Tag Archives: II

Classic Competition Cars – Classic Motor Show NEC Birmingham

Today’s blog is all about some of the classic competition vehicles at last weekends Classic Motor Show at the NEC in Birmingham.

Rosemary Smith,  Classic Motorshow, NEC, Birmingham

A couple of weeks ago I went to a talk at which Rosemary Smith, winner of the 1965 Tulip Rally driving the Hillamn Imp above, was to be the guest of honour, unfortunatley she had a fall and so could not make it so it was great to see her on her feet again at the Classic Motor Show despite the fact that some of her bones were still on the mend.

MG B Roadster,  Classic Motorshow, NEC, Birmingham

Rosemary drove a Ford Cortina Lotus on the 1968 London to Sydney Rally and finished 48th six places behind Jean Denton who drove the MGB GT Roadster seen above in need of some tlc, who finished 42nd.

Discovery Beetle,  Classic Motorshow, NEC, Birmingham

Among the taller vehicles at the show was the road legal Gulf liveried Discovery Beetle, above, built on a shortened 1996 Land Rover Discovery chassis and fitted with a 300 TDi which being lighter and more aerodynamic than a standard Discovey goes well on the road and is perfect for off road trials.

Cooper Daimler T87,  Classic Motorshow, NEC, Birmingham

Having acquired a 1966 Cooper T81 formula one car and fitted it with a 7.2 litre / 440 cui wedge engine for hill climbing Martin Brain acquired a 1967 Cooper T87 Formula 2 chassis and had it fitted with a 2.5 litre / 152 cui Daimler hemi V8, more commonly found in the SP250 and V8 250 Daimler models, for hill climbing on tracks with tighter corners. The car was rescued from a Swedish Museum in 2011 by Gillian Goldsmith better known as a successful equestrian and car racer Gillian Fortescue-Thomas who has since competed with the Cooper Daimler as has her daughter Samantha.

Gould NME GR61X,  Classic Motorshow, NEC, Birmingham

Powered by a 650 hp Nicholson McLaren Engines (NME) 3.5 litre / 213 cui development of the Cosworth HB Indy car engine the Gould NME GR61X is the most successful car ever to compete in British Hill Climbing with Scott Moran claiming 133 wins and Roger Moran claiming a further 16 and Alex Summers 8 since the cars first appearance in April 2005.

Empire Wraith,  Classic Motorshow, NEC, Birmingham

Successful Trike hill climber and Empire Racing Cars founder Bill Chaplin called Dutch born Formula One aerodynamicist Willem Toet, most recently at Sauber, to work on the Empire Wraith hill climb challenger which is powered by a 180hp Suzuki GSR K8 motor. This example built at the Empire factory in Stathe Somerset in 2013 is the first of three built to date and is driven by Clive Austin and Chris Aspinall.

Healey Westland,  Classic Motorshow, NEC, Birmingham

In 1948 Donald Healey and Geoffrey Healey drove the Healey Westland above to a ninth place finish on the Mille Miglia, the following year Tommy Wisdom and Geoffrey finished 10th in the same event in the same car.

Marcos Prototype,  Classic Motorshow, NEC, Birmingham

By 1959 former de Haviland aircraft engineer Frank Costin had a CV that included designing the Vanwall Grand Prix challenger that won the inaugural World Constructors Championship in 1958 and subsequent demand for his attention included that of Jem Marsh with whom he founded Marcos Engineering in Dolgellau, North Wales. The prototype Marcos, using the same plywood construction techniques de Haviland used to build the Mosquito fighter bomber the Vampire jet fighter, built in 1959 powered by a Ford 100E engine is seen above awaiting some well earned tlc having disappeared in Lincoln for many years.

Italia 2000GT,  Classic Motorshow, NEC, Birmingham

Only 329 Italia 2000 GT’s were built by Vignale and in 1996 Jorg Von Appen had #210, one of five Italia’s he owned converted to race spec to take part in the TR Race series, it survived four races and was recently purchased by the proprietor of Patterson’s Original Pickles.

Porsche 904 Carrera GTS,  Classic Motorshow, NEC, Birmingham

After withdrawing from Formula One at the end of 1962 Porsche built their first tube framed fiberglass bodied sports car which would culminate in the development of the 917 and later 936 models, originally known as the 904 Porsche badged the car Carrera GTS in deference to Peugeot’s ‘digit “0” digit’ numbering system. The GTS seen here was I believe used in competition by Claude Barbier and possibly later by Cyr Febbrairo.

BMW GTP,  Classic Motorshow, NEC, Birmingham

No doubt much to the annoyance of Formula Ring Meister Bernie Ecclestone the manufacturer who supplied the engines for his Formula One Brabham team split it’s efforts in 1986 between Formula One and the IMSA GTP series and invested in four March 86G chassis and fitted them with a 2 litre / 122 cui version of the BMW engine that had powered Nelson Piquet to the World Championship in 1983. A BMW GTP was driven to it’s only victory by Davy Jones and John Andretti in the Watkins Glen 500, while the Brabham BMW team scored on 2 championship points in the worst season for the team up to that time.

Eagle HF89,  Classic Motorshow, NEC, Birmingham

Dan Gurney’s All American Racers graduated to the IMSA GTP class in 1989, after claiming the driver’s and constructors’ championships in the GTO division Chris Cord in 1987, the teams all new HF89 was designed by Ron Hopkins and Hiro Fujimori and the following year Argentina’s Juan Manuel Fangio II drove HF89’s to three victories in the Topeka 300, Sears Point 300 with Rocky Moran and Del Mar Fairgrounds Road Circuit in November 1990.

Thanks for joining me on this “Classic Competition Cars” edition of Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be looking at a Carrera Panamericana challenger. Don’t forget to come back now !


The Road Racer Dream – Chapman Mercury III

Sheffield auto electrician Phil Chapman dreamed of owning a car he could drive on the road and race at weekends. Short of the necessary brass to buy a vehicle to fit his needs, but blessed with the necessary curiosity, common sense and initiative, he taught himself how to build his first special based on a 1930’s Triumph chassis with Mercury V8 power in a corrugated iron shed in the late 1940’s.

Chapman Mercury III, Oliver Tomlin, Chateau Impney Hill Climb

In 1952 he put the engine into a space frame of his own design known as the Chapman Mercury II and four years later dismantled it to build a second space frame, drawn out in the time honoured way with chalk on his workshop floor, the Chapman Mercury III seen in these photographs.

Chapman Mercury III, Oliver Tomlin, Chateau Impney Hill Climb

After making the molds for the glass fibre body Phil campaigned the car successfully into the early 1960’s including at the original Chateau Impney Hill Climb where the car is seen here driven by Phil’s grand son Oliver Tomlin.

Chapman Mercury III, Oliver Tomlin, Chateau Impney Hill Climb

Phil sold CM III to make way for the Chapman Mercury IV which featured an all wheel drive system of his own devising, this car proved problematic but was sold on when Phil temporarily gave up motorsport in favour of gliding.

Chapman Mercury III, Oliver Tomlin, Chateau Impney Hill Climb

In the 1970’s Phil took the opportunity to buy the Chapman Mercury III back as a retirement project and after restoring the car he went on to compete in her again with his daughter Sandra, now Tomlin, who went on to claim the ladies records at Wiscombe Park, Gurston Down, Prescott, Shelsley Walsh, Loton Park and Harewood hill climbs in more powerful open wheel vehicles.

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


Classic Run – Chipping Sodbury

Today’s visit to Chipping Sodbury looks at a selection of the British vehicles taking part in the Classic Run.

Hillman Super Imp, Classic Run, Chipping Sodbury

My friend Spence, who was the navigator in this 1972 Hillman Super Imp, advised me the event was happening.

Bristol 405, Classic Run, Chipping Sodbury

The unadulterated Chipping Sodbury sunshine really set off the metallic Green paint work on this 1955 Bristol 405.

Daimler Sovereign 4.2, Classic Run, Chipping Sodbury

Motorsport in this country would come to a stand still without volunteer marshals and one of the most avid I have come across is called Mark Benstock, who most weekends can be found marshaling at a sprint or rally almost anywhere in the UK. During a rare weekend off he took his 1976 Daimler Sovereign 4.2 for a spin on a busman’s holiday as travelling marshal for the event.

Jaguar XJS Le Mans, Classic Run, Chipping Sodbury

To celebrate the Le Mans Victories in 1988 of the Tom Walkinshaw Racing Jaguars in 1988 and 1990 JaguarSport produced a limited edition of 280 ‘Celebration Le Mans’ models, like the one above, with US spec round head lights, upgraded V12 motor and suspension along with an id plate on the door tread showing the model number. Coincidentally this car is up for sale on e-bay, usual disclaimers apply.

Rolls Royce Corniche Silver Spirit II, Classic Run, Chipping Sodbury

When I arrived at Chipping Sodbury a call went out on the tanoy for a volunteer to take a ride in this 1989 Rolls Royce Corniche Silver Spirit II, unfortunately I had prior commitments but if I go again I’ll make sure I have the afternoon free.

Austin Allegro, Classic Run, Chipping Sodbury

Wrapping up the event on the road was this delightful 1982 Austin Allegro 3 HL, a design that was hampered by some early 1970’s in house dogma that dictated it should not be available as a hatchback. The Allegro 3 was replaced in 1983 with the Austin Maestro hatchback.

Thanks for joining me on this Classic Run edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow for Americana Thusday which will be coming from Yate. Don’t forget to come back now !


Dust Thy Neighbour – Volkswagen Golf GTi 16V

In 1983 while I was an intern at the Volkswagen AG in Wolfsburg there was great excitement as the announcement of the revamped VW Golf Mk 2 was anticipated.

Volkswagen Golf GTi 16v, Oulton Park

As I arrived the first of the new cars were being assembled in Halle 54 a giant factory space in which the body panels were held together with over 400 spot welds made by an army of robots as was most of the assembly work.

Volkswagen Golf GTi 16v, Oulton Park

The 110hp GTi version of the Golf II was available powered by the same 110hp motor as the face lifted VW Golf GTi I. In 1986 in Europe and 1987 in the USA 16 valve versions of the motor giving 137 hp in Europe and 129 hp in the USA became available.

Volkswagen Golf GTi 16v, Oulton Park

UK advertising for the GTi 16v emphasised the quality of the body, while US advertising emphasised the performance of the car with the strap line “Dust Thy Neighbour“.

Volkswagen Golf GTi 16v, Oulton Park

Today’s featured vehicle is seen at an Oulton Park track day a couple of years ago with non standard rims. It has been estimated that around 6.3 million Golf II’s were manufactured at VW plants in Wolfsburg, Brussels, Sarajevo, New Stanton Pennsylvania, Puebla, Mexico and Uitenhage, South Africa.

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


More Power Bigger Drums – Morris Oxford II

For 1948 Alex Issigonis designed the Morris Oxford to compliment the smaller Morris Minor is the Morris model mix, the Oxford MO boasted a 40.5 hp 4 cylinder side valve motor inherited from the prewar Morris 10 which it replaced, unitary body construction, torsion bar front suspension and hydraulically activated 8 inch drum brakes with which to bring the 72 mph vehicle to rest.

Morris Oxford II, Cotswold Classic Car Club, Frogsmill, Andoversford

In 1952 Morris merged with it’s great rival Austin with William Morris, now Lord Nuffield, becoming the British Motor Corporation’s first Chairman, thanks to the merger Morris was able to ditch it’s antiquated motors for those from the Austin range.

Morris Oxford II, Cotswold Classic Car Club, Frogsmill, Andoversford

As a consequence the Morris Oxford II first seen in 1954 was powered by a 50 hp Austin designed 4 cylinder over head valve B series motor which increased the top speed to 74 mph better acceleration and better fuel consumption 28 mpg up from 26 mpg of the Oxford MO.

Morris Oxford II, Cotswold Classic Car Club, Frogsmill, Andoversford

The column shift 1955 Oxford II, seen here earlier this year as the Cotswold Classic Car Club Meeting held at Frogsmill Andoversford, was equipped with 9 inch hydraulic brakes to cope with the increase in performance and came with a heater as standard.

Morris Oxford II, Cotswold Classic Car Club, Frogsmill, Andoversford

The Oxford II was available in 4 door saloon / sedan or 2 door Traveller Estate / Station wagon variants, the former of which would live on as the Hindustan Landmaster built under licence until 1958 in India.

Morris Oxford II, Cotswold Classic Car Club, Frogsmill, Andoversford

From 1954 87,342 Oxford II’s were built at plants in the UK and Australia until 1956 when the model was replaced by the Morris Oxford III.

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


Formula One Wheels – Shadow Mk II

A couple of weeks ago I was delighted to receive today’s featured photo’s from Geoffrey Horton of a Shadow Mk II , a vehicle that had been built for Jackie Oliver to drive in the 1971 Can Am Series.

Shadow Chevrolet Mk II, Marin Sanoma Concours d’ Elegance

The story of the Shadow racing team begins with an orphan Don Nichols who as a child was influenced by The Shadow radio series, after service in the ’39 – ’45 war and a career in military intelligence Don appears to have gravitated to the world of motor racing supplying American tyres to the Japanese racing fraternity during the 1960’s.

Shadow Chevrolet Mk II, Marin Sanoma Concours d’ Elegance

In 1970 Don founded Advanced Vehicle Systems which built a red vehicle notorious for it’s tiny size and wheels designed by Trevor Harris called the Shadow Mk I. The car qualified well with first George Folmer and then Vic Elford at the wheel, but was hampered with a 100% unreliability record not finishing any races.

in 1969 Peter Bryant had designed and entered his titanium chassised Ti 22 Can Am car which Jackie Oliver had been qualifying even better, than the Shadow, ever since it was first seen and managed two 2nd place finishes in 1970.

Shadow Chevrolet Mk II, Marin Sanoma Concours d’ Elegance

Bryant ran out of funds for the Ti 22 and both he and Jackie Oliver joined Don Nichols for the 1971 season. Don was keen that Peter keep the frontal area of the Shadow Mark II to a minimum and so the Mk II was designed around Formula One size wheels and tyres which were smaller than those ordinarily found in Can Am.

Powered by a 8.1 litre / 494 cui Chaparral prepared Chevrolet V8 Jackie scored a best third place finish at Edmonton when the car appeared painted white with black lettering on all the upward facing surfaces except the rear wing. Jackie used chassis Mk II #1 through out the 1971 season.

Shadow Chevrolet Mk II, Marin Sanoma Concours d’ Elegance

As we shall see next week Peter Bryant was responsible for designing the 1972 Shadow MK III and Jackie for driving it. What I did not know until recently was that Advanced Vehicle Systems built three Mk II monocoque tubs and that all three were used to build the Shadow Mk III which ran on full size Can Am tyres.

In 2009 Don Nichols sold off the chassis, seen here at Marin Sanoma Concours d’Elegance where it won it’s class, which is actually the third chassis that was only ever raced in Mk III specification. Mr Losher the owner decided, that as the first two chassis are still in 1972 Mk III spec, he would build his up to the older 1971 Mk II Formula One wheel spec.

My thanks to Geoffrey Horton for sending me these photographs.

Thanks for joining me on this “Formula One Wheels” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho” on tyres”, next week I’ll be looking at the Shadow Mk III on Americana Thursday, meantime I hope you will join me for another edition of Ferrari Friday tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


Development Hack – Ford GT Prototype #GT/105

The Ford GT Le Mans programme, fueled by Enzo Ferrari’s last minuet snub and refusal to go through with a take over by Henry Ford II, began with a partnership between Ford and Lola. Eric Broadley disagreed with Ford over the use of steel in the construction of the chassis and so the partnership disolved leaving Ford to set up Ford Advanced Vehicles on the same Slough Trading Estate that Lola were operating from.

Ford GT, Goodwood Revival

Chassis #GT/105, seen here at Goodwood, was one of the 12 Ford GT’s manufactured by Ford Advanced Vehicles in 1964, it differs form the earliest examples having built from lighter 22 gauge steel as opposed to the 24 gauge used in the earliest Ford GT’s.

This car was only entered for one race in 1964, the Rheims 12 Hours, where it ran, carrying the #6 on wire wheels, with Richard Attwood and Jo Schlesser qualifying 6th and retiring with transmission problems.

Primarily #GT105 was used for extensive testing as Ford sort to turn the comparatively lumpy beast, compared to the cars used by Ferrari at the time, into a Le Mans contender by spending millions of dollars on optimising every component for durability.

While weight was saved using thinner gauge steel this car was raced with the heavier more powerful 4.7 litre 289 cui iron block Fairlane derived Cobra motor in place of the 4.2 litre 218 cui alloy block Indy derived motor which was originally used on the Ford GT project.

For 1965 development of the Ford GT40 project was moved from Ford Advanced Vehicles to Dearborn where Roger Lunn and his team worked at Kar Kraft on the design of the Mk II version and to Shelby American for race development where the 4.7 litre Cobra motors were prepared and installed, the wire wheels swapped for cast alloys and eventually the Colotti 4 speed gearboxes swapped for ZF 5 speed units.

Team Manager John Wyer remained in Slough where he oversaw the production of the Ford GT based road car project the Ford GT Mk III.

In between private testing chassis #GT/105 was raced at the Le Mans Test weekend in 1965 during which Richard Attwood, John Whitmore amd Maurice Trintignant managed third best time overall behind two Ferrari’s.

In 1966 chassis #GT/105 driven by Peter Sutcliffe and Bob Grossman qualified 19th for the Daytona 24 hours coming home 14th and first in class. At Sebring the same year Innes Ireland and Peter Sutcliffe qualified #GT/105 20th but retired with a blown head gasket.

#GT/105 today belongs to irregular Britcar competitor Richard Meins who is seen at the wheel here. Note the car appears to be fitted with a Mk II nose that has had the bottom edge cut away beneath the radiator, presumably in order to maintain aerodynamic stability and aid cooling.

Thanks for joining me on this “Development Hack” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be featuring a little remembered racing Lotus Esprit. Don’t forget to come back now !