By the time the calendar says March, the hours of daylight have increased to the extent that outdoor events in the UK do not have to be curtailed, but the weather remains more of a gamble. Spring can arrive early, and something held at this time of the year can be no less cold than something held a couple of month later, or indeed at the tail end of the season, but equally, if winter decides to linger, as it most memorably did in 2018, then it can be touch and go whether the event will even go ahead or not. And so most organisers prefer to wait until April before kicking their program for the season. One of the first such events is the one held by the VSCC at the Silverstone race circuit, which they call their “Spring Start”. It’s been held for many years now, but it has generally clashed with something else I was doing, so I’ve only been to it once before, back in 2014, when I was lured by a special program featuring 16 of the 20 or so ERA cars that had ever been built. It was a great day out, so when I spotted a gap in my 2019 schedule, I decided to fill it with a return visit. What had changed in the intervening time is that since 2017, the VSCC event is now held over 2 days, in conjunction with various other organisations active in the historic racing car scene, such as the Historic Race Drivers Club, the Historic Grand Prix Car Association, so the event that features the VSCC pre-war cars now takes place on the Saturday, and the one on the Sunday, which is when I attended comprises a series of post-war classes, with a varied mix of cars from Sports and GT Cars of the 50s and 60 to Formula Junior and Formula 2. Most of the practice sessions and races are short in duration, so you get to see plenty of different cars in action, which I like, and with unrestricted access to not just the Pits and Paddock, but even the BRDC Grandstand, you could choose just where you want to see the action. Like most people, I moved around the site a lot during the day – something that the bitingly cold wind encouraged me to do, just in the interests of staying warm! And presented here is what I saw.
IN THE PADDOCK
Like most of the smaller events held at Silverstone, it is the old Pit complex which is used, and there is unrestricted access into all the garages, so you can see the cars being prepared, as well as take a look after they have been out on track, and dotted among them, and the motor-homes and massive transporters which are as much a feature of the historic racing scene as they are of the modern Formulae there were all sorts of interesting and in many cases rare and very valuable cars. You really did have to look everywhere, as some of them were well hidden and they appeared and moved about during the day.
Alphabetically, the first car to present is a 1950s Ace, the precursor to the thunderous Cobra.
There was a particularly large field of Alfa Romeo models competing, so that gave me some immediate interest, as I came across ever more of these fabulous machines. There was quite a variety of the cars entered with the earliest being a 1950s Giulietta Berlina, a number of the 105 Series Berlina and GT models which are particularly popular in historic racing circles as well as the slightly more recent
Alfetta GT and GTV, the AlfaSud and its Sud Sprint relative, a 116 series Giulietta and an Alfa 75.
Lovely though these all were, my favourite Alfa of the day was one that only appeared late in the morning, and which was not going to be out on the track. This was a fabulous 8C 2300 Monza, easily one of the most valuable vehicles of the day, and it was just parked up by one of the transporters like far more prosaic stuff. This particular car is one of the best known and certainly best documented of the 8C models, with a whole book, written by well-known Alfa fan and Classic & Sports writer, Mick Walsh, published recently by Porter Press, in their series of iconic individual cars. Built in 1933, with chassis number ‘2211130’, the car was raced that year by the Hon Brian Lewis and won the arduous Mannin Moar race on the Isle of Man. The car continued to be raced until the war by John Cobb (1934), Luis Fontes (1935), Anthony Powys-Lybbe (1936-37) and Fay Taylour (1938) at venues as diverse as Vila Real (Portugal) and Phoenix Park (Ireland). Post-war it passed through several significant collectors to arrive at its status today as one of the more important surviving Monzas, and a car with so much charisma and historic interest.
One of the most elegant cars of the day was this 1936 Alvis Speed 25. Along with the Alvis 4.3-litre, the Alvis Speed 25 was a British luxury touring car announced in August 1936 and made until 1940 by Alvis Car and Engineering Company in Coventry, replacing the Alvis Speed 20 2.8-litre and 3½-litre. They were widely considered one of the finest cars produced in the 1930s. The Speed Twenty’s 2½-litre, 2.8-litre or 3½-litre engines with four main bearings were replaced in the 4.3-litre and 3½-litre Speed Twenty-Five with a strengthened new designed six-cylinder in-line unit now with seven main bearings. For the 3½-litre version an output of 110 PS at 3,800 rpm was claimed (and proven) along with a top speed of almost 100 mph.It propelled the occupants at high speed in exceptional luxury accompanied by the attractive sound of a powerful deep and throaty exhaust. Its beauty is also confirmed as it is the only car to win the prestigious Ladies Choice VSCC Oxford Concourse prize two years in a row. The clutch, flywheel and crankshaft were balanced together, which minimised vibration. The cylinder head was of cast iron but the pistons were of aluminium. Two electric petrol pumps fed the three SU carburettors, which were protected by a substantial air filter. A new induction system incorporated an efficient silencing device. Rear springs were 15 inches longer than in the previous model. The brakes had servo assistance. Alvis did not make any of the bodies for the Speed 25. The cars were supplied in chassis form and firms such as Cross & Ellis (standard tourer) Charlesworth (standard saloon and Drop Head Coupé) as well as Vanden Plas, Lancefield, Offord and others would fit suitably elegant open touring or saloon car bodies. The car was built on a heavy steel chassis with a substantial cross brace. With its sporty low slung aspect, all-synchro gearbox, independent front suspension and servo-assisted brakes, this was a fast, reliable and beautifully made car, although at almost £1000 it was not cheap. Later models featured increased chassis boxing, and to reduce the car’s weight Alvis cut numerous holes in the chassis box sections, which was also a solution tried less successfully earlier in the decade by Mercedes-Benz when confronting the same challenge with their enormously heavy Mercedes-Benz SSKL. Minor improvements to both cars announced at the October 1938 Motor Show included a dual exhaust system said to quieten the engine and improve power output. There were to be only detail changes for 1940 but the onset of hostilities brought production to an end. The survival rate for what was after all a hand-built car is surprisingly good.
Rather smaller was this competition-entered SB “Silver Eagle” model from 1930.
The Aston Martin DB3 and later DB3S were sports racing cars built in the 1950s. Although they used some DB2 parts, they were quite different, being designed especially for racing. The original modifications were done by ex-Auto Union engineer, Eberan von Eberhorst, though others handled the later DB3S work. The DB3 was introduced in 1951 with a 133 hp 2.6 litre Lagonda straight-6 engine from the DB2 Vantage. The car was unsuccessful, so a larger 2.9 litre engine, producing 163 hp, was introduced in June 1952. The car was placed 2nd, 3rd, and 4th at Silverstone May 1952 (in 2.6 litre form) that year behind a Jaguar C-Type. The cars were forced out of Le Mans, but did claim the 9-hour race at Goodwood. In 1953 a DB3 driven by Parnell/Abecassis placed 2nd at the Sebring 12 Hours, the opening race in the World Sports Car Championship, behind a Cunningham CR4 and then at the second round at the Mille Miglia, Reg Parnell drove a DB3 to 5th place, the highest position ever reached by a British sports car in the Italian classic. The car was then replaced as Astons front line car by the DB3S. In total 10 DB3s were made between 1951 and 1953, with chassis numbers from DB3/1 to DB3/10. Cars 1 to 5 being used as works cars and cars 6 to 10 being sold as customer cars. Several Aston Martin DB3s have received coupé style bodies over the years. The DB3S was a lighter version of the car, introduced in 1953. It was somewhat more successful, and was produced until 1956. Originally two ‘works’ coupé versions were also built.
Recent years have seen a massive increase in popularity of Austin’s diminutive A30 and A35 saloons of the 1950s in historic racing, with an entire class of them used by various celebrities at the 2017 Silverstone Classic, so there is definitely no shortage of these tiny cars re-engineered with roll cage and larger engine as well as uprated suspension, gearbox and brakes, and indeed there were several in action here.
Also entered was the larger and slightly later A40 Farina, another car you often see competing against much larger but less nimble saloons of the period.
I confess that I did not recognise this, but guessed it had Healey underpinnings from the badge on the back that looked like the one you would find on an Austin Healey 3000. And a bit later, someone kindly told me (before I heard the commentator enlighten us all) that it is a Healey Jamaican. These were produced by Fiberfab, a company I have heard of, who specialised in fibre-glass work. The company was founded by Warren “Bud” Goodwind in 1964, and offered body kits in resin and fiberglass that allowed the classic English roadsters which had sold strongly in the US during the preceding years —Austin-Healey, Triumph TR, and MGA—to be fitted with new bodies. With an elegant and unusual fibreglass body, a sleek profile and stylish lines inspired by the larger Italian GTs of the time, this car is indeed based on an Austin Healey 3000. It is claimed that Fiberfab only produced five Healey Jamaicans in total.
More familiar Austin Healey models including a number of the “Big Healey” such as this 100M.
There was also the smaller Sprite, seen here with an Ashley conversion. Ashley Laminates Limited was formed by Peter Pellandine and Keith Waddington in 1956 and in its early years produced fibreglass bodies, mainly for conversion of Austin Sevens and Ford 8s into stylish sportscars. With the arrival of the Frogeye Sprite they branched out into hardtops and lightweight forward-hinging bonnets, there being a demand to change the odd-looking Frogeye front to something more conventional and streamlined. The original Ashley hardtop was a rather bulbous affair and a lower sleeker one followed it with opening quarterlights and, for the Sprite Mk2 and Midget 1, a little bootlid to enable the spare wheel to be extracted. A new bonnet was also then introduced with a bigger air intake and a central power-bulge. The low-line hardtop was later made available for the bootless Frogeye, and the last of the Spridget hardtops had a bootlid which incorporated a small spoiler. In the mid-60s Keith Waddington died and the company continued to make hardtops and bonnets until its demise in 1972. In recent years the tuning and race preparation company, Motobuild Racing run by Darryl Davis, has re-started production of Ashley components calling a Sprite or Midget fitted with one of his hardtops and using a Williams & Pritchard Sebring 2 bonnet, an Ashley GT, not a designation I can recall being attributed to such a car in-period though Ashley did offer what they called their “Ashley GT Range”.
I understand that there had been a huge gathering of Bentleys present on the previous day, as part of the marque’s centenary celebrations, and that would surely have been quite some sight. There were a few still present whilst I was there, with a couple in the garages, and the rest as road cars parked up at various points around the Paddock. They were all what we think of as the “classic” Bentley, from the start of production in 1919 until the Rolls Royce acquisition and most of them were 3 litre models. The 3 Litre was the company’s first model, first shown in 1919 and made available to customers’ coachbuilders from 1921 to 1929. It was conceived for racing. The Bentley was very much larger than the 1368 cc Bugattis that dominated racing at the time, but double the size of engine and strength compensated for the extra weight. The 4000 lb (1800 kg) car won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1924, with drivers John Duff and Frank Clement, and again in 1927, this time in Super Sports form, with drivers S. C. H. “Sammy” Davis and Dudley Benjafield. Its weight, size, and speed prompted Ettore Bugatti to call it “the fastest lorry in the world.” The 3 Litre was delivered as a running chassis to the coachbuilder of the buyer’s choice. Bentley referred many customers to their near neighbour Vanden Plas for bodies. Dealers might order a short cost-saving run of identical bodies to their own distinctive design. Most bodies took the simplest and cheapest form, tourers, but as it was all “custom” coachwork there was plenty of variation. The 2,996 cc straight-4 engine was designed by ex-Royal Flying Corps engineer Clive Gallop and was technically very advanced for its time. It was one of the first production car engines with 4 valves per cylinder, dry-sump lubrication and an overhead camshaft. The four valve SOHC Hemi design, with a bevel-geared shaft drive for the camshaft, was based on the pre-war 1914 Mercedes Daimler M93654 racing engine. Just before the outbreak of the war Mercedes had placed one of the winning Grand Prix cars in their London showroom in Long Acre. At the suggestion of W.O. Bentley, then being commissioned in the Royal Naval Air Service, the vehicle was confiscated in 1915 by the British army, dismantled at Rolls-Royce and subjected to scrutiny. A notable difference to both the Mercedes and the aero engines was the cast-iron monobloc design, and the fully Aluminium enclosed camshaft, which greatly contributed to its durability. But having the valve-head and block in one-piece made for a complicated and labour intensive casting and machining. This was a feature shared during that time by the Bugattis which the car was later to compete with. The engine was also among the first with two spark plugs per cylinder, pent-roof combustion chambers, and twin carburettors. It was extremely undersquare, optimised for low-end torque, with a bore of 80 mm (3.1 in) and a stroke of 149 mm (5.9 in). Untuned power output was around 70 hp, allowing the 3 Litre to reach 80 mph. he Speed Model could reach 90 mph; the Super Sports could exceed 100 mph. A four-speed gearbox was fitted. Only the rear wheels had brakes until 1924, when four-wheel brakes were introduced. There were three main variants of the 3 litre and they became known by the colours commonly used on the radiator badge. There was a definite rule controlling badge colours but astonishingly it has since been established that given “special circumstances” the factory would indeed supply a “wrong” colour. Blue label was the standard model with 117.5 in wheelbase from 1921 to 1929 or long 130.0 in wheelbase from 1923 to 1929. The Red label used a 5.3:1 high compression engine in the 117.5 in wheelbase chassis and was made from 1924 to 1929. The Green label was made between 1924 and 1929 and was the high performance model with 6.3:1 compression ratio and short 108 in wheelbase chassis. 100 mph performance was guaranteed. As well as 3 Experimental cars, Bentley produced 1088 examples of the 3 litre, and the Speed Model numbered 513 and there were 18 Super Sports.
I had quite a chat with the owner of this one. He told me that it is a Derby Bentley, with the 4 1/4 litre engine. the body is not original, having been fitted to the car at some point a while ago, but it did come off another Bentley of the period, so it is “authentic”.
Sole BMW that I spotted ready for action was this pre-war 328, a sports car made between 1936 and 1940, with the body design credited to Peter Szymanowski, who became BMW chief of design after World War II (although technically the car was designed by Fritz Fiedler). It had a 1971cc straight 6 OHV engine and 3 solec carburettors which gave it an output of 79 bhp at 5000 rpm, and a top speed of 150 km/h, making this relatively light car ideal for motorsport. The 328 was introduced at the Eifelrennen race at the Nürburgring in 1936, where Ernst Henne drove it to win the 2.0 litre class. The 328 had more than 100 class wins in 1937, including the RAC Tourist Trophy, the Österreichische Alpenfahrt, and the La Turbie hillclimb. In 1938, the 328 won its class at Le Mans, the RAC Tourist Trophy, the Alpine Rally, and the Mille Miglia. The 328 won the RAC Rally in 1939 and came in fifth overall and first in class in the 1939 24 Hours of Le Mans. The car continued its competition career after the war, with Frank Pratt winning the 1948 Australian Grand Prix driving a 328.
BMW have clearly been selected as the provider of Course Cars, and an array of newly acquired models were parked up by the BRDC buildings, ready for action should they be needed.
A name you may not have heard of previously (I certainly had not until I saw it at Chateau Impney in 2015), this is a Farrallac Mark 2, entered by Tony Bianchi. The Farrallac Mk 2 is a 1958 British-built sports racing car, using the chassis of an Allard J2 but fitted with a 6.4-litre Cadillac engine, and named after its creator, Don Farrall. When new it made its mark in competitions all over the UK and Europe. Like many a historic motor, this one spent at least 10 years in the automotive wilderness, owned by a number of people who had failed to care for and maintain it before Bianchi bought it, and set about restoring the car to its former glory. Since then. he has raced it, along with his wife, Pia, in historic races nationally and internationally, winning a string of trophies in the multi-purpose car, which is as well suited to endurance races as it is to hill climbs and sprints.
Two very contrasting Ford models here, the British Anglia 105E and the American Falcon, both popular in historic racing, and both with different strengths. The Falcon is fast on the straights but not very good on the bends, whereas the Anglia is rather more nimble when the track twists, which of course, it does!
Displayed with “For Sale” signs in the windows, among the various trade stalls was this rare Hotchkiss Anjou. The Hotchkiss Anjou was a luxury car offered between 1950 and 1954 by the French automaker Hotchkiss. It was an updated version of the 486 and 686/866 models which had first appeared in the 1930s and inherited its engines from those cars, although their engines in turn dated back to OHC units introduced in the mid-1920s. The car was launched in autumn 1950, and during the first year 1,787 were produced. In 1951 the company produced a further 2,666. The depressed state of the economy and the government’s punitive taxation policy, especially in respect of larger cars, saw to it that, at least in terms of units produced, 1951 was the car’s best year, however. 815 were produced in 1952 and only 197 in 1953. 1953 was the last year of production, but the company was still advertising new cars for sale at least until the end of 1954, which indicates that their financial problems may well have been exacerbated by the practice of systematically manufacturing more cars than they were selling earlier in the Anjou’s life. The Anjou came with a large limousine-style body significantly modified when compared to its predecessors and characteristic of the times. A small number of two-door coupés were produced as well as a 2-door cabriolet, branded as the Hotchkiss Anthéor. There was a choice of two engine sizes. Most cars were shipped with a four-cylinder ohc 2,312 cc water-cooled unit with one or, at the customer’s option, two carburettors. However, a longer-nosed version allowed space for the larger ohc six-cylinder 3,485 cc water-cooled engine that promoted the car into the stratospheric 20CV taxation class, but increased claimed maximum power from 72/75 hp to 100/125 hp, with a corresponding increase in claimed maximum speed from 130 km/h (81 mph) to 145 km/h (90 mph). Sources for the power output vary, possibly according to whether the engine was fed by one or two carburettors. Both cars were offered with so-called “classic” four-speed manual transmission, and the smaller-engined car was available with an optional electromagnetic “Cotal” gearbox, which is seen by some as a precursor to more modern automatic transmission systems, and which would also have stood out from the crowd at any time on account of its having featured four forward speeds and four reverse speeds. In addition to the 5,465 Anjous produced, the company built about 40 of the 2-door cabriolet Anthéor models.
Another popular car in historic racing is what we now know as the Marks 1 and 2 Jaguar, as these were powerful cars with good (for the time) handling and a number of them were entered in appropriate race classes here.
Something of a rarity, this is a Kellison J4 Roadster, and only the second Kellison I’ve ever seen. In the late ’50s a California-based entrepreneur by the name of Jim Kellison, a former fighter pilot who had seen service in the Korean War starting living the ultimate car builder’s dream. of leveraging what he had learned from his UCLA degree in aircraft engineering by building his own car, intended first and foremost as a race car ready to compete against the Ferraris, Alfas, and Porsches of the day. With a grand vision presented in the sale brochure that was created, Jim Kellison started his eponymous Kellison company, and from 1957 offered the Kellison J-4 , as a fibreglass body in either coupe or roadster format, ready to be mounted on a number of contemporary under-pinnings, mainly targeted towards the Corvette chassis of the day. Early J-4s used a box frame with solid axles front/rear All coupe bodies included firewall, inner fenderwells, door hinges, headlight receptacles, dashboards, and floor pans. Kits to build a car at home were offered, but the best examples were constructed by Kellison himself. As is often the way with kit cars, though, there was plenty of variation, so there is at least one, still extant, with a Jaguar XK120 front end with torsion bar suspension and an unknown rear end with GM axle and semi elliptical spring suspension. Some fairly significant modifications came to the styling, too, especially the roofline, which changed from that in the early cars which had a super low slung roof, as this was replaced by a front window from a C2 Corvette plus a custom T-top setup, which made the car look like something ready for an early 60s road race. At a reported weight of just 1950 lbs, the Kellison was very light, and this meant it had a fighting chance against the fully factory developed Testarossa Ferrari and Birdcage Maseratis of the era In 1959, MotorTrend magazine got a hold of a factory built Kellison coupe and put it through its paces. The results were more than disappointing to Jim – they were devastating. While MotorTrend loved the lines of the car and complimented its high quality of fit and finish, they couldn’t manage the car’s massive oversteering problems on the track. They concluded that the Kellison was a wonderful long-distance touring car, but simply “too pretty” to race. It wasn’t long before Kellison hired Chuck Manning, a proven Indy car chassis builder with a big brain. Chuck designed a box tube frame with tube axles at both ends initially and then improved the design by implementing an x-frame and late-model Corvette suspension at both the front and rear. By all accounts, the new Kellison platform was a huge improvement. From 1961 to 1965 or so, you can find numerous mentions in various magazines of the day of a Kellison dominating a class, a win here or doing well in another race there. Other models from Kellison began to surface as well. A roomier J-5 was introduced followed by the J-3 designed for VW and Porsche running gear. Finally, even smaller J-2 and J-1 bodies were developed for Renault and Triumph chassis, and brochures of the time refer to a series of models designated with a K, which had a shorter 86 – 88″ wheelbase as opposed to the 98″ of the J cars. Although it is unclear whether the J1 and any of the K models were ever built, Jim’s product offering still amounted to a pretty impressive range. And then it all just stopped. There would be no Cobra rivalry, no great Le Mans wins, nothing… It just stopped. Manning went on to build more Indy cars and Jim Kellison went on to manufacturer dune buggy kit cars and other fad serving designs. The J-cars seemed to just vanish as well. Other than a couple of purpose built drag cars of the 60’s and 70’s, it’s rare to see a Kellison mentioned at all in publications past 1965. It is far from clear what brought on the demise of the Kellison J-car. Maybe Jim just wasn’t able to get the car to perform as well as he would have liked? Maybe the market just wasn’t there for a world beater kit car? Maybe the car was before or after its time? No-one knows. Many of the kits that were supplied at the time were never completed, so this was a very rare car.
One of the best-known of all pre-war Lancia is the Lambda, an innovative car which was first shown in 1922. A number of these were present. Built in 9 series over a 10 year period, the Lambda pioneered a number of technologies that soon became commonplace in our cars. For example, it was the first car to feature a load-bearing monocoque-type body, (but without a stressed roof) and it also pioneered the use of an independent suspension (the front sliding pillar with coil springs).Vincenzo Lancia even invented a shock absorber for the car and it had excellent four wheel brakes. The narrow angle V4 engine which powered is not something which was widely copied. Approximately 11,200 Lambdas were produced. Most of them had the open Torpedo style body, but some of the last Series 8 and 9 cars had Weyman saloon bodies.
Values of early Range Rover models like this one continue to rise, with the result that people are prepared to spend large sums of money on restoration, something which was not economically viable until recently.
Oldest of the Lotus cars entered was a Lotus Eleven, a racing car built in various versions by Lotus from 1956 until 1958. The later versions built in 1958 are sometimes referred to as Lotus 13, although this was not an official designation. In total, about 270 Elevens of all versions were built. The Eleven was designed by Colin Chapman and fitted with a sleek body designed by aerodynamicist Frank Costin. Its top version, dubbed Le Mans, was generally fitted with a 1100 cc Coventry Climax FWA engine and occasionally with a 1500 cc Coventry Climax FWB engine mounted in the front of a tubular space frame and featured a De Dion rear axle and Girling disc brakes. Fully loaded, the car weighed only about 1,000 lb (450 kg). Versions for a 1100 cc Climax engine (Club) and a 1172 cc Ford engine (Sport) were also produced; both featured a live rear axle and drum brakes. Several cars were fitted with alternative engines by their owners, these included Coventry Climax 1500cc FWB and FPF and 1200 cc FWE, Maserati 150S 1500cc, DKW 1000cc SAAB 850cc and 750cc engines. There were two main body styles: one with a headrest and the other with no headrest, just two small fins. Some cars were later fitted with a closed body with gullwing doors to meet GT specifications. Despite the wide variety of engines installed, the car was primarily designed to compete in the 1100 cc class where it was one of the most successful cars during the mid- to late-1950s. In 1956, An Eleven, modified by Costin with a bubble canopy over the cockpit, was driven by Stirling Moss to a class world record of 143 mph (230 km/h) for a lap at Monza. Several class victories at Le Mans and Sebring followed, and the Eleven became Lotus’ most successful race car design. A 750cc version won the Index of Performance at Le Mans in 1957. In 1957, the Eleven underwent a major design change, including a new front suspension and improvements to the drivetrain. Although officially called Eleven Series 2, these late models are sometimes informally referred to as Lotus 13s, since they were produced between the 12 and 14 models and the 13 designation was not used by Lotus. There have been several replicas and re-creations of the Lotus Eleven, including the Kokopelli 11, the Challenger GTS, the Spartak and the best known, the Westfield XI. The car seen here is the first of the S2 cars, with the Formula 2 style double wishbone suspension layout and was given by Chapman to the most successful club drivers of the 1956 season. Alan Stacey took delivery of this car and won the small capacity Championship in 1957, running as a Team Lotus entry. Alan was very quick and went on to larger engined sports cars and then to F1. He crashed fatally at Spa in 1960. The X1 on show had two subsequent owners and then put away for 38 years. The present owner found the car and carefully refurbished the X1 without over-restoration or modernisation. The cars run with the original engine and all original aluminium body panels. The car is now used regularly on the road and for minor events.
The first enclosed Lotus, intended for use as a road car as well as for competition purposes as the Type 14 Elite, an ultra-light two-seater coupé, which made its debut at the 1957 London Motor Car Show, Earls Court, as chassis #1008 , following a year in development, aided by “carefully selected racing customers”, before going on sale. The Elite’s most distinctive feature was its highly innovative fibreglass monocoque construction, in which a stressed-skin GRP unibody replaced the previously separate chassis and body components. Unlike the contemporary Chevrolet Corvette, which used fibreglass for only exterior bodywork, the Elite also used this glass-reinforced plastic material for the entire load-bearing structure of the car, though the front of the monocoque incorporated a steel subframe supporting the engine and front suspension, and there was a hoop at the windscreen for mounting door hinges and jacking the car up. The first 250 body units were made by Maximar Mouldings at Pulborough, Sussex. The body construction caused numerous early problems, until manufacture was handed over to Bristol Aeroplane Company. The resultant body was both lighter, stiffer, and provided better driver protection in the event of a crash. Sadly, the full understanding of the engineering qualities of fibreglass reinforced plastic was still several years off and the suspension attachment points were regularly observed to pull out of the fibreglass structure. The weight savings allowed the Elite to achieve sports car performance from a 75 hp 1216 cc Coventry Climax FWE all-aluminium straight-4 engine with fuel consumption at 35mpg. All production Lotus Elites were powered by the FWE engine. (Popular mythology says that cars left the factory with a variety of engines, but this is incorrect.) The FWE engine, derived from a water pump engine usually found bolted to a fire truck, was used by Lucas Electric for electrical component life testing in the presence of intense vibration. The car had independent suspension all round with transverse wishbones at the front and Chapman struts at the rear. The rear struts were so long, that they poked up in the back and the tops could be seen through the rear window. The Series 2 cars, with Bristol-built bodies, had triangulated trailing radius arms for improved toe-in control. Girling disc brakes, usually without servo assistance, of 9.5 in diameter were used, inboard at the rear. When leaving the factory the Elite originally fitted Pirelli Cinturato 155HR15 tyres. Advanced aerodynamics also made a contribution, giving the car a very low drag coefficient of 0.29 – quite low even for modern cars. This accomplishment is all the more remarkable considering the engineers did not enjoy the benefits of computer-aided design or wind tunnel testing. The original Elite drawings were by Peter Kirwan-Taylor. Frank Costin (brother of Mike, one of the co-founders of Cosworth), at that time Chief Aerodynamic Engineer for the de Havilland Aircraft Company, contributed to the final design. The SE was introduced in 1960 as a higher performance variant, featuring twin SU carburettors and fabricated exhaust manifold resulting in 85 bhp, ZF gearboxes in place of the standard “cheap and nasty” MG ones, Lucas PL700 headlamps, and a silver coloured roof. The Super 95 spec, with more power, from a higher-tuned engine with raised compression and a fiercer camshaft with 5 bearings. A very few Super 100 and Super 105 cars were made with Weber carburettors, for racing use. Among its few faults was a resonant vibration at 4000 rpm (where few drivers remained, on either street or track) and poor quality control, handicapped by overly low price (thus losing money on every car produced) and, “perhaps the greatest mistake of all”, offering it as a kit, exactly the opposite of the ideal for a quality manufacturer. Many drivetrain parts were highly stressed and required regreasing at frequent intervals. When production ended in 1963, 1030 had been built, although there are sources claiming that 1,047 were produced.
Sporting an unusual covered rear wheel was this Mini Marcos. These were produced in limited numbers between 1965 and 1970 by Marcos, from 1974 to 1981 by D & H Fibreglass Techniques Limited and again between 1991 and 1996 by Marcos. It was based on the DART design by Dizzy Addicott who finally sold the project to Jeremy Delmar-Morgan. Jeremy marketed the Mini DART as the Mini Jem. Jem Marsh of Marcos cars separately developed the project into the Mk I Mini Marcos and despite the similarity of the name, had nothing to do with the Mini Jem. In Sweden the Mini Marcos was sold by Elmhorn-Troberg Racing Service. The Mini Marcos was sold as a kit car utilising a fibreglass/GRP Monocoque with running gear & subframes from a Mini. During its life it went through five versions with changes including sliding windows (Mark II), which also had a modified front licence plate holder. An optional rear hatch appeared with the Mark III and a standard rear hatch and wind-up windows for the Mark IV which also received somewhat longer and taller bodywork. The Midas succeeded the Mk IV Mini Marcos which at that time was being made by D&H Fibreglass Techniques Limited in Oldham, but the latter marque was subsequently revived by Marcos with the Mark V. Following the closure of the Marcos company, the Mini Marcos moulds were acquired by Rory McMath of Marcos Heritage Spares who has re-launched the car as the Heritage Mk. VI and GT, the latter being a racing version. The Mini Marcos was the only British car to finish (in 15th place) in the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans: the drivers were Jean-Louis Marnat and Claude Ballot-Léna. The ’66 Le Mans car was used for several more races, then sold and finally stolen in Paris in October 1975. Many people searched for it, but it took until December 2016 to be found. Marcos entered a works car for the 24 Hours race of 1967 but the car fell out after just 13 laps. It also set four British land speed class records. These are the flying mile, half mile, half kilometre and kilometre for cars up to 1600 cc.
I nearly missed this “Gullwing” 300SL completely, as it was tucked between large race transporters, quite well hidden from view. Known under development as the W198, the 300SL was the first iteration of the SL-Class grand tourer and fastest production car of its day. Introduced in 1954 as a two-seat coupé with distinctive gull-wing doors, it was later offered as an open roadster. Built by Daimler-Benz AG, the direct fuel injected production model was based on the company’s highly successful yet somewhat less powerful carburettor overhead cam straight 6 1952 racer, the W194. The idea of a toned-down Grand Prix car tailored to affluent performance enthusiasts in the booming post-war American market was suggested by Max Hoffman. Mercedes accepted the gamble and the new 300 SL – 300 for its 3.0 litre engine displacement and SL for Sport Leicht (Sport Light) – was introduced at the 1954 New York Auto Show rather than the Frankfurt or Geneva gatherings company models made their usual debuts. Immediately successful and today iconic, the 300 SL stood alone with its distinctive doors, first-ever production fuel injection, and world’s fastest top speed. Even with the upward opening doors, the 300 SL had an unusually high sill, making entry and exit from the car’s cockpit problematic. A steering wheel with a tilt-away column was added to improve driver access. The 300 SL’s main body was steel, with aluminium bonnet, doors and boot lid. It could also be ordered with an 80 kg (180 lb) saving all-aluminium outer skin at tremendous added cost; just 29 were made. Like the W194, the 300 SL borrowed its 3.0 litre overhead cam straight-6 from the regular four-door 300 (W186 “Adenauer”) luxury tourer introduced in 1951. Featuring an innovative diagonal aluminium head that allowed for larger intake and exhaust valves, it was canted to the right at forty-five-degrees to fit under the SL’s considerably lower bonnet line. In place of the W194’s triple two-barrel Solex carburettors, a groundbreaking Bosch mechanical direct fuel injection was installed, boosting power almost 25% over the Grand Prix car’s. Derived from the DB 601 V12 used on the Messerschmitt Bf 109E fighter of World War II, it raised output from 175 hp to 215 hp, almost double that of the original Type 300 sedan’s 115 hp. An optional, even more powerful version, with radical camshaft developed 240 hp @ 6100 rpm and a maximum torque of 217 lb⋅ft @ 4800 rpm, but was rough for city use. The result was a top speed of up to 260 km/h (160 mph) depending on gear ratio and drag, making the 300 SL the fastest production car of its time. However, unlike today’s electrically powered fuel injection systems, the 300 SL’s mechanical fuel pump would continue to inject gasoline into the engine during the interval between shutting off the ignition and the engine’s coming to a stop; this unburned gasoline washed lubricating oil from the cylinder walls, which not only left them unprotected in affected areas during start-up but would dilute the engine’s entire oil supply if the car was not driven hard or long enough to reach a sufficient temperature to evaporate the fuel out of the oil. Exacerbating the problem was the engine’s large racing-oriented oil cooler and enormous 10 litre oil capacity, which virtually guaranteed the oil would not get hot enough. In practice, many owners would block off airflow through the oil cooler and stick rigidly to the appropriately low 1,000 mile recommended oil change interval. An auxiliary fuel pump provided additional fuel for extended high speed operation or cold starts; overuse would also lead to dilution of the oil., Clutch operation was initially very heavy, remedied by an improved clutch arm helper spring which reduced pedal force. From March 1963 to the end of production later that year, a light alloy crankcase was used on a total of 209 vehicles. Aerodynamics played an important role in the car’s speed, with Mercedes-Benz engineers placing horizontal “eyebrows” over the wheel openings to reduce drag. Unlike many cars of the 1950s, steering was relatively precise and the four-wheel independent suspension allowed for a reasonably comfortable ride and markedly better overall handling. However, the rear swing axle, jointed only at the differential, not at the wheels themselves, could be treacherous at high speeds or on imperfect roads due to extreme changes in camber. The enormous fuel tank capacity also caused a considerable difference in handling depending on the quantity of fuel on board. More than 80% of the vehicle’s total production of approximately 1400 units were sold in the US, making the Gullwing the first Mercedes-Benz widely successful outside its home market and thoroughly validating Hoffman’s prediction. The 300 SL is credited with changing the company’s image in America from a manufacturer of solid but staid luxury automobiles to one capable of rendering high-performance sports cars. It should be noted initial sales were sluggish due to many things, of which the price was one. Initial prices were about $6,400, a new Chevrolet Bel-Air could be purchased for $1,700 in the same year. Then there were few mechanics, even at the dealers, who understood the fuel injection system enough to do repairs. Nonetheless, 1400 were built by 1957, at which point Mercedes introduced a roadster version which was broadly similar, but with conventional doors. It was produced until 1963, and achieved sales of 1858 units.
A late appearance in the day was this 450 SEL 6.9. The 6.9 was first shown to the motoring press at the Geneva Auto Show in 1974, and produced between 1975 and 1981 in extremely limited numbers. It was billed as the flagship of the Mercedes-Benz car line, and the successor to Mercedes-Benz’s original high-performance sedan, the 300SEL 6.3. It featured the largest engine of any non-American production car post WWII and also has the distinction of being among the first vehicles ever produced with optional electronically controlled anti-lock brakes, first introduced by Mercedes-Benz and Bosch in 1978. It was based on the long-wheelbase version of the W116 chassis introduced in 1972, and externally there was little to distinguish it from the less powerful models apart from the “6.9” badge on the boot lid. The engine was a cast iron V8 with single overhead camshafts operating sodium-filled valves against hardened valve seats on each aluminium alloy cylinder head. Each hand-built unit was bench-tested for 265 minutes, 40 of which were under full load. Bosch K-Jetronic electromechanical fuel injection was standard at a time when fuel-injected cars were uncommon. As in all Mercedes-Benz automobile engines, the crankshaft, connecting rods and pistons were forged instead of cast. The 6834 cc power plant was factory-rated at 286 hp with 405 lb·ft (549 N·m) of torque helping to compensate for the 2.65 to 1 final drive ratio necessary for sustained high-speed cruising. In the interest of both engine longevity as well as creating some extra space under the bonnet, a “dry sump” engine lubrication system was used. The system circulated twelve quarts of oil between the storage tank and the engine, as opposed to the usual four or five quarts found in V8s with a standard oil pan and oil pump. As a result, the engine itself had no dipstick for checking the oil level. Rather, the dipstick was attached to the inside of the tank’s filler cap and the oil level was checked with the engine running and at operating temperature. The dry sump system also had the benefit of extending the oil change interval to 12,500 miles (20,000 km). This, along with hydraulic valve lifters which required no adjusting and special cylinder head gaskets which eliminated the need for periodic retorquing of the head bolts, made the 6.9 nearly maintenance-free for its first 50,000 miles. The 6.9 required little basic service other than coolant, minor tune-ups, oil changes, and replacement of the air, fuel, oil and power steering filters. Top speed was factory-rated at 140 mph (225 km/h). The car also featured a model W3B 050 three-speed automatic transmission unique to the 6.9 and a standard ZF limited slip differential both for enhanced roadholding performance on a dry road surface and enhanced traction in inclement weather. Four-wheel disc brakes and four-wheel independent suspension were standard across the W116 model range. The 6.9 was the first Mercedes-Benz to be fitted with the hydropneumatic self-levelling suspension system introduced by Citroën in 1954, unlike the 600 and 6.3 which employed air suspension. The benefit of this arrangement is progressive springing. The more the enclosed air in the suspension is compressed, the more difficult it is to compress; thus the suspension rate changes in proportion to the load. Using a combination of fluid-filled struts and nitrogen-filled pressure vessels or “accumulators” in lieu of conventional shock absorbers and springs, the system was pressurized by a hydraulic pump driven by the engine’s timing chain. Compared to the new Mercedes-Benz system, Citroën’s was belt-driven, exactly like a conventional power steering pump; failure of the Citroën system thus might result in loss of suspension. The 6.9 was shipped with hard rubber emergency dampers that served as temporary springs and allowed the car to be driven in the event of a hydraulic failure. The special hydraulic fluid required by the system was stored in a tank inside the engine compartment. Ride height could be altered by a dash-mounted push-pull knob under the speedometer that raised the car an additional two inches for increased ground clearance. The interior was identical to that in the less expensive models except for the push-pull suspension control knob just under the speedometer, a low suspension pressure warning and height adjustment indicator lights in the instrument cluster, and wood trim finished in burled walnut veneer on the dash and console. The 6.9 lacked expected luxury touches such as power-adjustable outside mirrors or front seats, although a unique power rear seat, heated seats and even orthopoedically designed front seats were options. There was also a new standard feature in 1976: most Mercedes-Benz automobiles that year were equipped with a sophisticated electronic climate control system developed by Chrysler Corporation for use in their top models. The system turned on the heater, air conditioner or both, depending on the thermostat’s setting and ambient temperature, automatically maintaining whatever temperature the driver selected. The compressor was an American import as well, supplied by the Harrison division of General Motors. Of the 7,380 units built, 1,816 of them were sold new in the US.
One of the races was for Morgan cars and accordingly there were plenty of them here. most of them were relatively recent Plus 4 and Plus 8 models, but there were some older ones entered including the 1930s 3 wheeler.
Whilst that Alfa 8C 2300 was my favourite car of the day, it was run a close second by this. I knew instantly what it was, but few others seemed to, though everyone did seem to agree that it was really rather splendid. This is an OSCA 1600 GT Zagato. Not a well known car, and as always with rare Italian marques, you need to understand the history, Under financial pressure, the Maserati brothers–Ernesto, Ettore and Bindo–sold their race car and racing parts business in 1937 or 1938, but stayed with the company, Maserati, under contract for another decade. When the term ended, Maserati the company was making road cars, while Maserati the brothers wanted to go back to racing; thus, they started OSCA, Officine Specializzata Costruzione Automobile de Fratelli Maserati, as Maserati owned the Maserati name. Over the course of about 20 years, they built several hundred cars, mostly sports racers, before growing weary of constant flirtation with bankruptcy and selling their assets to MV Agusta in 1966. Elsewhere in Italy, Fiat generally kept a small sports car in the lineup and, in the Fifties, had used companies Moretti, Abarth and Stanguellini to build them. Fiat contracted with OSCA in 1958 and arranged for the Maserati brothers to develop a version of their twin-cam 1.5 for the little Fiat 1200. For OSCA, this was a golden opportunity to do engine development on someone else’s budget, and it made a crucial arrangement: Not only would Fiat hand build the OSCA 1500s for Fiat; but it would produce additional engines for OSCA’s use, as well. Both companies benefitted from economies of scale, as well as making it much easier for OSCA, as always concerned with racing, to produce 500 engines for homologation. Fiat may have intended to race 1500s, but no program ever developed. OSCA’s 1,568cc engine resembles the Fiat version in many respects and was built by Fiat, but is a racing-oriented unit and built with a different block casting, with mechanical oil pump in an alloy assembly, and vertical oil filter. Rods, pistons and five-main-bearing crank were forged versus cast Fiat units. The finned cast oil pan, front cover, intake and hemi heads were also alloy. After casting, Fiat shipped engines to Bologna where OSCA technicians did the machining and assembly. OSCA engines had larger oil passages, and should be easily distinguished from Fiats by visible “OSCA” castings and unique numbers, if you’re inside the block. Four versions were available: a short-lived GT, with 95hp and a single twin-choke Weber 36 DCLDE; the GT2 (PR2 if Touring-bodied), with twin Weber 38DCOES and 105hp; a 125hp, twin Weber 42DCOE GTV (PRV) trim; and an ultralight, twin-spark, dual 42DCOE 140hp GTS. A number of coachbuilders offered different versions, but you could get any version from Zagato, which bodied almost all of the cars produced. How many that was, no one knows. OSCA indicated it intended a production run of 128, but it didn’t accomplish that. A keen owner started a registry for the 1600 GT and, working with several other enthusiasts, has identified 60 chassis sold (43 Zagato, 14 Fissore and 3 Boneschi), with 31 of those surviving today. Other sources suggest that just 22 of the Touring bodied versions were made. This one had the Zagato body.
No such difficulty in identifying this car, it is a rather splendid 356, the first model that Porsche made. The 356 was created by Ferdinand “Ferry” Porsche (son of Dr. Ing. Ferdinand Porsche, founder of the German company), who founded the Austrian company with his sister, Louise. Like its cousin, the Volkswagen Beetle (which Ferdinand Porsche Senior had designed), the 356 was a four-cylinder, air-cooled, rear-engine, rear-wheel-drive car utilising unitised pan and body construction. The chassis was a completely new design as was the 356’s body which was designed by Porsche employee Erwin Komenda, while certain mechanical components including the engine case and some suspension components were based on and initially sourced from Volkswagen. Ferry Porsche described the thinking behind the development of the 356 in an interview with the editor of Panorama, the PCA magazine, in September 1972. “….I had always driven very speedy cars. I had an Alfa Romeo, also a BMW and others. ….By the end of the war I had a Volkswagen Cabriolet with a supercharged engine and that was the basic idea. I saw that if you had enough power in a small car it is nicer to drive than if you have a big car which is also overpowered. And it is more fun. On this basic idea we started the first Porsche prototype. To make the car lighter, to have an engine with more horsepower…that was the first two seater that we built in Carinthia (Gmünd)”. The first 356 was road certified in Austria on June 8, 1948, and was entered in a race in Innsbruck where it won its class. Porsche re-engineered and refined the car with a focus on performance. Fewer and fewer parts were shared between Volkswagen and Porsche as the ’50’s progressed. The early 356 automobile bodies produced at Gmünd were handcrafted in aluminium, but when production moved to Zuffenhausen, Germany in 1950, models produced there were steel-bodied. Looking back, the aluminium bodied cars from that very small company are what we now would refer to as prototypes. Porsche contracted with Reutter to build the steel bodies and eventually bought the Reutter company in 1963. The Reutter company retained the seat manufacturing part of the business and changed its name to Recaro. Little noticed at its inception, mostly by a small number of auto racing enthusiasts, the first 356s sold primarily in Austria and Germany. It took Porsche two years, starting with the first prototype in 1948, to manufacture the first 50 automobiles. By the early 1950s the 356 had gained some renown among enthusiasts on both sides of the Atlantic for its aerodynamics, handling, and excellent build quality. The class win at Le Mans in 1951 was clearly a factor. It was always common for owners to race the car as well as drive them on the streets. They introduced the four-cam racing “Carrera” engine, a totally new design and unique to Porsche sports cars, in late 1954. Increasing success with its racing and road cars brought Porsche orders for over 10,000 units in 1964, and by the time 356 production ended in 1965 approximately 76,000 had been produced. The 356 was built in four distinct series, the original (“pre-A”), followed by the 356 A, 356 B, and then finally the 356 C. To distinguish among the major revisions of the model, 356’s are generally classified into a few major groups. 356 coupés and “cabriolets” (soft-top) built through 1955 are readily identifiable by their split (1948 to 1952) or bent (centre-creased, 1953 to 1955) windscreens. In late 1955 the 356 A appeared, with a curved windshield. The A was the first road going Porsche to offer the Carrera 4 cam engine as an option. In late 1959 the T5 356 B appeared; followed by the redesigned T6 series 356 B in 1962. The final version was the 356 C, little changed from the late T6 B cars but with disc brakes to replace the drums.
This is one of the first of the Cullinan model that I have seen away from a Show. Sadly, it does not look any more attractive in the fresh air than it does indoors, but I am sure that there will prove to be a market for this very imposing (and very expensive) SUV, so we are bound to get more used to the sight of them.
Something of a rarity is this Tornado Talisman, of which only 180 examples were built. The Talisman was in production from 1961 till 1963, and it is said that this car was the inspiration for Colin Chapman to develop the Elan. This one was first registered 1963 and is believed to be one of only four ‘touring’ specification Talisman cars produced. The Talisman has a Ford 1360 cc race engine and gearbox, and a Triumph based independent front suspension in combination with an independent rear suspension with twin lower wishbones and twin trailiing arms. Adjustable coil over shocks all round. On the rolling road, a power output of 130 bhp was recorded, and in combination with the low weight of 612 kg, the performance looks very promising.. Inside, there is a lightweight Tillett racing seat and a FIA approved rollcage and fire extinguisher. Rebuilt in 2008/9, and now seen in action at a number of events during the year, it makes quite a change from the more commonly seen cars of its racing class.
Another rarity is an FB series VX4/90, though this car did generate quite a bit of press coverage when it emerged fresh from restoration a few years ago, as an ex Bill Blydenstein factory car. The factory had not really bothered with motor sport ever since their acquisition by General Motors in the 1920s, but finally, in the early Sixties, Vauxhall dabbled with entries in international rallies, probably inspired by privateers such as John Banks and John Walker who had rallied a Vauxhall PA Cresta in previous years. When the VX4/90 model – a tuned version of the FB Victor producing 72bhp from its twin carburettor, 1,508cc, four cylinder engine and sporting front disc brakes – was introduced in 1962, three cars were prepared and registered (2 FTM, 3 FTM and 4 FTM) for the following year’s Monte Carlo Rally, to be crewed by Major R Holmes/ Captain Garry Turner, Major Chas Wyndham/ Captain K Reynolds and Major Ian Baillie/ Captain D Davenport. The car seen here started life on Vauxhall’s press fleet, before making its debut at Goodwood’s St Mary’s Trophy in 1963 driven by tuning legend, Bill Blydenstein, one of the key players in Vauxhall’s subsequent glory-years in Touring Car competition. After its Goodwood debut in 1963, 812 FNM was campaigned successfully in the European Saloon Car Championship, before being transformed into a rally car for the 1964 season. In 2013, after a painstaking restoration, 812 FNM was on the grid once more for the 50th anniversary of the St Mary’s Trophy at Goodwood Revival, driven by current owner, Paul Clayson, and former Vauxhall Touring Car driver, John Cleland.
IN THE CAR PARK
Although there were relatively few cars in the public car park, which was mostly to be found on hard-standing just down from the Paddock and old Pit area, certainly when I arrived, a return visit to retrieve a coat, mid-morning when the cold really got to me, showed why it is often so rewarding to see what is not officially part of the event, but just “interesting” cars in which people have arrived, as this part of the report will evidence. There was a separate area reserved, at the other end of the Paddock, backing onto the BRDC area, for VSCC members and gradually a handful of nice old cars arrived to populate this area. I understand it had been more or less full the previous day, which certainly led me to regret not having been there to see that spectacle.
Although this event clashed with the Spring Alfa event, that was taking place far enough away (at Beaulieu), that there were a number of these Italian classics in the car park here as well. Oldest of these were the main stay of the range from the 1960s and early 1970s, the 105 Series, in the most commonly seen GT and GTV guises. The first car was called the Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GT, and was revealed at a press event held at the then newly opened Arese plant on 9 September 1963, and displayed later the same month at the Frankfurt Motor Show. In its original form the Bertone body is known as scalino (step) or “step front”, because of the leading edge of the engine compartment lid which sat 1/4 an inch above the nose of the car. The Giulia Sprint GT can be distinguished from the later models by a number of features including: Exterior badging: Alfa Romeo logo on the front grille, a chrome script reading “Giulia Sprint GT” on the boot lid, and rectangular “Disegno di Bertone” badges aft of the front wheel arches; flat, chrome grille in plain, wide rectangular mesh without additional chrome bars; single-piece chrome bumpers; no overriders. Inside the cabin the padded vinyl dashboard was characterised by a concave horizontal fascia, finished in grey anti-glare crackle-effect paint. Four round instruments were inset in the fascia in front of the driver. The steering wheel was non-dished, with three aluminium spokes, a thin bakelite rim and a centre horn button. Vinyl-covered seats with cloth centres and a fully carpeted floor were standard, while leather upholstery was an extra-cost option. After initially marketing it as a four-seater, Alfa Romeo soon changed its definition of the car to a more realistic 2+2. The Giulia Sprint GT was fitted with the 1,570 cc version of Alfa Romeo’s all-aluminium twin cam inline four (78 mm bore × 82 mm stroke), which had first debuted on the 1962 Giulia Berlina. Breathing through two twin-choke Weber 40 DCOE 4 carburettors, on the Sprint GT this engine produced 105 hp at 6,000 rpm. Like all subsequent models, the Sprint GT was equipped with an all-synchromesh 5-speed manual transmission. The braking system comprised four Dunlop disc brakes and a vacuum servo. The rear brakes featured an unusual arrangement with the slave cylinders mounted on the axle tubes, operating the calipers by a system of levers and cranks. According to Alfa Romeo the car could reach a top speed of “over 180 km/h (112 mph)”. In total 21,902 Giulia Sprint GT were produced from 1963 to 1965, when the model was superseded by the Giulia Sprint GT Veloce. Of these 2,274 were right hand drive: 1,354 cars fully finished in Arese, and 920 shipped in complete knock-down kit form for foreign assembly. For 1966, the Giulia Sprint GT was replaced by the Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GT Veloce, which was very similar but featuring a number of improvements: a revised engine—slightly more powerful and with more torque—better interior fittings and changes to the exterior trim. Alongside the brand new 1750 Spider Veloce which shared its updated engine the Sprint GT Veloce was introduced at the 36th Geneva Motor Show in March 1966, and then tested by the international specialist press in Gardone on the Garda Lake. Production had began in 1965 and ended in 1968. The Giulia Sprint GT Veloce can be most easily distinguished from other models by the following features: badging as per Giulia Sprint GT, with the addition of round enamel badges on the C-pillar—a green Quadrifoglio (four-leaf clover) on an ivory background—and a chrome “Veloce” script on the tail panel; black mesh grille with three horizontal chrome bars; the grille heart has 7 bars instead of 6; stainless steel bumpers, as opposed to the chromed mild steel bumpers on the Giulia Sprint GT. The bumpers are the same shape, but are made in two pieces (front) and three pieces (rear) with small covers hiding the joining rivets. Inside the main changes from the Giulia Sprint GT were imitation wood dashboard fascia instead of the previous anti-glare grey finish, front seats revised to a mild “bucket” design, and a dished three aluminium spoke steering wheel, with a black rim and horn buttons through the spokes. The Veloce’s type 00536 engine, identical to the Spider 1600 Duetto’s, featured modifications compared to the Giulia Sprint GT’s type 00502—such as larger diameter exhaust valves. As a result it produced 108 hp at 6,000 rpm, an increase of 3 hp over the previous model, and significantly more torque. The top speed now exceeded 185 km/h (115 mph). Early Giulia Sprint GT Veloces featured the same Dunlop disc brake system as the Giulia Sprint GT, while later cars substituted ATE disc brakes as pioneered on the GT 1300 Junior in 1966. The ATE brakes featured an handbrake system entirely separate from the pedal brakes, using drum brakes incorporated in the rear disc castings. Though the Sprint GT Veloce’s replacement—the 1750 GT Veloce—was introduced in 1967, production continued throughout the year and thirty final cars were completed in 1968. By then total Giulia Sprint GT Veloce production amounted to 14,240 examples. 1,407 of these were right hand drive cars, and 332 right hand drive complete knock-down kits. The 1750 GT Veloce (also known as 1750 GTV) appeared in 1967 along with the 1750 Berlina sedan and 1750 Spider. The same type of engine was used to power all three versions; this rationalisation was a first for Alfa Romeo. The 1750 GTV replaced the Giulia Sprint GT Veloce and introduced many updates and modifications. Most significantly, the engine capacity was increased to 1779 cc displacement. Peak power from the engine was increased to 120 hp at 5500 rpm. The stroke was lengthened from 82 to 88.5 mm over the 1600 engine, and a reduced rev limit from 7000 rpm to 6000 rpm. Maximum torque was increased to 137 lb·ft at 3000 rpm. A higher ratio final drive was fitted (10/41 instead of 9/41) but the same gearbox ratios were retained. The result was that, on paper, the car had only slightly improved performance compared to the Giulia Sprint GT Veloce, but on the road it was much more flexible to drive and it was easier to maintain higher average speeds for fast touring. For the United States market, the 1779 cc engine was fitted with a fuel injection system made by Alfa Romeo subsidiary SPICA, to meet emission control laws that were coming into effect at the time. Fuel injection was also featured on Canadian market cars after 1971. Carburettors were retained for other markets. The chassis was also significantly modified. Tyre size went to 165/14 from 155/15 and wheel size to 5 1/2J x 14 instead of 5J x 15, giving a wider section and slightly smaller rolling diameter. The suspension geometry was also revised, and an anti-roll bar was fitted to the rear suspension. ATE disc brakes were fitted from the outset, but with bigger front discs and calipers than the ones fitted to GT 1300 Juniors and late Giulia Sprint GT Veloces. The changes resulted in significant improvements to the handling and braking, which once again made it easier for the driver to maintain high average speeds for fast touring. The 1750 GTV also departed significantly from the earlier cars externally. New nose styling eliminated the “stepped” bonnet of the Giulia Sprint GT, GTC, GTA and early GT 1300 Juniors and incorporated four headlamps. For the 1971 model year, United States market 1750 GTV’s also featured larger rear light clusters (there were no 1970 model year Alfas on the US market). Besides the chrome “1750” badge on the bootlid, there was also a round Alfa Romeo badge. Similar Quadrofoglio badges to those on the Giulia Sprint GT Veloce were fitted on C pillars, but the Quadrofoglio was coloured gold instead of green. The car also adopted the higher rear wheelarches first seen on the GT 1300 Junior. The interior was also much modified over that of earlier cars. There was a new dashboard with large speedometer and tachometer instruments in twin binnacles closer to the driver’s line of sight. The instruments were mounted at a more conventional angle, avoiding the reflections caused by the upward angled flat dash of earlier cars. Conversely, auxiliary instruments were moved to angled bezels in the centre console, further from the driver’s line of sight than before. The new seats introduced adjustable headrests which merged with the top of the seat when fully down. The window winder levers, the door release levers and the quarterlight vent knobs were also restyled. The remote release for the boot lid, located on the inside of the door opening on the B-post just under the door lock striker, was moved from the right hand side of the car to the left hand side. The location of this item was always independent of whether the car was left hand drive or right hand drive. Early (Series 1) 1750 GTV’s featured the same bumpers as the Giulia Sprint GT Veloce, with the front bumper modified to mount the indicator / sidelight units on the top of its corners, or under the bumper on US market cars. The Series 2 1750 GTV of 1970 introduced other mechanical changes, including a dual circuit braking system (split front and rear, with separate servos). The brake and clutch pedals on left hand drive cars were also of an improved pendant design, instead of the earlier floor-hinged type. On right hand drive cars the floor-hinged pedals were retained, as there was no space for the pedal box behind the carburettors. Externally, the series 2 1750 GTV is identified by new, slimmer bumpers with front and rear overriders. The combined front indicator and sidelight units were now mounted to the front panel instead of the front bumper, except again on the 1971-72 US/Canadian market cars. The interior was slightly modified, with the seats retaining the same basic outline but following a simpler design. 44,269 1750 GTVs were made before their replacement came along. That car was the 2000GTV. Introduced in 1971, together with the 2000 Berlina sedan and 2000 Spider, the 2 litre cars were replacements for the 1750 range. The engine displacement was increased to 1962 cc. Oil and radiator capacities remained unchanged. The North American market cars had fuel injection, but everyone else retained carburettors. Officially, both versions generated the same power, 130 hp at 5500 rpm. The interior trim was changed, with the most notable differences being the introduction of a separate instrument cluster, instead of the gauges installed in the dash panel in earlier cars. Externally the 2000 GTV is most easily distinguished by its grille with horizontal chrome bars, featuring protruding blocks forming the familiar Alfa heart in outline, smaller hubcaps with exposed wheel nuts, optional aluminium alloy wheels of the same size as the standard 5. 1/2J × 14 steel items, styled to the “turbina” design first seen on the alloy wheels of the Alfa Romeo Montreal, and the larger rear light clusters first fitted to United States market 1750 GTV’s were standard for all markets. From 1974 on, the 105 Series coupé models were rationalised and these external features became common to post-1974 GT 1300 Junior and GT 1600 Junior models, with only few distinguishing features marking the difference between models. 37,459 2000 GTVs were made before production ended and these days they are very sought after with prices having sky-rocketed in recent years. Cars here ranged from an early “step front” to a 1600 Junior and a number of 1750/2000 GTVs.
Alfa replaced the Giulia-based Spider model with an all-new design which finally made its debut in 1966 together with the Giulia Sprint GT Veloce at an event organised in Gardone Riviera. With its boat tailed styling, it quickly found favour, even before taking a starring role in the film “The Graduate”. The original 1600cc engine was replaced by a more powerful 1750cc unit at the same time as the change was made to the rest of the range, and the car continued like this until 1970, when the first significant change to the exterior styling was introduced on the 1750 Spider Veloce, with the original’s distinctive elongated round tail changed to a more conventional cut-off tail, called the “Kamm tail”, as well as improving the luggage space. Numerous other small changes took place both inside and out, such as a slightly different grille, new doorhandles, a more raked windscreen, top-hinged pedals and improved interior trim. 1971 saw the Spider Veloce get a new, larger powerplant—a 1962 cc, 132 hp unit—and consequently the name was changed from 1750 Spider Veloce to 2000 Spider Veloce. The 1600 Spider restarted production a year later as the Spider 1600 Junior, and was visually identical to the 1300. 1974 saw the introduction of the rare, factory request, Spider-Targa. Based upon the Spider, it featured a Porsche style solid rear window and lift out roof panels, all made out of black GRP type material. Less than 2,000 models of such type were ever made and was the only part solid roof Spider until the introduction of the factory crafted hard top. The 1300 and 2000 cars were modified in 1974 and 1975 respectively to include two small seats behind the front seats, becoming a “two plus two” four seater. The 1300 model was discontinued in 1977. Also, between 1974 and 1976, the early-style stainless-steel bumpers were discontinued and replaced with black, rubber-clad units to meet increasingly stringent North American crash requirements. 4,557 examples of the 1300 Junior were made and 4,848 of the 1600 Junior as well as 16,320 2000 Spider Veloces and 22,059 of 2000 Spider Veloce US version. There were also 4,027 1750 Spider Veloces produced. Earlier of the 105 Series Spider cars seen here was one of the early S1 “boat tailed” cars.
There was also an example of the S4. The final major changes to the long running Spider came in 1990, and mechanically, the biggest different was the use of Bosch Motronic electronic fuel injection with an electric fan. Externally, the Spider lost its front under-bumper spoiler and the rather ungainly rear boot spoiler of the S3, and picked up 164-style rear lights stretching across the width of the car as well as plastic bumpers the same colour as the car. This also marked the first generation of the car with automatic transmission, as well as on-board diagnostics capabilities. The car had remained in production largely thanks to continued demand in North America, though this market had to wait until 1991 for the changes to appear on their cars. European markets were offered a car with a 1600cc engine and carburettors as well as the 2 litre injected unit. Production finally ended in 1993, with an all new model, the 916 Series Spider appearing a year later. The S4 car was not officially sold in the UK, but plenty have found their way to our shores since then.
Seeking a model to compete against the Ford Corsair, BMW 2000 and Lancia Flavia, Alfa presented a new larger and more upmarket saloon car in January 1968. The result, the 1.8-litre engined 1750 Berlina was introduced in Italy along with the 1750 GT Veloce Coupé and Spider Veloce. Some days later it was displayed at the Brussels Motor Show. The 1750 Berlina was based on the existing Giulia saloon, which continued in production. The 1750 bodyshell had a longer wheelbase than the Giulia, and revised external panels, but it shared many of the same internal panels. The windscreen was also the same. The revisions were carried out by Bertone, and while it resembled the Giulia some of that vehicle’s distinctive creases were smoothed out, and there were significant changes to the trim details. The car’s taillights were later used on the De Tomaso Longchamp. The car had a 1,779 cc twin-carb engine which produced 116 hp with the help of twin carburettors. For the US market the 1750 was equipped with SPICA fuel injection. There was a hydraulic clutch. In 1971, the 1750 Berlina was fitted with an experimental three-speed ZF automatic gearbox. The model designation was 1750A Berlina. According to official Alfa Romeo archives, 252 units were produced with very few surviving to this day. Some 1750A Berlina didn’t have the model plate with production date embossed. The automatic gearbox wasn’t well-suited to the four-cylinder motor due to baulky shifting and ill-chosen gear ratio. Because of this, its fuel consumption was frighteningly high and acceleration was a bit too slow. During 1971 the 1750 series was superceded across the Alfa Romeo range by the 2000 series; creating, in this case, the 2000 Berlina. Key difference was a larger engine, bored and stroked out to 1,962 cc. With two carburettors, this 2 litre Alfa Romeo Twin Cam engine produced 130 hp, giving a top speed of 200 km/h (124 mph) and 0-100 km/h (62 mph) acceleration took 9 seconds. The gearbox was a 5-speed manual though a 3-speed automatic was also offered. A different grille distinguishes the 2000 from 1750, and the external lights were also different between the models. The 1750 had 7 inch diameter outboard headlights, whereas the 2000 had 5 3/4 inch diameter in all four positions. The tail light clusters were also of a simpler design on the 1750. . In USA this engine was equipped with mechanical fuel injection.. A direct replacement in the 1.8-litre saloon class came that same year, in the form of the all-new Alfa Romeo Alfetta, though the two models ran in parallel for the next five years. In 1977 the Alfetta 2000, a two-litre upmarket Alfetta version, replaced the 2000 Berlina. Total sales of the 1750/2000 amounted to 191,000 units over a 10 year production life, 89,840 of these being 2000 Berlinas, of which just 2.200 units fitted with the automatic gearbox. You don’t see these cars that often.
Rather more recent an Alfa Romeo was this Brera. Alfa Romeo chose to develop two different ranges to replace the 916 series GTV and Spider, the pretty and surprisingly accommodating 4 seater GT and the similarly sized but more costly Brera and Spider models. Visually similar to the 159 models at the front, the Brera and Spider boasted unique styling from the A pillars rearwards. They were offered with the same range of engines as the 159, and thanks to that strong, but rather heavy platform on which they were built, even the 3.2 litre V6 cars were more Grand Tourer than rapid sports car. Pininfarina was responsible for both models. The Brera was first to market, in 2005, with the Spider following in 2006. Production of both ceased in late 2010, by which time 12,488 units of the Spider and 21,786 units of the Brera had been built. It will be very surprising if these do not attain classic status, and the consequent rise in values, though that has not happened yet.
This is a 12/50 TJ Sports Tourer dating from 1932. After a career that had endured through the 1920s, the 12/50 was withdrawn between 1929 and 1930 when the company decided that the future lay with the front-wheel drive FD and FE models, but when these did not reach the hoped for volumes a final version of the 12/50 was announced for the 1931 model year as TJ. Fitted with the 1645 cc engine this continued in production until 1932. The ‘post-vintage’ TJ is referred to by Alvis historians as being from the ‘revival period’, and it differs from its predecessor in a number of ways, notably coil instead of magneto ignition, deep chromed radiator shell, and rear petrol tank in place of the scuttle-mounted tank on most older 12/50s. The TJ was joined in the range by a more sporting version of the same chassis, but this car was marketed not as a 12/50, but as the 12/60. The TK 12/60 was available in 1931, and the TL 12/60 in 1932.
This 1934 Mark 2 has an interesting life. Just last year, it is owners took it on an adventure driving around Latin America, to raise funds for prostate cancer, and during the trip, the car crossed the Andes on roads at an altitude of over 12,000 feet. Unveiled at the 1934 Motor Show, the Mark II was in effect an improved Le Mans model. The 1½ litre engine could now produce 73bhp, the chassis was somewhat stiffer and the road holding was also improved. Again two chassis lengths were available, long for saloons, tourers and drophead coupes, short for 2 and 2/4 seater sports cars. The short chassis from the Mark II together with a modified engine and lightweight 2 seater body was used as Team cars and ultimately became the Ulster. The 2/4 seater based on the shorter 8’7” chassis was the most successful and best selling of the 1.5 litre cars with 61 completed over a period a little under two years.
In complete contrast was one of the latest Vantage models. This only went on sale around a year ago, and is yet to become a common sight at events, though no doubt in time it will, just as its predecessor has become.
A pair of 1930s Austin appeared, and seemed to move around the site a couple of times. Smaller of the duo was a 1937 Seven Tourer. The first Sevens were built in 1922, and were four seat open tourers. Nicknamed Chummy, the first 100 featured a 696cc four cylinder engine, which was quickly upgraded to the 747cc unit that remained until the end of production some 17 years later. The first cars had an upright edge to the doors and a sloping windscreen, but from 1924, the screen became upright and there was a sloping edge to the doors, as well as a slightly longer body. Stronger brakes came along in 1926, along with a slightly taller nickel-plated radiator grille, conventional coil ignition, a more spacious body and wider doors. An even longer and wider body arrived in 1930, as well as a stronger crankshaft and improvements to the brakes which coupled front and rear systems together so they both worked by the footbrake. In 1931 the body was restyled , with a thin ribbon-style radiator and by 1932 there was a four speed gearbox to replace the earlier three-speeder. 1933 saw the introduction of the Ruby, a car that looked more modern with its cowled radiator. There were also Pearl and Opal versions. Development continued, so in 1937 there was a move to crankshaft shell bearings in place of the white metal previously used, and the Big Seven appeared. The last Seven was made in 1939, by which time 290,000 had been produced. Aside from saloons and tourers, there had been vans and sports derivatives like the Le Mans, the supercharged Ulster and the rather cheaper Nippy. Around 11,000 Sevens survive today.
Sitting above it in the range was the Ten, a model which Austin had launched in 1932, to plug the gap between the diminutive Seven and the larger Twelve models in their range which had been updated in early 1931. The Ten became the marque’s best seller and was produced, in a number of different versions through to 1947. A number of improvements were made to the car in the months following launch, but it was for 1937 when the first really big change came about with the launch of the almost streamlined Cambridge saloon and Conway cabriolet. Compared with the preceding cars, the passengers and engine were positioned much further forward, the back seat now being rather forward of the back axle. There were six side windows like the Sherborne and the quarter lights were fixed. Again like the Sherborne the forward doors opened rearwards. At the back there was now a compartment large enough to take a trunk as well as more luggage on the open compartment door when it was let down. A new smoother single plate spring-drive clutch was now fitted, the two friction rings carried by the centre plate were held apart by leaf springs. Other changes included Girling brakes with wedge and roller shoe expansion and balance lever compensation using operating rods in tension with automatic compensation between front and rear brakes all four of which might be applied by hand or foot. Drums were now 9 inches diameter. 16-inch steel disc wheels replaced the 18-inch wires. Top speed from the 1141cc engine rose to 60 mph.
The Citroen model to catch my eye was an example of the Acadiane van. This was derived from the Dyane and only available in left-hand drive, produced from 1977 to 1987. Production totalled 253,393 before being replaced by the Visa-based C15. Why Acadiane? Well, as Citroën had already used the prefix AK for its light commercials, so it was an obvious pun to name the AK Dyane “Acadiane”. There was no connection beyond the pun with the French-speaking region of Louisiana that is home to Cajun (Acadiane) cooking. The Acadiane differed from the Dyane on which it was based in having heavier-duty suspension, a slightly altered chassis and a rear-brake limiter whose action was dependent on the load. The Acadiane was also fitted with wind-down windows in the driver’s and passenger’s doors. The Dyane car had horizontally-sliding windows. The payload was approximately 500 kg (1,100 lb), but handling was impaired when fully loaded. The Acadiane was available in commercial (two-seater) form or as a “Mixte”, with sliding rear windows and a removable rear bench seat. Citroën and many other manufacturers continue to this day (Berlingo et al.) with the option of rear seats in a vehicle clearly designed as a commercial. The Mixte version also had a passenger sun visor, missing in the more basic commercial version. In line with many Citroën light commercials, the roof of the rear bodywork was corrugated to add extra rigidity at little cost. The Acadiane cruised on the flat comfortably and economically at 55 mph. Top gear in the four-speed box was usually referred to as overdrive. This had been so since the earliest days of the 2CV. In most circumstances it was best used as such. Progress could be maintained in top, but further acceleration was unlikely. As the motor thrived on revs, third made a perfectly good gear to get up to 80 km/h.
The Ferrari FF (FF meaning “Ferrari Four”, for four seats and four-wheel drive)(Type F151) is a grand tourer presented by Ferrari on March 1, 2011 at the Geneva Motor Show as a successor to the 612 Scaglietti and is Ferrari’s first production four-wheel drive model. The body style has been described as a shooting-brake, a type of sporting hatchback/estate car with two doors. With a top speed of f 335 km/h (208 mph) and it accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 3.7 seconds, Ferrari stated that the FF was the world’s fastest four-seat automobile upon its release to the public. At the time of its reveal, the Ferrari FF had the largest road-going Ferrari engine ever produced: an F140 EB 6,262 cc naturally aspirated direct injected 65° V12, which produced 660 PS (485 kW; 651 hp) at 8,000 rpm and 683 N⋅m (504 lb⋅ft) of torque at 6000 rpm. The FF is equipped with a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission and paddle shift system similar to the California, the 458 Italia, and the Ferrari F12berlinetta. The new four-wheel drive system, engineered and patented by Ferrari, is called 4RM: it is around 50% lighter than a conventional system, and provides power intelligently to each of the four wheels as needed. It functions only when the manettino dial on the steering wheel is in the “comfort” or “snow” positions, leaving the car most often in the traditional rear wheel drive layout. Ferrari’s first use of 4RM was in a prototype created in the end of the 80s, called 408 4RM (abbreviation of “4.0 litre, 8 cylinder, 4 Ruote Motrici”, meaning “four-wheel drive”). This system is based around a second, simple, gearbox (gears and other components built by Carraro Engineering), taking power from the front of the engine. This gearbox (designated “power take off unit”, or PTU) has only two forward gears (2nd and 4th) plus reverse (with gear ratios 6% taller than the corresponding ratios in the main gearbox), so the system is only active in 1st to 4th gears. The connection between this gearbox and each front wheel is via independent Haldex-type clutches, without a differential. Due to the difference in ratios “the clutches continually slip” and only transmit, at most, 20% of the engine’s torque. A detailed description of the system (based on a conversation with Roberto Fedeli, Ferrari’s technical director) has been published. The FF shares the design language of contemporary Ferraris, including the pulled-back headlights of the 458 Italia, and the twin circular taillights seen on the 458 as well as the 599 GTB Fiorano. Designed under the direction of Lowie Vermeersch, former Design Director at Pininfarina, and Flavio Manzoni, Ferrari’s Styling Centre, work on the shooting brake concept initially started following the creation of the Sintesi show car of 2007. Distinctive styling elements include a large egg-crate grille, defined side skirts, and four exhaust tips. The shooting brake configuration is a departure from the conventional wedge shape of modern Ferraris, and the FF has been likened to the similarly-shaped 1962 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Drogo race car. The combination of hatchback-like shooting-brake design and collapsible rear seats gives the Ferrari FF a boot capacity of between 16 and 28 cu ft. Luxury is the main element of the interior and the use of Leather is incorporated throughout, just like the predecessors of the FF. Creature comforts like premium air conditioning, GPS navigation system, carpeting and sound system are also used. An updated version. called the GTC4 Lusso was launched in 2016 by which 2291 examples had been built.
Looking like it had not been restored was this very original looking Model T pick-up truck. This is one of the later models, with the round edged radiator which was cheaper and quicker to produce than the early brass-radiator-ed cars.
I was quite surprised to find a second Hotchkiss model here. as these cars are very rare, especially in the UK. This is an earlier car, a 413 Cobourg, and it dates from 1934. Hotchkiss cars were made between 1903 and 1955 by the French company Hotchkiss et Cie in Saint-Denis, Paris. The badge for the marque showed a pair of crossed cannons, evoking the company’s history as an arms manufacturer. The company’s first entry into car making came from orders for engine components such as crankshafts, which were supplied to Panhard et Levassor, De Dion-Bouton and other pioneering companies and in 1903 they went on to make complete engines. Encouraged by two major car distributors, Mann and Overton of London and Fournier of Paris, Hotchkiss decided to start making their own range of cars and purchased a Mercedes Simplex for inspiration, Georges Terasse, was taken on as designer. After an attempt to enter the luxury market with the AK, which did not get beyond the prototype stage, the company decided on a one model policy and introduced the Coventry designed AM in 1923. Later that year the Coventry plant was sold to Morris. Henry Ainsworth (1884-1971) and A.H. Wilde who had run it, moved to Paris to become general manager and chief engineer of the car division respectively. In 1926 construction of the new factory in the Boulevard Ornano was completed and Hotchkiss bought a steel pressing company allowing in-house manufacture of bodies. The one model policy lasted until 1929 when the six cylinder AM73 and AM80 models were announced. The AM models were replaced by a new range in 1933 with a new naming system. The 411 was an 11CV model with four cylinder engine, the 413 a 13CV four and the 615, 617 and 620 were similar six cylinder types. The 1936 636, which replaced the 620, was available as the high performance Grand Sport and 1937 Paris-Nice with twin carburettors, these allowed Hotchkiss to win the Monte Carlo Rally in 1932, 1933, 1934, 1939, 1949 and 1950.
Needing little in the way of introduction is the E Type and this was a Series 3 car. The E-Type Series 3 was introduced in 1971, with a new 5.3 litre twelve cylinder Jaguar V12 engine, uprated brakes and standard power steering. Optionally an automatic transmission, wire wheels and air conditioning were available. The brand new V12 engine was originally developed for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. It was equipped with four Zenith carburettors. The final engine was claimed to produce 272 bhp, more torque, and a 0-60 mph acceleration of less than 7 seconds, but this bhp figure was reduced in later production. The short wheelbase FHC body style was discontinued, with the Series 3 available only as a convertible and 2+2 coupé. The newly used longer wheelbase now offered significantly more room in all directions. The Series 3 is easily identifiable by the large cross-slatted front grille, flared wheel arches, wider tyres, four exhaust tips and a badge on the rear that proclaims it to be a V12. Cars for the US market were fitted with large projecting rubber bumper over-riders (in 1973 these were on front, in 1974 both front and rear) to meet local 5 mph impact regulations, but those on European models were considerably smaller. US models also have side indicator repeats on the front wings. There were also a very limited number of six-cylinder Series 3 E-Types built. These were featured in the initial sales procedure but the lack of demand stopped their production. When leaving the factory the V12 Open Two Seater and V12 2+2 originally fitted Dunlop E70VR − 15 inch tyres on 15 × 6K wire or solid wheels. The Jaguar factory claimed that fitting a set of Jaguar XJ12 saloon steel-braced radial-ply tyres to a V12 E-Type raised the top speed by as much as 8 mph. The production car was fitted with textile-braced radial ply tyres. This fact was reported by the editor of Motor magazine in the long-term test of his E-Type edition dated 4 August 1973, who ran a V12 fixed head for a while. Total production amounted to 15,290, with the last 50 cars, all roadsters, built at the end of 1974, being finished in black.
Representing Lancia was this elegant Aurelia 2500 GT Coupe. Designed by Vittorio Jano, the Lancia Aurelia was launched in 1950 and production lasted until the summer of 1958.The very first Aurelias were the B10 Berlinas. They used the first production V6 engine, a 60° design developed by Francesco de Virgilio who was, between 1943 and 1948 a Lancia engineer, and who worked under Jano. The first cars had a capacity of 1754 cc, and generated 56 hp. During production, capacity grew from 1.8 litres to 2.5 litres across six distinct Series. Prototype engines used a bore and stroke of 68 mm x 72 mm for 1569 cc; these were tested between 1946 and 1948. It was an all-alloy pushrod design with a single camshaft between the cylinder banks. A hemispherical combustion chamber and in-line valves were used. A single Solex or Weber carburettor completed the engine. Some uprated 1991 cc models were fitted with twin carburettors. At the rear was an innovative combination transaxle with the gearbox, clutch, differential, and inboard-mounted drum brakes. The front suspension was a sliding pillar design, with rear semi-trailing arms replaced by a de Dion tube in the Fourth series. The Aurelia was also first car to be fitted with radial tyres as standard equipment. Aurelia was named after Via Aurelia, a Roman road leading from Rome to France. The B21 version was released in 1951 with a larger 1991 cc 70 hp engine and a 2-door B20 GT coupé appeared that same year. It had a shorter wheelbase and a Ghia-designed, Pininfarina-built body. The same 1991 cc engine produced 75 hp in the B20. In all, 500 first series Aurelias were produced. This is generally believed to the first car to use the name GT, or Gran Turismo. The B20 GT Aurelia had a successful career in motorsport, too. In the 1951 Mille Miglia the 2-litre Aurelia, driven by Giovanni Bracco and Umberto Maglioli, finished 2nd beaten only by the Ferrari America. The same year it took first in class and 12th overall at LeMans. Modified Aurelias took the first three places on 1952’s Targa Florio with Felice Bonetto as the winner and another win on Lièges-Rome-Lièges of 1953.
There were a number of the iconic Morgan cars here. The most intriguing was one with a roofline that I had not seen before, I turned out that this is a one-off, created by the owner, who has been working on it for some time, taking his inspiration from some of the coachbuilt bodies of the 1930s.
The Riley OnePointFive is one of a pair of medium sized saloon cars, the Wolseley 1500 being the other, which was launched in 1957. Conceived as a potential replacement for the Morris Minor, because that car was still selling well, the model ended up only ever being offered with the more costly marques’ badges attached (though Australians did get variants called the Austin Lancer and Morris Major). The Riley and similar Wolseley were based on the Morris Minor floorpan, suspension and steering but fitted with the larger 1489 cc B-Series engine and MG Magnette gearbox. As well as trim and badging, the twins were differentiated by nearly 20 hp, the more sporting Riley having twin SU carburettors giving it the most power at 68 hp. The Wolseley was released first, in April, while the Riley appeared in November, directly after the 1957 London Motor Show. A Series II model came out in May 1960. The most notable external difference was the hidden boot and bonnet hinges. Interior storage was improved with the fitting of a full width parcel shelf directly beneath the fascia. The Series III launched in October 1961, featuring revisions to the grille and rear lights. In October 1962 the car received the more robust crank, bearing and other details of the larger 1,622 cc unit now being fitted in the Austin Cambridge and its “Farina” styled clones. Unlike the Farina models, however, the Wolseley 1500 and Riley One-Point-Five retained the 1,489 cc engine size with which they had been launched back in 1957. Production ended in 1965 with 39,568 Rileys and 103,394 Wolseleys made.
Launched in 1955, the TR3 was an evolution of the TR2 and not a brand new model. It was powered by a 1991 cc straight-4 OHV engine initially producing 95 bhp, an increase of 5 hp over the TR2 thanks to the larger SU-H6 carburettors fitted. This was later increased to 100 bhp at 5000 rpm by the addition of a “high port” cylinder head and enlarged manifold. The four-speed manual gearbox could be supplemented by an overdrive unit on the top three ratios, electrically operated and controlled by a switch on the dashboard. In 1956 the front brakes were changed from drums to discs, the TR3 thus becoming the first British series production car to be so fitted. The TR3 was updated in 1957, with various changes of which the full width radiator grille is the easiest recognition point and the facelifted model is commonly referred to as the Triumph “TR3A”, though unlike the later TR4 series, where the “A” suffix was adopted, the cars were not badged as such and the “TR3A” name was not used officially, Other updates included exterior door handles, a lockable boot handle and the car came with a full tool kit as standard (this was an option on the TR3). The total production run of the “TR3A” was 58,236. This makes it the third best-selling TR after the TR6 and TR7. The TR3A was so successful that the original panel moulds eventually wore out and had to be replaced. In 1959 a slightly modified version came out that had raised stampings under the bonnet and boot hinges and under the door handles, as well as a redesigned rear floor section. In addition, the windscreen was attached with bolts rather than the Dzus connectors used on the early “A” models. Partly because it was produced for less time, the original TR3 sold 13,377 examples, of which 1286 were sold within the UK; the rest being exported mainly to the USA. Seen here is a TR3b car.
What turned out to be the final TR model was launched in January 1975, and this time it really was all new. A dramatic Harris Mann wedge shaped was shock enough for the purists, but the fact that at launch it only came as a Fixed Head Coupe was almost too much for some to bear. In the end, though. more TR7s were sold than any other TR model, so it really cannot have been all that bad even if the car had a somewhat bumpy existence, moving production plant from Speke, Liverpool where the early cars were made, to Canley, Coventry in 1978 and then finally to the Rover Solihull plant in 1980. An open topped model did join the range in 1980 and small numbers of factory built TR8s with the 135 bhp Rover V8 engine under the bonnet were made, but the proposed 2+2 Lynx model, and a version with the 16 valve Dolomite Sprint engine and the 2 litre O Series unit never made production. The car was launched in the United States in January 1975, with its UK home market debut in May 1976. The UK launch was delayed at least twice because of high demand for the vehicle in the US, with final sales of new TR7s continuing into 1982. The TR7 was characterised by its “wedge” shape, which was commonly advertised as: “The Shape of Things to Come”, and by a swage line sweeping down from the rear wing to just behind the front wheel. It had an overall length of 160 inches, width of 66 inches, wheelbase of 85 inches and height of 49.5 inches, and a kerbside weight of 2205 pounds, exactly 1000 kg. During development, the TR7 was referred to by the code name “Bullet”.The original full size model wore MG logos because it was styled at Longbridge, which was not a Triumph factory. Power was provided by a 105 bhp 1,998 cc eight-valve four-cylinder engine that shared the same basic design as the Triumph Dolomite Sprint engine, mounted in-line at the front of the car. Drive was to the rear wheels via a four-speed gearbox initially with optional five-speed manual gearbox, or three-speed automatic from 1976. The front independent suspension used coil spring and damper struts and lower single link at the front, and at the rear was a four-link system, again with coil springs. There were front and rear anti roll bars, with disc brakes at the front and drums at the rear. The interior trim was revised in March 1977, with the broadcord seat covers being replaced with red or green “tartan” check inserts with black leather effect vinyl edging, which looks so very period. now The tartan trim was also reflected in the door cards in padded matching red or green tartan cloth inserts in the black leather effect vinyl. A number of other detailed changes were made, partly to ensure commonality of parts in future models, such as the Convertible and the TR8, and also based on what else was available from the corporate parts bin. Badging changed a number of times, but there were no other significant alterations before the end of production in 1981. In total approximately 115,000 TR7 models were built which includes 28,864 soft top/convertibles, and approximately 2,800 TR8 models. Seen here was a rather nice Convertible model.
The Hornet is a six-cylinder 12 HP lightweight automobile which was offered as a saloon car, coupé and open two-seater as well as the usual rolling chassis for bespoke coachwork. Produced by Wolseley Motors Limited from 1930 to 1936, the Hornet was unveiled to the public at the end of April 1930. Wolseley had been bought from the receivers by William Morris in 1927. This car’s tiny six-cylinder engine, Motor Sport magazine described it as a miniature six, reflected the brief vogue for less vibratory 6, 8, 12 and 16 cylinder engines soon superseded by greatly improved flexible engine mountings. Their overhead camshaft engines were so good that cars built on their Hornet Special chassis developed an outstanding reputation on the road and in club competition. The initial offering was something of a quart in a pint pot, tiny but powerful for its size. Furthermore, four passengers might be fitted into the very lightly constructed car. However the market soon required more room and more comfort and the car’s nature changed. This was countered by making and selling the Special with a more highly tuned engine. Two sporting versions were sold only as Hornet Special “rolling” chassis. The first with Hornet’s 1271cc engine, the last with a Wolseley Fourteen 1604cc engine. They were sometimes referred to as Special Speed chassis. Saloon and Tickford coupé as well as sporting bodies were fitted. Later cars had a large S mounted on the radiator cap with a small H for hornet in its lower section, the S shaped to be like a striking snake or a preening swan. The new Special chassis was announced 18 April 1932. It had twin carburettors, higher compression (domed pistons) and numerous smaller modifications including a revised exhaust system (triple-piped manifold —2 inch pipe to the straight-through silencer), duplex valve springs, metal universal joints in the propeller shaft, three inches wider front track and specially large 12-inch brake drums. The long flexible gear-lever was replaced by a remote control and a small short-travel lever. Special front (3 inches wider track at 3″ 9″) and rear axles were supplied with the saloon’s large-hub stud-fixed Magna wire-wheels. Small knock-on hubs in Rudge-Whitworth wheels were optional and usually preferred. A particularly large speedometer (a quick-reading five inch dial), matching engine revolution counter, and ten inch headlights were supplied as part of the complete kit for the coachbuilder. The large headlights were supported by braced mountings included in the kit. In the autumn of 1933 to improve its breathing the engine was given a cross-flow head with inlet and exhaust manifolds on opposing sides. The block casting was redesigned to increase its stiffness and the Special received the long wheelbase underslung chassis and other modifications of the saloon including freewheel. The Special chassis was supplied to various specialist coachbuilders particularly Swallow, Whittingham & Mitchel, Jensen and, now also part of the Morris group, Cunard. 2307 were made.
Despite that keen wind, which made it feel rather colder than the numbers displaying on any thermometer would have had you believe, this was a good day out. It was not quite what I was expecting, but that is because I had not done the full due diligence in my research and planning, but there were still lots of different categories of historic race cars to be seen both in the pits and in action on the track and there were some rare and very nice display cars and simply ones in the car park to take in as well. So well worth the trip up to Silverstone, for sure, and a event worth looking out for in 2020.