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    Time for laser precision

    Car #1962-Jaguar-E-Type-FHC / #Jaguar-E-Type-FHC / #Jaguar-E-type / #Jaguar / #1966

    Owned by Phil Bell (

    Time owned 9 years
    Miles this month 135
    Costs this month £0

    Previously Had the rusty heater box blasted and recoated, fitting it just in time for a run to Bicester sunday super scramble

    Last year I refitted my steering rack with polyurethane mounts in place of standard rubber parts that were allowing an alarming amount of movement, and while I was at it I added a pair of new track rod ends. Despite greasing the old ones at the factory mileage intervals the excess egress from the dust seals was starting to look rusty brown and the joints no longer felt smooth. I’d taken a great deal of care measuring the length of exposed track rod thread so that I’d end up with close to the same toe-in, but without being certain that it was spot-on I feared premature wear to my Dunlops, and they’re not cheap. To do the job properly you need alignment equipment. Normally I relish an excuse to buy more tools, unless they’re expensive and unlikely to see much action.

    Handily, #E-Type specialist E-conic, better known as Moss Jaguar, had recently relocated to nearby Letchworth and I was looking for an excuse to have a nose around. While Angus Moss showed me the charming Victorian building with its sawtooth roof and a dozen or so E-types in for work, technician Murray Simpson wheeled out a rack of modern laser alignment kit to check out my car.

    As well as the toe-in, he would give a verdict on all of the adjustable front and rear alignment parameters that can effect handling and tyre wear. Resetting everything is a fiddly process where adjustment in one dimension upsets another, so I awaited the results with some trepidation. As it turns out, only the easiest needed changing. The front track should toe in by between 1.6 and 3.2mm and mine was 3.8, so Murray wound the track rods out slightly to give a mid-range 2.5mm. My earlier DIY attempt had been a near miss. The front castor and camber were both within tolerances, as was the rear camber, which I’d had to reset with shims after the last differential rebuild and wheelbearing replacement. A normal person would be pleased that there was so little wrong, but I was disappointed.

    I’d hoped that everything would have been way out, and the healing hands of the doctor would transform my E-type into a Lotus Elise-like tool of precision. Or at least a bit less grand tourer on turn in and a bit more sports car.
    A step change in feel would require stiffer torsion bars, coil springs and anti-roll bars, but I’m not convinced that I want to go that far. Perhaps it’s better to enjoy the E-type for what it is and borrow my wife’s Boxster whenever I feel the need for something sharper.

    Would Murray’s professional kit betray Phil’s DIY tracking efforts? Laser tool allows four-wheel alignment. Rear scale checks steering is centred.
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    Public squeaking

    CAR #1966-Ford-Mustang / #1966 / #Ford-Mustang / #Ford / #Mustang / #Mustang-Mk1 / #Mustang-thermostat


    It just happened, out of the blue. One day the ’Stang was performing sweetly, the next it had developed an irritating noise from the front suspension. Not just an occasional chirp, but a relentless squawk induced by even the tiniest road ripple. Googling revealed that this is a common phenomenon with early Mustangs; so common that it is known as ‘the Mustang squeak’. But it can originate from one or more of several places in the suspension and identifying the source is very difficult, even if you enlist someone to bounce the front end up and down while you stick your head under the car.

    The noise was coming from the driver’s side, so I jacked the car up and whipped off the front wheel. Pumping the lower ball-joint full of grease made no difference, and my money is now on the upper wishbone pivots – built with no means of lubrication – or the spring perches. The latter are miniature platforms that pivot on top of the lower wishbones to support the springs. With no lubrication points, they rely on the elasticity of rubber bushings.

    Thanks to the Mustang’s fantastic parts support, you can now buy wishbones with grease nipples built in, and spring perches that pivot on roller bearings. The latter are relatively expensive but will last forever and are said to have other benefits for the ride and steering feel, because the entire weight of the car’s front end bears on these perches and the standard items have innate ‘stiction’ under load.

    Otherwise, the only problem I’ve had in 2000 miles of sunny springtime motoring is that, as bought, the engine was running too cold. There are three temperature options for a Mustang thermostat – 160, 180 or 195ºC – and the one fitted turned out to be a 160, presumably to help it cope with summers in Los Angeles, where it lived for almost 50 years.

    I’m blessed with a choice of two major US car parts warehouses within 30 minutes’ drive of the Octane office, so obtaining a replacement ’stat was an easy lunchtime jaunt.

    Experimenting with a 195 made the #V8 run too warm but, like Goldilocks’ porridge, a 180 was just right and the car is now averaging just over 21mpg, which I think is pretty good for a 289 V8. I was amused to see that the thermostat housing gasket fits all #Ford-V8 s from 1948 to 1989 – you gotta love Henry’s parts rationalisation!

    Right and above Mark attempts to cure ‘the Mustang squeak’ and fits a new thermostat, which has improved fuel consumption.
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    When Bullitt came out with Steve McQueen I wanted to know everything about the Ford Mustang. The same with #Knight-Rider – I remember tuning in just to see the car. These days most people don’t notice the cars the stars are driving, but they seem to know the ones in the video games, like Gran Turismo 6, which just came out.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    CAR: #1966-Porsche-906-Carrera / #Porsche-906-Carrera / #Porsche-906 / #1966 / #Porsche

    $1,950,000 Symbolic, San Diego, USA

    Porsche built 110 examples of its 550 Spyder, the car made famous by its giant-killing success as a racer and infamous as James Dean’s death-mobile. Values are now north of $5 million – the most paid to date is $6,100,000 for the superbly original example sold by Bonhams at 2016’s Goodwood Revival auction. But the often illogical nature of classic car values means that the rarer, quicker, more advanced – and arguably far more usable – 906 is currently worth less than half as much as a 550. As an example, look at this superb example being offered by long-established California dealer Symbolic, which has an interesting and unusual history, being one of just three Porsche 906s consigned to Japan.

    Sold new through Mitsuwa, the only official Porsche dealership in Japan during the 1960s, the car was originally owned by a rag trade magnate called Shintaro Taki: he also ran a car dealership, Taki Motors, that operated a racing team for which he was the main driver. He raced the 906 throughout the 1966/67 season and notched up numerous victories in Japan, Hong Kong and Macau.

    Taki upgraded to a 910 in 1967 and sold the 906. It was acquired by the English journalist and racer Peter Bellamy in 1970 and painted British Racing Green. He continued to campaign it extensively in Japan before shipping it to Australia and selling it to the then CEO of Maranello Concessionaires who displayed it in his private museum for the following 26 years.

    The car returned to Japan in 1991, later entering the collection of Toshio Tachikawa who engineered a rather nice reunion story by entering it for Japan’s La Festa Mille Miglia and putting Taki at the wheel.

    A decade ago, Tachikawa sent the 906 back to Weissach for a five-year restoration that included re-building and re-fitting its original engine and gearbox. It then sat for a decade in Tachikawa’s private museum before being bought by another Japanese collector prior to its purchase by Symbolic in 2015.
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    / #Lamborghini-400GT HOT LITTLE NUMBER MAGIC CAR PICS / #Lamborghini-400GT-2+2 / #Lamborghini / #1965 /
    Somehow, more seats equals less value, but savvy buyers will appreciate the 400GT 2+2

    Perhaps it’s no surprise that the Lamborghini #400GT 2+2 looks just a wee bit squiffy – I suppose ‘different’ is more polite – for, in that famous fit of pique that turned Ferruccio Lamborghini from a dissatisfied Ferrari customer into a dream-maker, he instructed his team to build him a cross between an Aston Martin DB4, Corvette Stingray and an E-type Jaguar.

    But, given that brief, it’s actually amazing that Lamborghini’s first models turned out as nicely as they did. The Touring-penned 350GT coupé of 1964 was quirky, but it got attention and set Lamborghini apart from the start. What’s more, although Lamborghini was an upstart, the fledgling marque already had considerable pedigree: Giotto Bizzarrini (the former chief engineer at Ferrari who oversaw projects including the 250GTO) created the 350GT’s magnificent quad-cam #V12 in an elegant riposte to his old boss, Enzo. The chassis and independent suspension, by Gian Paolo Dallara, were properly sophisticated, plus there were disc-brakes all round. Result? The alloy-bodied 350GT was simply better than Ferrari’s 330GTC. Don’t argue.

    The Raging Bull of Sant’Agata escalated its battle with the Poncing Horse with the introduction of the 400GT 2+2. Although outwardly similar to the 350GT (quad headlights aside) and built on the same wheelbase, the new car was lengthened to provide accommodation for four. Indeed, every panel was different and the car was now clothed in steel, apart from the bonnet and boot lid. In another departure, Lamborghini chose to equip the 400GT 2+2 with its own five-speed gearbox rather than ZF five-speeder of its predecessor, and although its steel body made it heavier than the 350GT, the V12 had also grown from 3.5 to 4.0 litres, to deliver 320bhp.

    On the road all of that translated into 0-60mph in 7.5 seconds and a top speed of more than 150mph. ‘Better than all the equivalent exotic and home-bred machinery in this glamorous corner of the fast car market’, raved one British magazine.

    So what’s not to like? The more observant will have clocked right away that the 400GT 2+2 has no wing mirrors – but that’s because because the slim-pillared glasshouse offered amazing virtually all-round vision. How about the dashboard? It’s a riotous, chaotic mess of dials, toggles and lights – and it’s joyous!

    They say Lamborghini lost $1000 on every 350GT and there’s no reason to suspect that the sums added up any better during production of the 400GT 2+2, which notched up 242 sales from 1966 to 1968. The reason for the company’s inability to balance the books will be obvious to anyone who has driven a 400GT 2+2: it’s beautifully (and expensively) built and undoubtedly more capable and complete than its Modena rivals. Some even rate these Touringbodied cars as the best ever true-classic Lambos.

    And yet – and this is the best news of all – the 400GT 2+2 remains truly underappreciated in the marketplace. Prices are a whopping15-25% lower than those of the also undervalued two-seater 350GT (old-school polo-necked bachelors consider the extra ‘kiddy’ seats tantamount to castration by Connolly leather), and the 400GT 2+2 is as impressive on the road as it is attractively priced. It stacks up against any of the more obvious high-end 1960s GTs.

    Price points

    When new: In #1966 a #Lamborghini 400GT 2+2 cost £7120 in UK, compared with a ‘mere’ £4068 for an Aston Martin DB6 saloon and £6516 for either a Ferrari 330GT 2+2 or GTC. Jaguar’s E-type 2+2 was a bargain at £2284, while Lamborghini’s Miura was a monster £9165.

    1980s: At the height of the boom in 1989, price guides pitched the 400GT 2+2 at around £110,000. Miuras were close to double that, with 330GTCs also north of £200k. They’re not directly comparable, but Ferrari 365GTB/4 Daytonas were trading closer to £300,000.

    Low point: It’s hard to believe how cheap 400GT 2+2s were through the 1990s into the 2000s. In the mid-1990s, nice examples were routinely less than £40,000 at auction. At Monaco in 2000, a totally restored example made just £39,250.

    2000s: In 2002 when a concours winner sold for £102,000 it was regarded as a ‘freak’ result; most cars were trading at around £60,000-90,000.

    Today: In 2010 an exceptionally well cared-for 400GT 2+2 made £160,500 at auction; in 2011 an ex-Paul McCartney car with good originality made £122,500. Most recent open-market prices range from £143,000 to £229,000 – the latter price is the highest ever paid at auction for a 400GT 2+2 and bought a car fresh from a frame-off restoration. That puts the 400GT 2+2 within striking distance of the Daytona, but you won’t find a comparable 330GTC for comparable money. The 400GT 2+2 is also less than half the cost of an unspectacular Miura, but way, way more than half the car – and rarer, too.
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    XJ13 rep takes to the track / #1966 / #2016 /

    Exacting recreation with an original quad-cam #V12 now runs and drives. Words Richard Heseltine. Photography Jayson Fong.

    Neville Swales’ long-held dream of recreating the #Jaguar-XJ13 moved a step closer to being realised following the car’s big reveal at Curborough Sprint Course on 9 August. This six-years-in-the-making sports-prototype took to the twisty Staffordshire circuit in front of #Jaguar alumni which included the likes of Roger Shelbourne and Frank Philpott, who worked on the original car in the mid-60s.

    This exacting replica is based around a quadcam V12, one of only six units made in period. Swales has been at pains to build a car that is closer in ethos to the 1966 original, rather than aping the outline of the XJ13 in its current configuration. The sole prototype received physical alterations when it was rebuilt following Norman Dewis’ well-documented accident at the MIRA proving ground in 1971.

    Unfortunately, the replica’s day out was curtailed by a small fire. ‘There was very little damage,’ Swales says. ‘It probably looked spectacular, but it really wasn’t; just a scorched fuel line. To be honest, this has been one of the happiest days of my life. We’re not there yet. There is still some development to do and my dream is to get David Hobbs, who did a lot of XJ13 testing in the 1960s, and Mike Kimberley, who often sat alongside him, in the car. They have been incredibly supportive of the project.’
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    Adam Towler
    HALF A CENTURY AT HETHEL / #Lotus-Elan / #Lotus / #Lotus-Europa / #Lotus-Europa-Special-Type-74 / #Lotus-Europa-Type-74 / #Lotus-Type-74 /

    Fifty years ago, in #1966 , #Lotus-Cars moved into new premises at the former RAF Hethel airfield near Norwich. Since then the success of Lotus cars, for both the road and the racetrack, has made Hethel a name in the same exclusive club as Stuttgart, Modena and Bowling Green as the birthplace as some of the fi nest sports cars of all time.

    By 1959 Lotus Cars had outgrown its original premises in an old stable block in Hornsey, North London and moved to a purpose-built factory in Cheshunt in Hertfordshire. But the firm’s continuing success, especially the introduction of the mainstream Lotus Elan in 1962, meant that Colin Chapman had to seek out a larger site with room for future expansion. The disused RAF Hethel airfield was being disposed of and the deal was done. Production originally took place in old hangars but the site was gradually developed into a larger purpose-built factory, design and testing ground – the test track at Hethel uses parts of the former perimeter track and main runway.

    The early years at Hethel proved to be Lotus’ golden age, with the likes of the Elan and Europa receiving acclaim as road cars. Meanwhile Team Lotus won the Formula One Constructors’ Championship in 1968, 1970, 1972, 1973 and 1978 with a succession of advanced racing cars typified by the innovative Lotus 72. But attempts to move upmarket with the Elite, Eclat and Esprit in the mid-1970s foundered due to quality problems at Lotus, the aftershocks of the 1973 Energy Crisis and continuing economic troubles.

    Lotus rode out the tough times on the back of its consultancy work. For over 30 years Hethel has been one of the premier locations in the global motor industry for suspension design and development, engine tuning, testing and specialist engineering. Lotus was heavily involved with Toyota in developing the original MR2 and the contemporary Supra and, after being purchased by General Motors in 1986 developed and assembled the Lotus Carlton, the world’s fastest saloon car.

    Lotus’ first attempt at returning to high volume production, the M100 Elan of 1989, was a failure but, having moved into private hands, the firm found real success with the Elise of 1996. This was a car fully in keeping with Colin Chapman’s original principles, being a minimalist, lightweight two-seater sports car focussing on driver involvement above all else. The Elise proved such a success that it is still in production at Hethel 20 years after it was launched. Hethel was also the home for production of the Elisebased Vauxhall VX220/Opel Speedster. Other Elise spin-offs made at Hethel include the Europa S and the Exige, the latter of which is also still in production there alongside the larger Evora.

    It is the Evora that forms the basis of a new special edition car being built by Lotus to mark 50 years in residence at Hethel. The Evora 400 Hethel Edition is available in blue, black or green with black or red seats in a choice of leather or Alcantara. Forged aluminium wheels, coloured brake callipers and bespoke body graphics complete the package. Announcing the new edition Lotus CEO Jean-Marc Gales hinted at other editions to celebrate the milestone: “We’re looking forward to celebrating our connections to Norfolk throughout 2016,” he said. “More Lotus Hethel Anniversary news will be announced soon. The Hethel Evora 400 is the first in a series of special products.”
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    From precocious F2 upstart to seasoned works driver and #Le-Mans legend, #Jacky-Ickx enjoyed a long and varied career at the very top level of motor sport.

    Thinking back to the way that racing used to be in the 1960s and most of the ’70s, it is only now that I can fully appreciate how lucky mere club drivers were to be able to compete in events at which many of the star drivers of the time were entered. Back then, racers did as much as they could fit in, with Grand Prix folk showing up in sports cars, #F2 , saloons and whatever else might be on offer.

    It was at the #1968 Nürburgring 1000kms that I first got to see and meet Jacky Ickx. He was driving a Gulf GT40 with Paul ‘Hawkeye’ Hawkins. Ickx had covered himself in glory at the German Grand Prix the previous year when he’d raced a Matra F2 car (with 1600cc Cosworth FVA engine) against the 3-litre F1 machinery. Despite setting the third-fastest time in practice –just behind Denny Hulme’s Brabham – Ickx had to start back in 18th spot with the other F2 runners, but got up to fifth before his suspension broke. That shows what a Ringmeister can do with his blood up.

    Ickx won his first GP in 1968, for Ferrari at the very wet French round at Rouen. I must have said it before, but drivers who shine in the rain are very special. There’s something in their wiring that enables them to handle atrocious conditions better than us mere mortals. His F1 career had its ups and downs –Ferrari to Brabham and back to Ferrari, then on to Lotus with crashes, fire, hospital and back into action. I think he, along with the whole of F1, was very upset by Jochen Rindt’s demise at Monza in 1970. It is a measure of the man that Ickx publicly stated that he was glad he didn’t win that year’s #F1 World Championship because Rindt wasn’t around to protect his points lead.

    His strolling across the track to slip into his GT40 and do up his belts at Le Mans in 1969 as a protest against the traditional ‘run and jump’ start caused a stir, but what a brave decision –and what an exceptional finish to the race, with him and Jackie Oliver winning by just 9 secs from Hans Herrmann and Gérard Larrousse.

    Both Derek Bell and Jochen Mass have told me that partnering Ickx was special. The most important aspect of any co-driver is that you get the car back in at least as good nick as it was when you handed it over. It also helps if they’ve kept the lead or carved back a place or two. Ickx did all of that and more –perhaps never more so than during his amazing contribution to the Porsche effort at Le Mans in 1977. After his own 936 failed, he took over the Hurley Haywood/Jürgen Barth sister car and produced one of those charges that you had to witness to believe.

    What a treat it was to be in that race, too, and see the man at work. Another time at Le Mans, it was pelting down and I was wondering what the hell I was doing trying to keep the De Cadenet on the road down the Mulsanne Straight. I was on full wets. Who comes up behind me and sails past? Ickx. I followed him into the pits –he’d come in for a set of wets. Correct me if I’m wrong, but you can’t control a sports car at well over 200mph in those conditions on slicks, can you?

    Jacky came over to have a closer look at the De Cadenet one year. In his magnificent accent, he said: “You know Alain, when I drive for Porsche everything is just as it should be, with a wonderful warm, comfortable seat and the steering wheel and instruments just where I want them. The gearlever is perfect and the mechanics are in wonderful uniforms –it is like going to the Ritz. But when I look at your car, with the glassfibre shards in the seat and old instruments, the team and I think it must be like going to prison.” Definite hero.

    Ickx holds off Herrmann in the closing stages of 1969 Le Mans. Inset: the young man as a Ferrari F1 driver.


    Born 1945 From Brussels, Belgium
    Career highlights Eight GP wins for Ferrari and Brabham; #1966 Spa 24 Hours winner; six victories at Le Mans and twice World Endurance Champion; 1979 Can-Am champion; 1983 Paris-Dakar Rally winner
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