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    If you’re a frequent reader of this magazine then you know of my love for the #Rolls-Royce-Merlin-engine . As a young man, I was fascinated by the people who could take this nation-saving beast and put it in a car. And over 30 years ago, I read about a man named Paul Jameson who had done just that.

    I acquired his phone number through a friend and called him up. He said the engine was in very good shape and had come out of a 1944 De Havilland Mosquito that hadn’t seen much service. It was mounted in a 1932 Rolls-Royce Phantom II chassis, the two-stage supercharger was no longer on it and it was now running on a Holley four-barrel carburettor, the transmission was an early-’50s four-speed Moss gearbox from a #Jaguar XK120 / #1951-Jaguar-XK120-Hot Rod / #Jaguar / #1951

    ‘IT SOUNDED LIKE BROKEN GLASS DEING CRUSHED. I HAD BROKEN OFF ALL THE TEETH ON SECOND GEAR’

    He tried to put me off the car. It only got about three miles to the gallon, the body was really just a wooden box, and the gearbox couldn’t take the power and usually blew apart whenever you got ‘on it’.
    But, of course, I had to have it.

    Once I got the hybrid Rolls-Royce to LA, I realised I had a project on my hands, one which took me 30 years to get right.

    I remember the first time I gave it a bit of stick in second gear, at about 2400rpm. I heard what sounded like broken glass being crushed, and I realised I had broken off all the teeth on second gear. We took it back to the shop, pulled the gearbox and saw that’s exactly what happened.

    I looked around for another Moss ’box, which were still pretty cheap back then, but of course the same thing happened again. And there were other problems. I could hear what I thought was detonation on one of the cylinders, which turned out to be a loose valve seat, and it was not the only one.

    We had to go back to the beginning and do this project right. We had the wheels re-spoked with spokes twice as thick and strong, the entire engine was rebuilt by Jack Roush, who was quite famous for racing these engines in speedboats as well as aeroplanes.

    The strongest gearbox we could find was a #Dodge truck #NV5600 six-speed. I didn’t want an automatic; I wanted something that could take the power and still have a proper stick and clutch. Although a 1932 Rolls- Royce rear axle is a robust unit, we didn’t think it could take the 1000bhp-plus of that engine. So we replaced it with a Dana 60 with a limited-slip differential.

    We had a brand-new radiator built and put it in the Rolls-Royce shell, and augmented the mechanical water pump with electric ones. Because the V12 needs 24 volts, and the car electrics are 12 volts, we have a split electrical system. We also have two fuel cells, each holding over 30 gallons of gas with an electric switch to go from one tank to the other, then there’s the pre-oiler. You press and hold a button on the dash for about a minute, to flood the engine with 1001b of oil pressure.

    Finally, the magnetos were completely rebuilt. To start this beast you also have a hand magneto, which sends a shower of sparks to all the cylinders.

    One thing I’m especially proud of is that this is, I believe, the only 27-litre Merlin running on 48 IDA Weber carburettors. Using our 3D printer we designed and made our own intake manifold. We also designed a two-seater roadster body which looks period-correct. To most people it just looks like an oversized Piccadilly Roadster, a US-made Phantom body of the time. I love opening the bonnet and watching people gasp when they see those vast valve covers with Rolls-Royce cast into them.

    The really fun part is the firing- up process. First you flip up the two battery disconnects, then the main dash power switch, then the pre-oiler, then fuel, left mag, right mag and starting mag. All are aircraft switches. Using the handle on the dashboard you spin the starting mag as fast as you can, you hit the start button, and as soon as the engine fires you kill the starting mag.

    The torque of this motor is simply amazing. You can actually pull away in any gear if you so choose. On the open road you feel like a Spitfire pilot taxi-ing down the runway, the combination of power, history and the sheer bravery of the men and women who fought and died for all this come rushing right back.

    Under the right-hand valve cover I placed a silver plaque with the name of my friend’s father who went to England and married a British girl. Two weeks after my friend was born, his father died on the beaches of Normandy during the D-Day invasion.
    Long live the Merlin.

    He is also a true petrolhead, with a huge collection of cars and bikes (www. jaylenosgarage.com). Jay was speaking with Jeremy Hart.
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    / #1993-Jaguar-XJ220 / It’s hard for me to believe I’ve owned my #McLaren-F1 for over 20 years. What’s even harder to believe is that I almost didn’t buy it. #1993 / #Jaguar

    There had been a number of other supercars on the market that turned out to be disappointing. There was the #Jaguar-XJ220 , meant to have a V12 engine but later changed to a twin-turbo V6. There was also the Vector, an American supercar using a large #twin-turbo V8 and also not quite what was promised. So when the F1 finally came out, with the price tag more than double that of some other supercars, a lot of people thought, well, how good could it be? I was one of those sceptical people. Back in 1992, $810,000 for a car seemed crazy.

    You could get a Rolls-Royce, a Ferrari and a Lamborghini for that much money. #McLaren hoped to sell 300 cars but that scepticism, plus a worldwide recession, forced them to shut down after just 64 road cars, 28 race cars and a handful of prototypes. Just 106 cars in total. Another reason I didn’t pursue the F1 was because, at the time, it couldn’t be sold in America. The driving position was not legal, it hadn’t been Federalised and it didn’t pass California smog tests.

    In a classic case of not knowing what you’ve got till it’s gone, stories started appearing about the greatest car that nobody bought. Then a white knight appeared in the form of billionaire Bill Gates. After having trouble registering his Porsche 959, he helped introduce a law called Show And Display. What this law said was, any vehicle no longer in production, and considered to be of historical or technical interest, could be privately imported and driven in America no more than 2500 miles a year. That’s when I started looking. I called McLaren and spoke to a gentleman called Harold Dermott. ‘Any F1s for sale?’ I asked.

    He said: ‘Yes, we have a very nice one here; black with black interior, and it’s $800,000.’

    ‘But that’s what it is new! It’s a second-hand car!’ ‘Well, there aren’t any new ones,’ Harold said. ‘And we think they’ll hold their value.’

    I knew the car had been at McLaren about a month, with no takers. So I said to Harold, ‘Look, I’ll call you back in two weeks,’ secretly hoping the car would be sold by then and I would be stopped from making the biggest financial mistake of my life. Which was buying a car I’d never seen, let alone driven, in a foreign country with no guarantee I could bring it into the US. After two weeks I called Harold back. He said they still had it, although they’d had an enquiry that day.

    Sensing that this was the oldest car-salesman trick in the book, I quickly fell for it. ‘I’ll take it,’ I said. I then naively asked Harold if the car had air-conditioning. ‘It does’, Harold replied, before adding in that classic understated English way, ‘but if you want the good airconditioning, it’s $25,000 extra.’

    I don’t need to tell you that it was the most brilliant financial decision I ever made. When I purchased the F1 it seemed like the most complicated thing in the world. Imagine a car you hooked up to a computer, and a guy in England could look at a screen and tell you what’s wrong! Now, compared with modern supercars it seems almost simple, and in some ways it is. It even has a tool kit.

    On my website, Jay Leno’s Garage, you might have seen us removing the engine from the F1 to replace the fuel cell. We did it in 2013 and we did it again a week ago. It made me fall in love with the car all over again.

    Fixing even the simplest things on the F1, like replacing the battery, makes you feel like the mouse who took the thorn out of the lion’s paw. Is working on an F1 intimidating? Of course it is. But when you see it laid out on the garage floor, you realise it’s still a car and should be used as such.

    There may be modern supercars that are faster, but none is more seductive and intoxicating. The induction noise, the manual gearbox, the lack of driver aids such as #ABS and stability control, really make it the ultimate driving experience. I’m proud of the 12,000 miles I’ve put on my F1, and I like to think I’ll put a lot more than that on it in the next 20 years. Investment be damned! The downside is they’ve become incredibly valuable and a lot of people are afraid to drive them. The upside is they’re so valuable they can almost never be totalled. If the only piece you have left after a horrible accident is the chassis plate, just take it to Woking and they’ll repair it. And, just like your Mustang or your MG, it even seems to run better right after you wash it.

    ‘I ASKED IF THE F1 HAD AIR-CON. “IT DOES,” HAROLD REPLIED, “BUT THE GOOD AIR-CON IS $25,000 EXTRA”’
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    Jay Leno
    Jay Leno joined the group Jaguar XJ220
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    votren911
    votren911 is now friends with Jay Leno
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    Jay Leno
    First let me start by saying that I like electric cars, but mainly purpose-built ones. I own a #Tesla-Model-S-P90D / ( #Tesla / the dual-engine #Tesla-Model-S model), a #1909-Baker-Electric and a #1914-Detroit-Electric . My wife has an #electric-Fiat-500 .

    What I have never been a fan of is taking perfectly good gas-engine cars and turning them into electrics, because they never quite deliver on the promise. Electricity is like sex: people seem to have a compulsion to lie about it. Every electric bicycle or motorcycle I have ever ridden promised 80 to 100 miles on a charge, but if you rode them the way you ride a normal motorcycle, you never got more than about 30 miles before you were limping home.

    Most amateur and semi-professional conversions from gas to electric tend to come up short. The cars are usually heavier, which means handling and braking are adversely affected. Luggage space is lost and, of course, range is diminished. None of this really bothered me because most of the cars being converted were cars I wasn’t particularly interested in.

    Something I thought I would never accept was converting classics to electric. Like most car enthusiasts, at least here in the States, the only part of the Royal Wedding I found interesting was the electric E-type. I’m not sure how I felt about it. A priceless classic ruined? Or had it been made better than it was?

    To answer this question I consulted a man named Michael Bream. He owns a shop called EV West near San Diego, California, and has done some fascinating conversions such as electrifying Porsche 911s. Now, before you head down there with pitchforks, hear me out. As Michael explained, 911s are expensive but not rare. They built well over a million of them and his conversions are such that you can always go back to stock. He never cuts anything structural.

    The classic I found most fascinating was his electric Fiat 124 Spider. The unusual part was that he had kept the original gearbox. I had always been told that there was no advantage in having a gearbox on an electric motor. Most electric motors make full torque from zero, so a gearbox just adds weight and complexity. Years ago I drove one of Elon Musk’s early prototype roadsters, the one with a two-speed gearbox. The electric motor was so powerful that the gearbox broke. So a single-speed was deemed sufficient, although the top speed was somewhat limited.

    The advantage of having a gearbox, though, is driver involvement. Although I could pull away in just about any gear with the converted 124 Spider, using the gearbox made me feel more like I was part of the car. The electric motor was way more powerful than the original four-cylinder internal combustion engine, and the only thing missing was the exhaust note. I think transmissions will be the next big thing for electric vehicles. Just the fact that they use them in Formula E racing, when they’re not required to, proves something.

    I was fortunate enough to get a ride in the beautiful #new-Tesla-Roadster designed by Franz von Holzhausen, which goes from 0 to 60mph in well under two seconds, turns the quarter-mile in the high-eights and has a claimed top speed of over 250mph, while giving you over 600 miles between charges.

    I couldn’t tell if it had a transmission or not, and everybody was pretty hush-hush about the technical aspects of the car. What I can tell you is that it was the fastest-accelerating street vehicle I have ever been in. No need for launch control. Just hit the pedal and it was gone.

    It was about the same size as a 911, which I consider the perfect size for a sports car. The other fascinating aspect was the aerodynamics. Since there is no traditional transmission, the undercarriage could become a giant diffuser. Imagine: no headers or long exhaust pipes running the length of the car to break up the airflow. Combine all those elements with a power plant that requires absolutely no maintenance of any kind, and is good for over a million miles, and you have an unbeatable combination. The genius of Tesla is the battery technology. They develop it, build it, own it.

    Back to Michael Bream. After seeing his converted Porsches, Volkswagens, Fiats and even a BMW that ran at Pike’s Peak, I was sold. I’d been prejudiced against converted electric cars purely because I’d never seen any done this well. These conversions were faster, handled as well and, with their original gearboxes, were just as much fun to drive as the originals. But as for the #electric-Jaguar-E-type … that’ll take some time.
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    Jay Leno
    Jay Leno joined the group Tesla
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    Jay Leno


    To be a car enthusiast in Japan takes a lot more effort than in America or the UK. First of all there are hardly any parking spaces. You have to prove you have a space before you can buy a car and most of the guys wind up doing their work outside on the street because r the most privileged or wealthy.

    / #Lexus-LFA-Spider / #Lexus-LFA / #Lexus /

    In America (USA), if your car is more than 30 years old you can register it for next to nothing. In Japan, the older your car is, the more you have to pay to keep it. You show up at the shop for the equivalent of an MoT with a car from the ’70s and they go over it with a fine-tooth comb, and it takes hours and hours. All for a car you might drive only a couple of thousand miles a year.

    So when you run into these enthusiasts in Japan, they are hardcore kind of guys. There are a lot of enthusiasts who don’t even have driving licences but they drive on Nintendo and PlayStation. They know all the tracks, they know all the cars, but they just don’t have any hands-on experience with them.

    There’s a snobbery about Western car enthusiasts, that we have the heritage, we own the heritage. But Japanese cars have been around long enough to have a heritage of their own.


    In America, when we make a mistake we come back and blame the other guy. When the Japanese make a mistake they blame themselves, they throw themselves on their swords and they come back harder and faster with something better.

    The Honda NSX is the car that made Ferrari better. Ferrari was quite content to put out 220bhp cars in the early ’70s and ’80s that were really not up to Ferrari’s standards. Then the NSX came along and just embarrassed everybody and made everybody up their game. The NSX was the car that Gordon Murray felt the F1 should emulate, but the trouble was that at the time the Japanese had a gentleman’s agreement not to produce any car with more than 276 horsepower. We did not appreciate the finesse of the NSX; the jewel-like quality of the build, the handling, the fact that Senna himself played an active role in its design. We thought it was OK, but without ever driving it and (for most people) without ever seeing it, we dismissed it as some sort of Japanese wannabe. Which of course it wasn’t.
    I drove the Lexus LFA Spider while in Japan, which is very cool. The LFA is proof that the Japanese believe a car should be able to perform every purpose well. Westerners like flaws. You get some of these Japanese supercars and they don’t break. They’re bulletproof and they don’t require a lot of effort from you as an owner, so consequently there’s nothing for you to brag about. You can’t say, well they originally weren’t able to do this, but I modified it. That adds a certain cachet. The LFA does everything really well. I would say that the Mazda MX-5 is the most globally successful British car that the Japanese sort of reinvented and did correctly. The British were there first with the Lotus Elan and the MGB; if only they had put a little bit more effort into it and ploughed money back into development instead of whatever they did – when I was a kid they were everywhere and everybody had problems with them. The diehards worked the problems out and the regular people just said ‘Forget it’. I remember a quote from a British motorcycle company executive saying the average motorcycle enthusiast enjoyed decoking his head on a Saturday morning. No doubt some did…

    When the MX-5 came along it was a hard sell. It was a secretary’s car and a hairdresser’s car. And then people drove it and discovered that it was as good as the Lotus or the MG – maybe better. I had one and the battery lasted 13 years. It handled, it was fun to drive, and I would say to myself when I drove it that this was really kind of a perfect car.
    I also drove the current GT-R in Tokyo. You buy a car like that and by rights it should cost a million dollars. Technically it does things that are just unbelievable.

    I’m always suspicious of these tuners who claim to double the horsepower of your GT-R. Well, no, you can’t. The guys who built these things are real engineers. I’ve been in the clean room where they make these GT-Rs and the level of detail is amazing. They wear gloves and hairnets. And yet you’re supposed to let some guy in some filthy garage in LA take your engine apart in order to try to get more horsepower? I don’t think so.

    It was an amazing trip to Japan. Check out some of the films we shot on my website and drive-my.com.

    ‘MANY JAPANESE ENTHUSIASTS DON’T HAVE DRIVING LICENCES BUT THEY KNOW ALL THE TRACKS AND ALL THE CARS’
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    When Bullitt came out with Steve McQueen I wanted to know everything about the Ford Mustang. The same with #Knight-Rider – I remember tuning in just to see the car. These days most people don’t notice the cars the stars are driving, but they seem to know the ones in the video games, like Gran Turismo 6, which just came out.

    / #Steve-McQueen / #Bullitt / #1968-Bullit / #Gran-Turismo-6 / #1966-Oldsmobile-Toronado / #Ford-Mustang / #Oldsmobile-Toronado / #Mark-Donohue

    The idea that concept cars make their first appearance in video games makes a lot of sense. A movie opens and it makes $50 million and is a huge success. A video game launches and makes 700, 800, 900 million dollars on the first day because people want to see those vehicles.

    In the movie you tend to think of your self as James Bond or Steve-McQueen , whereas in the video game there is no human element, it’s just the car. So you are the driver, as opposed to that person, and you can make it do whatever you want it to. And the video games are way more accurate than the movies. There’s a whole cottage industry of picking out all the little mistakes in various car films. The only thing missing from games now is the gasoline and rubber smell. When you watch a game like Gran Turismo 6, they’ve gone to great trouble to recreate the sounds exactly. A friend of mine got one of the driving games and it has Mark Donohue’s Camaro in it. And he couldn’t last past a certain time, he just couldn’t get any better. Then he read Mark Donohue’s book about how he set up his Camaro and his tyre pressures and things, and he put all the stats from the book into the video game. He was lapping faster. So you actually are driving the car.

    When I got to drive a Jaguar at the Nürburgring, I practised on the video game. Braking points, the Karussell, all of it was exactly as it was in real life. Not that I had it memorised, but it meant that the track was not foreign to me when I got there.

    The amazing thing to me is the amount of time people dedicate to it. If you’r e going to sit down and play a game it’s the same as watching a two-hour movie. You sit down and pick your team, your tyres, and your car. It’s hours of information and input. You’re racing against some guy in Thailand and he’s racing against some guy in Finland. It’s a huge commitment.

    My #1966 #Oldsmobile Toronado is in Gran Turismo 6. They did a great job with the Toronado. The attention to detail is amazing because you just take for granted that when a car goes by you see a shadow. You don’t realize how many hours went in to making that shadow. When they did the car, they came to my garage with a secret camera and they put the car in the middle of the floor with a big tent over it. It was some kind of 3D camera but I don’t know what it does because I wasn’t allowed to see it. It is not just the look but the feel they have replicated well. The heaviness of the big sedan is matched in the game just great.

    I had the #Mercedes-Benz Gran Turismo concept car in my garage recently. It’s stunning. The front of that car looks like an SLR from the ’50s. The pure design of it I thought was really really good. I thought it was a clean design, it looked masculine, and it looked Mercedes-Benz. It looked futuristic yet it looked like it could also be a real car.

    People ask why Mercedes would go to all that trouble for a video game. When you say it like that it sounds disdainful, but when you use the words they used, ‘Gaming Console’, it suddenly sounds more important. It is a gaming console that is played by millions of people. It’s why games, not movies, are seen as the future.

    If a car is in a movie it might only be in the shot for a second. There was some hype about Lexus in that movie with Tom Cruise, but he got in the car and drove away in a second or two, before you even realised what he was driving. In a video game you know your car is going to be seen by exactly the people you’re trying to reach – young men, aged 12 and up. Guys who will soon be getting their licence. And what car are they going to want to drive? The car they lusted after in the video game. It’s very clever marketing. In the future I think you will see people going to dealerships and taking virtual test drives in a simulator. An actual seat from the car and the dashboard in front of you and you’ll ‘drive’ this ‘car’ instead of taking it out on a real test drive. You’ll go on a virtual test drive to see if you like it. I think that will happen. We will see cars reach reality, having started on video games. We already have. Every major car company will do this.

    ‘WHEN I GOT TO DRIVE AT THE NÜRBURGRING, I PRACTISED ON THE VIDEO GAME SO THE TRACK WAS NOT FOREIGN TO ME’
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