threatening to return to racing car manufacture with a Sports 2000 machine. This design and others failed to take flight but the marque would return to prominence in a big way during the 126 j u n e 2 013 O C T A N E
Above Walklett’s workshop is a treasure trove that includes this Ginetta G17 Formula 4 car, his son’s DARE TG Sport (the white car seen on page 123), and other Ginettas tucked away in nooks and crannies.
following decade, if not, perhaps, in a manner the marque faithful expected. ‘[Journalist] Peter Filby kept on at us about kit cars, how we were missing a trick, so we had a closer look. For me, the problem with kit cars back then was that you needed to drill 10,000 holes into bodyshells as builds tended to be a bit freeform. ‘The popular ones, things like Duttons, were horrible. We were good at designing things that could actually be built – a lot of kit-car manufacturers had no production sequence for volume manufacture – and we came up with a series of models whereby every component could be taken from a donor car and transferred directly onto ours. You didn’t need to be a genius to assemble one. We did very well out of that; well enough to get back into proper car production with the mid-engined G32 from a new factory in Scunthorpe. We’d fully Type Approved and crash-tested it to be sold just about anywhere in the world by the time we sold out in 1989.’ With two of his siblings past retirement age, this changing of the guard made sense although Walklett rues his decision to stay on under the
new regime. ‘As brothers, we could talk about things. We had decades’ worth of knowledge and experience but that environment was gone. The majority shareholders decided everything and I was just “the boy”. My views counted for nothing. It all began to go pear-shaped so I left.’ Only to end up making Ginettas once again, this time via the DARE operation from the mid-90s. ‘Originally, Trevers and I set up the business as a design consultancy. However, the Japanese Ginetta distributor, who’d acquired the rights to the G4 and the G12, asked us to build them on his behalf. I was a bit reluctant as we were working on our DZ project [a radical mid-engined car sold briefly in the late ’90s] but after a bit of persuasion we set up a factory. We did a deal whereby we would fund production costs in return for a share of the production rights. Before long we were making around six cars a month.’ Now working with son Tom and nephew Mark, the ever-cheerful Walklett shows no sign of slowing down. The new car looks great, and its designer is keen for the DARE name to enjoy the spotlight. ‘Making the G4s and so on is great. I love them, and we are happy publicising the Ginetta brand, but we also want to make a splash with our own car.’ The energy, the acumen and the ambition are clearly still intact – but then we didn’t expect otherwise. End
A selection of cArs in our workshops in 2012. for restorAtion work to the highest stAndArds, cAr sAles, servicing And engineering work pleAse cAll simon, wAyne or robert on 01285 869791, emAil [email protected]
or visit thornleykelhAm.com/mArketplAce
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the other hypercar Meet the world’s most fuel-efficient car – developed by VW for the same boss who gave us the Bugatti Veyron. We drive the company’s alternative high-tech showpiece Words Andrew english // PhotograPhy Ingo Barenschee
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Erich Maria rEMarquE, the German author of the 1929 anti-war novel All Quiet On The Western Front, was born in Osnabrück, Lower Saxony, and today the town is home to his archive. It is also home to the 112-year-old Karmann car company, owned by Volkswagen since 2009, where from this month a proportion of its 1800 employees will be helping to change our perception and understanding of the supercar almost as profoundly as Remarque did for the First World War. For, in a series of workshops remarkably similar to the old Porsche race shop at Zuffenhausen in Stuttgart, Karmann will produce Volkswagen’s XL1, a 313mpg, superefficient supercar in an initial production run of 50, followed by a further 200 examples. These two-seat fuel-misers are as singleminded as any racing Porsche, and the common denominator here is Dr Ferdinand Piëch, head of the VW board of supervisory management and former head of Porsche’s race department. In 1998, Piëch was chairman of VW and decreed that his R&D engineers design two very different cars: one with 1001bhp, which would become the Bugatti Veyron, and another that would sip only one litre of fuel per 100km – a German measure of consumption that equates to 282.5mpg. In his last public appearance as VW chairman, Piëch drove the experimental One Litre car from his office in Wolfsburg to the 2002 VW shareholders’ meeting in Hamburg. It was raining and cold, and the engineers wondered about the sanity of putting their boss in this tiny cigar tube and leaving him at the mercy of high-speed German traffic. In the end, however, the wily Piëch beat his own targets, averaging 317.4mpg at an average speed of 43.5mph. ‘We will never build a one-litre car,’ he said as he climbed out, ‘but it could give us the knowledge to build a two-litre car.’ The following year I became one of only two UK journalists to drive this 299cc, singlecylinder, diesel-powered car. It was as noisy as a cement mixer, claustrophobic, rode like a tea tray, was engineered like a bicycle and was 13 0 J u n e 2 013 O C T A N E
Right and below Like a slightly sinister swarm of insects, XL1s line up in the Alps ahead of the launch drive. Octane regular and Daily Telegraph correspondent Andrew English has driven its predecessors, too.
completely wonderful. It even moved its German engineering team to a higher plane of erudition. Dr Thomas Gänsicke, the car’s project manager, wrote at the time: ‘It really is a fascinating experience to drive through the night at 100km/h with the fuel consumption indicator showing just 1.0 litre per 100km and nothing but the stars above your head…’ And that’s about as runic as German engineers are ever allowed to get. Then, nothing happened. The project got a sheet thrown over it and the engineers got moved on. Five years later, Ulrich Hackenberg was head of research at Volkswagen, Martin Winterkorn was chairman and they were working on a parallel-hybrid system that could be used across the entire VW Group. Could a similar hybrid system tame the singlepot death rattle of the One Litre car? It could, and we saw the next stage in Frankfurt in 2009. The L1 had a two-cylinder, 800cc TDI engine which, with assistance from a small electric motor, gave a top speed of 100mph and 189mpg. After the show, Hackenberg told me that it was the enthusiastic reaction of journalists such as myself and Mike Rutherford of The Sunday Times that had helped persuade them to continue with the one-litre project. I told him I bet he said that to all the boys. We didn’t have long to wait for the next development. In front of an audience made rich on oil and gas revenues, the 2011 Qatar motor show saw the first public unveiling of a prototype XL1, a plug-in, parallel-hybrid, two-cylinder turbodiesel. Hackenberg had rejected the tandem-seat arrangement as impractical, but Piëch suggested a staggered side-by-side arrangement to limit the inevitable width increase. In a restricted, police-escorted drive, I piloted the prototype XL1 round the Qatar’s capital city, Doha. It clearly needed work and a lot more damping for its carbonfibre body, but this was a highly promising second attempt. Then, on the eve of March 2013’s Geneva motor show, Volkswagen revealed that it would put the XL1 into limited production. I knew this already, partly because the previous week I’d been at the Karmann factory and seen the car’s production facilities, but mainly because the previous day I’d driven the XL1 across the Swiss Alps from Lucerne, over the 5000ft Brünig and Jaun passes and into Geneva. This was in the company of the team of engineers that built it, including Hackenberg.
At 12ft 9in long, 5ft 5.6in wide and 3ft 9.4in tall, the XL1 is the world’s most aerodynamic production car, with a coefficient of drag of 0.189. It is also the lightest hybrid, weighing 795kg with the resin-transfer-moulded carbonfibre body just 230kg. The entire drive system weighs 227kg, with 153kg for the running gear, 80kg for the equipment and 105kg for the electrical system. The parallel twin-cylinder turbodiesel is half of a Polo’s 1.6-litre unit. Made in aluminium, with plasma-sprayed bores instead of iron wet liners and a Lanchester balance shaft to reduce vibrations, it produces 47bhp and 88.5lb ft. Between it and the transmission is a thin 27bhp/74lb ft electric motor powered by a 5.5kWh, 60-cell, 230-volt Sanyo lithium-ion battery. The transmission is a super-expensive magnesium alloy version of VW’s E400 seven-speed, twin-clutch unit, which drives the rear wheels. This really is the acme of energy efficiency and lightweight innovation, and it could stand toe-to-toe with other supercars launched at Geneva: Ferrari’s LaFerrari and McLaren’s P1. Technical goodies include LED lamps, narrowgauge wiring with electrical fuses, carbonceramic brakes, an electrical air-con/heater unit and a fully-faired underbody. The side and rear windows are polycarbonate with anti-scratch coatings and there are no wing mirrors, just rear-facing door cameras displaying their images on non-reflective screens in the door trims. The wheels are magnesium alloy and weigh just 4kg (the skinny Michelins weigh 3kg), the wishbone front and semi-trailing-arm rear suspension are all cast aluminium, and the anti-roll bars and engine mounts are carbonfibre. Crash safety is on par with that of current VW models, and in the event of a roll-over accident the hinges for the scissor doors are secured with explosive bolts, which release the assembly so you can climb out. In normal operation, the XL1 stays in electric drive until full throttle is used, speed exceeds 62mph or the battery charge falls to 14%. Electric-only mode lasts 31 miles or (again) until the battery charge falls to 14%, when the electric motor restarts the engine to maintain the charge and drive the vehicle, although it never fully recharges the battery. You can also ‘hold’ the battery charge to use in a built-up area. Recharge time via a separately supplied charge box is just over an hour using a 240V UK household supply, or half an hour with a
v w ’s 30 0m pg h y perc a r
‘i t r e semble s a 21s t-cen t ury in t er pr e tat ion of aur el persu’s cl a s sic t e a r drop’
360V supply. Top speed is limited from a possible 125mph to 99mph for battery longevity and 0-62mph acceleration is in 12.7sec. Combined economy using the EU’s rather contrived calculation for plug-ins is 313.8mpg. In fact, Hackenberg says that’s a rounded-up figure and the actual consumption is 0.83l/100km (340.4mpg). Carbon dioxide emissions are 21g/km, and the ten-litre fuel tank and battery give a combined range of about 311 miles. ‘The car came out of the wind tunnel like that,’ says Walter de Silva, head of VW Group design, although his designers spent an intensive two years nibbing away at the aerodynamics. In profile it resembles a 21stcentury interpretation of Aurel Persu’s classic windcheating teardrop, but there are designer touches in the XL1, particularly the twin vents on the dorsal engine cover, reminiscent of the first Beetles. Swing up the scissor doors and you can feel and see some of the advances that have been made since Qatar in 2011. The doors have more assistance so you aren’t tugging them shut, while the body damping is hugely improved so the soles of your shoes don’t resound off the stiff carbonfibre structure. Around town, this fuel-sipping VW feels clanky. Shove the throttle firmly, the electric motor whines and you pull briskly away. The tyres crash over expansion joints and potholes, the unassisted steering has a strange over-centre feeling and the low-mounted body bobs gently along like a dinghy at its mooring. And when the engine starts you’d imagine someone was doing a bit of drilling on the bodywork. On a positive note, the brakes combine electrical regeneration with oldfashioned friction, and they are an object lesson in smooth, powerful and linear response – if only all hybrid anchors were this good. The carbonfibre seats are trimmed in lightweight material and are superbly supportive and comfortable. The steering wheel adjusts up and down, too, so finding a good driving position isn’t a problem. You have to get used to the lack of a central rear-view mirror, but the TV wing mirrors are amazingly good. It’s all recognisably Volkswagen in derivation, even down to the instrument binnacle and centre console switches, which are from the Up! model. There’s a simple techy charm about the mattblack carbonfibre dashboard and the lovely piano-black, full-width ventilator and it’s all been designed by a Brit, Andrew Hart-Barron. ‘We wanted it to be recognisably a VW, but also to show how different it was,’ he told us at the Qatar launch. A central Garmin PDA screen conveys sat-nav info plus engine and fuel economy stuff. Eventually the sat-nav will be developed to advise the power electronics when to dig deep into the battery charge because a nearby long descent will enable it to recharge, or the
car is going home or to work where it will be hooked up to the mains. Two six-footers will fit comfortably and you get used to the staggered seating. There’s not a huge amount of space in the cockpit, but the luggage space in the boot behind the engine is 120 litres. Out of town, the XL1 starts to make more sense. The ride calms and the steering weight feels more appropriate. While it sounds slow on paper, there’s actually real guts in that driveline, even though the torque is limited to protect the exotic transmission. Floor the throttle and the chirruping engine, whirring motor and rumbling tyres make you feel like a getaway driver in a sci-fi bank heist. Then there are the times when the transmission clutches out the driveline and the XL1 freewheels (or ‘sails’, as the German engineers endearingly put it). Up beyond the snow line on the Brünig pass, the XL1 looked like a ghostly wraith as it rolled silently out of the mist, leaving no trace of its passing (least of all CO2) apart from the slightly sinister feeling that you’d seen the future. Gradually you get used to conserving momentum, although there’s a limit to how much you’d want to trust 115/80x15in tyres on turning-in to a corner, and the steering loads up alarmingly in acute bends. And while on a long journey the suspension is quite comfortable, the bobbing sensation never quite goes away and you never quite get used to the engine noise, which alternately sounds like a woodpecker with a sore beak and a masonry drill. But it’s great fun and so ethereally special you feel like a time traveller. ‘The only twin in the whole [VW] Group that sounds good is from Ducati,’ says HeinzJakob Neusser, head of the powertrain development group. ‘This engine becomes smoother the more load you have, though, as we can put more pre-injection fuel into it – it’s all about combustion stability.’
This is the first launch I’ve ever attended where my beer consumption the night before (two pints) is virtually the same as the fuel burned on the test drive. If the average 12,000-miles-a-year British motorist swapped the latest generation of turbodiesel hatchback capable of 75mpg for a VW XL1, their annual fuel bill would fall from £1075 to £257 and their CO2 output would fall by 80%. Few carmakers could make a car like the XL1 and, with its combination of devilishly clever innovation and super efficiencies, it illustrates Wolfsburg’s engineering virtuosity far more effectively than, say, slapping a vee-wee badge on the side of an F1 car. VW will lose money on every XL1 it builds, so now it’s just a case of working out how much it wants to lose, which is why the company is being so coy about the price. ‘Sometimes Piëch completely ignores the business case and tells us “Just do it”!’ says Heinz-Jakob Neusser. I’ve spent too much of my life sitting in rocketship supercars wondering if I or the idiot beside me could control the beast at its intergalactic speeds, and ignoring the sheer squandering of resources such cars engender. And anyone who imagines the new breed of hybrid supermodels at Geneva will save the Earth one jot of temperature-rising needs their head examined. So, while the XL1 is an irrelevance, it isn’t a pointless irrelevance, if you get my drift. Its efficiency shows what could be done, and while that is unlikely to be done with carbonfibre and teardrop body design, Hackenberg assures me that the driveline can and will be fitted into a tiny VW Up! hatchback, where it will average about two litres per 100km (141mpg). So 128 years after another German company invented the motor car, VW is moving the game on. Amen to that. O C T A N E j u n e 2 013 133
the other fuel misers
wH at ca me BeFor e
VW isn’t the first to squeeze mega-mileage from fossil fuels – but it might be the best 1} 1929 Burne y S tre a mliner
Airship designer Dennis Burney penned about 13 extraordinary 20ft-long streamlined cars between 1929 and 1931. The first cars used a reversed Alvis front-drive chassis adapted to allow the rear wheels to steer. By all accounts, while the specification was advanced and the seven-seat interior a precursor of the multi-purpose vehicle, the cars were not a success: they were unwieldy to manoeuvre and suffered severe overheating of their straight-eight Beverley-Barnes engines.
only once, in a non-championship race for which it built two V12-engined versions of its W26 racing car with distinctive streamlined bodies.
4} 1969 merceDeS-Benz c111
Never commercially produced after a fatal accident at The World’s Fair, but still hugely influential. Basically a teardrop shape after the aerodynamic principles laid down by Romanian engineer Aurel Persu, the Dymaxion car was a three-wheeler steered via its single back wheel and powered by an 85bhp Ford V8, which gave 36mpg and a claimed top speed of 120mph. Just three were built, but an exact replica (pictured top right) was recently built for Sir Norman Foster, a student of Buckminster Fuller. It featured in Octane 90.
Not a single car, but a series of experimental vehicles, the first of which broke cover at the Frankfurt show in 1969. As ever, the gullwing doors overshadowed the advanced technology under the GRP skin, which included a 280bhp, triple-chamber Wankel rotary engine. A Mark II version debuted at Geneva the following year, but Mercedes had pushed rotary technology to its logical conclusion before deciding it would never reach acceptable levels of thermal efficiency. Two more C111s, the 1976 C11-IID and the 1979 C111-III, got diesel engines instead, were progressively more streamlined and set new speed records at Nardo in Italy. The last C111-IV had a 500bhp turbocharged V8 and reached 250.9mph at Nardo. A postscript was the 1991 C112, a mid-engined sports car developed out of the Sauber endurance racer, with active body control and aerodynamics. Mercedes took 700 orders for the car but sadly never built it.
3} 1937 merceDeS-Benz avuS S t romlinie
5} 1980 volkSwagen arv w
2} 1933 Buck minS ter Fuller Dy m a x ion ca r
The Avus track in Germany was built as a race and testing venue close to Berlin, with two six-mile straights linked by terrifying steeply banked curves at each end. The Mercedes team competed there 13 4 j u n e 2 013 O C T A N E
An experimental VW record-breaker with a razor-edged streamlined body made of aluminium and composite materials, and a six-cylinder diesel engine. It was built to explore the relationship
between high speeds and aerodynamics. In 1981 it became the world’s fastest diesel car, reaching a speed of 225mph.
6} 1999 HonDa inSigHt
Fantastically advanced and the world’s first modern hybrid, beating Toyota’s Prius to the market by months. All-aluminium two-seater body and tiny lean-burn one-litre petrol engine were aided and abetted by a thin motor/starter and lithium ion-battery. This was much more of a driver’s car than the Prius, with a manual transmission and good handling. Thanks to a Cd figure of 0.25 it was also one of the world’s most aerodynamic production vehicles. Octane deputy ed Mark Dixon drives one; it’s done 180,000 miles at over 70mpg.
7} 2011 ren ault t wiz y
First of a new breed of weird and wacky batteryelectric urban runabouts – although few of them have super-streamlined coachwork, which is one of the prerequisites of eking out the most miles per gallon or kilowatt-hour. Others include Opel’s RAKe, Audi’s Urban Concept and the Volkswagen NILS. There’s also next year’s BMW’s i3, which is pretty much a conventional supermini apart from the fact it’s built from carbonfibre and unobtainium. You could also add tilting three- and four-wheelers such as BMW’s Clever and Simple concepts, and the Mercedes-Benz Life Jet and Carver concepts. End
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Adrian Goding Equal parts artist and craftsman, Adrian Goding looks at the automotive past through stained glass Words Chris Bietzk PhotograPhy Andrew McLaughlin
t’s alive!’ exclaims Adrian Goding down the telephone. I have a vision of pitchfork-wielding neighbours gathering at his door in Hadstock, Cambs, as Boris Karloff lurches about the living room, but the artist is in fact referring to his chosen medium, stained glass. ‘It’s like nothing else,’ he says. ‘Look at a panel in neutral daylight and again with sunlight streaming through it; the image is suddenly transformed. Sit down in front of a stained glass window first thing in the morning and you’ll see it change, hour by hour.’ He’s right: his Panhard piece (pictured right and overleaf) was displayed prominently at last year’s International Conference on the History of Motorsport Technology, and as the sun travelled across the sky, many of the guests seemed transfixed by the shifting hues of the glass. Host Sir Jackie Stewart, that most colourful of characters, was occasionally in danger of being upstaged. To stand in front of the 25sq ft panel, which to be specific depicts a 1902 Panhard et Levassor, 13 6 j u n e 2 013 O C T A N E
is to be reminded that there are some things that are just beyond most of us. If you take the apparently unfashionable view that an artist ought to possess a degree of technical skill, you will be delighted by Adrian’s work. Tiny details are ingeniously rendered, and the lead lattice that holds the fragments of glass in place is terrifyingly intricate. ‘The technical challenge is actually part of the fun. The Panhard and Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost pieces weigh close to 100kg each, and engineering them in such a way that they didn’t just collapse on themselves was tricky. Each is composed of two separate sections, joined as seamlessly as possible, and there’s steel hidden inside the leadwork to provide support.’ It’s all so masterfully done that it comes as something of a surprise to learn that Adrian acquired his considerable expertise relatively late in life. He studied product design at university before embarking on a career in automotive robotics, which saw him work with Ford and Vauxhall among others, developing assembly lines. The automated wizardry of the
a dr i a n g odi ng
‘He admits that his wife began to ask whether he was ever going to finish the piece’
Mk4 Escort assembly line was no doubt far more interesting than the car that eventually rolled off it, but Adrian grew sufficiently restless that one day he picked up a pamphlet advertising evening classes and enrolled on a course in stained glass window making. A few months and many gold stars later, he began accepting paid work and was soon able to leave the car industry behind. These days the bills are paid by small private commissions, repair work and the regular maintenance of the leaded windows at Emmanuel College, Cambridge. ‘On a given day I might be mending a window smashed by a football or restoring a pair of Art Deco glass doors; there’s rarely a dull moment. But the fact is that I spend a great deal of my time fixing problems in other people’s work, and at a certain point I decided I needed to take a bit of a break to create something of my own.’ In this instance ‘a bit of a break’ means 8001000 hours, or four months in real terms – that’s how long each of his automotive panels took to complete. Needless to say, when committing that sort of time to a single artwork, it is helpful if the subject matter is of interest, and Adrian is almost as fanatical about pre-war cars as he is about coloured glass. He is currently the proud owner of a 1925 MG Bullnose and a 1917 Studebaker. ‘I bought the Studebaker on a trip to the US when I was 20. The engine was seized 13 8 j u n e 2 013 O C T A N E
Above The 1902 four-cylinder, 16hp Panhard at Brooklands just before the start of World War One. Now this car has been reproduced in stained glass by Adrian Goding, the work taking nearly 1000 hours.
solid and it needed a lot of work. It was mad, really, but a bit of elbow grease and youthful enthusiasm goes a long way and the car was restored in fairly short order.’ The 1902 Panhard et Levassor was wellknown to Adrian long before it occurred to him to make a study of it. It has been owned by the same family since 1967 and Adrian had always liked it. ‘There’s so much detail on display – lots of lovely brass and exposed engineering. It has an interesting history, too, having taken part in a Veterans race at Brooklands in the very last meeting before the outbreak of World War Two.
I knew it would make a good subject.’ The cutting pattern alone took 100 hours to produce, and there were occasionally moments – or weeks – of frustration. The headlamp lenses were redesigned and redesigned again until Adrian was happy with them, and he admits that midway through the process his wife began to ask whether he was ever going to finish the piece. ‘The hardest thing, though, was sitting alone in the workshop for all that time. I grew tired of my own company very quickly!’ That did not prevent him from starting a second panel soon afterwards, this time immortalising the 1913 Alpine Trial-winning Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost. A century on from that famous victory, the ex-James Radley ‘Alpine Eagle’ is owned by John Kennedy, who provided a mountain of invaluable reference material and suggested that Adrian include the distinctive Rolle Pass in the background. ‘The lead isn’t soldered until all the glass has been cut and put in place, and the Ghost panel lay flat on a table, unlit, for so long that I began to question whether it was any good.’ Pay a visit to Rolls-Royce and Bentley dealer P&A Wood, where the piece is currently on loan, and you’ll agree that Adrian ought never to have doubted himself – it attracts as many admiring glances as the metal in the showroom, and is a fitting tribute to the car that helped Rolls-Royce to cement its reputation for quality. Given the labour-intensive nature of his art, Adrian is considering his next project carefully, but he is not short of ideas, and his dedication to documenting the past is inspiring. ‘I’ve been speaking to the RREC about producing a window to honour former club president Eric Barrass, and to the Imperial War Museum about a piece featuring a WW1-era biplane. And I’d love to do a Maserati 250F at the Monaco hairpin.’ With a number of classic car owners also interested in commissioning a stained glass portrait of their pride and joy, it sounds like Adrian had better learn to enjoy his own company, and fast. End ThAnks To Andrew McLaughlin at TCI Studio, Hadstock, Cambs, for the superb pictures, www.tcistudio.co.uk; contact Adrian Goding at www.kettonglass.co.uk.
sir joh n w hit mor e’s l o tus corti n a
14 0 j u n e 2 0 1 3 O C T A N E
Words john Simister // PhotograPhy Bernard Canonne
The winner every Time Sir John Whitmore raced this completely original Alan Mann Lotus Cortina to victory eight times in its maiden 1965 season. Octane reunites car and driver
Words Tony Dron // PhotograPhy Simon Clay
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Any meeting with John Whitmore is fun, enlightening and an entertaining education. A genuine polymath, he frequently comes up with amusing, unconventional, even controversial ideas but he always has the air of a man who knows what he’s on about. Steering our talk towards the car, I ask him why the Alan Mann Racing Lotus Cortinas were better than the Team Lotus cars, which to Colin Chapman’s fury even Jim Clark once quietly informed his boss that they were. John admits he’s not sure: ‘Alan didn’t tell me much – he’d just ask me what I thought of the car. He was very good, always trying some little tweak that wasn’t much on its own, but they all added up. I drove the Team Lotus cars too and the Alan Mann Racing cars really were always that little bit better.’ In such a conversation it’s never long before you find yourself learning about something completely different, such as the simulated moon landing he did with Capt Charles ‘Pete’ Conrad, the Apollo 12 crew member and the third man to walk on the moon, who went on to become a mission commander. ‘Jackie Stewart introduced me to him, as he was very interested in motor racing. The simulation was in a capsule in Houston, Texas, and it took about 75 minutes. He was OK to invite me to do it because I was an instrumentrated commercial pilot.’ How many nonastronauts have done that? Hardly any, that’s for sure, but then those are the sort of friends that John has always knocked about with. He adds: ‘Sadly, Pete was killed on a HarleyDavidson motorcycle on public roads when he was nearly 70 years old, so I heard.’ One of his best mates was a certain Steve McQueen. More than 50 years ago, John gave the actor his start in motor racing here in Britain. You might hear a bit about that, or something about the plight of farmers in East Anglia (‘Right now, a third of Jack Sears’ farm is waterlogged and he can’t plant anything’), or perhaps about the train systems of the future that he predicts will take a lot of business away from airlines. It could be almost 14 2 j u n e 2 0 1 3 O C T A N E
‘They dominated the european championship, with john driving this same car’ anything, except himself, even though he is the author of best-selling textbooks on human performance coaching. But the wandering conversation can be steered back towards the car when necessary. John, of course, is actually Sir John Whitmore, baronet; he can trace his distinguished family back to AD1290, which he does appreciate, yet he gives no sense of self-importance and prefers to be known as plain John. Brought up in a stately home on a 7000-acre farming estate, he was educated at Eton, Sandhurst and the Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester – and he has always known his own mind, which is questing, inquisitive, adventurous and independent. At times he appears as an eccentric visionary, well past normal retirement age now but nevertheless firmly focused on the future and armed with the relevant facts. Born in 1937, John started racing in 1958 and was immediately successful. Within a few months he got a call from Colin Chapman, inviting him to share a works-prepared Border Reivers Lotus Elite with Jim Clark in the 1959 Le Mans 24 Hours. They finished tenth overall and second in class – Sir John Whitmore, serious racing driver, was on his way. He won the British Saloon Car Championship with a Mini 850 in 1961 and was soon signed up as a Ford works driver, which opened opportunities with the likes of Team Lotus, John Willment and Alan Mann Racing, all of which he drove for.
Alan Mann made sure he secured John’s services by turning up outside his London flat one evening and ringing him from a telephone box outside. Once inside, he offered John a drive in the European Touring Car Championship, with number one status in the yet-to-be-announced Alan Mann Racing team of Lotus Cortinas. In their second season, 1965, they dominated the championship, with John driving this very same car, KPU 392C. As it is up for sale in the Bonhams auction at the Festival of Speed, John has been invited to Goodwood to take his former steed up the hillclimb. Reporting on this is not difficult because I got well acquainted with this exceptional car many years ago. Back in 1989, I set up a day at Ford’s Boreham circuit with John and KPU 392C, which in those days he owned. We both drove it at racing speeds on the circuit, following which I researched the car and every bit of its history to date. John is clearly enjoying the reunion but has no desire to reacquire the car. He bought it in 1967, after it had completed a promotional tour of Ford dealerships, and it remained in his ownership for 28 years. For that victory tour at the end of the 1965 season, it had been thoroughly minted up, as they say in the trade, and given standard seats. When John bought it, it was still completely unaltered. In 1972, he lent it to the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu, where it was displayed at times. John removed it from Beaulieu in 1978 and took it back to Alan Mann, who was then running his aviation businesses at Fairoaks airfield. Although Alan Mann Racing was no longer in operation, several of the old mechanics were still working with Alan at Fairoaks, so the car was serviced there. John then moved KPU 392C to East Anglia because his former team-mate, Jack Sears, had made a kind offer to store it safely at his home. The car came out for one track-day demonstration run during that time, when it unfortunately blew its head gasket. A change John made back then was to fit a minimal rollcage in the rear of the car and that was still
Below Now in his seventies, Sir John Whitmore won his class in every round he contested in the Alan Mann Racing Cortina – which he rated as better than Team Lotus’s own cars.
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Below There can be few, if any, 1960s racing saloons left with anything like the originality of this car. It has never been damaged in an accident; even the now-sagging rear suspension sits on the original, specially tweaked leaf springs.
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14 6 j u n e 2 0 1 3 O C T A N E
‘It was easy to adopt sideways attitudes without feeling that speed was being wasted’ listing Sir John Whitmore as the previous owner, all of which will be among the items sold with it in July. As the 1965 European Touring Car Championship winner, still with its 1965 red and gold Alan Mann Racing livery, it will surely fetch a great deal more this time. Bonhams’ estimate of £90,000-120,000 might even be on the conservative side. After the first run up the hill, I jump into the passenger seat and ask how it was. ‘Much better than I was expecting,’ says John. ‘It handles surprisingly well and it’s really quite quick. There is a problem with the brakes, though: the travel is very long, with nothing happening until they suddenly come on too sharply.’ That suggests a sticking servo but maybe the rebuilt brakes just need bedding in. The rear suspension was always low but it has clearly settled even lower since I last saw the car. As a 1965 model, it’s on leaf springs at the back and they do look like a very special bit of period racing equipment, with unusual curves in some of the leaves. A magician in the blacksmith’s art of semi-elliptic leaf spring technology is probably required. Even so, John says that the handling was not unduly affected by the obviously drooping rear suspension. My own driving session in KPU 392C took place on the circuit at Boreham nearly 24 years ago. Although the Alan Mann Racing Lotus Cortinas were prepared in such a way that their front wheels rose less high when cornering than those of the Team Lotus cars, ALAn MAnn CoLLeCTion
there when we did that exclusive test at Boreham in 1989, which was probably the only other outing the car had in those days. For several years John kept it stored with Jack’s private collection, which included a Ferrari 250GTO. He joked that perhaps in such illustrious company the Ford would absorb a certain extra classic car value. Clearly it did because when he sold it at auction in 1995 it went at a record price for the time. The buyer was an American enthusiast from New England, a modest fellow with exactly the right attitude. He told me recently that he recalls the bidding at that 1995 auction, when he was up against a group who planned to run KPU 392C in historic racing – he overheard their conversation during the auction. Had they been successful, this piece of history would have been fundamentally altered. Fortunately, the successful bidder had a better idea. He gave it a very good home in the USA, in which it continued to be carefully preserved and maintained in its original state. From that day to this KPU 392C has been serviced and used sparingly, mainly to attend his local Lotus club events – he tells me he’s done less than 1000 miles in it since 1995. When the car arrived at his home he noticed that it was missing a small brass Pyrene fire extinguisher, visible in some early photographs. He found one at a local US autojumble and placed it in the existing bracket on the transmission tunnel. In 2001, John was invited to New England to speak at a Lotus Owners’ Gathering and he drove the Cortina the few miles to its place of honour. Now, a couple of decades on, the car has been shipped back here to be sold once again. Can there be any 1960s racing saloon that is more genuinely original than KPU 392C, anywhere in the world? Preparing it for sale, the owner has fitted new Dunlop racing tyres and had the braking system fully rebuilt. This wise American has also retained its spare set of wheels, a pair of glassfibre racing seats, two framed posters of the car and the V5 form
Left and right The Alan Mann Cortina wears distinctive livery, though it first competed in standard Lotus Cortina colours and on a 1964 registration number – as seen here at the Mont Ventoux hillclimb in 1965.
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sir joh n w hit mor e’s l o tus corti n a
1965 alan mann racing Ford lotus cortina EnGInE 1595cc fourcylinder, DOHC, twin Weber 40DCOE carburettors PoWER 152bhp @ 7800rpm TRansMIssIon Four-speed manual, rear-wheel drive, limited-slip differential sTEERInG Recirculating ball sUsPEnsIon Front: MacPherson struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar. Rear: live axle, radius arms, semi-elliptic leaf springs, adjustable Armstrong AT9 dampers BRakEs Front: Girling discs. Rear: vented drums WEIGhT 106mph. 0-60mph