Tag Archives: Spa

Letzte Porsche Daimler – Mercedes Benz SSK

Before leaving Mercedes Benz to set up his own design studio Ferdinand Porsche oversaw the development of a Super Sports Short (Kurz) SSK version of the Mercedes-Benz S Tourer and SS Super Sport models specifically for competition purposes.

Mercedes Benz SSK, Karl Wendlinger, Goodwood Festival of Speed,

The SSK was 19 inches shorter than the S and SS models and fitted with the same 7068 cc / 431 cui super charged 6 cylinder overhead valve engine that produced up to 200hp, depending on the degree of tuning required, as found in the longer SS Super Sport.

Mercedes Benz SSK, Karl Wendlinger, Goodwood Festival of Speed,

Only 35 SSK’s were built between 1928 and 1932 and they experienced a good degree of success between Rudolf Caracciola’s Irish GP Eireann Cup win aboard Capt Malcolm Campbell’s example in 1930 and Jose Fantó’s Argentinian 500 mile Rafaela race win in October 1950, nineteen fifty.

Mercedes Benz SSK, Karl Wendlinger, Goodwood Festival of Speed,

Most significant of the SSK victories would have been on the 1931 Mille Miglia where Rudolf Caracciola and Wilhelm Sebastian won driving an SSKL (Leicht) and the 1931 Spa 24 Hour Race victory for Goffredo Zehender and Dimitri Djordjadze, Rudolf Carraciola’s third place finish in the 1929 Monaco Grand Prix, where more nimble Bugatti’s locked out all six of the remaining top seven places was equally remarkable.

Mercedes Benz SSK, Karl Wendlinger, Goodwood Festival of Speed,

It was left to exiled Russian Imperial Guard Boris Ivanowski to enter an SSK for the Le Mans 24 Hours, he shared his car with Frenchman Henri Stoffel and finished second to a much smaller capacity super charged Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 LM driven by Bentley exiles Earl Howe and Sir Henry Birkin in 1931.

Mercedes Benz SSK, Karl Wendlinger, Goodwood Festival of Speed,

The following year Henri Stoffel entered an SSK for Marcel and Paul Foucret in the Le Mans 24 Hours, but it retired after just 22 laps with piston failure.

An SSK driven by Italian Goffredo Zehender and Russian Dimitri Djordjadze did however win the 24 Hour race at Spa in July 1931.

The exact history of the 1928 SSK driven by Karl Wendlinger and owned by Mercedes Benz Classic as seen in these photographs taken last year at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, is not known at this time, if you can fill in any of the gaps don’t hesitate to chime in below.

Thanks for joining me on this “Letzte Porsche Daimler” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres, I hope you’ll join me again for an ear splitting Mazda Monday. Don’t forget to come back now !


Gathering African Dust – Maserati 300S #3057

Today’s featured car the Maserati 300S chassis number #3059 was sold to Benoit Musy of Fribourg Switzerland midway through 1955.

Benoit is known to have raced #3057 in at least 16 events which including a pair of maiden wins Spa and Chimay in 1955 and three more in 1956.

Maserati 300S, HGPCA Test Day, Silverstone

In October 1956 Benoit was killed driving a Maserati 200S at Monthlery and two years later the car was acquired by Automovel e Touring Clube de Angola, Africa where it is known to have been entered in at least five events up until 1962.

Before it’s last known in period event the motor was damaged and replaced with a Ford V8. After the 1975 Communist Revolution in Angola the car was turned into a street car but was soon left to gather dust for over a decade until it was discovered by Norwegian Stein Johnson who imported the car to Oslo in 1991.

Between 1992 and 1994 #3059 was restored in the UK with a fresh motor, what remained of the original motor was repaired and fitted into chassis #3069.

#3059 seen above at a HGPCA test day at Silverstone last year currently belongs to German Stefan Rettenmaier.

Thanks for joining me on this “Gathering African Dust” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres”, I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be looking at a Bugatti. Don’t forget to come back now !


Do Not Lean On This Car – Ferrari 275 GTB/C #9079

In 1965 and 1966 Ferrari built a number of competition versions of the highly praised 275 GTB road car all using motors of the same type as found in the Ferrari 250 LM sports racer.

The last run of twelve competition 275’s known at the 275 GTB/C was built in 1966 and featuring aluminium bodies made of such a thin gauge it was reinforced with glass fiber, if you lean on this car you will almost certainly put a permanent dent in the body work.

Due to what appears to be a clerical error by someone at Ferrari the 275 GTB/C was mandated to run with only three carburetors, because someone at Maranello forgot to tell the FIA that a six carburetor option of the standard 275 GTB was available. This happened before the introduction of the 275 GTB/4 which featured six carburetors as standard.

Ferrari 275 GTB/C, Goodwood Revival

Even with this oversight a 275 GTB/C entered by Maranello Concessionaires and driven by Piers Courage and Roy Pike won its class at Le Mans in 1966 covering 310 laps and coming home 8th overall behind the three all conquering Ford GT40 Mk II’s and a fleet of four Porsche 906’s.

Today’s featured car chassis #9079 was the penultimate of the 12 GTB/C’s built in 1966 and it made it’s public debut at Le Mans in 1967 where it was entered for Swiss drivers Dieter Spoerry and Rico Steinemann by Scuderia Filipinetti. Dieter and Rico came in 11th and first in class covering 317 laps, 71 less than the overall winning Ford Mark IV.

Scuderia Filipinetti entered #9079 for Jaques Rey and Claude Haldi to drive at Le Mans in 1968 but the car retired after completing 78 laps as the consequence of an accident.

Ferrari 275 GTB/C, Goodwood Revival

The following year Jacques shared the car twice with Edgar Berney they came home 14th overall in the Spa 1000kms, 1st class. At Le Mans, where #9079 became the only 275GTB/C to start the race three times, the engine needed an oil top up after 39 laps which was against the regulations and so the car was disqualified.

By the end of 1969 #9079 went to the USA where it remained up until the 1980’s. In 1985 the fragile body, but not the tyres, melted in a workshop fire while in Los Angeles. By 1988 the car had been restored in Italy and sold on to Japan. Current owner Ross Warburton has owned this chassis since 2000.

Thanks for joining me on today’s “Do Not Lean On This Car” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow for a look at an brutally noisy Aston Martin. Don’t forget to come back now !


Big John’s Return – Ferrari 512M

Today’s featured Ferrari is a 512M replica of the type that I looked at last June.

Ferrari 512M, Siverstone Classic

My research indicates this car appears to be one of at least 2 replica’s built by Bob Houghton in the UK around 1990.

While I was looking into the history of todays featured car I was surprised to learn that 1964 World Champion ‘Big’ John Surtess drove a Ferrari 512S, chassis #1038, in a little remembered return to the Ferrari fold, with Jacky Ickx to finish 2nd in 1970 Spa 1000 kms behind the Porsche 917 driven by Jo Siffert and Brian Redman.

Surtees who became World Champion, driving for Ferrari in 1964, walked out on the team at Le Mans in 1966 after a disagreement over driver arrangements for the 24 hour classic. In the process Surtees threw away a good shot at the 1966 World Championship in which he eventually finished 2nd despite driving an unfancied and unreliable Cooper Maserati for the balance of the 1966 season which had started well with a win for Ferrari in the 1966 Belgian Grand Prix.

Jacky Ickx again drove chassis #1038 on it’s second and final outing at Le Mans in 1970 sharing with Peter Schetty. A single accident in the rain had eliminated four other Ferrari 512S’s and a fifth had dropped out soon after the start. Ickx was in 6th place four hours after the start of the race and climbed all the way up to second around midnight before skidding off at the Ford Chicane killing one marshal injuring a second and writing off the car which was never to be seen again.

Thanks for joining me on this “Big John’s Return” 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 18 08 12 Thanks to Tim Murray for pointing out that John Surtees won the Belgian Grand Prix driving a Ferrari 1966 not the Monaco Grand Prix as originally stated.


Not Quite ‘The Right One’ – Lancia LC2/85

Today I am starting a series of three consecutive blogs on cars that competed in the Group C World Endurance Championship, during the 1980’s I had the good fortune to follow the Group C World Endurance Championship for sports cars from it’s inception through some high’s to it’s eventual death.

Lancia LC2 - Silverstone Classic PD

The series was for closed 2 seater racing vehicles weighing a minimum 800 kgs / 1760 lbs with the only restriction on the engine being fuel consumption. The cars were expected to race for 1000 kms / 621 miles on 600 litres / 131.87 of fuel. It was soon realised by participants that they needed to run vehicles with around 600 hp to go the distance with the available fuel.

Lancia LC2 - Silverstone Classic PD

This endurance fuel mileage racing series did not always produce the most riveting races though it was certainly had a few outstanding ones, but something about the endurance and fuel consumption formula appealed to me and the cars looked absolutely fabulous.

Lancia LC2 - Silverstone Classic PD

History will recall the early years 1982 – 1987 were dominated by Porsche with only token resistance from today’s car the Martini Lancia LC2 which was first raced in 1983. Lancia had tried to steal the 1982 World Endurance Championship for Drivers by building the LC1 to older group 6 regulations that only had one year of eligibility.

Lancia LC2 - Silverstone Classic PD

Not only did Lancia driver Riccardo Patrese come up short by 8 points to Porsches Jacky Ickx, but Lancia also in the process lost a whole years development on their Group C challenger to the all conquering Porsche 956 that Jacky Ickx had been driving.

Lancia LC2 - Silverstone Classic PD

The first problem the Lancia LC2 faced in 1983 was inferior Pirelli radial tyres which could not take the strain of the ground effect downforce generated by the aerodynamic venturi at the back of the car. The cars proved quick in qualifying but to add to the problems at Lancia the twin turbo Ferrari V8 motors could not back the speed up with reliability.

Lancia LC2 - Silverstone Classic PD

To cure the tyre issues the LC2’s ran with Dunlop cross ply tyres in 1984, this necessitated a change in suspension geometry. The cars were fast in qualifying as they had been in 1983 but the Speedline wheels were now not up to the job. Again the cars were fast in qualifying but rarely reliable over a race distance.

Lancia LC2 - Silverstone Classic PD

For 1985 Lancia switched back to radial construction tyres now supplied by Michelin, the Dallara built aluminium chassis were widened with a pronounced step in the side bodywork.

Lancia LC2 - Silverstone Classic PD

Again the cars were quick in qualifying but the Ferrari engines were unreliable. Though the team did score it’s one and only victory over the works Porsche team at Spa in a race that was called early out of respect foe Stefan Bellof who had been killed in the event. At the following race at Brands Hatch it looked like the Lancia team might score another victory over the works Porsche team when the two leading Lancia’s inexplicably hit it each other causing sufficient delays for the works Porsche to win again.

Lancia LC2 - Silverstone Classic PD

The Martini Lancia LC2’s only appeared in a couple of races in 1986 before they withdrew from road racing completely. With just one win against the main opposition and a couple of win’s when the works Porsche team were not present the works Martini Lancia effort was justly reflected in three 2nd place finishes from 1983 – 1985 in the World Endurance Championship behind the mighty Porsche team.

Lancia LC2 - Silverstone Classic PD

This 1985 car features a slippery nose that was only ever seen at Le Mans.

Next weekend there will be a race for Group C cars at the Silverstone Classic in which this Lancia is scheduled to take part, I hope to be there it should be a magnificent event.

Hope you have enjoyed today’s Martini edition of ‘Gettin’ a lil’ psycho on tyres’ and that you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be taking a look at a Group C challenger from Germany. Don’t forget to come back now !


Mini Van from the Dark Side of the Moon – Ferrari 250 GTO #3757

The first time I saw one of these, reg no: 5 RU #3869 GT belonging to Dave Clarke formerly of the Dave Clark Five, was on a fabulous summer afternoon in the car park of the Hotel opposite school I must have spent a good hour sitting on a wall leering at it longingly.

This particular example, third overall in the 1962 Le Mans 24 hours and winner of the Spa 500 kms race in 1963, has been the property of Nick Mason since the late 1970’s.

Allegedly one frosty morning this vehicle was the only one of his fleet that would start and so Nick ended up taking his kids to school in it, the rumour is that his kids never wanted to be driven to school in anything other than the 250 GTO thereafter which must qualify this car for the title worlds fastest mini van.

I did not know much about it until acquaintances on The Nostalgia Forum put me right some months ago. Ironically I have Nick Masons autograph from that day in my 1981 British Grand Prix programme.

Hope you have enjoyed todays edition of ‘Gettin’ a lil’ psycho on tyres’ from the Dark Side of the Moon and hope you’ll join me again tomorrow for the first of my 12 vehicles of Chritmas series of blogs.

Slightly off topic I read this seasonal story yesterday and humbly recommend it to all.

With Seasons Greetings and best wishes for the New Year to everyone who has played apart in ‘Gettin’ a lil’ psycho on tyres’ no matter how great or small, thanks for being there to celebrate with.

PS 30 12 10 just found the photo above of #3757 taken at Goodwood Festival of Speed.