Tag Archives: SCCA

Closest Thing To A Vette – Chevrolet Z/28 Camaro

When Chevrolet revealed it’s Camaro pony car in 1967 it envisaged most would be sold with either Standard, Super Sport SS, or Rallye Sport RS options packages, but to meet the requirements for participation in the SCCA Trans Am series, mandating a maximum engine capacity of 302 cui / 5 litres, a small number of Camaro’s were offered with the Z/28 option package, an option so rare many smaller Chevrolet dealerships did not even know it existed.

Chevrolet Z/28 Camaro, Goodwood Festival of Speed,

For 1968 Chevrolet gave the Z/28 a marketing budget with the strap line “Closest thing to a Corvette, yet” emphasising that that it came “on like a Corvette for a lot less.”

Chevrolet Z/28 Camaro, Goodwood Festival of Speed,

The 302 cui V8 with a 4″ bore and 3″ stroke had a compression ratio of 11:1 which when fed by the 4 barrel Holley carburetor with fuel distributed by a tuned aluminium manifold produced 290hp at 5,800 revolutions per minute.

Chevrolet Z/28 Camaro, Goodwood Festival of Speed,

Handling was aided by either quick or fast ratio steering racks, multileaf rear springs with bias mounted shocks, 15″ x 16″ wheels with Nylon cord Wide Tread GT high performance tyres and power disc brakes to order.

Chevrolet Z/28 Camaro, Goodwood Festival of Speed,

The rear spoiler was an optional extra and the stereo rally stripes were described as having no mechanical function but a great psychological value.

Chevrolet Z/28 Camaro, Goodwood Festival of Speed,

When Car Life tested a Z/28 in 1968 they concluded it was an “easy car to drive very fast”, the ’68 Z/28 seen in these photographs at Goodwood Festival of Speed was first registered in the UK on July 1st 1991.

Thanks for joining me on this “Closest Thing To A Vette” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again for FIAT Friday tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


Video Equipped Interceptor – Pontiac Firebird Trans Am

In 1993 Pontiac launched the 4th generation Firebird with an even more radically aerodynamic styled body than the third generation Firebirds built from 1982 to 1992.

Pontiac Firebird Trans Am, Summer Classics, Easter Compton

The 1997 LT1 Trans Am package includes 5.7 litre / 347 cui V8, fitted with dual catalytic converters, which produces 285 hp, enough to take the car from rest to 60 mph in 6 seconds and an electronically controlled 155 mph.

Pontiac Firebird Trans Am, Summer Classics, Easter Compton

General Motors have paid the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA), who own the Trans Am name, $5 for every vehicle sold since 1969.

Pontiac Firebird Trans Am, Summer Classics, Easter Compton

This particular Trans Am, seen at the Summer Classics Show in Easter Compton, is described as being “fully kitted out as a California Highway Patrol Police Interceptor” with out being specifically described as being an ex service car, a sticker on the back bumper even suggests this is an ex drug dealers car !

Pontiac Firebird Trans Am, Summer Classics, Easter Compton

Alongside the California Highway Patrol livery and police lights this vehicle is fitted with; Carson sirens, police radio, cb radio, drugs weighing equipment, breathalyser, full video recording front and rear, central laptop loaded with CHP incident logs, handcuffs and American police baton.

Pontiac Firebird Trans Am, Summer Classics, Easter Compton

On the UK highway the police lights and siren must be electrically isolated to be legal.

Pontiac Firebird Trans Am, Summer Classics, Easter Compton

The owner, who has had Firebirds for 30 years since he was twenty does not believe he will ever be parted from this car with which he has a lot of fun at show’s, sounds like the ultimate Christmas present for someone.

Thanks for joining me on this “Video Equipped Interceptor” 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 !

Wishing all ‘Psycho On Tyres’ readers and contributors a Happy New Year !


I’m Sorry, I Haven’t A Clue – Sonoma Historics

Most teachers know that they can walk into a room with a dozen students and tease pretty much anything they want to teach out of them, on almost any subject, over the space of an hour or so. In the spirit of such student participation I’m inviting you dear reader to help me out here, because at fast glance I’m sorry to say I haven’t a clue about what any of today’s six featured vehicles are, neither manufacturer or age.

Sonoma Historics

At first sight this green racer looks like a cross between the second incarnation of the Bristol 450 Le Mans racer and the later Bristol Arnolt. The British registration plate on the back reads “SAR 336”. At a guess this vehicle is British and Bristol powered but do you know where the body came from and when ?

Sonoma Historics

Chip slicer radiator grills, as on the vehicle above, often point to a Ferrari or Chevrolet but I cannot think of any models from those manufacturers who built anything that looked like this. If you think you know what this might be, please do not be scared to chip in below.

Sonoma Historics

California is the home of the fiber glass special and the white racer above looks like one of the majority I have not heard of. The HM sticker tells us it probably ran in SCCA events for vehicles up to 750 cc / 45.7 cui. Does anyone recognise this pint size racer ?

Sonoma Historics

My first thought was that the vehicle above was a Kes Kastner & Pete Brock designed Triumph TR250K, but it is not. Confusingly it says Phoenix on the front and advertises Piranha kits on the side, I feel like a fish out of water on this one too, can you help ?

Sonoma Historics

The rear body reminds one of the Lotus 19 and Lotus 23 sports racing cars, but everything forward of the roll bar does not. All suggestions welcome below.

Sonoma Historics

Finally the Can Am type vehicle above looks part McLaren and part Chaparral with out fitting the mould of either, unusually for a vehicle of this type, if it is a Can Am car, it appears to have an aluminium body at a time when fiber glass was very much de riguer.

If you can help identify any of these vehicles please do not hesitate to chip in below, as soon as I have all the answers I’ll do a follow up blog.

My thanks to Karl Kause and Geoffrey Horton for sharing today’s photographs taken at Sonoma Historics at the end of May.

Thanks for joining me on this “I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue” 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 vehicles at the recent San Morino Motor Classic. Don’t forget to come back now !


Racing Transformer – McLaren Elva Mark I #M1A-20-15

In 1952 aged just 14 years old Bruce McLaren entered his first competition driving event a hillclimb in New Zealand with an Austin A7 Ulster which hois Dad Les had restored. by 1957 he was driving a Cooper Climax which he also modified sufficiently to become runnner up in the 1957 and 1958 New Zealand Formula 2 series.

By the end of 1958 Bruce made his Grand Prix debut in the German Grand Prix driving a works Formula 2 Cooper Climax where he finished fifth but was not awarded any World Championship points which were only awarded to drivers of Formula One cars. Bruce stayed with Cooper for seven years becoming the then youngest Grand Prix winner aged just 22 in the 1959 US Grand Prix at which his team mate Jack Brabham won his clinched his World Championship.

In 1963 Bruce founded Bruce McLaren Motor Racing Ltd and his first car was the Zerex Special a car that had been transformed from a 1.5 litre / 91.5 cui Cooper Climax single seater Formula one car to a two seater sports car powered by an Oldsmobile V8 featuring a tube frame of Bruces own devising, the rechassisied car painted garden gate green was distinguished by eight stub exhausts angled to the rear, won first time out at Mosport in Canada in 1964 and again at Brands Hatch the same year. This car was last seen in Venezuela at the end of the 20th Century.

For 1964 Bruce built 3 Oldsmobible powered M1A sports racing cars which were the first first to bear his name, of which the first Bruce raced, the second was used for testing and the third was a show car. Bruce entered into an agreement with Trojan who were also owners of Elva Cars to build a production run of customer M1A’s under license for the 1965 season.

McLaren Elva Mark I, Goodwood Revival

Today’s featured car is one of the 24 M1A’s built under license and was marketed in the USA as the McLaren Elva Mark 1 which could be fitted with Chevrolet, Ford or Oldsmobile V8’s. This particular chassis #M1A-20-15 was originally supplied to Joe Starkey who is recorded as having won seven events in McLaren Elva Mark 1 chassis in 1965 and 1966, although at the time of writing these achievements have not been specifically ascribed to the chassis featured today. If you believe this car is the one Joe won those races in, as seen winning at Green Valley in 1966 in this linked photo by Jerry Melton please do not hesitate to chime in below.

In 1968 having failed to attract much interest in it’s 3 litre / 183 cui Formula A open wheel series the SCCA opened up it’s premier category to 5 litre / 302 cui stock block motors which over the ensuing 6 years proved extremely popular in the US, UK South Africa and particularly Australia where the F5000 series, as Formula A was known outside the USA, remained a premier category until 1982.

For the new 5 litre / 302 cui regulations Joe Starkey had his M1A transformed into an offset single seater open wheel car running a 500 cc / 30 cui undersized Oldsmobile motor. Starkey’s McLaren in open wheel form can be seen in this grainy linked photo. Joe was not alone converting a McLaren 2 seater into an open wheeler for Formula A.

Since the featured photograph of the car restored to it’s original closed wheel form was taken, with current owner John Bladon driving at Goodwood, the large chrome safety cage has been replaced with a black one of more modest proportions in time for a winter trip to Australia.

I’ll be celebrating McLaren’s first 50 years by featuring 3 more McLarens on Sunday’s for the rest of April.

My thanks to owner John Bladon, David McKinney and RA Historian from The Nostalgia Forum for their help identifying today’s featured car.

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


Which Type ? – Lotus Esprit X180R

In 1990 Lotus built 2 racing cars based on the Peter Stevens designed Esprit Turbo SE X180 which became known as the X180R and everyone appears to agree that the car was given the Lotus Type 105 number. These cars were built to be raced in the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) Escort World Challenge by Doc Bundy and Scott Lagasse and won 4 times in 8 races.

Lotus  Esprit X180R, Goodwood Festival of Speed

Flush with success Lotus then built three new 300hp versions of the X180R’s the following season for the IMSA Bridgestone Super Car Championship in 1991 which Doc Bundy duly won in 1992.

There is some disagreement amongst internet sources about the type numbers of the 3 cars built in 1991 which some sources suggest were given the Type 106 number while others have it that all five race cars built in 1990 and 1991 are Type 105’s and that 20 road going versions of the X180R racer were given the Lotus Type 106 type number. Other sources suggest the 20 road going versions of the X180R are actually Type 105’s.

To confuse the identification issue further it would appear the 2 1990 race cars were updated to 1991 spec so technically these might be Type 105/106’s.

If you are a Lotus historian and can definitively put the record straight on the type 105’s and 106’s please do not hesitate to chime in below. I’d be most grateful.

The car seen above driven by Doc Bundy at Goodwood Festival of Speed carries the later 1991 spec body work differentiated by the splitter (green) that runs into extended lower front wheel arches (also green)

Thanks for joining me on this “Which Type ?’ edition of “Getting a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now.


Double Cream – Bowden Super Two

Staying in the theme of forgotten marques the subject of today’s blog is Bowden, the brainchild of one of the UK’s largest retailers of Specials vehicles Les Montgomery of Super Accessories in Bromley, Kent.

Les brought together the Bowden Chassis manufactured in Ottery St Mary, Devon designed to take a 4 cylinder Ford 1172 cc / 71 cui side valve motor then an engine of choice amongst specials builders also used by the likes of Lotus enthusiasts, and fit it with an enlarged Hamblin Cadet body which up to that time had been manufactured by Syd Hamblin of Sherbourne, Dorset to fit to Austin Seven chassis.

The Bowden Super Two kit is alleged to have been sold less power train at £99 / $ 250.

The F and CA letters suggest this vehicle might have a race history in the Sports Car Club of America Class F, if anybody recognises this vehicle please chime in below.

Less than 200 Bowden Super Two’s are thought to have been built in the same time frame, 1960 – 1962, as the subject of yesterdays blog the Warwick.

Of all the vehicles I saw at Race Retro at the weekend I found this one particularly appealing having not heard of the manufacturer before, having a patina that if I had the resources I’d do my best to preserve while getting the car back into tip top shape and for being a relatively rare original.

Thanking my acquaintances at The Nostalgia Forum for their assistance with today’s blog.

Hope you have enjoyed today’s double cream edition of ‘Getting a lil’ psycho on tyres’ and that you will join me to again tomorrow on Ferrari Friday for the second and final episode of the Millionaire Mystery. Don’t forget to come back now !


Double Bubble – FIAT Abarth 750 GT Zagato Coupé

Continuing the series of posts relating to Race 1 at Thompson CT on the 20th July 1958 captured on camera by Ed Arnaudin, today we are looking at the fascinating FIAT Abarth 750 Zagato driven by Paul Sagan to 6th place overall the only class H finisher.

After the 22 hp FIAT 600 was launched in 1955 Carlo Abarth set about maximising the potential of tuning the engine by increasing the size from 633 / 38.6 cui to 747 / 45.6 cui fitting a Nardi inlet manifold and increasing the compression ratio to produce 47 hp.

Meanwhile while Zagato set about building a Coupé based on the same car the 30 hp 600 TS, when Abarth saw the coupe he suggested to Zagato they work together to produce a vehicle for racing in the popular 750 cc 45.6 cui sports car class prevalent in national and international racing at the time.

Over 600 of these successful racing vehicles which won the SCCA class H in ’59 ’60 and ’61, are thought to have been built between 1956 and 1960 when the maximum permitted engine sizes for the various national racing classes were changed. The ‘double bubble’ name which is derived from the two humps in the roof stuck in America where a chewing gum brand bearing the same name was popular.

Paul Sagan is known to have been successful driving Porsche 550’s in 1956 and 1957 before he moved over to running the #27 FIAT Abarth 750 during and after which his record is sketchy though he seems to have returned to racing Porsches by 1961.

My thanks to Terry O’Neil for the race results and Steve Arnaudin for his Dad Ed’s pictures, wishing Ed all the best on his return home from hospital.

Hope you have enjoyed today’s double bubble edition of ‘Gettin’ a lil’ psycho on tyres and that you’ll join me again tomorrow for a look at the cool 2nd place Lotus IX of Race 1 at Thompson CT on the 20 July 1958. Don’t forget to come back know !