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  •   Shelby Glenn reacted to this post about 3 years ago
    Car #Fiat-130-Coupe
    Run by Martin Buckley
    Owned since April 2009
    Total mileage 32,619km
    Miles since July 2014
    report speedo not working
    Latest costs $250

    Before I embark on getting the body and paint sorted on the Fiat 130 Coupé, my first priority is to get it driving properly and make sure that everything is working as it should. That way, once the car is finally looking smart and shiny, I hopefully shouldn’t find myself having to pull it apart again.

    A real cause of frustration has been the lack of a functioning speedometer since the car received its new four-speed ZF gearbox. I understood that some kind of electronic alternative would have to be devised (probably taking its readings from the propshaft) but what I didn’t want was an ugly digital readout in place of the original analogue Veglia unit.

    On hearing of my dilemma, Borgward enthusiast John Wallis kindly donated a box of tricks called Cable X, sold by a company called Abbott Enterprises in Arizona. It’s basically an electronic ‘dip switch’ that you can configure to the particular tyre size and final-drive ratio of your car, and takes its readings from a magnetic sensor that runs off impulses from the propshaft. Perfect! The only trouble was, I needed the $250 magnetic sensor for the thing to work.

    I ordered one online from Abbotts and then forgot all about it until just before Christmas, at which point I realised it had been a long time coming. It turned out that it was in the country, but nobody could tell me where. Despite my short temper, Abbotts was very helpful and sent me another by FedEx rather than US Postal Service, the unit arriving just a few days later. Sorry if I was a bit rude guys. Jon Wills of Cotswold Classic Car Restorations has promised me that he will fit the new set-up any day now.

    Scanning the adverts at the end of January, I spotted a #Fiat-130 saloon for sale up north. Thinking it might have been my original blue one – the car in which I collected my newborn son Sean from hospital in May 1996 – I gave the owners a call. It had sold instantly and, on closer inspection, was not my old car anyway. Feeling thwarted, I looked around for another and found something even more interesting on a well-known classic car website in the form of a silver 1971 130 saloon with the 2.8 engine. An early version never officially imported into the UK, it features the smaller V6 and a totally different dashboard plus several other details that I could – but won’t – bore you with.

    The car looked very sound but had clearly not been used for some time. It wasn’t running, but the engine would at least turn over (130 V6s seem to seize up for a pastime) and the grey cloth interior just needed a good clean.

    I have always had a perverse hankering for one of these early 130s and justified the purchase on the shaky grounds that it was sufficiently different to my Coupé to make ownership of both a near necessity. Plus, I’d been plotting a trip to Italy to find a 130 saloon but, because this one was sitting in Kent, I would be saving myself the bother. I bought it unseen on the strength of a set of pictures (the owner turned out, perhaps predictably, to be Andy Heywood of Bill McGrath Maserati fame, who is currently pruning his collection), and have been pleasantly surprised by the overall soundness of the car.

    Apart from various patches of surface rust on odd panels there’s no real rot and, like my Coupé, the underside is perfect. It has electric windows all round, air-conditioning, and the early dash with the ribbon speedometer. Being a later 2.8, it has the 160bhp engine rather than the 140bhp unit so it should go quite well. The plan is to have it running in the next few days and, if possible, get an MoT and run it ‘as is’ before turning to the bodywork.

    Scruffy but solid: both cars need cosmetic work but it will have to wait until other jobs are done.
    Ever-expanding Buckley fleet now includes an early #Fiat 130 saloon as well as the Coupé.
    Electronic speedo wired up to Fiat’s dash.
    Black magic: Cable X should sort speedo.
    ‘The saloon is sufficiently different to the Coupé to make the ownership of both a near necessity for me’
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  •   David Lillywhite reacted to this post about 3 years ago

    Historical reinterpretation Ferrari Berlinetta Lusso

    In the finest tradition of Italian coachbuilding, Touring Superleggera has unveiled a stunning rebodied version of Ferrari’s mighty F12 supercar. Dale Drinnon drives it. Photography Martyn Goddard.

    Funny thing about secrets: after you know them, they seem obvious, and it's hard to understand why the people so mesmerised as we motor sublimely past can't identify what it is they're coveting. Surely the classic eggcrate grille, the signature character lines highlighting the graceful flanks, and that feral V12 yowl could mean only one thing: Italy's most illustrious manufacturer and the design house that shaped its first real series-made automobile are back together. Unofficially, at least, and in limited numbers for the lucky few.

    The manufacturer, of course, is Ferrari, the design house is #Carrozzeria-Touring , coachbuilder for the seminal #Tipo-166MM of #1948 , and the car we're driving is called the #Berlinetta-Lusso , produced by Touring on the awe-inspiring #Ferrari-F12 platform. And the reason for the hush-hush is that we're hustling this as-of-yet one-of-a-kind objet d'art round the public roads of Northern Italy, bold as thunder and twice as loud, more than a week before its world debut at the Geneva international motor show. Life just doesn't get no more Old School Italian than this.

    Then again, the whole project is pretty Old School Italian. Carrozzeria Touring, now formally called #Carrozzeria #Touring #Superleggera , was among the pioneers of what we now consider quintessential Italian automotive style. Founded in 1926, it set trends throughout the era when owners of taste and distinction had their machinery custom-tailored as readily as their clothing. Touring had the inside line on competition bodywork, thanks to its trademark Superleggera, or 'super-light' construction, which is why #Enzo-Ferrari , familiar with its work from his #Alfa-Romeo experience, turned that way for the heavily race-oriented #166MM .

    Touring had some spectacularly hard times in the post-1950s, going inactive for decades (though not quite bankrupt, thanks to the heroic efforts of long-time CEO and co-founder's son, Carlo Anderloni), but since its acquisition in 2006 by Dutch concern Zeta Europe BV, also owners of Borrani, it has successfully reapplied the early company principles. They concentrate on one-off and short production runs of singular designs for a discerning clientele, manufacturer's concept studies, niche production of contract specialist jobs: the full repertoire of the typical small- manufacturer business model. Dedicated Italian car enthusiasts will doubtless be familiar with its critically acclaimed #Alfa-8C -based Disco Volante.

    'From any angle the final shape is cleaner than the original car’s, and extremely well balanced’

    It was indeed such handiwork that enticed an anonymous but prominent Ferrari collector to approach Touring Superleggera for a private commission: translating the intensely high-performance and aggressively styled F12 supercar into a more elegant, more Lusso idiom. In addition, he wanted it configured in the three-box architecture now rare among performance coupes, with visually separate volumes for motor, interior and boot. It would be, in essence, an updated version of the great front-engined Ferrari uber-GTs of old, such as the exclusive and potent 500 Superfast.

    That collector must have been slightly puzzled, however, when Louis de Fabribeckers, Touring's head of design, seemed already way ahead of him. 'I was dreaming about this car for years and years and years,' he says, 'since I first started designing cars, certainly; a three- volume car, simple, very classic, with the long bonnet and small greenhouse. It's one of my favourite themes of all time, so it was very natural, very satisfying, to finally build it.'

    Louis also says the F12 was eminently adaptable to this composition although, as per his usual practice, extensive time and effort went into reaching optimum proportions before any other elements were even seriously considered ('If you start with the wrong proportions, nothing else you do can ever make up for them'). The roofline curvature in particular required significant attention, and from every direction, to reach exactly the effect he wanted, due to the conversion from two- box to three-box profile. Integrating the rear overhang was, not surprisingly, another delicate issue when adding a boot volume, while also critically 'finishing' the car's lines, instead of merely ending them.

    Viewed from any angle, the final shape is noticeably cleaner than the original car's, and extremely well balanced. The surface treatments and detailing (what Louis calls the styling, as opposed to the design) are simpler, too. There is little in the way of added excitement or extraneous flourishes, and both the nose and tail are underplayed compared with the fashion of racer-rep grittiness.

    The grille, narrower and taller than the F12's squat, wall-to-wall rendition, also gently evokes that feature of the 166MM, as does the creased swage line sweeping back along the waist. It's a Carlo Anderloni touch that has recurred on several Touring designs, from the 166 through the #Lamborghini-350GT to the #BMW Mini Vision concept car produced last year. Overall, de Fabribeckers displays a lightness of hand suited to the objective of creating a latter-day Italian luxury express.

    Primary body panels are executed in aluminium formed manually over styling bucks in the traditional manner, which is really the only way to achieve that lovely, long body crease and still have doors that open without shut lines bigger than a politician's expense account. Such non-structural panels as bonnet, skirts and splitters are carbonfibre, and the alloy door handles, exhaust tips and forged wheels are bespoke. Touring poetically refers to this blue metallic paint as Azzurro Nioulargue, alluding to the shifting shades of the Mediterranean, and it genuinely does amazing things in changing light.

    Interior mods seem minor beside the body revamp; the dash is basically the F12's but look closer and you spot instances where carbonfibre has been replaced with brushed aluminium or leather, and discreet niceties such as the colour-coded air con vents, and the Berlinetta Lusso badge below the main triplevent grouping that turns them into a cockpit focal point. Seat facings in cream leather and a matching slash across the door panels and parcel shelf lighten and enrich the atmosphere.

    With multi-way power adjustment for driver's seat and steering column, it's almost impossible not to find a driving position that fits, and the interior is comfortable and surprisingly roomy, reportedly a Ferrari priority with the F12. The new roofline still leaves adequate headroom, assuming you replicate the passably average dimensions of this correspondent. Personal opinions on paddle shifting, automatic parking brakes and similar modernisms put aside, they're exactly the same here as in the F12, and admittedly just as flawless in operation.

    Road performance is also exactly the same, as the mechanical package remains just as #Ferrari made it. Which is to say the whopping normally aspirated V12 will leave you breathless, and that's no half-arsed figure of speech: after the first couple of solid blasts through the gears you'll realise you've actually forgotten to suck any air, and your face has gone all tingly. Although that last symptom might be strictly down to g-forces. Touring also says it tests religiously to ensure the chassis dynamics don't suffer from possible weight re-distribution, and real world driving substantiates that.

    When it comes to pure, raw speed numbers, however, it's hardly worth speculating beyond official factory specs; each #Berlinetta-Lusso could differ in weight, since each will be built to the customer's wishes - and Touring will accommodate a wide variety of those. Flexibility being a company credo, some detailing changes are even in discussion before our subject car goes to Geneva. Consequently, Touring won't quote prices, but it's safe to assume the 5000 hours of various labours required for every unit won't be cheap, and that's on top of the roughly quarter-million pounds' worth of Ferrari stripped down to begin the process.

    Touring Superleggera's agreement with the commissioning client for series production extends at this point to a mere five examples, and completion time is projected as six months from delivery of the donor Ferrari to its workshops in Milan. The car is EU type-approved, and Touring won't rule out having a go at different regs in other parts of the world, such as North America. Small companies can often be extremely flexible.

    From a solely rationalist, functionalist perspective, there will be many who don't understand the Berlinetta Lusso, granted, and anyone who judges a car by its merits as a mechanical device alone must find this a bewildering exercise. But if you appreciate some extra style, grace and sophistication, and oceans of artistry with your high velocity, you'll twig its special place in the automotive cosmos straight away. After all, there were those who preferred the 500 Superfast, and those who preferred the #Ferrari-250GTO . There are also those who think the perfect compromise would be one of each. Individuals of taste and distinction should have more than one suit in their wardrobe, shouldn't they?

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION on the Berlinetta Lusso visit www. touringsuperleggera. eu

    Car #2015 #Carrozzeria-Touring-Superleggera-Berlinetta-Lusso

    ENGINE 6262CC V12, DOHC, 48-valve, direct fuel injection
    POWER 730bhp @ 8250rpm
    TRANSMISSION Seven-speed dual-clutch sequential transaxle, rear-wheel drive, limited-slip differential
    STEERING Power-assisted rack-and-pinion
    Front: double wishbones, coilsprings, adaptive dampers, anti-roll bar.
    Rear: multi-link, coilsprings, adaptive dampers, anti-roll bar.
    BRAKES Carbon-ceramic discs, #ABS
    PERFORMANCE Top speed 211mph. 0-62mph 3.1sec
    • Touring Superleggera Berlinetta Lusso

      This year’s Geneva Motorshow must have set a new record in terms of sports-, super-, and hyper-car unveilingsTouring Superleggera Berlinetta Lusso

      This year’s Geneva Motorshow must have set a new record in terms of sports-, super-, and hyper-car unveilings of any motorshow to date, with nearly every brand wanting to take advantage of the surplus disposable cash, floating around globally and itching to be spent. #Carrozzeria-Touring – founded in #1926 in Milan and inventor of the ‘Superleggera’ coachbuilding technique was no exception, and the small Italian coachbuilder arguably presented the most beautiful highlight of the show.

      To brand Carrozzeria Touring’s ‘Touring Superleggera Berlinetta Lusso’ a ‘Ferrari’ would arguably precede great legal implications – primarily for the manufacturing coachbuilder – yet the origins of the Ferrari F12 berlinetta as a basis of this transformation can neither be hidden nor denied, even if all prancing horses were removed prior to its official debut.

      Let’s make this very clear: the Touring (Ferrari) Superleggera Berlinetta Lusso is one beautiful, if not divine, automobile. It is ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ of Louis de Fabribeckers’ design team following the successful Alfa Romeo Disco Volante. One can only but shake one’s head why Maranello has not granted this fiveoff hyper niche product its official seal of approval; certainly more ‘questionable’ beauties have rolled-out Ferrari’s own SP department in recent years.

      The (Ferrari) Berlinetta Lusso is based on Ferrari’s class-slaughtering #F12 #berlinetta and despite 5000 man-hours of craftsmanship and six months of ageing, none of the donor’s benchmark performance figures are compromised in the process. The very subtle modifications include a bonnet, boot-lid and apron in hand-beaten aluminium using the same traditional coachbuilding techniques as once applied pre-1966 by the original Carrozzeria Touring founders Carlo Felice Bianchi Anderloni and Gaetano Ponzoni.

      Design wise one cannot resist appreciating the old-school design approach, trading Italian Upper-Class feel for the ‘Playstation Design’ of its ‘mass –produced’ siblings leaving Maranello’s official factory gates. Could the (Ferrari) Berlinetta Lusso be criticised for being one panel-beat to stale and boring? Possibly, but then again, it only needs five conservative Ultra High Net Worth Individual (UHNWI) collectors, all dreaming of still living in 1950s Dolce Vita, to sellout production; and that must seem realistic, even for the most pessimistic of investors.

      Carrozzeria Touring have done a fantastic job. Would I rather own a Touring ( #Ferrari ) Superleggera Berlinetta Lusso than a #Ferrari-F60 America? Possibly. One thing I am certain of is that every single one of the five very lucky owners will – even before removing the protection film or fuelling – add the badges that Carrozzeria Touring so cavalierly removed, back on where they truly belong.
        More ...
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  •   Gary Southee reacted to this post about 4 years ago

    On wild Welsh roads in the Cobra for grown-ups. Less venomous than the Cobra that sired it, this is AG’s strike at a GT to take on the Italian competition Richard Heseltine discovers a luxury car with bite. Photography Charlie Magee.

    Apprehension is to be expected. Lips and fingers are turning blue, much like the air, as we wait for the rain to pass. North Wales may be beautiful outside the holiday season - but only when you can see it. Still, early murk allows time for reacquaintance with the #AC-Frua 428 , a car that worms its way into your affections from the outset. With its expansive glasshouse, acres of black leather, chunky switchgear and that fabulous U-shaped gear selector, it's hard not to come over all Johnny Jet-Set and idly daydream of crushing continents in a single bound.

    Which was rather the point of the exercise in the first place. This was a hyper-exclusive GT car rather than a rudimentary roadbumer, but the #AC-Frua-428 has long suffered from a perception problem. The 428 borrowed heavily from its celebrated forebear, the mighty Cobra, and you could argue that it suffered for not being Cobra-shaped. And while non-Cobra types may fall for its Italian styling, they foresee blunt-instrument belligerence rather than long legged versatility and, as such, discount it.

    Or at least they did, as times change and norms shift. This year will witness its fair share of motoring milestones, but this most handsome of Anglo-American hybrids reaching its half-century will not be among the most celebrated. It should be, not least because the 428 has undergone something of an image overhaul of late. Values have more than doubled over the past couple of years, the 1969 example here currently being for sale at just shy of £140,000. Drive one and you will wonder why it was underappreciated for so long.

    Fully to understand how and why the 428 came into being, first you have to remember that demand for the Cobra never was white hot. While it may be the most replicated car on the planet, and by some margin, sales weren't particularly strong in-period. Scroll back to the mid-60s and production of AC's own MkIII (it was never badged as a Cobra) was patchy at best. A new model was needed and the Thames Ditton firm's managing director Derek Hurlock began to map out ideas for something that bit more grown-up, something a bit more couture.

    AC had experience of making its own engines; it had done so for years. However, the Cobra influence loomed large here, the heady blend of a proven English chassis, a Detroit-sourced bent-eight and a little Latin styling sorcery clearly being seen as the way forward. The new car would feature a revised version of the coil-sprung MkIII's parallel-tube frame, but with an extra 6in inserted into its wheelbase. The Cobra's 427ci V8 was considered, and the prototype was thus powered, but ultimately it was deemed a little too uncouth for use in a luxury GT so Hurlock instead opted for the 428ci engine from the Galaxie uber-barge. This low- stressed V8 pushed out a (gross) 345bhp at 4600rpm and an elephantine 462lb ft of torque at just 2800rpm in full FE 'Police Interceptor' spec.

    Hurlock canvassed several Italian styling houses to create a suitably swish outline, #Ghia and #Bertone chief among them. Underwhelmed by their proposals, he instead turned to Pietro Frua's eponymous carrozzeria following an introduction by the Swiss AC distributor, Hubert Patthey. An agreement was reached whereby the prolific pen-for-hire would design and also build bodyshells. That the 428 emerged bearing more than a passing resemblance to the Maserati Mistral was intentional. Hurlock wanted something similar, and Frua had penned the #Maserati after all, but the legend that panels were interchangeable between the two cars is precisely that. Only the door handles and glass frames were carried over.

    The prototype - a convertible - was completed in time for the big reveal at the October #1965 Earls Court Motor Show. Dubbed the #AC-427 , if only briefly, it was a hit with the press and public alike, the prototype enjoying a secondary life as a star of the small screen (see sidebar). A fixed-head coupe version followed five months later at the '66 Geneva motor show, but there were one or two bumps in the road that hobbled the 428's chances before it could get into its stride.

    Problems didn't stretch to a lack of demand. AC had a bulging order book despite the 428 costing almost twice the asking price of a Jaguar E-type (it was a lofty £5573 in 1968 ). The issue was one of supply. The deal with Frua meant rolling chassis were dispatched to Italy on slave wheels, with partially completed cars returning to Surrey on open-air transporters for trimming, wiring and painting. As such, there was a considerable time lag between orders being placed and cars being delivered. What's more, having untreated double-skin bodies open to the elements didn't aid matters, and a fair amount of rectification work was required when they arrived in Thames Ditton.

    Worse was to come. A steel strike in Italy that began in 1969 and carried on into 1970 meant delivery dates became something of a lottery. On occasion AC would complete two cars in the same week, but this was the exception rather than the rule. Nevertheless, interest in the 428 remained high. Even more so after the motoring media finally got their mitts on a demonstrator, John Bolster being among the most effusive. The broadcaster and former racing driver recorded a top speed of 145mph and 0-60mph in a time of 5.4 seconds. He enthused in Autosport 'It seems like a long time since I was able to go all starry-eyed over a British car... It is therefore all the more delightful to give unreserved praise to the AC 428.'

    Autocar, meanwhile, was rather more muted in its admiration. It summarised in stop-start fashion: ' (The 428) was extremely fast and not too heavy on fuel. Plenty of adhesion; little roll, no dive or squat. Firm ride, comfortable seats. Positive steering, too much kickback. High price for [a] hand-built, exclusive GT from (a) small manufacturer.'

    Regardless of the positive ink, the 428's days were clearly numbered. Attempts to do away with the logistical nightmare of shuttling cars backwards and forwards between the UK and Italy came to naught. Coventry Panels was sounded out about building bodyshells in Blighty, but without any joy. Throw in an 'oil shock' or two and demand for thirsty V8 GTs soon dwindled to nothing. The 428 was further undone by heightened safety and emissions regulations. AC enjoyed far greater prosperity knocking out duck-egg blue invalid carriages for the Ministry of Health than ever it did making luxury GTs, and Hurlock had thrown in the towel by 1973.

    In nine years only 81 cars had been completed, 29 of them in open form. The last of them was a restyled roadster with a longer nose, pop-up headlights and wider wheels, the only car to feature this body style. Similarly a new four-seat, two-door saloon by Frua (often referred to as the 429) remained unique. AC changed tack and acquired the rights to 1972's Bohanna & Stables Diablo show car that, following its relaunch at the 1973 London Motor Show, underwent a further six-year gestation period before finally going on sale as the 3000ME.

    Which brings us to today. As 428s fell down the food chain, a few were converted into ersatz Cobras, while others simply rotted away. Accordingly, survivors in this condition are rare. Up close, it couldn't look further removed from the car that bore it. The 428 appears every inch the glamorous GT, albeit an Italian one. There are few hints of it being a product of Old Albion, that's for sure. That said, it doesn't have the feel of a copy-and-paste Maserati clone, either; at least not in the metal. It appears lower, wider and more menacing than the Mistral ever did; the proportions are perhaps a little skew- whiff in places, but it has plenty of presence. Nor is it overly adorned, brightwork having been used sparingly. The outline certainly hasn't lost its impact through familiarity.

    The sense of drama is perhaps not mirrored on the inside, but the cockpit is attractive and well-stocked. The oh-so- period dash is home to classic white-on-black Smiths instruments and man-sized switchgear, the heater controls being partially obscured by the auto shift lever, at least when it's in Park. If anything, the earlier dash was more attractive still and perhaps better ergonomically, but it's a matter of personal preference. The seats lack much in the way of lateral support but, despite the slightly offset pedals, your driving stance doesn't feel unnaturally off-kilter, as it would with some of the AC's better-known contemporaries. All-round visibility is excellent thanks to the bountiful use of glass and spindly pillars, and there's a capacious boot as befits a true grand tourer. And while it's strictly a two-seater, the fastback comes complete with a padded rear bench should you absolutely, categorically need to transport midgets or the most flexible of contortionists.

    And then the good bit. Fire up and the 7.0-litre V8 (yep, that's what 428ci adds up to) doesn't erupt into life. There is no Cobra-esque surround-sound barrage of pent-up fury here. Instead, there's a gentle burble that's right for an urbane GT. While the 428 was offered with four-speed Ford TopLoader manual 'boxes, the majority were sold with the three-speed C6 automatic unit and it suits the car's character perfectly: there's so much torque, why change gear more than you have to? Select Drive, depress the light(ish) throttle and it gently ambles of the line. Gearchanges are near-seamless, the torque converter cushioning each movement. It's only when you make full use of the kickdown function that the 428's roots start to show.

    All too often with cars of this ilk, fast doesn't necessarily feel fast. Here it does. Keep your toe in and the back end squats a little, finds traction, then the 428 launches itself to the horizon. It makes your eyes widen yet it doesn't intimidate; you're not obliged to cling to the tiller like a life raft as it darts across the road. The rack-and-pinion steering isn't exactly communicative, but there's no vagueness to it.

    Drive it with decorum and what strikes you most of all is the ride quality. Given the car's ancestry, not to mention the lack of ground clearance, you expect to feel every change in topography through your posterior, but no. Drive a Cobra, at least an early example on cart springs, and you're constantly aware that you're sitting on a chassis rail. Here, the longer wheelbase makes all the difference while the coil-over-damper units iron out the worst bumps. In period, some road-testers commented that the back end could get a little bouncy, but that is true of most cars of this ilk. It feels far more planted than many alleged thoroughbreds we can think of.

    However, this isn't a car best suited to B-road bravado. Despite the engine being mounted well back in the frame for a 53% rearward bias, the AC's weight begins to show on testy switchbacks. Abusing the scales at 3214lb (1458kg), it doesn't feel particularly agile, the twin- servo-assisted Girling discs scrubbing off excess speed but only in their own time. It comers flat at moderately enthusiastic speeds, but somehow you sense it wouldn't take much to get the tail to start flailing. The 428 is patently a cruiser, more at home devouring the autostrada than descending the Horseshoe Pass, but that is par for the course.

    Make no mistake, the 428 is a devastatingly capable machine, one that in so many ways has been poorly served by history. It's easy to rail against the injustice of it all; shout about how it could have been a contender had fate been kinder. It was always onto a losing streak despite having so much going for it.

    But that was then. Some might view the 428 as being a reconfigured Cobra with some of the venom but none of the charm. Well, that's their loss. The truth is, it's one of the best cars ever to wear the AC badge, and that's high praise indeed.

    THANKS TO lain Tyrrell, cheshireclassiccars. co. uk; the car’s owner Jane Weitzmann, jhwclassics. com; and Andy Shepherd, acownersclub. co. uk


    The 428 was a favourite of the beautiful people, with The Who drummer Keith Moon and FI team owner Rob Walker among their number. However, in terms of column inches, the model’s repeat appearances in The Avengers trumped everything. The car used in the final series was ‘CF1’, the original prototype and test car that was later pressed into service as a media demonstrator. It differed from production models in having aluminium panels amongst the steel.
    Why the car was chosen by the producers remains unrecorded. What is known is that it was meant to be the hero car driven by John Steed (Patrick Macnee) in place of his pre-war Bentleys and Rolls-Royces. However, he only ever drove the car once on screen before it was handed over to his glamorous sidekick, Tara King (Linda Thorson). The show’s instigator, Brian Clemens, recalled in Ocfane54that Thorson couldn’t drive at the time, so ‘she was put on a crash course, so to speak’. Nevertheless, she reputedly found the 428 a handful so it was replaced with a Lotus Europa (she also made fleeting appearances in a Plus 2). As for the fate of the Avengers AC, it was advertised for sale in the USA some 15 years ago but has since dropped off the radar.

    The 428 isn’t an obvious competition weapon but that didn’t stop accomplished racer and AC authority Andy Shepherd from venturing trackside in one. The 428GTR - or the ‘Black Car’ - was built by Uniclip Automotive to contest the AMOC Intermarque Championship, a series in which Shepherd had been hugely successful in his Cobra MkII. By 2002, however, Malcolm Hamilton was the man to beat aboard Rob Beere’s 8.0-litre V12 Jaguar E-type, and, with the likes of Richard Chamberlain also competing in his wild #Porsche-935 clone, and Win Percy in a #Jaguar-XJ220 , a new car was needed if he was to run at the front.

    His 428 - ‘Boris’ - was the starting point, all its body panels bar the roof replaced with carbonfibre. Lister Storm-like inboard coil-overs and pushrod suspension featured up-front, while a lighter 650bhp 351 ci V8 bored and stroked to 428ci was substituted and moved further back in the chassis. It even featured a flat-floor aero pack and diffuser from an Audi TT DTM racer. The car emerged weighing only 1000kg, and was blisteringly quick. Unfortunately for Shepherd, it fell victim to a rule change. The Black Car managed only one season before being outlawed.

    ‘The 428 appears every inch the glamorous GT, albeit an Italian one. There are few hints of Old Albion’

    Above and above left. It’s every inch the archetypal low-volume British GX. within, the U-shaped transmission lever adding airliner character; loping torque is a watchword of the vast Ford V8.

    Car #1969 #AC #428 #Frua
    ENGINE 7014cc V8, OHV, single four-barrel Holley carburettor
    POWER 345 bhp @ 4600rpm
    TORQUE 462 lb ft @ 2800rpm
    TRANSMISSION Three-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
    STEERING Rack and pinion
    Front: double wishbones, coil springs, telescopic dampers.
    Rear: trailing arms, coil-over-damper units.
    BRAKES Discs
    WEIGHT 1485kg
    PERFORMANCE Top speed 145mph. 0-60mph 5.4 sec
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  •   Guy Baker reacted to this post about 4 years ago
    Brooklands turns back the clock.

    The world’s oldest motor racing circuit is about to be restored to some of its former glory. David Burgess-Wise unravels just how significant that will be. Photographs & Images courtesy of #Brooklands Museum.


    No, not a redevelopment at #Silverstone but a major re-engineering of the #Brooklands-Museum , where a confirmed grant of £4.681 million from the #Heritage Lottery Fund will see the last survivor of four #1940 Bellman hangars (erected on the requisitioned Brooklands racetrack - the world's oldest purpose-built motor racing circuit - to meet wartime aircraft production needs) shifted sideways from its present location in the middle of the Finishing Straight to a new location alongside the track. That will at last leave the iconic vista up the straight to the steep rise of the Members' Banking uninterrupted for the first time in 75 years.

    The relocated hangar will be restored as part of the new 'Aircraft Factory and Flight Shed Exhibition' that will not only house many of the museum's collection of pre- and post-1945 aircraft but also create an authentic aircraft factory environment. This will showcase manufacturing techniques from the 'stick-and-string' pioneering era to the modern age, encouraging visitors to apply their own inventiveness and give them hands- on experience of working with materials. 'It will be a kind of "mini apprenticeship",' museum director Allan Winn told me. 'Visitors will don work coats and clock on in the factory and try their skills in building aeroplanes.

    We want to get people inspired by what has been done here and make them want to get involved in engineering.'
    The museum has already raised more than £1.6 million in match funding for the project and is now fundraising for the remaining £370,000. The overall cost of the project will be around £7 million, making this the largest endeavour the museum has ever undertaken.

    Comments Allan Winn: 'This is a project that particularly attracted the Lottery Fund, because it's not - only dynamic, involving moving vehicles and aircraft, but it engages the public in a way that a stately home, which is static, cannot. The chief executive of the fund hadn't seen Brooklands before she came here for the announcement of the grant, so I took her for a tour of the site in the #Birkin/Holder #1929 Double-Twelve 4 1/2-litre #Bentley . She was captivated.'

    Explaining the fund's rationale for the grant, Stuart McLeod, who heads Heritage Lottery Fund South-East, commented: 'The Brooklands site has played such an important role in the country's history - today's glitzy Grands Prix and state-of-the-art airliners can all be traced back to innovation that took place here - and the Heritage Lottery Fund's investment in this remarkable site will help the museum create a unique experience for visitors by helping them understand the pivotal role the UK has played in the field of engineering.'

    A key part of the project is the restoration of the track's Finishing Straight to its pre-1939 appearance, allowing it to be brought fully back into use for motoring and aviation activities. Not only will cars be seen in action on the restored straight, but the Museum's active aircraft, such as its Sopwith Camel and Hawker Hurricane, will be taxied in front of the new 'Aircraft Factory and Flight Shed' complex. Vanished features such as the giant lap scoring board in front of the Edwardian Clubhouse will be recreated: 'We're planning to visit Taunton Racecourse, where a similar lap scorer survives, to study its complex mechanism,' says Allan Winn. 'There'll also be a viewscope machine alongside the track so that when the visitors click the button they will be able to see racing cars speeding past.'

    'Key to the project is to restore the track’s Finishing Straight to its pre-1939 appearance’

    As well as witnessing pre-war cars in action, visitors will be able to learn how to drive them; soapbox racing - another feature of the pre-1940 Brooklands scene - will return to the Finishing Straight. Its surface, badly deteriorated after so many years of idleness, will be repaired to an authentic appearance. This will be ensured by employing a special concrete mix, approved by English Heritage, which matches the old surface.

    Authenticity of appearance is particularly important at Brooklands, because the track - laid amazingly quickly by hand and barrow by an army of 2000 navvies between September #1906 and June #1907 - represented the first significant use of concrete as a road surface in Britain. Some 200,000 tons of concrete were used to make the track but it was only six inches thick, laid direct onto the earth, which meant that the track surface not only settled and became notoriously bumpy over time but also needed almost constant repair during its racing lifetime.

    Brooklands was the brainchild of wealthy landowner Hugh Locke King, who - in an age when British motorists were hamstrung by a nationwide blanket speed limit of 20mph - realised that the country was being left behind in the new world of international motor sport. Believing that 'England should no longer lie behind the rest of the world, but take her place in the very forefront and reassert herself as the Arbiter of Sport', he decided to finance the building of a closed speed circuit where, able to go as fast as they liked, British racing drivers could practise their skills and the country's motor industry develop new models to compete against their Continental rivals. It would be the world's first track of its kind, and was built on his Brooklands estate in Weybridge, a site that 'nature seemed to have formed for the purpose'.

    Locke King had planned to build a conventional tarmac track round the edge of the property at an estimated cost of £22,000, but his consulting engineer, Colonel HCL Holden of the #Royal-Engineers , persuaded him that 'for the safety of cars travelling at highest speed' it was essential to have a banked oval track with 30ft-high curves to allow cars to run at 100mph without steering effort. He claimed that this would be 'naturally safe' at 120mph and 'reasonably safe at higher speeds with the driver counteracting centrifugal force with his steering'.

    Though Holden had designed the world's first four- cylinder motorbike in #1897 , his experience in building racetracks was nil. His well-intentioned advice would cause a near sevenfold increase in the building cost to a crippling £150,000 (equivalent to around £8.7 million today) and almost break Locke King.

    The new track took its lead from horse racing: drivers wore racing silks like jockeys, cars were assembled in the paddock, and the oval circuit was transected by a finishing straight in front of the clubhouse. This had a major disadvantage, for spectators who had been watching the racing on the outer circuit from the members' enclosure had to run down the hill to see the finish...

    The convention of a finishing straight also cost crack racing driver (and champion rollerskater) Dario Resta the Montagu Cup race and a purse of 1400 gold sovereigns at the opening meeting in 1907, for the man who operated the red disc signal to tell him to turn into the finishing straight at the end of the race left it too late. Resta - overtaking another car in his 135hp Mercedes - missed seeing it, and did one lap too many.

    Brakes were uncertain in those early days, so the straight incorporated a noticeable upgrade at its top end to help cars pull up before they reached the banking and crossed the path of cars still racing on the Outer Circuit. This didn't always work, as Keith Davies, veteran of the 1907 Opening Meeting, told me when I interviewed him at his Grosvenor Square fiat in #1966 .

    'I remember that somebody put his foot by mistake on the accelerator instead of the brake at the finish of a race, went straight forward onto the periphery of the track, and went over the trees and somersaulted to his death. He didn't stop at the finishing line; he just continued on, hit the track, and it was rather like how Diavolo the Great used to do his loop-the-loop - the man shot into the air and finished up where you could expect.'

    Between #1907 and 1939 the banked and bumpy Brooklands circuit was the focus of British motor racing; it was only in the 1930s that it faced rivalry from new tracks at Donington and the Crystal Palace. But there was a cuckoo in the Brooklands nest in the shape of the aircraft industry, which had found a home in the centre of the track almost as soon as it had opened, for the towering bankings shielded primitive aircraft from the force of the wind. Indeed, in 1908 AV Roe had managed to leave the ground on the Brooklands Finishing Straight in a biplane of his own design, the first powered - if not particularly controlled - heavier-than-air flight in Britain.

    Vickers built an aircraft factory alongside the track, and Sop with - which later became Hawker - assembled and test-flew its aircraft at Brooklands, so it was natural that, when war was declared in #1939 , Brooklands was requisitioned for all-out military production of aeroplanes. Hangars were erected on the racetrack to augment the production of aircraft for the RAF, with the Bellman hangar on the Finishing Straight carrying out final assembly work on Wellington bombers.

    Though the requisition of both the racetrack and the Bellman hangar was meant to last only until the end of hostilities, the post-war Labour Government reneged on the arrangement. Racing was never resumed and the entire estate remained a closed aircraft production facility, developing many significant aircraft right up to its pivotal role in the development and production of Concorde. Those who wanted to 'Bring Back Brooklands' were only allowed limited access to the site at the annual Reunion meetings until the museum was opened in #1991 on the 30 acres surrounding the clubhouse.

    The track - largely intact, but with holes punched though the bankings at either end of its central runway to allow heavy aircraft to take off in safety - became a dumping ground for discarded jigs and pallets with shrubs growing though its cracks, which is how I saw it when I first trespassed on the Members' Banking as a teenager around #1960 , having scrambled up the back of the bank with a friend after we'd parked his Bullnose Morris at its foot.

    There was even a hangar on the banking, snuggled under the bridge that afforded a privileged route into the trackside enclosure for the private cars of members of the Brooklands Automobile Racing Club. That, happily is long gone, the Members' Bridge has been recreated, and the surviving hangar on the Finishing Straight was Grade 2 Listed in #1999 as a rare surviving example of the taller type of Bellman; it notably retains its original corrugated-iron sheet cladding.

    However, the Bellman hangar was designed for quick assembly during wartime; a stable internal environment wasn't a pressing need in its specification. Unrestored, that flaw leaves the often fragile structures of the historic aircraft inside it vulnerable to the elements. Its relocation and refurbishment will enable that problem to be addressed. The adjoining 'Flight Shed' will not only house the museum's active aircraft, but will incorporate new workshops where museum volunteers will learn and practise aircraft restoration skills, enabling these vital techniques to be handed down to a new generation. Importantly, there will also be a purpose-built storage area where Brooklands' internationally significant archives will be maintained in a controlled environment.

    Building on the work done years ago by the track clearers of the Brooklands Society, who first undertook the task of removing the undergrowth from the banking, the Brooklands Museum has done sterling work in maintaining the section of the historic track that lies within its site, which regularly plays host to the activities of car clubs. This latest project, which will at last reveal the Finishing Straight in its pre-1939 state, opens what Allan Winn terms 'the most significant chapter in Brooklands' rich and varied history since the museum was founded'.

    FOR MORE DETAILS visit brooklandsmuseum. Com
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  •   Guy Baker reacted to this post about 4 years ago
    An exclusive visit to the Queen’s own collection. Hidden away at Sandringham is a certain Windsor family’s own collection of cars. Octane was granted exclusive access into the royal grounds. Words Giles Chapman // Photography Matthew Howell.

    By any measure, it must have seemed a baffling request to the craftsmen at Hooper & Co, the Royal Family's favoured coachbuilders for decades. Queen Mary had paid extraordinarily close attention to the specification of her new #Daimler-DE27 . The driver's compartment, she decreed, was too wide, compromising the dignity of the vehicle, and a more seemly front profile was demanded.

    It was 1947, and this was to be her personal car, finished in her favourite dark green and taking four months to build. The narrowing process meant the steering column had to be kinked 2.5in towards the centre, and poked out of a truncated dashboard. Widened wings also needed to be handmade. How her chauffeur felt about his custom-cramped driving posture would, of course, never be disclosed.

    Her Majesty's other requests were more fathomable. Because the 80-year-old Queen Mary had trouble bending her neck, she requested 57in of headroom, which made this the tallest car Hooper bodied after the Second World War. The drop-down bootlid revealed a bespoke picnic case, and the rear compartment was a snug of green leather and walnut, with notebook, pencil, ashtray and matchbox built into the armrest. Spring-loaded silk blinds gave privacy, although Her Royal Highness couldn't countenance life on the road without gold monograms on doors and boot. Queen Mary proudly called it her 'shopping Daimler'.

    The VIP customer proclaimed herself delighted with her 'shopping Daimler' and Queen Elizabeth II's grandmother used it almost daily until her death in 1953 .

    Although this unique limousine now belongs to the National Trust, it's found its circuitous way to a resting place at the Sandringham Estate. And it's not alone. The Queen's rural retreat in north Norfolk, at the centre of its stunning 20,0-acre estate, has an extraordinary car collection.

    Despite Sandringham Museum being open to members of the visiting public, it's largely unknown. Sandringham House first welcomed visitors in #1977 , and you can ramble through the estate's tranquil woodland free of charge all year round. But the car collection? Even the estate's website mentions only a highly polished #1939 Merryweather fire engine in the outbuildings. Yet there's much more...

    You might never have guessed that Sandringham is home to some of Britain's most important and interesting royal cars. Until, that is, #Drive-My was granted unprecedented access to this most august of classic fleets. There are usually between 20 and 25 cars hidden away there.

    When the 21-year-old Prince of Wales - later King Edward VII - was gifted Sandringham in #1862 by his mother Queen Victoria, he received an 18th Century, stucco-fronted country pile that he quickly found too cramped. The builders were soon shipped in and, by #1870 , the new main house was completed. Or, nearly. Additions were constant, including a ballroom and a guest wing, and a stable block that included carpentry and sewing schools for the estate's youngsters.

    The Prince was a dedicated techie, with a penchant for cutting-edge machinery. Hence, in #1901 , he installed an electricity generator for the house in an extension to the stable (soon obsolete when mains power reached Sandringham). Likewise, the Prince was fascinated by the earliest cars. The contemporary Lord Montagu introduced him to the motoring exhilaration in 1899 on a New Forest outing aboard his 12hp Daimler; the Prince was smitten, and ordered a 6hp Model A example for himself the following year. It had all the latest features, such as an accelerator pedal instead of a hand throttle, raked steering column, and elaborate electric ignition. Hooper & Co were entrusted with the bodywork for this first British royal car, done in four-seater mail phaeton style with separate hoods for front and back seats. A spacious new garage was soon added to Sandringham's stables to meet its needs.

    That very car is treasured here today. It's somewhat changed from its original condition - although the alterations all took place in 1902! A Mr S Letzer, the first royal chauffeur and referred to as the Prince of Wales's 'mechanician', sometimes wound it up to 20mph-plus, but it frequently overheated. Moving the radiator from the back to the front cured that but required a bulky bonnet. At about the same time, new and more comfortable tonneau bodywork was built. A frilled Surrey top was added and the pneumatic rear tyres were changed for solid ones, as the lack of a differential made them prone to peeling off.

    The lofty veteran is resplendent in paintwork of royal claret over black, picked out in a bright red that's more respectfully termed vermillion. This livery was adopted from one of Queen Victoria's horse- drawn carriages, and remains the colour scheme for the monarch's official transport today. Not that you'd necessarily spot it. The claret often looks like black from a distance and in certain light.

    This is one of the most influential single cars in British motoring history. Edward VII's enthusiasm for it quelled hostility towards cars from landowners and the gentry. Before, mass upper-crust opinion was that they were noisy and dangerous affronts to a horse-drawn world. But the moment the King adopted the new motor car, the mindset rapidly switched.

    The pairing of Daimler chassis and Hooper bodywork became the royal staple, and there are two magnificent examples of such later limos at Sandringham. The 45hp Brougham dates from 1914 and its Double Six replacement is a 1929 car. These maroon monsters were fixtures of British public life, the King easily visible behind the towering side windows. The newer car has the unusual feature of headlights that can be swivelled to the left, but both cars have the royal quirk of a black- painted radiator grille surround. A bright shiny thing on the front of the car, a rolling advert for Daimler, might have distracted attention away from the occupants of the back seat.

    By the mid-1950s, Daimler's grip on the Royal Household's patronage went limp. For two years between #1953 and #1955 , it didn't even build limousines, and Rolls-Royce stepped in, capping the flow of some 80 Daimlers over five decades with a Phantom IV Hooper Landaulette for Elizabeth II in 1954.

    The second of the Queen's official Rollers was a special Phantom V in #1961 . It was retired to Sandringham in 2002 where, in this very low-key car museum, it's the most recognisable one to most visitors.

    The #Rolls-Royce developed this car in secret under the 'Canberra' codename, to give the impression it was for the Australian Government (the Australians had followed the Royal Family's switch in allegiance to Rolls-Royce in the late 1950s). The coachwork was entrusted to Park Ward, cutting Hooper out of the loop and hastening its decision to quit coachbuilding altogether, and two near-identical examples were built.

    Its most distinctive feature was the cover that could be slipped off the rear roof section, revealing a Perspex dome through which to admire the head of state on her travels. And this car really did go round the world - usually in its own garage on board Britannia. This three-ton behemoth would be craned delicately on and off the royal yacht and rolled carefully into its berth, into which it would just fit, thanks to specially designed demountable bumpers.

    Another Buckingham Palace workhorse with dramatic history has also come to rest at Sandringham. The #1969 Vanden Plas Princess limousine is mundane apart from one thing. In March #1974 , the car was ambushed on The Mall by a gun-toting madman intent on kidnapping its key occupant: Princess Anne. Although he shot a bodyguard, the chauffeur and two passers-by, the attempt was thwarted and she was unscathed and, indeed, unbowed. But it did reveal two worrying omissions in Royal cars: bulletproofing and radio contact with the security services - both remedied soon afterwards.

    Formality is one thing for the Windsor clan, but at certain times of the year Sandringham is all about the great outdoors. And proper shooting brakes have for decades been as regular a feature of estate life as beaters, gun dogs and hip flasks. Hooper's awe-inspiring shooting brake body on a 57hp Daimler chassis must represent a pinnacle in 1920s sporting life. It was delivered in August #1924 to George V, and an excellent day's shooting would be in prospect with 12 guns in its varnished rack. Roll-up side curtains guaranteed lungfuls of bracing Norfolk air for the ten occupants... and four-wheel brakes added welcome retardation on slippery tracks.

    Guides at Sandringham today are accustomed to the huge pull this one has on viewers. It's the paintwork. The rear section is timber- panelled but the thoroughly rural theme continues with the woody effect on scuttle, bonnet and wings. It's called a 'scumble' paintjob: the darker base layer was allowed to dry to the tacky stage and then a lighter paint colour was brushed on artfully with a toothed comb to give the woodgrain look, which was sealed in under three layers of lacquer. The stags and pheasants would never know you're lurking among the trees.

    Altogether more modest is George IV's #1951 #Ford V8 Pilot with a Garner woody body. The wheelbase was stretched by 12in and the windscreen height raised by 3in, so it was uncommonly roomy, with the gun rack on the roof. Yet another interesting modification was a floor-mounted gearlever, as the King hated column changes. Yet his untimely death in 1952 meant he barely drove it. The family kept it for sentimental reasons, and it was still burbling around the estate in the '60s.

    By then it had been joined by an upstart newcomer, a Ford Zephyr Mkll the like of which you'll see nowhere else. Hardly the most elegant of vehicles, with its hearse-like contours relieved with wood panel inserts, eight people could cram in with Prince Philip at the wheel, and it was custom-made for Sandringham shooting parties.

    Yet another category of automotive resident here is the Royal Family's personal cars from years gone by. You can see Prince Charles's 21st birthday present from his parents - a blue #MGC-GT . You can also get up close to several wonderful children's cars. We loved the Imperial 1 midget racing car, a gift for Prince Charles in #1955 from America and, with a two-stroke engine, capable of a hairy 40mph. How many scars can the heir to the throne attribute to spills in this one, we wonder? There's also an #Aston-Martin-Volante Junior that a grateful Victor Gauntlett presented to valued customer Charles in #1988 (to pass on to his sons, Princes William and Harry), and a working replica of the 007 #DB5 given to the Queen on an Aston factory visit in #1966 , as a gift for lucky toddler Prince Andrew.

    The Queen's own Rover 3.0-litre has a patina that includes small dents and a cracked windscreen. The Duke of Edinburgh's #Alvis-TD21 , meanwhile, is crammed with unusual features: Prince Philip ordered a taller windscreen, electric soft-top and a leather dashboard instead of polished walnut. #Alvis later fortified the car with five-speed gearbox, disc brake conversion and a power-boosting TE cylinder head to withstand the relentless use the Prince put it to: over 60,000 hard-driving miles to Germany and back, commuting to polo fixtures, and frequently picking up Princess Anne from school.

    These days, a Vauxhall Cresta PAis a car to admire rather than disdain, and the rare #1961 Friary wagon at Sandringham was an estate runabout. The Queen liked driving this relaxed old barge, and it carries a jocular MYT 1 personal plate. Indeed, Her Majesty pretty much started the craze for 'private plates' after receiving a #Daimler-DE27 as a gift in #1948 registered HRH 1. Who could be more appropriate for either?

    'Her Majesty started the craze for private plates with a Daimler, received as a gift and registered HRH 1’

    Space is at a premium in Sandringham's garage block. Spare capacity is taken up by interesting vehicles on loan from non-royal owners, including the ex-Earl Mountbatten #1924 #Rolls-Royce-Silver-Ghost (used by him in India during his spell as Viceroy and later Governor-General in #1947 - #1948 ). There's also a #1929 Armstrong Siddeley 30hp shooting brake originally built for George Vi's use at Balmoral.

    When the family is in residence at Christmas, though, the garage is needed for the current fleet of limousines and Range Rovers. Cars such as the #Princess , #Zephyr , #Alvis and #Rover are turfed out into heated storage nearby as the retinue of chauffeurs and security staff arrive.

    However, the old cars do not depart under their own steam. The Sandringham collection cannot be faulted for polished spotlessness, but many are non-runners and, indeed, some of the pre-war Daimlers would require much more than a mechanical overhaul to get their sleeve-valve engines purring again. Seizures are a near-certainty. The #1900 #Daimler has tackled the London-Brighton a few times but its last mechanical breakage on the #2005 event has kept it indoors ever since. Nonetheless, all these cars are preserved in a secluded atmosphere that, in itself, couldn't really be any more authentic.

    VISIT SANDRINGHAM MUSEUM www. sandringhamestate. co. uk/visiting-sandringham/
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  •   Ben Barry reacted to this post about 4 years ago
    Road to Daytona Ferrari Daytona Prototype. As Daytona model was a milestone for Ferrari so it was this car - the very first prototype of what became the 365 GTB / 4 "Daytona" - that started the process. Now it has regained its former glory after a ten-year restoration. Text: Jeroen Booij. Photo: Pieter E. Kamp.

    Leonardo Fioravanti, the man who created the name Pininfarina Ferrari Daytona. Even today, he considers it to be one of his masterpieces. Something that becomes particularly clear when trying to interview him about other things - and he still insists on talking about Daytonan.

    It was born more or less by accident. I saw a 275 GTS chassis, the open version of the 275 GTB, get on a truck. It was on the way to be fitted with a body, but the chassis was complete with wheels, engine, seats and steering wheel, albeit still quite naked. When I saw it I thought, "we are doing wrong - completely wrong." I started sketching and came up with a proposal for a new car.

    The boss said it was impossible to replace the 275 GTB already, the model was too new. But he liked what he saw and we showed it to Enzo Ferrari who fell for the profile and rear, but did not like the front. I had taken into account the very long wheel base of 275, something that had been done to the car felt like it had a little "too much" body. We changed the front and asked Ferrari once again - it was unusual that you had to do it - and now it was okay, he really liked it.

    So it was that 275 received a replacement after just over 800 built, but it was only after they felled a few prototypes to substitute. In fact, the very first of the six test series a completely different front than the Daytona we know, something Fioravanti had not told earlier. Neither he nor I had not any idea that the very unique car was about to be restored to original condition, and it is not far from my home in Holland. But you can not know everything. Something that also applies to the owner of the prototype. His name is Gerard van Bergen, is a 73-year-old car salesman who bought it in 2003 without knowing that it was a prototype! How can that be possible?

    Well, when is it going sometimes so fast that you do not have time to check the details, he says with a happy smile. Van Bergen has bought and sold the most during the greater part of his life, he started as a 17-year-old with dealing with livestock. When foot and mouth disease broke out operations in the second half of the 60s, he decided to switch to cars. Half a century later the Dutchman runs a small leasing company, has some properties and is still active as a car salesman, now with one of his sons. As a hobby, he has renovated several classics along with a friend, mostly Mercedes cars.

    We fixed a 300 SL Roadster, a brace, a pagoda and a 190 SL, which we turned into a 190 SLR. Slowly I became more and more interested in the Ferrari, too, he says. I bought a Testarossa, had a F512M and has repaired a crashed F40. But my dream was a GT-car from the 1960s. Then I came across this in Switzerland, it was in a sorry state but I managed to get it started and participated in a club rally in 2003.
    Do you have any idea about what it is? Asked one of the older members. Well, one item that needs an awful lot of work, I replied. Slowly it dawned on me that it really was a very special car and I had to find out its entire history. It took a year to sort out it.

    It was during the inquiries that van Bergen came in contact with the Ferrari expert Marcel Massini, who confirmed its prototype status. With chassis number 10287 proved to be the first of the six test cars, a 275 GTB-based creation that came into being in the spring of 1967. Scaglietti was commissioned to build the prototype of the Pininfarina and did so under the code name "Study 109". After it is mostly unclear. In fact, the car used for the test around the old aerodrome Modena, although it was never published.

    Since it was sold to an unknown owners even before the 365 GTB / 4 Daytona was unveiled in 1968. It then cost eight million lire (about the same price as for a new 275 GTB) and was recorded in Rome. The next owner, Gianpaolo Salgarella in Bologna, paid three million lira in 1972, but as the car is said to have been injured. Shortly thereafter, was exported to the US and found new homes, first in Georgia, then in Mississippi and Illinois, and finally in southern California.

    Somewhere in the chain got it a facelift, the colour changed from grey to red and headlights changed to some taken from a 275 GTB. Van Bergen believe it was to make the car more easily sold. - That it was a prototype did not mean much at the time. But the 275 GTB had been coveted for some time, so maybe it had something to do with it, he says.

    Rebuilt yet again, this time to Daytona with the hood over the headlights, the car was found in 1988 a new owner of Dutchman Henk van de Meene. He put it in his Swiss garage and sold it since the beginning of the 1990s to another man in Switzerland. Then it took another ten years before Van Bergen became the ninth owner. Shortly after he bought decided he decided to start a thorough restoration. The first idea was to do it in-house, along with his friend, but it soon became apparent that the job demanded specialists. - With lots of patience, we manufactured a manifold but when a Ferrari club member came to take a look, he said "what on earth are you doing? I know you like Mercedes, but this is totally wrong, and it must be easier. "

    It was only to begin anew. Of the few photographs we had revealed that the whole body changed slightly. And of the right headlamp, we had just left the house, but sat on the left side! The rear fenders were also bad and needed lots of new material. At the same time began to hunt for the headlights of the correct type. - Fiat 850 Spider have similar lights, but the glass on them are ribbed and the pictures we had we could see that Ferraris was not. It took me two years to find out what they were, Carello number so and so. Then I found a couple in the US and the guy wanted 1250 dollars for them. Sure, I could have let manufacture new but what it did not cost! In addition, I wanted the real thing, no copies. I always thought that it is worth the price in the end.

    Judging by the results, it is just as when it left Maranello. The leather-wrapped instrument panel, aluminium, paper mill used as insulation behind the door panels, the primer is applied to the body to a year before it had the grey colour - a cellulose lacquer to the original factory specifications ...

    Then it was the engine. If perchance thought that the body was the oddest of this unique car, it's time to reconsider. Under the bonnet sits namely the world's only #Lampredi-V12 engine of the "243-type". There is an experimental machine with dry sump, two spark plugs per cylinder and three instead of four valves per cylinder. The foundation is a 330 GT-block taken up to 4380 cc, yet it is the cylinder heads, which is the most unique of the machine. Engine Builder Alex Jansen of Forza Service claims that the engine is experimental and probably made the competition department.

    The cylinder heads are completely flat, which means that the combustion chambers located in the piston tops. That, and the tight angle between the valves, makes the dual camshafts can fit in a single cam housing. To fit the dual plugs has moved to the outside of the peaks. The only thing unchanged is the assembly of the six dual Weber 40 DCN carburettors, but the characteristic air filter box is missing and instead sits six pairs of open intake trumpets on Ferrari racing cars. The only engine I've seen that, in addition to the spark plug placement, similar to this is the race car 330 P4! And as it sounds! Van Bergen hit at the gas pump and turn on the small key. The starter motor turns slowly and it takes a few laps before the twelve cylinders filled and the engine slams started with a characteristic metallic sound. - This is hardly the perfect car for the winding back roads, he says, trying to drown out the rumbling V12. It needs a little turns and thrives best if you wait to switch to at about 7000 revolutions ... First he warms up gently. When the temperature reading is 90 degrees his pedal and the prototype as well as lifts, starts dancing back and leave everyday traffic in the rear-view mirror. At lower speeds it spits a little, "camshafts" said engine builder Jansen and refers to machine racing shield.

    But as soon as a straight pop up, things happen. As the lap increases the beast begins to breathe properly and it is then, when the needle on the tachometer suddenly shoots up, you get goose bumps. Compared with all modern sports and GT cars is its position in the leather, contoured seat remarkably high. That, along with the narrow A-pillars, gives a great overview. The long hood stretches out along the way and the main four instruments are all gathered behind Nardiratten. The large tachometer graduated up to 8000, but the red mark begins in 7000, meaning that van Bergen is not afraid to use the unique machine and he revving happily past the 7000.

    The instrument panel itself is simpler than in the later production cars that had the eight instruments combined. Here are some conditioned place in the middle along with six toggle switches. Moreover, there is a very Italian cigarette lighter - no longer will be used ...

    The odometer shows 32,400 kilometres - have resisted the temptation to set it back to zero and van Bergen has only driven a few mil since the car's restoration was completed.

    Ferrari, however, has been traveling back and forth to Italy a few times, but then in a covered trailer. First, it was taken to the manicured lawns of the Villa d'Este. From van Bergen made a small detour to Maranello on the way back to see the car for Marco Arrighi at Ferrari Classiche.

    The only thing missing was the car namely the coveted Classic. There appeared, however, up an unexpected problem, namely Arrighi found some sketchy pictures of the car, but they were still clear enough to show that it originally had three instead of two tail lights! After an eye Spirit showed it to be true, and Van Bergen looked forced and compelled to cut new holes in the stern of the newly restored car!

    When offered Ferrari Classiche to help him, they had even hired an old retired guy from Scaglietti bodywork which once installed these light units!

    It was great, but even if it was #Ferrari-Classic felt nervous. It was like handing over one of my children to an unknown surgeon. It was almost as if I persisted in getting to sleep next to the car...

    Finally, after seven sorrows and eight afflictions almost ten years, is the van Bergen pleased with the end result. And it is also the Ferrari, which is well proven to be borrowed car over the summer and put it in his museum in Maranello.

    The question is what Gerard van Bergen dream car now, when this is done? He thinks, and shines up: - A Daytona Competizione - a standard Daytona is just too "normal" for this project...

    TECHNICAL DATA #Ferrari-Daytona-Prototype / #1967 / #Ferrari-Daytona / #Ferrari
    Engine: V12, 3 valves per cylinder, dual ignition, dry sump, capacity 4380cc
    Maximum power DIN 352 hp at 7500rpm
    Maximum torque DIN 300 Nm at 5000rpm
    Transmission: Five-speed, manual gearbox fitted together with the diff - transaxle-type
    Body and Chassis: Steel Body on steel frame, double wishbone and coil springs and anti-roll bars front and rear.
    Dunlop disc brakes all around.
    Tyres Michelin XWX 205/70 VR14
    Weight 1,350kg.
    0-62 MPH 0-100 kph about 6.5 seconds.
    Top speed of about 280 kph
    Price: New 1968 8 000 000 lire.
    Today, it is invaluable.

    Probably only gone as little as 3240 miles, but in that time it has had a number of different fronts.

    Ferrari Daytona #Prototype #V12

    With two tight overhead camshafts under the same cover is unique cylinder heads. Furthermore, the plugs located on the exterior and the entire combustion chamber can fit in plunger tips when the tips are completely flat underside. According to the experts, the engine is based on a 330-drilled block and reminiscent of the one in the racing car 330 P4, even if it is not quite like. Probably, it is built as an experiment.

    Under the bonnet will we as expected V12 machine.
    But this time it is completely unique to this copy.
    Decor is your own mix of different Ferrari models of time. Dashboard is quite different from the one that came in Daytona.
    Front remind me of the 275 GTB, but my party is definitely Daytona. And the three rear lights is only remarkable.
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  •   Julian Balme reacted to this post about 4 years ago

    Boano’s dream car for the #1955-Turin-Motor-Show .

    In the fifties America was enjoying a post-war bonanza thanks to its industry, which had burgeoned by supplying the international military machine. More jobs meant more money and a booming economy. But while the US was rich and vigorous, Europe, and especially Britain, was not faring as well - Prime Minister Gordon Brown finally paid the Americans back the British war debt as recently as #2006 - so the whole 'export or die' notion was in full swing.

    Before World War Two, Italian styling houses had established themselves as the pre-eminent designers and coachbuilders and, by the 1950s, they were keen to offer their services to the ever-expanding American auto industry behemoths. Motown could churn out vast numbers of automobiles at affordable prices to satisfy the local market and, while some American styling was very adventurous and even outrageous, US manufacturers were keen to draw upon the Italians' skill for their show cars. You can just imagine the Big Swingers in their boardrooms showing off to their alter-egos down the road at the next vast manufacturing plant. Like Cuban cigars, Swiss wristwatches, English suits and French furniture, the auto industry bosses just had to have a littl' ol' Italian styling house jumping to their demands.

    And so it was: Chrysler had #Ghia , #Packard had #Bertone and #Hudson landed #Carrozzeria-Touring . On top of that Chevrolet was doing exciting things with its swanky Motorama events, with the original #Corvette first seen in 1953. As for Ford, its pug-ugly Edsel series was a dismal failure thanks to boss Henry Ford II's styling interference, particularly with its very peculiar nose treatment. Although Ford was well-known for his taste in European design, he had a unique sense of automotive styling, so it is no real surprise he chose the somewhat obscure and avant-garde Carrozzeria Boano Torino to add a halo effect to #Ford 's upmarket #Lincoln range. The result was rolled out onto the turntable of the #1955 Turin motor show - and this is it!

    In 1955 young #Gian-Paolo-Boano was in his early 20s but had been designing cars alongside his father Felice Mario Boano for several years, first at Ghia, then at Carrozzeria Boano Torino. By all accounts Gian Paolo was a bit of a playboy and enjoyed life to the full. As he later said, 'I have always lived with enthusiasm. I was able to fulfil all my desires.'

    Sounds like he had life waxed, so having the chutzpah to produce a design concept for Henry Ford II was never going to faze the young Italian.

    A friend of Boano had worked with the Ford Motor Company and he suggested that Carrozzeria Boano produce a car based in a Lincoln chassis for the Turin motor show. The Boanos were accustomed to working with overseas clients. When at Ghia they had enjoyed considerable success building show cars for #Chrysler .

    In 1955 Boano took delivery of Lincoln chassis number 58WA10902, and was charged with the task of producing a complete showcar in time for that year's Turin international motor show - the pre-eminent showcase for Italian coachbuilders.

    The running chassis featured a 225bhp 341ci pushrod V8 with a single four-barrel carburettor, four-speed automatic transmission, independent front suspension with coil springs and dampers and a live rear axle with leaf springs and four-wheel drum brakes. What you might call a cooking specification, then... but not for long!

    Named the Indianapolis, the project was typical of Italian coachbuilders of the era. It began with little more than large-scale sketches, sheet metal and tubing and that unsuspecting chassis. Clearly the jet-set age had an influence on the outcome. The finished styling includes an extended drooping nose, which has no visible cooling air intake, and is flanked by vertical quad headlights and features a large chrome bumper. The front wings extend back into the doors and end with three shrouded chrome faux-tailpipes, balanced by tall air intakes in the forward edges of the rear wings with five chrome supporting strips.

    The chrome wheels are half-covered by the curved wings and are shod with the obligatory whitewall tyres. The Indianapolis's stance is rakish, helped by the neat lowline hardtop roofline, with radically curved front and rear windscreens and even more chrome finishing strips.

    Finished in correct and original nuclear orange, the coachwork is liberally covered in badges: the name LINCOLN adorns the nose, there are chequered flags on the front wings, and script on the hardtop proudly announces 'Exclusive Study by Boano Torino'. If you miss those, there are more #Carrozzeria-Boano #Torino badges elsewhere, as well as others that proclaim simply Boano. Just in case.

    The interior is a riot of colours, featuring the original-looking cream and black upholstery (another nod to racing's chequered flag), and the dashboard features a clever body-coloured cover that can be closed to hide the sci-fi instruments. The slim steering wheel is huge in diameter and the gearshift lever is located on the steering column.
    While not exactly beautiful or elegantly discreet, the Indianapolis is certainly striking and extremely futuristic for 1955. As a one-off show car it does its thing dramatically. The startling orange hue helps but this is one very arresting piece of kit. The Boano even made the cover of the November 1955 edition of Auto Age magazine, which asked the question: 'Is this the Next Lincoln?' These days, top-line concours events are well over-subscribed but, with the Lincoln Indianapolis Boano, entry has never been a problem.

    Following its successful showing at the Turin show, the Indianapolis was then shipped to America and delivered directly to Henry Ford II. The urban myth is that he gave it to his friend, the famous actor Errol Flynn, but that cannot be substantiated. It passed through several hands before going into the 20-year ownership of well-respected Packard collector Thomas Kerr. He remains the Indianapolis's longest-term owner and was responsible for its resurrection after the car suffered fire damage and was partly dismantled following an incomplete restoration attempt.

    Thomas Kerr finally got around to thinking about restoring the Indianapolis and, as is his wont, decided to do it properly, because he recognised the car's significance. Kerr handed the project to his favoured restorer Jim Cox of Sussex Motor and Coachworks in Pennsylvania, the brief being to return the Indianapolis, ' the way Gian Paolo Boano would (should) have built it in 1955, had he had the time.'

    As you will understand, show-cars were built to last for the duration of a show. While they weren't thrown together as such, they were hurriedly assembled to perform a singular, immobile function: looking good. Jim Cox's task was made difficult because the Indianapolis was a one-off, so he had no frame of reference. It was also a very rushed job by Boano to get the car completed in double-quick time. The car had then been fire- damaged and a good deal of it arrived at his workshop in boxes. A serious challenge.

    Two years later Cox had the Indianapolis restored to a better state than ever. Originally it had its bonnet release clamps constructed of Quaker State oil cans that were bent to fit and painted. The driver's side wing was an inch- and-a-half longer than the passenger's, the roof was askew and the bonnet misaligned. And lashings of lead-loading had been used to make everything line up. Half a 55-gallon drum's worth, in fact! Jim Cox did a superb restoration and now the Lincoln Indianapolis Boano is correct and on the button.

    Under normal circumstances, you probably don't really want to drive a show car, an automobile whose function is to park itself in prime position and look amazing. But this Lincoln was so improved, it took part in and completed the Pebble Beach Tour d'Elegance in 2001 and went on to collect top honours in the Post-War Custom Coachwork class. It won more awards at the Amelia Island Concours as well as the Greenwich Concours in 2003, where it received the Most Outstanding Lincoln award.

    In the ownership of collectors Paul and Chris Andrews, the Indianapolis completed the 2013 Tour d'Elegance and was awarded the prestigious Lincoln Trophy when Lincoln was the featured marque at #Pebble-Beach .

    Gian Paolo Boano had only five months to construct this car and he did a superb job of creating a fanciful, outlandish, exuberant and flamboyant showpiece. But the Indianapolis today is more that that. It is now a properly engineered and restored automobile that will be welcome at every great concours event. And you can even drive it there and back. The dilettante showgirl is now also a domestic goddess. Ah, of this dreams are made.

    BUY IT YOURSELF! #Lincoln-Indianapolis Boano

    The Lincoln is part of a collection for sale by RM Sotheby’s.

    This Lincoln Indianapolis by Boano is part of the Andrews Collection to be auctioned by RM Sotheby’s on 2 May in Fort Worth, Texas. Well-known auto enthusiast and collector Paul Andrews and his son Chris have amassed a superb collection of concours cars over the years. Their museum houses 100, all in excellent condition. But the Andrews have now decided that the maintenance of so many cars is too much and that it is time to slim the collection down to about 15 or 20.

    ‘When you get down to it, the most fun you can have in a car is using it how it's meant to be used... on the road,' says Paul. ‘We want to get down to a smaller number of cars that we very much enjoy driving and that we can take on events with the family. There are many events we'd like to try and, in order to do that, we need to focus on a more manageable collection.'

    In total some 75 cars from the Andrews Collection will be auctioned, as well as a wide assortment of automobilia. Highlights of the sale include the famous Ethel Mars #1935 #Duesenberg Model SJ Town car, a #1962 #Ferrari 400 Superamerica SWB Cabriolet and an authentic #1963 #Shelby 289 Competition Cobra. See www. rmauctions. com

    Car 1955 - #Lincoln-Indianapolis-Boano
    ENGINE 5588cc ‘Y-block’ V8, OHV, four-barrel carburettor
    POWER 225bhp @ 5000rpm
    TORQUE 260lb ft @ 3500rpm
    TRANSMISSION Four-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
    STEERING Recirculating ball
    Front: double wishbones, coil springs, telescopic dampers.
    Rear: live axle, leaf springs, telescopic dampers.
    BRAKES Drums
    WEIGHT c1600kg
    PERFORMANCE Top speed c90mph
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  •   Mike Renaut reacted to this post about 4 years ago
    The great escape - take one #Mercedes-Benz #450SEL 6.9 #W116 , some stunning Norwegian scenery, and you get a true dream drive. Taking to Norway’s beautiful and often challenging roads in the iconic 450SEL 6.9 was one opportunity not to be missed.

    It would be very easy to dramatise feelings of worry as I slipped into the Bamboo leather seat of this 37-year old, long-wheelbase saloon. But the fact is, although I did not know the total distance of our roadtrip before it began, I was utterly convinced that this W116 Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9 would complete it. Extremely healthy bodywork and a quick starting #M100 V8 can do that for a modern classic driver’s confidence.

    This 6.9’s well documented history also helped the positive feelings to grow. Delivered – to Beverly Hills in California on June 27 1977, the W116 S-Class moved 800 miles north to Oregon 23 years later, and received a transmission rebuild complete with a new torque converter. The air conditioning compressor was replaced and the system updated to R134a gas, too.

    Falling into the hands of another Oregon based keeper in #2003 , the 6.9 enjoyed new parts for its hydro-pneumatic front and rear suspension (standard on this flagship #S-Class ), new brake discs and pads, new front wheel bearings, new fuel injectors on four of the cylinders, a rebuilt starter motor, and a new water pump and radiator. In #2007 , the bodywork was repainted using the original and oh-so-cool, DB404 Milan Brown metallic colour, and during that work the rubber seals around the windscreen and rear window were replaced. Thanks to living in such a dry climate from #1977 to #2000 , the bodywork remains rust free while the chrome reflects mirror perfect images of the world around it.

    This 6,834cc V8 saloon began the next chapter of its life when it was bought on eBay in September #2008 by its current keeper Per Rustberggard, and promptly shipped to Norway (that first Scandinavian winter must have come as a shock to this old Mercedes!). Since then, the 6.9 has required only servicing and a new mount to secure its cast iron block V8.

    Per saw fit to replace the extended North American bumpers with Euro spec items, but as these are more expensive to buy new than what he paid for the entire car, he sourced the bumpers from a somewhat cheaper #1976 #280S .

    Back in the present, the object of today’s drive is simple: to enjoy the experience. We have long championed proper use of classic and modern classic Mercedes-Benz cars, and owners of this 6.9 have certainly lived up to expectation, racking up over 117,000 miles by the time my fingers acquaint themselves with the steering wheel’s rubber rim, the crinkled surface unusual to hands more often applied to perfectly smooth modern finishes.


    Freyr, the Norse god of many things including sunshine, clearly approves of our intent, blitzing early morning clouds and leaving a near flawless blue ocean above, the 6.9’s shade merging with roadside flora as we begin our journey south west, leaving the town of Gol along road 7 and aiming for Hoi, 36 miles away.

    With tighter curves few and far between, the flagship 116-series S-Class is allowed to stretch its legs on a hard surface well accustomed to sub zero temperatures, the 6.9’s automatic transmission relying on second gear to do most of the leg work before carefully smudging the change to third gear - the highest available. At 50mph, the two-valve engine is barely past 2,000rpm, and reminds the car's occupants of its presence with a rhythmic and ever so gently reverberating melody that calls for the Becker radio to remain silent, and conversation between myself and photographer Craig Pusey to be sociably fleeting.

    Soon we are on the outskirts of Hoi before rolling north west along road 50. As we begin to climb, greater use of the 6.9’s recirculating ball steering is required, and it is along here that we get our first sight of snow. Almost 1,000 metres above sea level, the Strandavatnet lake literally stops us in our tracks, reflecting the snow covered hills and blue sky above in its impossibly tranquil surface. Unexpectedly, out here in this wilderness the 450SEL 6.9 looks completely at home, its slightest of curves and coppery hue becoming pan of the landscape rather than distracting from it.

    Eager to make tracks with the promise of even more spectacular scenery, the full 250bhp and 360lb ft torque of this US spec 6.9 (Euro cars had 282bhp/405lb ft, in part thanks to a 0.7 higher compression ratio of 8.8) are deployed as we leave the layby and rejoin the carriageway. The V8’s ascent through its rev range is relatively steady but it packs the force of a freight train, the final 1,000rpm before the redline at 5,000 the most energetic as the engine emits a deep and brutal snarl hardly in keeping with the bodywork surrounding it. The quoted 134mph maximum (140mph for Euro cars) certainly feels possible with more provocation of that floor hinged throttle pedal.

    With the morning rapidly eroding, we continue our march along road 50, now heading north west towards Aurland. However, to get there we must pass through several tunnels including the Nesbotunnelen (1.6 miles long), Berdaltunnelen (2.6 miles) and Stondaltunnelen (1.4 miles), each black hole through the mountainside testing a driver’s nerve and spatial awareness, and of course, their car’s headlamps, which in this case are somewhat lacking in their lighting ability!

    The tunnel roads may be dead straight, but they are littered with bumps and covered in dust. And the fact they are only just wide enough to take two cars abreast does not make meeting oncoming vehicles any easier, or less stressful. For those drivers who have navigated the Blackwall Tunnel in London, that mildly twisting route under the River Thames is a walk in the park compared to what greets us in the next few dozen minutes.


    Still around 12 miles from Aurland, and after carefully aiming the 6.9 downhill through yet more tunnels Gollum from The Lord of the Rings would be happy to call home, a puff of smoke rises from the front left wheel and wafts across the bonnet as we come to a halt at a red traffic light. The disc brakes of this two-tonne Benz are crying time, so under the advice of their owner I manually choose a low gear and stay off the stoppers whenever possible.

    It takes all of lunch in Gudvangen, another 12 miles west of Aurland, to regain my confidence in the 6.9’s vacuum boosted brake system, which has sufficiently cooled before the next challenge presents itself - one of the steepest roads in northern Europe. Right!

    We could simply retrace our tracks along the E16 back to Aurland, but with a 6.8-litre super saloon to hand and a lusting for a deeper sense of adventure, the Stalheimskleiva it is. Beginning at the rear of the Stalheim Hotel, which overlooks the Narroy Valley, this 13-hairpin road, complete with two adjacent waterfalls, puts renewed strain on the 6.9’s brakes, the old saloon suddenly feeling incredibly wide and longer than ever as we tiptoe down the mountainside, the craggy, knee high walls separating us from certain death doing little to calm my nerves. Somehow, we make it to the bottom of the valley without a wisp of brake smoke to speak of, and the 6.9 is duly rewarded for its steadfast performance with a full tank of fuel.

    Continuing back to Aurland before attempting to absorb the majesty of its vast fjord, we once again choose the scenic route as we begin the return leg of this dizzying journey. The next destination is Latrdal, and most drivers head to and from it via the Larrdalstunnelen, a monster, 15.2-mile cavity bored out of the mountains. We, however, set the 6.9’s 14-inch wheels on the Fv243 a road seemingly scribbled onto the map by a child and which zig-zags across huge areas of countryside almost always covered with snow. Lots of snow - banks so high they loom over this 1,410mm tall Benz.

    Despite the snowfall in these parts, the roads are sun kissed today and perfectly formed, inviting the 6.9’s double-wishbone front end to hunt apex after apex along this twisting back route. There is just enough room for two cars to pass each other along here, but this otherwise grand Mercedes starts to shrink around me and gamely chirrups its inside rear wheel on the exit of one 90-degree left hander. Sadly, nobody else is around to see and hear the long-wheelbase S-Class fire down the road at a rate of knots that must have seemed completely absurd in the 1970s.


    Our isolation brings renewed focus on the car, which feels more responsive and wieldy than ever as we join the E16 in the heart of Laerdal, before heading south east towards Hemsedal. Norway gives us one last, emphatic memory' during the final 60 miles, road 52 offering up more for the driver to savour than most of the A-roads in the UK combined. Again, the long-wheelbase 6.9 comes alive, the extra legroom in the rear seemingly of no concern to the 116-series chassis, with composure only ever rocked by poorly judged entry speeds into corners, or overly keen inputs through the helm. Of course, there is body roll (not even the rear level control system can fix that), but it is not the door handle scraping sort that came with any hydro-pneumatically suspended Citroen of the day.

    I imagine Norway’s main routes are welcomed by this S-Class, brought up on arrow straight American highways. Fast and (lowing, they allow the M100 to sing, and with half-turn curves they keep those old joints supple. It is a dream environment for this once most powerful Mercedes-Benz to flourish, and as we arrive in Gol, around 10 hours after we left, I swear I see a flash of new life in the 6.9's headlamps as we part ways - painfully for me.

    With another 232 miles under its wheels, this 6.9 has proven that older Mercedes really can be taken on new adventures in the second decade of the 21st century. All it takes is a sense of responsibility for maintaining that which would otherwise be lost in time. Given the potential rewards, I think it’s the least we can do...

    Long downhill stretches tested the disc brakes.
    One of the steepest roads in northern Europe.
    Many settings for this California car’s climate control system
    The light at the end of the many tunnels was a most welcome sight.
    Bamboo leather looks tremendous with the Milan Brown paintwork.
    A shade under 118,000 miles and none the worse for it - what a machine!
    One of the few times Editor Molyneux wasn’t smiling while driving.
    Hydro-pneumatic level control at rear ensures little fighting in corners.

    ENGINE M100 6,834cc V8
    POWER 250 / 286 bhp @ 4.000rpm
    TORQUE 360lb ft @ 2.500rpm
    TRANSMISSION 3-speed auto, RWD
    Weight 1,990kg
    0-62MPH 8.9sec
    Top speed 134mph
    Fuel consumption 15mpg
    Years produced #1975 - #1980

    Figures tor a US spec car as pictured, built from #1977 to #1979 : fuel consumption determined at % of top speed (not more than 110km/h 68mph) plus 10 per cent.

    The craggy, knee high walls separating us from certain death do little to calm my nerves.

    I imagine Norway's main routes are welcomed by this S-Class, brought up on arrow straight American highways.

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  •   Andy Everett reacted to this post about 4 years ago
    PASSED IT Tony Dron
    Road tests have never been advertisements - the idea is shocking.

    Resignation is back at last! While former British Foreign Secretaries from both sides fall like flies after being caught out, there’s another kind of resignation in action, the kind in which you fall on your sword with honour, in disgust at the corruption around you. One honest journalist, the senior political commentator Peter Oborne, has just done that.

    His reason? He was outraged to find that the distinction between the advertising and editorial departments was being systematically blurred by a not-very-subtle change in the way his paper was being managed. Corruption in such exalted places is deeply disturbing, but is all journalism like that now? What about motoring journalism? Can you believe what you read?

    Few readers seem to have any idea of what it’s all about. I was shocked once when an enthusiast assured me that all motoring writers were paid by the motor industry. This bloke claimed to be a keen reader of motoring magazines - and decades of work by incorruptible motoring writers were dismissed by him as casually as that.

    History tells a different story in which one man, Maurice Platt, stands out as the pioneer of the independent, scientifically conducted road test. Platt and his colleagues had a struggle because motor manufacturers were reluctant at first to have their products examined like that.


    Platt was a proper engineer who joined Motor magazine between the wars and succeeded in establishing objective road tests of new models, including accurate measurement of fuel consumption, acceleration, top speed and braking performance. Having achieved that, Platt left journalism in the 1930s and joined Vauxhall as an engineer. Following his retirement in the 1960s, he wrote a fascinating autobiography, An Addiction to Automobiles.

    Platt and his rivals, most notably at Autocar, set the splendid rules that were still obviously in place when I joined the road test team of Motor magazine four decades later in #1971 . An admirably ferocious independence of mind prevailed, in which any influence from our advertisement sales team was unimaginable. It just did not happen.

    Apparently, gifts had sometimes been offered to journalists when a new car was launched but that only raised suspicions. If they had any value, such as a good camera for example, they made any decent journalist ask one question: what is wrong with the car? Far from having the desired effect, the British motoring journalists I’ve known have always been deeply offended by any hint of bribery.

    One road test I wrote in #Motor in #1972 resulted in the removal of a valuable advertising account.

    I pointed out that the new #Lancia-2000-Sedan was expensive, the performance was only fair and the fuel consumption was disappointingly poor.

    Our road tests were written by one person but they included the thoughts of the whole team. Looking beyond the figures we had taken ourselves, we were unable to reach a unanimous verdict about that controversial Lancia, despite its many good features.

    It was an honest report but it infuriated Tony Hemelik, the managing director of #Lancia (England) Ltd, and he withdrew all Lancia advertising from our magazine. The editor backed me up in an editorial meeting and that was that, for a time.

    A year later, in July #1973 , the #Lancia-Beta was launched in the UK and British journalists were invited to drive the new models at Brands Hatch. Perhaps because we were not allowed to try them on the public road, the editor sent me to get the story.

    After a few laps of the circuit in a new Beta, I returned to the paddock and had just parked when I saw an agitated, middle-aged man in a suit sprinting towards me. It was such an alarming sight that I looked more closely, and saw that it was none other than Tony Hemelik. Slightly worried, I wound down the window as he arrived, out of breath.

    He blurted out: ‘Fantastic. It’s great to see one of our cars being driven properly... really fast... (pant, pant)... you overtook everybody else... I was watching...’ Then he looked down and his face fell, showing that he had finally recognised me. I smiled weakly. He laughed loudly and turned on his heel. Lancia resumed its advertising in Mofor immediately after that.

    Corrupt collusion between road test writers and advertisement departments is something I have never seen, but I do have a deeper worry today. Now that the industry is required by law to provide accurate performance figures, some magazine publishers have axed their own expensive, independent test departments.

    New cars today get far more column inches from a vastly increased army of ‘lifestyle’ journalists. Any mention of a car’s handling is an outdated mystery to them. Such writing is not dishonest - just waffle. To discover what a new car is really like, read a magazine that does its own proper testing, just like good old Maurice Platt did it.


    Having started his racing career in Formula Ford, Tony made a name for himself in 1970s Touring Cars and since then has raced an astonishing variety of sports and historic machinery.

    He is also a hugely respected journalist.
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