Tag Archives: Mikkola

Proving The Car’s Strength – FIAT 124 Abarth Rallye

When FIAT bought out Carlo Abarth in July 1971 it was looking for models to compete in the forth coming World Rally Championship that was inaugurated in 1973 with aim of “proving the car’s strength.”

FIAT 124 Abarth Rallye, Race Retro, Stoneleigh Park

Abarth who’s reputation was primarily built on racing and hill climbing products was introduced to rallying with a Twin Cam FIAT 125 programme in 1970 and in 1972 the company started building and competing with a competition hardtop version 124 Spyder body, a model launched in 1966, for it’s Rally programme.

FIAT 124 Abarth Rallye, Race Retro, Stoneleigh Park

Initially the 124 Abarth Rallye was fitted with 1850cc / 112 cui versions of the FIAT four cylinder twin cam designed originally by former Ferrari man who became Abarth’s first President under FIAT management Aurelio Lampredi, a change in rules in 1974 permitted 16 valve heads to be fitted and engine sizes of 1850cc and 1756 cc / 107 cui were used in competition.

FIAT 124 Abarth Rallye, Race Retro, Stoneleigh Park

Success for the 124 Abarth Rallye included Rafael Pinto’s and Maurizio Verini European Rally Championship wins in 1972 and 1975 respectively, two wins on the Portugese Rally for Rafael in 1974 when he led a Abarth Rallye sweep of the podium positions and for Markku Alen in 1975 who with Ilka Kivimäki in the passenger seat led home 2nd place finishers Hannu Mikkola who was partnered by current president of the FIA Jean Todt.

FIAT 124 Abarth Rallye, Race Retro, Stoneleigh Park

FIAT also finished second to Group stable mate Lancia in the 1974 and 1975 World Rally Championships, in all 1,013 hardtop FIAT 124 Abarth Rallyes were built between 1972 and 1975 when the programme was wound up to make way for the World Rally Championship winning FIAT Abarth 131 programme.

Today’s featured Abarth Rallye, appearing with 1981-’82 UK registration plates at Race Retro a few years ago, was originally supplied to a privateer for use in the Italian National Rally Championship, it is currently fitted with an ultimate works spec fuel injected engine.

Thanks for joining me on this “Proving The Car’s Strength” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I will be looking at a one off Formula Junior Car. Don’t forget to come back now !


European Highlights – Goodwood Festival Of Speed

As the years roll by going to Goodwood Festival Of Speed is more and more like going to the best toy shop in the world with more and more cool stuff to be found every year, this was my sixth visit since 2009 and already having completely failed to compose my thoughts about some of the highlights of this years event, as I write this I am looking forward to next years event !

Kremer K8, Derek Bell, Goodwood Festival Of Speed,

One of the highlights of the event was a collection of 15 vehicles celebrating the career of five time Le Mans 24 hour winner, 3 time Daytona 24 Hour winner and twice World Sports Car Champion Derek Bell, seen above in his 1994 Le Mans 24 Hour entry the Porsche powered Kremer K8 with which he Robin Donovan and Jürgen Lässig qualified 2nd and finished 6th.

Audi Sport Quattro S1 E2, Hannu Mikkola, Goodwood Festival Of Speed,

The Audi Sport Quattro S1 E2 was Audi’s final Group B evolution producing an initial 500hp in 1985 when Walter Röhrl and Christian Geistdörfer won the San Remo Rally and over 600hp when Walter Röhrl drove one to victory on Pikes Peak in 1987, above 73 year old Rally Legend Hannu Mikkola show’s he still has no problem handling the cars 0-60mph in 3.1 seconds performance.

Jaguar XJ12C, Andy Rouse, Goodwood Festival Of Speed,

In the mid 1970’s one used to hope against hope that British Leyland would get it’s act together and thrash BMW in the European Touring Car Championship, but alas despite starting from pole in 6 from nine events the Jaguar XJ12C’s best result was a second place finish at the Nurburgring in 1977 with Derek Bell and Andy Rouse at the wheel, former works driver Andy Rouse is seen demonstrating the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust’s 1976 example above.

Lotus BRM 43, Andy Middlehurst, Goodwood Festival Of Speed,

While Lotus were waiting for the arrival of Ford’s DFV for the 1967 season Jim Clark had to make do with the woefully underpowered Climax powered 1965 Lotus 33 until the arrival of the BRM H16 powered Lotus 43 in time for the last three races of the 1966 season, the car was instantly quick qualifying 3rd at Monza, and 2nd in the USA and Mexico but also unreliable suffering gearbox failure at Monza and Mexico but the car with one of the most complex motor configurations on earth held together at Waltkins Glen where Jim Clark won scoring a fourth consecutive victory at the circuit for a BRM powered car, Andy Middlehurst is seen driving the 43 above.

Mercedes Benz 300 SLR, Sir Stirling Moss, Goodwood Festival Of Speed,

Mercedes Benz prepared for the 1955 World Sports Car Championship by building 9 300 SLR’s of the eight survivors seven were at Goodwood, above Sir Stirling Moss demonstrates chassis #0004/55 with which he and navigator Denis Jenkinson won the 1955 Mille Miglia ahead of the sister car #0003/55 driven by Juan Manuel Fangio.

FIAT S76, Duncan Pittaway, Goodwood Festival Of Speed,

Finally with a Herculean effort Duncan Pittaway got his recreation of a FIAT S76 to Goodwood last year, but did not dare try and start it. With help from Leonardo Sordi he has since got the car running and as can be seen above it is a wonderous sight to be hold as the 28.3 litres / 1,727 cui four cylinder motor belches flame from it’s monstrous exhaust stubs.

Thanks for joining me for this “European Highlights” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be looking at some of the American Highlights at Goodwood. Don’t forget to come back now !


Bombproof Escort – Ford Escort 1850GT FEV 1H

Motorsport owe’s much of it’s history to the publishers of Newspapers keen create events which would resonate and engage their readers, indeed the very first recorded motorsport events emanated from the minds of the editors of ‘Le Vélocipède’, who in 1887 attracted a single car entry for a 1.2 mile race across Paris and ‘Le Petit Journal’, who in 1897 69 entries for a 79 mile ‘race’ from Paris to Rouen. By 1908 individual events took on global challenges such as the 12,000 mile 169 day New York west to Paris race which was co sponsored by The New York Times and Le Martin.

Ford Escort 1850 GT, Goodwood Revival

Possibly inspired by another 10,000 mile ten day event the London to Sydney Rally of 1968, Australian advertising sage Wylton Dickson came up with the idea of organizing a 1970 World Cup Rally to link London which had played host to the 1966 World (Soccer) Cup to Mexico which was to play host to the 1970 World (Soccer) Cup at a party in London over a glass of wine while chatting to Irish Rally Champion Paddy Hopkirk.

Ford Escort 1850 GT, Goodwood Revival

Wylton, who had never so much as seen a rally before approached Stuart Turner Ford competitions manager who gave him the thumbs up and the Daily Mirror who provided the sponsorship for the event. British Rally Champion John Sprinzel was allowed to set up an HQ at the Royal Automobile Clubs Belgrave offices from which to run the whole 16,000 mile event which crossed 26 countries on three continents in 25 days.

Ford Escort 1850 GT, Goodwood Revival

Good to his word when the 1970 World Cup Rally was announced Stuart Turner entered 6 Ford Escorts into the event for Poles Sobieslaw Zasada / Marek Wachowsk, Finns Hannu Mikkola / Gunnar Palm, England soccer star Jimmy Greaves with pro co driver Tony Fall, Monte Carlo Rally winners Raunno Aaltonen / Henry Liddon, British rally stars Roger Clark / Alec Poole and Finish rally legend Timo Makinen co driven by Frenchman Gilbert Staepelaere. Other entries in the 96 car field included a VW Beach Buggy a five car factory Moskivitch team from the USSR and two privately entered Rolls Royce’s a Silver Cloud and a Silver Shadow !

Ford Escort 1850 GT, Goodwood Revival

Ford’s official reason for fitting these bars in front of the windscreen was that they were to protect the drivers from Condors in the Andes mountains of South America, but it has been noted that these bars connect the top of the front suspension towers to the top of the A pillars which coincidentally helps transfer suspension shock to the roof diverting them away from some of the weaker welds in the bodywork.

Ford Escort 1850 GT, Goodwood Revival

It is thought enough parts were produced for just 8 of the 1970 World Cup spec 1850 GT Escorts, which after the disappointment of easily leading the 1968 London to Sydney Marathon only for the Lotus Twin Cam engine in Roger Clark’s Cortina Lotus to fail, meaning these cars were built to be bomb proof against all foreseeable eventualities. Instead of using Lotus Twin Cam motors Ford Kent 1600cc / 97 cui pushrod motors were bored out to 1850cc / 112 cui fitted with a single Weber carburetor and dry sump lubrication which aids ground clearance. These motors were simple, durable and above all easily repairable, they were tuned to run on the low octane fuel that was to be found in the high altitude andean mountains on the South American legs of the route where stages of 500 plus miles were not uncommon and average speeds in excess of 90 mph were expected in order not to attract penalty points.

Ford Escort 1850 GT, Goodwood Revival

Hannu Mikkola had a relatively trouble free run dropping just 9 hours in penalty points over the course of the 25 day marathon, 4 of the other Escorts in the top 6 of the 23 finishers. During the course of the event FEV 1H became one of the most famous of Rally Vehicles of all time and is still among the most loved. As a result of the 1970 World Cup Rally win Ford launched a new sporty version of the Escort called the Ford Mexico with the 1600 / 97 cui Kent pushrod motor fitted to an Advanced Vehicle Operations strengthened “Type 49” body shell.

In 1995 there was a 25th Anniversary re run of the 1970 World Cup Rally, miraculously Ford ‘found’ a new unused Escort shell and built a new car to the same specifications as FEV 1H. Hannu Mikkola came out of retirement with Gunnar Palm to win the rerun as well, the new cars registration is H1 FEV.

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