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    Malcolm
    Malcolm is now friends with Eric Richardson
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    Malcolm
    Malcolm is now friends with Andri
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    There was much office debate this month over the Wankel engine. Thanks to Mick Walsh enthusiastically researching his piece on the #Mazda #RX-500 , the rest of us discovered that we already knew a surprising amount about the ingenious rotary even before debating the two crucial questions: 1) why didn’t it take over the world; and 2) once it was clear it wouldn’t, why did (does) Mazda persevere? It had already watched the brilliant- in-theory unit kill off #NSU and then take #VW ’s #Audi NSU Auto Union wing to the brink. The first question - basically rotor-tip reliability and maintenance by people who didn’t understand it - was easier to answer than the second.

    Left: proud #Hoffman X-8 owner Myron Vernis on the #Pebble-Beach fairway where the car decided that it would not be driven by Elliott. Below: can anyone name another #X-8 equipped car, or something weirder?

    As ever, however, such a conversation soon turned into the usual mental Top Frumps between the Drive-MY team, this time the verbal trading cards being weirdest/most unlikely motor types and configurations used in road cars. Naturally, we ticked off jet-powered cars and propeller-driven fare pretty quickly, but when someone ‘stole’ the card I was planning to play - the should-have-been-but-never-was Doble-steam-powered #1953 #Paxton #Phoenix-it it reminded me of (I think) an even better one.

    The second car came to mind because, like the Paxton , it is owned by my good pal Myron Yernis. To understand the car, you need to understand the man. The superficially ‘normal’ Myron, mastermind of the Glenmoor Gathering in the US, is so obsessed with Porsche engines that he once bought a Stuttgart- powered ski-lift from Europe and shipped it to Akron, Ohio. He is a man so fascinated by the off-the-wall that he bought a Mazda Cosmo to be the run around at his Greek holiday home.
    Apart from perhaps the Lane Museum, therefore, it’s hard to imagine anywhere more appropriate for the wonderful Hoffman X-8 to wind up than with Myron. The what? The Hoffman X-8 - a futuristic, Deco-tinted utilitarian steel-monocoque saloon with independent suspension built by Detroit engineer Roscoe C ‘Rod' Hoffman in #1935 . As an aside, if I had a name like Roscoe, there’s no way I would want to be called anything else. Back to the car: it was given to Brooks Stevens and stayed in the designer’s museum even after his death and right up until #2010 , when it came to Myron.

    'Superficially "normal" Myron once bought a #Porsche ski-lift in Europe and shipped it to Ohio'

    It is a captivating little thing and, though slightly resembling a host of classics, for me it most looks like a Renault 4CV mated with a Stout Scarab. Best of all is its engine. Properly rear-mid-engined, it is a (sort-of) radial unit and I can’t think of another road car that went down this route. Perhaps with good reason. Ford certainly experimented with an air-cooled flat- head X-8, as did GM pre-war, and Honda is said to have investigated the possibilities for racing in the 1960s, but all clearly thought better of it. Hoffman, under commission (though no one is certain for whom) and having started filing patents for such a beast years earlier, pressed on with his water-cooled overhead-cam unit. You could argue that the single-cam X configuration of twinned V4s is not actually ‘radial' at all. For a start, it doesn’t have the odd number of cylinders that is de rigueur with four-stroke radials, but that’s enough science.

    Despite being 170cu in and supposedly good for 75bhp - when it works - the engine does not exactly drip power, being fed by a single twin- barrel carb and driving through a three-speed transaxle. But it sounds great, spitting through its pea-shooter exhausts like an amplified version of one of those miniaturised desktop model V8s.

    I know this because, thanks to Myron showing the Hoffman at Pebble Beach in #2012 , I have at least seen the car and heard it running. In fact, it created quite a stir and stopped Jay Leno and his XX crew in their tracks. Sadly, my planned drive and feature - most likely the first since Michael Lamm’s brilliant article for Special Interest Autos in #1974 - was thwarted when the clutch (which couldn’t be repositioned anywhere in the bay to get any hotter) gave out and we ended up gently pushing the car off the showfield.

    This was long after die red-trousered crowds had dispersed, of course, yet to see the Hoffman X-8 silently slipping away unnoticed despite all the furore it had caused earlier in the day struck me as probably the perfect epithet for the car’s place in motoring history.
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    Malcolm
    Fever for the Great Dorset Steam Fair started early this year with YouTube posts of a remarkable WW1-themed 72-ton convoy travelling slowly to the massive Blandford gathering.

    A special road-train of pre-1918 vehicles was brought together to promote the tribute. It included Foden steam lorries, Edwardian staff cars, motorcycles and two McLaren traction engines hauling a Pickfords trailer lugging the huge, sole-surviving #1914 American Holt gun tractor that steamed across from Bovington Tank Museum via Bere Regis to Tarrant Hinton for die opening of the 46th event. All the crews were in period uniforms. Special features included a recreated trench network, a stable with wartime-style wagons, a Sopwith Camel biplane loaned from the Shuttleworth collection and a sculpture by Johanna Domke-Guyot inspired by accounts of Flanders fields endded Silent Memories comprising five linked soldiers blinded by gas.

    Heavy rain had turned the sprawling, hilly site into a muddy nightmare for the organisers, but it didn’t deter the regulars who’d been planning their visits for months.

    Neil Gough was nominated to pull the trailer with his 1912 McLaren 12hp engine ‘Gigantic.’ “When we found out about the convoy, we pushed the rebuild through for the occasion,” said the 37 year old who runs the award-winning Sussex Steam Restorations in Washington. “It was an 18-month job that we finished in wartime paint. The convoy was great fun, but emotional at times. Crowds turned out all along the route, and you knew many must have lost relations during the war. We’ll keep it in the military paint in their honour.”

    As soon as the ground dried out on the display area, the McLaren was busy all weekend hauling a replica eight-ton Howitzer up and down the challenging gradient that is the centrepiece of the venue: “The xMcLaren is a rugged and powerful design, so it was built for this work.” Enthusiasts pulled out all die stops when they learnt of the theme, none more so than Thomas Brady from County Louth with his Napier truck. I had no idea that the London-based, Rolls-Royce rival built lorries and ambulances for the War Department for a brief period before switching to aero engines. It’s hard to associate the same works that created the 500bhp Lion ‘broad-arrow’ 12 with solid-tyred lorries, but the Irish aficionado confirmed quality was evident through everything that Napier produced.

    “We think that only two survive of the 362 built in 1915,” said Brady. “We come every year with steam engines, but this time we had to bring the Napier. It was unearthed on a farm in 1982 in a terrible state with a rotten chassis and a chestnut tree growing through the frame, but we had to save it. The bodywork was missing, but we rebuilt the cab with the help of historic photos and the memories of a local who played on it as a boy. It was only finished last Monday- after working all hours - and the first drive was in the mud here.”

    It’s always heartening to meet youngsters captivated by early transport, and the hobby will be in safe hands with keen lads such as 16-year-old George I lounslow, the youngest member of The Steam Car Club of Great Britain, w ho first drove his grandfather’s 1900 Oldsmobile around the show arena at Dorset back in 2008.

    Now he’s as handy as his dad when preparing their #1923 Stanley: “Steam has a special life to it, which makes it so enthralling. This will take 40 minutes to brew up, and there’s a lot of maintenance - nine hours’ spannering to an hour driving - but that’s part of die challenge. People worry about the boilers but they are rigorously tested every 14 months. Our Stanley has 700 tubes and 525lb pressure.” He’s now rebuilding a #1901 Locomobile; I love it that three generations of the I lounslow' family are steam addicts.

    Clockwise, from above: Brady's freshly finished Napier lorry; Gough's #McLaren storms around arena towing eight-ton replica Howitzer; young Hounslow with family's glorious Stanley steamer.

    It was found in a terrible state, its chassis rotten and with a chestnut tree growing through the frame.
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    Lyons dominates Zandvoort grids

    There was no stopping Michael Lyons at the Zandvoort Historic Grand Prix from 29-31 August #2014 . Not only did he take a brace of wins at the famous Dutch circuit in the Historic F1 encounters aboard the #Hesketh 308E, but he also led home an impressive field in the second Group C/GTP race in the Momo Gebhardt C91. In the first, Stefano Rosina had taken advantage of slick tyres on a drying track to claim victory, with the pole-sitting Gebhardt - that time with Frank Lyons at the wheel - stopping with an electrical problem.

    A full grid of 500cc racers put on two frenetic six-lap scraps, with 76-year-old Brian Jolliffe winning the second despite having to start at the back of the field. He was still in fourth place at the start of the final lap, but George Shackleton tangled with Darrell Woods - which accounted for the latter-andjolliffe then outbraked Gordon Russell and Shackleton into the chicane to gain the lead and take a popular win.

    David Methley was again on dominant form in Formula Junior, completing the double in his Brabham BT6, while Leo Voyazides and Simon Hadfield won in Historic Sports Cars with their #Lola T70, and did the same with their Ford Falcon in Pre-1966 Touring Cars. Other winners included Julian Bronson ( #Scarab ) and Jason Minshaw ( #Brabham BT4).
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    Malcolm
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    Malcolm
    Malcolm joined the group Le Mans forever
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    Egyptian lives on

    I thought you might be interested to know that the Egyptian you featured still exists and is on the DVLA database as BPA 315K and on SORN. The pictures of it (inset) are from Bonhams’ auction catalogue for the #XK s 60th celebration meeting at Goodwood in August #2008 , organised by the #Jaguar XK Club International.

    I was present at that auction and noted that bidding ran out at £12,000 and the car was unsold. Judging by the estimate, the reserve was probably £15,000. The car was in good condition and much as you see it in the photos. Indeed, the prices achieved for other lots that day seem ludicrously low; how the classic car market has changed!
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    Buckley's double

    How does he do it? Martin Buckley has struck straight to my heart and soul in two successive months. In the October issue he was lauding Armstrong Siddeleys, and even gave the little-heard-of Sapphire 234 a mention. I had one, of course - bought in #1975 when I was a student working at a classic car auction in Alexandra Palace.

    Marcel Massini and Tom Hartley receiving one of the many awards giver to 0704 TR at #Pebble-Beach .

    I had to phone the owner after the auction and tell him it hadn’t sold. Horrified, he said it had no reserve and he would have accepted £20 for it. Because I and my mate James had just been paid for our weekend’s work (£15 each), we agreed to go halves on it. The owner even covered the insurance - though, later on, getting cover for two medical students on a car with a 2.5-litre engine was trickier.

    The car was fabulous: a hideous aluminium body in mustard and brown with a powerful four-pot engine. It had a sports gearbox and clutch (we never found out what that meant) and a couple of other period features, too. I particularly liked the UV backlighting of the instruments that made them glow in a ghostly fashion at night.

    Until I got into Porsches a few years later, that AS was the fastest thing I was to own, although excursions at speed were a little alarming given that the bonnet catch was broken so the panel would lift onto its safety catch. We never managed to go very far because the cooling system was furred up and we never worked out how to clean it.

    We got to Aldeburgh, where it was stuck for almost a year as a result of boiling over, then to Oxford where it once again stalled at my long-suffering mother’s house, until she advertised - and sold - it for £60. I believe it is in Ulster now. That motor was responsible for getting me into classic cars, so I have a lot to be grateful to (or irritated by) it for.

    Then in September Mr Buckley mentioned one of my favourite truly awful films: Crossplot, surely one that Roger Moore would rather forget. It does, though, have a lot of classic car action - not just the #Alfa-Duetto he drives at the beginning, but a classic car parade and a helicopter-versus-veteran-car chase. Best of all, it features the houseboat my daughter lived on until last year, and - surely of interest to many classic lovers - a WW2 Yosper motor torpedo boat.
    • Authentic number. I was shocked to see the incorrect chassis number listed for Tom Hartley Jnr’s Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa. It is not 0666 TR; that car Authentic number. I was shocked to see the incorrect chassis number listed for Tom Hartley Jnr’s Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa. It is not 0666 TR; that car wasn’t even at Pebble Beach this year. The car’s correct chassis number is 0704 TR.

      The car is the only Testa Rossa in the world not to have been restored, and so is the most authentic in existence. As such, it received four awards at Pebble Beach. It placed third in class, but also won the FIVA Award for the best unrestored and preserved post-war car, the Road & Track Trophy and the Revs Program at Stanford University Award for the most historically significant car on the showfield.

      I had the pleasure of co-driving the car with Hartley over the ramp to collect the silverware.
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    Malcolm
    Malcolm joined the group Questions and Rare Cars
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