Tag Archives: General

Go Turbo Or Not – Lola T711 Chevrolet #HU2

For the 1985 season General Motors ordered two new Lola chassis to compete in the IMSA GTP series against Porsche, Nissan, Mazda and the Jaguar endorsed Group44 XJR5 GTP entries.

The first chassis T710 HU1, better known as the Corvette GTP, was powered by a turbocharged 3.4 litre / 207 cui V6 and was run by Hendricks Motorsports in 1985 and 1986 winning the 1986 Road Atlanta 500 Kilometres with Sarel van der Merve and Doc Bundy at the wheel.

The second car the T711 #HU2 was powered by a normally aspirated 366cui / 6 litre V8 said to produce 800hp, which was considered insufficient to compete against the Porsches Nissans and Jaguars.

Lola T711, Paul Stubber, Silverstone Classic,

After GM decided to go the turbocharged route Lew Price’s Lee Racing acquired the car direct from Lola in time to enter it for the 1985 Daytona 24 Race.

Lew was joined by Carson Baird, Billy Hagan, Terry Labonte in the cockpit, but despite qualifying 13th #HU2 retired with a broken gearbox.

During the remainder of 1985 the cars best result was a 7th place finish for Carson and Chip Mead from 20th on the grid in the Miami 3 Hour race.

Lola T711, Paul Stubber, Silverstone Classic,

Lew took #HU2 back to Daytona in 1986 and with Jim Mullen and Matt Whetstine on the driving strength qualified 19th only to retire from the 24 hour race with suspension failure.

The car made two more appearances in 1986 retiring after an accident with Lew at the wheel from the Miami Grand Prix and retiring from the Sebring 12 Hours, where Lew, Jim and Carson qualified 10th, when the car caught fire.

Australian Paul Stubber seen at the wheel of the car, restored by Damax Engineering, in these photographs taken at Silverstone Classic is the cars fourth owner.

Thanks for joining me on this “Go Turbo Or Not” 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 !


Worlds Best Handling FWD – Lotus M100 Elan SE Turbo

When General Motors acquired Lotus Cars in 1986 it committed to investing £35m / US$55m in to a new affordable car that was to be built on the reputation of the Lotus Elan which was discontinued in 1973.

Lotus M100 Elan SE Turbo, Classic Sports Car and Action Day, Castle Combe

Unlike the original rear wheel drive Elan the new Peter Stevens designed M100 Elan featured front wheel drive, and was powered by a development of an Isuzu motor that produced 130 horsepower in normally aspirated form and 162 hp in SE Turbo form.

Lotus M100 Elan SE Turbo, Classic Sports Car and Action Day, Castle Combe

The rest to 60 mph time of 6.5 seconds and top speed of 137 mph was matched by the handling described by some sources as ‘the finest front wheel drive car bar none’.

Lotus M100 Elan SE Turbo, Classic Sports Car and Action Day, Castle Combe

Unfortunately as the Lotus M100 Elan came to market in 1989 Europe and the USA were entering a recession and Mazda had already flooded the market with it’s retro ‘Elan’ the MX5/Eunos/Mita series and so Lotus ended up selling just 3,855 M100 Elan’s between Nov 1989 and July 1992.

Lotus M100 Elan SE Turbo, Classic Sports Car and Action Day, Castle Combe

Second series of 800 155 hp Elan’s were built between June 1994 and and July 1995 featuring mandatory catalytic converters and slightly longer and heavier body work to accommodate the latest US spec safety features including airbags.

Lotus M100 Elan SE Turbo, Classic Sports Car and Action Day, Castle Combe

General Motors had sold it’s interest in Lotus to Bugatti by this stage and the new Lotus owners did a deal with Kia Motors to license the manufacture of an updated Kia Elan complete with a Kia sourced power unit. Kia wound up production of it’s M100 Elan in 1999.

Today’s featured M100 Elan SE Turbo seen at last years Classic Sports Car Action Day at Castle Combe was built in 1991.

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


Hydra-matic – Nash Airflyte Ambassador

The 1950 Nash Airflytes offered 23 detail improvements of the short wheel base 600 and long wheel base Ambassador models.

Nash Airflyte Ambassador, Classics at the Castle, Sherbourne

The Ambassador seen here is powered by a 115 hp 3.8 litre / 231 cui overhead valve straight 6 motor, 3hp more powerful than the 1949 model and more fuel efficient, according to the manufacturer.

Nash Airflyte Ambassador, Classics at the Castle, Sherbourne

The Airflyte body, first seen in 1949, was developed in a wind tunnel by Nils Wahlberg. The design was so cutting edge it was considered alarming by some.

Nash Airflyte Ambassador, Classics at the Castle, Sherbourne

The closed front wings / fenders benefited aerodynamic efficiency at the cost of a larger turning circle than it’s competitors.

Nash Airflyte Ambassador, Classics at the Castle, Sherbourne

New options included aircraft style reclining front seats and seat belts for the “Super Lounge” interior, the latter a first for US built cars.

Nash Airflyte Ambassador, Classics at the Castle, Sherbourne

The top of the range 1950 Ambassador models also offered Hrydra-matic transmission which was developed by General Motors, which contributed to the cars legendary comfortably smooth ride and annual sales of over 130,000 in 1950.

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


General Belgrano – Toleman Hart TG 181C #06

Nearly thirty years ago, July 18th 1982, I had the privilege of taking a couple of day’s off from my summer job, at Golden Arch Foods where I was employed on the production line making 24,000 buns an hour for Ronald McDonald, to visit Brands Hatch for the British Grand Prix.

Toleman Hart TG 181C, British Grand Prix, Brands Hatch

Niki Lauda driving a McLaren starting from 5th on the grid easily won the race from the Ferrari 126 C2’s of Didier Pironi and Patrick Tambay who had both fought hard from their respective 4th and 13th place starts.

One of the best stories of the race however came from the fledgling Toleman Team which was founded in 1981. Their car was designed by a Formula One novice Rory Byrne who had designed many successful open wheel vehicles first with Royale who manufactured many Ford Kent and Pinto powered racers and then with Toleman in the the second tier Formula 2 who’s Hart powered cars dominated the European Formula 2 championship in 1980 with drivers Brian Henton, who was crowned champion, and Derek Warwick came second.

For 1981 Toleman and Brian Hart made the brave move to step up to Formula one with a car designed by Byrne and a turbocharged 1.5 litre / 90.5 cui 415T four cylinder motor which was a development of the Hart 420R 2 litre / 122 cui motor successfully used in Formula 2. The team ran with unfancied Pirelli tyres who were returning to the top tier of the sport after a prolonged absence of 32 years.

During the 1981 season Henton and Warwick each made 12 attempts at pre qualifying for Grand Prix races each missing the cut for qualifying just once at Monaco. However both drivers only qualified once Henton at Monza where he finished 10th and Warwick in the parking lot at Ceasers Palace where he retired.

For the 1982 season Henton opted out and moved to the Tyrrell team while Warwick, who used to be a regular competitor at Aldershot Raceway had won the World Super Stox Championship aged 16 in 1973, was joined by Formula One novice Teo Fabi who had finished third in the 1980 Formula 2 championship.

From 28 attempts to pre qualify in 1982 Warwick and Fabi both failed make the cut once with Warwick qualifying for 11 races and Fabi 7. Warwick managed to finish just two of his 11 starts with a best of tenth place in Germany equalling Henton’s best result at Monza the year before, while Fabi did not finish any of the races he started.

The hight light of the Toleman Teams 1982 season was however the British Grand Prix, having set fastest lap during the previous Dutch Grand Prix, Warwick qualified
16th and proceeded to march through the field with some breath taking maneuver’s during the race. Having worked his way passed Elio de Angelis in a Lotus, Derek Daly in a Williams he next set about attempting to get past the Ferrari of Pironi which proved a little more troublesome as both cars had similar performance thanks to their turbocharged motors however he eventually went past Pironi on the start finish ‘straight’, it’s actually a curve, out braking the Frenchman into the heart stopping paddock bend.

Now in second place Warwick set about catching Niki Lauda who was well ahead however after 40 glorious laps Warwick retired thanks to a broken CV joint in the back of his car, chassis #06, which had acquired the ‘General Belgrano’ nick name from the ancient Argentinian battleship that had been sunk in the 1982 Falklands Conflict. The next week the hitherto back marker and underdog was on the cover of all the magazines and Toleman, Byrne and Warwick began to enjoy some hard earned respectability.

Toleman started scoring points finishes in 1983 and were taken over by Benetton in 1986. Rory Byrne penned many winning cars for them including those driven to championship victories by Micheal Schumacher in 1994 and 1995. Byrne followed Schumacher to Ferrari after a retirement that became a sabbatical for the 1997 season.
Byrnes cars driven by Schumacher dominated the sport from 1999 to 2004 securing 71 victories and six constructors championships and five drivers championships before he retired for good in 2006.

Brian Henton driving his Tyrell got fastest lap at the 1982 British GP and retired from Formula One at the end of the season. Derek Warwick gained a reputation for never being in the right place at the right time in Formula One his best championship finish being 7th in 1984 when he drove for Renault. Derek was crowned World Sports Car Champion in 1992 when he also won the Le Mans 24 hours driving for Peugeot. His 1982 Toleman Team mate Teo Fabi was crowned 1991 World Sports Car Champion in 1991 driving a Tom Walkinshaw Racing (TWR) Jaguar.

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


Too Much Added Lightness – Lotus 27 27-JM-22 & 27-JM-2

The design of the 1963 Lotus 27 Formula Junior car followed the principles of the 1963 Lotus 25 Formula One car featuring a monocoque. Keen to save weight, cost and promote the use of fibre glass which Colin Chapman used extensively in the Lotus Elite and Elan models the 27 monocoque initially differed from the bigger, aluminium skinned, Lotus 25 monocoque by having a fibre glass outer skin.

Former motor cycle racer and film distributor Ron Harris ran the works Lotus Formula Junior team in 1963 for 1962 Formula Junior champion Peter Arundell, Mike Spence and John Fenning. With only one car available for Peter first time out at Oulton Park the team scored a lucky victory after the faster Brabhams including that of Denny Hulme retired with engine problems. The victory was lucky because the monocoque was so weak it badly affected the handling of the Lotus 27.

5 or 6 Lotus 27 chassis are thought to have been constructed with fibre glass outer skins and nearly 4 months past before Peter returned to his winning ways by which time the fibre glass outer skin of his Lotus 27’s monocoque had been replaced by rolled aluminium which stiffened the monocoque and improved the 27’s handling.

With 6 successive late season wins Peter Arundell secured his second successive British Formula Junior title by one point over Denny Hulme.

Lotus 27, Goodwood Revival

Chris Locke is seen above at the Goodwood Revival in his Lotus chassis 27-JM-22. This car was sold originally to one C Haas, better known these days as the racing impresario the multi championship winning Newman/Hass/Lanigan Indycar team.

According to San Anselmo CA resident Lotus aficionado Chris Locke’s website, Carl sold the car to General Motors who wanted to study the monocoque engineering and design, some years later General Motors donated the Lotus to the auto shop department of a Detroit high school. Teacher Pat Nelson liberated the car by substituting a more practical vehicle for his students to learn from before the racer had been dismantled.

Pat raced 27-JM-22 from the late 60’s to mid 70’s before Jim Lloyd took over the car in 1977 and raced it some more. Jim was photographed with his 27 – JM – 22 parked next to Mario Andretti’s championship winning Lotus 79 at the US Grand Prix in 1978. Six successive owners owned and raced the car the last of which had a the tub replaced after an accident in 1999. Chris became the owner in 2001 and has the car looked after John Anderson Racing in the States and Historic Team Lotus in Europe.

Lotus 27, Goodwood Revival

The second Lotus 27, 27-JM-2, featured today driven by Nick Fennell above was acquired for Jean Vinatier by Ecurie Ford France on the 28th May 1963, The team were running tragic future Grand Prix driver Jo Schlesser in a rival Brabham BT6 at the same time.

Of the two Jo scored better and consistent results until the August 18th 1963 when Jean recorded fastest lap on his way to two heat wins and win on aggregate in a French Formula Junior Championship at Nogaro. Jean recorded a further 3rd place at Montlhéry near Paris before the seasons end.

Jean went on to become French National Rally Champion in an Alpine Renault in 1969 and represented the same team at Le Mans a track at which he recorded 15 24 hour race starts between 1950 and 1973.

Thanks to Peter, Pete, willga, and Ron at The Nostalgia Forum for their comments on the 27’s construction.

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


Parts Bin Special – Aston Martin Virage

The Aston Martin Virage was introduced in 1988 as a top of the range model. The car featured today seen at Castle Combe Classic and Sportscar Action day was built in 1990.

Aston Martin Virage, Castle Combe C&SCAD

Powered by a 330hp 5.3 litre / 323 cui V8 with 32 valve Callaway designed cylinder heads, the 1790 kg / 3946 lb Virage is capable of reaching 60 mph from rest in 6.5 seconds with a top speed of 158 mph.

Aston Martin Virage, Castle Combe C&SCAD

Despite being a hand made bespoke machine the Virage dipped into a variety of manufacturers parts bins to keep the costs down, the head lights are sourced from the Audi 200/5000 the tail lights from the 2nd generation Volkswagen Scirocco, the steering column came from General Motors the Climate Control from Jaguar and the steering column from Ford.

Aston Martin Virage, Castle Combe C&SCAD

Most of these cars are fitted with Chryslers Torqueflite automatic transmission with only fifty being thought to have the 5 speed ZF manual option, all 1050 Virages were built after Aston Martin was acquired by Ford.

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

PS Don’t forget …

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Automobiliart, Paul Chenard

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Sports-GT cars set, Paul Chenard

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1950s Grand Prix Engines

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Booby Prize from Wide Track Country – Pontiac Firebird

In 1954 vice president of engineering at General Motors Oliver K Kelly called Packards head of Research and Development John DeLorean to offer him a choice of jobs across the five divisions on General Motors. DeLorean who at the time also had the choice of moving to Studebaker with whom Packard had just merged settled on becoming assistant to chief engineer Elliot ‘Pete’ Estes at Pontiac.

Pontiac Firebird, Silverstone Classic

By 1963 John had become chief engineer at Pontiac, and Estes had become general Manager when they together with engine specialist Russell Gee and chassis engineer Bill Collins convinced the GM management to let them offer a $296 performance package on the Pontiac LeMans Coupé and Convertible body stiles that included a 325 hp 6.4 litre / 389 cui V8 motor normally found in the full size Pontiac Catalina and Bonneville models, from whence the ‘Wide Track’ strap line was born and named it GTO a name John picked up from the Ferrari 250 GTO.

Pontiac Firebird, Silverstone Classic

The Pontiac GTO with initial production limited to 5,000, by a disbelieving Pontiac Sales Manager Frank Bridge, was an instant hit with Ronnie and the Daytonas, the youth market at which it was aimed and GM Management. The GTO was responsible for transforming the image of the brand from an ‘aunties car’ to a youth orientated performance brand with over 32, 000 units built in 1964.

Pontiac Firebird, Silverstone Classic

As the GTO was launched John DeLorean moved on to the development of the Pontiac Banshee a concept car to compete with the Chevrolet Corvette which was killed by GM’s top management. DeLorean seen as Pontiacs golden boy was promoted to head of the entire Pontiac division and given the consolation task of turning the Chevrolet Camaro into a Pontiac Pony Car with the proviso that there could be no alterations to the sheet metal except to the front and rear panels.

Pontiac Firebird, Silverstone Classic

By incorporating a signature Pontiac split grill with built in bumper at the front and a version of the rear strip lights seen on the two Banshee concept cars the Pontiac Pony car was easily distinguishable from it’s Chevrolet sibling, Having failed to acquire the Banshee naming rights from rocket scientist Eugene F. Lally, who had successfully raced a Corvette powered special of the same name, for less than ¢50 per car, the name Firebird which had been previously used by GM on three seriously out landish gas turbine concept cars, was eventually adopted for the Pontiac pony car.

Pontiac Firebird, Silverstone Classic

The absence of marker lights, Federally mandated in 1968, and the E suffix on the registration plate confirm this as most likely one of the five variations of the 1967 model line up.

Pontiac Firebird, Silverstone Classic

The Ram Air bonnet / hood suggests this car had the top of the range 6.6 litre / 400 cui motor installed when it left the factory.

Pontiac Firebird, Silverstone Classic

Just over 100,132 1967 Firebirds are thought to have been manufactured of which 9,980 were convertible.

Thanks for joining me on this Wide Track Country edition of ‘Gettin’ a lil’ psycho on tyres’, I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !