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    Glorious #1938 #BMW-328-Stunning southern hemisphere pre-war classic still in regular use. This glorious #BMW-328 is the only one in the southern hemisphere and is still exercised on a regular basis as Chris Nicholls recounts.

    Photography and word by Chris Nicholls. Southern Comfort. This wonderful pre-war 328 is reputed to be the only one left in the southern hemisphere.

    It’s a beautiful sunny spring day in Melbourne , Australia , and the warm breeze blows through my hair. All around people are looking, waving and smiling. My cheeks hurt from the permanent grin I’ve been wearing since we started out towards our shoot location. This is the joy of driving in its purest form. This is what the 1938 328 can give you.

    Designed in an era of classical fussiness, the 328 stood out for its clean, simple design. Not for the rational Germans the highly decorated and adorned surfaces of its rivals. Neither the pretty but impractical design touches that made others harder to work on than necessary. This was German design in its purest form and a symbol of what BMW would go on to be famous for – simple beauty and a focus on the very best driving experience.

    Funnily enough, the 328, despite its inclusion as one of the ‘Cars of the Century’ by a mix of experienced motoring journalists, has always been seen by many as actually too good to have a soul as a result. Its immense practicality, highly influential engine and excellent handling meant it lacked character to some.

    This is of course rubbish. I defy anyone to climb in, go for a drive and not come away with an insane grin. The roar of the triple downdraught Solex carbequipped 1971cc OHV straight-six at full bore, the rock solid mid-corner grip and availability of throttle- induced oversteer even in the dry is a fantastic combination, and that’s before we get to the pure pleasure of driving such an iconic car in modern day traffic. Yes, you have to deal with the actual traffic itself for a little while, but even then people just love seeing such cars on the road, and the joy you give them is a part of what makes driving a classic sports car like the 328 so special. And once you get to the twisties, you really see where BMW’s famous DNA came from. There’s a hint of initial understeer (mainly due to the tyres), then balanced mid-corner poise and the aforementioned twitch of the tail on command as you exit. The engine never feels weak on the straights either, even by today’s standards. Admittedly this example is running a sports cam and puts out a resulting 100hp or so, as opposed to the 80 it came with from the factory, but even in standard form, with only 830kg wet weight to push around, this car wouldn’t have hung about.

    The race results show just how effective a sports car the 328 was in its period, too. As many readers will no doubt know, the 328 came first in class at the Eifelrennen at the Nürburgring in 1936, then went on to take over 100 class wins in #1937 before winning its class at Le Mans, the RAC Tourist Trophy, the Alpine Rally and the Mille Miglia in ‘38. By the standards of the day, it was a rocket ship, and the fact current caretaker, Ken Bedggood of the Penrite Collection, has had it down the standing quarter at 17.2 seconds highlights that fact.


    Remarkably, as mentioned earlier, for all its speed, it’s still a very practical car. The boot, while it lacks rear access, is cavernous, and fitting in all my camera gear (and there was a lot) was easy. It could have held more, too. The rear-hinged ‘crocodile’ bonnet and quick-release clasps on the leather straps mean working on the engine is a breeze, and even the seats come out with a simple tug to ensure you can sit and enjoy a picnic without ever getting your clothes dirty.


    Of course, the completely unsecured seats, scalloped doors, lack of belts and the enamelled dashboard being only a small distance from your chest means should something bad ever happen, you’re probably toast, but that’s part of the thrill. Plus, you’re likely to be driving this a bit more carefully than your average family hatchback anyway.


    Having said that, this particular example gets driven with some enthusiasm on a regular basis, thanks to Bedggood’s philosophy that cars are meant to be used. A former champion rally driver here in Australia and manager of the Team Penrite historic racing team when he’s not running the museum and building/maintaining the cars, Bedggood has both the skills and experience to handle machines like the 328 and should he ever get hit by someone when he’s out driving, he at least has the skills to repair it himself, being a qualified fitter and turner.


    The fact this 328 does get driven almost everywhere is perhaps all the more remarkable when you consider this is the only one in the southern hemisphere. That’s right, of the 464 produced, this is the only remaining example south of the equator, and probably one of only a couple of hundred left running. (there was one other here for a while, but that was on loan to #BMW-Australia from #BMW Welt, and has since gone back). It’s so rare that Bedggood says he’s had ‘ludicrous’ offers for it in recent years, but thankfully for Australians, the owner, Penrite Oils CEO John Dymond, has no intention of parting with it.

    “Because all the Europeans have been buying them up [in recent times], we have so few of these classics here in Australia any more; we have to keep the ones we’ve got. I mean, I understand those who do sell, as it’s basically their retirement fund, but we’ve got to hold onto some, otherwise what’s going to happen to the next generation? We can’t pass on that passion,” says Bedggood.


    That’s why he takes it out as often as he can. Whether it’s the Geelong Speed Trials, where it ran its 17.2 quarter, or the famous Phillip Island Classic, where it competed in the regularity field a few years back, Bedggood ensures it get used as intended. Just a few weeks after this shoot, it went out in the Breast Cancer Foundation Rally, and later in 2016 it will be in the parade contingent for the Clipsal 500 V8 Supercars season opener in Adelaide.

    Sadly, due to a small oil leak, it’s likely not going to be driven interstate for that, but the very fact it gets driven almost everywhere else is almost a miracle, and definitely something car lovers in Australia should be grateful for. It’s also something that shocked BMW Australia when both this 328 and its example turned up at one show together. “It’s funny, we took it to this event once and the employees from BMW Australia trailered theirs in a covered trailer and we just drove all the way there and they looked at us when we arrived as if they were like ‘what are you doing?!’.” Not that all this driving doesn’t have risks.

    Bedggood relates another story where the team was invited to show it off it as part of the historic parade at the Melbourne F1 Grand Prix one year, and only realised when they got back to the pits that the fuse box cover had come off mid-lap.

    “I thought to myself, ‘oh no! Where am I going to source a genuine Bakelite Bosch fuse cover from 1938?’ but afterwards, a marshal came up to me and said “I think this came off your car just near where I was marshalling” and handed it back to me. Unbelievably, it was in perfect condition.”

    Indeed, the whole car is in remarkably good nick, considering its age and history. Previously owned by Chris Browning in the UK, current owner John Dymond came into it after Browning sadly fell ill with cancer and passed away. Dymond, a close friend of Browning, always talked to him about wanting the car, and Browning agreed to it before he passed. It then competed in a Frazer Nash Rally to Milan before being shipped to Australia and has been used regularly ever since. Even after all that, mechanically, the only issue right now is the aforementioned slight oil leak, which will no doubt be fixed, and the fact the alloy head already has 36 welds holding it together. Ideally, Bedggood would like to keep this part original, but has a Bristol head waiting in the workshop should he ever need it, as spark plug sizes aside, they’re identical (for those who don’t know, the Bristol engine was based on BMW designs taken by BAC and Frazer Nash representatives from the bombed factory after World War II). And given the car already had an overdriveequipped Volvo Amazon synchro box – a common and highly regarded upgrade over the fragile stock Hirth ‘box that, uniquely among other options, bolts on with no body modifications – fitted prior to Dymond’s purchase (the original came with it too), matching numbers is not so much of a pressing issue. At least the ultra-purists will be happy knowing the original toolbox is still intact. And in a lovely touch, the Victorian number plate is actually the same as the one it wore in the UK.


    Aesthetically, the wonderful cream paint outside is almost entirely unblemished, apart from a patch missing on the bonnet due to the straps not being done up properly prior to a road rally and the bonnet flying up and hitting the windscreen, and a bit of peeling around the now useless crank handle hole (the car was converted to 12 volt electrics while in the UK). Inside, a paint chip at the bottom of the dash and around well-used knobs and one of the VDO gauges is about all you can see. The unusually plain Bakelite three-spoke wheel obviously has some marks, but overall, it’s a stunningly well-looked after machine. It really is testament to the care Bedggood and the other museum staff impart.


    Machines like the 328 are, by definition, rare. Not just because of the limited production numbers and scarcity down under in this case, but because cars that get things this right only come along once in a proverbial blue moon. Whether it’s style, performance, handling or ingenious design, the 328 ticks all the boxes, and car lovers should be grateful such cars still exist, let alone get driven and put on show regularly like this one. It’s a source of pure joy, and my time with it was an experience I will never forget.

    Plenty of original equipment remains intact on the Penrite 328 such as its factory tool kit.


    TECHNICAL DATA #1938 #BMW-328

    ENGINE: 1971cc #OHV #straight-six based on #BMW-326 block (66mm bore, 96mm stroke). Alloy head, 7.5:1 compression ratio, inclined inlet valves operated by pushrods and rockers, exhaust valves operated by secondary pushrods and rockers, triple downdraught #Solex carburettors, sports camshaft, 100hp (estimated), 80hp (standard).
    GEARBOX: #Volvo-Amazon all-synchro four-speed with added overdrive (Hirth four-speed originally).
    CHASSIS: Tubular ladder-frame steel with aluminium body panels.

    SUSPENSION
    FRONT: Independent by transverse leaf spring, lower wishbones and hydraulic dampers
    REAR: suspension: Live axle, semi-elliptic springs and hydraulic dampers
    BRAKES: 280mm hydraulic drum brakes. Automatic footbrake adjustment
    TYRES: #Dunlop Racing 5.50-16

    This particular example gets driven with some enthusiasm on a regular basis.

    I defy anyone to climb in, go for a drive and not come away with an insane grin.

    The interior is in remarkable condition with the perfect patina; plenty of lovely details too, such as the stylish gear knob.

    This 328 gets regularly exercised and is a hoot to drive thanks to a sports camshaft and 100hp. ‏ — at Melbourne VIC, Australia
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    POWER RANGER #2016 / #BMW-E70

    We head off to Finland in search of a mighty #BMW X5M packing some serious horsepower. What do you do if your M3 is starting to feel a little vanilla and you want to explore further avenues of performance? Er, buy an X5, of course… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photography: Jape Tiitinen.

    “Never apologise. Never explain. Just get the thing done, and let them howl.” So said Agnes Macphail, the first woman to be elected to the Canadian House of Commons, thereby leaving mankind a handy and quotable getout for doing things that may raise eyebrows. It’s all too easy to do things that you think people will like or approve of rather than things you actually want to do, for the sake of an easy life; this is particularly true in the sphere of car modification, especially in an age of the immediacy of social media. Perceived deviations from the accepted ways of doing things can be met with an instant backlash – ‘you’ve done that wrong’, ‘you’ve ruined that’, ‘that looks terrible,’ blah blah etc. Who cares? You only live once, your brief glimmer of time on this Earth is far too fleeting to worry about what a bunch of wallies on the internet may be judging you for.

    All of which brings us to the elephant in the room here – that we’re looking at a modified X5, rocking enough horsepower to shame any 1990s supercar you care to name, and sufficient torque to knock the world slightly off its axis. Now, there will be people out there shaking their heads, tutting, passing harsh judgement over something that they view to be unnecessary and absurd. And while it’s tempting to tell these people to stick the entire X5 in their anodised aluminium pipes and try to vape it, it’s perhaps more constructive to simply attempt to encourage an openness of mind. For you see, a bighorsepower X5 actually makes a lot of sense, if that kind of thing is your bag. And even if it isn’t, you surely can’t help but admire the achievement of wringing 775hp out of such an imposing machine. Yes, you read that right – seven hundred and seventy-five horsepower. That’s rather a lot, isn’t it?


    Near enough what you’d expect to find lurking between the slinky hips of the new LaFerrari, which is a fairly devastating comparison. Or, to continue the Ferrari tit-for-tat, it’s as powerful as two whole Testarossas. Two! This, then, is an X5 that’s worthy of your attention. But this was always bound to be the way – its owner, Aleksi Sorvari of Hyvinkää, Finland, has something of a taste for big-horsepower machinery. Driving trucks for a living as he does, he has a keen affinity with supersized displacement, aggressively loud turbo whistle and stump-pulling torque, so it’s only natural that this enthusiasm for telephone-number power would carry over into his private life. Before the X5 he owned an E92 M3, which replaced a Mercedes-Benz CLS55 AMG. Given that Aleksi is just 22 years of age, this is a fairly robust introduction into the world of motoring excess. Goodness only knows what the next step might be… “I bought the M3 about three years ago to replace the CLS,” he explains. “I loved it, and it received a few modifications – three-piece Rotiform wheels, various carbon fibre parts and so on – but after three years of ownership I felt that it was time to move forward and try something new. The X5M seemed to be the obvious answer; it’s big, it’s powerful, it’s different. It only took a few days of searching to find a decent X5M in Finland, so I bought it and that was that.” Aleksi must be in a tiny minority of people who’ve decided to chop in an M3 for an X5 on the grounds of wanting something fun and different rather than, say, being forced into the decision by a growing family or some other reason of practicality. But who says decisions like this have to be rational?

    It can certainly be argued that the X5M is a solid starting point for a project. After all, this is no ordinary X5 – and as much as it may irritate the old-school badge purists, it’s a bona fide #M-car too. Debuting at the New York Auto Show in April #2009 , it was one half of the first pair of #xDrive cars to be developed by #M-GmbH , alongside the equally controversial X6M. The twin-turbo #S63 motor offered a juicy 4.4-litre displacement from eight thudding cylinders, its 555hp surprising many a soccer mom at the traffic lights on the school run. Contemporary magazine tests verified its ability to accelerate from 0-62mph in four-and-a-half seconds, which is frankly loopy for a vehicle with this sort of mass (not to mention an aerodynamic profile that laughs in the face of drag coefficients in favour of belligerently shoulder-barging the air like a breeze block flung from a trebuchet), and the tech gurus at M HQ ensured that it wasn’t just a brainless drag racer, tweaking and honing the suspension and steering to make the hulking brute handle like a nimble sports car. It’s an irritator of supercars that you can use as a van; conversely, it’s a sensible, practical family car that also happens to have launch control and paddle-shift. So no, there certainly isn’t any need to apologise for the X5M. It is mighty.


    And that outstanding factory might was just the beginning for Aleksi’s #BMW-X5 . “A friend of mine found a German chap in Abu Dhabi who has superior skills in tuning BMWs,” Aleksi grins. “His name is Jimmy Pelka, and he operates out of PP-Performance in Weissbach, Germany when he’s not in the UAE. As soon as I’d engaged him to tune my X5M everything started to move forward, and progress was quite fast – as is the way with top professionals. I ended up making quite a lot of trips to and from PP-Performance while it got everything running perfectly, and the results are pretty phenomenal.”


    This was very much an international build too, with Aleksi keen to get experts involved in all necessary elements of the horsepower race. The turbos, for example, were hand-built in Finland. “These are very special units built by Turbotekniikka in Helsinki,” he divulges, evidently pretty pleased with having chosen the right guys for the job. “They were hyped to be involved with the build, particularly when we started talking about targets for horsepower figures. This kind of project was something different from its average daily routine, which is usually just service and sales; in the end, they developed and constructed a pair of bespoke turbos for me comprising Garrett turbo housings with Mitsubishi Evo IX internals and billet compressors.” Impressive stuff indeed, and a very focused approach. And with these otherworldly turbines spinning freely and boosting hard, it was over to Buchloe, Germany to have a word with the eggheads at Alpina. Well, why not eh?


    “We needed to get a quality custom product to work with these monster turbos, and it seemed obvious that Alpina would be the people to deliver the goods,” reasons Aleksi, clearly a man with a mind to do things properly. These custom manifolds, enjoying a ceramic coating from Martelius, now find themselves mated to a full lightweight exhaust system from Akrapovic – a company based in Slovenia, and best known for motorcycle exhausts before more recently moving into racing and performance road exhausts for cars. The geography of this build really is darting all over Europe. But that’s evidently what you need to do if you want to turn an X5M from a supercar-annoyer into a proper supercar in its own right. Some degree of legwork is required.


    Much like with M GmbH’s own approach to the X5M, Aleksi has been keen throughout the project to ensure that this is a cohesive and all-pervading programme of upgrades, rather than simply shoving a load of dumb horsepower into the SUV to see what happens. A neat manifestation of this is his decision to upgrade the brakes to a setup with rather more beef. When you’ve got LaFerrari levels of thrust to rein in, it makes sense to tickle the standard fare a little, and what’s ensued here is a #Brembo-BBK upgrade featuring six-pot callipers, with the front discs a dinnerplate-like 405mm across. Fans of imperial measurements will have run a swift mental conversion and arrived at a figure of close to 16- inches and, as such, Aleksi needed some pretty big wheels to clear them. It’s safe to say, however, that his choice represents a level of overkill comparable to the bonkers figure on the dyno sheet. “The wheels are 22-inches in diameter,” he chuckles. “They’re #HRE three-piece rims, ten-inches wide at the front and thirteen at the rear.” The Dunlop rubber that tenaciously clings to them is suitably girthsome, offering up a whopping 335-section at the back. That represents a contact patch comparable to the average London back garden, although it’s wholly necessary given what the poor hoops have to contend with – 826lb ft isn’t exactly forgiving. Aleksi needs this much rubber in order to stop the very Tarmac beneath him from rucking up like an old hallway carpet.

    In addition, the suspension has been hunkered down somewhat in accordance with the newfound avenues of thrust. Starting as a teetering all-terrain cruiser, it’s never going to be scraping its sills on the kerb, of course – you’d need some body sectioning, a raised chassis and tubbed arches at the least to achieve that, but that’s a whole different ballgame – but you’ll spot that it’s unmistakeably lower than your common or garden X5, in spite of wearing such vast wheels. This is courtesy of some H&R lowering springs at the front, while the stock airsprings at the rear have been gravitationally persuaded by some bossy new software.


    And while the boffins at PP-Performance were busy rewriting code in the X5’s brain like some freaky DVD extra from The Matrix, they took the opportunity to reprogram the gearbox software too; the #X5M ’box is optimised for performance, but BMW probably didn’t figure this sort of performance running through it…


    The nature of cohesiveness with a project like this dictates that the comfort and aesthetics are on a level pegging with the grunt, as is the nature of the entire X5 range; while stripping out the interior and fitting a single Kirkey race seat would undoubtedly bolster the performance creds, that’s not really the point of an X5M, so Aleksi has enhanced rather than pared back – after all, this is his daily driver. The comfy seats have been artfully reupholstered with black leather and white stitching by KhreliX Design in Vantaa, and the exterior has received a few treats to warn other road users that the low-slung ride height augurs something frightening. Carbon fibre abounds, from the huge diffusers to the subtler detail of the kidney grilles and badges, working alongside the darkened lights and windows. Employing carbon-fibre in a project like this for reasons of weight-saving would be an exercise in futility, but that isn’t the point; this is about presence, aggression, forthrightness.


    It’s fiercely unapologetic too. Okay, there will be a lot of people out there who can’t see the purpose of a performance X5, particularly one that could show a seven-figure hypercar a clean pair of heels, but we get the strong feeling that Aleksi isn’t altogether bothered about that. He wanted an X5, so he built the best one he could, using the finest materials and resources at his disposal. The opinions of the naysayers are immaterial; there’s no escaping that number – 775hp. Seven-seven-five. If he can achieve this kind of godlike grandeur at the age of 22, we can’t wait to see what Aleksi does next.

    Hidden under all that carbon and plastic is a twin-turbo V8 monster with 775hp and over 800lb ft of torque!

    The interior of the X5M has been given a subtle but stylish makeover with fresh new leather with white stitching.

    You surely can’t help but admire the achievement of wringing 775hp out of such an imposing machine

    TECHNICAL DATA TUNED #BMW-X5M / #BMW-E70 / #BMW-X5M-E70 / #BMW-X5M-E70-Turbotekniikka-OY / #BMW-X5M-E70-Tuned / #V8

    ENGINE & TRANSMISSION: #S63B44O0 / #S63 / #BMW-S63 4.4-litre twinturbo #V8 , custom-built turbos by #Turbotekniikka-OY ( #Kim-Sulin ) and #Fin-Turbo ( #Niko-Turunen ), custom #Alpina exhaust manifolds with #Martelius ceramic coating, #Akrapovic exhaust system, mapping by #PP-Performance , stock transmission with upgraded software, 775hp, 826lb ft.

    CHASSIS: 10x22-inch (front) and 13x22-inch (rear) #HRE three-piece wheels with 295/30 (front) and 335/25 (rear) #Dunlop Sportmaxx RT, #Brembo six-pot #BBK with 405mm front discs, #H&R front lowering springs, rear airsprings lowered with new software.

    EXTERIOR: Vorsteiner carbon fibre front and rear diffusers, carbon fibre kidneys and emblems, window tints, headlight tints, rear wiper delete.

    INTERIOR: Full retrim in black leather with white stitching by #KhreliX-Design-OY , #Vorsteiner floor mats, premium BMW audio.

    THANKS TO: #Bimmer-Tuning-Club-of-Finland (btcf.fi)
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    The Rover-P6 was one of the most technically advanced production saloons of its era and the car's cutting edge design finally laid Rover’s conservative image to rest.

    WORDS IAIN WAKEFIELD / SURVIVOR’S GUIDE #Rover-P6 / INNOVATIVE ROVER /

    The world was a very different place when the covers first came off the #Rover P6 back in #1963 . Rover was still an independent company and throughout the '50s it had built up an enviable reputation as a manufacturer of conservative styled cars aimed at conservative minded buyers. By the end of the decade the ever-popular P4 and P5 range were starting to look rather dated and a new breed of middle management buyers now wanted to drive stylish, sub-3.0-litre cars incorporating modern automotive design as well as new technology.


    Although its cars looked dated, Rover was a very forwardlooking company and the technically advanced design for what would become the P6 was considered cutting edge and extremely radical for the time. Instead of using a steel monocoque, the new Rover was formed around a 'base frame' to which all the outer body panels were bolted. The main advantage for using this method of construction was to make repairs and later styling facelifts easy to carry out as well as hopefully keeping serious rust at bay. During the P6's development stage, a Citroën-style hydropneumatic suspension system was considered and although this idea was eventually dropped, the final layout for the new Rover's front suspension was equally radical. Although conventional coil springs were used, these were mounted horizontally and kept under tension by a cranked linkage. This operated against the P6's bulkhead and the compact layout allowed plenty of space in the engine bay to house a gas turbine or flat-four – two futuristic proposals that never made it to production.

    The first generation of the technically advanced P6 was powered by a brand new, four-cylinder, overhead cam 2.0-litre engine and the car's light weight and advanced engineering allowed it to provide better performance, economy, handing and ride than any other car in its sector. The new Rover was an immediate hit and by 1964 a sizeable waiting list had emerged for the P6. In 1966 the range was expanded with the introduction of two new models; the twin carburettor 124bhp 2000TC and the 3.5-litre V8 powered range-topping Rover 3500.

    In 1970 the P6 received a major facelift to become the MkII and a year later the Rover 3500S was introduced with manual transmission (the earlier V8-powered P6 were all automatics).

    Continual improvements to the P6 range resulted in the 2.0-litre engine being enlarged to 2.2-litres, with all four-cylinder cars subsequently being rebadged as the 2200 and 2200TC. The P6 continued to sell well until the wraps came off the futuristic but technically less adventurous Rover SD1 in 1976.

    This stylish new Rover was initially only available with a V8 power plant and this left the P6 to satisfy demand for the smaller engined cars until the four cylinder SD1's were introduced.

    Rover continued to build the P6 until 1977 when the last of some 327,00 examples of the car that redefined the Rover's image finally rolled off the assembly lines.

    BODYWORK

    Despite the P6 having an innovative body structure, the car's unstressed outer panels can still rust, although a tatty exterior won't necessarily be an MoT failure. Fitting a new set of outer panels is a day's job and don't forget that these can all be repaired and painted off the car. However, if the outer panels are really bad, there's a fair chance tin worm will have made serious inroads into the car's central core.

    When viewing a P6 it may look great on the surface, so you need to check the inner sills – outer sills aren't structural – floorpans and box sections under the rear ends of the inner sills very carefully for rot. Best way to inspect the condition of the main structure is to lift out the rear seat cushion and inspect inside the 'D'-post area as well as around both the rear inner wheelarches. Check out the condition of the inner sills by easing the carpet up and while the doors are open, check all the undersides and shuts for evidence of any corrosion.

    The top mounts for the rear suspension should be inspected carefully as severe corrosion in this area can result in the trailing arms pulling out and while looking under the car don't forget to inspect the condition of the boot floor. The boot lid and bonnet are made of aluminium, so shouldn't corrode but paint may flake off around the washer jets due to the different materials oxidising. Moving to the front of the car, check the inner wings, bulkhead and front valance for any signs of corrosion or badly repaired accident damage – especially around all the seams.

    ENGINE

    The 2.0-litre P6 will keep up with modern traffic but needs to be coaxed along whereas the TC and the 2.2-litre cars can easily hold their own. V8- powered P6s are obviously fast but fuel consumption isn't that great and these engines require an oil and filter change every 3000-miles to keep them in top form. Oil pressure on the 3.5-litre engine should be around 30psi when warm but don't be put off if the gauge hovers around the 20psi mark so long as you're prepared to drive the car carefully.

    Four-cylinder P6 engines are reasonably long lasting and reliable, but setting valve clearances can be a pain as it involves adding or removing shims to achieve the correct gap. Watch out for water escaping from the side plates on the engine block as this can lead to overheating. There are two timing chains on these engines: a worn top chain will make a hollow ringing sound between 1100 and 1400rpm, while a worn bottom chain just rattles and this one is the most difficult to replace.

    It's also essential to use a good quality 50-50 mix of anti-freeze all year round in a P6, whatever size engine's under the bonnet and to change the coolant ever three years to prevent internal corrosion building up and blocking the waterways. On V8 powered cars, pay careful attention to the temperature gauge, as overheating problems are often masked by an uncaring owner taking the thermostat out.


    TRANSMISSION

    Although the manual gearbox in the four-cylinder P6's shouldn't have any significant issues, the uprated box fitted to the Rover 3500 isn't really up to the job of handling the V8 engine's torque and problems will include jumping out of gear on the overrun. Any gear selection issues and rattling levers will be down to wear in the linkage. New bushes are available but the engine and gearbox really needs to come out to enable the replacement items to be fitted easily.

    Automatic P6's were initially fitted with a Borg Warner Type 35 box and this was replaced from 1974 on the 3500 with the Type 65. Check all auto 'boxes for burnt fluid and ensure all the ratios change up and down smoothly. Make sure there're no clunks in the transmission (auto or manual) when taking up the drive, as there are six universal joints between the gearbox and rear wheels and these can wear out. The P6's differential is generally bullet proof but watch out for faulty breathers as the casing can pressurise and cause the driveshaft seals to blow out.

    BRAKES & WHEELS

    The P6's all-disc set up is extremely powerful but it must be set up correctly. Cars built prior to 1966 were fitted with Dunlop calipers and parts for these are now very scarce. Later cars used a Girling setup and many early P6s may have been converted to the later type. One weak point in the P6's braking system, whatever its age, is the inboard rear disc brake set up. The rear discs can get smothered in oil if the diff seals are on the way out and leaking calipers often go unnoticed.


    An ineffective handbrake can indicate a lack of maintenance in the braking department and working on the rear brakes, such as changing scored or worn discs is a nightmare unless you can get access to a wheel-free lift. A few early 2000TCs were fitted with wire wheels but although they look good, this type of wheel isn't strong enough to for use on a V8-powered P6. If you're looking at a four-cylinder P6 sitting on a set of wires, check that all the spokes are rust free and intact and splines in the hub aren't worn.

    SUSPENSION, STEERING

    Although the design of the P6's front suspension is unusual in that it transmits all its loading directly into the front bulkhead, the setup is extremely effective and durable. The P6's worm and roller steering box provides a good amount of feel and can be adjusted to take out any play – tight spots will indicate an over adjusted box. Power steering is fitted to V8-powered P6's and retro fitting this system to a four-cylinder car is a straightforward conversion.

    Any clonks when driving a P6 over a rough surface will indicate worn ball joints at the base of the suspension legs but these are reasonably easy for a home mechanic to replace. The P6's rear suspension features a coil-sprung De Dion axle and one important point to check on these cars is the condition of the rubber gaiter at the end of the sliding tube. A split gaiter will let grit in and grease out, which over time will result in the sliding joint seizing up and unsettling the car's fine handling.


    TRIM & ELECTRICS

    As with any classic, sourcing individual trim items in better condition than the part that's going to be replaced can be difficult and half decent used parts can be hard to source. Padded dash tops on the P6 can crack due to excess UV exposure and leather trim in cars built between 1971 and 1973 can shrink and crack. An experienced auto trimmer will be able to replicate all trim styles, including the attractive box pleat leather used on earlier cars, but re-trimming a hide clad P6's cabin will prove a very expensive exercise.


    Note that all MkII cars had their battery located in the boot and nearly all pre-1970 four-pot P6's were fitted with a dynamo but many of these will by now have been replaced with an alternator. The instrumentation on the P6 is generally reliable but the fuse box on post-1971 can melt, so check for any Heath Robinson-type rewires. Specialist parts suppliers such as J R Wadhams Ltd. (www. jrwadhams.co.uk, 01384 891800) are able to supply a lot of interior trim arts for the Rover P6 as well as a host of new old stock mechanical spares and exterior fittings including original chrome bumpers.

    VERDICT

    A nicely presented P6 makes an excellent and very comfortable everyday family classic. Good four-cylinder cars are starting to get expensive but the model of choice for many buyers will be the powerful V8-powered Rover 3500. The 2200 is a popular choice and there are a lot of survivors to choose from, but be prepared as an auto version of this model can be just as thirsty as a well sorted V8.

    There are some rarities to hunt out and if you're looking to turn heads at a Rover gathering an interesting P6 to buy would be a fully loaded, run-out VIP model (77 built) or a #FLM-Panelcraft produced P6 estate (150 built). However, good examples of these versions are now very rare and don't often come on the open market as they nearly always change hands off the radar or through owners' clubs. Early Rover 2200s now come into the free road tax band and sourcing a good P6 makes a lot of sense if you want to own a very useable classic that offers fine handling with plenty of refinement and good looks.

    There's a decent amount of space in the front of a Rover P6. The TC badge on the tail of a P6 denotes twin carburettors.



    ROVER P6 EVOLUTION

    October #1963 : #Rover-2000 introduced.

    October #1966 : 114bhp Rover 2000TC launched with 2000 auto ( #Borg-Warner 35) version of SC. TC export-only until 1967. #Dunlop braking system superseded by #Girling .

    April #1968 : Rover 3500 introduced with V8 engine. Automatic transmission standard. Extra grilles under front bumper, larger front valance, V8 badging on bonnet and boot, 3500 in radiator grille and on front wings.

    December #1968 : Through-flow ventilation and fixed rear quarterlights, opening quarterlights reinstated a year later following ‘customer feedback’.

    September #1970 : MkII/facelift model. Black plastic honey combe grille, air intake grille below bumper on all models, twin ‘bulges’ in bonnet. Vinyl covering on rear screen pillars. TC and 3500 now have circular instruments.

    October #1971 : 3500S introduced. Four-speed manual #V8 with vinyl roof and brushed stainless steel spoke wheel trims.

    September #1973 : 2000 replaced by 2200 – SC, auto and TC. Brushed-nylon trim standard, leather optional. SC and auto retain box-type instruments and TC circular.

    October #1973 : 3500 gets full vinyl roof as per 3500S, plus 2200-style interior and wheel trims and tinted glass. Heated rear window and front headrests standard. Auto gets #Borg-Warner-65 in place of 35.

    February #1976 : 3500 VIP – Limited edition of 77 – offered. Standard aircon, bootlid-mounted spare, Sundym glass and rear seatbelts. Two colour choices; Platinum (metallic silver) or Brasilia (brown) with Huntsman brown vinyl roof.

    DATA FILE #Rover-2000
    ENGINE 1978cc
    POWER (bhp/rpm) 91/5000
    TOP SPEED 104mph
    0-50 MPH 10.1 secs
    CONSUMPTION 27mpg
    GEARBOX 4-sp man
    LENGTH 453cm
    WIDTH 66.5 in, 169cm
    WEIGHT 1229kg

    DATA FILE #Rover-2000-TC
    ENGINE 1978cc
    POWER (bhp/rpm) 113/5500
    TOP SPEED 112mph
    0-50 MPH 8.2 secs
    CONSUMPTION 26mpg
    GEARBOX 4 sp man
    LENGTH 453cm
    WIDTH 169cm
    WEIGHT 2710 lb, 1229 kg


    DATA FILE #Rover-2200-SC
    ENGINE 2206cc
    POWER (bhp/rpm) 98/5000
    TOP SPEED 101mph
    0-50 MPH 9.1 secs
    CONSUMPTION 26mpg
    GEARBOX 4-sp man
    LENGTH 453cm
    WIDTH 169cm
    WEIGHT 1229kg


    DATA FILE #Rover-2200-TC
    ENGINE 2206cc
    POWER (bhp/rpm) 115/5000
    TOP SPEED 108mph
    0-50 MPH 8.0 secs
    CONSUMPTION 29mpg
    GEARBOX 4 sp man
    LENGTH 453cm
    WIDTH 169cm
    WEIGHT 1229kg


    DATA FILE #Rover-3500-S
    ENGINE 3528cc
    POWER (bhp/rpm) 150/5000
    TOP SPEED 122mph
    0-50 MPH 7.1 secs
    CONSUMPTION 23mpg
    GEARBOX 4-sp man
    LENGTH 453cm
    WIDTH 169cm
    WEIGHT 1229kg
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    SPIRIT OF #1977 #BMW-E12 530i RACE CAR

    A wonderful evocation of the #BMW-E12-UFO Five under the spotlight. Phil Perryman’s E12 #BMW-530i-E30 caused quite a stir at Goodwood’s 73rd Members’ Meeting this year – those swirling stripes had everybody hypnotised. We get to grips with 2015’s most colourful tribute act… Words: Daniel Bevis /// Photography: Gary Hawkins

    It may be painted like a big top, but it’s more scary than it is jovial. And the sound from that cannon-bore side-exit exhaust? It’s shouty on an interstellar level.


    A heartfelt tribute is a wonderful thing. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, as the hackneyed old cliché goes, and the world is jam-packed with people and places paying tribute to the things that inspire them. When notable art forgers are arrested, they usually claim that their efforts are in tribute to their creative heroes rather than trying to steal a little of their reflected glory, and you can see the logic of that (even if it’s not always true). The glimmering city of Las Vegas is so enamoured of global architecture that it features its own replica Colosseum, Eiffel Tower, Egyptian pyramids, and even a little Statue of Liberty. And there’s another Statue of Liberty replica in Kosovo; Thames Town near Shanghai replicates much of London; heck, in Virginia there’s even a copy of Stonehenge made entirely of foam. It’s called, as you might imagine, Foamhenge. A little respectful copying is what keeps creativity vibrant and alive – this sort of behaviour is effectively a dedicated real-world version of clicking Facebook’s ‘like’ button. Wear your influences on your sleeve, that’s the key.

    The car you’re looking at here is a very real embodiment of this train of thought. Its colourful lines seek to evoke the #1977 Luigi Racing #BMW-530i , a brawny Big Six-powered Bavarian bruiser that proudly wore the disco livery of UFO Jeans. UFO was a brand noted for its ostentation and flair – literally, in the case of its galactically broad bell-bottoms – so the swooping stripes of the race car do much to reinforce this corporate ethos. It’s like World War I dazzle camouflage, refracted through the lens of LSD culture.

    The original car was a very notable thing as well, taking copious scalps over a reign of terror that took in much of Europe, pivoting around the team’s Belgian base. It had a long and illustrious racing career, entering the Spa 24 Hours no less than five times and campaigning in the #ETCC in #1977 , #1978 , #1979 , #1980 and #1981 , as well as kicking no small amount of backside on the Belgian Touring Car Championship.

    The livery may not be as iconic and ubiquitous as, say, Jägermeister or #BASF , but to those who remember, this UFO 5 Series was pretty hot stuff. It really seems to mean something at Goodwood too, which is where we first laid eyes on this loving tribute in all its technicolour glory. Indeed, as the 530i’s owner Phil Perryman cheerfully admits, it was the organisers at Goodwood who helped him come up with the livery. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves though… if this isn’t the original UFO 530i, what is it? “Well, it’s actually a car that I remember racing against in the early 1990s,” Phil recalls, luxuriating into the tale like a pub raconteur in an old leather armchair. “When Goodwood announced the 72nd Members’ Meeting for 2014, and that it would include a race for 1970s Group 1 cars, I immediately thought of this BMW. I contacted the owner, but unfortunately he refused to sell at that time, and I ended up failing to find a car for that meeting. But by October of last year, the car ended up becoming available to buy, it was offered to me, and I snapped it up! I approached Goodwood, which was very excited about the idea of having such an iconic car on the grid, and the scene was set…”


    It’s worth pointing out at this juncture that Phil is a racer with some pedigree. A few of you will be familiar with his form already, of course, but for the uninitiated, here it is in a dinky little nutshell: He began racing in the 1970s with grasstracking, hot rods on short ovals, all the kinds of motorsport that involve picking flies out your teeth and having a fairly broad view of one’s own mortality. Some karting and a smattering of circuit racing followed through the 1980s, since which time he’s been heavily involved in race car preparation. “I have been building and preparing historic race cars for myself and customers for many years now,” he explains, “including Austin Westminsters, Corvettes, Camaros, Cobras, Capris, Minis, GT40s…” (this list continues for some time – he’s been a very busy man – and we return from sticking the kettle on to catch the tail end of it) “…BMW CSis, CSLs, M5s, and now this E12.” So we can say that he’s a man of manifold talents, both figuratively and literally, and his CV speaks for itself.

    Having a grounding in hands-on motorsport certainly does develop a keen eye for what a race car needs. So, back to this E12. A classic and proven entity, ready for action at Goodwood and all plain sailing, right? Er, no, not quite: “Having purchased a race car and thinking I could just make some modifications and it would all be done, it turned out not to be the case. In fact, the E12 revealed itself to be a very well used and tired old race car – although full of character, there just wasn’t enough performance for Goodwood! After dismantling the thing, it was clear that we would have to do a complete nut-and-bolt rebuild, and this took a full three months of sevendays- a-week and long hours, including Christmas and New Year; all of this was done in-house at Wheelbase by myself and my colleague Paul, who almost lived at the workshop for three months! On completion, we only had time for two shakedowns at Brands Hatch and a test at Goodwood, and this threw up more work as you would expect!” A true labour of love, then, and a mark of the dedication that Phil effervescently pours into his race car builds. He’s like the Terminator – when he’s got a job to do, the world transcends into neon-flashed binary darkness, with targets and goals the only things visible.

    What resulted from this epic slog of all-nighters and tea-stirred-with-oily-spanners was an E12 that’s as straight as an arrow, its trusty Big Six M30 motor accessorising its brawny 3.0-litres of displacement with a big-valve race head, Schrick cams, a modified inlet and tubular exhaust manifold to get the engine acting as a more effective sort of air pump, and a peak power figure of 270hp. Oh, and there’s that jazzy colour scheme, of course…

    “The livery was chosen in conjunction with Goodwood. It’s a car that’s been racing for many years and although it’s white all over, there were bits of red paint around the car in various places, so we decided to recreate the UFO colours. We painted all the red livery with lining tape and spray, copying the design exactly from a photo of the car at Zandvoort in 1977. This was a solid week’s work for two of us!”

    It must have been a lot of fun to draw up, if perhaps a little stressful. In profile, the arcing lines mimic the whorls of a fingerprint, humping up and down like some deranged rollercoaster. The fat stripes offer a beautiful counterpoint to the delicacy of the car’s brightwork and slender window frames, whilst perfectly complementing the high, chunky sidewalls of those Dunlop control tyres. And you can just imagine what an intimidating presence it would create thundering up in your rear-view mirror, jutting sharknose flanked by brutal deckchair bonnet stripes and large-scale ‘UFO’ lettering. It may be painted like a big top, but it’s more scary than it is jovial. And the sound from that cannon-bore side-exit exhaust? It’s shouty on an interstellar level.


    “The car’s certainly caused a lot of interest!” grins Phil, rightly proud of his colourful creation. “There were pictures in the motoring press even after its first shakedown, and its first race appearance at the 73rd Members’ Meeting this year saw it being a star attraction – we spent most of the weekend talking to enthusiasts about it, and it seemed to dominate the TV coverage!

    “After #Goodwood had sent me the official invite, it offered Emanuele Pirro as a celebrity driver,” he continues. “He’s a very nice man and a fantastic driver, and having worked with him at the previous year’s Members’ Meeting while preparing John Young’s Capri, I jumped at the chance to have him in the car.” We don’t doubt that – having sacrificed so much daylight and human contact in the task of getting the 530i race-ready, it’s a ringing endorsement to have such a big name giving the car a thorough workout for the crowds, particularly given his history in the #ETCC with the #Schnitzer #BMW team.

    It may have been an arduous journey to transform the car from tired old racer to tight-as-a-drum contender in time for its stellar debut in the UFO colours, but the job’s been done with alacrity. And as a tribute to that relentless, unstoppable meisterwerk of 1977? Well, it couldn’t be any better. Luigi would undoubtedly be proud.

    TECH DATA BMW ‘ #BMW-UFO ’ 530i E12 /// #BMW-530i-E12-UFO

    ENGINE & TRANSMISSION: #M30 / #M30B30 3.0-litre straight-six, big-valve race head, #Schrick cams, tubular exhaust manifold, modified inlet, #Getrag gearbox, #ZF limited-slip diff, 3.6:1 ratio. 270hp.

    CHASSIS: 8x15-inch #BBS replicas with 475/1000-15 #Dunlop CR65 control tyres, #GAZ shocks and modified front legs with bespoke springs and valving set up, #Polyflex bushes and rose-joints (to permitted specs), modified anti-roll bars, solid-mount rear subframe, strut brace, adjustable top mounts, #Wilwood front brakes with #Pagid pads and cooling ducting, stock rear brakes.

    EXTERIOR: Stock body, hand-painted recreation #UFON Jeans 1977 livery.

    INTERIOR: Original dash with #Alpina clocks, extra gauge pod with #VDO gauges, original doorcards, full #FIA rollcage, Sparco seat, Sabelt harness.

    THANKS: Paul at Wheelbase for his dedication and hard work with us getting this car ready and competitive in such a short time – without his efforts it would not have got done.
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    The impossible dream

    Could the search for the perfect racecar set-up be an insurmountable challenge?

    The eternal search for the optimum set-up is doomed to failure, simply because there will be an optimum set-up for each moment of the day, position of the sun, weather conditions such as temperature, humidity and barometric pressure and wind direction. In an extreme case, there’s hillclimbing at #Pikes-Peak . There the altitude change will sap your engine power as you ascend and at the same time reduce your aero downforce as barometric pressure falls from 69.6 kiloPascals to 57.2, a full 17.6 per cent.

    Much in the same way, trying to home in on the best set-up can be a nice exercise in topology, as defined by Gottfried Leibniz, who in the 17th century envisioned the geometria situs, or topography if you want to visualise it on a graph. Every parameter you can change will have a non-linear effect, not intrinsically, but because of the ‘No Free Lunch Law’ – in racing as relevant as the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

    Paying the price

    You can have more horsepower, but you will use more fuel, giving you a shorter range, or you can have more downforce, which tends to give you more drag, but would also give more spring and tyre deflection, which would mean either stiffer springs to keep from dragging your plank on the higher speed straights or on the banking, or higher tyre pressures to stiffen the sidewalls and change the tyre spring rate, which will then change your mechanical grip level in other places.

    There are four corners to a car, where you can change individual tyre pressures, compounds, construction, spring rate, damping low- and high-speed, bump and rebound; all non-linear, all dependent on several other variables and at different speeds.

    Several of these elements are temperature dependent, such as damper fluid viscosity, tyre compound grip and engine performance, the atmosphere changing its density, not to mention wear dependent, like discs and pads and tyre thread. Even tyres tend to degrade not so much by thread thickness but by the breakdown of stiffness due to carcass inner cord degradation.

    Have enough data and awareness and you can re-set your ride height lower for the afternoon qualifying session, catering for the loss of downforce in the warmer air, thus clawing back some of it, but not forgetting to re-set your tyre initial pressure as the asphalt will be warmer given the three hours of gentle baking if the sun is out. And then the wind might have changed…

    This is not so much adding to the complexity arithmetically, but factorially. So if you have six elements, you will have 720 combinations, not all having the same weight. If you add all the factors that will influence your lap time you can easily be into the hundreds.

    Plotting this would give the equivalent of a topographic contour map, with the peaks being the best performance and valleys the worst. But beware, the 3d is a simplification; you are entering manifold space with probably more than 50 interrelated dimensions. You could be wandering in the arid valley, no changes make much of a difference; it could be merely that track conditions are such that the grip level is so low that all changes will not impinge on handling very much. Or you could be right in the peak sweet spot where one click of damper will be the Goldilocks tweak, just right. Think Le Mans at the start of the test day, where the road from #Tertre-Rouge to the entry to the Porsche Curves will be covered in diesel, dust and oil from the year-long normal traffic, and very green, while most of the closed part of the circuit from the Porsche Curves to the Ford chicane, and from the entry to #Dunlop up to the right hand Tertre Rouge, will be dusty and slippery, not having been used for a year.

    Patience a virtue

    Many times the art of being patient and letting the track come to you will be rewarded, as tinkering with the set-up when there is no grip will put you on the back foot when it starts to grip up. At Monaco you would start soft in roll-couple and stiffen it up as the track rubbers in.

    Experience will guide you into predicting the behaviour of, say, a new tyre set, so you would know the rear tyres would warm up quicker and have more grip, so for that all important qualifying lap you can take off a sniff of rear wing, knowing the extra grip of the new tyre will balance it out, plus you will be a tad faster on the straight.

    Then there’s the wind direction at Suzuka. If there is a tail wind on the straight you will be faster, and also the head wind through the esses will give you more grip, 20 or 30kph making a considerable difference in downforce. The fact that Suzuka is by the sea can also allow you to predict the prevailing winds according to season and time of the day. Of course all this is deduced from data recorded by sensors and info from previous tests or races at the particular track, but it is also still very dependent on the description of the handling by the driver, at which stage we can agree on an observation by the philosopher Karl Popper: ‘It is impossible to speak in such a way that you will not be misunderstood.’ He was obviously referring to racing drivers.

    Simulation can give you a precise analysis of settings needed for the ultimate lap, but can struggle to give a perfect description to the driver that is operating the machinery, actually sitting inside the misbehaving car. The common engineers quote is: ‘It was fast in the simulation.’ Much like the purposely directionally-unstable fighter plane, designed for fast response in combat, a nimble car can be too much of a handful to use between guardrails and has to be toned down a notch, as no driver, or fly by wire computer, can temper the aggressiveness of the response.

    Topography being what it is, you could find yourself on a local peak, but missing the higher peak on another combination of parameters some way away from your usual settings. A wholesale change in your paradigms is not something to be taken lightly, especially if your performance is a bit lacking and the qualifying session is in half an hour. The best you can do is to try to foresee the changing factors, put them in order of importance, refrain from applying multiple changes simultaneously, as the resulting complexity of the interacting factors might throw up something you didn’t want.

    As Alan Turing once said: ‘Machines take me by surprise with great frequency.’ Me too. Then again, #Johann-Wolfgang von Goethe said: ‘I love those who yearn for the impossible.’ I think he might have been fond of race engineers.

    At #Monaco you need to think about how the track will rubber in. #F1 #2015 #Formula-1

    The best you can do is to try to foresee the changing factors.
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    GENTLEMAN’S RELISH

    Steve Wright gets behind the wheel of Adrian Slater’s 911 historic racer.

    Car #1965 #Porsche-911-2.0-litre

    The growing numbers of early 911s now participating in historic circuit racing is surely a reflection of the increased awareness of just what great cars the short-wheelbase coupés really are. Classic Porsche’s Steve Wright gets behind the wheel of Adrian Slater’s 1965 #Porsche … Words: Steve Wright… Photos: Michael Ward.

    A damp track, grass run off and unforgiving tyre walls are not the best recipe when it comes to driving someone else’s car on a circuit, especially if the car in question is a short-wheelbase 911 on Dunlop historic racing tyres. It would be unfair to say the SWB 911 is inherently unstable at high speed but nimble might be a good way to describe it.

    The car featured here is Adrian Slater’s beautifullypresented 1965 Porsche, prepared by East Sussex Porsche specialist Paragon and co-raced by the owner of Paragon, Mark Sumpter. Porsche AG confirmed the car was delivered to D’leteren in Brussels on 25th March 1965, giving the original specification as a 911 2.0-litre coupé in Light Ivory with black vinyl interior. It carries chassis #300641, engine #900757 and gearbox #100660. D’leteren provided Mark with a copy of the initial service records through to June 1966 which gives a nice bit of early history. The car was then exported to the UK in 1972 – the green log book shows three owners until May 1991 when Robert Gant of Gantspeed Engineering acquired it. Robert built the 911 as his own car before he sold it in 2002 to Iain Stowe, who used it for a number of road rallies such as London/Lisbon.


    Mark Sumpter purchased the car in 2006 and then sold it to Adrian Slater, a regular customer of Paragon and codriver with Mark in Porsche Club championships, as well as historic events. Mark and Adrian are no newcomers to the racing scene – Mark won the British GT Championship in 2000 in a GT3R, and Mark and Adrian won the Silverstone Britcar 24-hour race in 2008, and the Porsche GB Open championship in 2011.

    Mark has raced at Daytona and Le Mans, and also owns a 962 and 1997 911 GT1 Evo, so it’s fair to say that both these guys know a thing or two about owning and racing a wide range of Porsches!

    Like many gentleman race cars these days, chassis #300641 appears strikingly standard, largely due to a concours paint job and full interior but, unlike some of the hot-rods out there, the interior of this car is complete right down to the carpets, chrome trim, wood veneer dash and full glass (as opposed to lightweight plastic).

    You clamber into the race seat after negotiating the welded-in roll-cage, which forces you into a human version of origami, at least for someone who is 6ft 4in! The mechanicals are purely race car, though, albeit one that complies with FIA Appendix K regulations, which means standard-for-1965 #Solex carburettors and matching inlet manifolds. They’ve managed to fettle the engine sufficiently to produce a reliable 190bhp, which is just about the limit given the constraints the Solexes impose. The car is running to the homologation weight of 1000kg although Adrian’s car runs 55kg of ballast in place of the passenger seat, so they have done well to reduce weight elsewhere, given the roll-cage and full interior. A limited-slip differential, longer second and third ratios, as well as a lower fifth gear, complete the gearbox. For #Goodwood the car is allowed to run on 6J Fuchs wheels rather than the standard 5.5J steels required of Appendix K, while the #Dunlop control tyre ensures plenty of sideways action and long drifts as a default posture.

    Rick Mears, the American racer quite rightly said that to finish first, you must first finish, and it’s this mantra that Porsche built into every race car. The reason Porsches feature so often in the history books is that attrition was a major factor in motor racing in most of the last century, far more than it is today.

    With their bulletproof engineering and Teutonic build quality, old Porsches are well suited to endurance racing, where the ability to go hard and fast over a long period is a key criteria in winning. Of course, this assumes they’ve been well looked after and screwed together by someone who knows what they’re doing: spanking a 50-year-old car relentlessly for miles on end can’t be done without consequence unless you’ve done this.

    And when it comes to this particular car, winning is what it has done. Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium is not to be trifled with. If you stand at the edge of the circuit as the cars come through Eau Rouge and into Raidillon, you can see why this circuit provides such a mixture of elation and fear. In an old Porsche the rear is busy trying to overtake the front at very high speed because you’re asking it to turn in when the momentum and rear bias wants to carry it off the road.

    At 4.352-miles, it’s also a long circuit with plenty of fast, blind corners, and the Spa 6 hour is run into the night, making this a proper race. So to finish the 2013 Six Hour 25th overall from 109 starters, 5th in class and as the fastest 911 is a huge testimony to the car and its drivers. To prove this wasn’t a one-off, Adrian and Mark took the car to the Silverstone Classic in 2014, to run in the Chopard Trophy for Pre-1966 GT cars. The #Porsche-911 took the lead early in the race, but the powerful V8 TVRs were too fast on Silverstone’s long GP circuit, meaning the pair had to settle for third place overall – but still ahead of all the other Porsches.

    So what’s it like to drive a short-wheelbase 911 on a track? Well, surprisingly easy if you’re not at ten-tenths. Mark had kindly let me do some laps during testing for the 73rd Goodwood Members’ Meeting, which this year had an entry of approximately 30 pre-1967 #Porsche-911-2.0 -litre SWB cars competing for the John Aldington Trophy – named after the man who founded Porsche Cars Great Britain.

    The car communicates its intentions with clarity and a conciseness that a modern Porsche driver would find shocking. Once you realise that the car isn’t going to spin off the first time you add some steering input, and that it’s just the characteristic of the Dunlop historic racing tyres, which seem to adopt a huge slip angle at the merest hint of a corner, then you come to appreciate that the car has a huge amount of grip for an historic and clearly communicates how close you’re getting to the edge of the handling envelope.

    It’s also tremendously benign, allowing for small corrections in a way that you wouldn’t dream of with a standard road-going early 911. Once you get the car at the edge of the handling envelope, though, you have to have your wits about you and be blessed with talent and reflexes. I wouldn’t pretend to play in this space in someone else’s car without a significant amount of testing time under my belt.

    What I can do, though, is take you through a lap, so that the next time you see a SWB 911 being driven in anger at Goodwood (or anywhere else for that matter), you’ll have some idea of the challenge and reward. Assuming you’re already on-circuit under race conditions then the start/finish is a drag race up through the gears to fourth before a dab on the brakes (but not too much to unsettle it) for Madgwick.

    This is a misleading two-apex corner so it’s tempting to turn in too early, but you have to attack it twice and as hard as you dare, letting it run all the way across the track on the exit, right to the edge of the grass to maximise your speed down the straight. But get off the track here and it’s goodnight Vienna as a spin on the grass and at this speed won’t be one you can catch.

    Then it’s up into fifth for Fordwater which, if you’re brave and skilled, can be taken by the best flat-out without lifting. The car is moving about an awful lot as you exit here, with just the right amount of opposite lock twitched in as required to not have it swap ends on you at high speed. Then it’s hard on the brakes and a change down to fourth without unsettling the car, before a deep breath plunge into the corner before St Mary’s. Again if you’re brave, skilled and know your 911, you can take this and St Mary’s in fourth before another big wipe of speed and change into third is required for Lavant. Lavant is a dance because you’re trying to pour power on through the corner, utilise the traction of the rear-engined 911, but not overcook it and spin the car on quite a narrow part of the circuit.

    Then it’s up through the gears into top, reaching your fastest speed on the circuit as you dash up towards the Shell building on your left, just as you enter Woodcote. Brake failure here would be catastrophic as there’s no run off at all and the car is still travelling quickly in third, but one of the most reassuring aspects of a 911 is that Porsche had finally made the jump to disc brakes (there’s none of this modern stuff for we early-356 racers stuck with using drums!).

    Then it’s a big dance around Woodcote, a squirt on the accelerator to take you up to the chicane, a snatch and grab for second, then lots of right pedal and corrective lock to keep the power-on oversteer under control as you exit the chicane, before you go and do it all again. And that’s without all the shenanigans of other racers and changing conditions that are an inevitable ingredient of a race.

    For the 73MM race, we stood at the exit of Woodcote and watched as Mark put #300641 in exactly the same spot every lap, a huge but gentle 80mph drift that started before the apex of the corner and ended on the same square of Tarmac an inch from the grass – not an inch in or an inch over.

    And if ever you wanted to advertise Porsche racing this was it. With 22 near identical cars, just a twenty minute sprint of a race, and an ultra competitive and competent set of drivers, it was always going to be close. Door handle to door handle (but no paint swapping), oh-my-god tail out slides and heroic driving made for the most entertaining race of the weekend.

    I must admit I left the Goodwood estate thinking that an early 911 race car had to be on the Christmas list as it was brilliant to watch but utterly frustrating to not be part of it. Irrespective of whether that becomes a reality or not, it was a wonderful reminder of why a #1965 #Porsche-911-SWB was such an effective racing weapon in the mid-sixties and still remains so today, 50 years on.

    CONTACTS: Paragon GB Tel: 01825 830424 www. paragongb. com

    Aside from the decals, there’s little to suggest this is a fully-prepared race car. Road-registered, it is the perfect gentleman’s racer – drive during the week, race at the weekend.

    Dunlop ‘control’ tyres are the source of endless fun – forgiving to a point but allowing for much sideways action. Interior is remarkably stock for a race car.

    Restricted by the Solex carburettors (necessary to meet FIA Appendix K regs), the 2.0-litre ‘six’ still punches out a reliable 190bhp. Modern race seats necessary to meet current motorsport regulations.


    The car proved to be remarkably easy to drive – until you start pushing the limits. Then you learn all about the combination of SWB handling and historic racing tyres…

    Classic short-wheelbase profile, with the tell-tale torsion bar covers close to the leading edge of the rear wheel opening. Early 911s are living proof that simple is often best.

    “With their bulletproof engineering, old Porsches are well suited to endurance racing… ”

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    SUNBEAM HARRINGTON ALPINE

    On track in a #NART Ferrari-liveried British racer. A Ferrari by any other name. This is a fastback Sunbeam, Alpine yet it wears the Cavallino Rampante. John Simister unravels its compelling racing history - and tests it at Goodwood. Photography Paul Harmer.

    Sebring, Florida, March #1963 . In the NART (North American Racing Team) garage, being made ready for the 12-hour endurance race, is the usual cluster of red Ferraris. One, however, looks unfamiliar. It has tailfins and seems somehow lighter in build. Yet the prancing horse crest is present on both front wings, just as it should be, and the blue driver's seat is just like that of a nearby #250GTO .

    NART is synonymous with Ferrari, having been set up by the Italian company's US importer, Luigi Chinetti. But our be-finned red coupe is not a Ferrari at all. It's not even Italian. It's a Sunbeam Harrington Alpine, and therefore British, but owner Fillipo Theodoli was a pal of Chinetti's and also worked for the Gardner advertising agency, which handled the Ferrari and Alitalia accounts. Thus the Harrington Alpine became an honorary Ferrari.

    Driven by Theodoli and Bill Kneeland, a man with much experience of racing Alpines, the number-55 Harrington finished fourth in class, behind an #Abarth-Porsche and a #Porsche-Carrera , and 36th overall. Kneeland started the race and got away first from the grid, but it soon became clear that the newly fitted Weber carburettors made the drivers pay for the extra power with an unexpectedly heavy fuel thirst. So the Alpine had to pit earlier than scheduled to refuel, and there was no pit steward standing by to snip the filler cap's sealing wire.

    Richard Waite, one of the pit crew, tells how the team tried illicitly to remove the wire and ended up yanking off the entire filler assembly. After the fill it was re-sealed with duct tape, and naturally it leaked copiously all over the track. Masten Gregory spun his #E-type on the slippery petrol and had strong words with the Harrington crew after the race... but the result stood.

    That was the Alpine's last race. Its first was a year earlier, in 1962, Theodoli trying out his new toy in the Sebring 12 Hours as a works Rootes Group entry and wearing number 44. He and Freddie Barrette finished 33rd overall and tenth in class. For the pair's next outing, a four-hour SCCA event at Vineland, the #Alpine had to be entered in the modified class on account of its stripped-out interior, improved airflow to the engine bay, and the N ART-sourced seat and N ART-made 40-gallon fuel tank. So Theodoli got his Alpine experts, D&H Motors in New Hampshire, to add to the engine's already Stage Three tune as supplied by Thomas Harrington Ltd. This involved a hotter camshaft and that pair of Webers, replacing the original Zenith instruments, to feed the engine's increased appetite for fuel and air. Result? The Alpine ran as high as fourth but finished tenth.

    A month later, in September #1962 , it finished 13th at the Bridgehampton 400km. Theodoli entered both events privately, but next came that 1963 Sebring race under NART's wing. And that, as far as Harrington Alpine chassis number B9106097's race history is concerned, is that. Theodoli sold the Sunbeam straight after Sebring, via D&H.
    The new owner was Bob Avery, who traded in his Sunbeam Rapier and had his new toy converted back broadly to original Harrington road spec apart from keeping the racier camshaft. Those Webers and their manifold were valuable - D&H's asking price was $3800 with Webers, $2500 back on Zeniths - and Bob reckoned it was just fine on the lowlier carbs, with 'a beautiful warble at idle. When I stepped on the go pedal, it scooted!' Bob Avery kept the Harrington for the next 49 years, right up until he passed away.

    Guy Harman bought the Harrington in 2012, intrigued by its history. Also intrigued was Clive Harrington, whose father Clifford not only ran the Harrington coachbuilding arm - the Hove, Sussex-based company made some very handsome bodies for buses as well as being a major Rootes Group dealer - but also designed the Alpine conversion. We're with both of them at Goodwood today, the Alpine having just emerged from finishing touches, after various experts have recommissioned it, lightly restored it and rendered it back into 1963 Sebring specification. Bob had already restored it in the 1990s.

    'It arrived in pretty good nick,' Guy reports. He plans to race it, most glamorously in this year's Goodwood Members' Meeting, just as Bob had hoped would happen. Today is its first shakedown run, only four miles having passed under its wheels since it was driven out of the restoration workshop. So what, exactly, has Guy bought?

    As created by the Rootes Group, the Sunbeam Alpine was an open-top sports car with an optional hardtop. Seeing a gap in the market for a compact GT coupe, Thomas Harrington Ltd, with Rootes' approval, devised a fastback conversion to be sold through Rootes dealers. The new panels - roof and bootlid - were of glassfibre, with aluminium roof-gutters. It was launched in March 1961, based on the #Sunbeam Alpine Series II with an engine enlarged to 1592cc from the original 1494cc, and tuned to one of three possible stages by Rootes dealer and tuner George Hartwell, along the coast in Bournemouth.

    In all, 110 Harrington Alpines were made in the body shape of Guy Harman's car, plus some Series C hatchback versions and 250 examples of the Harrington Le Mans, introduced in October 1961 and built in parallel with the original version. The Le Mans lost the tailfins and instead had a downward-sloping tail; they were named to celebrate the Harrington's win in the 1961 Le Mans 24 Hours of the Index of Thermal Efficiency, driven by Peters Procter and Harper. Today that winning car lives in the US, having been owned and raced in the interim by Clive Harrington. An interesting footnote to the Harrington Alpine programme is that the company also produced the body panels for the Triumph Dove (always pronounced 'Dove') GTR4 conversion sold by Doves of Wimbledon.

    Fillipo Theodoli came over from the US to Hove to collect his car personally. He arrived at a large and busy enterprise, the dealership (but not the coachbuilders) still going strong in the 1970s as the re-formed Harrington Motors when your correspondent, then a student at Sussex University, regularly patronised the parts department seeking pieces for a high-maintenance tuned Imp. (I got them to write me an engineer's report for my insurance company, too, and I well remember the grin on the mechanic's face on his return from thrashing JLL 251D along the A27. But I digress.) Nowadays there's a PC World on the site instead.

    Thomas Harrington Ltd listed a Weber conversion as an enhancement to the Stage Three tune, but it wouldn't fit a left-hand-drive car because there wasn't enough space around the steering box and brake master cylinder. Then D&H discovered that Weber itself had also developed a twin-DCOE kit, this one suitable for LHD, which was duly acquired and fitted. Gordon Harrington, Clifford's brother and head of the Rootes dealership, alluded to the subsequent #Weber fitment in his reply, dated 24 September 1963, to a letter from Bob Avery keen to learn more about his new purchase.

    As bought by Guy Harman, the Harrington was still in 'fast road' specification and showed little sign of its track record. A Sussex-based company, restorers and preparers of old racing and road cars, then set about returning it to its 1963 Sebring state. There was a little repair work to do on the lower rear quarters, and the standard front valance had to be cut off and replaced with one incorporating a large air intake mirroring the radiator grille aperture. The holes for the external petrol filler and the door light to illuminate an endurance racer's racing number had been welded up, so were reinstated.

    The NART parts - seat, fuel tank - had gone back to NART so replicas were created, along with the various period stickers. The scrutineering tag is original, though, having been safely filed away all those years. As for the engine, Guy has the original but has had a new one built with a lightweight steel flywheel, stronger connecting rods and a Piper 306° camshaft. When optimally set up with a better exhaust manifold, it should produce around 150bhp - nearly half as much again as the original engine made in period.

    It's newly installed in the Harrington, ready for me to add a few more miles to the four that have so far passed under the Sunbeam's new #Dunlop CR65 racing crossplies. It's a good thing that we have a dry day. 'They used to leak like a sieve,' Clive Harrington observes.

    I open the driver's door. The window is wound down and there's no quarterlight, so I make sure I don't poke an eye out on the slim, sharp, easily unnoticed pillar standing at the door's front edge. Now snug in the blue bucket seat, I face a giant chronometric tachometer through a vast wood-rimmed steering wheel. A hefty wooden knob tops a surprisingly long gearlever. Neither carpet nor passenger seat are present, but the Sunbeam seems otherwise fully equipped. There's a stout modern rollcage, too. The pedals are offset heavily to the left.

    The engine starts with a hearty bellow and settles to a steady idle. Time to head for the Goodwood pitlane and out on the track. There's no first-gear synchromesh in this Alpine - it came later, in 1964 - but the lever has the precise action I remember from a 1961 Rapier I once owned, marred only by a stiffness across the gate. There's overdrive on third and top but it's currently not working. Rootes' works racers got a five- speed #ZF gearbox but customers weren't given the option.

    I exit the pitlane, feel the engine's free-breathing revvability, and ready myself for the first bend. I didn't expect the Sunbeam to be a precision instrument in the way a well-set-up #MGB , say, can be with its alert rack-and-pinion, and so it proves. Through Madgwick and beyond, it's clear that the Harrington is all about broad brush-strokes, an approximate heading fine-tuned much more easily by throttle than by the springy steering that results from a steering box and a necessarily complex linkage. Rapid changes of a driver's mind are apt to go unnoticed by this Harrington, which prefers to cling doggedly to its trajectory of least resistance. You also have to make a conscious effort to move your right foot a long way leftwards when you want to brake. Otherwise you'll find yourself going unintentionally faster.

    So you have to work with this racing coupe, not fight it. Brake, aim, turn and feel the mass sit heavily on the outside rear CR65. There's now a touch of roll-induced oversteer, so you unwind the steering a little, let the Alpine settle in its attitude of lean and power through the comer in a broadly neutral balance. The rear lever-arm dampers are quite stiff, the resulting transient shifting of forces helping to tip the crossplies into the start of their slither-zone to counteract the initial hint of understeer, but you soon learn to trust their progressive loss of grip and gain in slip- angle.

    Ultimately there's more grip than you think there's going to be, and the Alpine relays in detail exactly how much is left.

    On the Lavant straight the speedometer needle, surely optimistically, passes the end of the scale (at 120mph!). I'm at 5500rpm and rev the engine no higher in deference to its newness, but the Harrington and I are cracking on well. Overdrive third would have been good at St Mary's, but there's enough torque to keep the momentum in direct top until Lavant Comer, taken in third, and the long sweep onto the straight.

    'The Harrington is all about broad brush-strokes, its heading fine-tuned more by throttle than steering’

    Then everything happens at once at the chicane. I want to snick into second after the braking and just before the leftward flick, but I don't give the throttle a big enough blip to reach the required pre-engagement revs and the tail performs a fine wiggle as I re-engage the clutch. This turns into a pleasing power-drift as I re-accelerate and the Harrington is momentarily dominated by engine output, not momentum. This is not an agile car, but it's a faithful one.

    Shortly after my drive, Clive Harrington tried the #Sunbeam-Alpine on a very wet day at Goodwood and reported back that it felt much as it should, and 'very much a Harrington'. Since then, Guy has had another new engine installed, and Chris Snowdon of CS Racing has fine-tuned the chassis set-up and softened the rear suspension. He has also rebuilt the gearbox and overdrive, so all the bugs found in my driving session should have been eradicated. Now it's in fine fettle for Guy to race in the Les Leston Cup at the Goodwood Members' Meeting in March. Prancing horses and all.

    THANKS TO Guy Harman, Clive Harrington and Goodwood (www. goodwood. co. uk).

    'The prancing horse is present on both front wings and the blue driver’s seat is just like that of a 250GTO’


    Car 1962 #Sunbeam-Harrington-Alpine (as raced in 1963)
    ENGINE 1592cc four-cylinder, OHV, two #Weber 40DCOE carburettors
    POWER Over 100bhp @ approx 6200rpm
    TORQUE Approx 100lb ft @ 4750rpm
    TRANSMISSION Four-speed manual with overdrive on third and top, rear-wheel drive
    STEERING Recirculating ball
    SUSPENSION
    Front: double wishbones, coil springs, telescopic dampers, anti-roll bar.
    Rear: live axle, leaf springs, lever-arm dampers.
    BRAKES Discs front, drums rear.
    WEIGHT 900kg
    PERFORMANCE
    Top speed 120mph. 0-60mph 9.5 sec
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    FORMULA ONE 2015 PREVIEW

    Pre-season testing reveals analogies with the past. The more things change... Maurice Hamilton is a veteran motor racing journalist. Here he compares the latest news from Formula 1’s winter testing programme with past events - and finds surprising similarities.

    They call it the Winter Grand Prix. That's #Formula-1 slang for the uncertainty of pre-season predictions and promises that emerge from winter testing. It becomes scathing F1 vernacular when confident assurances are then crushed by the reality of going racing: as in #Ron-Dennis , boss of McLaren, telling Ferrari they may have won the #1990 Winter Grand Prix but not the important one that followed.

    This was a scornful reference to the Italian team dominating pre-season testing, only to go to the first race in Phoenix and have one car leak hydraulic fluid into the oil and the other expire in a blaze of embarrassment when the clutch exploded, fractured an oil line, caused a flash fire and seized the engine. McLaren, low-key in testing, had simply turned up in Arizona, claimed pole and won the United States Grand Prix. The important one.

    Is a similar collapse of Mercedes, the early favourite, imminent in 2015? Will #Ferrari have learned lessons from previous false dawns if they attempt to win another Winter Grand Prix? Will McLaren win any race, never mind the first one in Melbourne on 15 March? In all three cases, the answer is: 'highly unlikely'.

    Mercedes, the reigning champions, set out their store by completing a mammoth 157 laps during the opening day of pre-season testing. It was an overwhelming display of reliability and confidence in a session when the McLaren- Honda managed just six stuttering laps of the Jerez track. Ferrari, meanwhile, was quickest - but only by half a second during a one-off lap in-between the red car spending more time in the garage than on the circuit.

    Here, in a matter of hours, you had a likely template for the 'important Grands Prix' to be played out between March and November in 19 locations around the globe.

    Mercedes are on a roll. This happens in F1 as surely as #Bernie-Ecclestone makes money out of anything that moves - or stands still long enough to be hustled. Successful exploitation of major technical changes means the team that does best initially usually remains ahead until either the rest eventually sort themselves out or the formula changes once more. Witness the run by Ferrari at the turn of the millennium, or McLaren and Honda in the mid-80s, or crafty Jack #Brabham using the simple Oldsmobile-based Repco V8 to see in the arrival of the 3-litre formula in #1966 .

    And so it was with Mercedes when they started 2014 better prepared than anyone else for what has been the biggest technical change for decades. The rest have been trying to catch up ever since. 2015 promises to be no different.
    We shouldn't be surprised. The engines may be designed and built in an immaculate facility in the village of Brixworth, Northants, the chassis may be manufactured 45 minutes south in Brackley, but the car is a Mercedes from the signature three-pointed star on the nose to the signatures on cheques issued in Stuttgart. The pace and location of the company's F1 technology may have changed but the Mercedes ethos and domination remains exactly as it was 60 years ago when the Silver Arrows travelled from Germany each race weekend to wipe the floor with Ferrari, Maserati and the rest.

    When the Mercedes-Benz Rennabteilung first arrived in the paddock in 1954, the steamroller effect was exactly as you saw last year. They had thought of everything, Stirling Moss marvelling over a spare windshield emerging from the bodywork in the likely event of the original being smashed by a stone. Having engaged first gear and let out the clutch halfway through #1954 , Mercedes left the rest in its wake the following season and would surely have continued to do so had the #1955 #Le-Mans disaster, when more than 80 spectators were killed, not forced premature closure of the racing department.

    Optimistic observers will tell you things are different in 2015. The rules have been relaxed slightly in that the engine manufacturers - Mercedes, #Renault , #Ferrari and Honda - can make changes to their power units as the season progresses rather than remain stuck with their mistakes once the racing gets under way. The removal of the freeze is not such a massive thaw, since the block, crankcase, cylinder spacing and inlet systems must remain untouched. Wriggle-room will allow an element of catch-up, but those hoping for a change at the front of the field forget that the newfound freedom also allows Mercedes to improve on a near-perfect product.

    Talk of the rest clawing back the 70bhp advantage enjoyed by the silver cars last year has already been dashed by Mercedes allegedly having found another 60bhp during the winter. Standby for another tense fight as #Lewis-Hamilton defends his crown from #Nico-Rosberg , while the rest play a supporting role.

    That said, no amount of self-assured punditry such as this will prevent Mercedes glancing over its shoulder, uncertain of how much improvement has been made elsewhere. The obvious place to look is #Williams-F1 , given that Sir Frank's team is using the same Mercedes engine. If anyone is likely to be poised to pick up the scraps knocked off the table by a squabbling World Champion and his team-mate, it's this British F1 icon.

    More uncertain will be progress at Ferrari, mainly because the #Maranello team has a long way to come after a shambolic year, even by its previous colourful standards. Alonso's departure to McLaren with a year to run on his Ferrari contract is just the start and easier to understand than #Sebastian-Vettel 's move from #Red-Bull as the Spaniard's replacement.

    Carried along by the inevitable aura of Ferrari's history, #Vettel has attacked his new role with great vigour, rushing back from the first test in Spain to spend more time in the simulator. Even if this ultimately does not produce the required performance, it will take Vettel's mind off the pain experienced when blown away by #Daniel-Ricciardo last year.

    The smiling Australian assassin's three confident wins were a highlight of #2014 , not least because they were the only break in the #Mercedes monopoly. Whether or not #Red-Bull-Renault can go further depends on Renault's shake-out of an organisation previously top dog for four years but humbled in #2014 by being a day late and many horsepower short.

    McLaren had no such excuse since fighting for fifth in the championship with Force India (a team with half the budget and resources) was exacerbated by having the benefit of a Mercedes power unit. #McLaren-Honda have switched to #Honda , the return of the Japanese firm evoking memories of a previous liaison...

    Judging by modest predictions for the early races, McLaren recognises it's a dangerous game to look back on a glorious past and link it with an uncertain future. Much has been made of Honda's last move to #McLaren in #1988 when the combination won 15 of the season's 16 races. But things were very different then.

    There was no serious competition to speak of and Honda had already gained experience of the turbo game through a championship won with Williams and #Nelson-Piquet the previous year. Comparing today's complex hybrid energy retention formula with that simple V6 turbo is like comparing an electric typewriter with an Apple Mac.

    McLaren scarcely bothered with pre-season testing in 1988. The #MP4/4 , arguably the sleekest #F1 car of the past 50 years, turned up at Imola late one afternoon a few days before the first race, Ayrton Senna climbed on board and the brand-new car smashed the lap record straight out of the truck. It was only fading light that forced the excited Brazilian to stop.

    In the first #2015 test last February, Alonso and Button counted themselves lucky if they got started, electrical and engine-related problems restricting them to 12 laps in the first half of the four-day test. The essential process of fine-tuning the handling slid further and further down a schedule governed by a massive but not unexpected work list.
    Mercedes, meanwhile, not only covered two Grand Prix distances in the first day but also demonstrated its state of readiness by cheekily rehearsing no fewer than 17 pit stops. In 2014, several teams had barely managed one before the first race was upon them.

    Pre-season testing has been limited to three four-day sessions. In the 1970s and 1980s, the mechanics and drivers considered themselves lucky if they got four days off during the winter. A tyre war meant the likes of #Goodyear , #Michelin and #Dunlop would pay teams to test endlessly in the heat of Brazil or South Africa (long-haul venues ruled out today because of the need to cut costs).

    It was not unknown for a mechanic to pack his bags in January, test for five weeks in Rio, have a short break in Brazil and then cross the border for the first race in Argentina before returning to Brazil for Round Two. It was the same in South Africa, when the opening race of the season was staged at Kyalami on the outskirts of Johannesburg, Formula 1 teams taking up permanent residency in the nearby Kyalami Ranch.

    The mileage clocked up was so extensive that lap times scarcely mattered. The only time news wires carried a story from F1 testing was when someone crashed and was, at best, badly injured. The motor racing world more or less forgot about this relentless slog in the sunshine.

    How different things are today with the advent of social media. Websites and Twitter carry coverage of every lap and every driver's waking moment. Sky TV digs diligently for stories to fill a summary each evening. When an unofficial highlight of the first week in Jerez was a distant shot of a spectating #Niki-Lauda having a pee in the undergrowth, you begin to understand how difficult it is to extract anything interesting from drivers and officials who almost seem reluctant to give their name. Their aim is to dig deep into the box of optimistic soundbites while refusing to comment on their state of competitiveness - mainly because they don't honestly know. Or if they do, they're not saying.

    Lap times are the only black-and-white evidence of what is going on, but even these assume a permanent shade of grey. It is pointless to Tweet, as one website did, that #Pastor-Maldonado has just done his best time on his 43rd lap in the #Lotus-Mercedes . Such information is utterly meaningless. #Pirelli – F1's sole supplier - brought four different types of dry-weather tyre, ranging from Supersoft to Hard, plus one that warmed up quickly (to save time in the cool conditions) but will not be raced. Maldonado's time depended on which tyre he was using, the engine mode, how much fuel was on board and whether he was on a long run or simply going for the short-term glory of a quick time.

    The latter may seem a pointless exercise at such an early stage but, when you're trying to attract a sponsor, a decent headline or two does not go amiss, particularly since the cars are not weighed (unlike race weekends, when regular checks will prevent anyone running beneath the 702kg minimum). Hence the raising of a cynical eyebrow or two when #Sauber - who failed to score a single point in 2014 - was among the fastest in the first week.

    Being kind, the Swiss team uses a Ferrari engine and it was reasonable to suggest that the surprising performance was due to a much- needed improvement in the driveability of the heavily revised Italian V6, particularly when Vettel and #Kimi-Raikkonen put Ferrari at the top of the time sheets. But then this was, after all, the opening week of the Winter Grand Prix.

    'Senna climbed on board and the brand-new car smashed the lap record straight out of the truck’
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    Knobbly lives again. First often Lister continuation models emerges, with plans for three extra final editions.
    Words Julian Kirk.

    The first of ten Lister Knobbly continuation cars has rolled out of the factory in Cambridge. And while all ten cars are already sold (for around £350,000 each), Lister has confirmed it will also build three final edition models that, it promises, will each celebrate the pedigree of the Knobbly in a ‘unique and memorable way’.

    The ten continuation cars are being built to the same specification as the #1958 #Knobbly created by company founder Brian Lister, who passed away on 16 December last year, aged 88. Their construction will employ the original jigs.
    Lister Cars’ chairman Lawrence Whittaker said: ‘We’re absolutely thrilled to see the first customer Knobbly roll off our production line in Cambridge - it’s a testament to our fantastic team and a fitting tribute to the memory of Brian Lister.’

    Built to FIA Appendix K regulations, which allows them to compete in a series of historic race meetings planned this year to run alongside the Stirling Moss Trophy, the continuation models are available in road and race trim with power coming from a wide-angle #Jaguar-D-type 3.8-litre straight-six breathing through three period-correct Weber carburettors to produce 330bhp.

    A race-spec 315bhp pushrod 4.6-litre #Chevrolet V8 (as built in period for the US race market by Costin) is also being offered, using four downdraught Holley carbs and a Corvette four-speed gearbox. All race preparation is being undertaken by Chris Keith-Lucas at CKL Developments.

    With the car weighing in at just 787kg, performance promises to be blistering - Lister is claiming acceleration from rest to 60mph in 4.3 seconds and a top speed of 181mph for the road car. Keeping performance in check are 12in #Girling disc brakes front and rear and 16in #Dunlop Racing peg-drive alloys with knock-off spinners. Drive is transferred through a four-speed all-synchromesh D-type gearbox.

    This is not the first time Lister has set out to build official continuation versions of the iconic Knobbly. Back in 1990 it announced plans for ten ‘sanction’ cars, but a looming recession (and £250,000 price tag) resulted in only three cars being built.

    However, the future looks much brighter this time around, and Lister is also planning a £2-million hypercar to rival the likes of #Pagani and #Koenigsegg . Speaking to, company boss Lawrence Whittaker revealed that development work is already underway on the twin-supercharged 7.8-litre V12 model, which is claimed to produce around 1000bhp. Lister hopes to have the first examples in production in three years’ time.

    Clockwise from above - Lister Knobblywas raced by Stirling Moss (here winning the 1958 #Silverstone GP); ten continuation models are being built; Archie Scott Brown and Brian Lister pore over the original.
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    STARSHIP 911

    Stewe Corpley drives the #1986 #Porsche-911-Turbo-SE – Porsches 80s flagship #930 .

    Should you, during 1986, come across a right-hand-drive #930-series #Porsche-911-Turbo-Special-Equipment , take a good look at the owner. That’ll be the person behind the wheel; no one who recently paid £73.985.06 for this piece of four-wheeled transport will lose any opportunity to be the one behind the wheel.

    The person you’re looking at will be special indeed: someone with the outrageousness and means and sheer gall to pay a premium of £34.685 just to have a Porsche 911 Turbo 930 that has been improved someone who feels they need more power than the 300bhp of the standard model. At most there will be a dozen of these people out and about on the roads of Britain.

    Despite the Motorfair fanfare during October, the Turbo Special Equipment (Porsche people make certain they say it in full) isn't a new car, it has been built to special order by the repair and restoration staff in the Zuffenhausen factory for the past four years. Now, Porsche Great Britain reckon there’s a market for it that wasn’t around before (perhaps they’ve been surprised at the worldwide interest the four-wheel-drive #Porsche-959 has generated for ultra-expensive Porsches) and they’ve reserved the car a special place, and price, in their official price list.

    The #Porsche-930 Turbo SE (as we’ll call it) is hand-finished. The restoration shop people start with an ordinary, fully built Turbo, strip away the ordinary #Porsche-911-Turbo wings and fit the louvres in the top surface that allow you to look straight through to the top of the tyre. They lit the car with side skirts (we prefer that to the 'running boards’ which is how one impertinent pump jockey described them) and the rear wings got huge, slatted air scoops ahead of the rear wheels. Those admit great gobs of air to cool the brakes.

    There’s a lower chin spoiler, with a business-like mesh grille under the familiar bumper, but the car’s shape at the extreme rear is completely familiar. Same tea-tray wing, same low tail lights and ‘turbo’ in lower case script. The nine-inch wide rear wheels (forged alloy, with five spokes) have polished rims and they wear the new-size 245/45VR16 tyres which now also go on to ordinary, £39.303 Turbos. The front wheels are in the same style; standard seven-inches with the 205/ 55VR16S they’ve had for several years.

    It’s surprising how different the #930-Turbo-SE looks from an ordinary car. There’s a less brutish, more exotic quality to it. and from the front more than a hint of 935 sports/racer. And that is much of what the buyer is paying for - a classier image for a car which goes as hard as any other production car on this Earth up to 170mph.

    Are you getting the feeling that this, despite its huge cost, is a poseur’s chariot of the worst kind, the type whose serious purpose and abilities are subservient to its claim to making the occupants look good? I must say this is what struck-me. And I was then struck, as always in such cars, by the overwhelming foolishness of choosing a car solely because it suits your image - or because you'd like to suit its image. I mean, being seen in a car is so impersonal. Nobody knows who you are; nobody knows it’s you in there, enveloped in leather behind the expensive curves of coachwork. Posing in cars is nothing more than an exorcise in futility.

    With these dark thoughts in mind I opened the hefty door of the Turbo SE on a rainy night after a particularly disaster- ridden day in the office. Parked next to the SE was a classical, no-frills #911 , the one we used for this year’s Top 10 photo session. Gavin Green had that. It was £25,000-worth and we knew it was nice. Mine cost three times that amount, and it was an unknown quantity.

    If you want to establish a close and friendly relationship with a new 911 Turbo you should not drive it on a rainy night, after a spell in a Hyundai Pony. The ergonomics are hell. You will not be able to make the demisting work properly, because you will not have had time for the mandatory refresher course in rear-engined Porsche ventilation controls. You will also have trouble threading the car through those seven-foot wide barriers that are erected all over London suburbs to reduce the nocturnal rumbling of juggernauts; you will have trouble parking the car because you cannot see out of it and the wide wheels stick so far out of the body that you will fret about kerbing them. Better to wait for a fine day and head for the open road. As we eventually did...

    And the Porsche Turbo isn't all body modifications, of course. It has a leather- trimmed Interior - violent red and black in the test car - with all the equipment you could want. There's a powered sunroof, air conditioning, a pair of all-leather Recaro seats (with a console for powered adjustment, heating and lumbar support adjustment on the inside bolster of each). There are driving lights and the standard stereo is a Blaupunkt Toronto.

    Porsche 911 Turbo Special (930 SE)Equipment knocks off same of ordinary Turbo rough edges; comes with now front wings (below) fitted by Porsche's own restoration people In Zuffcnhauson, Germany.

    But the best bit of all is the engine, which is stronger even than the ordinary Porsche Turbo’s, so recently strengthened for the 1986 model year. The standard car has 300bhp at 5500rpm: this one bumps the output up to 330bhp at the same crank speed. The SE's torque peak is more or less unaltered: it stays around 318lb ft (at 4000rpm), the level to which it rose (from 303lb ft) a year ago. The SE's output makes it the strongest purely road going production Porsche ever built - and that has got to be a component in the makeup of the mammoth price.

    It’s surprising, in fact, that the output isn’t up more than 10 percent: Porsche’s people have given the engine high-lift cams, gone up a turbocharger size and fitted the SE with a bigger capacity charge intercooler, and a modified exhaust.
    The rest of the car is pure, well-developed #Porsche-Turbo . The flat six engine, fed from the turbo through #Bosch-L-Jetronic fuel injection ( #Bosch )and with an engine management system controlling its induction and breakerless ignition, is mounted behind the rear axle line and drives through a four-speed gearbox, specialty engineered to handle the massive torque of this car. #Porsche rightly feel that more gears than four are unnecessary. though so few ratios require some technique change from the driver, as we shall see.

    The 3000lb car has strut-type suspension at the front and tough semi-trailing arms at the rear, with anti-roll bars at both ends. There are torsion bars to absorb the road shocks at both ends, plus Bilstein gas filled dampers. The steering is by manual rack and pinion and it takes near enough to three turns to swing the fat three spoke wheel from lock to lock.

    930 Porsche SE cabin is overpoweringly red. Leather it of finest quality and equipment la plentiful, too. Wheel is lovely to use, gets in way of driver’s eye to dial, however.

    The morning dawns icy. Overnight some of the rain on the roads has frozen. Oversteer will be on the menu. My alarm clock has succumbed to the cold: I wake 45 minutes late. It is necessary to be at the service area outside Exeter at 6.30am. To make that, it will be necessary to average 200mph. What is more, the car does not have a handbook, and the intricacies of the ventilation controls still cannot be dredged from the frost-numbed mind.

    This may not sound like an ideal state of mental balance in which to make a first serious approach to the #Porsche-911 Turbo SE. yet it seems right for such a suspected poseur's car.

    I left my base with 120 miles to do (90 motorway, 30 poor back roads) and an hour to do them. I gave it about five miles of warm-up, running the engine easily in the gears around 3000rpm and feeling the way the warmth flowed quickly from the heater. That’s one point in favour of the air-cooled engine. When the oil temperature gauge started to move, I began to open up a bit. On the second corner taken with any power on, there was ice, the tail snapped out, and fortunately something inside me whipped on the right amount of correction and the Porsche did obey, and like lightning.

    And so we graduated to faster better engineered roads, trafficked all night so that they were drier. The Porsche began to lope along at 80, under 3000rpm in top. The wheel, different from any other Porsche type I've used, had a very thick rim, with a lot of little knobs on the windscreen side, where your fingers could fit exactly. That seemed, somehow, to make it a precision tool. In spite of myself, I began to enjoy all this.

    I pressed on rapidly to where I knew my friends were waiting near Exeter. It soon became clear that this was a car of prodigious performance. In top, you were well illegal if you were doing more than 3000rpm. I cruised at 4000. At 27.5mph/ 1000rpm it was fast, but the car felt completely stable In the still morning. There was some buffeting and some rear, but it wasn't loud. Or at least, you couldn't hear much of It for the tyre roar and bump-thump off the road. The Turbo is mechanically quiet, actually, but noise from underneath makes up for that.

    There was not too much anger from the others when I reached our meeting point. They’d used the time to have a service area fry-up, from which I wished them a speedy recovery. We headed west and were deep into Cornwall by Sam. And my familiarity with and respect for the SE was starting, insidiously, to mount.

    There is nothing like a very high geared car, which can still go extremely hard in top to give you an impression of supreme, limitless performance. The Turbo SE. stronger even than an ordinary Turbo, is just such a car. The engine will function smoothly in any gear from about 1400rpm. From about 2600rpm the boost gauge begins to show signs of puff. By 3000rpm there is a definite push in the back and by 3300rpm, if the throttle is opened wide, you cannot avoid going extremely hard.

    Turbo SE’s profile show resemblance to #Porsche-935 racer. There is a grille below front bumper that adds to impression when car is viewed from front, too. Scoops In rear guards have ugly slats, but they direct a lot of extra cooling air onto rear brake discs. Rear wheels have nine-inch rims.

    Beyond 4000rpm, if you are in a lower gear all hell breaks loose. It is as if you're being launched bodily. If first happens to be the gear you’re in, there is only time to concentrate on timing your change into second at 6800rpm, so that you will not over-rev the engine and come ignominiously up against the rev-limiter. Second is a remarkable gear. That one ratio encompasses the entire performance span of many lesser cars. It is possible (though why you should want to. I can't imagine) to get the Porsche rolling in second. You can still be in second nearly 90mph later. Into the red, the speedo shows 95mph, but about 4-5mph of that you have to allow as speedo error. The car’s sheer, thunderous performance has to be experienced to be believed. Forty to 60mph, 50 to 70, 60 to 80mph: they are all consumed in 2.5sec or loss. Suddenly you’re doing 90, right up against the red, and since there are plenty of places where 90mph is not a harmonious speed on British non-motorways, you had better think quickly.

    Third gear has a persona of its own. If it is 24 carat performance you want, third's really not much good to you below 3500 rpm or 70mph. You need to be in second. But between 70 and 130 the Porsche has effortless, soaring performance which lifts it beyond even the level of the Italian twelve’s, since it's so long-legged, so extraordinarily effortless in its self-energised power delivery - and so amazingly quiet. Oh, there is engine noise. The flat*six scream is there and welcome. But the silencing effect of the turbo, the lack of rasp or whine from the superbly strong gearbox, means that the engine is really very refined. On the over-run there might be a hint of vibration as the engine comes down through the 4000s, but only a paid critic would notice it. Anyone else would merely be impatient to slow, just to do it all again. The car’s performance is intoxicating. Think, if you can, of the surge from 100mph to 120 in just over five seconds. It’s so fast.

    Top does its best work over 90mph. Over the ton, really. That’s where the car has its seven-league boots on. Never has so much been achieved by one simple squeeze on a road car's accelerator. And if it’s cruising you want, this car will steam along showing 145mph and 5000rpm (it’s about 138mph true, actually) with nearly 2000rpm left to the redline.
    First is the gear that needs watching. Though the SE comes with a limited slip differential, you can light up both rear tyres if you engage the clutch abruptly with about 4000rpm on board. Actually dropping the clutch is something I just couldn’t bring myself to do. When the rears do spin, you have to be careful. Turbo cars like this - and competition cars - are prone to something called overspin. The tyres lose adhesion, the engine revs rise higher, the turbo spins faster and suddenly even more horsepower is being produced, to the detriment of your #Dunlop D40s. And with no benefit to forward motion. You're probably travelling sideways in smoke, by that time.

    The correct start technique seems to be to feed in the clutch briskly at 3500, enough just to break the tyres loose. Pause a moment as they grip, then give it everything. You’ll find the car is at its maximum, around the middle 50s, less than 4.0 sec later.

    There are not really any snap-changes in this car. The lever movement is long, though smooth. The engine tends to hang in the higher ranges, so there’s plenty of time (or rhythmic changes, not the slam- bam kind. And the need for gearlever violence is reduced by the knowledge that there is a great surge of thrust available the moment you've smoothly engaged the clutch again.

    But one thing is critical in this car, as a result of the four-speed box. You must cover yourself against falling into vast gulfs between the ratios. Thus, when you’re travelling fast it’s best to hold onto a lower gear if you can't see over the hill, rather than risk allowing the revs to fall below 3500rpm. This is actually quite brisk as long as the engine's turning at over 2000, yet so great is the rate of acceleration difference between that and when it’s at 4000, that you’re interested only in one thing. Thus in difficult going, if you’re decelerating, you should change down to third below 70-75mph, second below 50, and first below 30. It's a curious routine until you get used to it, but if you adhere to it. your ability to find power and put it down In every situation. Is awesome.

    As for acceleration, we could get serious only about running some standing quarter miles (13.3 seconds) and some zero to 100mph times (12 seconds dead). It was clear that the thing was so quick that a full set didn't seem worth the trouble. I just wanted to drive. They say zero to 60mph comes up in just over 5.0sec (though such statistics are always dependent on driver skill) and that the car will pull a bit over 6000rpm to give a 171 mph top speed. We’ll take their word for the last. I didn’t go over 150 more than three times, and at that stage, because there was a bit of a cross-wind blowing on our private course, the car felt decidedly lively. Mechanically, it could have sat there all today and tomorrow.

    All this power needs a chassis. The Turbo SE has one reputed to be the most difficult in the business. Realty it is not. There are only two things to remember. Always be hard on the power at the point of maximum cornering effort - and never. never get caught running into a corner on trailing throttle.

    With power to hold its tail down, the Turbo has the grip of a limpet. It has such rear grip, in fact, that unless you turn it into a bend property, its acceleration will propel your front wheels straight across your bend in hideous understeer. Indeed, the grip is such, that even with 330bhp and all these pounds-feet you will probably not unstick the tail in the dry, purely with power. The experts' trick for doing that is to throttle off momentarily to unstick it, then come down hard again on the horsepower to hold it out, while applying opposite lock. Any instinct you have to steer with the throttle, as you might in a more docile machine, needs to be curbed until you’ve felt the big beast out. And by the time that happens, you'll probably have discovered that steering with the wheel makes the best sense. Yet when driven rapidly by someone who truly understands it, the 911 Turbo (and SE) are extremely rapid cars, perhaps even quicker than their mid-engined competitors. They have a neat, rhythmical swinging motion into bends, their reaction to correction of any kind has been bred to be very sympathetic, and the short wheelbase helps there. All the old stuff about the 911’s layout being 'fundamentally wrong' can be made to look rather ill by a good pair of hands on a Turbo's wheel.

    The suspension's support systems are fine. The ride is flat, firm, sometimes jolting (over broken bitumen) but it always has that reassuring tightness which is another reason people buy Porsches. The steering is pin-sharp, especially with the SE's superb wheel. The brakes, huge discs that are cross-drilled and have twin-pot calipers, are superb. Push them hard and you stop hard. Their best attribute, apart from a sheer ability to retard, is that they can be eased off, perhaps to half your original stopping effort, with an ease and accuracy that still isn't normal even in expensive cars.

    But the heart and the guts of this car is the way'it goes. That is why I finished up liking it so much, while thinking it no more than a poseur's special to begin with. I suppose I can get to terms with the price, since the #Ferrari-Testarossa and #Lamborghini-Countach are well into the 60 grand sector and this car is at least as good as they are for sheer ability to go. With its decent bumpers, visibility, manoeuvrability. 12,000 mile service intervals, seven-year anti-rust guarantee and proven resale value, it might well be a lot better, if good sense comes into it.

    What is clearest of all, is that the ordinary 911 Turbo can be an even better choice for someone who puts the time into getting to know it and to handling it the way they do it at #Weissach . That car, 30bhp lighter than the SE, can save you more than £30,000 - £30.000! - yet it's only 0.2sec slower over 0-100mph. It comes to you, very well-equipped, for £39,300 and, in the mood I’m in right now, I think it’s a bargain.

    Luxurious buckets have power-adjust console on inside bolster, plus system of bolster adjustment. They're very comfortable, if loud-looking. 330bhp engine has bigger puffer, Intercooler, then standard, plus high-lift cam profiles, new exhaust.
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