Tag Archives: Old

Old Nail – Vauxhall Firenza

In May 1971 Vauxhall launched a two door coupé version of it’s Viva sedan known as the Firenza and the shell of today’s car started life as one of the prototype Firenza’s on which Vauxhall put through it’s paces to ensure the model met it’s performance and quality criteria.

Vauxhall Firenza, Donington Grand Prix Collection

After Vauxhall had finished with the car they rewarded Bill Blydenstein of Blydenstein Developments who with driver Gerry Marshall had campaigned a success Vauxhall Viva GT with the car and a funding deal which became known as Dealer Team Vauxhall.

01 Vauxhall Firenza_6158sc

Bill Blydenstein and Gerry Johnston prepared the car, which included lowering the front suspension and widening the wheel arches to incorporate wide slick racing tyres, for Gerry Marshall to drive in the 1972 BARC Forward Trust Championship which he promptly won outright.

Vauxhall Firenza, Race Retro,

In 1973 Vauxhall introduced the Firenza HP with its distinctive “droopsnoot” for which Bill Blydenstein claimed some of the credit.

Vauxhall Firenza, Gregor Marshall, Goodwood, Festival of Speed

“Old Nail” as Gerry Marshall dubbed her, was similarly modified and raced to two further Class Championship wins in the BARC Forward Trust Championships in 1973 and 1974 by which time Gerry had clocked up 62 race victories in the car.

Vauxhall Firenza, , Goodwood, Festival of Speed

Bill Dryden acquired Old Nail in 1975 and he drove the car to a further three race victories and a Championship Class win in the 1975 Scottish Saloon Car Championship.

The 250hp 2.3 litre motor fitted with Lotus twin cam heads seen in these photographs, has been in the car since 1973, Gerry’s son Gregor is seen driving the car at Goodwood Festival of Speed a couple of years ago.

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


Two Lane Blue Top – Pontiac Le Mans Sport

When I first saw this car I thought cool a GTO from 1970 similar to the one that starred in Two Lane Black Top.

Pontiac LeMans Sport

Then when I started to write this blog I noticed the colour coded front bumper did not look like the low impact Endura urethane safety bumpers found on the 1970 GTO, though these could be deleted from factory orders which were then supplied with chrome bumpers from the Pontiac Le Mans.

Pontiac LeMans Sport

I also noticed the missing air scoops on the bonnet which was also standard on the GTO, and so it dawned on me that what we are really looking at is not ‘The Humbler‘ with Vacuum Operated Exhaust (VOE) but a 1970 Pontiac Le Mans with a non standard colour coded front bumper.

Pontiac LeMans Sport

This Le Mans model is fitted with a 5.7 litre 350 CUI V8 which despite being the base motor of the Le Mans Sport line up will impress the ladies at the local kebab stand plenty, even without the VOE of it’s illustrious GTO sibling. Bearing in mind it costs around US$ 9.54 for an imperial gallon of fuel or US$ 7.93 for a US Gallon in the UK at the moment just starting this car up must be a severe drain on the finances of all but the extremely brave.

Pontiac LeMans Sport

Seen earlier this year at the Classic and Sports Car Action Day held at Castle Combe the owner of this car belongs to the Old Skool Trackers a group of enthusiasts whose future outings are posted on the link.

Thanks for joining me on this “Two Lane Blue Top” 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 …

Automobiliart GALPOT Seasonal Quiz

Automobiliart, Paul Chenard

December 26th – January 2nd

Win a set of Paul Chenard Greetings Cards

Sports-GT cars set, Paul Chenard

Set 1 Sports & GT Cars

Phil Hill, Sharknose Ferrari Set, Paul Chenard

Set 2 Phil Hill World Drivers Championship 50th Anniversary Edition

1934 GP Season Card set, Paul Chenard

Set 3 1934 Season

1950s Grand Prix Engines

Set 4 Grand Prix Engines of the 1950’s


Mike Hawtorns racecars Card set, Paul Chenard

Set 5 Mike Hawthorn’s Race Cars

The Automobiliart GALPOT Seasonal Quiz will comprise 8 categories.

Overall winner chooses one set of Paul Chenard Greetings Cards from the five sets shown above.

The cards measure 15.24cm x 11.43cm, come in packs of 12 with 3 copies of 4 designs in each set, plus A6 envelopes.

Which set will you choose ?

The free to enter Automobiliart GALPOT Seasonal Quiz will run from December 26th – January 2nd Entries close January 8th 2012, Winner announced January 16th 2012.

Full details on December 26th at GALPOT.

Looking for Automotive Seasonal Gift Idea’s? Visit Automobiliart Now !


Meridian Date – Bristol Concours d’Elegance

Bristol C'dE, Greenwich

Yesterday I travelled 2 degrees, 35 mins 45.25 seconds East to the Meridian line at Greenwich in London with Florian, my guest from France, to see the Bristol Concour’s d’Elegance, where a fine selection of Bristol Cars and a single Fraser Nash BMW, representing over 60 years of automotive history was accumulating in the grounds of the Old Naval College.

Frazer Nash BMW 321, Bristol C'dE, Greenwich

Oldest car at the show was this 1939 Frazer Nash BMW 321, Frazer Nash were in partnership with the Bristol Aircraft Company when the latter diversified into the automotive market after WW2.

Bristol 400, Bristol C'dE, Greenwich

Several Bristol 400‘s, the manufacturers first model, were present all in immaculate condition, this 1971cc, 120 cui six cylinder being maintained by Bristol Owners Club (BOC) member Derek Hughes.

Bristol 402, Bristol C'dE, Greenwich

Among many Bristol models I saw for the first time was the 402 of which only 23 examples were built, this one belonging to Richard Weale.

Arnolt Bristol, Bristol C'dE, Greenwich

I know the father of one GALPOT regular used to race an Arnolt Bristol so it was a particular thrill to see and above all hear this car being started up by Kenneth Andrén who brought his car over from Sweden.

Bristol 406, Bristol C'dE, Greenwich

There were several Bristol 406’s, which featured roof mounted indicator lights, present this one belonging to Edward Anderson.

Bristol 407, Bristol C'dE, Greenwich

Chrysler supplied the motor’s for all Bristol models starting with the 407 in 1961, this is the 6277 cc / 383 cui big block Chysler B series V8 fitted to the 411 Series 2 belonging to Jamie Davenport.

Bristol 603, Bristol C'dE, Greenwich

In 1976 the 603 model was introduced a car that owed no heritage at all to the Bristol 407 that had been continually upgraded from 1961 and formed the basis of a succession of new models. This is the cockpit of the 603E belonging to Fergus Taylor-Gregg.

Bristol Blenhiem, Bristol C'dE, Greenwich

Newest of the Bristol’s present was the 2009 Blenhiem Series 4 of Richard Levine.

Bristol 407 Viotti, Bristol C'dE, Greenwich

91 year old Bristol Works Director, until the factory closed earlier this year, the sprightly Syd Lovesy was amongst those who handed out the prizes at the end of the day. Syd is seen here with Richard Vaughan and the unique 1963 Bristol Viotti 407 styling exercise that once belonged to comic actor Peter Sellers.

Bristol C'dE, Greenwich

Concours d’Elegance award winning cars included the 400 of Ashley James, the 403 of John Manley, the 405 of Cyril Milward, the 411 Series 2 of Jamie Davenport, a 412, the Arnolt of Kenneth Andrén, and the last one I can positively identify in the line the Fraser Nash BMW 321.

Arnolt Bristol, Bristol C'dE, Greenwich

Car of the day for me was definitely the Arnolt, hats off to Kenneth bring this car over from Sweden, thanks to everyone at the Bristol Owners Club who made this a day for Florian and I to remember.

Thanks for joining me on this Meridian edition of ‘Gettin’ a lil’ psycho on tyres’, I hope you’ll join me again tomorrow to see how the Aluminium Buick 215 V8 came to impact the British motor industry. Don’t forget to come back nowhttps://www.psychoontyres.co.uk/powered-under-licence-rover-p5b-3-5-litre-coupe/ !


Luton’s Finest – Vauxhall HP Firenza 9F37REX111999

Like the recently featured South African Chevrolet Firenza Can Am the High Performance (HP) Firenza was a top of the range Viva HC Coupé model but built for the UK market and though intended to be produced in far larger numbers, 30,000 projected units, only 204 HP Firenza’s were built along with a further 197 estate / station wagon variants.

Vauxhall Firenza, Race Retro

The distinctive ‘Droopsnoot’ grp nose was restyled styled by Wayne Cherry and based on the nose of a well known Dealer Team Vauxhall Firenza raced by Gerry Marshall called ‘Old Nail’ that will it’s self be the subject of a future GALPOT blog. The twined headlights are interchangeable with the Renault Alpine A310.

Under the unusual for the period aerodynamic nose was a 131 HP 2297 cc / 140 cui slanted 4 cylinder engine enough to power the HP Firenza with a drag co efficient of cd 0.4 from rest to 60 mph in 8 secs and to a top speed of 120 mph.

Though the paint work of this particular car built in 1975 is not the original ‘Starlight Silver’ this car carries similar decals to those carried by a small series of vehicles for a one off publicity race organised at Thruxton to launch the model, a race won by Barry ‘Whizzo’ Williams.

The HP Firenza was undoubtedly a styling triumph for Vauxhall yet the car was also an unmitigated marketing disaster thanks to the after effects of the ’70’s fuel crisis, though design elements of the nose did find their way into future Vauxhall products notably the Chevette and Cavalier which were in essence badge engineered Opel models.

Thanks for joining me on today’s Droopsnoot edition of ‘Gettin’ a lil’ psycho on tyres’ I hope you will join me again tomorrow for a look at another performance saloon carrying a blue oval badge. Don’t forget to come back now !


Fuzzy Long Shot – Locomobile Old No: 16

A couple of weeks ago Steve e-mailed me “Those four slides were put in a “special place” by my dad for good reason. I scanned them, and they are fuzzy.  There’s no reason for me to send these outcasts to you.”

I replied in typical ‘Prisoner’ fashion “Fuzzy out casts or not I am curious, remember ‘we want information !’ :-)”

Here is one of those 54 year old fuzzy slides that Steve’s Dad Ed took at Bridgehampton on the 20th July 1957 and what a story it has to tell.

After a few adjustments and a little cropping, I posted some copies on a new ‘Fuzzy long-shot identity ?‘ thread at The Nostalgia Forum and it took all of twenty minuets to get a response from Tim Murray that we are looking at a 1906 Locomobile Old 16 now 105 years old.

The Locomobile then owned by well known motoring artist Peter Helck is probably being driven by George Robertson who manhandled this vehicle weighing less than 1200 kgs / 2645 lbs around 11 laps of a 23.4 mile road course on Long Island to cover a distance of 258 miles in 4 hours averaging 67 mph to win the 1908 Vanderbuilt Cup by nearly 2 minuets thus becoming the first American to win an international motor race.

Going into the white flag lap George held a lead of over 4 minuets but instead of easing the pace he pressed on so hard he lost control of Old No: 16 and left the track and damaged a tire. In order to return to the race it had to be replaced on the rim a feat George and his riding mechanic Glenn Ethridge, required as a living on board fuel pump to keep the fuel pressure up amongst other things, managed in ‘just’ 2 minuets 10 seconds !

Visit the excellent Vanderbuilt Cup Race website for more fascinating information and pictures on the Vanderbuilt Cup Races, as I understand it Old No: 16 is still a runner, it’s flame spitting 90hp 4 cylinder 16,200 cc 989 cui motor can still push the car to 90 mph. Here is a link to a video of the car running in 2008.

Old No: 16 became an instant legend in 1908 and has been kept in full working condition ever since, it has never been restored and currently resides at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn Michigan.

23 year old George Robertson won several races before driving with a journalist in preparation for the 1910 Vanderbuilt Cup. Entering a corner the Journalist panicked and clutched George causing an accident in which George’s right arm was so seriously injured he was unable to drive the heavy vehicles of the day competitively ever again.

My thanks to Ed and Steve Arnaudin for the photograph, Tim Murray, Doug ‘Meat and Drink’ Nye, Marticelli and D-type for all chiming in with useful information.

My thanks to Ed Arnaudin for a his fascinating series of sports car photographs it has been my privilege to research and share with you particularly over the last week or so, there are a couple more left that I will be sharing in due course, meantime I look to forward to sharing Ed’s real passion, for the Indy 500 in the coming weeks as we head into the 100th anniversary
of the running of the Indy 500.

Hope you have enjoyed today’s Fuzzy Long Shot edition of ‘Getting a lil’ psycho on tyres’ and that you’ll join me again tomorrow for a look at a truck built in the Australian outback so big it requires two General Lee tank motors to get up to speed. Don’t forget to come back now !