Thursday, 30 June 2011

Developed by Lotus - Ford Consul Cortina Lotus

It never ceases to amaze me how little I know about motor vehicles despite a lifetimes interest, for example when I took the photo's featured today, I was sure I was taking pictures of a Lotus Cortina, the clues being the Green Stripe and Lotus badges.

Lotus Ford Consul, Castle Combe C&SCAD

However when I got home I was surprised to find the name plate on the front of the car read 'Consul'. Thanks to Brian C at the Official Lotus Cortina Register Forum I have found out that the original Lotus Cortinas were badged as Consuls and indeed the car was marketed as the Consul Cortina - Developed by Lotus.

The original Lotus 28, Consul Cortina package based on the 2 door Consul Cortina body launched in 1962, included a 105hp 1558cc / 95 cui twin cam version of the Ford Kent ohv engine as used in the Lotus 23 racing car and Elan production car with a close ratio gearbox also from the Elan.

A unique A frame rear suspension was developed for the Consul Cortina by Lotus that proved so fragile that it was dropped in favour of the Cortina GT semi eliptic rear suspension when the model was upgraded in 1964 and rebadged as the 'Cortina' by Lotus.

The boot, bonnet and doors were made in light weight alloy with additional dash gauges, tachometer, oil pressure and water temperature included with a wood-rimmed steering wheel to complete this highly desirable 100 mph saloon car.

The thinking behind this model was that it should be used for racing and works Lotus driver Jim Clark was one of many to drive a Consul Cortina Lotus to victory lane.

All bar one of the original Consul Cortinas designed by Lotus were painted white with a green stripe, one suspicious customer had a dark blue stripe and Ford built several cars for racing painted red. The Consul Cortina by Lotus was not the most reliable of vehicles, the perceived performance bonuses were credited in the publics mind to Lotus while the unreliability problems were credited to Ford much to the latters annoyance.

My thanks to David Roots for his invitation to attend the recent Classic and Sports Car Action Day at Castle Combe and to Brian C at the Lotus Cortina Register Forum for his help identifying today's featured car.

Thanks for joining me on today's Consul edition of 'Gettin' a lil' psycho on tyres' I hope you will join me again tomorrow for Ferrari Friday. Don't forget to come back now !

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Luton's Finest - Vauxhall HP Firenza 9F37REX111999

Like the recently featured South African Chevrolet Firenza Can Am the High Performance (HP) Firenza was a top of the range Viva HC Coupé model but built for the UK market and though intended to be produced in far larger numbers, 30,000 projected units, only 204 HP Firenza's were built along with a further 197 estate / station wagon variants.

Vauxhall Firenza, Race Retro

The distinctive 'Droopsnoot' grp nose was restyled styled by Wayne Cherry and based on the nose of a well known Dealer Team Vauxhall Firenza raced by Gerry Marshall called 'Old Nail' that will it's self be the subject of a future GALPOT blog. The twined headlights are interchangeable with the Renault Alpine A310.

Under the unusual for the period aerodynamic nose was a 131 HP 2297 cc / 140 cui slanted 4 cylinder engine enough to power the HP Firenza with a drag co efficient of cd 0.4 from rest to 60 mph in 8 secs and to a top speed of 120 mph.

Though the paint work of this particular car built in 1975 is not the original 'Starlight Silver' this car carries similar decals to those carried by a small series of vehicles for a one off publicity race organised at Thruxton to launch the model, a race won by Barry 'Whizzo' Williams.

The HP Firenza was undoubtedly a styling triumph for Vauxhall yet the car was also an unmitigated marketing disaster thanks to the after effects of the '70's fuel crisis, though design elements of the nose did find their way into future Vauxhall products notably the Chevette and Cavalier which were in essence badge engineered Opel models.

Thanks for joining me on today's Droopsnoot edition of 'Gettin' a lil' psycho on tyres' I hope you will join me again tomorrow for a look at another performance saloon carrying a blue oval badge. Don't forget to come back now !

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Rootes 'n' Chrysler - Hillman Avenger Tiger Replica

The Hillman Avenger was conceived as early as 1963 to replace the Hillman Minx, however another project that became the Hillman Hunter eventually replaced the Minx and the Avenger was re conceived in 1965 as a midrange vehicle between the Hillman Imp and the Hunter going head to head in the market against the dominant Ford Cortina and much maligned Morris Marina.

Hillman Tiger Replica, Castle Combe, C&SCAD

Doing away with the traditional waist line and adopting a 'flow back' the Avenger avoided looking in anyway stunted alongside it's larger Hunter stablemate, the Avenger body shell was one of the earliest to benefit from the use computers in the design process.

Hillman Tiger Replica, Castle Combe, C&SCAD

In 1970 the Avenger was launched with a conventional, for the period, front engine rear wheel drive layout which dispensed with the conventional rear leaf springs in favour of a four link rear suspension to give the vehicle superior handling characteristics.

Hillman Tiger Replica, Castle Combe, C&SCAD

Two sporting versions of the Avenger were built both with 107 hp uprated engines with big valves and two Webber Carbs , the Tiger 1, launched in March '72, is externally distinguishable by square headlights, a power bulge in the bonnet, four fog lights and a set of Minilite wheels. Intended to be an edition limited to 100 the Tiger 1 ended up being limited to 200 examples, all bar 3 of the Tiger 1 models were Sundance Yellow with black stripes the exceptions all being white with Rootes Group (Chrysler) blue stripes.

Hillman Tiger Replica, Castle Combe, C&SCAD

The Tiger 2 featuring a matt black bonnet, four round headlights and a cheaper set of alloy wheels but retaining the rear spoiler was launched in October '72 with a production run of 400. Tiger 2's were available in Sundance Yellow or Red with the familiar black detailing.

Hillman Tiger Replica, Castle Combe, C&SCAD

Despite the badging on this vehicle an HPI check of the registration leads me to confidently believe that this particular vehicle is not one of only 20 original Tigers thought to exist today. Bernard Unett won the British Saloon Car Championship in 1974 and 1976 driving Mopar sponsored Avengers. In all over 600,000 Avengers were built over 11 years to 1981.

US readers might know this model better as the Plymouth Cricket, it was also sold as the Dodge Avenger - South Africa, Dodge 1800 & Polara - Brazil, Dodge 1500 in Uruguay and Argentina where it was also known as the Volkswagen 1500 !

With thanks to David Rootes who facilitated my visit to the Classic and Saloon Car Action day at Castle Combe recently.

Thanks for popping by the Tiger edition of 'Gettin' a lil' psycho on tyres', I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don't forget to come back now !

Monday, 27 June 2011

Off The M4 - Atwell Wilson Motor Museum

For several years now every month I have been making a trip up to London to go and see my folks, on the way back no matter what time of day I frequently find myself in a traffic jam some where around J18 on the M4 which could add anything up to an hour on my normal 2 hour journey time.

Atwell Wilson Motor Museum, Calne

About 18 months ago forewarned, by a big new electric message board on the M4, of an impending jam between Junction 18 and 20 I took a detour and followed the A338 from Junction 14 down to Upper Eddington and then followed the A4 west to Bristol.

Buick, Atwell Wilson Motor Museum, Calne

Going through Calne I passed a sign for a Motor Museum, 18 months later with a little time on my hands I managed to follow the sign about a mile down Stockley Lane and on the left I found the Atwell Wilson Motor Museum.

Lea Francis, Atwell Wilson Motor Museum, Calne

Entrance is an unbelievably low £5 and within were over 100 2, 3, 4 wheeled vehicles, and one soon to depart 6 wheel World War 2 AEC RAF Refuelling Tanker.

Morris 8, Atwell Wilson Motor Museum, Calne

The collection can broadly be divided into vintage and classic mass production vehicles with a particularly interesting collection of Limousines both British and American which are available at very reasonable rates for wedding hire.

Nash Statesman Super, Atwell Wilson Motor Museum, Calne

The Atwell Wilson Museum was founded by Richard and Hasel Atwell, who lived in Wiltshire all of their lives, in 1962 they started collecting vehicles with a local connection and maintaining them in a road worthy condition. Richard passed away last year, the Museum that has grown out of the collection is run by 15 volunteers.

Plymouth Fury, Atwell Wilson Motor Museum, Calne

On the weekend of July 9th and 10th the museum will be hosting a classic car weekend, if you have a classic car, or even if you don't but would like to attend call 01249 813119 or e-mail for details. I shall look forward to attending on one of the two days.

Thanks for popping by today's Atwell - Wilson edition of 'Gettin' a lil' psycho on tyres', I hope you will join me again tomorrow for a closer look at the Atwell - Wilsons 1962 Plymouth Fury. Don't for get to come back now !

Sunday, 26 June 2011

When Colleen's away .... - Allard J2 - 1513

Today's story begins in the sun fried podunk called Bell on the west side of an arid ditch called Los Angeles River in California, where 'Okie' George Wright drifted in 1919 and started a wrecking business that transformed over time to become the world first speed shop called Bells Auto Parts for competitors running Model T's.

Just before the second world war a lanky redheaded kid called Roy Richter from Maywood California, a perfectionist with a genius for pattern making and fabrication started building a reputation at Cragar, a company owned by George White , manufacturing Leo Goosen designed cylinder heads and at Bell Auto Parts where Roy built his first Saxon midget, then raced it successfully.

Roy moved to Detroit where he continued to manufacture dirt track cars, but in 1938 after a racing tour of New Zealand, Roy settled again in California where he built an extremely successful Offenhauser powered midget for Sam Hanks, the eventual 1957 Indy 500 winner aboard the Belond Exhaust Special.

During the war Roy worked in the aircraft industry and his former employer George Wright of Bell Auto Parts passed away, Roy took the opportunity to lease Bell Auto Parts, raising the money by selling his Model T.

After the war a huge demand for racing equipment was unlocked as hundreds of thousands former forces personnel who had built up an enthusiasm for all things mechanical during the war now had the time and disposable income to explore their curiosity to go faster and further.

Allard J2

(Photo Courtesy Bernard Dervieux)

Bell Auto Parts took full advantage of it's position as a distributor of performance parts and diversified with a mail order catalogue. Roy with an eclectic taste in vehicles midgets, desert streamliners and sports cars became the California distributor for Allard cars and imported this vehicle the 3rd J2 built and the 8th ever imported to the USA.

Allard J2

(Photo Courtesy Bernard Dervieux)

Allard J2 1513 was shipped to the USA without a motor, as was customary, and Roy installed a Cadillac 331 cui V8.

Allard J2

(Photo Courtesy Bernard Dervieux)

On one occasion when Roy's wife Colleen was away he took his #1 Allard J2 down to the US Navy airship base at Santa Ana and entered a race with amongst others a couple of XK120's driven by Phil Hill (#18), and Jack McAfee (last row), Tom Frisbey (#3) Allard K2, Basil Panzer (#2) Allard J2, and Sterling Edwards (#10) Edwards R26.

Roy won the race and when his wife came home he is said to have confessed all and promised never to race again.

In 1953 Richter diversified his interests into the manufacture of safety helmets hoping to capture the market occupied by English Cromwell leather head gear which he distributed. The success of the Bell 500 was followed by the first helmet to meet Snell standards the Bell 500 TX helmet in 1957.

Roy followed the diversification into safety equipment with a response to the 'strength and style deficiency' in after market performance wheel market sold under the Crager brand name he had acquired from the White estate.

Allard J2

(Photo Courtesy Bernard Dervieux)

In 1954 William 'Bill' Leach acquired Roy's J2, now painted white, from a third party, Bill raced the car without much success and sold it in 1956 to pursue his interest in horse racing.

Allard J2

(Photo Colin Warnes)

Bernard Dervieux, acquired Roy Richter's J2 1513 in 2000,

Allard J2

(Photo Colin Warnes)

it is still fitted with its Cadillac motor

Allard J2

(Photo Colin Warnes)

powerful enough to provide plenty of excitement 60 years after it's debut win.

Allard J2, Desert Classic C d'E

(Photo Geoffrey Horton)

Earlier this year the #1 J2 -1513 was seen at the Dessert Classic, apart from its non period yet apt Cragar wheels,

Allard J2, Desert Classic C d'E

(Photo Geoffrey Horton)

the car is in original immaculate shape,

Allard J2, Desert Classic C d'E

(Photo Geoffrey Horton)

a fitting testament to the extraordinary figure who first owned her Roy Richter.

My thanks to Geoffrey Horton, who initiated today's blog, Colin Warnes, of The Allard Register, and Bernard Dervieux, the owner, for sharing their photos.

Further thanks to Frank, Woody and David at The Nostalgia Forum, to Mr Holland at The Cadillac Forum and Brock Yates of Car & Driver for background information.

Hope you have enjoyed this 'Roy will play' edition of 'Gettin' a lil psycho on tyres' and that you will join me again tomorrow for a trip to the Atwell Wilson Museum. Don't forget to come back now !

Saturday, 25 June 2011

He who is first will later be last - Auto Gymkhana

BPMC, Auto Gymkhana

Flush with success after my first production car trial, last weekend I joined members of The Bristol Pegasus Motor Club and took part in an Auto Gymkhana for the first time at Sheepcot Farm not far from Chepstow.

Mitsubishi Colt, BPMC, Auto Gymkhana

(Ben in his Mitsubishi Colt finished 6th Overall)

There were 12 entries 11 of which stayed for the full 24 stages of the competition which centred on variations of 4 basic tests.

Marlin, BPMC, Auto Gymkhana

(Nick and Andy shared Andy's Marlin, Andy finished 2nd and Nick 8th)

The first group of tests focused on parking skills in forward and reverse alongside a plank of wood. Not such a difficult task but when done competitively in one manoeuvre surprisingly difficult to get the wheels as close to the plank as possible without touching the plank. The competitor who parked with the front wheel closest to the plank won. There were further parking tests to see who could park closest to a cone.

Kia Picante, BPMC, Auto Gymkhana

(Kia Picante in which I came 10th)

Next came a timed slalom first time round I got the gates a bit mixed up at the end which meant I somehow contrived to travel a longer distance than necessary. Driving my landladies mothers Kia Picante I was woeful on this test deciding that discretion was the better part of valour I aimed to improve my times through each timed run and tried to avoid scratching the car by running too close to the markers.

Daihatsu Curore, BPMC, Auto Gymkhana

(Daihatsu Curore shared by Chris and Coralie who finished 3rd and 4th.

I did much better when it came to driving round the slalom holding a pint of water in my own time spilling less water than most I finished in the top 3 each on each of the 3 occasions this test was run.

Mercedes 220 CDi, BPMC, Auto Gymkhana

(Ken in the Mercedes C220 CDi with the amazing turning circle finished 11th)

The hillclimb proved relatively simple for everyone except for Ken in his Mercedes C220 CDi which could handle the turns but had no weight over the rear axle to afford the necessary traction over the final incline which got progressively more slippery.

Mazda 626, BPMC, Auto Gymkhana

(Nick soon came to the conclusion that his Mazda 626 did not have a good enough turning circle)

Finally there was an autotest which involved driving round a course of tight circles parking in garages and some reversing. Nick dropped his Mazda 626 out of the competition immediately when it became apparent his car simply did not have anything like enough steering lock to compete. He ended up sharing Andy's Marlin instead.

Hawk HF3000, BPMC, Auto Gymkhana

(Alan brought his Hawk HF3000 in 9th.)

Alan driving a Hawk HF 3000 Lancia Stratos replica powered by a 3 litre ALFA Romeo V6 needed a co-driver on the autotest in order to open the passenger door and make calls on the positions of the cones when reversing ! I jumped in to help Alan on a couple of occasions and was struck by the heat coming off the radiator in front of the footwell and the engine mounted directly behind the seats. A fabulous car to sit in for the slalom though.

MG Midget, BPMC, Auto Gymkhana

(Mal in his all conquering MG Midget Mk3 )

Clear winner of the event was Mal in his MG Midget Mk3 which he bought for just £250 many years ago.

My thanks to Martin and team of marshals who ran a wonderful days competition, to Tim who kept score of the days activities to Alan for the the ride in the HF 3000 and congratulations to Mal.

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

Friday, 24 June 2011

Wanting For Nothing Except A New Owner - Ferrari 330 GTC # 10653

Ferrari 330 GTC, Silverstone

Basking in the cool shade on a hot day at a Silverstone Press Event a couple of weeks a was this elegant Ferrari 330 GTC, though as we shall see less kind mortals than myself might have construed it's presence as a spoiler for a rival auction coming up at Goodwood Festival of Speed organised by Bonham's on the 1st of July.

Ferrari 330 GTC, Silverstone

Should one of the tyres on the four, originally optional, fetching Borrani wheels deflate this vehicle comes with a jacking bag to facilitate wheel changes.

Ferrari 330 GTC, Silverstone

Introduced in 1966 the Ferrari 330 was in production while it's predecessor the 275 GTB/4, with which it shared a common chassis features including wheelbase dimensions, oval tube construction and rear mounted gearbox attached to a transaxle, was still in production, both models went out of production in 1968, around 600 of the larger engine 330 models were manufactured.

Ferrari 330 GTC, Silverstone

The Pininfarina bodywork is a master class in simple, sexy, sixties elegance from just about any angle.

Ferrari 330 GTC, Silverstone

Not at all sure how the fuel cap works but it's hard to imagine it operation will be any less elegant than it's design.

Ferrari 330 GTC, Silverstone

This particular vehicle was originally imported to the United States in June 1968 and sold through US importer Chinetti after spending 20 years in New York it moved to sunnier climes with a new owner resident in Florida and thence back to Italy. This car was bare metal restored in Switzerland in 2001 and sold to a Dutch Collector with whom it remained until it's present owner acquired the car in 2009.

Ferrari 330 GTC, Silverstone

The car has been fitted with a 300 hp 4 litre / 244 cui Colombo V12 motor #07433 of the correct type, though originally installed in a 330 2+2.

As the man from Bonham's says this car want's for nothing except a new owner.

My thanks to Jonathan Gill of mpacreative, who facilitated my visit to Silverstone, don't forget Silverstone Auctions sponsors of the forthcoming Silverstone Classic Weekend will be holding their own Silverstone Classic Sale on July 23rd.

Thanks for joining me on today's elegant Pininfarina edition of 'Gettin' a lil' psycho on tyres', I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don't forget to come back now !

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Built by Craftsmen - Lanchester LD10 #L63579

Lanchester LD10, Castle Combe, C&SCAD

Lanchester founded as the Lanchester Engine Company Ltd in 1899 by the Lanchester brothers Frederick, George and Frank who are credited with being the first British builders of a motor car, not a horseless carriage, in 1895 which ran on a public road in 1896. The brothers are also credited with being the original purveyors of disc brakes in 1902. Fredricks uncompromising attitude to mechanical perfection led Lanchester into financial difficulties and an eventual merger with the British Daimler Company in 1931.

Lanchester LD10, Castle Combe, C&SCAD

The post war Lanchester LD10 was a compact companion to the Daimler range, like it's bigger Bretheren Lanchester's were built by craftsman at a time when most vehicles of this size were already much cheaper to build on assembly lines. Initially this model was available with a steel body by Briggs of Dagenham and later models like the one in these photographs with alloy body work by Barker.

Lanchester LD10, Castle Combe, C&SCAD

This model is powered by a 4 cylinder 40hp overhead valve engine which transmits power to the rear wheels via a 4 speed preselector gearbox. This combination of engine and geabox was considered both reasonably powerful, with a 69 mph capability and exceptionally smooth for it's time. The engine number of this particular vehicle is #18557.

Lanchester LD10, Castle Combe, C&SCAD

It is thought 3,030 examples of this model were built between 1946 and 1951. This particular vehicle, chassis L63579, was built in 1951.

With thanks to David Roots who invited me to the Classic and Sports Car Action Day at Castle Combe where these photographs were taken.

Thanks you for dropping in on today's 69 mph edition of "Gettin' a lil' psycho on tyres" I hope you will join me again tomorrow ! Don't forget to come back now !

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Nikita's Gull - GAZ M13 Chaika

It's always a great pleasure to blog about little known vehicles that were produced behind the Iron Curtain like today's car the GAZ M13 Chaika was seen at Haynes International Motor Museum a few weeks ago.

GAZ M13 Chaika, Haynes International Motor Museum

Since I first blogged about the GAZ M21 I have learned a little more about the company which was founded in 1929 in a cooperation between Ford and the Soviet Union as the Nizhegorodsky Avtomobilny Zavod, NAZ, Nizhegorodsky Automobile Plant, at Nizhny Novgorod in the Volga Region approximately 500 miles east of Moscow.

GAZ M13 Chaika, Haynes International Motor Museum

The factory started out making Ford Model A cars and Model AA light trucks known as NAZ-A and NAZ-AA respectively. In 1933 Nizhny Novgorod was renamed Gorky, after Maxim Gorky a writer who was born in the city and Nizhegorodsky Avtomobilny Zavod was renamed Gorkovsky Avtomobilny Zavod shortened to GAZ.

Gorky, the city, was renamed Nizhny Novgorod in 1990 but the vehicle manufacturer retained the GAZ name.

GAZ M13 Chaika, Haynes International Motor Museum

The luxury M13 Chaika seen here was produced from 1959 to 1981, though the mechanical underpinnings remained in production until 1988 fitted with a marginally more modern body until 1988.

GAZ M13 Chaika, Haynes International Motor Museum

Styling of the Chaika drew heavily on the 1956 Mercury Montclair Phaeton with a potpourri of 1956 Cadillac Series 62 inspired features thrown in. With a 195 hp being transmitted from it's V8 engine via a copy of the push button operated Chrysler TorqueFlite transmission the Chaika, translates into 'gull', was capable of 99 mph.

GAZ M13 Chaika, Haynes International Motor Museum

Seems incredible in this day and age to even conceive the idea that such a luxury vehicle was not made for sale. All 3,100 examples of the Chaika made over a period of 22 years were added to motor pools and issued to top professionals, Communist Party officials, scientists, academics and VIP's. The KGB also ordered these vehicles in large numbers.

GAZ M13 Chaika, Haynes International Motor Museum

Despite being entitled to larger ZIL limousines the Soviet head of state Nikita Khrushchev is known to have expressed a preference for the GAZ M13 even having one kept at his dacha.

GAZ M13 Chaika, Haynes International Motor Museum

Three versions of the Chaika were manufactured most were M13 saloons, but for ceremonial purposes open a 4 dr M13b convertible was produced from 1961 to 1962. The estate / station wagon M13A Universal is the rarest Chaika produced in the 1960's primarily for use as ambulances and funeral cars.

GAZ M13 Chaika, Haynes International Motor Museum

At the time the Chaika was first in production the Soviet Union was leading the space race, a fact possibly not lost on the stylist responsible for the M13's tail light assembly....

GAZ M13 Chaika, Haynes International Motor Museum

though he may also have admired '56 Cadillac Series 62 for its attention to detail and copied the idea of routing the exhaust pipes through the rear bumper !

Thanks for joining me for today's motor pool edition of 'Gettin' a lil' psycho on tyres', I hope you'll join me again tomorrow for a look at a handcrafted Lanchester. As they might say in Russia, Не забудьте вернуться сейчас!