Archive for November, 2012

Available in Minnesota: 1969 Merlyn 11A Formula Ford


It is with a heavy heart that I inform you that friend-of-the-blog, Rich Stadther, is parting with his 1969 Merlyn 11A Formula Ford. She’s a lovely machine to be sure and, more importantly, it offers you entry into what I consider to be one of the most fun and challenging series in vintage racing.

It’s not just the series that I’m attracted to though. Maybe it’s just the time I’ve spent helping my buddy Eric with his, but there’s something in particular about the Merlyns that I really love. Granted, I’ve not been exposed to as many Titans or Alexis (Alexese?) or Hawkes, but the lines and mechanicals of the Merlyns have really struck a chord with me. The fact that Colchester Racing Developments is still alive and kicking and supplying many of the parts for it doesn’t hurt either.

The price is definitely right for a ready-to-race Formula Ford. I know plenty of people that have spent more than that to get their cars ready for “more affordable” classes. I’d race her as-is for a few years until you’ve got a feel for her before diving in to a rebuild or restoration. Knowing Rich’s work though, she probably won’t need either.

More information on Rich’s site. Need more? Check out this video of her wiggling through the chicane at a recent running of the Waumandee Hillclimb.

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TR3 Ragtime

Something tells me that Steve Belfer has had the engine in and out of his dad’s old vintage racing prepped Triumph TR3 a time or two.

Thanks for sending this in, Steve!
As always, please share your restorations, videos, photos, or other vintage racing stuff with us: harlo@thechicaneblog.com.

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A 911 Fixie

Bugatti Design Chief, Achim Anscheidt makes a strong case for the similarities between a Porsche 911 and a fixed-gear bicycle. I’m not a fixie rider but I know more than a few and I have to agree with the man. Each of them love fixed-gear because they feel so connected to it; that the bike becomes an extension of themselves. Anscheidt’s comments suggest that it’s not just performance they’re talking about. Each bicycle is a design expression of the rider/builder. That motivation is part of what is behind this marvelous little 911R-ish lightweight hot rod.

In the past ten or fifteen years, I’ve noticed a lot of VW Beetle builders adopting the techniques and even the visual aesthetic of American hot-rodders. It’s only natural that the Porsche 911 become the next platform for this kind of experimentation. I can imagine the R Gruppe peeps among you telling me that this is nothing new, and I agree. But with Singer and Magnus and projects like Achim Anscheidt’s 911 gaining wider exposure, it is definitely on the rise.

Bonus: Anscheidt’s method for finding a tape line on a set of Fuchs is fantastic. I don’t know that I’d have thought of it but it’s such an obvious little technique. I love these kinds of restoration and customization tips.

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Raised in the Pits

When you think about it, Damon Hill accompanied his father to the track so often that he really only had one choice: Become a racing driver or never go to the track again.

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Patented “Safety-Shoulders”

Bred from the tires that triumph on the track…the Dunlop Road Speed RS5

This is the highway equivalent of the famous Dunlop R5 racint tire…the tire that has carried more International Grand Prix racing champions to victory than any other tire.

The Road Speed RS5 take sustained speeds up to 130 mph in stride, with superb steering control and road-holding traction. On wet pavement, the RS5 more than holds it own, with hi-styrene polymers in the rubber compound contributing maximum wet-hold capability. Patented “Safety-Shoulders” carry the tire smoothly over shoulder ridges, highway dividers and give the tire added traction in high speed cornering. Low angle prime nylon ply construction keeps a tight grip on the tire crown at high speeds…keeps the flat 7-rib tread hugging the road through every driving maneuver.

If you drive a high-speed sports car or fast saloon and want to capitalize on both its performance potential and everyday serviceability…the Dunlop Road Speed RS5 is the tire for you. Try a set…at your nearest Dunlop dealer. You’ll find him in your Yellow Pages or write.

Dunlop Tire and Rubber Corporation. Buffalo 5, New York.

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Relieving any Maidenly Tensions

The Elite Is Not Delivered Race-Ready

Contrary to some delightfully flattering folk tales, the Elite is not delivered race-ready. This myth arises, no doubt, from the factory practice of road driving each new car. By the same token, these factory jaunts do have virtues and one should not be deceived by the fresh, virginal appearance of a new Elite.

Colin Chapman’s crews have a bit of a go with each new one. It’s rather an old world tradition. nothing beats an English country road for relieving any maidenly tensions that might inhibit a new machine, and wilful tendencies can be discovered and corrected before they become evil habits.

The Chapman suspension has been thoroughly scrunched and wiggled till it carries through fast corners on all fours with the tenacious grace one expects from a Lotus. The overhead cam Coventry Climax gets a thorough-going physical on the test bench even before it goes into the car, and on the road the Girling discs get a brisk exercising along with the clutch gearbox combo to assure a proper assortment of changes.

In short, a new Elite has had at least a taste of the fast heel and toe work that lies ahead in high speed touring or prize competition. To the owner we leave the details of final break-in and the selection of various racing accessories, plus painting on the number. A dandy job for a decorative crew member. And if you do come off a winner, there is a comfortable inside passenger seat to carry off your trophy.

$4,780 in 1958 is about $36,660 today. Damnit.

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The Real Cuba’s 1958 Gran Premio de Cuba


Color photography dates back to the 1890s but the cost associated with it, even after “modern” color film was available to the masses, was typically several times more expensive to buy and process. Even as late as the early 60′s, it was much more common to see black and white snapshots from race tracks. It’s just one more reason why these color shots of the 1958 GP de Cuba uploaded to Cuba Green Screen by The Real Cuba are so precious. Those ultramarine waters and blue skies would lose some luster as medium greys—not to mention the Ferraris and Jags.

The 1958 Gran Premio de Cuba will always be remembered as the time when Castro’s rebels kidnapped Juan Manuel Fangio on the eve of the race. Whenever I read of it, I always try and imagine how that must have affected his team and the rest of the field. I struggle to put myself in their position. Or Fangio’s; locked in a bedroom listening on the radio to the race he should be winning, a guard over his shoulder. I wonder what would happen in similar circumstances today. If Vettel got nabbed before the Bahrain GP, how would the teams; the sport; or the media react? Would the show—as it did in Havana 60 years ago—simply go on?

Fangio was returned unharmed after the race, and even befriended his captors in the years afterwards. The events have cemented the ’58 Cuban GP in the history of Caribbean politics as well as the history of sport. Looking at these marvelous photos though, I may start to remember the event for Carroll “Chicken Farmer” Shelby lounging in his Ferrari in a pair of hickory striped overalls getting gassed up.

Click on over for more shots and thanks to Bring a Trailer for pointing the way.

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The Creation of Two Masters

1955 Abarth “Spyder” 1100

The 1955 Abarth Competition Spyder was road tested by the Italian Racing Ace Gino Valenzano.

Gino says, “I tested many cars on a 6 Km. twisting course and the Abarth proved to be faster than many sports cars with twice the displacement.”

This new comet is the creation of two Masters: Abarth for the mechanical end and Boano for the streamlined coach work.

It is powered by a 1089 cc. modified Fiat engine with a bore of 68 mm. and a stroke of 75 mm. Compression ratio is 9:1 with 2 Weber side draft carburetors, develops 6 bhp. at 6000 rpm. Weight 1148 lbs.

Tony Pompeo • Phone JUdson 2-3863
1877 Broadway, New York 23, N.Y.

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2000GT

Forget about buying the car, just the brochure for a Toyota 2000GT is a rare and hotly collected item. The thing to remember when you’re walking out of the auto show this winter with arms loaded with brochures is that when you only make 337 examples of a car, you don’t need to print as many brochures for it as Ford needs for the F150. Recently on the Final Gear Forums, GhettoAdam pointed to these images scanned from the brochure. I can’t say it’s quenched my thirst to see the full brochure, but it helps.

Damn, that rear-end is sexy.

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Inputs

People occasionally ask me why I’m not a fan of contemporary formula racing. I usually start by boring them to tears with tales of the 2005 USGP fiasco and my long drive home from that event, swearing off Formula 1 again and again with each passing mile. But when I look at this photo of a contemporary Formula 1 steering wheel it does a much better job than I could of communicating my real reason.

I admire Formula 1 engineers and aerodynamicists. They have pushed the automobile to the absolute limits of technology. I just think they may have pushed beyond the limits of what an automobile is. This steering wheel doesn’t control a car. A spacecraft; a fighter jet; a robot, maybe. But not a car.

I spend most of my workday at a computer. I click buttons all day. I like buttons. And I know that I sound much older than I am when I say that I do not look forward to these technologies making their way to road cars. I just don’t want to push any more buttons.

I want to feel the hint of tension in my calf when I push the clutch in. I want to feel the gratifying clunk of the shifter when I pull into second. I want to hear the clack of the gears connecting as I pop the clutch. I want to feel it, to smell it, to taste it. I want driving to remain a tactile, physical experience.

Of course I realize that Formula 1 drivers have no ends to the physical sensations that they receive from their machines when they’re racing, but will daily commuters have any sensation when this tech comes to the road?

There. There’s my rant. I try to keep them to a minumum.

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