Tag Archives: Earl

Forward Design – Plymouth Savoy

The arrival of of the 1957 Mopars saw a dramatic shift in styling from a conservative Plane Jane to Virgil Exner’s jet age inspired Forward Design featuring the outrageous tail fins that became synonymous with the late 1950’s and lead Plymouths advertising copy to read “Suddenly – It’s 1960!”

Plymouth Savoy, Summer Classics, Easter Compton,

The only car that dared to break the time barrier Plymouth, De Soto, Dodge and Chrysler full size models all featured variations of the same body design that were available to meet a variety of needs at an all important variety of prices.

Plymouth Savoy, Summer Classics, Easter Compton,

Two years after Chrysler replaced the ’55 body styles the Plymouth Savoy alone was offered with 2-door coupe, 2-door hardtop, 4-door sedan, 4-door hardtop and station wagon bodies which with 8 engine options and 3 transmission options allowed a diligent salesman to sell up or down according to the purse of just about anybody who walked through the dealers showroom door.

Plymouth Savoy, Summer Classics, Easter Compton,

Allegedly “The Forward Look of Motion” caused GM’s styling boss Harley Earl to ask Chevrolet exterior designer C.J. MacKichan “Why don’t you quit?” after seeing the 1957 Plymouth catalogue”.

Despite Torsion-Aire Ride using torsion bars but not airbags as the name might suggest, build quality problems with the Forward Designs meant many did not survive long before they started to rust away, the ’57 Savoy featured in these photographs is seen at last years Summer Classics meeting in Easter Compton.

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


Tavern Motor Club Washingpool Farm Targa Rally

A couple of weeks ago I popped along to the Tavern Motor Club Washingpool Targa Rally an event for novice rally drivers held entirely on Washingpool Farm near Easter Compton.

BMW 318is, Lukas/Bicknell, Tavern Motor Club Washingpool Targa Rally,

There were 29 starters after a, now, rare Polski FIAT 126 dropped out before the start of the event. Above Dan Lukas and Jason Bicknell kick up a cloud of dust on their way to a 13th place finish in their #26 E30 BMW 318is after borrowing a couple of meters of wire to rewire their fuel pump.

Subaru Justy, Solarski/Tbc, Tavern Motor Club Washingpool Targa Rally,

High on entertainment value was the Subaru Justy driven by Robert Solarski, who finished 9th, his co driver seemed completely unfazed after Robert gave the plastic barrier a hefty whack before stopping for the last time control.

Vauxhall Corsa, Attiwell/Emery, Tavern Motor Club Washingpool Farm Targa Rally,

Classes were run for Masters, Experts and Novices then further divided above and below 1400 cc. Winners of the Experts Class for smaller cars and 15th overall despite a soft offside front tyre were David Attiwell and Kieth Emery driving their #5 Vauxhall Corsa.

Vauxhall Corsa, Sissins/Earl, Tavern Motor Club Washingpool Farm, Targa Rally,

11th overall and winner of the Novices class for drivers of smaller cars were Ray Sissins and Haydon Earl driving their #110 Vauxhall Corsa.

Peugeot 205 Rallye, McLachlan/Baverstock, Tavern Motor Club Washingpool Targa Rally,

6th overall and winners of the Masters class for drivers of smaller cars were Richard McLachlan and Andy Baverstock in their #2 Peugeot 205 Rallye.

Citroën Saxo, Potyra/Rudzki, Tavern Motor Club Washingpool Targa Rally,

Winner of the Novices class for drivers of larger cars and 3rd overall were Robert Potyra and Piotr Rudzski driving the #28 Citroën Saxo.

Ford Fiesta, Lobb/White, Tavern Motor Club Washingpool Targa Rally,

2nd Overall and winner of the Masters class for drivers of larger cars were David Lobb and Adrian White in their #101 Ford Fiesta.

Renault Clio, Connor/Spencer, Tavern Motor Club Washingpool Targa Rally,

Steve Conner and Alan Spencer won the event overall with Steve at the wheel of the #6 Renault Clio.

Ford Puma, Spencer/Connor, Tavern Motor Club Washingpool Targa Rally,

Alan and Steve also took the team prize for fastest pair when Alan’s 12th place overall finish in his #106 Ford Puma was taken into account.

If the event goes ahead again next year and my daily driver is still on the road I shall give serious consideration to taking part in what was an entertaining day out.

Thanks for joining me on this “Tavern Motor Club Washingpool Farm Targa Rally” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres”, I hope you will join me for a look at a Cutlass tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


IMSA King Elvis – Nissan GTP ZX-Turbo #88-01

According to the results available to me Don Devendorf a “scientist” at the Hughes Aircraft Corporation was campaigning a Triumph Spitfire and then Mueller Fabricators Triumph GT6 in the GP and EP SCCA classes with some success from 1968 to 1970.

By 1978 Don had founded Electramotive Engineering of California with John Knepp to prepare and successfully race a succession of Datsun’s.

Nissan GTP ZX-Turbo, Goodwood Festival of Speed,

Starting with a IMSA GTU Class 240Z before moving onto GTU Class 280ZX and GTO Class 280ZX turbo models up until 1984.

In 1985 Nissan decided to drop the Datsun brand in favour of Nissan and entered into a partnership with Electramotive to field cars in the top GTP class of the IMSA series.

Nissan GTP ZX-Turbo, Goodwood Festival of Speed,

From 1985 Electramotive used Lola chassis similar to the Lola T710 chassis used by General Motors Corvette GTP team but adapted to take the Electramotive tuned turbocharged Nissan VG30 V6.

Initially the Nissan variant of the Lola T710 was known as the T810 in 1985, but for 1986 and 1987 the cars were known as Nissan GTP ZX-turbo’s with Lola T710 chassis numbers.

Nissan GTP ZX-Turbo, Goodwood Festival of Speed,

The Nissan Lola chassis carried bodywork devised by Yoshi Suzuka which was easily distinguished from the Hendricks Motorsports GTP Corvette body by the large front intakes mounted below the windscreen.

By 1987 the GTP ZX Turbo had been developed into one of the faster cars on the IMSA GTP circuit scoring 5 pole positions and one win with Geoff Brabham and Elliot Forbes-Robinson sharing the victory spoils at Miami.

Nissan GTP ZX-Turbo, Goodwood Festival of Speed,

For 1988 Electramotive commissioned Trevor Harris to design the chassis for today’s featured car, #88-01 built by Jim Chapman’s JC Prototypes, using the same Electromotive alloy block motor and running gear as the ’87 GTP ZX-Turbo and similar Yoshi Suzuka designed bodywork.

After gifting the two endurance events at Daytona and Sebring to the new Castrol sponsored Jaguar team, by not entering them. Geoff Brabham won nine of the remaining events, with a season high streak of 8 consecutive wins to secure the 1988 drivers and team championships for the Electramotive team.

Nissan GTP ZX-Turbo, Goodwood Festival of Speed,

Chassis #88-01 was known as the King of the IMSA circuit and given the nickname Elvis, much of the success of the car was due to an electronically controlled turbocharger waste gate devised by John Knepp.

Four of Geoff’s wins were with John Moreton acting as co driver, they also scored a fifth non championship win together at Tampa in November 1988 and one more with Tom Gloy sharing the driving duties at Mid Ohio.

Nissan GTP ZX-Turbo, Goodwood Festival of Speed,

Surprisingly in 1989 Geoff Brabham drove #88-01 to a further seven victories to secure a second drivers title and team title for the Electramotive team, this included securing pole with Arie Luyendyk, Chip Robinson and Michael Roe for the Daytona 24 Hours where they failed to finish and winning the 1989 Sebring 12 Hours with Chip and Arie sharing the driving.

During the 1989 season Geoff and Chip shared #88-01 with team founder Don Devendorf to win at Miami and Atlanta and shared another two victories as a driving pair.

Nissan GTP ZX-Turbo, Goodwood Festival of Speed,

In 1990 Don sold Electramotive to Nissan and the team became Nissan Performance Technology Inc, NPTI. Elvis was wheeled out for it’s third and final season of competition and scored three more wins, including a second win at Sebring where Derek Daly and Bob Earl shared the driving. Derek and Geoff shared the driving to secure the chassis final two wins at West Palm Beach and Road Atlanta.

In all from 1988 Elvis made 32 starts, 16 from pole, finished 26 of those races and won 20 of them. Geoff went on to secure the 1990 IMSA GTP championship using a new twin turbo V6 NTP 90 chassis and the 1991 championship with a combination of a twin turbo V8 Nissan R90CK, twin turbo V6 NTP 90 and NTP 91 chassis.

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


Fair Weather ‘Vette – Chevrolet Corvette C1

In 1953 Harley Earls EX 122 sport car concept was so well received at the 1953 GM Motorama held at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City that GM executives had a makeshift assembly line installed at an old truck plant in Flint Michigan to capitalise on the interest shown in New York.

Chevrolet Corvette C1, Summer Classics, Easter Compton

During 1953 the first year of production just 300 Corvettes were built all Polo White with red interiors, just ike this 1954 example seen at Summer Classics in Easter Compton earlier this year, the cars were virtually hand built while a new production facility was prepared in St Louis, Missouri.

Chevrolet Corvette C1, Summer Classics, Easter Compton

One easy way to give any vehicle instant competition credibility, aside from sports stripes, is to fit stone guards for the headlights, this feature would disappear with the first C1 rebody in 1956.

Chevrolet Corvette C1, Summer Classics, Easter Compton

One of the more interesting technical features of the Corvette was that it’s body was, indeed has been on every Corvette since, made of fiberglass.

Chevrolet Corvette C1, Summer Classics, Easter Compton

Power for the initial ’53 and ’54 Corvettes came from a 3.9 litre / 235 cui Blue Flame in line six which was uniquely equipped with triple carburetors to boost the power to 155 hp.

Chevrolet Corvette C1, Summer Classics, Easter Compton

Other standard Chevrolet components fitted to the Corvette included the drum brakes…

Chevrolet Corvette C1, Summer Classics, Easter Compton

and the two speed “Powerglide” transmission which with the motor added to at best a lack luster performance that underwhelmed it’s intended market.

Chevrolet Corvette C1, Summer Classics, Easter Compton

Along with a lack luster performance the original Corvette’s had a terrible reputation for leaking in the rain due to the poor panel fit of the fiberglass panels.

Chevrolet Corvette C1, Summer Classics, Easter Compton

If it had not been for the arrival of Chevrolet’s fabled 195hp small block V8, the enthusiasm of the recently hired GM engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov and the appearance of a rival to the Corvette in the form of the Ford Thunderbird, Chevrolet might have let the Corvette die with less than 4000 unit’s sold, however as we shall see next week things started to improve for the original American sports car in 1956.

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


The Hot One’s Even Hotter – 1956 Chevrolet Nomad

At the travelling 1954 General Motors Motorama motor show, attended by 1.9 million visitors, Chevrolet displayed a Corvette based concept vehicle the Nomad a 2 door estate / station wagon among Head Stylist Harley Earl’s collection of ‘Dream Cars’.

Chevrolet Nomad, Shakespeare CR

In 1955 Chevrolet launched it’s second generation Bel Air models with the strap line ‘The Hot One’. The Bel Air range included the 2 door Nomad estate / station wagon.

Chevrolet Nomad, Shakespeare CR

The second generation Bel Air and the Nomad had a three year life cycle, knowing that if the car was to sell well in the second year of production the range had to look new for 1956, even if it was not, GM upgraded the Nomad saving no expenses on styling and tooling the exterior trim, including a fresh front bumper and new full width front grill.

Chevrolet Nomad, Shakespeare CR

The ’56 Chevrolet’s Bel Air range was marketed with the new strap line ‘The Hot One’s even hotter’.

Chevrolet Nomad, Shakespeare CR

Power for the Bel Air was provided by either a 4.3 litre / 265 cui or 4.6 litre / 283 cui V8, so far as I can tell this particular Nomad, seen at Shakespeare County Raceway, has a 5.7 litre / 347 cui V8.

Chevrolet Nomad, Shakespeare CR

Chrome trim levels on the humble Nomad were comparable to contemporary high end Cadillacs.

Chevrolet Nomad, Shakespeare CR

A feature introduced on the ’56 Nomad was the concealment of the filler for the petrol tank by the chrome tail light housing on the drivers side.

Chevrolet Nomad, Shakespeare CR

With $585 premium over the standard $2025 2-door Bel Air the Nomad was the most expensive vehicle in the Bel Air range.

Chevrolet Nomad, Shakespeare CR

Production numbers show that Estate Station Wagons were not top of the Bel Air demographics list of priorities in 1956, just 7,886 Nomads were built compared to 103,000 pillarless four door hard tops and 128, 000 base 2 door model Bel Airs.

Thanks for joining me on this Nomad edition of ‘Gettin’ a lil’ psycho on tyres’, I hope you’ll join me again tomorrow Ferrari Friday. Don’t forget to come back now !


AAA Champion – Stutz White Squadron Racer

Moving forward a year from yesterdays post today we are looking at this well known 1915 Stutz White Squadron Racer thanks to another photograph by Ed Arnaudin.

Indy64 8s

The Ideal Motor Company was founded in 1911 by Harry Stutz who entered a vehicle called a Stutz powered with a Wisconsin Motor in the very first Indianapolis 500 in 1911.

Despite having under gone no testing of any sort in preparation for the race Norwegian Gil Anderson started in tenth, qualifying was decided by the order in which the entries were received (!), and completed the full 200 laps in a creditable 11th, the first finisher not to receive any prize money. The entrepreneurial Stutz claimed the result a victory with the strap line ‘the car that made good in a day’.

In 1912 Charlie Merz brought his Wisconsin powered Stutz home in 4th and in 1913 went one better with a 3rd place finish. For 1914 Barney Oldfield brought his Stutz home 5th in the ‘500’ again using a Wisconsin engine.

Harry Stutz developed an engine based on the classic 115hp 1914 Mecedes Grand Prix car complete with single overhead cam and 4 valves per cylinder in 1915 and it is this type of vehicle we see in Ed’s photograph taken in 1964.

This car was driven and later owned by White Squadron driver Earl Cooper who’s story is no less fascinating than his cars. Nebrasken Earl got into racing by borrowing a customers Maxwell in 1904 after the proprietor of the Maxwell dealership Earl was working for refused to sponsor him.

Cooper won first time out beating his boss in the same race which earned him a victory garland and unemployment in the process. Earl decided to pursue racing and by 1912 formed a successful partnership with Stutz securing his first of three eventual AAA National Championships winning 5 out of 8 road races in 1913.

Sidelined for most of the 1914 season and a good part of the early 1915 season for some, as yet unknown to me, medical condition Earl came back strongly with a forth place at Indianapolis going on to win one of two events held at Elgin, IL and a 500 mile speedway race at Snelling MN to take his second championship aboard this particular Stutz.

After winning the war interrupted 1917 Championship Earl retired from full time racing in 1919 only to return in 1922 taking five wins in 1923. Cooper led much of the 1924 Indy 500 only for two separate punctures to force him to settle for a second place finish.

In May 1925 Cooper became the first man to lap Indianapolis at over 110 mph he started that race 4th but finished 17th after leading 4 laps and eventually crashing. Despite starting on pole for his final race at Indianapolis in 1926 Earl’s car suffered transmission failure and by 1928 he had retired for good aged 42.

Earl became a team manager building Cooper front wheel drive racing cars, one of which competed at Indianapolis into the the 1940’s. He also reacquired the car seen in this photograph in 1938, restored it and then donated it to the Collection of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles who appear to have loaned the car to the Petersen Museum in LA where it is mostly to be found on display.

My thanks to Steve Arnaudin for sending me the scan of his Dad’s slide and to E.B. of The Nostalgia Forum for identifying this vehicle.

Hope you have enjoyed this AAA Champions edition of ‘Getting a lil’ psycho on tyres’ and that you will join me again tomorrow for a look at the first of two very different Studebakers. Don’t forget to come back now !


It’s The Real Thing – Ferrari 512BB

In 1974 Niki Lauda tested a prototype Ferrari 312 PB in preparation for the 1974 World Sports Car Championship and when Enzo asked him what he thought Niki is alleged to have said something to the effect that if Mr Ferrari wanted to win the Grand Prix World Championship he ought to forget about the prototype 312PB. Enzo seems to have concurred with his new drivers opinion and his cars were never to contest the World Sports Car Championship during his lifetime again.

However many privateers never tired of entering Ferrari’s in the World Sports Car Championships lesser IMSA classes and today we will be looking at the fortunes of 3 privateer Ferrari 512 BBs that I was lucky enough to see in the early 80’s.

The Ferrari 512 BB was an update of the 365 GT4 BB we looked at last week. Introduced in 1976 the 512 featured an enlarged 360 hp 4942 cc / 301 cui 180 degree 12 cylinder engine with a 9.2:1 compression ratio and dry sump engine lubrication which is ideal for the higher cornering forces experienced in racing cars. 929 examples of the 512 BB were made before the 512i BB was introduced in 1981.

512 BB / LM #27577 1980 Silverstone 6 Hours, O’Rourke/Craft/Norman Q18 F 7th o/a 2nd IMSA, those with an interest in all things musical might recognise EMKA and Steve O’Rourke in connection with Pink Floyd whom Steve is credited as managing post Syd Barrat, Nick Mason was listed to drive the #11 but didn’t, after Steve died in 1994 Nick acquired this car to join his 250 GTO.

On the inside you can just make out the winning #8 De Cadenet – Ford driven by Alain De Cadenet (seen here) and Desiré Wilson who I believe a couple of weeks earlier became the first female to win a World Championship race of any kind in the same De Cadenet – Ford with the same co-driver at Monza.

512 BB / LM #35523 1981 Silverstone 6 Hours, Phillips/Salmaon/Earle Q25 DNF (Flat battery) A not untypical horribly wet and cold day at Silverstone the race was won by a Porsche 935 which will be the subject of a future blog.

512 BB / LM #31589 Andruet/Ballot-Léna 1981 Le Mans 24 hours, Q 37th, F 5th o/a 1st in IMSA GTX, my first holiday abroad alone was always going to be to go see the Le Mans 24 hours and I was not disappointed. Bell & Ickx won and there was an entertaining battle between 5 of these 512 BB’s for much of the race, though all but one other did not finish.

512 BB / LM #35523 1982 Silverstone 6 Hours, Phillips/Earle/Jones Q34, F 17th, regrettably this was the last time I saw the 512’s on the track, these fabulous sounding machines continued to be raced until 1985.

Hope you have enjoyed today’s ‘It’s The Real Thing’ edition of ‘Gettin’ a lil’ psycho on tyres’ and that you will join me again tomorrow for a look at some Porsches from Thompson CT in the first day of my first Porsche week. Don’t forget to come back now !