Tag Archives: Tucker

Almost Factory Catalogued Convertible – Citroën DS20 Cabriolet d’Usine

From 1961 Citroën commissioned Henri Chapron to build the DS19 Usine (factory) Convertible’s to order for distribution through the Citroën dealer network.

Citroën DS20 Cabriolet d'Usine, Classic Motor Show, NEC, Birmingham

The Usine unlike the earlier Chapron devised La Croisette Decapotable was based on Flaminio Bertoni’s drawings for a DS Cabriolet.

Citroën DS20 Cabriolet d'Usine, Classic Motor Show, NEC, Birmingham

As might be expected from the most expensive model in the DS range the Cabriolet d’Usine was kept up to date with all the latest DS face lifts which in 1968 included a reworked nose by Robert Opron who would go on to style on the Citorën SM and CX models.

Citroën DS20 Cabriolet d'Usine, Classic Motor Show, NEC, Birmingham

The DS third face lift by Opron included a pair of headlights in the front wing/fender cluster that swiveled up to 80° with the steering to improve the drivers vision when cornering.

Citroën DS20 Cabriolet d'Usine, Classic Motor Show, NEC, Birmingham

The swiveling headlight feature was pioneered on the 1935 Tatra T77a and copied by the 1948 MY Tucker 48, which never went into full scale production, both of which had a third central headlight that swiveled with the steering.

Citroën DS20 Cabriolet d'Usine, Classic Motor Show, NEC, Birmingham

This car is officially registered as having been built in 1969 when just 47 DS21 variants, with the original DS type hydraulically operated transmission and DS21 M with conventional manual clutch operated transmission were built.

Citroën DS20 Cabriolet d'Usine, Classic Motor Show, NEC, Birmingham

With a motor officially registered as 1985cc / 121 cui this model would be a DS20 Cabriolet d’Usine meaning either a clerical error as by 1969 only DS21 Cabriolet d’Usine’s with 2,175cc / 132 cui motors were built or this vehicle is no longer powered by it’s original motor, there never having been a factory catalogued DS20 Cabriolet d’Usine so far as I know.

Thanks for joining me on this “Almost Factory Catalogued Convertible” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres”, I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be visiting the revival of the Chateau Impney Hill Climb. Don’t forget to come back now !


The Great Western Sprint – Castle Combe

A couple of weeks ago I popped along to help out the Bristol Motor Club marshall there annual freeze fest better known as The Great Western Sprint at Castle Combe, mercifully it was a dry sunny day but as ever the persistent freezing wind out at Bobbies where I was stationed meant that humour had a very tough fight on it’s hands.

Ford Fiesta, Great Western Sprint, Castle Combe

My responsibilities precluded taking any photo’s of the action so here are a selection of arbitrary shots taken in the paddock shown in running order, first up from Abergavenny Martyn Davies’s Ford Fiesta with which he won the A1 Roadgoing class for cars with motors up to 1400 cc / 85.4 cui.

Suzuki Swift, Great Western Sprint, Castle Combe

Phil Tuckers 1989 Suzuki Swift, which finished second in class behind Martyn, caught my attention because the model was also sold as a Subaru Justy like the one Robert Solarski drove on the recent Tavern Motor Club Washingpool Farm Targa Rally.

Ford Escort Mexico, Great Western Sprint, Castle Combe

On my way over to Castle Combe I observed Rowland Turner was wearing ear protectors at the wheel of his 1975 Mk 1 Ford Escort as he made steady progress on the motorway, Rowland finished 8th in the up to 1800 cc / 109.8 cui class.

Audi S4, Great Western Sprint, Castle Combe

One of the more powerful cars in the paddock was Roger Banks’s Audi S4 powered by a twin turbo 4.2 litre / 256 cui 40 valve V8 said to produce over 700 hp. Roger recorded fastest time in his all wheel drive beast with a NASCAR sized rear spoiler in the C3 modified class on the practice run but broke down on his first timed run, leaving Keith Murray in his old school Audi 80 to take class spoils as he had done on this event in 2013.

Leastone F5, Great Western Sprint, Castle Combe

6th in the up to Racing Cars up to 1100cc / 67 cui E1 category was Nick Mizen in his Irish built Leastone F5 fitted with a 900cc / 54.9 cui Suzuki Motorcycle engine.

Jedi Mk 1, Great Western Sprint, Castle Combe

Martin Pickles qualified for the top 12 run offs and finished with 7th best time of the day with his 1 litre / 61 cui Jedi Mk1.

The larger engined Reynard DB Mk 1 shared by Mark Smith and Craig Sampson recorded first and second fastest times of the day respectively.

Thanks for joining me on this “The Great Western Sprint” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be looking at a 1931 Chrysler. Don’t forget to come back now !


Palm Springs – Desert Classic Concours d’Elegance

This year the Desert Classic Concours d’Elegance moved to the Desert Princess Country Club and Doral Desert Princess Resort in Palm Springs California on February 24th and Geoffrey Horton has kindly sent sent today’s selection of photographs to us an overview of some of the vehicles present.

Jaguar XK 140 FHC SE, Desert Classic Concours d'Elegance, Palm Springs, CA

Geoffrey own 1955 Jaguar XK140 FHC SE/MC was looking more resplendent than ever in the spring California sun.

Mercedes Benz 28/95, Desert Classic Concours d'Elegance, Palm Springs, CA

When I saw this photo of a 1923 Mercedes Benz 28/95 I wondered if it was perhaps a creation from Gary L Wells workshop but in fact this beast with a 7.2 litre / 439 cui six cylinder aeroplane motor converted for road use is all the work of Mercedes Benz. The short wheel base version of the roadster, like the one seen here, was originally given the Targa Florio name after Mercedes Benz victories on the torturous Sicilian track in 1921 and 1922.

Ruxton Model C, Desert Classic Concours d'Elegance, Palm Springs, CA

Looking similar to a Cord L29 is this 1929 Ruxton Model C which like the Cord L29 has front wheel drive and a straight 8 engine but unlike the Cord L29 of which 4400 examples were built only 500 Ruxton Model C’s are thought to have been built the two tone lilac paintwork is standard for the period.

Marmon V16 Series 144, Desert Classic Concours d'Elegance, Palm, Springs, CA

Last year Geoffrey shared photo’s of a Marmon V16 Limousine, above is the last Marmon V16 sold in 1933, a Coupe version of which just 5 others are thought to remain.

Chrysler Imperial, Desert Classic Concours d'Elegance, Palm, Springs, CA

Although powered “only” by a 6.3 litre / 384 cui straight 8 Geoffrey’s car of the show was without question this 1931 Chrysler Imperial which appears to have a sheen just a little brighter than all of the other vehicles seen on the day.

Tucker 48, Desert Classic Concours d'Elegance, Palm, Springs, CA

This 1948 Tucker 48 chassis #1003 featuring a motor in the boot / trunk and rear wheel drive is one of 51 built and is expected to fetch between US$1.5 and 1.9 million at auction on March 9th.

Cunningham C3, Desert Classic Concours d'Elegance, Palm, Springs, CA

Moving forward five years this 1953 Cunningham C3 is one of 20 Roadsters built in West Palm Beach, it is fitted with 331 cui Hemi V8 and was shipped to Turin for coachwork to be fitted by Vignale. In addition to the roadsters Cunningham built 5 C3 convertibles.

Mercedes Benz 300 SL, Desert Classic Concours d'Elegance, Palm, Springs, CA

This US Spec 1957 Mercedes Benz 300SL Roadster would have originally been distributed by Studebaker Packard Corporation.

Maserati, 3500 GT, Desert Classic Concours d'Elegance, Palm, Springs, CA

According to the owner of this 1959 Maserati 3500 GT was sold new in Mexico and it “may” have once belonged to left wing Mexican President Adolfo Lopez Mateos.

Shelby Cobra GT500, Desert Classic Concours d'Elegance, Palm, Springs, CA

The 1968 Shelby Cobra GT 500 above is fitted with a 428cui interceptor motor and had clocked well over 100,000 miles prior to a two year restoration in 2005, since when it has won a Best in Show award at the 2007 Cobra Owners Concours and been drag raced at California Speedway.

Ford Roadster, Desert Classic Concours d'Elegance, Palm, Springs, CA

Geoffrey tells me the ’32 Ford Roadster above belongs to well known IMSA racer Rick Knoop and packs 400 hp.

Ferrari 512M, Desert Classic Concours d'Elegance, Palm, Springs, CA

Finally a Friday car this much modified Ferrari 512 S was upgraded to M spec in 1971 and upgraded further by the Filipinetti team with a Porsche 917 windscreen to what has become known as M/F spec. Drivers of the car in period include Ronnie Peterson, Henri Pescarolo, Mike Parkes and Joakim Bonnier.

My thanks to Geoffrey Horton for sharing his photographs and a smidgen of welcome California sunshine.

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


Gas Turbine Highboy – ’32 Ford Boeing Roadster

One of the earliest motoring books I was given was called Cars Cars Cars Cars by SCH Davis, published by Hamlyn in 1969, from memory the concluding chapter dealt with the future of motoring with a look at some of the gas turbine passenger concept vehicles that had been unveiled over the previous 10 or 20 years.

'32 Roadster, 41 Chevrolet

Unfortunately the promise of the so called ‘Jet Car’ has yet to become reality and this had troubled Boeing Engineer Leonard Williams, a full ten years before I read about them, so that when he heard of the opportunity to buy a government surplus Boeing gas turbine for $500 he took the opportunity to build the very first privately owned gas turbine motor vehicle.

'32 Ford Roadster

The story of Len’s gas turbine car began after a trip to the road races and Concours d’Elegance at Watkins Glen in 1949 where he was deeply impressed by a 1932 Highboy Roadster from Massachusetts fitted with an immaculate flat head Mercury motor, hydraulic brakes and a black lacquer paint job which stood out among the Duesenbergs, Jaguars, Ferraris, and sundry European exotica.

'32 Ford Roadster

After returning to Willow Run Michigan where he was studying Leonard purchased a a rusty ’32 Roadster from the son of Preston Tucker, of Tucker cars, who was living with his Grandmother in Ypsilanti for $50. Len bought a ’41 Ford for a $100 and swapped over the motor, transmission, brakes and wheels over to his Roadster making a few improvement’s to the motor along with a set of Pontiac tail lights.

'32 Ford Roadster

Upon graduating from the University of Michigan in 1950 Len moved with his wife Gladys to Seattle where he was employed Boeing and towed his not quite complete Roadster west behind his ’41 Chevrolet. Once Len had finished transforming the Roadster into a Hot Rod he used it as his daily transportation and joined the Dragons Hot Rod Club who used to run a 1250 ft drag strip at Arlington Airport for fun. Above Lens Roadster can be seen at Arlington fitted with token mud guards / fenders as required by the State of Washington.

'32 Ford / Oldsmodile Roadster

While running at Arlington the ’41 Ford Motor in the Roadster was eventually replaced with a ’49/’50 303 inch / 4965 cc Oldsmobile motor that was machined out to 331 cui / 5425 cc and fitted with a four barrel carburetor. Len drove his Roadster to Bonneville for the Southern California Timing Association Speed trials in ’51, ’52 and ’54s and was timed at 134.12 mph. This was before the establishment of a street legal class and was no match for the trailered cars.

'32 Ford / Oldsmodile Roadster

Len put the Roadster aside after Bonneville in ’54 while he fixed up a ’33 five window Coupé with a 283 cui / 4637 cc Chevrolet motor and Corvette cams and manifolds that was capable of 95 mph in 2nd gear. By the time he got back to the Roadster it was suffering from salt corrosion so he decided to strip the car for sand blasting and resprayed the chassis red and body white.

Army L19

It was after he completed rebuilding the Olds motor for the Roadster and before he had reinstalled it that Len found out about a surplus Boeing 502-8 gas turbine, as used in the military version of a Cessna 170 the L19 reconnaissance aircraft, which he acquired from a New York government surplus lot.

'32 Ford / Boeing Roadster

Detailed records indicated that the motor Len purchased had been used to set the Class C small plane altitude record at 37,062 feet it was then put into storage until it became surplus. More surprisingly the motor fitted into the engine bay like a glove, apart manufacturing a couple of steel straps to bolt the motor to the chassis frame, splitting the radius rods, manufacturing an adaptor to connect the turbine output shaft to the Roadsters propshaft, a pair of five inch diameter tailpipes and fitting a 35 gallon fuel tank not much else had to be done, as Len said at the time “it was almost as though Henry (Ford) had the turbine in mind when he built the car (in 1932)”.

'32 Ford / Boeing Roadster

The Boeing 502 gas turbine features a combustion chamber which creates hot air that is forced by a fan through an enclosed space at the end of which a second fan attached to an output shaft gets spun before entering the exhaust pipe. Because the two fans are not directly connected there is no need for a gearbox effectively providing the motor with a built in infinitely variable transmission. In theory one could stand on the brakes and run the gas turbine at maximum 37,000 rpm without stalling the motor, though one might burn out the fan blades if one tried this.

'32 Ford / Boeing Roadster

In the rush to complete the car Len, like Rover who manufactured the T4 concept gas turbine car around the same time, dispensed with fitting a reverse gear, however despite the absence of reverse Len resumed driving his ’32 Roadster to work at Boeing’s Plant One.

The Roadster was now capable of 0 – 60 in 5 seconds but was conservatively geared at the rear axle for a top speed of just 75 mph, though Len later fitted a higher gear rear axle and saw an indicated top speed of between 110 mph and 115 mph, but he never ran his turbine powered roadster in competition.

Despite being able to run on a variety of fuels diesel to Jet A one of the drawbacks of the efficient producer of power compared to weight is the inefficient use of fuel, a tear jerking 5-6 mpg was the best Len got from his roadster which was prohibitive even when fuel was available at 16¢ a gallon back in the day.

Len’s gas turbine Roadster project was entirely self funded, Len estimates that by 1962 he had spent around $1500 on the car and a lot of spare time. Eagle eyed GALPOT readers may remember it was around this time that Len’s work took him to Indianapolis with the John Zink Trackburner.

Today Lens ’32 Roadster can be seen at the Le May Museum, unfortunately one of the turbine wheels was burnt out during a demonstration in 2006 and has yet to be repaired.

My thanks to Mr Leonard Williams for today’s remarkable story of private innovation, more details of which can be found on Lens website linked here.

Thanks for joining me on this Gas Turbine edition of ‘Getting’ a li’l psycho on tyres’, I hope you will join me again tomorrow.

Wishing everyone a merry festive season, I’ll be back tomorrow with a short seasonal blog to celebrate a GALPOT contributors birthday. Don’t forget to come back now !

PS Don’t forget …

Automobiliart GALPOT Seasonal Quiz

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December 26th – January 2nd

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Phil Hill, Sharknose Ferrari Set, Paul Chenard

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1950s Grand Prix Engines

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Which set will you choose ?

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