Monday, 28 February 2011

Classic Expo - Race Retro, Stoneleigh, Coventry 1/2

A couple of weeks ago Tim Murray, Secretary of the Pegasus Motor Club, kindly invited me to join the club for a trip to Race Retro held at the Stoneleigh Park Exhibition and Conference Centre near Coventry, UK.

Here is an oversight of some of the details I saw in a hand full of the 500 plus photo's I took, I'd filled up my phone with images just getting from the Centre's car park to the Exhibition Hall !

Amongst the many celebrations at Race Retro was a celebration of the achievements of the Italian tuning house Abarth.

On the Minibus on the way up to Stoneleigh I found myself sitting next to the legendary classic slingshot drag racer Chris Hartnell whose infectious enthusiasm was all I needed to commit myself to going to a Drag event this season !

This is the view from Adz Prices 'Go Hard or Go Home' known, I believe, as an Altered, the car features a Topolino body and a 360 Mopar with Weland Tunnel Ram. Drag lingo is something I am going to have learn fast. I hope to come back to this vehicle with a full blog in the near future.

It's the 50th Anniversary since the launch of the iconic E-Type Jaguar. I'll be back with a few E-Type blogs to celebrate in the fullness of time.

Amongst the many Jaguars and Jaguar replica's on display was this fabulous XJR15 a model I had not seen in the flesh before.

There was an awesome display of rallying Lancia's including this Group B Delta S4 which was the highest evolution of rally cars ever devised, this particular all wheel drive car had a mid mounted engine that was both turbocharged AND supercharged. It was my good fortune to see this very vehicle in action when it came second in the 1985 RAC Rally on it's debut driven by Markku Alén and Ilkka Kivimäki behind team mates Henri Toivonen and Neil Wilson. Another vehicle that will be the subject of a future blog.

With thanks to Tim Murray and the Pegasus Motor Club without home this blog would not have been possible.

Hope you have enjoyed the first half of my report on the Race Retro Exhibition and that you'll join me again tomorrow for part two. Don't forget to come back now !

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Who can it be now ? - Vauxhall VXR8

The Vauxhall VXR8 is a badge engineered HSV (Holden Special Vehicles) Clubsport built in Clayton, Victoria Australia.

HSV Clubsports, based on the then current Holden VE Commodore body, were sold as the CSV (Chevrolet Special Vehicles) CR8 in the Middle East and Pontiac G8 in the United States.

This model is fitted with a 425 hp 6162 cc / 376 cui LS3 engine.

A Bathurst option was available with a 530 hp supercharged version of the LS3.

Regular GALPOT readers might remember the HSV strap line from my blog on the HSV Maloo R8 runs ' I just want one !' which is equally applicable to this antipodean model I think you might agree.

Hope you have enjoyed today's Clayton, Victoria edition of 'Getting a lil' psycho on tyres' and that you'll join me again tomorrow for a look at some of the details from this weekends Race Retro exhibition at Stoneleigh. Don't forget to come back now !

Saturday, 26 February 2011

30% More Power - Bristol 411

The first blog I did on a Series 3 411 has been lost in the mists of Rowdy but a couple of photo's remain.

Today's model is a first series Bristol 411 built from 1969 to 1971 the first Bristol model to feature a big block B series 335 hp 6,277 cc / 383 cui motor with 30 % more horsepower than the previous model that gave this car a 140 + mph capability.

The original series 411 models featured slightly enlarged windscreens than the 410 an almost imperceptible difference that can be seen in this photo of a 411 in the foreground and 410 to the left of the photograph.

Sir George White one of the three Directors in Bristol Cars in 1969 suffered serious head injuries in a road accident in September 1969 so it was left to his partner Tony Crook to take over the reins at Bristol in Sir George's absence a process that ended with Tony buying his partner out in 1973.

To help feed all that power to the road the rear axle was fitted with a limited slip differential (LSD) that allows some difference in angular velocity of the output shafts as long as there is some traction available on at least one of the wheels.

With thanks to the PistonHead who kindly brought this car to the recent Sunday Service at the BMW Plant at Cowley and to Cristopher Balfour who's book 'Bristol Cars a very British story' provided many of the insights in today's blog.

Hope you have enjoyed today's TV detective edition of 'Gettin' a lil' psycho on tyres' and that you will join me again tomorrow. Don't forget to come back now !

Friday, 25 February 2011

Millionaire Mystery - Scuderia Parravano Pt 1 of 2.

Today we are looking at the strange case of west coast entrant Antonio Parravano and his team of Ferrari's which at it's height was possibly the equal of any on either coast though ultimately less enduring.

Antonio Parravano born in Italy in 1917 became a millionaire building contractor in Los Angeles and built a fabulous racing team of mostly but not exclusively Ferrari's including three vehicles seen here in a photograph by Carlyle Blackwell.

Ferrari, 750 Monza, 121 LM, 410S, Parrevano, Carlyle Blackwell

Photo Carlyle Blackwell, Publised Courtesy Blackwell Archive, for sales enquiry's please e-mail and your contact details will be forwarded to the Blackwell Archive.

From back to front the vehicles are a 750 Monza #0538 the subject of next weeks Ferrari Friday blog, a 121 LM #0484LM, and a 410S #0592CM.

As I said I will come back to the 750 Monza at the back next week. Starting with the 121 LM #0484 this car started life with the smaller 3.7 litre Ferrari straight six motor and was as such was originally designated a type 118 driven to victory lane by Pierro Taruffi in the Giro di Sicilia, a version of the Targa Florio race, in 1955.

Halfway through 1955 chassis #0484 was the only 118 to be upgraded 121 spec with a 4.4 litre straight six.

Parravano acquired the car in late 1955 and entered it for Carol Shelby in the Oulton Park International that August where Shelby recorded a DNF due to driver injury.

In 1957 Phil Hill drove #0484 to victory at Palm Springs in 1957, the car was also driven by well known open wheel legend Roger Ward under different ownership in 1959.

#0484 is thought to be the only one of the three original 118 chassis thought to have survived ironically of course with a 121 spec motor.

The car closest to camera is a 410 S built for the South American road races that got cancelled due to safety fears. Equiped with Ferrari the largest available 4900 cc / 299 cui V12 engine capable of delivering 380 hp in twin plug format. The vehicle seen here, not one of the two fitted with twin plug heads, was raced into victory lane by Carroll Shelby at Palm Springs in 1956.

Next week we will continue with the case of Antonio Parravano and his team much of which vanished in 1957.

My thanks to Carlyle Blackwell, Ed Arnaudin and his son Steve for respectively taking, purchasing and forwarding today's magnificent photograph and to GTO Freak, and Giotto at Ferrari Chat for their help identifying this weeks cars and the back ground on Tony Parravano.

I hope you have enjoyed today's triple wammy Ferrari Friday and that you will join me again tomorrow. Don't for get to come back now !

28 07 12 PS My thanks to Pamela Blackwell who has kindly retrospectively given me permission to post the photo's her father took.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Lynley mystery - Bristol 410

The Bristol 410 was the fourth Bristol model to use the chassis architecture laid out for the 407 model.

Using the A block Chrysler engine now with a swept volume of 5211 cc / 318 cui for the last time before switching to the larger Chrysler B block for subsequent models the 410 marked a return to a floor mounted shift for the Torqueflight gearbox after US legislation had outlawed the previous push button system.

A Bristol 410 has two chrome strips running the length of the vehicle a feature unique to this Bristol model.

Fitted with ZF power steering as standard the 410 had a lower centre of gravity than the yet to be blogged 409 thanks to smaller 15" diameter wheels down from 16" on the previous model.

The 410 was the first Bristol fitted with separate front and rear brake circuits the servo's for which were housed between in a compartment between the front of the drivers door and the rear of the front wheel arch the top hinge of which can just be distinguished below the badge in the photo above.

Some of you may recognise this as the model that Inspector Lynley drives in some episodes of the television series The Inspector Lynley Mysteries, mysteriously in the novels by Elizabeth George on which some of the episodes are based Lynley is actually described as driving a Bentley.

As ever exclusivity is the watch word for this manufacturer with just 79 Bristol 410's being built between 1968 and 1969.

With thanks to the PistonHead who kindly brought this car to the recent Sunday Service at the BMW Plant at Cowley and to Cristopher Balfour who's book 'Bristol Cars a very British story' provided many of the insights in today's blog.

Hope you have enjoyed today's TV detective edition of 'Gettin' a lil' psycho on tyres' and that you will join me again for Ferrari Friday tomorrow. Don't forget to come back now !

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Going it alone - Bristol 407

Just 88 Bristol 407's were built between 1961 and 1963.

The 407 was the first Bristol model launched after ownership of the Bristol Car Company had been taken over by the Bristol Aeroplane Company founders grandson Sir George White 3rd Bt in partnership with Bristol's preeminent retailer Tony Crook in September 1960.

The exterior of the Bristol 407 is distinguished from its predecessor the 406, which I have yet to write a blog about, by a horizontal bar across the radiator grill at the front and twin exhaust pipes at the rear.

Underneath the car could not be more different, the 407 is powered by a Canadian built 5130 cc / 313 cui Chrysler V8 connected to a push button operated Torqueflight transmission, a combination which first came to the attention of of Sir Reginald Verdon Smith the Bristol Aeroplane Company director in the 1950's on a private visit to Canada.

Bristol attempted to develop it's own aluminium block V8 in the 1950's but, insufficient experience casting aluminium and lack of capital thanks to the spiralling cost of aircraft development elsewhere in the Bristol group of companies meant that the V8 never got beyond an underdeveloped prototype stage at which crankshaft main bearing housing distortion presented an obstacle to production.

Changing to the Canadian V8 from the hitherto BMW inspired straight 6 necessitated replacing the former transverse leaf front suspension with a pair of coil springs and replacing the highly praised rack and pinion steering with Marles worm driven steering.

The chassis was fitted with Dunlop disc brakes all round and the aluminium body production was moved from Jones Brothers to Park Royal Vehicles in London.

The 407 chassis set out the basic architectural features for all Bristol's with many incremental modifications right through to the introduction of the Bristol Fighter in 2004.

This particular model photographed at a Loton Park VSCC meeting is registered in Sweden, notice that it is a Right Hand Drive model, Sweden switched to Left Hand Drive in September 1967 to bring it into line with it's Scandinavian neighbours.

My thanks to Christopher Balfour who's book 'Bristol Cars a very British story' provided many of the insights in today's blog.

Hope you have enjoyed today's Marles worm driven steering edition of 'Getting a lil' psycho on tyres and that you'll join me again tomorrow for a look at the even rarer Bristol 410. Don't forget to come back now !

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Fit for a Sheikh - Bristol 405 Drophead

The Bristol 405 introduced in 1953 was the first Bristol to dispense with the BMW inspired grill and is unusual for having a single fog light placed in the middle.

There were two versions of the 405 this Drophead of which 43 were built and an imposing 4 door saloon of which 308 were built until production ended in 1958.

A 1971 cc / 120 cui straight six motor was exclusively tuned to produce 125 hp for the Drophead, the Saloon was given a 105 hp version of this engine. One blogger described the sound of this motor as being like 'a squadron of Lancasters'.

The first two 405 D's were strictly two seaters with fully retracting roofs, however all bar one of the remaining Dropheads had roofs that rested on the rear body work making space for rear seats. A one off 405 D was produced for Sheikh Yusuf Mohammed Al Tawil and shipped to Jeddah in 1955 painted gold with silver wheels, white wall tyres and an electro-hydraulic operated roof.

The slick action four speed gearbox of all 405's were fitted with a Laycock overdrive for high speed cruising operated by the large toggle switch to the right of the steering wheel.

The first 18 to 20 Bristol 405 Drophead chassis were sent to Abbots of Farnham where the bodywork was crafted. Abbots landed a large contract to build estate / station wagon version of the Ford Zephyr and Zodiac models and the remaining 405 D's were sent to Tickford, in Newport Pagnell, for body work to be built according to the Abbots of Farnham drawings. I am not sufficiently drenched in Bristol Cars lore to tell you where this particular body was crafted... yet.

I suspect I could get used to fresh air motoring in a vehicle fit for a Sheik that sounds like a 'squadron of Lancasters' how about you ?

Thanks to the owner of this fabulous vehicle for bringing it to the Sunday Service at the BMW Plant a couple of weeks ago.

Hope you have enjoyed today's fit for a Sheikh edition of 'Gettin' a lil' psycho on tyres and that you will join me again tomorrow for a Swedish tease. Don't forget to come back now !

Monday, 21 February 2011

Under The Skin - Bristol 403

Continuing the Centenary Celebrations of the Bristol Aeroplane Company which for my part went horribly wrong when I originally identified the car in today's photographs as a Bristol 401.


With that error thankfully corrected I am now armed with a Bristol Owners Club Membership and Car List and a Christmas treat to myself recommended by Teb Marius, the excellent 'Bristol Cars, a very British story' by Christopher Balfour to help correctly identify the various Bristol models in future.

Apart from the badging differences and chromed bumper of the 403 detailed in my Bristol 401 blog there is little externally to help tell a 401 apart from a 403.


Internally however there were many changes between the two models, the 403's engine ran with larger valves in the cylinder head and larger crankshaft bearings which helped boost the power of the BMW derived engine by 15 hp up to 100 hp. Coupled with improved 'Alfin' brakes and an antiroll bar on the front suspension the 403's performance was much crisper loosing 3 seconds from the standstill to 60 mph acceleration test to record a time of 13.4 seconds.

Just 287 104 mph Bristol 403's were produced from 1953 to 1955 when the process of separating the Bristol Car Company from the Bristol Aeroplane Company, it's parent, was getting underway.

Hope you have enjoyed to days 'Alfin' arrested edition of 'Gettin' a lil' psycho on tyres' and that you'll join me again tomorrow for a look at a fabulous drop head Bristol with tail fins. Don't forget to come back now !

Sunday, 20 February 2011

In Memory - #3 Dale Earnhardt

"You can't let one bad moment spoil a bunch of good ones."
Dale Earnhardt

Wishing everyone with an interest in NASCAR a happy & healthy Cup season.

Don't forget to come back now !

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Hotel California - VW California

Continuing the California theme started yesterday today we are looking at a VW California.

Production of the Volkswagen T5 Transporter began in 2003, this one is fitted with a 170 hp turbo diesel engine.

In 2001 Mercedes Benz bought out VW's preferred camper van outfitter Westfalia leading VW to decide to design it's own camper around the popular Transporter platform. VW call their camper the 'California' a name that was first used by Westfalia in connection with a VW camper in 1988.

launched in 2005 the California comes with an electro-hydraulic operated elevating roof, space for two beds, kitchen sink two burner gas hob, fridge and two kitchen cupboards with integrated drawers. Among a long list of options is the VW 4 motion all wheel drive system.

With Ford knocking on Ferrari's lawyers doors with respect to the use of the F 150 name I wonder if Ferrari will ever be knocking on the VW's lawyers doors with respect to the California name ?

Unfortunately thanks to a US 'chicken tax' on imported light trucks, which the already expensive T5 is classed as, you are not ever likely to see a VW California in the State from which it takes it's name, the California is so expensive, £40,000 / $64,000 that only around 300 a year are thought to be imported into the UK.

Fancy seeing why the VW T5 is so highly rated in the UK ? Check out these two advert free clips of the T5 going head to head with the A Team van and over a timed run against the a much more powerful 204 hp Brabus (!) Mercedes Vito Sport X.

Hope you have enjoyed a couple of days in the California Sunshine wishing all readers of 'Gettin' a lil' psycho on tyres' a relaxing weekend, don't forget to come back now !

Friday, 18 February 2011

California Dreaming - Ferrari California 2+2 Convertible

A couple of years ago I was at an airport and I noticed in the duty free area there was a Ferrari on a turntable that was a raffle prize.

I'd never seen one like it before turns out that it was a California, at £25 / $40 a pop for a ticket I passed on what may well have been my only opportunity to own a Ferrari without regret.

Allegedly the California was originally conceived as Maserati, however the economics of the project dictated that only a Ferrari badge offered any hope of a financial return on the vehicle.

Researching this blog I was surprised to find the California introduced in 2008, shares it's engine design with both ALFA Romeo and Maserati models.

Over 1,000 hours are said to have been spent in a wind tunnel perfecting the aerodynamics of the California so that it's drag coefficient is 0.32 the lowest ever achieved for any Ferrari.

I have to confess it was not until I had run a registration check on these vehicles that I had any idea of exactly which models they were and indeed they were both the same type, I thought the red one was a 612 Scaglietti !

Allegedly there is room on the back seats for two adults in a Ferrari 612 Scaglietti something at 6' 2" I'd love to put to the test.

Even if I had known it comes with a front mounted 450 hp 4.3 litre 260 cui V8 engine I doubt I would have been tempted to buy a raffle ticket....

because for all the attention to detail ...

beautiful craftsmanship ....

seven speed dual clutch transmission ...

and promise of the joys of open air motoring ...

alone price of the road tax on the Ferrari California is enough to keep me on the road for a whole year in my 20 year old jalopy ... but that does not stop me from dreaming :-)

With thanks to the PistonHeads responsible for bringing these dream machines to the Sunday Service at the BMW Plant in Cowley a couple of weeks ago.

Hope you have enjoyed to days California dreaming edition of 'Gettin a lil' psycho on tyres' and that you'll join me again tomorrow for a look at another vehicle bearing the California name. Don't forget to come back now !

PS Should I have failed to quench your thirst for Ferrari's take a look at the new Ferrari FF with Michele Rahal over on The Drive Channel.