Tag Archives: Edenbridge

Figlio Del Vento – Mercedes Benz W198 300 SL Coupé #198 040 65 00279

Aged 18 John Surtees finished 6th aboard his Norton 500 on his debut in Grand Prix Motor cycle racing at the 1952 Ulster Grand Prix.

In 1955 John won his first and only 250 cc Grand Prix aboard an NSU at Ulster which helped secure a ride with MV Agusta with whom he would remain for the rest of his motorcycle racing career up until the end of 1960.

Mercedes Benz 300 SL Coupé, Edenbridge Fun Day,

Now focusing on the 350 and 500 classes John won his first World Championship in the 500 class in 1956, the year in which today’s featured Mercedes Benz 300 SL Coupé was built, with three wins from three starts.

1957 was not such a good year for the partnership netting just a single win in the 500cc Dutch Grand Prix, but they bounced back in 1958 and 1959 by sweeping all the Grand Prix races in 350cc and 500cc classes to give John 25 Grand Prix wins and four World Championship titles.

Mercedes Benz 300 SL Coupé, Edenbridge Fun Day,

In the final year of their partnership John, who by now was known as “figlio del vento” son of the wind, won two 350 cc Grand Prix and 5 500 cc Grand Prix to secure two more World Championship titles and became the first man to win the Senior Isle of Man TT three times in a row.

MV Agusta were reluctant to supply bikes for John to race in UK, when not Grand Prix racing, so he became involved with racing on four wheels making his debut in Formula Junior and then quickly progressing to Formula One making four Grand Prix appearances with team Lotus in 1960 that culminated with a second place finish behind Jack Brabham in the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

Mercedes Benz 300 SL Coupé, Edenbridge Fun Day,

With seven World Championships to his credit on two wheels John switched all of his attention to racing on four wheels from 1961 electing to decline an offer to be Jim Clark’s number two at Lotus in favour of a two year spell with Reg Parnell’s Yeomam Credit team which ran Climax powered Cooper T53’s in 1961 and Lola Mk4’s in 1962.

Two second places in Britain and Germany and 4th in the final Championship standings with the Lola aroused the attention of Enzo Ferrari who signed John for the 1963 season.

Mercedes Benz 300 SL Coupé, Edenbridge Fun Day,

John finished the 1963 season 4th in championship again, but this time with his first Grand Prix win on four wheels at the German Grand Prix.

In 1964 with the Ferrari 158 the team were resurgent with wins in Germany and Italy backed up by second place finishes in Holland, the USA and Mexico were enough for John to become the first and so far only man to win World Championships of two wheels and four.

Mercedes Benz 300 SL Coupé, Edenbridge Fun Day,

Lotus and BRM gained the upper hand again in 1965 when John finished the Championship in fifth behind Jim Clark, Graham Hill, Jackie Stewart and Brabham driver Dan Gurney.

Ferrari looked to be best prepared for the start of the 3-Litre era of Formula One and a win in Belgium looked to confirm John as the most likely candidate to win the title, but then a disagreement with Ferrari management at Le Mans saw John walk away from Marranello and into one of the only other 3 litre cars available the Cooper Maserati T81.

Over the remainder of the season John finished 2nd in Germany, 3rd in the USA and first in Mexico, finishing second in the Championship to Jack Brabham who became the first and so far only driver to win the World Formula One Championship in a car bearing his own name.

Mercedes Benz 300 SL Coupé, Edenbridge Fun Day,

During the second half of 1966 John drove a works supported Lola T70 in the Can Am Championship and became it’s inaugural champion with 3 race wins.

In 1967 started a two year spell with Honda in Formula One that brought John’s final Championship Formula One win at the 1967 Italian Grand Prix after John had introduced Lola’s Eric Broadley designed chassis to the team.

Mercedes Benz 300 SL Coupé, Edenbridge Fun Day,

John spent one year at BRM, with whom he finished a best third in the USA, in 1969 before turning the Surtees Racing Organisation, SRO, in Edenbridge in to a constructor of racing cars that in Formula 2, Formula 5000 and Formula One.

Fellow motor cycle world champion Mike Hailwood won the 1972 European Formula 2 Championship driving a Surtees TS10 in 1972, the same year that Gijs van Lennep drove a Surtees TS 11 in all but one round of the 1972 Rothmans European Formula 5000 Championship which he won.

The Championship highlight of the SRO challenge in Formula One, which lasted until 1978, was Mike Hailwood’s 2nd place finish in the 1972 Italian Grand Prix the year the team finished it’s all time high 5th in the constructors championship.

John also won the non Championship Gold Cup at Oulton Park driving a TS7 in 1970 and a TS9 in 1971, the following season the debut of the TS14 at Monza would be his final Grand Prix start before retiring, though he added a further Gold Cup win in 1981, when the race was run for historic cars, driving a Maserati 250F.

Today’s featured 1956 Mercedes Benz 300 SL Coupé # 198 040 65 00279, originally sold to a customer in the USA, was bought by John in the early 1990’s and registered in the UK on the 23rd of June 1992, he kept it until 2008.

The car, seen at a recent Edenbridge Fun Day, was bought by it’s current owner at the Coy’s Techno Classica 2011 Auction for just north of half a million dollars.

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


SoCal TV Hustler – Ford Falcon

25 years after Edsel Ford allegedly passed on the Falcon name in favour of Mercury, for a new brand in 1935, Ford under the direction of Robert McNamara finally brought the Falcon name into the market for it’s new mid size car range in 1960.

Ford Falcon, Edenbridge Fun Day

The first generation Falcon’s, like the ’62 4 door station wagon seen here at Edenbridge earlier this year, were primarily designed as second cars for families who already had a full size land yacht on the drive and needed a second vehicle for the wife to drive.

Ford Falcon, Edenbridge Fun Day

By 1962 the four door station wagon was available with a Squire options package that included faux wood paneling which gave the car car a quasi woody look.

Ford Falcon, Edenbridge Fun Day

Part of Fords marketing strategy for the Falcon from 1961 to 1965 was to include Charles Schulz peanuts characters Charlie Brown and Lucy in the sales literature for the Falcon models.

Ford Falcon, Edenbridge Fun Day

Look closely again at the number plate holders in the top photo and you’ll see they bear the legend “Encino Ralph Williams”. Ralph Williams was a Southern California TV Car Hustler, a born motor mouth who lived by the ABS moto, ALWAYS BE SELLING. It appears he did not always play his audience with straight dice and he was moved on by local authorities for a variety of violations. I found this linked footage, presumably an out take, of Ralph in action to give you an idea of what colourful legend he was. WARNING DO NOT CLICK ON THE LINK IF YOUR EARS ARE EASILY OFFENDED.

Ford Falcon, Edenbridge Fun Day

The first series Falcon’s were also badged as Mercury Comets and in Canada as Ford Frontenacs until 1963 when the second generation Falcons were introduced.

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


Big John Burns Rubber – Edenbridge Fun Day

On Bank Holiday Monday I popped over to Edenbridge, Kent, just south of London, where John Surtees was due to take part in the Edenbridge Fun Day with a demonstration of his first Formula One Car the Surtees TS7.

John Surtees, OBE, Edenbridge Fun Day

John was in good form and delighted to be promoting Edenbridge the town in which he based his racing team and the Henry Surtees Foundation that John set up in memory of son to give young people an opportunity to experience the emotion, disciplines and learning that the world of motorsport can offer.

BMW 500 Rennsport, Edenbridge Fun Day

Taking part in the demonstration were two of John’s bikes, he was seven time world motor cycle champion in 350 and 500 classes locking both out from 1957 to 1960, above a 1954 58p 500cc BMW Rennsport.

Mercedes 300SL, Edenbridge Fun Day

John’s 1956 Gullwing Mercedes 300SL also took part in the parade.

Connew, Eddington, Surtees TS7, Edenbridge Fun Day

Among the former Surtees employees Peter Connew, who went on to design his own Formula One car after the Surtees TS7 seen in the background was finished and Bob Eggington who was workshop foreman at the Surtees factory.

Surtees TS14, Edenbridge Fun Day

Half way through the 1973 season Mike Hailwood joked with reporters that his Surtees TS14 was so unreliable that he used to take a book with him in the car to read while he was waiting to be towed back to the pits. Chassis #04 seen here lived up to it’s reputation when it developed a fuel leak just as Oliver Turvey was about to fire it up for the parade.

Surtees TS7, Edenbridge Fun Day

The Surtees TS7 chassis #01 also nearly blotted it’s copybook when it ejected an important piece of rubber from it’s starter motor meaning John needed a push start before joining the parade.

Kerr, Surtees TS15, Edenbridge Fun Day

The Formula 2, second open wheel tier, Surtees TS15 of the type, and probably the same chassis, which Carlos Pace used to win a non Championship race in Brazil at the end of 1972, was driven by 2002 British Formula 3 Champion Robbie Kerr. In the background is the former Surtees factory building which is soon to be replaced by a supermarket.

Surtees TS7, Edenbridge Fun Day

You would not believe John was a man of 79 when he unleashed the 400 horsepower from the Ford Cosworth DFV, engine number 050, and smoked his tyres as he set off down the B2026 from Edenbridge Station in to town.

MV Augusta 500, Edenbridge Fun Day

Surprisingly the 1960 4 cylinder 500 cc / 45 cui MV Augusta, on which John won the last of his seven motorcycle championships was even noisier than the 3 litre / 183 cui V8 Cosworth.

Surtees TS7, Edenbridge Fun Day

Above John is seen returning to the site of his former factory with his MV behind. As I learned last year when I attended the BRM Day a chance to see a Grand Prix car on the streets is never one to be missed.

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