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  • 07/27/13--09:00: African Tour in Lambretta

  • Third of March 1954, Serge Gauquelin and Jean-Claude Marcq went out for a trip thru Africa on their Lambretta LD 125. They got back fifteen months later and it looks like they visited a lot of cities (judging their topcase). This must have been the real long way down, basic vehicle, no modern roads, no gps, no back up, no phone, no nothing, just tie on your gear and go.

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  • 07/27/13--11:00: Dave Simmonds 1970

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  • 07/28/13--06:58: Endurance Sunday

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  • 07/28/13--09:00: Lancia Stratos

  • Like many other coachbuilders, Bertone had to change its business model in the 1960s. The ever increasing popularity of the unitary chassis left little room for custom coachbuilding. In order to survive the 'Carrozzeria' had to convert from bodying cars to assembling complete cars for other manufacturers. To showcase the company's engineering and design skill Nuccio Bertone developed a very special concept car for the 1971 Turin Motorshow. Despite its modest height, the striking lines penned by Marcello Gandini ensured that the Lancia Stratos Zero was impossible to miss.

    The extreme wedge-shaped show car had been developed completely independently from Lancia and in complete secrecy. The Lancia Fulvia used for parts was a used example that Bertone had reportedly bought incognito. His engineers converted the chassis to the desired mid-engine rear wheel drive layout. It was covered by a very low body that amazingly followed a single line all the way from the nose to the tail. The windshield of the fully running machine tilted forward to allow access to the two-seater cockpit. Bertone initially wanted to call the car 'Stratoline' for its space ship appearance, but later settled for slightly abbreviated 'Stratos'.

    Not surprisingly Bertone's Stratos was the absolute star of the show and while Lancia's competition manager Cesare Fiorio walked by at least three times to admire the car, there was no official response from Lancia. Once the dust had settled, the Lancia top brass remained awfully quiet. Bertone tried to set up a meeting to show the car to them, but they were not very interested. Reluctant to give up, Bertone stepped in the concept car and drove it to the Lancia factory. The security guards at the gate could not stop him as the Stratos was low enough to pass under the barrier. The mayhem outside captured the executives' attention and Bertone was allowed in.

    Bertone's persistence paid off as Lancia commissioned him to further develop the Stratos together with Fiorio into a new Lancia 'Group 4' rally car, which indeed seems like quite a departure from the ground hugging Stratos Concept. Gandini was once again called in to draft up a completely new shape, which amazingly retained quite a few cues of his original design. The Bertone engineers developed a very compact monocoque chassis, leaving Lancia to worry about the engine. The Fulvia four cylinder engine was discarded and work was started on a brand new competition engine.

    In an incredible short time of just four months, the second Stratos was assembled. It was considerably higher than the original and featured a wrap-around windshield and a very short wheelbase. Painted in a striking DayGlo fluorescent red, the car was ready in time for the 1971 Turin Motor Show, but it was still missing an engine. Lancia's new competition engine existed only on the drawing board, so that was not an option. Determined to show a fully functional car, Bertone fitted a V6 engine from Ferrari, which, like Lancia, was owned by Fiat.

    After being shown at the Turin and Geneva shows, the bright red prototype was used for rigorous development tests. As a result the production cars received a revised rear suspension with McPherson struts instead of double wishbones and the body was crafted from fiberglass instead of aluminium. Many design details were refined and the engine cover was redesigned altogether. Still waiting for their new engine, Lancia delayed the introduction of the production Stratos many times. Eventually they decided that the Ferrari engine would do just fine and an order for 500 engines was placed.

    Over three years after the Stratos Zero was first shown, production finally commenced in 1973. At least 400 examples had to be produced for Group 4 homologation, so the pressure was on to assemble the cars as quickly as possible. In the mean time a rally version of the Stratos was developed, which was very similar to the road car with power up to 280 bhp from 190 bhp, courtesy of 24 valve heads. A slightly more aggressive body kit distinguished the rally car from its road going counterpart. Before the Stratos was homologated, it was already rallied with considerable success in the Group 5 class.

    Halfway through 1974 the Stratos received its full Group 4 homologation and in the hands of works drivers and privateers began on an incredible string of successes. Italian rally legend Sandro Munari drove the Stratos to its first of a staggering seventeen World Rally Championship victories during the October 1974 San Remo Rally. Despite its supercar appearance, the purpose rally car did not only excel in tarmac events, but was also very successful on anything from gravel to snow. A much more extreme Turbocharged Group 5 version was later developed, but it was not nearly as successful.

    Between 1973 and 1978 just short of 500 examples of the Stratos were constructed, including around 50 competition cars. Needless to say it has gone into history as one of the most legendary rally cars of all time and one arguably the most evocatively styled. It fitted right into a series of highly successful Lancia rally cars that include its predecessor the Fulvia HF and its replacements the 037 and Delta. Although rarely mentioned, there would have been no Lancia Stratos without Bertone's persistence and Fiorio's enthusiasm for the project.

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    The Hurst Baja Boot was envisioned by Vic Hickey who was regarded as one of General Motors top engineers of the time. GM had a “no racing” policy in place that initially stopped any plans of producing the Baja. But under the shadow of darkness, Hickey and Drino Miller completed the Baja Boot in 26 days at the Hurst facility in Michigan. The chassis was constructed out of SAE- 1010 13/4-inch steel tubing that weighed 3,450 pounds. The suspension system included parts from a Corvette rear drive assemblies and a Dana transfer case to support the 112 inch long hybrid four-wheel-drive buggy. The Baja Boot could operate from a Front wheel drive platform through an inverted drive assembly that allowed the driver to disengage the transfer case. Other Innovative features included a collapsible steering column, 11-inch Hurst-Airheart disc brakes, a 20-inch-diameter six-blade fan with reversed pitch, and a 350ci V-8 engine that was installed backwards.

    Steve first raced the Baja Boot in the ‘Stardust 7-11′ off-road race in June 1968. A gruelling 320 mile odyssey for both cars and motorbikes, the race started at the Stardust raceway in Las Vegas, Nevada, and ran across the potentially lethal Amargosa desert. Friend and fellow racer Bud Ekins was also with Steve in the Baja Boot in the role of rider-navigator.

    In the lead up to the race Steve told the media - “I’ve lined me up a sweet machine for this one called the ‘Baja Boot.’ Chevy powered. Four hundred and fifty horses under the bonnet. Space frame construction. Four-wheel drive. Independant suspension. And ‘smooth’! I can notch close to a hundred over a sand wash and you better believe that’s moving.”

    Steve and Bud were performing well in the race, until, in Steve’s own words, as related to writer William F Nolan– “We were really battin’ along, feeling good about the car and our chances with it, when we see this big fat wheel rolling along beside us. It’s our wheel! The axle had popped. Well, that did it. We just sat on our tails in the desert ’till help came.”

    McQueen also took the Baja Boot for a spin in 1969′s ‘Baja 1000′, which as the name suggests, is a 1000 mile long off-road race. Set on Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula, also known as ‘The Devils Playground’, the Baja 1000 is the longest off road race in the world. It is also arguably the toughest and most dangerous– 1969′s event claiming two lives.

    Steve McQueen was accompanied by co-driver Harold Daigh this time out, and the pair were travelling well, but, with just 237 miles completed, disaster struck when a broken transmission put them out of the race.

    McQueen later told William Nolan– “In the fast sections, it was not unusual for us to get airborn for 50 to 70 feet over road dips. The Boot rides so smooth you can overdo things. Even in bad, choppy sections it’ll do 60 or so, and if you slam into a big rock at that speed you can crack an axle or worse.”


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  • 07/29/13--03:11: Lime Green

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  • 07/30/13--09:00: Auto Union Type C

  • Mercedes-Benz domination in Grand Prix ended with the Auto Union Typ C. It took a few years to get it right, but Ferdinand Porsche's daring design with a mid-mounted V16 finally won. It claimed many victories from 1936 to 1938 until the three-liter formula was laid out for 1939.

    Horch, Audi, DKW and Wanderer created Auto Union with the help of Ferdinand Porsche and Adolf Rosenberger. Along with building passenger cars, a goal of the new company was to enter Grand Prix. They did so in 1934 with a daring mid-engined race car called the Typ A. This evolved into the slightly larger Typ B the following year and the Typ C was fitted with a much larger engine for 1936.

    The Type-C was a third evolution of Auto Union's racecar. It primarily competed with Mercedes-Benz but also raced against Alfa Romeo's 12C-36, the Maserati V8RI and Bugatti 59/50. Type-Cs won six victories in 1936 and made Bernt Rosermeyer world champion.

    Ferdinand Porsche designed the Type-C and championed his mid-engine design first used on the 1923 Benz Tropfenwagen. Weight distribution was his primary motivation in this choice. The driver could sit lower with no drive shaft and the front-to-rear weight distribution was more even. Furthermore, the fuel tank was also located centrally for balance. Despite these efforts, 60% of the weight still remained on the rear wheels.

    What made the car unbalanced was its heavy engine and comparably small chassis and body. The design team engineered the largest possible engine within the 750 kg weight limit. This resulted in the largest capacity engine to compete during 1936 and 1937.

    The chosen displacement was was six litres that was supercharged to achieve 550 bhp. A roots supercharger was attached to increase boost pressures up to 10 psi.

    The high power to weight ratio, uneven weight distribution and Porsche swing-axle suspension system made the Type C over steer. Drivers of the car had a hard time predicting slip velocity and the forward driving position made it worse. Only a couple drivers were able to take the Type-C to its full potential.

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  • 07/31/13--03:25: We need holydays

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  • 07/31/13--09:00: Hughes XH-17 "Flying Crane"

  • The XH-17 began as a ground test stand for a huge tip-jet-powered rotor system. In 1949, Hughes Aircraft got a contract to turn it into a flying machine. The giant rotors promised a huge lifting capacity, so they were attached to stilt-like legs and a box-like fuselage. Cargo such as radar vans could be driven underneath and lifted away. It was proposed that tanks could be carried this way, but as an operational aircraft the XH-17 was just too bulky and cumbersome to be practical and had a range of only 64km, well below the US Army's requirement. The rotor blades were subject to vibration stresses and the XH-17 was frequently grounded. After three years of sporadic testing, the whole programme came to an end when the one set of rotors reached the end of its design life.

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  • 07/31/13--11:00: Hill Climbing in Vienna 1962

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    This car was manufactured in 1965 by the Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Limited, Crewe, Cheshire. The car was fitted with a limousine body by Mulltner Park Ward and finished in Valentines Black.
    When completed, the Phantom V was then delivered to John Lennon on June 3, 1965 with the license plate number being FJB111C. A guarantee was issued to John Lennon on 10 June 1965. The car measured 19 feet long and weighed three tons.
    On December 21, 1965, John ordered a Sterno Radio Telephone and the number WEYBRIDGE 46676 assigned to it.
    In 1966, the car had the rear seat modified to convert to a double bed. A custom interior/exterior sound system was installed along with a "loud hailer." Other features that John Lennon had installed at this time were: Sony television; telephone and a portable refrigerator. On January 7, the car went in for a mileage check and the odometer had recorded 6,673 miles and on March 28, that same year, the car clocked in at 11,181 miles. Later, on February 4, in 1967, the odometer would record 29,283 miles clocked on the Rolls-Royce. Interestingly enough, John had his chauffeur and car sent over to Spain in 1966, while he was filming "How I Won the War". It was reported that his Rolls-Royce Phantom V was painted with a matt black overall, which included the radiator and chrome trim.
    But John eventually became restless with the "matt black overall" on the car and so in April of 1967, he took it upon himself to visit J.P. Fallon Limited, a coachworks company located in Chertsey, Surrey. He had in mind the possibility of having his car painted "psychedelic". This was based on an idea by Marijke Koger ("The Fool" who was a member of Dutch team of gypsy artists). After discussing the idea, J.P. Fallon Limited commissioned Steve Weaver's pattern of scroll and flowers for the Phantom V. The cost for having the work done came in at £2,000 (or about $4,200 Cdn) and the car was painted by the original gypsies who made the gypsy wagon that was in Lennon's garden (see Adam Bloomfield's e-mail below.)
    John’s newly painted psychedelic car drew some public outrage when a old woman, in London’s downtown, attacked the car using her umbrella and yelling: "You swine, you swine! How dare you do this to a Rolls-Royce." Obviously, the Rolls-Royce is passionately regarded in England as one of the many symbols of British dignity!
    The Beatles used the Rolls exclusively in their heyday from 1966 to 1969.
    In 1970, John Lennon and Yoko Ono had the Phantom V shipped to the United States. The car was loaned out to several rock stars such as the Rolling Stones, the Moody Blues, and Bob Dylan. When the car was available, the Lennon’s seldom used it and so consideration was given to sell it to an American buyer -- but a deal never materialized. As a result, the car was put into storage in New York City.
    Then in December, 1977, John and Yoko had serious problems with the United States Internal Revenue. The couple arranged to have a deal worked out where they would donate the car to the Cooper-Hewitt Museum in New York City, a part of the Smithsonian Institute, for a $225,000 tax credit.
    From October 3, 1978 to January 7, 1979, the car was put on public display at the Cooper-Hewitt Museum and then returned to storage at Silver Hill, Maryland. There, the car would remain in storage and kept from public viewing for a while. The reason for this was because the museum could not afford the insurance coverage for public viewing on a full-time basis.
    On June 29, 1985, the Cooper-Hewitt Museum decided to auction the car off through Sotheby’s. Before the auction began, The Rolls-Royce Phantom V was estimated by Sotheby's to fetch between $200,000 to $300,000 (U.S.). When the car was sold, it pulled in a surprising $2,299,000 (U.S.) and was purchased by Mr. Jim Pattison’s Ripley International Inc., of South Carolina for exhibition at Ripley’s "Believe It Or Not" museum. The purchase of the Phantom V through Sotheby’s resulted it being listed as the most expensive car in the world and installed with the South Carolina license plates LENNON.
    The Phantom V was then loaned to Expo ‘86 in Vancouver (Chairman: Mr. Jim Pattison) for exhibition. The American title was transferred from Ripley International Inc. to Jim Pattison Industries Ltd., in Canada (Mr. Jim Pattison is a well-known British Columbia business man.)
    In 1987, Mr. Pattison presented the car as a gift to Her Majesty in Right of the Province of British Columbia and displayed in the Transportation Museum of British Columbia at Cloverdale (near Vancouver).
    Then, in 1993, the car was transferred from the Transportation Museum and sent to the Royal British Columbia Museum in Victoria, British Columbia. Here the car would be kept for secure storage, displayed only for fund-raising and occasional use. The car was serviced and maintained by Bristol Motors of Victoria.
    In order to protect the paint work on John Lennon's famous Rolls-Royce Phantom V, the Royal Royal British Columbia Museum requested that the Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI) do a paint analysis on the car. Here are the test results as reported from the CCI:
    "Samples were mounted as cross sections to determine the structure of the paint layers. Paint chips were also analysed using Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, X-ray diffraction, X-ray microanalysis, and polarized light microscopy. The analysis revealed that both cellulose nitrate and an oil-modified alkyd resin media had been used and that the surface of the paint had been coated with an oil-modified alkyd resin varnish. A colourful array of pigments was identified, including chrome yellow, titanium white, ultramarine blue, and toluidine red.
    "Based on the materials identified, cleaning and waxing the car was recommended; the analysis showed there was nothing in the paint that would be harmed by water or by the application of a protective wax coating. To minimize damage to the varnish and painted surface, it was also recommended that the car not be exposed to direct sunlight for long periods as this could cause deterioration of both the cellulose nitrate and the alkyd resin."
    However, over the years the car has had some paint cracking on the original top coat.

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    Bristol Aircraft have entered the motor cycle field for the first time at the International Cycle and Motor Cycle Show with a new reinforced plastics fairing. Oct 31, 1958; London, UK.

    In Bristol’s low speed wind tunnel is one of the Royal Enfield’s new Airflow models the 500 c.c. fitted with the fairings.

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  • 08/02/13--09:00: Flat Beemer

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  • 08/02/13--11:00: Honda RC181 Works

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  • 08/03/13--09:00: Psychological Warfare

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  • 08/03/13--11:00: Little Fauss and Big Halsy

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  • 08/04/13--09:00: Ago in: "Maniacs on Wheels"

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