RARE DELMONT 88
History

Rare 1967-1968 Oldsmobile Delmont 88

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Tony tracks down a rare and unusual Oldsmobile at a local show and reflects on the model’s history and a shadowy historical connection…

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2007 Mercedes-Benz R 63 AMG W251
History

Modern not Classic - Mercedes-Benz R63 AMG W251

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Who’d want a bloated land-yacht with monstrous performance and mini mpg? Not many, it turned out... Words Tony Middlehurst.

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Gas turbine racing cars? Yes, that really was a thing in the Sixties and briefly it looked as if it was the future, as Richard Heseltine uncovers the story of the Trackburner… Richard Heseltine From here to obscurity Richard Heseltine’s weird and wonderful American cars from the past. The Sixties witnessed a seismic shift in how IndyCars were designed. The front-engined Roadsters were on borrowed time the moment Jack Brabham and the Cooper Car Company rocked up for the 1961 running of the Indianapolis 500 and prompted jaws to slacken with their pace despite a serious horsepower deficit. Mid/rear-sited engines were clearly the way to go, even if several regulars at The Brickyard were slow to comprehend which way the wind was blowing. Not only that, it wasn’t just the positioning of engines that was undergoing a transformative period. For much of the decade, it appeared as though piston-power was about to be usurped by gas turbines. The car pictured here led the charge.  It’s just that few noticed. Strictly speaking, such methods of motive power were nothing new as a gas turbine-engined Kurtis Kraft-based offering dubbed ‘SAC Fire Boid’ (yes, really…) was used for demonstration purposes as far back as 1955.  What’s more, it had the support of USAF General Curtis ‘Bombs Away’ LeMay (himself a sometime Allard racer,) as it was used as a rolling billboard to promote high-tech careers in the Strategic Air Command.  It was later employed by Firestone for testing purposes. Three years later, the Boeing Aircraft Company approached Frank Kurtis to design a racing car with a turbine engine at the rear, but plans came to naught after the Indy 500 organising body, USAC, were either uncooperative or merely lackadaisical in providing assistance, depending on whose version of history you believe. Boeing didn’t want to go to the trouble and expense if its promotional tool wouldn’t be allowed to race.  Then came the car pictured here. For 1962, the winning entrant from the 1955 and ’56 running of the Indy 500, John Zink, teamed up with Boeing for another stab. This time, a car was actually constructed; a rear-engined and turbine-powered device conjured by Zink’s chief mechanic, Denny Moore. As with all of Zink’s cars, it was dubbed ‘Trackburner’. In the run up to the 1963 Indy 500, the car was tested at Zink’s private 5/8-mile circuit, only to crash first time out. Following this inauspicious debut, this brave new world was rebuilt and transported to Indianapolis where it was to be driven in the race by Dan Gurney. Contrary to several press reports from the period, ‘Handsome Dan’ was no mere newbie. He may have lacked experience in the great race, but he had already claimed honours in Formula One. Nevertheless, the Californian was obliged to undergo a ‘rookie test’ in a front-engined Roadster and, having passed with flying colours, he set about qualifying the latest strain of Trackburner. The car proved painfully slow thanks in no small part to horrendous throttle lag, to the point that he jumped ship and raced Mickey Thompson’s controversial Buick V8-engined ‘funny car’ instead.   Veteran charger Duane Carter was then given the task of making the cut in the Trackburner, but the 49-year-old couldn’t find the necessary pace. He ended up driving a front-engined Roadster in the race.   A third driver, Bill Cheesbourg, then had a stab, but he too couldn’t get it up to speed. Zink then threw in the towel and parked the car. It was left to other turbine-equipped single-seaters to prove the concept in future years, even if none ever claimed honours in the Indy 500.
History

John Zink Trackburner

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Gas turbine racing cars? Yes, that really was a thing in the Sixties and briefly it looked as if it was the future, as Richard Heseltine uncovers the story of the Trackburner…

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Pietro Frua
History

1966 Frua S-type Coupe - Jaguar S-type based 2-door

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In 1966, the Italian coachbuilder Pietro Frua transformed an S-type chassis into a cool, stylish two-door coupe. Since his hopes of putting the car into production were unrealised, it remained a one-off. We’ve been to see it. Words & photography by Drive-My/Paul Walton.

Paul Walton
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1964-1967 NSU Wankel Spider
History

1964-1967 NSU Wankel Spider

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A brave toe in the water: the first ‘rotary’ car sold to the general public

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1963 Bandini 1000 GT
History

Bandini’s very last GT road car - 1963 Bandini 1000 GT

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Racing car constructor Ilario Bandini might have become A GT car maker with this elegant 1.0-litre coupe. Story by Chris Rees.

Chris Rees
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P38 Range Rover
History

25th Anniversary Range Rover P38

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Mike Gould casts a critical eye over the second-generation Range Rover’s history. The P38 Range Rover had big boots to fill, but with technology way ahead of its time and ‘stodgy’ styling, even its air suspension couldn’t soften the bumpy ride it had, as Mike Gould reveals.

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911 hero - Steve McQueen
History

911 hero - Steve McQueen

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You’ll be familiar with his films, but the “King of Cool” was also a discerning 911 owner. Written by Chris Randall. Photography courtesy Porsche Archive.

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