Tag Archives: Coventry

Killed By Speculation – Kieft Climax GP

Kieft built up an enviable reputation, with the help of Stirling Moss, in the 500 cc / 32.5 cui Formula 3 series when in 1953 it decided to build a Formula One car for the new 2.5 litre / 152 cui rules that were to be introduced in 1954.

Kieft Climax, Gregory Snape, Goodwood Revival,

Alongside British entrants Cooper and HWM, Kieft built their car around a new V8 “Godiva” motor which Coventry Climax were proposing to sell to prospective customers.

Coventry Climax V8 Godiva, HGPCA Test Day, Silverstone,

The new Coventry Climax FPE Godiva motor produced around 240 hp in early tests, but soon afterwards word got out in the press that Ferrari’s new motor was producing 260 to 270hp.

Coventry Climax V8 Godiva, HGPCA Test Day, Silverstone,

On hearing this both Cooper and HWM began looking else where for motors while Kieft had already manufactured 2 chassis for the Godiva before Coventry Climax cancelled the project and Cyril Kieft sold the unraced car on and moved completely out of the motor racing business.

Kieft Climax, Gregory Snape, Goodwood Revival,

The Climax FPE Godiva project including all the spares was sold on in the 1960’s, one three litre / 183 cui version was built for the Shannon Grand Prix car which nearly completed a lap of the 1966 British Grand Prix, while another of similar capacity was used by ‘Doc’ Merfield in his Ford Cortina Mk II until he fell ill.

The car was eventually restored and fitted with the Godiva motor seen here by Bill Morris, a notable ERA restorer, and was entered into it’s first race 48 years late in 2002 with the 89 year old Cyril Kieft in attendance.

The car seen at Goodwood Revival with Gregory Snape at the wheel was sold in September 2012 for GB£ 185,000.

When the cars came out for the new Formula in 1954 it was believed the race winning Maserati 250F had around 240hp, the Ferrari 553 Squallo around 260 in a completely useless chassis and the championship winning Mercedes W196’s upwards of 270 hp approaching 290 by the seasons end.

Thanks for joining me on this “Killed By Speculation” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow for “Maserati Monday”. Don’t forget to come back now !


Theosophical Pickup – Standard Vanguard Phase II Pickup

In 1903 by Reginald Walter Maudslay founded the Standard Motor Company in Coventry England. 42 years later after WW2, during which Standard had been involved in the production of utility vehicles and various aircraft including the Mosquito night fighter bomber, Standard recommenced production of civilian vehicles, bought the remains of the Triumph Motor Company which went into receivership in 1939 and was kept busy post war initially with the production of Ferguson Tractors.

Standard Pickup, Classic Car Show, NEC, Birmingham

In 1948 the all new Plymouth inspired 2 litre 122 cui Standard Vanguard Phase 1 replaced all existing models and remained in production until replaced by the Phase II in March 1953, the main external difference being the Beetle back of the Phase I being replaced by a regular 3 box 4 door saloon shape for the Phase II.

Standard Pickup, Classic Car Show, NEC, Birmingham

By this time Standard were also involved in the production of Rolls Royce Avon jet engines for use in Britains fleet of nuclear armed V-Bombers like the https://www.psychoontyres.co.uk/wings-wheels-dunsfold-aerodrome/12-dscn6360sc/, these motors fitted with afterburners would also form the basis of the Rolls Royce Olympus jets that were fitted to Concorde the worlds only operational supersonic passenger airliner.

Standard Pickup, Classic Car Show, NEC, Birmingham

Apologies I digress alongside the Phase I and Phase II passenger Vanguards Standard also manufactured Pickups which like all other Vanguards seemed to be particularly popular with the Royal Air Force. Phase II Vanguards were manufactured until 1956, a completely new body Vanguard having been introduced in 1955.

Standard Pickup, Classic Car Show, NEC, Birmingham

Today’s featured Pickup, seen at last years Classic Motor Show, was restored some ten years ago and was recently offered on e-bay where it was noted that a floor operated manual Triumph TR3 four speed gearbox with overdrive. The top bid for the Standard Pickup was £7,200 pounds but this was below the reserve so the car appears not to have sold.

While researching today’s blog I stumbled across this linked page for the Theosophy Wales Society who appear to be big fans of all Standard Vangards which remained in production until 1963 in the UK while production of Phase I Vanguard UTE (Pickup) continued until 1964 in Australia.

Thanks for joining me on this “Theosophical Pickup” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me tomorrow for a look at a bright green mid engined icon from Italy. Don’t forget to come back now !


Racer and Runabout – Arnott Sports #AT112

Daphne Arnott was born into a mechanical world in 1926, her Grandfather appears to have been captain and secretary of the Bath Road Club and ‘in control of’ MMC built Werner Motorcylces and her father was responsible for the Arnott Superchargers sold through Carburetors Ltd in North West London.

Daphne spent many childhood hours spectating at Brooklands and in her early teens she became competent mechanic. During the ’39-’45 war she was employed by the Hawker Aircraft company.

Arnott Climax Sports, Goodwood Revival

In 1948 Daphne joined the family business Carburetors Ltd and by 1951 she had created a department within it to design and manufacture 500 cc / 45.5 cui Formula 3 cars with assistance from the works manager George Thornton.

After Bob Brown of Bromley won first time out in the Arnott, Daphne built 8 copies, one of which became a streamliner in which John Brise set 500km average speed record of 108mph at Montlhery in 1953 which still stands.

Arnott Climax Sports, Goodwood Revival

For 1955 Daphne came up with the 1100 Sports model seen here, complete with wishbone independent suspension, which was entered into the Le Mans 24 hours.

It is a measure of the esteem in which she was held that her Arnott, one Lotus and one Kieft were each given a new Coventry Climax motor with which to compete in the 24 hour classic.

Arnott Climax Sports, Goodwood Revival

Jim Russell, of racing school fame and Peter Taylor were the drivers but they crashed during practice after which Daphene had an Arnott supercharger fitted and used the car as her daily driver for 20 years.

A second attempt was made at Le Mans with another Coventry Climax powered Arnott Sports in 1957, this time Jim Russell and Peter Taylor qualified but retired with ignition problems after completing 46 laps and that seems to be the end of the Arnott story as a manufacturer.

Arnott Climax Sports, Goodwood Revival

In all 25 Arnott Sports are thought to have been built with fibre glass bodies. The current owner bought today’s featured vehicle from Daphne Arnott after it had spent some time disintegrating in a barn in 1998.

Arnott Climax Sports, Goodwood Revival

In 2003 this Arnott Sports still fitted with it’s original Coventry Climax motor #FWA400/3.6264, Arnott supercharger, MG TC gearbox and ENV back axle was given a £30,000 plus overhall by Sigma Engineering in Dorset.

When I saw this remarkable testimony to the grit and courage of a little remembered British entrepreneur Daphne Arnott at Goodwood Revival last year it was being offered for sale, if you are interested I have contact details for the owner. Usual disclaimers apply.

Thanks for joining me on this “Racer and Runabout” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


Monocoque Revolution – Lotus 25 #R4 & #R5

There are some ideas that have to wait until just the right time in order to have an impact, one such case in point is the idea of using a monocoque shell to build a racing car chassis / body rather than the oft used couple of helfty rails or beams welded together or a more intricate space frame built up of small tubes welded together with a body thrown over the top.

The idea of using a monocoque shell made of fabricated sheets of metal to build a racing car can be traced back to 1912 when Howard Blood built a prototype cyclecar called a Cornelian which in 1915 was prepared by the Chevrolet brothers Louis and Albert for an attempt at the Indy 500. The Cornelian reached 12th place before it’s 33hp Sterling motor dropped a valve causing retirement. Around 100 monocoque chassis Cornelian cyclecars are thought to have been built before production came to a halt.

In 1923 aviation pioneer Gabriel Voisin built a team of four extraordinarily underpowered monocoque racing cars to take part in the French Grand Prix at Tours, giving away over 15 mph in top speed just one car survived to finish fifth and last over 1 and a quarter hours behind the winner over the 496 mile race distance.

Lotus 25 R5, Goodwood FoS

Despite the success of the D-Type Jaguars at Le Mans in the mid 1950’s which featured a half monocoque design with the engine mounted on a sub frame it was not until 1962 that Colin Chapman revisited the monocoque idea for use in a Grand Prix Car and started to make the advantages of structural rigidity, thanks to the use of innovative steel bulkheads, weight saving and reduced frontal area work in the Lotus 25 design which shares identical suspension and running gear with the 1962 space frame Lotus 24.

The Lotus 25 chassis #R5 was one of seven such vehicles used for Grand Prix Racing from 1962 until models eventual swansong in 1967. The #R5 chassis was completed late in 1962 just in time for Jim Clark to attempt to clinch his first World Drivers title at the South African Grand Prix, unfortunately after starting from pole a tuppenny oil plug came lose and ended Jim’s race twenty laps early allowing Graham Hill to win both the race and the World Championship.

Jim used the car again in 1963 but Trevor Taylor was given #R5 to race at the second event of the season Belgian Grand Prix at Spa Francochamps. During practice for this event #R5’s suspension collapsed and the subsequent damage meant Trevor continued participating in the spare car #R3. Thanks to Roger, Rob of The Nostalgia Forum it has emerged that Trevor retired from the 1963 Belgian GP after 5 laps as the result of a severed thigh muscle.

Chassis #R5 was taken back to the Team Lotus Factory and stripped down to the bear monocoque which was put aside awaiting recycling when Lotus mechanic Cedric Selzer was given permission to take the wrecked monocoque, along with some redundant parts, home.

Over the next twenty years Cedric collected enough parts including a correct Coventry Climax V8 engine to ‘recreate’ the written off #R5 in 1984.

With the full knowledge of the story of #R5 being in the public domain this rare vehicle sold for just short of a million US$ at auction in 2007.

This second Lotus 25, chassis #R4 seen above with Andy Middlehurst at the wheel during the Goodwood Revival meeting has an even more amazing tail to tell, it is the remains of the very car which Jim Clark drove to a, for the period, record setting seven Grand Prix victories on his way to securing the 1963 World Drivers Championship and the World Manufacturers Championship for Lotus.

In 1964 #R4 was driven by Formula Junior sensation Peter Arundell who started his first full season in Grand Prix racing with two third place finishes in the opening two races at Monaco and Zandvoort (Holland) and came home 4th in the French Grand Prix which proved to be his last of the 1964 season thanks to an accident in an open wheel Formula 2 race which effectively ended Peter’s career although he did unsuccessfully return to the wheel in 1965.

#R4 was then sold to Reg Parnell who replaced the Coventry Climax V8 with a BRM V8 and then given first to South African Tony Maggs and then Richard Atwood to drive. Richard crashed the car in the Belgian Grand Prix after which the repaired chassis was given the #R13 chassis number by the Parnnel Team in what might be considered a slight of hand to make the car look like it had a later Lotus 33 type chassis number, the #R13 chasssis number having been passed over by Team Lotus. #R13 also acquired the nickname Percy at this time.

Innes Ireland and Bob Bondurant competed in one further race each with ‘Percy’ towards the end of 1965 and in 1966 Mike Spence took over the driving duties scoring 2 season best 5th place finishes in Percy which was now fitted with a larger BRM P60 V8 motor.

Piers Courage and Chris Irwin both took a championship Grand Prix start each in Percy during 1967 Chris recording a 7th place finish in the cars final Grand Prix in Holland.

Peter Yock became the owner of #R13 in 1968 and he raced the car in the Antipodes passing it on to fellow Kiwi Peter Hughes for 1970, Hughes replaced the by now damaged BRM V8 with a dry sumped V8 sourced from a Daimler and when that proved recalcitrant had a Twin Cam 4 cylinder Ford motor fitted.

#R13 then disappeared until Lotus aficionado John Dawson Damer tracked it down for his Lotus Collection in Australia, when John had the car restored it was discovered that #R13 was not a similar later Lotus 33 spec monocoque at all but that it still had all the identifying monocoque features associated with the Lotus 25 and in particular chassis #R4. Like Cedric John also acquired the correct Coventry Climax V8 type motor to restore #R4 to it’s original splendor and in 1997 #R4 returned to Gooodwood for the first time.

Again with all of the details of this car in the public domain this car sold at an Australian Auction for just short of a million US$ in 2008.

It’s a sobering thought that Jim Clark was entered to drive a Lotus 25 in 30 championship Grand Prix races, he won 14 of them, won one world championship (1963) and but for some cheap engine parts might have won two more (1962 & ’64). One thing was for sure, after the advent of the Lotus 25 the writing on the wall was written large that the days of the space frame racing car particularly in open wheel racing was effectively over.

Finally a well known resource states that Lotus driver Trevor Taylor is credited with ‘inventing’ the yellow stripe that ran the length of some Team Lotus racing cars from May 1963 until the Lotus sponsorship deal with Players Gold Leaf Tobacco came into effect in 1968. There is to the best of my knowledge no evidence to support this myth, it would appear the yellow stripe was first used on Jim Clark’s #92 Lotus 29 Indy Car in May 1963 and next appeared on his, and only his, Lotus 25 at the British Grand Prix in July 1963.

My thanks to Barry, Davids McKinie and Lawson, Vicuna, Roger and Rob at The Nostalgia Forum for their help dispelling the Trevor Taylor myth.

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

14/01/12 Amendment it has come to light thanks to Roger Clark that Trevor Taylor had his mishap with #R5 during practice for the Belgian GP at Spa not during the race as originally stated in the text above.


A tale of two chassis frames – Lotus Climax 19 Monte Carlo #952

The Lotus 19 was a two seat version of the Lotus 18 mid engine Formula One car that Stirling Moss drove to an unexpected first marque Grand Prix victory for Lotus at Monaco in 1960.

In a case of history repeating itself, two years earlier in 1958 Moss had driven a Cooper to record that marques first Grand Prix victory and Cooper dubbed their 1958 sports car the Cooper Monaco, Colin Chapman dubbed the 19 the Lotus Monte Carlo in honour of Stirling’s achievement.

Lotus 19, Goodwood Revival

The Lotus 19 chassis #952 was originally purchased along with two others, #950 & #953, by the British Racing Partnership (BRP) team #952 & #953 were both acquired in 1961 and #950 in 1960.

BRP, co founded by Stirling’s Dad and Stirling’s ex manager entered the car under sponsors UDT-Laystall banner. The exact racing history of #952 from 1960 to 1962 is not known to me but by 1962 it was acquired by the Rosebud Racing Team in the USA and was successfully raced in the USA by Marsten Gregory and Innes Ireland.

By the end of 1963 the Rosebud Racing Team had managed to attach a 3 litre Ferrari V12 to #952 in place of the usual Coventry Climax 4 cylinder.

Innes Ireland sustained severe injuries when he crashed the now Ferrari powered #952 during practice at Pacific Raceways, Washington for the Pacific Northest GP.

Rescue workers had to cut Innes, who had a broken leg and hip, out of the wreck while he was still fully conscious on account of his morphine allergy.

Rosebud Racing replaced the chassis on their Ferrari powered racer while retaining the #952 chassis number, see second photo in this link and Innes Ireland bravely stepped in to drive it again.

Many years later, after ownership of #952 along with a Ferrari 250 GTO (!) was transferred to Victoria High School in Texas, #952 eventually ended up back in England with the Higgins brothers who rebuilt #952 in the 1980’s replacing the Ferrari V12 motor with a 2 litre / 122 cui 4 cylinder Coventry Climax.

The second chassis frame incarnation of chassis #952 is seen above driven by the Danish Baron Otto Reedtz-Thott at the Goodwood Revival.

Footnote this car should not be confused with a Lotus 21 Grand Prix car belonging to Alex Morton that carries the chassis number 939/952, apparently after 939 was damaged a replacement Lotus 21 chassis with the number 952 was sent to repair 939 and the frame has carried the 939/952 number ever since.

My unreserved thanks and congratulations to the many contributors on the Case history: Lotus 19 Monte Carlo thread on The Nostalgia Forum which has been attempting since 2004 to piece together the histories of all 17 of the Lotus 19 Monte Carlo’s that left the factory. Particular thanks to Micheal Oliver, David Birchall and David McKinley who kindly answered specific questions.

Thanks for joining me on this Carceaology Edition of ‘Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres’, I hope you’ll join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


Low Rider – Lotus 15

The Lotus 15 was built to accept larger motors than had been possible with the hitherto very successful Lotus XI.

Lotus 15

Built to take 4 cylinder Coventry Climax motors of between 1.5 litres / 92 cui and 2.5 litres / 153 cui the Lotus 15 stood just 24″ tall. The #37 built in 1958 seen at Silverstone above of Philip Walker and Danny Wright is powered by a 2 litre / 122 cui motor.

Ewan McIntyre, Lotus 15, Oulton Park, 2011

In order to lower the centre of gravity and improve the aerodynamics and handling the Coventry Climax 4 cylinder motors were 17 degrees off horizontal, one degree more than the 1958 Epperly Belond Exhaust Special that won the Indy 500 in 1958 and 1959, under the Williams and Pritchard designed and created aluminium skin.

Ewan McIntyre, Lotus 15, Oulton Park, 2011

The combination of slippery shape and good handling allowed Graham Hill to record 5th best time in practice at Le Mans in 1958 with a 2 litre Lotus 15 ahead of numerous 3 litre cars entered in the race.

Ewan McIntyre, Lotus 15, Oulton Park, 2011

However the Lotus 15 was hampered by unreliability Hill managed only three laps at Le Mans in 1958 before he had to retire with head gasket failure. It has been suggested that the Lotus 15 suffered a lack of development and attention to detail due to Colin Chapmans efforts to get his open wheel programme under way, along with development of the Lotus Elite road car. However the fact that three distinct variations of the 15 were built between 1958 and 1960 suggests this might not have been the case.

Ewan, McIntyre, Lotus 15, Oulton Park, 2011

The Lotus 15 was not as successful as the Lotus XI and only 27 were built. Despite the lack of success today examples of the Lotus 15 like the the #15 of Ewan McIntyre seen chasing the #133 3.8 litre / 231 cui Lister Jaguar of Jon Minshaw and Martin Stretton at Oulton Park above are still capable of punching well above their weight in Historic events.

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


Sign of things to come – Kimberly Cooper Special

Today’s blog, on the 50th anniversary running of the ‘ Indy 500’ in 1961, comes courtesy of photographs by Ed Arnaudin and Phillippe de Lespinay.

01 Copyright Ed Arnaudin 1961_61s

Photo by Ed Arnaudin.

AJ Foyt recorded his first of four victories at Indy in 1961 driving the Bowes Seal Fast Special, a Trevis Roadster, outrunning Ed Sachs and Roger Ward both driving Watson Roadsters.

Cooper T54, Jack Brabham, Indy 500

Photo by Ed Arnaudin.

Also on the grid of the 1961 Indy 500 was a small car built in England driven by an Australian who started 13th and came in 9th, perhaps not a stunning performance but none the less a significant marker for the future designs that would appear at Indianapolis.

Cooper Climax T54, Kimberely Cooper Special, Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Photo by Ed Arnaudin.

The #17 Kimberly Cooper Special, was the smallest car in the field powered by the smallest engine a 270 HP 2750 cc / 167 cui 4 cylinder Coventry Climax which gave away around 150 HP to it’s Offenhauser powered opposition. Uniquely that day in May the Cooper had it’s Coventry Climax engine mounted behind the driver.

Despite it’s power disadvantage which showed in straight line speed the Coopers lighter weight and rear engine configuration gave two time, reigning, World Champion,Jack Brabham a superior handling car going round the corners.

Had the team not made an unscheduled third stop, spending over 8 minutes stationary over three stops ‘Black Jack’ wound have been in a competitive position at the end of the race.

Cooper never returned to Indianapolis. The marker they had put down with the rear engine layout was taken up by others and by 1969 all Indy 500 qualifiers had engines mounted in the back, a development that was met with some resistance by both organizers and fellow competitors, who were less than thrilled by all manner of new comers turning up and eventually sweeping up the victory spoils.

In 1963 owner Kjell Kvale, believing some hopelessly optimistic performance figures for a 6 cylinder Aston Martin engine had Joe Huffaker install it in ‘Black Jacks’ 1961 Cooper T54 for Pedro Rodriguez to drive. Due to poor straight line speed Pedro Rodriguez was bumped in qualifying for the 1963 Indy 500.

The unique T54 then passed through 3 hands and by 1977 it had morphed into a Chevrolet powered sprint car. Fortunately many of the original parts that had been replaced in the morphing process had been kept.

Cooper T54, Philippe de Lespinay

Photograph courtesy of Philippe de Lespinay

In 1990 Philippe de Lespinay and Robert G Arnold managed to purchase over 70% of the parts belonging to the T54, along with it’s original equally storied engine, giving Thomas Beauchamp, Gene Crowe and Quincy Epperly the task of restoring the Cooper back to it’s 1961 specification using as all of the recovered original parts, including all of the surviving body panels.

Cooper T54,  Jack Brabham

Photograph courtesy of Philippe de Lespinay

During the restoration Jack Brabham found time to visit the shop in California and inspect the work in progress.

Cooper T54,  Jack Brabham

Photograph courtesy of Philippe de Lespinay Monterey 2006

Thirty years after first driving the T54 at Indianapolis Jack Brabham took a belated fairy tale victory to win the 1991 Monterey Cup.

Cooper T54, Rolex Moments in Time.

Photograph courtesy of Philippe de Lespinay

Since then the T54 has appeared at the Petersen Automotive Museum, the Marconi Automotive Museum, Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and in 2006 was selected as the star of the 2006 Rolex display at Monterey.

In July Philippe will be bring the Kimberly Cooper Special also known as the Cooper Coventry Climax T54 to Goodwood Festival of Speed, where I look forward to seeing the car for the first time in the flesh and meeting Philippe.

My thanks to Steve Arnaudin for scanning and sending his Dad’s photos, to Phillipe de Lespinay for permission to use his photos more of which along with the complete story on the restoration of the T54 may be seen here.

Hope you have enjoyed today’s rear engine edition of ‘Gettin’ a lil’ psycho on tyres’, and that you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !

Correction in an earlier edit of this blog I incorrectly stated Pedro Rodrigueuz had crashed the Cooper Aston Martin, this was definitely not the case and a case of labelling error by a third party, apologies for any confusion caused.