Ride Along for the Targa Florio’s Last Hurrah

These onboards from the Targa Florio during the practice period are always harrowing. When you see the occasional shepherd and daily Sicilian traffic it’s not hard to see why this footage from 1973 was the last year of the event. Let’s ride shotgun with the Claude Haldi/Bernard Chenevière Porsche 908. Almost a shame we can’t see the lovely Toblerone livery of this unusually red P-car. The car didn’t make the main event due to blowing an engine in practice. Easy to believe from where I’m sitting.

Porsche908-3 of Bernard Chenevière and Claude Haldi - 1973 Targa Florio

Sitting on the Corner in Sicily

Malte Dorowski’s Lego Martini Racing Porsches

Malte Dorowski's Lego Martini Porsche 911 Carrera RSR

I’m consistently amazed at what Lego builders can do with nothing more than their ingenuity and a handful of Lego bricks. Somehow those little blocky chunks of plastic can be massaged into the most beautiful contours. Malte Dorowski has put together a fairly complete Lego garage of Martini Racing Porsches (and transporter… and support vehicle), but it is probably no surprise that his take on the Carrera RSR is my favorite.

Malte Dorowski's Lego Martini Porsche 911 Carrera RSR EngineLook at those iconic bulbous arches around this thing. Coming up with this collection of bricks and assorted bits and bobs and deciding that they can come together to create that arch is mind boggling. Malte didn’t just get the general shape nailed down and call it a day though—the details are where this model really sings. The peek through the door at the gauge cluster; the way the windscreen wiper is perched; the steering wheel’s center button: They all come together and get that RSR just right. Absolutely beautiful work.

Malte Dorowski's Lego Martini Porsche team

More at Malte Dorowski’s Flickr gallery. Thanks for the heads up on this one, Ryan!

Marvelous Film of the 1953 Targa Florio

A C-Type in Sicily

1953 Jaguar C-Type at the Targa

When I conjure a Jaguar C-Type in my mind it’s always surrounded by verdant rolling hills of Spa or the green pastures of Goodwood. For some reason it never even occurred to me to imagine her in the brown and dusty roads of the Piccolo Circuito delle Madonie.

The Sicilian mountains seem to suit her though, don’t you think? Tommy Wisdom sure thought so when he took a C-Type to finish 17th at the 1953 running of the Targa Florio. You might think that 17th is nothing to brag about, but even finishing the Targa is a proud accomplishment.

1953 Jaguar C-Type at the Targa1953 Jaguar C-Type at the Targa1953 Jaguar C-Type at the Targa

906 Illustration Brings the Blur

Porsche 906 sketch by Mike Kim

I adore this “sketch” by automotive designer Mike Kim. Bringing the movement and shake and blur that has always been a favorite element of great racing photography to illustration… Now that’s something. Shows you how great it can be when automotive designers take a break from sketching cars of the future and take up their Prismacolors to doodle the machines of the past.

In the Pits at the Targa

Lunch: Targa Florio Style

What could be better than a spirited drive in the mountains and a picnic lunch with friends? Ask “Quick” Vic Elford, seen here doing just that. Pausing to relax during his own spirited drive in the mountains, indeed.

Of course, the mountains in this case are those surrounding Palermo, Sicily. The lunch is served on the short tail of a Martini International Racing Porsche 908/3. And his fellow diners are the team and competitors of the 1971 Targa Florio. Perhaps this was to celebrate his fastest lap of that year’s race-rounding the 72km course in 33:45.6, an average over 127km/h.

This is how I’ll be taking my meals from now on.

Available in London: Maserati A6GCS Monofaro

Beautiful. Elegant. Purposeful. I’ve caught myself fantasizing about this particular variation on the Maser A6GCS since it got so much camera time in the BBC2 program, The Real Italian Job: James Martin’s Mille Miglia. While the program is a fairly poor trip through the contemporary Mille Miglia Rally, and the chef’s Maser gave out far too early to really see the beautiful sights of the Mille, there is a shining highpoint that made the program well worth watching: the absolutely captivating A6GCS. Although the dealer doesn’t mention it, this car appears to be the very example featured in the program—notice the Mille Miglia rally number featured on the car here, James Martin’s car bore the same number.

Maserati created a variety of different sportscars under the A6 model designation, from rather luxurious coupes to open-top enclosed-fender sportscars. This stripped-down, (mostly) open wheel variant though is, for me, the title holder. She’s absolutely marvelous, looking something like a machine that somehow successfully combines the Formula Car, Sportscar, and Hot Rod. There’s nothing here that doesn’t need to be, there are no dramatic design flourishes—it is the very essence of form following function.

This example, chassis #2006, is currently among the stock of London dealer Cars International Kensington. One of only 3 of this variant made, she was supplied new to Baron Nicola Musmeci in May, 1948. The Baron wasted no time preparing the car for the Targa Florio the following March, where it placed 4th. He repeated the trip around Sicily the following year, bringing this little machine home in 5th place. The car also raced as a Formula 2 car with the passenger seat blocked out and the road equipment stripped out, and even entered the Mille Miglia in 1951.

Musmeci apparently didn’t tire from the car after the string of successes because the car didn’t change hands until 1972. Sadly the next owner largely mothballed it after a body restoration, and we haven’t seen it on the track until Cars International, after acquiring the car (presumably for Martin) in 2007, entered her in the 2008 Mille Miglia. It has since been restored again, this time with a complete engine rebuild as well. Count ’em. That’s 3 owners since 1948. The James Martin program went into some detail about James buying this car, but was Cars International the “owner”? When Cars International says they “acquired” the car, they did so on Martin’s behalf? This is all assuming I’m right and that this is indeed the James Martin car, which seems more than likely.

I’ve been obsessing about this car for quite some time now, even pouring over this Gilco chassis construction diagram. Why should I let my non-existant welding skills get in the way of building my dream? After all, I’m going to assume it’s HIGHLY unlikely that one of these will come available in my price range any time soon.

More photos and information on the dealer’s info page.

Targa Florio ’66 Film