Sunday, 31 July 2011

Direct Injection Of Kudos - Mercedes Benz 300 SL

In 1952 the underpowered 115 hp carburettor 3 litre / 183cui Sport Leicht Mercedes Benz W194 demonstrated remarkable versatility by winning the Le Mans 24 hours, the Eifelrennen sports car race at the Nurburgring and the Carrera Panamerica in Mexico racing against more powerful opposition from Ferrari and Jaguar.

Mercedes Benz 300 SL, Goodwood FoS

These successes lay in the lightweight tubular steel chassis and a low drag body which was facilitated by canting the straight six cylinder motor at a 50 degree angle.

Mercedes Benz 300 SL, Goodwood FoS

New York Mercedes distributor Max Hoffman suggested a road going version of the W194 would make a viable commercial impact in the United States and so the 300 SL was launched in 1954 with a the worlds first mechanical direct injection petrol engine which produced 175 hp.

Mercedes Benz 300 SL, Goodwood FoS

In order to accommodate the high sided tubular steel chassis, designed by Rudolf Uhlenhaut, distinctive aluminium gull wings were used in conjunction with a tilt away steering column to facilitate access.

Mercedes Benz 300 SL, Goodwood FoS

The spare tyre fills the boot / trunk space entirely meaning one had to travel light in the 300SL as demonstrated by the suitcase on the parcel shelf.

Mercedes Benz 300 SL, Goodwood FoS

The 300SL was not without problems derived from it's racing heritage the large volume oil system rarely got up to proper operating temperature on shorter journeys and in turn the oil would get diluted by the mechanical fuel injection by unburned petrol that remained in the cylinders when the engine was switched off. This meant that the 300 SL needed an oil change every 1000 miles.

Mercedes Benz 300 SL, Goodwood FoS

But for all of it's problems the aerodynamic shape of the 300 SL meant that with a 160 mph capability it was easily the fastest road car of it's day when it was launched. 80% of the nearly 1400 units built went to the USA changing the image of Mercedes Benz from staid to sporty overnight forever.

For a look at a contemporary interpretation of the 300 SL checkout Dave Wolin's wild Chevrolet powered 300 SL I blogged about a couple of weeks ago.

If your interested in the pre war silver arrows racing vehicles I strongly recommend a visit to Paul Chenard's Automobiliart website and check out his 'Silver Clouds' illustrated book of the 1934 Grand Prix season.

Thanks for joining me on this Direct Injection edition of 'Gettin' a lil' psycho on tyres' I hope you'll join me again tomorrow. Don't forget to come back now !

Saturday, 30 July 2011

The Lil' Car That Scared The Fat Cat - Doretti #1196

The Doretti was designed by former Bristol Omnibus apprentice Frank Rainbow while he was working for the Tube Investment Group. In January 1953 Frank was given 9 months to design and build the first Doretti car by Eric Saunders, managing director of the Swallow Coachbuilding Company which became part of the TI Group in 1946 after spawning S.S. Cars in 1934 which became Jaguar in 1945.

Doretti, Castle Combe C&SCAD

In 1952 Eric met Arthur Andersen of the Rome Cable Corporation, who was interested in the production of a vehicle specifically designed for sale in the USA and discussion turned to the production of a car to be designed by Frank with bodies to be made in Wales.

Doretti, Castle Combe C&SCAD

Using his connection with Sir John Black at Standard Triumph, Eric Saunders secured a supply of Triumph TR2 running gear for the Swallow Doretti, a name derived from a marketing company operated by Arthur Andersens daughter Dorothy Deen and Paul Bernhart which was to market the car.

Doretti, Castle Combe C&SCAD

Frank completed the first car with a Reynolds 531 chrome-molydenum steel tube chassis on schedule and it was exhibited alongside a Triumph TR2, which Doretti parent Cal Specialities Company was also responsible for distributing.

Doretti, Castle Combe C&SCAD

From 1954 to 1955 around 280 Doretti's were built in a factory with a maximum of just 18 employees.

Doretti, Castle Combe C&SCAD

The success of the Doretti frightened Jaguar, which was by now a large customer of the same TI Group that facilitated the birth of the Doretti, into giving Tube Investments an ultimatum to disengage from the Doretti project or loose the Jaguar account. Doretti production halted overnight on the receipt of the ultimatum and thus the Doretti name lives on in around 180 of the cars that are thought to have survived.

Hope you have enjoyed today's Cal Specialities Company edition of 'Getting a 'lil psycho on tyres' and that you'll join me again tomorrow for a look at another European sports car that changed the image of it's manufacturer forever. Don't forget to come back now !

Friday, 29 July 2011

Two Seat Grand Prix Car - Ferrari 312 P #0890

Last week on Ferrari Friday we looked at the catastrophe that befell the Ferrari teams Grand Prix effort as a result of Enzo's illness sabbatical in 1972.

Ferrari 312 P, Goodwood FoS

The story of the Ferrari teams fortunes in sports car racing during this period were not quite so catastrophic but having red washed the World Sportscar Championship of 1972 winning all races except the Le Mans 24 hours, which the team did not enter allegedly because they did not believe their engine would prove sufficiently reliable, 1973 proved to be a disappointment.

Ferrari 312 P, Goodwood FoS

Matra who had only entered, and won, the Le Mans 24 hours in 1972 made a successful bid for the World Sports Car Championship in 1973. While this was by no means as comprehensive a blue wash as Ferrari had achieved the year before.

The absence of 'Fury' Forghieri who had been exiled to the Fiorano test track by FIAT management during Enzo Ferrari's sabatical was tangible in terms of Ferrari's flagging sports car results.

Ferrari 312 P, Goodwood FoS

This 1973 spec Ferrari 312 PB chassis #0890 was built for the 1972 season during which Art Mezario and Brian Redman drove the car to victory in the Spa 1000 kms.

Ferrari 312 P, Goodwood FoS

Mezario also drove to a solo non championship victory at Imola in a 500 km race in this chassis, #0890 only disgraced it's self once from six starts in 1972 with an engine failure at Kyalami.

During 1973 #0890 was raced a further five times with 2nd place finishes it's best results at Dijon for Ickx / Redman and at the Nurburgring for Carlos Pace / Merzario a partnership which brought the car a 3rd place in it's final front line race in the 6 hours at The Glen.

Ferrari 312 P, Goodwood FoS

Chassis #0890 seen here at Goodwood Festival of Speed is easily recognisable being the only one of the six 312 P chassis that had the air intake modification to the drivers side chassis skin which appeared at the ADAC 1000 kms at the Nurburgring in 1973.

Ferrari 312 P, Goodwood FoS

In 1972 Ferrari built six 312 P chassis so that there could be a team of three freshly prepared cars at each of the World Championship races. The PB initials were used by the press to distinguish the car from the previous 312 P model of 1971.

Ferrari 312 P, Goodwood FoS

The 1972 Ferrari sports car team managed by Peter Schetty with Ermanno Cuoghi looking after the preparation of the cars was without doubt the class of the field,

Ferrari 312 P, Goodwood FoS

their cars powered by a water cooled 3 litre /183 cui 48 valve flat 12 motor that was in essence a Grand Prix engine detuned for reliability. Five of the six 312 P chassis originally built in 1972 are known to exist today.

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

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Design Mash Up - Volvo 120 Amazon (131)

Looking back it is a sobering thought that when my four grand parents were born at the turn of the 20th century the invention of motorcar was somewhere between 10 and 15 years old and of them neither of my grand mothers ever learned to drive and only one of my grandfathers ever owned a private car and that only for five years before he died aged 63.

Volvo 120 Amazon (131)

Nearly 60 years later I on the other hand was lucky enough to be born into the age of mass consumption by the time I was just four my parents not only had their first new car but all of their friends had new cars too !

Volvo 120 Amazon (131)

Of those friends my parents had I soon adopted two, Ted and Syd, as my Uncles, both drove brand new grey 2 door Volvo 120 Amazons which had a factory code 131 denoting 2 door single carb versions.

Volvo 120 Amazon (131)

Volvo's original intention was to call the model Amason, however manufacturers, of one of the most irritating sounding 2 strokes ever, Kreidler already had the Amason name registered and so the name Volvo Amason was restricted to Sweden by agreement.

Volvo 120 Amazon (131)

In today's parlance the Amazon design would probably known as a design mash up with the bonnet lines seemingly inspired by the 2nd generation Chrysler New Yorker, the grill design seemingly from the 1955 Chrysler C-300 though designer Jan Wilsgaard claims he was inspired by a Kaiser Manhattan he saw in the docks in Gothenburg. Interesting strap line for the linked Kaiser advertisement in the light of Volvo's reputation from 1959 until the late 1990's.

Volvo 120 Amazon (131)

During a production run of over 600, 000 units produced in Sweden, Belgium, Canada, South Africa and Chile from 1956 to 1970, in 1959 the Amazon became the first car to be fitted with three point front seat belts as standard. The seat belts fitted in Uncle Ted & Syds cars encouraged my folks to get some after market seat belts for our more modest Austin A40 Countryman, an act that probably saved their lives a year or two later when we were involved in a 30 mph collision with the side of a truck.

Volvo 120 Amazon (131)

After 3 years of abuse at BBQ's on the beaches of Larnica, Cyprus most Sundays and nearly 25 years further good service the last time I saw Uncle Syds Amazon it was rapidly deteriorating into a rust bubble in the mid 1980's despite the fact that the engine was other wise mechanically sound. The 1970 model shown here seems to have faired considerably better.

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

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Interim Model - Rover 75 P3

In 1878 the Rover Company was founded as Starley & Sutton Co. of Coventry which by 1885 had developed the template for the modern bicycle in the form of the Rover Safety Bicycle.

Rover 75 P3, Atwell Wilsom MM

From 1904 still using the Rover Marque brand the company started building motor cars and motorcycles.

Rover 75 P3, Atwell Wilsom MM

After World War 2 Rover moved to it's Solihull factory where it had engaged in building aircraft for the war effort, since it's car plant in Coventry had been wiped out by bombing during the hostilities. The interim P3, launched in 1948, was Rovers first post war model.

Rover 75 P3, Atwell Wilsom MM

The Rover 75 version of the P3 was powered by a novel new six cylinder motor that featured overhead inlet valves and side exhaust valves that had been developed prior to the commencement of hostilities in 1939.

Rover 75 P3, Atwell Wilsom MM

The styling combined elements of the pre war Rover 12 and 16 but only the Rover 12 wings and bonnet were carried over from the narrower earlier designs.

Rover 75 P3, Atwell Wilsom MM

The unitary monocoque design, requiring no independent chassis, featured independent front suspension and hybrid hydraulic / mechanical brakes.

Rover 75 P3, Atwell Wilsom MM

This the 75 body style seen here was known as a light six saloon and cost a relatively expensive £1106, £ 26 more than the similar 4 cylinder 'Sports Saloon' known as the Rover 60.

Rover 75 P3, Atwell Wilsom MM

From 1948 - 1949 7,837 Rover 75's were produced before the all new P4 vehicle was introduced.

Rover 75 P3, Atwell Wilsom MM

The engine and gearbox of the P3 formed the basis of the very first agricultural all terrain 'Land Rover' conceived in 1947. Note the vehicle above built in times of material austerity features a cyclops third head light but only one wing mirror.

This particular P3 can be seen at the Atwell Wilson Motor Museum in Calne.

Thanks for joining me on this 'overhead and side valve' edition of 'Gettin' a lil psycho on tyres', I hope you'll join me again tomorrow. Don't forget to come back now !

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Endurance Record - Castle Combe

Thanks to the hospitality of Simon Lewis sponsor of the THE SIMON LEWIS TRANSPORT BOOKS FREE SINGLE-SEATER SERIES I found myself attending the British Endurance Championship Racing Weekend at Castle Combe on Sunday.

Smart, Castle Combe, BECRW

As I got out of the car and prepared myself for a long afternoon's racing there was a demonstration of Smart cars in progress including this neat 3 axle combination of car and caravan. Not exactly what I had in mind when I made up my mind to retire from camping in favour of wheeled temporary accommodation, but this combo would certainly cut a smart dash in the Le Mans camp site.

Britcar MSA Endurance Championship, Castle Combe, BECRW

The first race of the day was for Smart cars which preceded the Smart car demonstration, the second race of the day was the 2 hour Britcar MSA Endurance Championship Round which included a welcome grid walk for the public before the race got underway.

Britcar MSA Endurance Championship, Castle Combe, BECRW

Javier Morcillo from Spain driving the #3 Mosler MT900R set an electrifying early pace from pole position that only Micheal Millard driving the #7 Rapier 6 SR2 was able to match.

Calum Lockie, Mosler MT900R, Castle Combe, BECRW

I was rooting, in vane as it turned out, for one of my many racing instructors, Calum Lockie, driving the #6 Mosler who was forced to join the fray from a pit lane.

Javier Morcillo, Mosler MT900R, Castle Combe, BECRW

After an incident requiring a Safety Car, during which Lockie now running in the top six pitted early for fuel, Millard got past Morcillo who promptly indulged in some lawn mowing which forced him to stop with serious overheating issues out on the circuit.

Micheal Millard, Rapier 6 SR2, Castle Combe, BECRW

Millard then proceeded to lead for most of the next hour, a lap ahead of the next fastest car on the circuit, who proved to be Lockie, until he pitted to hand over the Rapier to Ian Heward.

Phil Dryburgh / John Gaw, Scuderia Vittoria Ferrari 458, Castle Combe, BECRW

By the time the mandatory pit stops had all been completed it was the Scuderia Vittoria Ferrari 458 driven by Phil Dryburgh and John Gaw running in the invitational class that was uncomfortably in the lead being chased down by the Rapier of Millard/Heward.

No sooner had the #7 Rapier taken the lead with 25 mins to go then it too spun out, leaving the Scuderia Vittoria Ferrari to finish first for the second time in this years Britcar Championship. In the process Dryburgh and Gaw set a new Castle Combe record for the most laps covered in a single race at 97 laps up from the previous record of 95.

Arty Cameron, Jedi, Castle Combe, BECRW

The third race of the day was the first of two races in the THE SIMON LEWIS TRANSPORT BOOKS FREE SINGLE-SEATER SERIES. 2010 Monoposto 1000 cc champion Arty Cameron caused a huge upset by catching those ahead of him asleep at the start and snatched the lead from the third row of the grid driving the chain driven #46 Jedi and held it for the opening lap until the more powerful Formula 3 Dallara Renault F302 of pole sitter Stuart Wiltshire breezed past to a comfortable victory. Arty blew his motor making a race of it with the Formula 3 Ralt Vauxhall RT3 of Jim Blockley which came in second.

Tony Dolley, Peugeot 206 GTi, Castle Combe, BECRW

Tony Dolley driving a Peugeot 206 GTi drove to a second win of the weekend in the Castle Combe Racing Club Saloon Championship after his main challenger Rob Ballard went hay making in his Seat Cupra at Bobbies Chicane early in the race.

Ben Norton, #111 Spectrum 10b, Rob Hall, #35 Swift SC10, Castle Combe, BECRW

It's been around 20 years since I last saw a Formula Ford race and though there was a change from using Ford Kent engines to Ford Zetec Engines in 1993 and again to using Ford Duratec Engines in 2006 this race catered for cars Formula Ford cars of all ages but all powered by the early Kent engines. My conviction that Formula One would be a lot more entertaining if the cars were built to Formula Ford regulations was confirmed by the race long duel of Ben Norton seen driving the #111 Spectrum 10b and Rob Hall in the #35 Swift SC10. The race was red flagged after an accident between two competitors on the penultimate lap. So far as I know neither was seriously hurt.

Ian Hall, Darrian T98 GTR, Simon Tilling, #23 Radical SR3 RS, Castle Combe, BECRW

Variety was again the watch word for the Castle Combe Sports and GT Championship which featured a somewhat recalcitrant Rover V8 powered #17 Darrian T98 GTR of Ian Hall seen here about to be overtaken by Simon Tillings immaculate #23 Radical SR3 RS powered by a 400 hp 1300 cc / 79 cui Radical Performance Engines tuned turbocharged Suzuki GSX_R motorcycle engine. Tilling, who starting from the back of the grid, blitzed the opposition recording a new class 103 mph lap record, and fastest overall lap of the day, in his amazingly agile machine.

Ray Rowan, Dallara F398, Jim Blockley, Ralt RT3, Roger Orgee, Van Diemen RF00, Castle Combe, BECRW

The final race of the day was another in the THE SIMON LEWIS TRANSPORT BOOKS FREE SINGLE-SEATER SERIES and in the absence of Arty Cameron it was Castle Combe regular Roger Orgee, driving the #6 Ford Zetec powered Van Diemen RF00 Formula Ford car, who got the jump on Jim Blockley in the #24 Ralt and Ray Rowan in the Formula 3 #23 Dallara F398 and almost completed a lap in 2nd place before the more powerful Ralt and Dallara breezed past the wingless Van Diemen.

Stuart, Wiltshire, Dallara F302/04, Castle Combe, BECRW

Blackley in the Ralt passed Rowan for second but by this time Stuart Wiltshire was long gone on his way to his second victory, concluding an excellent day's entertainment.

My thanks again to Simon Lewis who made today's blog possible.

Hope you have enjoyed today's Endurance edition of 'Gettin' a lil' psycho on tyres' and that you will join me again tomorrow for a look at a post war Rover. Don't forget to come back now !

Monday, 25 July 2011

To Roll And Not to Rock - Silverstone Classic

Thanks to my friend Caroline lending me her Audi Convertible for one last time I managed to cram a substantial part of what was happening at the Silverstone Classic this weekend into just one 10 hour visit.

Allgaier Porsche, Silverstone Classic

If you like discovering vehicles you never new existed the Silverstone Classic is just the place for you, amongst many vehicles I have never seen before are this streamlined Porsche 'Diesel' powered Allgaier agricultural vehicle.

Roger Willis, Mercury Cyclone, Silverstone Classic

Unfortunately my visit coincided with qualification sessions only, Roger Willis, seen here, shared this Mercury Cyclone with 1966 British Saloon Car Champion John Fitzpatrick making a welcome change to a field dominated by Mustangs, Galaxies and a couple of Jags all of varying 1960's vintages.

Vauxhall Ventora, Silverstone Classic

The Vauxhall Ventora on which this cut down funny car is loosely based was a 4 door saloon / sedan by a General Motors owned marque.

JAH 1L, Silverstone Classic

This well known transporter reg JAH 1L was in use by Team Lotus from 1973 until the 1980's is painted here in it's original 1973 John Player Special colour scheme.

March 2 4 0, Silverstone Classic

I was disappointed not to see the CGA Engineering March 761 out but this 1977 spec Formula 1 March 2 4 0 more than made up for it. Allegedly the car was built as a publicity stunt, it never raced but was used to good effect on hill climbing events.

Nippy, Sentinel, Silverstone Classic

Six wheel vehicles, and steam powered vehicles were very much in evidence at Silverstone, found the idea of having this Sentinel steam powered truck delivering tea quite amusing.

Foden 6x6 DROPS, Silverstone Classic

I believe the brave lads from the British Army had the tallest vehicle present, I believe this is a Foden 6x6 DROPS vehicle, the Foden marque has disappeared as has a significant contingent of the British Forces.

Berkley, Silverstone Classic

At the other end of the scale one of the smaller, electric kiddy Land Rover was the smallest , 4 wheel vehicles I saw was this 1959 Berkley.

Bob Berridge, Sauber C11, Silverstone Classic

Rain added a little authenticity to the late Group C practice session which was only about 20mins long, I could have stayed out all night listening to the mighty roar that eminates from the Sauber C11 of Bob Berridge by far the best sounding and looking Group C ever IMHO.

Aston DB2/4, Touring, Silverstone Classic

Car of the day for me was this 1953 Touring Aston DB2/4 I believe the RHD is a giveaway that this car was won by a Mr Smith who responded to a newspaper competition to sum up the cars design with a catch phrase.

Even if I had been camping I probably would have been too exhausted to catch the line up of tribute bands on the first night of the Silverstone Classic festival I guess all of my passion is focused on cars and very little of it on music.

PS It would appear NASCAR contractors who prefer to settle their differences in pit row rather than on track might want to take a leaf out of events that unfolded at the Silverstone Classic in the pit lane. See linked story by Tony 'Giraffe' Gallagher.

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