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  • 01/21/14--09:00: Maserati 4CLT

  • It is true that failure can lead to success. By Formula One's first season in 1950, Maserati was Maserati in name only. Financial trouble led to the brothers selling the company and moving on. But when a person's hand is applied to what the person is born to do there will be an impact. And in this case, the whole band of Maserati brothers were born to build racing machines. Yet, while having to sell and ultimately leave their namesake, their final designs would still play an important role in grand prix racing and Formula One's inaugural season.

    In 1914, Alfieri and Ettore Maserati decided to establish their own race-tuning business. Almost as soon as they started they had to suspend activity due to World War I starting. Upon cessation of hostilities, in order to promote their work, the brothers would tune their own cars and then would race them. This caught the eye of the Diotto company. Diotto then approached the Maserati brothers, which by this time included another brother Ernesto, about designing grand prix cars. The brothers agreed and, in 1925, went to work. However, the design the brothers would create would end up never being built. Very soon, the brothers decided to start their own company and only design and build cars of their own. And so, one of Maserati's first cars would be the design Diotto decided not to have built. The Maserati brothers ended up building the car and would enter it in the 1926 Targo Florio.

    Not too many teams start out at the top. Often times, teams will compete for years and have to settle with top-ten or top-five finishes. But when someone is meant, or destined, for something, the norm changes. When it is a whole family of brothers focused on one thing, special events can take place and the 1926 Targo Florio was no exception. While the Maserati brothers may have been confident about their first chassis bearing the family name there was still an aura of uncertainty that surrounded the untested entity. Yet, in its first ever race the car would go on to win. And for Maserati, as a team, that was one race entered, one win—100% efficiency. And so it began. To fund their racing endeavors the brothers would design and build custom cars, but always with the intent of being able to get back on the track and compete.

    The problem, when starting out from the top, is that it's very easy to realize that only two options remain. Either the team maintains its level of success and performance or it is destined to slip back into the clutches of the competition. What makes declining easy to do is that there are so many variables that can come and disrupt what possibly could have led to further success. And it seemed those variables started to work against the Maserati brothers.

    In 1932, tragedy struck as Alfieri died due to kidney problems. Besides the impact this tragedy surely had, the competition also improved making victories harder to come by due to having to battle the likes of Alfa Romeo and the surging German companies like Mercedes. This then meant the larger amounts of money awarded to the winner was also harder to come by. Thus Maserati, despite its immediate success, was facing financial trouble. Due to the financial woes the brothers signed a deal where Adolfo Orsi, an industrialist, would come in and own the company but the brothers would retain technical control for the next ten years. This was a blessing, in a way, for them. Since the bills were being paid all they had to do was focus on racing and their chassis designs. This proved to be beneficial as they were able to design some cars that enabled them to score a string of victories at the Indianapolis 500. Yet, despite the success another variable would come along and truly spell the end for the Maserati brothers at Maserati—another world war. World War II, and the lack of any racing, meant the brothers were unable to try and regain control of their own company. Once again, a world war disrupted the Maseratis. However, with the end of the war in 1945 there was still time for the Maseratis to leave their mark with the very company that bore their name.

    Just prior to the war, in 1939, Ernesto designed the 4CL as a competitor against the Alfa Romeo 158 and others. The 4CL's chassis had the appearance of an upside-down T due to the twin box section spars running the length of the chassis. A large rectangular radiator inlet dominated the nose. To save weight in the construction, the 4CLs were designed to utilize more aluminum alloys than any previous Maserati chassis. Also, ladder construction was used which helped save weight by using smaller cross section pieces to provide strength and rigidity. Ernesto designed the car to utilize wishbone suspension parts and large drum brakes. Along the left side of the chassis ran the exhaust pipes from the two exhaust ports per cylinder. The individual pipes blended into a singular pipe running the length of the chassis back past the cockpit. Interestingly, like many other chassis of the day, the exhaust pipe ran right by the cockpit and, therefore, needed a shroud fitted over the pipe to protect the driver from burning himself. One sign of the technology of the day was the drum brakes employed on the 4CL. Drum brakes was really the only practical solution at the time. To dissipate the excessive heat built up during braking, fins were machined into the brake housing to expel the heat to the cooler air rushing by. Stability of the 4CL was better than that of Maserati's previous designs due to the fact the 4CL had repositioned springs that allowed the car to sit lower meaning the car's center of gravity was also lower.

    Due to the increased stability and performance, in its debut year, the 4CL was able to earn five victories before the outbreak of the war. However, the outbreak of World War II delayed the chassis from being able to show its full promise and rescue Maserati from slipping out of the hands of the brothers.

    When racing resumed after the war the 4CL was a front runner. In fact, the 4CL proved to be in a class all by itself. 1947 was to be a year when the 4CL proved how good a chassis it really was. Despite the improved Alfa Romeo 158, and other competitors' chassis, the 4CL was proving to be the class of the field and would score 10 victories. The 4CL proved itself so well in competition that many privateer teams in Formula One's inaugural season would still be using some modified versions of the 4CL chassis years after it was first designed.

    Though some of the Maserati brothers were still with the company into 1946, their influence, specifically their design of the 4CL, would continue to live on in the form of the 4CLT. The antiquated inline 1.5 liter 4 cylinder engine was upgraded with twin-superchargers, which increased power up to around 260hp. However, to deal with the increased power and torque the chassis needed to be strengthened. Maserati would employ the new tubular chassis to help with torsion strength. The tubular construction, which is what the 'T' denotes, helped to provide better rigidity to the chassis to counteract the effect of the power increase. Another change was that the CLT had been designed to utilize hydraulic dampers with forged (instead of cast) suspension components at the rear of the car. The updated engine, construction and components were all meant to take Maserati to the next level of competition. And it would be some version, or form, of the 4CLT that would take part in Formula One's first season.

    The most prominent 4CLT model in Formula One's first season was the 4CLT/48. Denoting the year 1948, the model 48 first debuted at the Sanremo Grand Prix. The chassis of the 4CLT/48 compared to the older 4CL was similar in a few ways but quite different in many others. Right away it is observed that the nose had been changed in dramatic ways. Instead of being rather rectangular in shape, the radiator inlet became wider. The upper ridge of the engine cowling was redesigned running almost horizontal to the ground. This redesign led to a more dramatic 'ramp' of the bodywork just prior to the cockpit. By lowering the cowling the angle of the upward flow of the nose increased to be able to clear the engine and its components. The use of a tubular-framed chassis meant the 4CLT was much more contoured, more aerodynamically efficient. The overall shape of the chassis gradually became more tear-drop shaped toward the rear of the car. The 4CLT/48 also utilized coiled springs as part of its suspension. Most other teams were using leaf springs, but the double wishbone arrangement made coil springs a good option. The redesign of the nose and chassis over the engine on the 4CLT further lowered the center of gravity of the car. This leant greater stability to the increased horsepower the driver had available. The lower nose led to a cowling more tightly fitting over the inline 4 cylinder engine. Overall, the chassis design was not as tall as the 4CL. The 48 variant, in true Maserati fashion, would score victory in that debut appearance at Sanremo and would become a sought after version for many teams. In fact, in the 1950 Formula One season it would be the 48 variant that would score the best finish for Maserati in the driver's championship. Despite the fact the 4CLT would take part in Formula One's first season its model reference would always be based around its debut at the Sanremo Grand Prix.

    The model 48 wasn't the only variant of the 4CLT however. Like most cars in Formula One today, the 4CLT was going through constant updating. The next variant was practically the same as the 48 but with a few important changes. The fins machined into the brake drum that were used for cooling were replaced with a drum that had slits in it to help cool the drum from the build up of heat during braking. Some of the other small changes made included changes in the layout of the oil header tank and some of the controls in the cockpit. Despite the fact the car underwent some rather minor modifications those changes were made in 1949 and constituted the need for another model variant—the 4CLT/49. The model 49 improved upon the success the 48 achieved the year before. It would end up taking the victory in nine of the first fifteen races. Although the early part of the season was successful the last half of the season was a bit more of a struggle. Despite winning three more races in the season, competition from Ferrari and Talbot-Lago denied Maserati of more success. This would be a sign of what was to come next year during Formula One's inaugural season.

    The Formula One World Championship began in 1950. Due to the increased competitiveness from the Alfa Romeo 158, as well as, other chassis like the Ferrari and Talbot-Lago, Maserati needed to respond and, thus, updated the 4CLT chassis making it into the 4CLT/50. Some of the most dramatic changes between the 50 and the 49 or 48 were those that went mostly unseen. The crankshaft on the 50 was changed, to where it was comprised of many pieces. The engine was equipped with a more powerful pair of superchargers. The ignition timing was even adjusted. All of these changes to the engine meant the output was increased to 280hp. Maserati found it was even able to lighten the overall weight of the chassis by some 22 pounds when it updated the chassis construction and design. All of these improvements meant the Maserati 4CLT/50 was almost on an even plane with the championship winning Alfa Romeos when it came to performance.

    The performance gain, however, proved to be short-lived as the performance tweaking really stretched the old chassis and engine too far. The 50 proved to be too fragile over long distances. And in fact, the best result a Maserati chassis would achieve throughout the season was one third place, and that achieved by a 4CLT/48. Race-after-race the engines just kept failing. Though the 4CLT didn't seem to have the endurance anymore it still had the speed and handling that made it a threat to the competition. Though not official Formula One races, the 4CLT/50 was able to take victory at the Pau Grand Prix and the Richmond Trophy at Goodwood. Unfortunately, the first season of Formula One for Maserati made it clear the successful, dominant days for the 4CLT were behind it.

    Many times there are events or happenings that will repeat; a seemingly perpetual starting over of events. The Maserati brothers started out by tuning racing machines for other people or companies. The ignorance, lack of belief in the brothers, or whatever reason would lead to the Maseratis striking out on their own building extremely good race machines. However, there would be some event, usually a world war, that would delay and hinder them. In the end, the Maserati brothers would end up back working for another despite the fact the company still bore their name. The brothers, after losing technical control, would move on and would start OSCA. Interestingly, the Maserati company knew the brothers, and their OSCA company, produced superior engines and, in fact, modified one of their 4CLT/49s to be able to accept the larger OSCA V12 engine.

    Sometimes it's hard to measure success. Perhaps it is difficult to say an endeavor was successful when it ends up that the very people the company is named after end up having to sell their company, walk away to start another, and yet, their own name can't go with them. Based upon what happened to the Maserati brothers it is easy to say they were failures, that they were not able to achieve success. But perhaps the greatest, most enduring compliment (and proof that the Maseratis did it right) that could be given was the fact the name 'Maserati' lived on without them. And at least, racing wise, it was their 4CL, which led to the 4CLT, that made existence for Maserati possible.

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  • 01/21/14--11:00: Assen Battle

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  • 01/22/14--09:00: Focke Wulf Fw 190

  • "The Focke-Wulf Fw 190 first fought in World War Two in the summer of 1941. The Focke-Wulf Fw 190 was a highly advanced aircraft for the day and was given the nickname ‘Würger’ – Butcher Bird – in deference for its killing ability. The Focke-Wulf Fw 190 had speed and manoeuvrability as its two great assets.

    The Fw 190 was first conceived in 1937 and the first prototype flew on June 1939. The Fw 190 was a small, low-wing monoplane. The aircraft was all-metal with a stressed all-duralumin skin. The undercarriage was wide-tracked, which gave the Fw 190 much greater stability compared to the Me 109 and allowed it to take off and land on runways that other German fighters – such as the Me 109 – would have found difficult.

    The first trials of the aircraft were in 1940 and few problems were encountered. The only criticism that the pilots had was that the plane lacked sufficient firepower. The Fw 190 went into production and the first combat model had a top speed of 388 mph from its 1600 hp engine. The first record of combat was with Spitfires in June 1941 when the Fw 190 acquitted itself well though the pilots complained of a lack of firepower. This criticism led to the Mk II version, which had two wing-mounted synchronised 20-mm cannon and two MG 17 guns. The Mk II version had a top speed of 382 mph. This armament and speed made it a match for the Mk V Spitfire that was in service then.

    The pilot of a Fw 190 could use all his guns at once or, with the flick of a switch, select pairs of guns independently. He had excellent vision as a result of the design of the cockpit and the Revi C/12D gun sight greatly assisted his targeting. The success rate of a Fw 190 pilot was very good – hence the ‘Butcher Bird’ nickname.

    Though the Battle of Britain was over, the Luftwaffe continued with raids on the UK mainland even after the Blitz. Fw 190’s, among others, escorted German bombers. The tactic employed to throw off any chasing RAF fighters on the journey home was to fly at a low altitude. In was while supporting bombers at a low altitude that the Fw 190 met its match in the RAF’s Typhoon. Out of the first sixty kills by Typhoons, forty were Fw 190’s. Fw 190’s also raided southern British ports on their own ‘tip and run’ raids.

    Nearly 200 Fw 190’s were used to great effect in the disastrous Allied landing at Dieppe in August 1942. The RAF had no idea that two new versions of the Fw 190 were flying that day – one that operated as a bomber (Fw 190A-3/U1) and another (the Fw 190A-4) that had a top speed of 416 mph.

    By the end of 1942, the Fw 190 was fighting in North Africa, the Russian Front and in Western Europe. In Russia, the Fw 190 proved very effective when low flying ground attacks were made against vehicle convoys and tanks. If these convoys were not protected by Russian air cover, the damage done to them could be great. The Fw 190 in Russia carried the SC 250 and SC 500 bombs – both of which could knock out a tank. However, as with all issues on the Russian Front, maintaining supplies for the Fw 190 squadrons was a major problem, especially as many planes flew eight sorties a day. Russian partisans did a great deal to disrupt the movement of German supplies to the front and all aspects of the German fighting machine – including the Luftwaffe – suffered accordingly.

    Eventually the Fw 190 had variants that carried torpedoes, bombs, rockets and more powerful gun platforms. The development of the Mk IX Spitfire forced those who designed the Fw 190 to enhance its speed even more. This resulted in the Fw 190D – 9’s which first saw service in September 1944. This variant had a larger nose that housed a more powerful Junkers Jumo engine that produced 1,770 hp. Another version of the Fw 190D was the Ta 152 – the Ta being in recognition of Kurt Tank who had responsibility for the whole Fw 190 design programme. The Ta 152H-1 had a maximum speed of 472 mph at 41,000 feet and was armed with one 30-mm and two 20-mm guns. However, the war ended before this variant could really prove itself in battle.

    By the time World War Two ended, 20,087 Fw 190’s had been built. At its peak twenty-two Fw 190’s were being produced each day. A number of German aces – Otto Kittel, Walter Nowotny and Herman Graf among them – made over 100 kills in a Fw 190. When war in Europe ended, the Luftwaffe had 1,612 Fw 190’s of which 809 were ground attack versions."

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  • 01/22/14--11:00: Ballintong

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    Perhaps the fastest promotional vehicle ever is the 1967 Voxmobile, shaped like two Vox guitars and crammed full of other Vox products with a total power output of 1000 Watts. The engine is pretty muscular, a 4.7-litre Ford V8, as used in the early AC Cobra and capable of pushing the Voxmobile to a claimed top speed of 175mph.

    Renowned for making the Vox AC30 guitar amplifier, the Vox electric organ, and a series of innovative electric guitars and bass guitars, Vox approached George Barris to build a Voxmobile guitar auto. Their idea was to fabricate a custom roadster that would function both as a car and as a mobile amplifier, designed to be used for promotional purposes. And their dreams came true with Voxmobile, a vehicle with a Vox guitar silhouette that served as a functioning amp that could support up to 32 guitars, and also featured a working Vox organ in the rear deck.

    The vehicle resembled a VOX Phantom guitar in silhouette and would create its own high-fidelity audio through the use of self-contained VOX sound equipment. Besides being a beautiful $30,000 (in 1968) show-stopping roadster, the Voxmobile is a completely functional unit in every respect. Its primary purpose was to project a new concept exposing VOX guitars. Power is transformed from the primary source of supply, a 12 volt auto-lite automotive battery, to 110 AC through two 450 watt inverters. The wild guitar sounds are powered by three powerful VOX Beatle amplifiers, complete with reverb, treble/bass boost and mid-range boost. There is an array of speakers hidden in the framework. In all, there are 2 main drive speakers mounted atop the intake manifold, five 12" speakers, one 18" bass speaker and four tweeters. As though this wouldn't suffice a Muntz stereo cartridge tape deck was installed which is used to produce music when you happen not to have a band handy.

    In order that the Voxmobile might be utilized to the fullest, special chrome steps were mounted astride the body and along the bottom of the rear deck compartment. These steps make it possible for three guitarists and an organist to belt out appropriate music while the car is being driven in a parade.

    The Voxmobile was created for and owned by Vox and then sold to country guitar slinger Jimmy Bryant. In 1980 it was sold to Bill Baker, a musician and guitar store owner in Denver. The car is now owned by Brian Brock and Kevin Ryan, both vintage guitar enthusiasts.

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    Kaffeemaschine’s number 9 build is based on a 1978 Moto Guzzi SP. To begin with the build the stock Moto Guzzi SP bike was totally stripped. The engine, transmission and drive train was rebuilt new with 1000ccm cylinders/pistons, a lighter one disc clutch and wider intakes with 36mm Dellortos. The stainless exhaust and aluminium parts are handmade. The frame of this custom Moto Guzzi SP was shortened and modified to carry the seat pan.
    The tank is from a Moto Guzzi LeMans 2 and the wheels are XS Performance with stainless spokes. According to Axel “ I wanted to build a relaxed bike with a moderate seating position and therefore decided to leave the original integral brake system- this means the foot pedal brake operates one front disc and the rear disc – very cool. That goes well with the elaborate, fully adjustable suspension- Wilbers suspension in the rear and a Yamaha fork, which I modified a lot to maintain the classic look.”
    Electrical modification on this Moto Guzzi SP includes a Motogadget instrument fitted underneath the tank. The space within the frame was filled with a “glove box”, a bag behind the side covers, built by Axel’s upholstery specialist Alex (, who also did the beautiful seat, too.

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  • 01/24/14--11:00: French Grand Prix at Le Mans

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  • 01/25/14--09:00: 1934 Gran Premio Montjuic

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  • 01/26/14--09:00: 1907 Peugeot 2½hp

  • Formerly producers of tools, coffee mills, umbrella spikes and corsetry, Peugeot commenced its long-standing connection with transportation in the early 1880s when it added cycle manufacture to its portfolio. The world's oldest surviving motor manufacturer, the company commenced car production in 1889 with a steam-powered tricycle but soon abandoned steam in favour of the internal combustion engine.

    Also one of the pioneering firms of the French motorcycle industry, Peugeot followed the familiar progression: first adding proprietary clip-on engines to its bicycles before building complete machines of its own manufacture. The first Peugeot bicycle was manufactured in 1882; at this time the firm was known as Peugeot Frères but, as more family members joined, changed its name to Les Fils de Peugeot Frères in 1889.

    Peugeot's first motorcycle – the 'Motobicyclette'– was introduced at the Paris Salon of 1901. Its 1½hp engine was supplied by the Swiss firm of Zürcher and Lüthi (also known as ZL or Zédel) and mounted on the front down-tube ahead of the pedals. Around 1903 Peugeot began manufacturing its own engines, which were mounted within the frame in the Werner position, thus improving weight distribution and handling, though assistance for the engine by means of bicycle pedals would remain a feature for some years to come. That same year, a team of five 3½hp Peugeots competed in the Paris-Madrid race. Truffault swinging-arm suspension was adopted on some Peugeot models for 1904, making them among the world's most advanced.

    Equipped with the Truffaut front fork, this Edwardian-era Peugeot is one of the first to feature the company's own engine. Featuring matching-number crankcases carrying the 'PF' (Peugeot Frères) logo, it incorporates an automatic inlet valve and mechanically operated (side) exhaust valve, with lubrication by 'total loss', arrangements typical of the period.

    At time of cataloguing it had not been possible positively to determine the manufacturing date of this machine, which appears to consist of a frame dating from circa 1907/1908 and an older engine. A well-used survivor from the most successful manufacturer of the era, it was discovered in a medieval flourmill in Alsace. The machine passed through the hands of various collectors over the years, each contributing a little to its eventual re-commissioning, and was acquired by the current owner in 2010 from Andre Gora, who had rebuilt the engine and pedalling gear.

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    The bike she chose for the trip was a used 1974 R 60/6 flat-twin, for which she paid 900 ($1800) in 1980 - a substantial sum at the time, especially for a machine that already had 30,000 miles on the clock!

    Elspeth used the bike for her first long solo rides to Scotland and to Ireland, then to mainland Europe and Corsica, racking up over 10,000 miles in her first two years of ownership. Then it was time for `The Big One'. Aged 24, Elspeth had finished the first three years of her architectural studies (it's a seven year training) and saved more than 1000 ($1900) working behind the bar at her local pub in Marylebone, central London in preparation for her round the world adventure.

    She started the first stage of her journey in New York: "It cost 175 ($340) to send the bike and 99 ($197) for my own air fare," she recalls. From the Big Apple she rode up to Canada, then down Mexico way before reaching Los Angeles with another 5,000 miles under the Beemer's wheels. From LA she shipped the bike to Sydney, but stopped off to see New Zealand on foot while the bike was in transit.

    Elspeth then spent seven months working in a Sydney architectural practice and living in a garage, gaining experience and replenishing her diminished funds. She spent weeks constructing her own lockable, top-box and panniers out of folded and riveted sheet aluminium before setting off on her travels once more. She rode all over Australia, and had her first big accident on a dirt road near Townsville, in Queensland. The R 60 cart-wheeled and she was left badly concussed, but mercifully with no broken bones. She still has the Bell `bone dome' helmet that she's convinced saved her life (and which she carried on wearing for the rest of the trip!).

    Shaken but undaunted, Elspeth spent two weeks in hospital before continuing north up the east coast of Oz then through the outback to Ayers Rock, and finally across the Nullabor Plain to Perth, on the west coast. There, she loaded the BMW onto a boat to Singapore and explored Indonesia while the bike was afloat.

    In Singapore she had a disaster of a different kind, when all her valuables were stolen, including her passport with all the visas in it for the countries she'd yet to visit, and the registration and shipping documents for her bike. After an enforced six week sojourn in the island state replacing all the lost documents she rode up the Thai-Malaysian peninsular to Bangkok and beyond to Chiang Mai and the Golden Triangle.

    With the overland route to India (via Burma) out of bounds she headed back south to load the bike onto a boat from Penang to Madras. On the way she had her second and final big crash when a dog ran under her wheels from behind a truck, on the dangerous main road south. The bike hit a tree and Elspeth was once again battered and bruised but miraculously unbroken. She spent two weeks recuperating in the care of the impoverished Thai family into whose garden she had crashed! "They didn't speak a word of English and I didn't speak a word of Thai, but we communicated with sign language," she said.

    The Thais were fascinated by the rivet gun with which she repaired her battered panniers and Elspeth was surprised to find half the remains of the dog she'd hit in the family kitchen, having already unknowingly eaten the other half! "I understood why they were happy to look after me - I'd provided them with food for a fortnight!" Elspeth also repaired the R 60's damaged engine herself: "I took the cylinder off, straightened the bent studs as best I could and packed the cylinder base with gaskets and goo to get enough compression back". The accident meant she missed the boat to Madras she'd been hoping to catch but she simply caught the next one.

    Once in India, she rode up to Calcutta then on to Kathmandu where her parents flew out from England to see her for the first time in nearly two years. They were shocked by how skinny she looked, but she was to get a whole lot skinnier as she fell victim to both hepatitis and dysentery. It was in Kathmandu that Elspeth met a Dutchman on another Boxer BMW with whom she eventually rode back to Europe, but before that she did a trek in the Himalayas and explored much of India on her bike alone.

    Getting out of India proved to be a nightmare. The storming of the Sikhs' Golden Temple in Amritsar (close to the border with Pakistan) had recently taken place, followed by the assassination of Mrs Gandhi (the Indian Prime Minister) by her own Sikh bodyguard. In the aftermath, the whole of the Punjab region was sealed off and a special permit was required to get into it. The only open overland route west, via Pakistan, was through the Punjab but the Indian bureaucrats in New Delhi had not got around to actually organising the necessary permits which the politicians had decreed were now necessary. A growing band of frustrated westerners found themselves in a Kafka-esque situation whereby they spent weeks on end trying to obtain a permit which did not yet exist! In the end, Elspeth got completely fed up and simply forged herself the necessary permit. Since no official permit even existed yet, the border guards did not know what a `proper' permit was meant to look like, and she finally made it across the border into Pakistan with a great sigh of relief.

    Having safely crossed Pakistan, (mostly on dirt roads) Elspeth and Robert arrived in post-revolution Iran with just seven days to cross the country from one end to the other. This was helped by the superbly maintained tarmac on the main roads, but hindered by the fact that Elspeth was so ill with hepatitis that she could barely stand, let alone ride. Her rear (drum) brake was rendered ineffective due to a leaking oil seal and her clutch had also stopped working, for want of a spring that would have cost just a few pence to replace, if only she could get one. Elspeth's battered Bell helmet acted as an unofficial `burkha' which she kept on most of the time, even when off the bike ("most people just assumed I was a man") and she and the Dutchman made it to the Turkish frontier with just hours to spare before their Iranian visas ran out.

    Elspeth spent some time in Eastern Turkey recovering her strength and repairing her trusty R 60. When she'd left England as a tall, strong and healthy young woman she'd weighed over 65 kg (143 lbs) - by the time she got to Turkey, she weighed barely 41 (90). With her own personal battery metaphorically recharged, the journey back through Greece and across Europe to the UK was relatively simple, apart from the notoriously dangerous `Highway of Death' across Yugoslavia. "It was just a two-lane tarmac road with dirt on either side and you'd constantly have a truck overtaking another truck coming towards you, using all the road so you just had to get off onto the dirt. Sometimes they would be three abreast, using the dirt on both sides and then you'd just have to get right off into the ditch. The road was littered with crosses and flowers in commemoration of dead travellers."

    By the time she got back to her native London Elspeth had been away for three years and added 48,000 miles to her R60's odometer, so it now read 88,000. She stripped and completely rebuilt the engine herself and still has the bike in running order today. Tragically, she threw out her unique, home-made aluminium panniers when she moved out of London (long before Touratech, Metal Mule and BMW themselves offered hard alloy luggage) but her own version was much more practical, if a little less pretty!

    Elspeth still rides bikes and has owned a succession of BMWs. After a flirtation with an R 1100 GS a few years ago she returned to an `air-head' when she bought a 1998 R 80 GS Basic - the last of the breed - in 2001, which she still uses as her everyday bike. She found the R 1100 GS a bit too heavy for her liking, although she has since been tempted by the new and lighter R 1200 GS. Elspeth also has an immaculate 1973 R75/5 and a lightweight Yamaha Serow for serious trail riding.

    Elspeth has been to both Europe and Morocco on her R 80 GS and in 2002 went around the world again as back-up driver for adventurer Nick Sanders when he took 23 riders around the globe in three months. Elspeth often found herself driving a truck for 18 hours and a 930 miles in a single day, and also had to ride a variety of bikes on different occasions when their owners fell off and hurt themselves.

    When she returned from her round the world trip in the mid-80s, Elspeth Beard completed her architectural studies and spent seven years transforming a completely derelict Victorian water tower into a unique and beautiful home, while working full time in London and bringing up a son on her own. Initially working from the water tower, she gradually established her own architectural practice and now has many awards to her credit. Her work has been featured on various television programmes and in countless magazines. She has even had two Japanese TV documentaries devoted to her life and work. And no wonder; she's quite a woman.

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  • 01/27/14--09:00: Fausto Coppi by Masciaghi

  • An Coppi by Masciaghi race bike made from Columbus Genius. Team Polti frame with frame number T124 - chrome plated lugs - refinished in an décor dedicated to the great Fausto Coppi.

    This frame dates to 1994 or later. It has the numbers T124 at the rear drop outs and the number 5 stamped into the bottom bracket. The upper seat tube lug is stamped with Team Polti, both head tube lugs are chromed and have the Coppi letters. Chromed fork crown and right rear stay. Race number holder at the upper tube. Rear brake cable goes inside the top tube.

    Some of the team frames have been build by Giovanni Pelizzoli, but i can not say if this is one of them.The equipment consists of Shimano Dura Ace parts of the 740x series with 7 speed indexed down tube shifters. Chromed Mavic Monthlery Pro rims with new Wolber Neo Pro tubulars, polished Shimano stem and 3ttt handle bars.

    Refinished in an pearl light grey/silver and pearl brown. Original paint was the yellow/green Team Polti colors.


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  • 01/27/14--11:00: Phil Read's Yamaha TZ750A

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  • 01/28/14--09:00: Mercedes C111 Wankel Engine

  • The compact wedge in bright orange, a shade internally called weissherbst, expressed power, elegance and speed. C 111 was the designation of the futuristic study displayed by Mercedes-Benz in September 1969 at the Frankfurt International Motor Show (IAA). The car broke new ground in terms of both engineering and design. Motor show visitors crowded around the sports car, marveling at its intriguing design. Was this the worthy successor to the famous 300 SL Gullwing? The car's style, dynamic lines and classic gullwing doors promised just that to lovers of refined cars with the three-pointed star on the hood. This happened 35 years ago, at the C 111's presentation in Frankfurt. In the spring of 1970, an even more elegantly clad C 111-II made its appearance at the Geneva Motor Show, prompting interested parties to send blank checks to Stuttgart to secure one of these cars for themselves.

    Neither the C111-II or C 111 did not to appear in showrooms despite their lavish interior and cargo space. The coupes may have looked production worthy, but complex technologies embedded within in the cars kept them as experimental cars. However, the research in testing Wankel engines, new suspension components and plastic bodywork components contributed to future Mercedes-Benz road cars.

    The three-rotor Wankel engine in the first C 111 of 1969 developed 206 kW/ 280 hp, giving the car a top speed of around 260 km/h. The newcomer set out on its first tests in Unterturkheim, on the Hockenheimring and the Nurburgring in April and May 1969. The suspension featured anti-squat and anti-dive control; its front axle components were incorporated in large-scale production at a later stage and the rear axle was a precursor of today's multi-link independent rear suspension. On the basis of the experience gained in testing this car, another five experimental cars were built.

    From Wankel to Diesel

    An exceptional feature of the C 111 was hidden under its skin. The first experimental car of 1969 was powered not by a reciprocating-piston engine but by a Wankel - or rotary - engine. At the time, many manufacturers were interested in Felix Wankel's unconventional propulsion system. Mercedes-Benz, too, had been experimenting with Wankel engines since 1962. However, the Wankel engine had to be extensively road-tested before being fitted in production cars.

    The engines of the first two C 111 versions were straightforward gas-guzzlers. And since the pollutant content in the exhaust gas of the Wankel engines was also too high, Mercedes-Benz discontinued work on this type of engine in 1971, in spite of its impressively smooth running characteristics and compact size.The last Mercedes with a rotary-piston engine from this series was the four-rotor DB M950 KE409 of the C 111-II in 1970. Subsequent versions of the C111 project were powered by a diesel engine. They quite successfully showcased Mercedes-Benz's prowess by breaking many world records.

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  • 01/29/14--09:00: Rockwell B-1 Lancer

  • The B-1 Lancer is a swing-wing bomber intended for high-speed, low-altitude penetration missions. By the end of 1977, three Rockwell International B-1As had made 118 flights with more than 21 hours at supersonic speeds. The next version was the B-1B. It first flew Oct. 18, 1984, could operate at 60,000 feet and had a range of more than 7,000 miles. The U.S. Air Force ordered 100 B-1Bs in 1982 and the first B-1B aircraft was delivered to the Air Force at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., in October 1984, just 33 months after contract go-ahead.

    Initial delivery to the Strategic Air Command took place in June 1985, at Dyess AFB, Texas. On Oct. 1, 1986, the B-1B achieved Initial Operational Capability and by November 1986, B-1Bs were coming off the production line at a rate of four per month. B-1Bs were based at Dyess AFB, Texas; Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota; McConnell AFB, Kansas; Robins AFB, Georgia; and Mountain Home AFB, Idaho. In 2001, the U.S. Air Force decided to retire 33 B-1Bs and remove the aircraft from Mountain Home and the Georgia and Kansas Air National Guard bases. This has now been accomplished and the remaining aircraft were consolidated at Dyess AFB and Ellsworth AFB.

    The B-1B holds 61 world records for speed, payload and distance. The National Aeronautic Association recognized the B-1B for completing one of the 10 most memorable record flights for 1994.

    The first combat use of the B-1B was in December 1998 during operation Desert Fox, where the aircraft penetrated Iraqi air defenses to destroy Republican Guard barracks. This debut mission validated the B-1B's conventional role and its ability to operate in a force package. In 1999 six B-1Bs were deployed to Royal Air Force Base Fairford, England, to support Operation Allied Force in Kosovo. Those six aircraft dropped more than 20 percent of the total tonnage in the conflict. In operation Enduring Freedom, B-1Bs dropped 40 percent of the weapons and 70 percent of the precision-guided JDAM weapons.

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  • 01/29/14--11:00: Wayne Gardner

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    His six-shooter door handles would raise eyebrows at Homeland Security. (Don't even mention the rifles affixed to the trunk and fenders.) Steer horns on the hood would hardly meet pedestrian-safety standards. Hand-tooled leather saddles, placed between the front seats for young cowpokes, wouldn't pass muster as child-safe seating. Rare silver dollars, adorning nearly every surface of the interior, would surely prove too tempting for passers-by.

    But when Cohn started creating his cars in the 1950's - his bang-bang Western excess may have laid the foundation for today's bling-bling sensibilities - they were cultural counterpoints at a time of conformity. It is hard to look back today and not see Cohn's style - his cars were an adjunct to a successful Western-fashion business that catered to attention-starved celebrities - as a precursor to the wild personalization of cars on the streets now. Without a Nudie, could there be Jesse James's "Monster Garage" or Xzibit's "Pimp My Ride"?

    A 5-foot-7 tailor with outsize ambition and a love of the limelight, Cohn was a pioneer in making country seem cool. His life was marked by western movement, and when he went west, he truly went west: he immigrated as a child from Ukraine, started a career in New York and became famous for his store in North Hollywood. It seemed that everybody who was anybody eventually made a pilgrimage to Nudie's Rodeo Tailors.

    Cohn made his mark by adorning Western-cut suits with galaxies of rhinestones, forests of fringe and symphonies of sparkling oversize G clefs. He fitted Elvis in gold lamé; created a shocking ensemble for Gram Parsons, the proto-country rocker, embellished with pills and marijuana leaves; designed hundreds of shirts for the singing cowboy, Roy Rogers; and parked a star-studded 10-gallon hat on Elton John.

    Just as some of today's rockers, including Lenny Kravitz and Perry Farrell of Jane's Addiction, seek out and spend freely for original Nudie suits (and original owners like George Jones, the country star, reconnect with theirs on eBay), so are the cars objects of desire for museums, movie studios and at least one original owner.

    Nudie's cars carried his personal touch, since this tireless self-promoter used them as promotional vehicles. Mostly Pontiacs, they were bedecked with silverplated guns, hand-tooled leather and hood-mounted horns. Of the original 18 cars, the whereabouts of only 9 are known, making these gun-laden land yachts among the rarest breeds of custom cruisers.

    Since Cohn died in 1984, his granddaughter Jamie Lee Nudie has carried his torch - to the point of adopting his first name as her last. She has written a book about her grandfather's legacy, "Nudie the Rodeo Tailor" (Gibbs Smith, 2004), with a family friend, Mary Lynn Cabrall. The women also have a Web site,, with photographs, biographical information and Nudie merchandise.

    It wasn't always easy to be kin to such a flamboyant figure. Ms. Nudie recalled a time in junior high, at the pinnacle of straight-haired, braces-mouthed self-consciousness, when her mother announced that she would pick up Jamie at school in what the family called the Horny Car. This was her grandfather's fantastically one-of-a-kind 1975 Cadillac Eldorado, nicknamed for the seven-foot steer horns on its hood.

    "I said, 'No, Mom, not the Horny Car!'" Jamie Lee recalled. "So she pulls up alongside the school and of course, everybody is like, 'Oh my gosh, what's that?' My friend was next to me, and Mom was honking the horn, and I pretend I don't know her.

    "Well, we also have a cassette tape of stampeding cows and horses, and Mom starts to play that. Then my friend is like, 'Wait a minute, isn't that your grandfather's car?' I was so embarrassed - like, how can I get into this car?"

    What made her blush then is now a matter of family pride, but "in junior high, it was just not cool," she said.

    In preparing their book, Ms. Nudie and Ms. Cabrall did extensive research on Cohn. He started life in 1902 in Kiev as Nuta Kotlyarenko. His father was a bootmaker to the czars; his mother raised geese and ran a theater concession stand.

    At 11, amid pogroms against Jews, Nuta was sent to America with his brother, Julius. At Ellis Island, immigration officers changed Nuta's name to Nudie Cohn. After several cross-country trips, time spent shining shoes, boxing and hanging out with the gangster Pretty Boy Floyd, Nudie married Helen Kruger, whom he met while staying at her mother's boardinghouse.

    The Cohns moved to California in the early 40's. He worked as a tailor, and according to Ms. Nudie, persuaded Tex Williams, the cowboy musician who at the time was far from wealthy, to auction a horse and saddle to buy a $140 sewing machine. In exchange, Cohn sewed suits for Williams - on a Ping-Pong table in a garage.

    In 1947, Cohn opened the store where he created elaborate shirts, suits and dresses for the likes of Hank Williams, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. He took to driving around in a 1950 Hudson adorned with horns, and Ms. Nudie said he was popular with children because he would hand out dollar bills as he cruised by.

    Manuel Cuevas, Cohn's onetime partner, former son-in-law and current Nashville country clothier, recalled that Nudie was approached in the late 1950's by Art Miller, a flamboyant car dealer and horseman. Miller, it seemed, was looking for a flashy car to promote his dealership.

    Bonnevilles were the car of choice, Mr. Cuevas said, partly because they were among the longest cars on the road. "We took the seats out and did the upholstery in tooled leather," he said. "We put guns and bullets and silver dollars all over it."

    Mr. Cuevas recalled that guns were cheap and easy to buy in Los Angeles. The Winchesters, Colts and derringers were sent to be plugged and silver-plated. When returned, the guns were holstered or became gearshifts and door handles. Silver dollars were strategically added.

    "I thought it was fantastic," Mr. Cuevas said. "The more things we had to hang on the car, the better."

    In the early 60's, for promotional purposes, Cohn began receiving a free Pontiac every year. Typically, he'd drive the cars for a while and then sell them or give them away. While Mr. Cuevas said he recalled a few going out the door at prices up to $35,000, Nudie gave his '63 Bonneville (adorned with more than 100 valuable coins, including Morgan silver dollars) to his friend Roy Rogers.

    Today, that car is hooked to a Nudie-customized covered-wagon trailer in the Roy Rogers museum in Branson, Mo., not far from Trigger, the world's most famous stuffed horse. Dave Koch, a museum spokesman, said Rogers drove the car regularly near his Apple Valley, Calif., home, until souvenir hunters began prying off coins.

    "It was such a long vehicle with that extended rear bumper, that it was very difficult to drive on hills," Mr. Koch said. "You had to enter driveways at a major angle."

    With Nudie's cars, as with his fashions, practicality or drivability wasn't the point. Through the 60's and early 70's, his cars found their way into the hands of the country stars George Jones, Buck Owens and Webb Pierce; the Las Vegas gambling legend Benny Binion; and a swashbuckling Canadian oilman, William Herron. The Glenbow Museum in Calgary, Alberta, is negotiating with Herron's widow to acquire his Nudiemobile for its collection.

    Two cars ended up in Belgium at Bobbejaanland, a Western-theme amusement park founded by Bobbejaan Schoepen, a Belgian entertainer with a passion for country music.

    Recently, Ms. Nudie said, the Eldorado Horny Car was offered a role as Boss Hogg's ride in "The Dukes of Hazzard," but the family did not pursue the idea for fear the car might be damaged. Last month, she drove it to the Golden Boot Awards, a Hollywood charity event. The car will be featured in a future segment of "Antiques Roadshow."

    The huge car is a handful on the road, she said, and because of all the guns it draws attention from the police. "We had a letter written by the commander of the L.A.P.D. that we actually carry in the glovebox that says this car is allowed on the roads," she said. "It's a great letter - it talks about what a wonderful man Nudie is, and how everything has been determined to be street legal. So don't write him tickets."

    Several of Cohn's cars are displayed around the country, and each has a story. Gutted of its mechanical systems and displaying autographs of John Wayne, James Arness and others, a 1973 Grand Ville hangs above the bar at Buck Owens's Crystal Palace, an entertainment complex in Bakersfield, Calif.

    Ms. Nudie and Mr. Owens's manager, Jim Shaw, said the car had originally been built for Elvis but that his handlers wouldn't let Cohn deliver it to the singer - perhaps out of fear that he might order a fleet of Nudiemobiles for his staff.

    Mr. Shaw said Mr. Owens either bought the car or won it from Cohn in a poker game. Later, Mr. Owens bought a '72 Grand Ville by Nudie at a Texas auction for about $50,000.

    In the early 1970's, George Jones, a prodigious acquirer of cars and Nudie suits, bought a Nudiemobile. His manager, Evelyn Shriver, said the purchase was "one of those crazy things he used to do- buying a car like that." But, she added, Mr. Jones didn't drive it much and it spent most of its time in his barn in Spring Hill, Tenn. Eventually, rodents took a liking to the leather, and pigeons roosted in the car. Mr. Jones eventually sold the car back to Cohn.

    One Nudiemobile that remains in good condition is the 1962 Bonneville that belonged to Webb Pierce, the flashy country star who died in 1991. The car (along with Elvis's gold-plated Cadillac limousine) is in the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville. Mick Buck, a curator, said the Pontiac was one of the museum's biggest attractions.

    Pierce's 79-year-old widow, Audrey, recalled in a telephone interview: "Webb bought the car from Nudie. I was in Arkansas visiting my folks, and he called me to describe the car. I said, 'That's the wildest car - you made the biggest mistake.' But he bought it for publicity. They had to guard the car all the time from people who wanted souvenirs."

    Recently, she said, members of her church group begged her to accompany them to to see her husband's car. "There's a booth close to the car and a picture of Webb standing by it," she said wistfully. "Webb was one of the first to introduce the pedal steel guitar, and 'In the Jailhouse Now' is slowly playing there. I stood around and just looked at the car. It was a little bit much."

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