Archive for November, 2008

1968 LeMans Onboard

Let’s take a trip down the Mulsanne with Stirling Moss in his Mk IV GT40. Hang on tight.

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Paul’s New Vee

I mentioned in the recap of this year’s Elkhart Lake Vintage Festival that my friend Paul was looking for a vintage formula vee. He climbed in and out of as many different models of vee in attendance as possible, and got sage advice from the outstandingly friendly Vintage Vees contingent of the VSCDA. “What you really want is a Lynx B”, some would say. Others tried to sway him towards a Zinc. Even some of the Formcar guys tried to beckon him in; “Nothing can touch them in the wet”, they’d say.

So what does Paul do? He does the right thing and ignores them all when he finds a remarkable McNamara Sebring for sale a mere 20 blocks from his Minnesota house. I can’t say I blame him, the McNamara looks very good—more like a Formula Ford than a vee with that mysterious air opening at the nose. And the car came complete with a custom build trailer and second set of body work. There’s just no way to walk away from that.

Beyond the car itself are the bounty of stories that came from the wife and son of the previous owner. Several period photos of the car in action and several tales of the involvement of the former owner in the seminal years of Minnesota’s club racing scene.

Needless to say, I’ll be writing more about Paul’s new ride more in the coming months as we fit him to the car and get race-ready for spring. There’s not a huge amount to do; the car is in quite good shape just needs some modification to bring it back into Monoposto compliance. Stay tuned for the progress.

I’ll leave you now with a photo of Paul’s McNamara Sebring as she was raced in her earlier years (we think she’s number 12)

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Exciting Racing Sounds Finale: Brands Hatch

It’s finally time for the final cut from the Exciting Racing Sounds of Grand Prix album. In this final track, Phil Hill visits Brands Hatch, and while I’d like to say that this final cut is the climax of the lp, it’s a bit more like ‘in with a bang, out with a whimper’. The visit to Brands is precious short on racing action, starting with audio from the Red Arrows fighter jet squadron flyover and finishing with the military band. It is nice to hear the podium celebration for Jack Brabham as the band plays “Waltzing Mathilda”. There you have it friends, your Exciting Racing Sounds of Grand Prix album is complete… now just flip back side A and enjoy.

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Available in Brussels: Abarth Corso Spyder Boano 207A

Feast your eyes on this remarkable little Abarth on offer from Automobiles Vanderveken Bruxelles. This Boano-bodied spyder looks every bit of intimidating, despite its diminutive stature of only 37 inches tall at the peak of the windscreen. The 2-tone paint accentuates the streamlined and purpose-built appearance all the more, emphasizing the incredible belt-line: Can you even call that a belt-line? knee line?

Placing an aluminum tonneau cover over the passenger seat is a sure win for any drop-top to increase its appeal in my book. The fact that this little racer has a completely separate opening in the bodywork for the passenger to sit in is downright fantastic. And bask in the delight of the twin exhaust pipes snaking their way out of the passenger side.

Sadly, 207A had little success on the racetrack—it lead its class at Sebring in ’55 until an illegal refueling stop disqualified the team. But every ounce of this car begs to be noticed on the track and off. I absolutely adore the spirit of these Abarths. Although as few as 10 207As were made, the idea of taking the fairly pedestrian Fiat 1100cc engine and wrapping it in this slippery, aquatic shape with Abarth’s famous tuning team squeezing every horse out of the power plant is the fantastic thing about body-on-frame design. Think of the top tuning houses today: the Spoons, Mugens, RUFs, and the like. Despite the endless effort of these facilities, unibody construction leaves the car’s appearance virtually unchanged once it leaves the garage. Body-on-frame allows for an endless stream of possibility to create one-off, coachbuilt specials like this amazing Abarth Corso Spyder Boano 207A.

You can read more about the history of this outstanding racecar at Ultimate Car Pages, including some photos of a 207A in action at the 2004 Zolder Historic Grand Prix. Below is just a taste. And as is so often the case, the mighty Etceterini is a deep well of information on this model in particular, and Abarth in general.

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Tyrrel P34 On-board at the ’76 Monaco GP

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Jimmy Clark’s Championship Winning Lotus 25 at Auction

The car he won the \'63 World Championship inThis weekend, Bonhams & Goodman is hosting an incredible collection of Lotus Formula cars in Sydney. The Important Sports, Competition and Collectors’ Motor cars, Motorcycles and Automobilia certainly lives up to its name, offering TWO ex-Jim Clark Lotuses.

One, a ’66 Tasman Series Lotus 39 carried Clark through several races in this important series: a first in the Warwick Farm International 100, a second at Levin, Wigram, Lakeside and Sandown Park, and third place finishes in the Australian Grand Prix and in the Examiner 45 at Longford, Tasmania.

Already, this is an amazing auction opportunity. Shocking then, that this car can be completely overshadowed by another offering at the auction. The other car available, and drawing an estimate of $1.8-2Million, is Jimmy Clark’s & Richard Attwood’s 1962 Lotus 25. The car that Clark won the Formula 1 World Championship with in 1963. Any Lotus single seater is a rare collectible. Any that was driven by Clark, even more so. This car however, represents the absolute pinnacle of any collection. It was the Lotus 25 that leapfrogged Lotus from Formula 1 also-ran to dominant force of the 1960’s and beyond. The rear engine layout that Cooper proved was the way of the future was embraced by Chapman full-force, even perfected here in the Lotus 25.

Lotus built only seven examples of the Lotus 25. Of these, serial numbers R1, R2, R3, and R5 were destroyed in period accidents. This example, R4, rose to the top as Clark’s longest serving and winningest chassis. Carrying him to on a trot victories in 1963 at the Belgian, Dutch, French and British GPs, a 2nd at the German GP, then further victories in Italy, S. Africa, and Mexico. This chassis has won SEVEN world-championship Formula 1 races. and a further victory at a non-championship Oulton Park race. Those are just the Jim Clark wins! the car has a further history with Richard Attwood under Reg Parnell racing.

What an amazing car this is, and what an amazing opportunity this auction represents for a very lucky collector. If you happen to attend this event, I’d love to see some photos.

Update: Clark’s Championship Winning Lotus 25 sold for a final hammer price of $1,350,000. with his Tasman Series racer bringing in $320,000.

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Now Where Did I Leave that D-Type?

This is a project I can really get behind. The Coventry Racers project hopes to locate and catalog every Jaguar C-Type, D-Type, E-Type Lightweight and XKSS; both those that are still gathering concours and racing trophies, and those that haven’t survived. The open nature of the Coventry Racers project is its real appeal.

Unlike secret catalogs of cars that dealers and collectors use to track down potential purchases, the Coventry Racers project is managed, Wiki-style, by the public at large. These contributors offer their own photographs, accounts of car locations, and articles about particular examples. All of these are sorted by serial number, and help to build a complete repository of information on each and every example of these cars. What a wonderful resource for sportscar nerds (like myself) who just want to read about these tremendous cars, and for collectors who want any bit of information on their example to increase the provenance of their vehicles—before or after purchase.

I’ve included a photo here that I shot at the July 2008 VSCDA Continental Grand Prix at Autobahn Country Club this past July. This was one of two D-Types at the event. While neither raced, it was fantastic to see these remarkable cars out at the track. One of these cars actually sees a bit of road time, the owner drove the Jag to the track, and shared a story of driving it up to Elkhart Lake as well—perhaps a 2-hour highway drive in a car that I’m sure drew quite a bit of attention on the freeway.

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53rd Targa Florio

Some wonderful footage from the ’69 Targa Florio.

I like the lo-fi digitization technique here.. you can hear the 8mm projector whirring away, presumably while the screen was shot with a digital camcorder. The more ingenuity that can bring us historic footage like this, the better.

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On-Board Brabham BT29 at Road America

Another excellent video from the Mito Media team. I’m not having much luck finding more information on the production company. Is it just Alex King who is responsible for all these brilliant videos? Or is there a wider team? Obviously in the video we showed last week there had to be more than one camera operator.. Regardless, whoever Mito Media is, I hope they keep dropping fantastic vids like this On-board with James King (any relation?) in his Brabham BT29. This is exactly the kind of footage I was pining for when we discussed Motorsports Hero last month. Keep ‘em coming, Alex.

Is this the same James King caught here by Flickr uploader sjeacle in another Brabham (this time a BT7) at this year’s Monaco Grand Prix Historique?

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Automotive Art of the Incredibly Prolific Rob Ijbema

Welsh painter, Rob Ijbema, maintains an remarkably prolific blog of his automotive paintings at his Car-A-Day site. His work is quite varied, from watercolors to pen sketches and everything in between. Rob’s subject matter is pretty evenly split between historic racers and modern Formula 1, with a bit of road cars and rally thrown in for good measure. I particularly like his watercolors of early racers of the likes of Fangio and Moss. There’s so much abstraction in some areas of the work that it’s almost an optical illusion when you take in the wider piece and see the level of detail hinted at by seemingly random dashes of color and line—Virtually impressionistic in execution. The best thing about Rob’s blog is that you can wade through two years of near daily work and revel in the shear breadth of work. Many of the works are marked “sold”, but I don’t readily see a link to his representing gallery, but perhaps you can buy one for yourself if you drop him an email. This is definitely a site to keep tabs on.

Be sure to check out his “Demo’s” section for a bit of insight into his process as he works through a painting. Excellent stuff.

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