Tag Archives: Sir

All Who Joy Would Win – Maserati Barchetta #THB CMT*LLC*

The origins of today’s featured Maserati Barchetta lie in the still born 1990 Maserati Chubasco concept car which was to feature a back bone chassis of the type favoured by the marques then owner Alejandro de Tomaso.

Maserati Barchetta, Siverstone Classic

Unlike the Marcello Gandini styled Chubasco Coupé the Barchetta was conceived as an uncompromising track and race car designed to appeal to Caterham Seven drivers in search of something a tad more exotic.

Maserati Barchetta, Siverstone Classic

The Barchetta is powered by a 2 litre / 122 cui twin turbocharged 24 valve four over head cam V6 which produces over 300hp.

Maserati Barchetta, Siverstone Classic

The Grantrofeo Monomarca Barchetta Maserati race series was devised for these cars in 1992 which included 6 races all in Italy, the following year the series was expanded to include ten races which included visiting The Netherlands and Denmark, the latter in deference to the Danish High Class racing team who ran up to three cars in the series.

Maserati Barchetta, Siverstone Classic

Today’s featured 1992 chassis #THB CMT*LLC* appears to have been run by the factory team in 1993 for drivers; Giorgio Cipolli, 3rd at Misano, Beppe Schenetti, 3rd at Mugello, Robert Pferdmenges 3rd at Monza, Cor Euser, 3rd at Zandvoort, Beppe Schenetti again, 2nd at Mugello, Thorkild Thyrring, winner at Jyllandsringen, Tobiar Hagenmeier, 7th at Magione and Antonio Tamburini who finished 2nd at Monza.

Maserati Barchetta, Siverstone Classic

In 1993 FIAT bought out de Tomaso’s controlling 51% share of Maserati and canned the Barchetta with just 17 cars built.

#LLC* seen in these photographs at Silverstone Classic, was acquired by High Class racing after the 1993 season, but never raced by them. More recently the car has been owned by the preeminent academic, on the works of romantic poet Lord Byron, Sir James Drummond Bone who sold the last year to a new owner in Germany.

Thanks for joining me on this “All Who Joy Would Win” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be looking at a Peugeot. Don’t forget to come back now !


Towards Standardisation – Ferrari 250 GT PF Cabriolet Series I #9811GT

A couple of weeks ago I looked at a Ferrari 250 GT Pininfarina Cabriolet Series 2 which is on view at the Haynes International Motor Museum.

Ferrari 250 GT PF Cabriolet Series I, Castle Combe, TB

Today’s featured car, seen competing in the regularity competition on the recent Tour Britannia, is the earlier Series I model which is immediately distinguishable by it’s recessed headlights and headlight covers. Notice the chromed edge on the bonnet / hood air intake belies the fact that this in essence a production road car.

Ferrari 250 GT PF Cabriolet Series I, Castle Combe, TB

This particular Right Hand Drive (RHD), car was delivered painted Yellow to a customer in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1957.

Ferrari 250 GT PF Cabriolet Series I, Castle Combe, TB

Only 40 examples of this model were built including 4 prototypes of which only two or three appear to have been built to RHD specification. This particular chassis appears to be the 15th in the production run. These models were far from standardised in the traditional sense.

Ferrari 250 GT PF Cabriolet Series I, Castle Combe, TB

There were for example two distinct variations of the stylised tail lights fitted to the Series I 250 GT PF Cabriolets.

Ferrari 250 GT PF Cabriolet Series I, Castle Combe, TB

Early examples of this model were supplied with 2 rear quarter bumpers to match the pair of front nudge bars however later examples such as the one seen above were supplied with full width items.

Ferrari 250 GT PF Cabriolet Series I, Castle Combe, TB

Hong Kong businessman Sir Michael Kadoorie became the owner of this vehicle in 1998, he and co pilot Brian Lewis were not classified in the overall Tour Britannica results. Sir Michael counts among his collection of vehicles a Type 57 Bugatti, a 1932 Rolls Royce Phantom II Thrupp & Maberly and a 1934 Hispano-Suiza J12 Van Vooren Cabriolet.

Thanks for joining me on today’s Ferrari Friday edition of ‘Gettin’ a lil psycho on tyres’ I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


Sign of things to come – Kimberly Cooper Special

Today’s blog, on the 50th anniversary running of the ‘ Indy 500’ in 1961, comes courtesy of photographs by Ed Arnaudin and Phillippe de Lespinay.

01 Copyright Ed Arnaudin 1961_61s

Photo by Ed Arnaudin.

AJ Foyt recorded his first of four victories at Indy in 1961 driving the Bowes Seal Fast Special, a Trevis Roadster, outrunning Ed Sachs and Roger Ward both driving Watson Roadsters.

Cooper T54, Jack Brabham, Indy 500

Photo by Ed Arnaudin.

Also on the grid of the 1961 Indy 500 was a small car built in England driven by an Australian who started 13th and came in 9th, perhaps not a stunning performance but none the less a significant marker for the future designs that would appear at Indianapolis.

Cooper Climax T54, Kimberely Cooper Special, Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Photo by Ed Arnaudin.

The #17 Kimberly Cooper Special, was the smallest car in the field powered by the smallest engine a 270 HP 2750 cc / 167 cui 4 cylinder Coventry Climax which gave away around 150 HP to it’s Offenhauser powered opposition. Uniquely that day in May the Cooper had it’s Coventry Climax engine mounted behind the driver.

Despite it’s power disadvantage which showed in straight line speed the Coopers lighter weight and rear engine configuration gave two time, reigning, World Champion,Jack Brabham a superior handling car going round the corners.

Had the team not made an unscheduled third stop, spending over 8 minutes stationary over three stops ‘Black Jack’ wound have been in a competitive position at the end of the race.

Cooper never returned to Indianapolis. The marker they had put down with the rear engine layout was taken up by others and by 1969 all Indy 500 qualifiers had engines mounted in the back, a development that was met with some resistance by both organizers and fellow competitors, who were less than thrilled by all manner of new comers turning up and eventually sweeping up the victory spoils.

In 1963 owner Kjell Kvale, believing some hopelessly optimistic performance figures for a 6 cylinder Aston Martin engine had Joe Huffaker install it in ‘Black Jacks’ 1961 Cooper T54 for Pedro Rodriguez to drive. Due to poor straight line speed Pedro Rodriguez was bumped in qualifying for the 1963 Indy 500.

The unique T54 then passed through 3 hands and by 1977 it had morphed into a Chevrolet powered sprint car. Fortunately many of the original parts that had been replaced in the morphing process had been kept.

Cooper T54, Philippe de Lespinay

Photograph courtesy of Philippe de Lespinay

In 1990 Philippe de Lespinay and Robert G Arnold managed to purchase over 70% of the parts belonging to the T54, along with it’s original equally storied engine, giving Thomas Beauchamp, Gene Crowe and Quincy Epperly the task of restoring the Cooper back to it’s 1961 specification using as all of the recovered original parts, including all of the surviving body panels.

Cooper T54,  Jack Brabham

Photograph courtesy of Philippe de Lespinay

During the restoration Jack Brabham found time to visit the shop in California and inspect the work in progress.

Cooper T54,  Jack Brabham

Photograph courtesy of Philippe de Lespinay Monterey 2006

Thirty years after first driving the T54 at Indianapolis Jack Brabham took a belated fairy tale victory to win the 1991 Monterey Cup.

Cooper T54, Rolex Moments in Time.

Photograph courtesy of Philippe de Lespinay

Since then the T54 has appeared at the Petersen Automotive Museum, the Marconi Automotive Museum, Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and in 2006 was selected as the star of the 2006 Rolex display at Monterey.

In July Philippe will be bring the Kimberly Cooper Special also known as the Cooper Coventry Climax T54 to Goodwood Festival of Speed, where I look forward to seeing the car for the first time in the flesh and meeting Philippe.

My thanks to Steve Arnaudin for scanning and sending his Dad’s photos, to Phillipe de Lespinay for permission to use his photos more of which along with the complete story on the restoration of the T54 may be seen here.

Hope you have enjoyed today’s rear engine edition of ‘Gettin’ a lil’ psycho on tyres’, and that you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !

Correction in an earlier edit of this blog I incorrectly stated Pedro Rodrigueuz had crashed the Cooper Aston Martin, this was definitely not the case and a case of labelling error by a third party, apologies for any confusion caused.


30% More Power – Bristol 411

The first blog I did on a Series 3 411 has been lost in the mists of Rowdy but a couple of photo’s remain.

Today’s model is a first series Bristol 411 built from 1969 to 1971 the first Bristol model to feature a big block B series 335 hp 6,277 cc / 383 cui motor with 30 % more horsepower than the previous model that gave this car a 140 + mph capability.

The original series 411 models featured slightly enlarged windscreens than the 410 an almost imperceptible difference that can be seen in this photo of a 411 in the foreground and 410 to the left of the photograph.

Sir George White one of the three Directors in Bristol Cars in 1969 suffered serious head injuries in a road accident in September 1969 so it was left to his partner Tony Crook to take over the reins at Bristol in Sir George’s absence a process that ended with Tony buying his partner out in 1973.

To help feed all that power to the road the rear axle was fitted with a limited slip differential (LSD) that allows some difference in angular velocity of the output shafts as long as there is some traction available on at least one of the wheels.

With thanks to the PistonHead who kindly brought this car to the recent Sunday Service at the BMW Plant at Cowley and to Cristopher Balfour who’s book ‘Bristol Cars a very British story‘ provided many of the insights in today’s blog.

Hope you have enjoyed today’s TV detective edition of ‘Gettin’ a lil’ psycho on tyres’ and that you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


Going it alone – Bristol 407

Just 88 Bristol 407’s were built between 1961 and 1963.

The 407 was the first Bristol model launched after ownership of the Bristol Car Company had been taken over by the Bristol Aeroplane Company founders grandson Sir George White 3rd Bt in partnership with Bristol’s preeminent retailer Tony Crook in September 1960.

The exterior of the Bristol 407 is distinguished from its predecessor the 406, which I have yet to write a blog about, by a horizontal bar across the radiator grill at the front and twin exhaust pipes at the rear.

Underneath the car could not be more different, the 407 is powered by a Canadian built 5130 cc / 313 cui Chrysler V8 connected to a push button operated Torqueflight transmission, a combination which first came to the attention of of Sir Reginald Verdon Smith the Bristol Aeroplane Company director in the 1950’s on a private visit to Canada.

Bristol attempted to develop it’s own aluminium block V8 in the 1950’s but, insufficient experience casting aluminium and lack of capital thanks to the spiralling cost of aircraft development elsewhere in the Bristol group of companies meant that the V8 never got beyond an underdeveloped prototype stage at which crankshaft main bearing housing distortion presented an obstacle to production.

Changing to the Canadian V8 from the hitherto BMW inspired straight 6 necessitated replacing the former transverse leaf front suspension with a pair of coil springs and replacing the highly praised rack and pinion steering with Marles worm driven steering.

The chassis was fitted with Dunlop disc brakes all round and the aluminium body production was moved from Jones Brothers to Park Royal Vehicles in London.

The 407 chassis set out the basic architectural features for all Bristol’s with many incremental modifications right through to the introduction of the Bristol Fighter in 2004.

This particular model photographed at a Loton Park VSCC meeting is registered in Sweden, notice that it is a Right Hand Drive model, Sweden switched to Left Hand Drive in September 1967 to bring it into line with it’s Scandinavian neighbours.

My thanks to Christopher Balfour who’s book ‘Bristol Cars a very British story‘ provided many of the insights in today’s blog.

Hope you have enjoyed today’s Marles worm driven steering edition of ‘Getting a lil’ psycho on tyres and that you’ll join me again tomorrow for a look at the even rarer Bristol 410. Don’t forget to come back now !


Black Jack & Le Car – Renault 5

The Renault 5 was a versatile super mini launched in 1972, in Europe many countries ran a one make virtually stock Renault 5 Championship which brought many drivers their first taste of semi professional competition including Austrian Formula One driver Gerhard Berger.

In the States this vehicle known as Le Car dominated the 1977 SCCA Showroom Stock class C division and gained added notoriety when La Conner Washington police department traded in one of its full size cruisers for three Le Cars.

In 1980 three time world champion Sir Jack Brabham was persuaded to come out retirement for the first time in 10 years to take part in a British Saloon Car Championship race at Brands Hatch which took place on the same day as the British Grand Prix.

Though the car was giving away 200 cc 12 cui to the class leading Toyotas VWs and Audi 80’s prepared by GTi Engineering, one of which was driven by the equally recently out of retirement Stirling Moss, it must be assumed that Black Jack was game for a laugh with his old sparing partner from the late 50’s early 60’s.

The Renault was woefully uncompetitive having neither the power or the handling to keep up with the class leading Audis but come race day Sir Jack Brabham had an ace up his sleeve, falling further and further behind the pack on the long Brands Grand Prix Circuit much to the amusement and in full view of 80,000 spectators Jack decided to take a 1 mile short cut by using the club circuit link road and so finished ahead of Stirling Moss on the road even though he was of course obviously disqualified.

Hope you have enjoyed today’s Black Jack edition of ‘Gettin a lil’ psycho on tyres and that you will join me tomorrow for a 6 cylinder edition tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


Bristol disambiguation – Bristol RE & Bristol 400.

I received an e-mail form Hans in Oldenburg asking if there is any connection between the Bristol Car Company and Bristol Commercial Vehicles to which the answer in German is ‘jaein’, yes and no.

In 1874 George White, born in Kingsdown, Bristol, round the corner from where yours truly lives, was working for a firm of solicitors responsible for the promotion of the Bristol Tramways Company and became involved with the Imperial Tramways Company operating across parts of England and London United Tramways operating in West London.

These horse drawn tram operators were merged in 1887 into the Bristol Tramways and Carriage Company of which George White was Managing Director. By 1900 he had been promoted to Chairman of the BT&CC.; BT&CC; started building vehicles, initially with chassis from Filton fitted with bodies from it’s Brislington works in 1908 after the Thorneycrofts and FIATs it had been operating were found to be too unreliable.

Bristol Commercial Vehicles, based wholly in Brislington, was separated from the bus operating company Bristol Tramways and Carriage Company in 1955. This 1969/70 Bristol RE (Rear Engine), with bodywork by Eastern Coach Works of Lowestoft, was the most successful first generation rear engined bus, production started in 1962 and continued until 1982 though in it’s last years it was only supplied to customers in Northern Ireland and New Zealand after being absorbed by British Leyland in 1972.

After witnessing a flight by Wilbur Wright in France in 1909 the now titled Sir George White Bt (Baronet, 6th division of aristocracy below Lords above all but two levels of Knights, a hereditary title issued to commoners of wealth originally but public service latterly) founded the Bristol Aeroplane Company in 1910 for commercial aircraft production.

The Bristol Car Company was born out of the Bristol Aeroplane Company in 1947 under the leadership of Sir George White Bt’s grandson George Stanley Midelton White although the cars were marketed for several years as being made by the Bristol Aeroplane Company run by his father Sir George Stanley White, Bt.

So the two companies manufacturing vehicles bearing the ‘Bristol’ name are connected through the White family but not through any commercial or technical arrangements, of course the Bristol Car Company is the only one that survives. The blue car in the photo’s is one of the 487 Bristol ‘400’ models made between 1947 and 1950.

Thanks for joining me on today’s commercial disambiguation edition of ‘Gettin’ a lil’ psycho on tyres’ I hope you’ll join me for tomorrow’s Bristol Blue, edition. Don’t forget to come back now !