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  •   Dan Furr reacted to this post about 4 years ago
    More than a minor project RM Sotheby’s, London, UK 7 September / #ISO-Grifo / #ISO /

    This #1967 ISO Grifo – a rare right-handdrive UK-supplied car – was put away for 30 years after it needed restoration. And it obviously hasn’t been stored well.

    Paul Darvill of RM Sotheby’s, who consigned the car, says: ‘This is the second Grifo the seller has owned. He ended up with the ex-Earls Court Motor Show car after a friend had owned it, but he sold it in the first fuel crisis of 1973.

    ‘Later he bought another, this one, chassis GL640064/D.’ Grifos were powered by the 327ci (5.4-litre) Corvette engine, in 300 and 365bhp guises. This first-series car is the GL300 version. Chris Lackner’s Grifo register shows it was built in July 1966 and supplied on centrelock Campagnolos, which it still wears today. The first owner was named Kubicki, and the V5C shows only two more.

    ‘The current owner purchased it from a Mr Roebuck in East Molesey, paying £8000 in 1986, and it was already showing signs of needing rust repairs. He planned to have it painted the same metallic burgundy as his first one, so it went to a restorer near his estate in Scotland, who’d restored a Morris Minor, but I think this car was a bit too daunting.

    ‘So it got left – for 30 years – but recently the son persuaded the owner that they should go and rescue the car. So they dragged it out and recovered it to their barn near Lockerbie. It looks as if it has been outside under a tarpaulin, as there’s nothing left of the bottom four or five inches of the bodywork, either floors or sills. It’s held together by the roof and doors.’

    The only work attempted appears to have been spraying one rear corner in primer. Inside, the carpets have disappeared and the steering wheel rim has delaminated, but the leather, dash and instruments look in fair shape.

    It’s offered at no reserve when it comes under the hammer. Darvill is cautiously hoping for ‘Twenty or thirty thousand’, or at least enough to cover what it owes the owner – but it could fetch a lot more, even though restoration costs will be at E-type or Aston Martin levels.
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  •   Ben Barry reacted to this post about 4 years ago
    CAR #Fiat-1100R / #Fiat-1100 / #Fiat /
    YEAR #1967
    MILEAGE 12,340
    PRICE 5495

    tel: 01702 543555
    Price L885,000
    Max power 47bhp
    Max torque 57lb ft
    0-60mph 21 secs
    Top speed 81mph
    Mpg 36

    This 1100R spent most of its life near Verona, with one person until 2010, and it was probably painted during his ownership. It arrived in the UK in 2012. Stamps in the original registration document – the only paperwork apart from the V5C – show that, towards the end of its tenure, it spent various periods out of use. But we’ll assume that the clock is on the second time round, meaning a total of about 70,000 miles.

    The paint job isn’t the best – orange-peeled and dull – though it would probably respond well to a cut and polish. The structure looks entirely rust-free, although the right chassis leg within the engine bay is curiously dented. A couple of bubbles at the door bottoms don’t translate into rot inside, and the clear drain holes are as original. Lifting the rubber mats reveals the factory soundproofing, and the floors underneath look good. The boot floor is corroded at the edges but still seems solid enough.

    There’s some bubbling on the C-pillars but it appears superficial rather than serious. One to Waxoyl now before the English weather sets in… The brightwork is mostly tidy, with a small ding in the front bumper and lightly corroded headlight rims, but the hubcaps and tail-lights are okay. Its tyres, bar the ancient ZX spare, are 2009 P3000s, which curiously have cracked sidewalls on the nearside. Maybe it was standing in the sun. Inside, the seat vinyl is all smart, apart from one seam coming apart on the top of the rear bench back. There’s an aftermarket gear gaiter that has its own period charm, and the headlining is a bit grubby but has no splits.

    The 1089cc pushrod ‘four’ is dusty but leak-free. Its coolant is full and blue, the oil dark and near the top mark. It starts easily and drives nicely, with a zesty motor and, incredibly given the Heath Robinson linkage, no discernable play in the steering. The synchros on the top three gears are strong plus the brakes (discs at the front) pull up well and there are no minor gauges to worry about. The Fiat will be sold with a new MoT.


    Structure seems solid overall; previous respray not the greatest

    All original and holding up nicely

    MECHANICALS Drives well; water pump noisy, although it doesn’t leak


    For Rare and better than the equivalent British offerings
    Against Ideally needs better paint

    It’s an interesting and unusual (in the UK) alternative to an ADO16 or an Escort/Viva – and very usable.
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  •   Andy Everett reacted to this post about 4 years ago
    According to the #Piper Sports & Racing Car Club, some 57 of the 90(ish) Piper road cars produced between 1968 and #1974 still exist, together with a number of the 20 or so racing ones. The marque was established in 1966 at Campbell’s Garage, Hayes, Kent, by proprietor George Henrotte, former Weslake engineer Bob Gaylor, and McLaren M1A designer Tony Hilder. The new car’s name was inspired by the establishment’s logo of a kilted bagpiper.

    Henrotte had run the Works Gemini Formula Junior team and the first Pipers built were intended for the track, and included an open mid-engined sports racer, striking coupe version and both Formula Ford and F3 single-seaters. The birth of the Piper road car was motivated by a group of motorsport enthusiasts who wanted to create a circuit racer using Sprite mechanicals. A scale model was exhibited in #1966 and, despite the project’s instigators then falling by the wayside, Piper built a fullsize prototype in time for the #1967 Racing Car Show. The reaction was encouraging, but progress slow and troublesome until the intervention of Brian Sherwood resulted in a switch to Ford power and a move to his premises in Wokingham, Surrey.

    By #1968 there was a choice of #Piper-GTT , #Piper-GTS and #Piper-Sport versions, all of which featured special cylinder heads and camshafts produced by Piper’s thriving tuning division (now Piper Cams). The fibreglass-clothed, tubular-steel chassis featured Triumph Herald steering and front suspension, and a Ford axle retained by Piper’s own multilink set-up at the rear. Sherwood’s positive influence was prematurely curtailed by a fatal accident near Brands Hatch in December #1969 , at which point production was adopted by Bill Atkinson and Tony Waller under the banner of Emmbrook Engineering. It was on their watch the P2 (Phase 2) model was introduced that featured a 6in longer wheelbase and other refinements.

    The final year of production was conducted at premises in South Willingham, Lincolnshire, with the last car being completed in #1974 . However, the pair continued their working relationship for a further 39 years in the manufacture of fibreglass baths.

    The most dramatic of all Pipers was the innovative three-foot high #Piper-GTR racer, a 1300cc version of which was entered for the 1969 #Le-Mans 24 Hour race. It failed to qualify, but folklore says the lap times were quick enough to well and truly ruffle the feathers of the home-grown team of Renault Alpines! For further info see our site.

    Above top: the Wokingham factory in #1972 .
    Above: a smart 1972 #Piper-P2
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  •   Martin Buckley reacted to this post about 4 years ago
    My obsession with #Alfa-Romeo-8C s stems from a copy of #Autocar published in November #1967 (inset below). Covers of motoring weeklies were generally dull in the ’60s, but I was transfixed by the dramatic action shot of the Hon Patrick Lindsay gunning his ex-John Cobb Monza down the Hangar Straight. Better still was the feature inside, which combined the talents of writer Ronald ‘Steady’ Barker with ace photographer Michael Cooper. Atmospheric monochrome on-board shots perfectly captured the stirring, damp blast alongside Lindsay around Silverstone while Steady’s prose passionately described the great car’s history. This famous Monza, Donald Healey later claimed, was the very car that became the template for the fabulous Triumph Dolomite.

    Cobb was Steady’s hero as a schoolboy, and the highlight of the shoot was Lindsay digging out the #Napier-Railton before the Christie’s director took his visitors in turn for tours around the estate aboard the 24-litre Brooklands giant.

    Lindsay, Cooper and Steady were all heroes of mine, but sadly the last of these great characters has gone with the passing of the popular journalist aged 94. I was lucky to enjoy many adventures with him in a fantastic variety of machinery, ranging from #Cadillac-V16 to the treasured #NSU-Ro80 that he never tired of demonstrating. The advanced Wankel-powered wonder was even entered in the VSCC’s Pomeroy Trophy, where it cornered at dramatic angles of roll while out-handling much more exotic machinery. “The faster you go,” he enthused, “the smoother the engine gets.”

    Be it leading a Mini race for journalists at Goodwood or chasing GP Bugattis over the Alps on his #Yamaha XV1100 ’bike, Steady enjoyed every mile. Our shortest journey was aboard a vintage Lafitte Type D in which the whole engine swivelled to give variable ratios via its novel friction drive, but frustratingly the transmission started to slip not far from his home. We made it back, pushed it into the barn and headed off in his grand 8.5-litre, straight-six Edwardian Renault 45hp – the commanding view from its long, lofty cockpit being the total opposite to the cramped, sluggish Lafitte. The contrast was typical of Steady, who would get as animated about a Peugeot Quadrilette cyclecar as a new Audi quattro.

    But our most memorable exploits were on his exposed #1908 #Napier 60hp, particularly over routes he knew well that allowed him to confidently illustrate both its effortless torque and its impressive acceleration. His smooth technique – “Never surprise a car,” he always maintained – was vindicated by a moment that caused us both to turn white. With a lesser helmsman, the consequences are unimaginable.

    En route to Cefntilla Court on Welsh border backroads to visit his chum Lord Raglan, we crested a brow at speed… On the clear descent we spotted a huge stretch of mud where cows had left a wide 50ft-long trail crossing from farm to milking yard. Early morning rain had turned the road at the valley bottom into a treacherous, slippery mess.

    There was no chance of braking before the muck started, so Steady kept his cool and relaxed his hands on the wheel. As the Napier’s skinny beaded-edge tyres scythed through, I could feel the chassis develop a gentle snaking movement before we reached the tarmac and grip again. Steady knew that it was a close call, but I was full of awe for his remarkable ability.

    Along with the constant puns and limericks, the joy of long road trips were his vivid stories about childhood in Much Hadham, living in Germany during the ’30s, and motor show visits with his hero Laurence Pomeroy of the rival weekly The Motor. Steady never married, a situation he blamed on his father who once read aloud a “silly” love letter he wrote from school to a local girl, but his bachelor retreat at Shorncote was a car enthusiast’s dream.

    The spiral staircase – its walls plastered with colourful motoring posters from his continental travels – was much admired, but the spectacular decoration was sadly lost when arthritis forced him to move into a bungalow.

    Although Steady always reckoned that writing was a struggle, his wonderful stories came as naturally as his driving skills. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate his life than searching out old copies of Car and settling down with a smooth glass of Pinot Noir.

    ‘Along with a constant stream of limericks and puns, the joy of road trips were Steady’s vivid yarns’

    Fully exposed to the elements, Walsh records a trip on Steady’s Napier.
    Cooper’s striking shot of riding with Lindsay in the Monza.
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  •   Greg MacLeman reacted to this post about 4 years ago

    The word ‘carburettor’ is now almost extinct in everyday life. Thus it joins ‘amarulence’ (bitterness) and ‘sinapistic’ (containing mustard) in a treasury of neglect. It occurred to me that I scarcely knew what a carburettor is. Or I should say ‘was’. They belong to the past, just like real chauffeurs whose original job, from the French for ‘heat’, was to warm-up primitive engines.

    The #carburettor predates the automobile and, according to the Oxford English Dictionary was first used in #1866 , exactly 20 years before Benz’s #Motorwagen patent. A carburettor was an apparatus for passing hydrogen, coal gas or air over a liquid hydrocarbon so as to produce what the lexicologists delightfully described as ‘illuminating power’.
    There is a wonderful poetic vocabulary associated with illuminating power, now fading into memory. Downdraught, butterfly valves, float-chamber, choke, throttle jets, flooding and backfire. I specially remember flooding. Although I was completely ignorant of Bernoulli’s Principle - the one that says ‘in flowing air, speed and pressure work inversely’, and which governs carburettor design - I spent hours under the bonnet of my old #MG trying to balance its erratic twin SUs.

    This is why I am feeling nostalgic. Carburettors evoke an age when you could look at an engine and read its function. My MG’s A-series was like a child’s diagram of the laws of physics. You could see that air came in one side, got mixed with fuel on its way into the cylinder head where, by way of a controlled explosion, it produced that illuminating power whose residue escaped as smelly hot gas out of the other side. It was elemental, even primal, and very satisfying, aesthetically speaking.

    Carburettors spoke a visual language all of their own. The pleasant, rounded domes of the classic #SU seemed to suggest English correctness, even a slight primness since they disguised some of its functions. Altogether more feral was the Amal sidedraught carburettor used on JAP-engined Cooper Formula 3 cars and Triumph Bonneville bikes. It seemed erotically assertive: a mechanical proposition with sexual suggestion. Visually it said raw power. You could almost hear it hiss.

    Or look at a vast four-barrel Holley carburettor, as gross as a piece of military equipment, the sort you might find on a US muscle car with a Muncie four-on-the-floor and lake pipes painted matt white. How could such gigantic apparatus be anything other than American? A Holley says four-hundred-cubic-inch gurgling, molecule-bashing V8.

    But most evocative of all is a Ferrari V12 with its martial row of six pairs of glittering downdraught Webers. Their arrogant air trumpets strut themselves and suck-in the atmosphere like the most rampant gigolo. Such a display (and it is a display) of seductive, proud, ridiculous excess could only be from Emilia- Romagna, just as an SU could only be from Birmingham.

    In #1991 #Ferrari organised an exhibition in Florence’s Belvedere, with its greatest cars in vast Plexiglass boxes, floodlit against a renaissance backdrop. The exhibition catalogue had gravure illustrations of the greatest Ferrari engines. Whenever I am quizzed about my fascination with cars and asked how I reconcile it with a strict training in academic art history, I reach for a gravure illustration of the #1967 #Dino 206SP’s 65° V6 and its three pairs of #Weber 40DCN/4 carburettors to make my point. I really do not know anything more beautiful.

    No-one makes a car with a carburettor today. Ford supplied the last Crown Victoria Police Cruiser (a personal favourite) fitted with a carburettor to the NYPD in 1991. The very last car with a carburettor was, and no surprises here, a 2006 Lada. Meanwhile, Weber ended production in Italy in 1992 and Holley went bust in 2008.

    Today we have fuel injection. Its advantages have long been known: in the Second World War, #Rolls-Royce Merlin engines withcarburettors suffered fuelstarvation in extreme manoeuvres, while the injected #BMW and #Daimler engines of the Luftwaffe maintained fuel flow even pulling out of steep dives. Of course, fuel injection is technically superior; mandatory catalytic converters require its precision and on-board diagnostics demand systems with microchip-powered reporting ability. You don’t get that sort of thing from imprecise, messy and temperamental carburettors. That’s why they are so wonderful.



    Author, critic, consultant, broadcaster, debater and curator Stephen co-created the Boilerhouse Project at London's V&A, was chief executive of The Design Museum, and fell out with Peter Mandelson when he told him the Millennium Dome ‘could turn out to be crap'.
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