Tag Archives: Tornado

Stunning Seicento – Tornado FIAT 600D GT Lotus Twin Cam

Anyone one heading east along the A412 Uxbridge Road in to Rickmansworth would be forgiven for missing Fairway Tyres located in a building set back from the road with a forecourt.

Tornado FIAT 600D GT Lotus Twin Cam, Middle Barton Garage

It turns out this building is called Tornado House recalling Tornado Cars Ltd which once employed up to sixty people to manufacture around 600 sports cars from 1957 to 1964 that were marked under the Typhoon, Tempest, Thunderbolt and Talisman names.

Tornado FIAT 600D GT Lotus Twin Cam, Middle Barton Garage

Tornado went into liquidation in 1964 it would appear just after the introduction of a hot GT version of the FIAT 600D known as the Tornado FIAT 600D GT.

Tornado FIAT 600D GT Lotus Twin Cam, Middle Barton Garage

Around two and a half million FIAT (Seicento) 600D’s were manufactured between 1955 and 1969, powered by a water cooled straight 4 cylinder motor giving either 21 hp or 29 hp according to size, which lent itself to easy tuning with upgrades available from the likes of Carl Abarth.

Tornado FIAT 600D GT Lotus Twin Cam, Middle Barton Garage

The FIAT 600D, which sold for 590,000 lire new was also manufactured in Barcelona, Spain where it was marketed as the SEAT ( pronounced c @ ) 600, Kragujevac, in what is now Serbia where it was marketed as the Zastava 750.

Tornado FIAT 600D GT Lotus Twin Cam, Middle Barton Garage

As of 2011 it was thought only 65 road legal Seicento’s remain in the UK.

Tornado FIAT 600D GT Lotus Twin Cam, Middle Barton Garage

One of the Tornado FIAT 600D GT’s was acquired by David Render in 1965, readers, of the Lotus 76 and Lotus 77 posts, may remember that David was friends with Colin Chapman of Lotus Cars who suggested and arranged for Davids Tornado FIAT 600D to be fitted ….

Tornado FIAT 600D GT Lotus Twin Cam, Middle Barton Garage

… with a full blown Lotus Twin Cam motor normally found in the Lotus Cortina and Lotus Elan.

Tornado FIAT 600D GT Lotus Twin Cam, Middle Barton Garage

With over 100 hp on tap David’s little Tornado FIAT 600D GT became a pocket rocket…

Tornado FIAT 600D GT Lotus Twin Cam, Middle Barton Garage

with which he estimates he won over 50 trophies in the period he owned it. David’s car is seen here at the recent Middle Barton Garages silver jubilee celebration.

Please note Tornado Cars Ltd of Rickmansworth is not to be confused with Tornado Sports Cars of Kidderminster.

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


Silver Jubilee – Middle Barton Garage

The self styled “Italian Shrine” Middle Barton Garage celebrated its Silver Jubilee last weekend and I joined fellow members of the Bristol Pegasus Motor Club at Delamare services on the M4 at 8:30 am last Saturday to join in the fun.

Middle Barton Garage

Arthur in his 2006 Mustang GT led a couple of MX5’s a Westfield and yours truly in his humble Golf Mk IV Estate along some beautiful country roads as we took an indirect route with some challenging curves towards the newly relocated Middle Barton Garage which now lies just outside Somerton in Oxfordshire.

Bentley, Middle Barton Garage

We arrived early to find an eclectic assortment of vehicles accumulating including this 1924 Bentley fitted with a normally aspirated 4398 cc / 268 cui six cylinder motor. If I ever get to drive a vintage car of any sort this would be one I’d choose, it looked all set to go like a steam train with little in the way of refinement or creature comfort.

FIAT 124, barchetta, 128 3P, 500, 500 Abarth, Middle Barton Garage

Among the Middle Barton Garage friends and customer cars to turn up was this FIAT 124 Spider, one of at least two I saw on the day, a Barchetta, 128 3P and 500. Being polished in the background is a turbocharged racing Abarth 500.

Osella Abarth PA2, Middle Barton Garage

The Abarth Osella PA2 was built for the 1974 European 2 litre / 122 cui sports car championship, there does not seem to be much agreement on exactly how many PA2’s were built a chassis #013 was offered by Bonhams 5 years ago. The Osella PA2s running with four cylinder engines from Abarth, BMW or Ford were outclassed by the works V6 powered Alpine Renaults in 1974 the final year of the championship. This car chassis #011 is painted in the colours used by Georgian Prince in Spanish exile Jorge de Baragation who drove chassis #001 to a victory at Jarama in 1974.

Tornado FIAT 600D GT, Middle Barton Garage

Alongside the production of their Talisman sports cars Tornado Cars of Rickmansworth, not to be confused with Tornado Sports Cars of Kidderminster, offered a FIAT 600 D conversion to a more powerful spec. David Render bought the one of seen here and his friend Colin Chapman suggested and organised fitting an even more powerful Lotus Twin Cam motor to this car, with which David won more than 50 trophies in sprint and hill climb events.

GMC 100, Middle Barton Garage

The 1950 GMC 100 Pickup above is being finished off by one of Middle Barton Garages neighbours.

Ferrari, FIAT, Maserati, Lancia, Middle Barton Garage

As I left the Silver Jubilee celebration the Ferrari California Convertible and Maserati Bora 4th from right pulled up to join in the fun.

My thanks to Tony Castle-Miller of Middle Barton Garage and Nick of the Bristol Pegasus Motor Club for organising the event.

Thanks for joining me on this “Silver Jubilee” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres”, I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be taking a close look at a car driven by Queen Elizabeth II during her coronation year. Don’t forget to come back now !


Colour Of The Advocado – Cadillac Eldorado

The eight generation Cadillac Eldorado was built between 1971 and 1978 receiving face lifts in 1973 and 1975.

Cadillac Eldorado, Shakespeare County Raceway

Sharing a 126 in / 3120 mm E body platform with the Oldsmobile Tornado and Buick Riviera the Eldorado was 79.8 in / 2030 mm wide.

Cadillac Eldorado, Shakespeare County Raceway

Under the bonnet / hood of this 1973 model lurks a honking 400 hp 8.2 litre 500 cui V8, said to be the largest production V8 when it was first introduced in the 1970 Seventh Generation Eldorado.

Cadillac Eldorado, Shakespeare County Raceway

At 224 in / 5690 mm long the Eight Generation Eldorado’s matched the Sixth Generation Eldorado’s as the largest ever made though the Eight Generation were giving away over 6 inches in wheel base to the older model.

Cadillac Eldorado, Shakespeare County Raceway

One thing I did not know until preparing this blog was that like the Oldsmobile Tornado the Eldorado was front wheel drive which must lead to some interesting handling characteristics, while the Buick Riviera on the same platform was rear wheel drive.

Cadillac Eldorado, Shakespeare County Raceway

It is thought the opera window in the C panel which replaced the opening quarter window seen in earlier models was necessary to conform to roll over safety standards that came into effect in the mid 1970’s.

Cadillac Eldorado, Shakespeare County Raceway

Until I heard the Jonathon Richman song Pablo Picaso, I’d always thought of Eldorado’s as lumpy land yachts with as much appeal as a block of flats, however once I heard Jonathon’s lyric about girls turning advocado colour as Pablo Picaso drove down the street in his Eldorado, I began to see this leviathan’s in a slightly different light.

Cadillac Eldorado, Shakespeare County Raceway

In 1973 51,451 Eldorado’s were built just over 15% of Cadillacs total production for the year.

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


Rare Breeds – Haynes International Motor Museum

Last Sunday I made a ‘little’ detour to the Rare Breeds Car Show at the Haynes International Motor Museum on the way to the airport to pick up some friends.

Rare Breeds, Haynes IMM

Among the 70 odd vehicles on display were half a dozen Formula 500’s some 50’s (UK) Stock Car replica’s, for those in the US these are more like 1/4 mile paved and dirt Late Sportsman race cars than NASCARs Stock Cars, and a number of interesting vehicles one is unlikely on an average everyday commute.

Austin 3 Litre, Rare Breeds, Haynes IMM

Around 10,000 Austin 3 litre vehicles nicknamed ‘Land Lobsters’ were built between 1968 and 1971 which though well appointed were no competition for the similarly sized Triumphs, Rovers and Jaguars which would soon all become merged into the same nationalised British Leyland conglomerate. There are thought to be around 60 of these vehicles left and this one has been in the Stephen’s family since new.

Austin 7 Hamblin 7 Cadet, Rare Breeds, Haynes IMM

Some of you may remember my blog on the wreck of a Bowden Super Two I wrote some months ago, this is an Austin 7 Hamblin Cadet with the smaller body that the Bowden Super Two bodywork was based on. At £34.10/- this was the cheapest bodywork on the market, it was made to fit pre war Austin 7’s. The owner of this car is the son of Sid Hamblin who founded the SE Hamblin company and personally built this car.

Austin Mini Wildgoose, Rare Breeds, Haynes IMM

The Austin Mini Wildgoose RV has also featured on GALPOT before, this is a 1967 model with larger wraparound cabin windows and a tilting roof incorporating canvas sides, looks a little less like an airport control tower than the original. This particular vehicle has had the original 850 cc / 51.8 cui motor replaced with a 1275 cc / 77 cui unit and gearing to match so that it can easily cruise above the minimum motorway speed limit of 50 mph.

DKW 1000S

My Uncle in Germany had a DKW 1000S before he swapped it for a more versatile square back. These two stroke powered cars were relatively expensive in the UK so not many were in imported although Jim Clark made his racing debut driving a DKW before going on to win two World Championships and the Indy 500. This Left Hand Drive (LHD) model was imported from Sweden via Norway.

Fordson 7A, Rare Breeds, Haynes IMM

From 1933 – 1939 Ford commercial vehicles in the UK were badged Fordson. This Fordson 7V served as an auxiliary fire tender during World War 2. Because of it’s relatively powerful V8 motor 7V’s were much in demand for use as racing car transporters after hostilities ceased.

Model 48 Ford, Rare Breeds, Haynes IMM

E691 is a replica of Nev Hughes 1935 Model 48 Ford raced, in 1955, built by Keith Barber. Current owner Roy Clarke rescued it in 2006 and it recently featured, as did several of the vehicles seen in the back ground in an advertisement for the Audi R8 V10 Spyder. It can be seen painted black with red stripes under the ‘B9’ at 1m 01 secs in this clip.

Gaz, M21 Volga, Rare Breeds, Haynes IMM

Also featured in an earlier post has been a GAZ M21 Volga, this 1962 model one of only two known to be in the UK is in considerably better condition than the one I featured on the former East German border in 2006.

Lafitte 5CV, Rare Breeds, Haynes IMM

Described as very difficult to drive this RHD Lafitte 5CV Cycle Car is positively bristling with innovative technology starting with an inverted Y 3 cylinder air cooled radial engine that tilts with a hand mechanism in order alter to the friction driven gear ratio. The Lafitte has way ahead of it’s time independent front suspension but no foot brakes ! This car has recently been certified as roadworthy for the first time since 1964 but the owner thought discretion was the better part of valour and brought this amazing device to the show on a trailer.

Spirit Gordini M3, Rare Breeds, Haynes IMM

There seems to be a lot of interest in triking at the moment stimulating no doubt Morgan’s recent return to the manufacture of trikes. For those who cannot afford Morgan’s starting price their are plenty of alternatives. The front wheel drive Spirit Gordini M3 started life as two separate front wheel drive Renault 5 / Le Car models one ’79 tother ’85.

Tornado Talisman, Rare Breeds, Haynes IMM

Another new manufacturer to me is Tornado apparently founded in 1957 in Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire by Bill Woodhouse and Tony Bullen. Amazingly this car had lain awaiting restoration when it’s owner passed aeay and thanks to the Faithorpe Sports Car Club it was passed on to Bill Woodhouse who did not know what to do with it until two gap year students the Hillier brothers took it upon themselves to rebuild the car in order to gain engineering experience under the guidance of the current owner and founder of the company Mr Woodhouse. The Talisman is one of 186 Ford powered examples made.

Triumph Spitfire Special, Rare Breeds, Haynes IMM

Finally my car of the day award goes to this Triumph Spitfire based Special made by Martin Harcourt using an English Wheel and alot of effort to make the polished aluminium panels on this unique single seater. When it’s complete Martin hopes to use his shiny special in sprints and hill climbs. I am sure he will have plenty of fun with it.

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


Whippin’ up a storm – Tornado TSC GT40

A couple of years ago I stumbled across this replica GT40 in the paddock at Castle Combe.

This particular replica marketed under the model name TSC GT40 was manufactured by Tornado Sports Cars of Kidderminster, Worcestershire.

Father and son Alan and Andy Sheldon founded Tornado Sports Cars in 1984 to manufacture self assembly vehicles which could be built by enthusiasts using only simple hand tools.

The first self assembly model Tornado manufactured was the M6GT, a replica of Bruce McLarens well known M6GT road car project which was to take a Can Am Championship Winning McLaren M6 and turn it into a closed cockpit road car for the public to buy. Production of the Tornado M6GT ceased in 1992 3 years after the introduction of the incredibly successful TSC GT40 started.

In 1997 Allan Sheldon retired leaving Andy in charge. Amazingly 22 years after it’s introduction the TSC GT40 is still in production with hundreds of kits having been sold in 31 countries.

To my eyes like David Pipers continuation Ferrari P4 the TSC GT40 seems to share rear light cluster designs originating in the humble little FIAT 850.

For further information on the TSC GT40 I recommend visiting the Tornado Sports Cars website which caters for the casual enthusiast like myself and the prospective customer.

Hope you have enjoyed this weeks home built editions of ‘Gettin’ a lil psycho on tyres’ and that you’ll join me for a special two for the price of one edition of Ferrari Friday tomorrow ! Don’t for get to come back now !

PS If you have not had your fix of Fords today try catching up with the latest on the rumoured new Ford GT with Michele Rahal over on the Drive Channel.