Tag Archives: 5

Derelict & Abandoned In Pennsylvania – DB Panhard HBR 5 #1004

It’s hard to believe that nothing is known about this DB (Deutsch Bonnet) HBR 5, seen at Brooklands a few weeks ago, between it’s export from France to the USA in 1959 until it’s discovery derelict and abandoned in Pennsylvania in 1982.

DB Panhard HBR 5, Brooklands Double Twelve

After restoration to racing spec in 1985 it was shown and raced regularly until 1991 and then stored until 1999.

DB Panhard HBR 5, Brooklands Double Twelve

The current owner acquired it in 2001 and restored it to European road legal condition by 2005.

DB Panhard HBR 5, Brooklands Double Twelve

HBR 5’s were manufactured between 1954 and and 1961. The 850 cc / 51.8 cui 2 cylinder Panhard motors sourced from the Panhard Dyna Z was upgraded from 42 hp to 58 hp spec by René Bonnet.

DB Panhard HBR 5, Brooklands Double Twelve

The upgraded Panhard motor which could be taken up to 6500 rpm when combined with the slippery Charles Deutsch designed body produced a vehicle capable of 140 mph though acceleration was rather leisurely with a rest to 62 mph time of 21.5 seconds.

DB Panhard HBR 5, Brooklands Double Twelve

Available as Coupé’s, Convertibles or outright racers the DB HBR 5 had a long competition career winning it’s class in the Mille Miglia, Le Mans and Sebring multiple times.

Thanks for joining me on this “Derelict & Abandoned In Pennsylvania” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be looking into the shadow’s on Americana Thursday. Don’t forget to come back now !


Jumping Coffee Cups ! – Lotus Esprit S1 Group 5

When Richard Jenvey announced that he would be competing in the 2 litre / 122 cui division of the Group 5 World Manufacturers championship with a Lotus Esprit in 1978, such was my naivety that my heart leapt with joy at the prospect of the domination that BMW had enjoyed in this class with the brick like BMW 320i would at last be broken by a proper sports car.

Richard made a name for himself driving modified sports cars including a supercharged MG Midget in ’73 and a Lotus Elan from ’74 to ’75 winning the 1975 Modsports Championship. In 1975 Richard also started racing in the European Sports Car Championship with the unique Vogue 2 litre / 122 cui sports car a car he eventually bought, modified and sold to team mate David Mercer.

Lotus Esprit Roll Out

Photo Courtesy Richard Jenvey Copyright 1979

With a group of enthusiastic amateurs Richard set about building his Group 5 Lotus Esprit in 1978. The team retained most of the original Lotus backbone chassis and built a monocoque around it effectively turning the Lotus backbone chassis into a passenger.

Richard tells me that when the Lotus Sales Director approached Colin Chapman to support another team about building a similar car Colin Chapman hit the table so hard to emphasise a negative response that his coffee cup jumped off the desk. When the Sales Director made a second approach, on behalf of Richard, Colin appears to have learned a valuable lesson and relented agreeing to supply enough parts for Vegatune to build a 270 hp 2 litre / 122cui engine on favorable terms. Lotus also supplied an Esprit body shell with which to make the mould for the racers body. The original body shell was then sold on which helped cover ‘a fair fraction’ of the costs of building the car which ended up right on the minimum weight limit.

Lotus Esprit, Silverstone

The Polaroof Morfe Racing Lotus Esprit first appeared at the Dijon 6 hours in April 1979 qualifying first in class ahead of a Fiat X1/9 and BMW 320i, but was the first of the three to retire from the race with engine maladies. At Silverstone, where the car is seen above, the Esprit qualified 3rd in class behind the debuting Lancia Beta Montecarlo turbo and an older BMW 320i. During the race Richard and David Mercer only had to finish to win the class but distributor problems saw the car retire.

Over the following two years Richards Lotus made at least seven further starts in World Championship and German Championship events recording a best 7th place finish in the 1981 German Championship round at Zolder. Once the engine was reliable little problems continued to beset the Esprit including seat padding slipping which caused Lawrie Hickman to inadvertently break the gear linkage in his efforts to avoid an accident at Dijon. On another occasion with in a couple of miles of the finish flag and a class victory at the Nurburgring, where the start money was always very generous, a loose alternator wire, combined with running with the headlights on, flattened the battery and officials prevented Richard from connecting the spare which the car carried.

Lotus Esprit, Silverstone

Richard and Lawrie Hickman, who co drove Richards Lotus in 1981 agree that the Esprit was fabulous to drive but was underpowered against the factory turbocharged Group 5 cars running in the same class from Lancia, BMW and Ford which had over 600 hp available ! Interestingly as the Group 5 series was coming to an end Richard started building a turbocharged Group C car, which was never completed due to a late change in the regulations and Richard had plans to run the Lotus with the turbocharged motor from the Group C project before it was retired.

Unfortunately these plans also came to nought when a batch of faulty con rod bolts failed while the normally aspirated motor was being ‘run in’ during practice for the 1981 Silverstone 6 Hours, causing the team to miss the race and starting money. Even more importantly the engine failure also caused the team to miss collecting the ‘very generous’ start money at the Nurburgring two weeks later and so the Esprit retired without ever running with the more powerful motor.

Lotus Esprit, Silverstone

Richard still owns the Esprit which he describes as being “spread around Shropshire”, he is currently engaged in re-accumulating all the parts in one place with a view to either selling it or building it for his son, Mike Jenvey, to race in classic events.

Regrettably, although the Esprit added welcome variety to the events in which it competed, the privateer Morfe Racing with Polaroof team, like the contemporary Janspeed Triumph Twin Turbo TR8 team did not have the level of backing to compete reliably let alone competitively against the works supported outfits of Lancia in the World Championship events which were joined by Ford in the German Championship events.

The photo’s show the Esprit’s official “roll out” to the raspberry patch in Richards garden and the remainder the Esprit’s British debut at Silverstone in 1979.

My thanks to Richard Jenvey who kindly answered my questions about the project, also to The Nostalgia Forum regulars Alan Raine, who suggested I get in touch with Richard, Tony “Giraffe” Gallagher who kindly passed on Lawrie Hickman’s observations, Norman Jones, fausto, Simon Hadfield, fatbaldbloke, Jesper O Hansen, Edward Fitzgerald, La Sarthe, Simon Lewis and Tony Kingston for their comments.

Thanks for joining me on this ‘Jumping Coffee Cups !’ edition of ‘Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres’, I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


Street ‘n’ Comp #1 – Lancia Beta Montecarlo

The Lancia Beta Montecarlo was based on the prototype Abarth 030 which was intended to be a big brother to the little Bertone designed X 1/9 sports car and carry a similar FIAT badge.

Lancia Montecarlo, Bristol IAMF

For reasons that are not at all clear the project was passed over to Lancia and the cars were constructed by Pininfarina who had designed the body work.

Lancia Montecarlo, Bristol IAMF

3,853 first series ‘Beta Montecarlos’ were built and 1,940 second series vehicles were built and marketed under the simplified Montecarlo, one word, name. In the US 1,801 Montecarlos known as Scorpions were sold, these are distinguishable by a pair of semi pop up round headlights.

Lancia Montecarlo, Bristol IAMF

Montecarlos of both series left the factory with 2 litre / 122 cui 120 hp motors mounted transversely behind the driver, while the Scorpions had smaller 80 hp 1756 cc / 107 cui motors which met US emissions regulations.

Lancia Montecarlo, Bristol IAMF

Fellow #53 Beetle fan and GALPOT Birthday boy Jeff Fuller may remember that Herbie fell in love with a powder blue Montecarlo / Scorpion called Giselle in the 1977 film Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo.

After both BMW and Porsche had withdrawn factory support for the silhouette Group 5 sports car formula in 1978 Lancia stepped up to the plate and joined the fray with a Group 5 Lancia Montecarlo Turbo for the 1979 season. Above the wild styling of the racer was matched by an equally wild paint job courtesy of the Pubbli Auto Torino graphics agency. On its debut at Silverstone the car qualified 7th in the hands of Riccardo Patrese and World Rally Champion Walter Rorhl and retired with head gasket failure. The cars eventually proved sufficiently reliable to win the under 2 litre division of the World Championship for Makes.

Lancia Montecarlo Turbo, Silverstone

By 1980 the Dallara built Montecarlo Turbo’s had became reliable and fast enough to beat large numbers of privately entered Porsche 935’s and sundry others outright at Brands Hatch, Mugello and Watkins Glen. Above the #54 driven by Rorhl and Michele Alboreto scored a class victory at Silverstone which helped Lancia win the class and overall 1980 World Championship for Makes. At the end of the year two of these cars also scored a 1-2 victory on the mixed race rally Giro d’Italia having been disqualified from a similar result the year before.

Lancia Montecarlo Turbo, Silverstone

In 1980 two privately entered Montecarlo Turbo’s were used by Jolly Club and Team GS-Sport the former with drivers Martino Finotto and Carlo Facetti mostly entered in the World Championship races as at Silverstone above and the latter entered a car for Hans Heyer in the German DRM Championship which he won outright.

Lancia Montecarlo Turbo, BMW M1, Silvestone

For 1981 with Martini sponsorship, as seen above with Patrese and Eddie Cheever driving at a soaking Silverstone, Lancia entered a car with a larger turbocharged motor in the over 2 liter category at selected events in order to steal points from Porsche in the over 2 liter class of the World Championship for Makes. The ploy did not really work but a victory by a BMW M1 in the over 2 litre class did ensure Porsche did not have maximum points at the seasons end and so handed Lancia with a clean sweep in the smaller class the overall World Championship title.

Lancia Montecarlo Turbo, Le Mans

The #65 Montecarlo Turbo above was driven by Alboreto, Cheever and Facetti from 31st on grid to an 8th place overall and 2nd in class finish at Le Mans in 1981.

Lancia Montecarlo Turbo, Silverstone

Using the same #0009 chassis as Alboreto, Cheever and Faceti had used at Le Mans in 1981, but now entered by the private Vesuvio Racing, Prime Minister Margret Thatchers son Mark is seen here at the wheel he shared with Jim Crawford and Joe Castellano on the way to a 10th place finish in the 1982 Silverstone 6 Hour race. With no factory backing Group 5 had been dropped from World Championship status and the cars were make weights during 1982 in a series dominated by the Porsche 956 Group C cars and Lancia LC1 prototypes.

I was surprised to learn that the last ‘in period’ victory for the Monte Carlo Turbo in 1983 was credited to a then reigning World Drivers Champion Keke Rosberg driving in a national race at Ahveniston Syyskilpailu in Finland. Even more surprisingly here is a link to a youtube clip of Keke’s achievement.

I hope you will join me in wishing Jeff Fuller a Happy Birthday.

Thanks for joining me on this Street’n’Comp edition of ‘Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres’ I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


Black Jack & Le Car – Renault 5

The Renault 5 was a versatile super mini launched in 1972, in Europe many countries ran a one make virtually stock Renault 5 Championship which brought many drivers their first taste of semi professional competition including Austrian Formula One driver Gerhard Berger.

In the States this vehicle known as Le Car dominated the 1977 SCCA Showroom Stock class C division and gained added notoriety when La Conner Washington police department traded in one of its full size cruisers for three Le Cars.

In 1980 three time world champion Sir Jack Brabham was persuaded to come out retirement for the first time in 10 years to take part in a British Saloon Car Championship race at Brands Hatch which took place on the same day as the British Grand Prix.

Though the car was giving away 200 cc 12 cui to the class leading Toyotas VWs and Audi 80’s prepared by GTi Engineering, one of which was driven by the equally recently out of retirement Stirling Moss, it must be assumed that Black Jack was game for a laugh with his old sparing partner from the late 50’s early 60’s.

The Renault was woefully uncompetitive having neither the power or the handling to keep up with the class leading Audis but come race day Sir Jack Brabham had an ace up his sleeve, falling further and further behind the pack on the long Brands Grand Prix Circuit much to the amusement and in full view of 80,000 spectators Jack decided to take a 1 mile short cut by using the club circuit link road and so finished ahead of Stirling Moss on the road even though he was of course obviously disqualified.

Hope you have enjoyed today’s Black Jack edition of ‘Gettin a lil’ psycho on tyres and that you will join me tomorrow for a 6 cylinder edition tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !