Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Multi Purpose Vehicle - Volvo 240 Tørslanda

The Volvo 200 series launched in 1974 was a significant update of the 140 series which is outwardly easily identifiable by federal spec of railway sleeper like low impact bumpers that gave the vehicle all the style, despite the best efforts of Jan Wilsgard, of a house brick.

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From 1974 - 1993 the 200 series came with a variety of straight 4 engines, some with turbo chargers, Peugeot Renault Volvo, PRV, aluminium V6's and straight 5 cylinder or 6 cylinder diesels sourced from the Volkswagen.

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Over the 19 year production run there were numerous stylistic updates which softened the more extreme features of the early 200 series, it was never considered a particularly good looking car but it's robustness and average 19 year longevity did lend the 200 series a certain status cache somewhere between a Range Rover and a Mini Van, the latter which first appeared as the 200 series production was being wound up.

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The 1993 Tørslanda special edition, named after the Swedish factory that built them, was a back to basics estate station wagon model, allegedly designed to cope with harsh Scandinavian winters.

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It featured, by then already retro, manual mirrors, door locks and windows front & rear, plastic trim in place of chrome which fairs badly in snow, heated seats, power steering, full length body stripes and BBS style alloy wheels.

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The 200 series estates / station wagons, which accounted for a third of the 2.8 million units produced in Sweden, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Italy and Malasia, were particularly popular with those needing a large cargo area, the 41 cubic feet cargo area could carry large pieces of furniture, cookers, fridges, washing machines or hay bales and was often supplied with a dealer fitted rear facing seats that could accommodate two small children. These cars are still popular with trades people in Europe today.

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Whilst outright performance was rarely top of the list of a typical 200 series customers desires, Volvo did support the development of a turbocharged two door model that allowed Gianfranco Brancatelli and Thomas Lindström driving for the Eggenberger Motorsport team to share the 1985 European Touring Car Championship.

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

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Royal Tragedy - Rover P6 Series II 2200 SC

Some of you may remember I found a cut'n'shut Rover Series I P6 Cabriolet behind a hedge last year, today I am looking at the Series II P6 introduced in October 1970.

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Initially the P6 Series II comprised exterior changes to the grill, plastic replacing alloy, rear lights and the instrumentation and switches of the two more expensive Twin Carburettor and 3500 versions.

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From 1973 the Series II P'6s came in three flavours the 98 hp 2200SC, Single Carburettor, 115hp 2200, Twin Carburettor and 3500.

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Production of the P6 ceased in March 1977 with 32, 270 units produced over four years. Allegedly the last 2200 model was a Left Hand Drive export model that was converted to Right Hand Drive by the Tourist Trophy Garage in Farnham.

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British Leyland, the nationalised merger of large swathes of the British motor industry was entering it's worst period of industrial relations during the production of the P6 and this was reflected in abominable reliability issues, one driving organisation reporting that their 3500 P6 had required three engines, two gearboxes, two clutch housings and a wiring loom in 6000 miles motoring over 6 months and was off the road for 114 days out of the 165 days that it was tested over !

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An attempt was made to export a high spec P6 to the USA but with less than 1500 units sold many of the cars built for the USA were eventually sold in Left Hand Drive European markets instead.

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While driving her daughter Stéphanie home on September 13th, 1982, Princess Grace of Monaco, nee Grace Kelly, suffered a stroke which caused her to drive her P6 off the road. She never regained consciousness and died from her injuries the next day, while Stéphanie who fractured her neck in the accident, made a full recovery.

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

Monday, 29 August 2011

1% Efficiency Gain - Porsche 935 K3 #00017

The dominating sports car of the mid 70's to early 1980's was the Porsche 935, built for a set of regulations known as Group 5. The 935 was based around the Porsche 911, the works factory team developed three distinct versions in '76, '77 and '78 when the Moby Dick version marked the high tide of factory 935 development. Porsche also built a customer version of the 935 the 935/77A.

Meanwhile the Kremer Brothers set about developing their own 935, the K1, based on the Porsche 934 model, that was available for the technically less demanding Group 4 regulations in 1976. In 1977 the Kremer brothers acquired a customer 935 and in 1978 followed their own development path based on the 935/77A to develop the K2.


For 1979 their K3 model featured over 100 detail changes from the standard customer 935 '77 which included a lighter air to air intercooler in place of the hitherto ubiquitous air to water sytem, composite carbon fibre panels which saved 30 kgs / 62 lbs. The DM 400,000 K3 was thought to have been 1% more efficient than the standard customer 935 '77 which over an endurance distance of 6, 12 or 24 hours would accrue to a handy advantage.

The K3 scored the 935 models only win at Le Mans in the hands of the Klaus Ludwig and the Whittington Brothers Don and Bill and a string of customers were soon knocking on the Kremer Brothers door in Cologne asking for copies.


It is believed the Kremer Brothers built 13 K3's and supplied kits to update older 935 models. I have not managed to ascertain if this 935 K3 is one of the Kremer brothers built models or one built up from a kit around a donor car, it carries the paint work of a vehicle belonging to Ted Field that was raced by Ted, Danny Ongias and Milt Minter in the Daytona 24 hours that came in 3rd from 5th on the grid.

Canepa Design are known to have recently restored such a car and if as seems highly probable this is the same vehicle the chassis number of this vehicle is # 00017.

My thanks to URY914 at The Nostalgia Forum for confirming that this car may have been converted to Trans Am spec and entered by John Klug Racing in 1983 and to Geoffey Horton who kindly sent me these photos from Palo Alto Concours d'Elegance.

Thank you for joining me on this Interscope edition of Gettin' a lil' psycho on tyres', wishing you all a happy bank holiday Monday, I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don't forget to to come back now !

Sunday, 28 August 2011

'It should be a convertible !' - Bristol 407 Viotti Convertible

Among the many tales in Bristol Cars folklore several are connected with the actor Peter Sellers who one day after filming at Shepperton Studio's approached Tony Crook, Bristol Cars sole retailer, with a Buick asking if some improvements could be made to the handling, when Tony replied that he couldn't do much with the Buick Peter said 'Well I'm going to leave it here.'

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Eventually Peter Sellers bought a Bristol 407 coupé but he soon returned to Tony with it saying 'It should be a convertible !'. Tony went to some lengths to explain that Bristol Cars did not make any convertibles, though in fact he was preparing one with coach work by Viotti for his daughter Carol.

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Legend has it that Carol Crook was part of the London 'in' crowd and counted among her friends Britt Ekland, who posed with the Viotti 407 at Earls Court. Peter some how found out about this car and persuaded Tony to let him become the Viotti 407's first owner.

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Tony Crook says that Peter, notorious for regularly acquiring new cars and leaving them with Tony who had two mechanics and a service bay dedicated to maintaining Sellers cars, 'drove it a bit - not an awful lot - and then we sold him other cars and we took the Viotti back'. All of this appears to have occurred before Peter Sellers had met the model who posed with the Viotti 407 at Earls Court his future wife Britt Ekland.

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The unique Viotti 407 was very much a prototype, the suspension had not been modified to cope with the extra weight of the all steel body, the 88 other 407's had lighter aluminium bodies, when Peter Sellers had the car, however when Tony Crook got it back the suspension and brakes were upgraded to later Bristol 410 specification, and his daughter Carol owned it for many years when it was seen with the registration number 'AC 1'.

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From what I can work out Tony Vaughan, seen in the Viotti 407 here at last weeks Bristol Owners Club Concours held at Greenwich, is the fourth owner of this car.

The one off styling exercise Viotti 407 appears to have strongly influenced future Bristol designs from the 408, 409, 410 and the early series 411.

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

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Suspension by Chris Lawrence - Morgan Aero 8

Up until 2000 the last time Morgan had introduced a new body style was 1964, only 26 glass fibre bodied +4+ cars were built over 4 years and since that time Morgan have successfully focused on improving a design that dates back to 1936.

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In 2000 Morgan launched a genuinely ground up new 'retro' design the Morgan Aero 8, a clear nod to Morgan's successful past with an eye on the future.

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The heart of the Aero 8 was a 325 hp 4.4 litre / 268.5 cui BMW V8, with fake Morgan cam covers, capable of accelerating the car from rest to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds and on to a top speed of over 170 mph.

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The all new aluminium chassis, completely unrelated to the steel ladder chassis of earlier models, was developed with the help of Morgan's best known racing exponent and tuner Chris Lawrence. Unusually for a vehicle with this kind of performance the chassis and suspension are so stiff that the suspension does not have anti roll / sway bars.

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The Aero 8 has since been offered as a limited edition coupé the Aero Max, of which just 100 have been built and the Targa topped Aero SuperSports. Production of these cars is coming to an end at the Morgan factory, in anticipation of a new Morgan 4 wheel model.

An insight into some of the work of Chris Lawrence, who passed away on August 13th, can be found on this link.

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

Friday, 26 August 2011

Ferrari's First F1 Design - Ferrari 125 F2 Spec #0114

In 1948 Ferrari built his first dedicated 125 F1 Grand Prix cars known to conform with the set of rules known as formula one and entered three of them into the 1948 Italian Grand Prix, held at Valentino Park on the 5th of September. Frenchman Raymond Sommer brought his 125 F1 home in third place. The Ferrari 125 WAS NOT however the first Ferrari ever to be entered in a race run to formula one regulations.

The 125 F1 shared it's 1.5 litre / 91.5 cui super charged V12 engine design, by Giocchino Colombo, with earlier successful Ferrari sports cars including the 166 series and the 125S series.

This particular chassis thought to have been built in 1949 for the factory racing team, appears to have been successfully raced with a normally aspirated 2 litre / 122 cui Colombo V12 to conform to the second tier Formula Two regulations in 1951 by Englishman Peter Whitehead in Europe and Australasia.

During the late 1950's this chassis had a Chevy V8 installed which was replaced by a remanufactured 2 litre V12 when Tom Wheatcroft had it restored in the 1970's for his Donington Collection where these photographs were taken.

The 125 F1 was not a great success against the older Alfa Romeo's, which led Ferrari to build his next formula one cars with larger unsupercharged engines with which one of his cars would win Ferrari's first championship formula one race in 1951.

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

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Halfway House - Volvo 144

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The Volvo 140 launched in 1966, which superseded the Volvo 120 Amazon series, was the seed design that stayed in production across two distinct series of models for thirty years until 1996. The 140 design was significantly updated in 1973 as a precursor to the 240 series launched in 1974.

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This 1973 140 model, a halfway house between the original 140 series and forthcoming 240 series, has many interior features familiar to early 240 owners including much of the entirely padded plastic faced dashboard, round, replacing the previous strip, instrumentation and rocker switch gear.

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For 1973 power for the 140 series came from a 1986 cc / 121 cc straight 4 cylinder Over Head Valve B20 motor itself the last iteration of a design born out of the Volvo V8 B36 motor used in Volvo commercial vehicles.

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The tail of the 1973 and '74 140's is also identical to that on the early 240 series the only thing missing is the much larger energy absorbing bumpers of the latter model.

The 140 series was dropped in 1975 with final production of all 140 variants since 1966 totalling over one million units which were built at plants in Torslanda Sweden, Ghent Belgium, Halifax Nova Scotia Canada, Melbourne Victoria Australia and Shah Alam Malaysia.

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

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Simple Joys - Morgan 3 Wheeler

Last November when I visited the Morgan factory there was much debate about a rumoured revival by Morgan of their fabled 3 wheel concept, which was abandoned when the last Morgan F-4 left the factory in 1953, with an updated design powered by a Harley Davidson motor.

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The truth that emerged was a little more complex, when earlier this year Morgan launched their 3 Wheeler at the Geneva motor show, with this particular vehicle on their stand.

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Self taught engineer, Pete Larsen from Seattle is the man responsible for putting the Morgan name back on three wheel vehicles. A couple of years ago Pete developed a Harley Davidson powered space frame Morgan tribute 3 wheeler which was marketed under the Liberty Ace brand.

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After reading a UK newspaper report on this vehicle Morgan executives visited Pete's workshop and ended up buying the business. Pete now makes the HD powered Liberty Ace under license from Morgan while Morgan have re engineered Pete's design to take a 115hp S&S 'X-Wedge' V twin manufactured in Wisconsin.

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The reengineered Morgan comes with a detachable steering wheel, to ease access, that is connected to a Quaife steering rack, in place of the Mustang modified rack used in the original Liberty Ace, the transmission on both vehicles is a Mazda 5 speed which drives the rear wheel.

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The Matt Humphries designed aluminium bodywork is manufactured by Premier Sheet Metal in Coventry.

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After the initial production run a special Superdry Edition has already been planned complete with bespoke Superdry branded tyres !

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High profile car enthusiast, owner and fan of old Morgan 3 wheelers Jay Leno was one of the first 500 customers to order one of the cycle cars which tip the scales at just over 1000 lbs / 500 kgs and can reach 60 mph in under 5 seconds.

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I have never driven a Morgan or 3 Wheeler of any description but watching Jay drive the car I have to believe that 'there is nothing quite like driving a 3 wheeler, it just makes you smile', rather like reading my favourite 'Simple Joys' blog written by another Morgan 3 wheeler fan Chief 187, who's birthday happens to be today.

Happy Birthday Chief 187, this one is just for you !

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

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Powered Under Licence - Rover P5B 3.5 litre Coupe

In September 1960 the author of a technical review on the then new all aluminium 185 hp Buick 215 V8 engine could have had little idea of how prophetic for the British automotive industry his following words would be, "We will wager that the most widely copied engine of the next 10 years will be the superb new aluminium V8 by Buick."

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Despite it's glowing press the Buick V8 and various Oldsmobile and Pontiac variants these motors were only in production from 1961 to 1963, after 750,000 units had been produced the Buick, Oldsmobile and Pontiac switched back to cheaper to manufacture iron blocks which were cast with thinner walls than had hitherto been possible.

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Rover managing director Bill Martin-Hurst was on a sales mission trying to get Mercury Marine in Wisconsin interested in Rover gas turbine engines for marine applications when he stumbled across a Buick V8 being prepared for power boat racing on the Mercury Marine shop floor.

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Bill realised immediately that such a motor might have a future in several Rover car projects and had the motor on the shop floor shipped to England and made enquires at GM about making their recently discontinued aluminium motor under licence.

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Somewhat disbelieving GM agreed a deal which eventually included the soon to retire designer of the aluminium Buick 215 Joe Turley who would help prepare the V8 for production in a market that put engines under more stress, no speed limit at the UK at the time, than encountered in its original US application.

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The Buick V8 was first tested in a P6 prototype, but the final iteration of older P5 design seen here, with a B for Buick designation, was the first Rover to be offered to the public with an aluminium Buick 215 V8 derived motor in 1967.

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Four successive British Prime Ministers and the Queen of England used P5B's, so impressed was the British government with these vehicles that they bought the last batch of them for future government ministers to use in 1973. Indeed Prime Minister Margret Thatcher was often seen in one as late as 1979, before switching to a Jaguar.

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A Rover P5B featured alongside a Lamborghini Islero in 'The Man Who Haunted Himself' starring Roger Moore, Olga Geoges-Picot and Hildegard Neil.

Vehicles featured on GALPOT that are powered by variations of the aluminium Rover V8 include :-


Reliant Scimitar GTE V8

Triumph TR7 Rally Sprint Replica

Triumph TR8 Convertible Replica

Triumph TR8 Twin Turbo

Further examples of Rover V8 powered vehicles can be found in these less specific blogs :-

GMC Suburban

Darian Wildcat T89 GTR

MGB Kayne Special

Rover SD1

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

Monday, 22 August 2011

Meridian Date - Bristol Concours d'Elegance

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Yesterday I travelled 2 degrees, 35 mins 45.25 seconds East to the Meridian line at Greenwich in London with Florian, my guest from France, to see the Bristol Concour's d'Elegance, where a fine selection of Bristol Cars and a single Fraser Nash BMW, representing over 60 years of automotive history was accumulating in the grounds of the Old Naval College.

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Oldest car at the show was this 1939 Frazer Nash BMW 321, Frazer Nash were in partnership with the Bristol Aircraft Company when the latter diversified into the automotive market after WW2.

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Several Bristol 400's, the manufacturers first model, were present all in immaculate condition, this 1971cc, 120 cui six cylinder being maintained by Bristol Owners Club (BOC) member Derek Hughes.

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Among many Bristol models I saw for the first time was the 402 of which only 23 examples were built, this one belonging to Richard Weale.

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I know the father of one GALPOT regular used to race an Arnolt Bristol so it was a particular thrill to see and above all hear this car being started up by Kenneth Andrén who brought this car over from Sweden.

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There were several Bristol 406's, which featured roof mounted indicator lights, present this one belonging to Edward Anderson.

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Chrysler supplied the motor's for all Bristol models starting with the 407 in 1961, this is the 6277 cc / 383 cui big block Chysler B series V8 fitted to the 411 Series 2 belonging to Jamie Davenport.

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In 1976 the 603 model was introduced a car that owed no heritage at all to the Bristol 407 that had been continually upgraded from 1961 and formed the basis of a succession of new models. This is the cockpit of the 603E belonging to Fergus Taylor-Gregg.

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Newest of the Bristol's present was the 2009 Blenhiem (603 Series 4) of Richard Levine.

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91 year old Bristol Works Director, until the factory closed earlier this year, the sprightly Syd Lovesy was amongst those who handed out the prizes at the end of the day. Syd is seen here with Richard Vaughan and the unique 1963 Bristol Viotti 407 styling exercise that once belonged to comic actor Peter Sellers.

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Concours d'Elegance award winning cars included the 400 of Ashley James, the 403 of John Manley, the 405 of Cyril Milward, the 411 Series 2 of Jamie Davenport, a 412, the Arnolt of Kenneth Andrén, and the last one I can positively identify in the line the Fraser Nash BMW 321.

Arnolt Bristol, Bristol C'dE, Greenwich

Car of the day for me was definitely the Arnolt, hats off to Kenneth bring this car over from Sweden, thanks to everyone at the Bristol Owners Club who made this a day for Florian and I to remember.

Thanks for joining me on this Meridian edition of 'Gettin' a lil' psycho on tyres', I hope you'll join me again tomorrow to see how the Aluminium Buick 215 V8 came to impact the British motor industry. Don't forget to come back now !